Ships Of The Rainbow: Sword Of The Stars II

A few weeks ago I ate a genuinely delicious sandwich – it was amazing – and soon after I took a look at Sword Of The Stars II, and that game looks in fine 4X fettle. It and that sandwich will forever be intertwined in my mind. Sword Of The Stars II is the most delicious 4X game I have ever pre-eaten. It also has the most colourful spacecraft I have ever seen. No need for drab camoflage in space: paint your ship coalescent purple and make the forcefields neon green. No one is going to care. This trailer (below there) shows off some of the fleets that will soon be at your disposal. Ranbow unicorn spacefleets! And what’s that flash of crazy space-snake thing at the end there? Spooky.


  1. WMain00 says:

    Lord of Winter!

    Winter is coming!


  2. Farsearcher says:

    I have the Ultimate edition of the first game. It barely runs on my PC the battles become impossibly laggy and I was less than half way up only some sections of the tech tree.
    I stopped playing it because of that but even then its still one of my favourite games.
    The depth of customisation was incredible,even at the low tech stages I was playing at I could see that and the races really do feel different from each other.
    When I eventually get a new PC this will be one of the first things I buy.
    Also Jim, any news on North Star their space freighter rpg thing? .

  3. Jharakn says:

    so what exactly is Sword of the Stars? I’ve never really heard of the series, is it action spacey like freelancer or rpg spacy like homeworld or sim spacy like those x games or what?

    • Witrim says:

      Well I never played it either but I belive it’s more like Galactic civs but I could be wrong?

    • Batolemaeus says:

      It’s turn based strategy on a 3d map of planets and star systems, 2d real time battles and a randomized tech tree. Most techs only have a certain percentage chance to be researchable, with some shortcuts or longer research paths. Races are weighted in their probabilities towards certain technological specializations, but not hard locked into them.

      That is basically it. It’s rather enjoyable.

    • Ephaelon says:

      And according to a PCG preview (link to “… real-time 3D battles designed by the team behind Homeworld II.” So that’d explain the familiar vibes I’m getting and the huge zoom-outs in some of the scenes. Just need to see the actual combat bits in action.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      I think it’s best described as the spiritual successor to the Master of Orion games, with prettier, real time combat.

    • Commisar says:

      @Jharakn Sword of the Stars is like Total war in space plus a little Gal civ. There are 6 races, each with unique ship movement systems, a randomized tech tree and real time combat, although you can auto-resolve. However, if you think it is going to be Gal Civ 1 or 2, it isn’t Take it for its own merits and it is a fun turn based 4X game with real time combat

  4. CMaster says:

    I’m intrigued Jim. Please tell me more. About said sandwich, and what it was composed of.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Double fried egg cheese and chilli chutney would be my guess.

    • Novotny says:

      really pisses me off when all they do is talk about the graphics and what-not. What was in the sandwich for god’s sake

    • westyfield says:

      I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest it was a Monte Cristo – the thinking man’s sandwich. The hardcore BLT fanboys may well rage. I say, rage on!

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Jim seems like a Ham, Cheese and Mustard kinda guy to me, but then that wouldn’t be so exciting as to warrant a special mention on a gaming website….Hmmm. My guess is Beef and Stilton. Fancy enough to get a special mention, but basic enough to be a filling sandwich. Getting close?

  5. Rambal says:

    It’s like Total War in space.

    • luckystriker says:

      God, Creative Assembly should just do that. Space: Total War!

  6. skurmedel says:

    Bought Sword of the Stars with the expansions on GamersGate when I first read about the sequel. First 4X game for me, so I was slightly bewildered. But anyhow, fine game, looking forward to this. Hopefully the UI is a bit better.

    • abremms says:

      the learning curve on SotS makes your average 4x game’s learning curve look like a gentle slope. it is not an easy game to get into, but once you get past that you’ll find a truly brilliant game. each faction is unique, they share some techs, but stuff like how they manage planets and how they move through space is different for each and it all has to be taken into account when you fight.

      if you play as human, never *ever* let hostiles get behind you. the game models every projectile fired and attributes the damage to the part of the ship that gets hit. the aft section of human ships is thier Node Drive and it is fragile. let the enemy get behind you and your ships are drifting in a few volleys. its called “presenting” :P

      lots of really deep gameplay here if you can get up the learning curve!

  7. Radiant says:


  8. shiajun says:

    Ok, my only previous experience with the game style was Sins of a Solar Empire. How does this stack up against that? Because that one was AWESOME.

    • Fumarole says:

      I loved SoaSE with both expansions, then I played SotS with all expansions; SotS is the better game unless you really, really want real-time strategy.

    • MDS says:

      For me, SOTS wins where Sins lacked something.

      Sins had higher production values and didn’t have the annoying interface limitations and endless micro of SOTS so if you want a good looking, smooth playing game, stick with Sins.

      However I love SOTS for iterative, emergent experiences like:
      I’m getting attacked by huge fleets of little ships so I design warships with shotgun-like batteries of plasma guns. If they miss one ship, they hit another! Then I encounter a different foe who has few, but thickly-armoured capital ships instead, so I research and design ships with beam weapons to precision-cut the turrets off them :)

      It’s also little touches like being able to roll your ships to present the most firepower to a certain enemy vessel. The fact it’s all physically simulated (no always-hit weapons!) means that for a spaceship geek like me even the smallest, most trivial battles are tense, watching individual rockets fly and wondering if this is the one that will rupture my last tanker’s fuel tanks and blow the entire fleet up.

      The game also limits the number of ships on the field at any one time, meaning that even though it’s a 4X game, it’s usually a tactical experience, not just “the biggest blob wins.”

      You’ve also always got something to do – you can always be tweaking your ships’ positioning, or directing them to prioritise certain parts of specific enemy ships, or incoming nuclear missiles.

  9. Daiv says:

    My longest game of SotS ended in horrible defeat. My Arbalest-class missile dreadnoughts were unstoppable – no fleet could mount enough point defence to shoot down the massive broadsides of missiles to prevent them from hammering anything in space into scrap. Until the Liir developed phaser point defence arrays, which contemptuously obliterated every missile which came within range leaving my mighty battleships with the firepower of a wet noodle.

    • abremms says:

      see, this is why I love SotS, that kind of gameplay depth is a rare thing these days.

  10. JB says:

    “And what’s that flash of crazy space-snake thing at the end there? ”

    Having a closer look at the video on pause, it looks more like a couple of Doc-Ock-style GIANT tentacles in space than a crazy space-snake IMHO.

  11. MythArcana says:

    You guys are obsessed with food on this site it would seem. Perhaps a name change to CookieCrackerSandwich might be in order. *cough*

    Anyway, wake me up when Katauri gets off their ass and starts in with Space Rangers 3.

  12. Stranglove says:

    Why is it that I keep finding myself drawn to paradox games? This looks pretty cool, even from the limited flypast footage that I’ve seen.

    • Wisq says:

      I tend to think of it more as, why does Paradox choose to publish so many games of the sort that appeal to me?

      My answer tends to be, because they’re awesome. :)

  13. Nikolaj says:

    It looks pretty good. But I want to know more about the sandwich. What kind was it?

  14. wodin says:

    Well…thats a big gripe of mine with space games…multi coloured psychedelic spaceships….hate em…when will we see a more realistic looking spaceship in a game….instead of a cartoon one.

    • goodgimp says:

      Did you really just say “Realistic looking spaceship”?

    • wodin says:

      yeah…sounds daft now I say it back…should have said more gritty and dark….

    • abremms says:

      the human ships look to have fairly normal human spaceship color schemes that we’ve seen in scifi for decades now.

      the other races are alien though, so you know… they are alien. maybe for them psycodelic purple IS dark and gritty.

  15. Herbert_West says:

    I’d say that the tentacle thing is either a Liir construct or Morriggi one, judging from the colour palette and the design.

    Or its one of the randoms.

    • TheJimTimMan says:

      I’ll give you a hint: The Liir supposedly killed them off a few hundred years back.
      Edit: Oh, and the Zuul worship them as Gods.

    • Eightball says:

      Is it actually confirmed that it’s a Lord of Winter ship? Or just speculation?

    • DK says:

      It’s pretty much confirmed. The Derelicts in SotS 1 had tentacles, the shot of the re-assembled Derelict had waving tentacles. The Suulka are described as having only giant Yamato style superbattleships and their Zuul minions doing the ship work of everything smaller.

      So yeah – that giant waving tentacle thing is one massive ship – and probably not even the biggest one the Suulka have.

    • Hypocee says:

      My replay fail this time, I think.

  16. Scandalon says:

    But, how can you have winter (or any season) in space?

    Also, I fear the sandwich biased you towards the game. There should be a standardized “mediocre” meal fed to journalists exactly 1 hour before seeing a new game. (At a standardized time, with air pressure, temperature, and humidity taken into account.)

    • Vinraith says:

      But, how can you have winter (or any season) in space?

      You can’t, but that’s not what that name means. The “Lords of Winter” are a race in SotS2, that name is a human translation of “Suul’ka,” which is what their former slaves (the Liir) call them:

      Suul. It is the name that the Liir have given to the most profound cold, in the polar regions where the thick pack ice covers the sea so deep that not even an Elder’s back can break it. It is killing cold, suffocating cold, cold that shuts out life and breath, that deafens and stills all voices. Winter, and death.

      Ka. Song, soul, breath. The word means all three, and connotes the spirit that travels forth to touch the heart of another, to share pains and pleasures, to entwine and encircle, to shield and to share.

      Together the two become Suul’ka.


    • Hypocee says:

      Ah? I hope that’s my complex, detailed memory failure rather than a retcon. I seemed to recall that it was one of the Liir’s few physical vocalisations, an adaptation of instinctive alarm/pain cries; that essentially the Liir referrred to the Suul’Ka by their only, heartfelt swearword.

      Regardless, yes, I do eat up everything Dembo writes.

  17. RadioactiveMan says:

    My heart still belongs to Ascendancy, but this looks pretty cool.

    Plus, if its like the first SotS, I can customize my game so that all the races are human and must use the warp gates to travel between stars! This, in turn, reminds me of David Weber’s Crusade pulp-space-war book and the lesser sequels. Huzzah!

  18. sebmojo says:

    I’m sort of interested in this. My current space fix is Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, a hilarious combo of self-important voice acting and gritty space biffo. But something more in the 4x vein would also be neat.


  19. MonkeyMonster says:

    Looks nice and my brain went ooh, that’s kinda like a game version of Babylon 5…

  20. Jim9137 says:

    Sirs, you may mark me excited.