TableTopTakes: Stars of Akarios by OOMM Games
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get a review of this up. Probably because while streaming it, I talk a lot about the game, so I kind of figured that I had. But it is one that deserves to have a full review, because there aren’t as many reviews out there for a big campaign game. If you watched my game plays, you’ll have an idea if I like the game or not, already. But let’s talk about how Stars of Akarios plays.
How To Play Stars of Akarios
This is a bit tricky, because the game has a lot going on. So I’ll give more of a general overview of the three different aspects of the game. And yes, you do need to know all three of them to play the game, but some of them are easier than others. But before, that a bit of the story or world, you are part of an academy of space cadets just graduating. There is an attack, and now you’re on the run and need to figure out what is going on.
The main focus of the game, or most common scenario, is tactical space combat. You as the space cadets are taking your ships out on missions. This might be to explore areas or reach areas on the map, but generally always to fight. Based off of dice that you roll you activate different maneuvers and attacks. Then the enemies activate and do the same thing based off of their AI. So you are doing a space dogfight as you all are trying to get into position to shoot the other ships.
The other two parts are exploratory. The first is space exploration where you are on the main ship, the Sparrow, and flying around to different points. This is can lead to finding some random things, but generally you are looking for specific plot points that you know about to progress your story. The other is planetary exploration. It is what it sounds like, exploring planets, dealing with whatever is happening on them, and then possibly coming back when you’ve completed other missions.
All of this is interspersed with story that you read. And then, often times, choices that you make from that story. It might not change which scenario you go to, but how you start that scenario might change.
What Doesn’t Work?
I think that space exploration is just fine. It is the simplest and least story focused part of the game. You might fly into a sector and find an event that happens. Or you might find a side quest and decide to do that. But all of that costs resources that you might not want to be spending. So instead, you just fly to the location you want and call it good.
And this isn’t so much of a negative for me, but something to be aware or, or two things really that might bug others. Firstly, you have minis the enemies have standees. You can buy the ships for the enemies, but that’s an extra cost, so know that going in. And the other thing is that it’s a table hog. When I was playing this I had it set-up below the topper so I could leave it up. It has a solid save system and storage system, but it’s a big game.
Firstly the tactical combat is amazing. Each scenario is a different puzzle. I don’t forget which game it was, I think game 6, but that one there were two enemy factions that would fight each other. So I flew off and hid in a corner and they took each other out. I just needed to swoop in for final clean-up duty. Now that isn’t always the case, there are other times I needed to escort the big ship across the board. Or to keep it from getting attacked and destroyed. Missions vary every time and I think they do a good job with that variety.
I also really like the planetary exploration. It gets compared to 7th Continent which I think is far. You have points of interest you can interact with, and then you can move from different card to different card and explore the map as you go. That section that I’ve seen anyways they’ve played around with it in good ways to make it feel different. The first planet you get to, to learn how to use planets, gives you some really fun and interesting interactions.
And I enjoy the story a lot in this game as well. It’s not the best writing, and it pulls from things. The first planet you go to is obviously playing around with some ideas from movies. But that’s fine because it’s all fun story. And for me that’s what matters more than having perfect writing. I also like that it isn’t a grim and dark world. Yeah, lots of bad things happen, but unlike Tainted Grail the whole world isn’t bleak.
Ease of Play
Finally, I think the mechanics of the game are easy to learn. Again, you mainly do mechanical things in tactical combat. But all of that is easy to do and a lot of fun. It uses a modifier deck like Gloomhaven does. It has you rolling dice to assign to actions. There is some randomness to what you can do. But not too much randomness and you can always do something, or take some stress and reroll for a better result. Plus while there is luck on the roll and flip, you can then plan out everything otherwise. So can sit down and figure out your optimized combination to get into a flanking position, for example.
Who Is This For?
Gamers who like campaign games. I think that this one has a little bit of something for everyone. It really is one that I’d love to get to the table in a group, but I have no idea of when I could do that. It is maybe one that depending on how much space Lands of Galzyr takes up, I might set-up on the other end of my gaming table. But that’s not really relevant right now. It’s a big campaign game. If you don’t like big campaign games, I don’t think this one will change your mind. If you do, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Now, I do think that there is probably going to be an element that you might not like as well. Maybe the story could be too cliché. Or the space exploration just is very boring. Whatever it might be, I don’t think it’ll be the major part of the game, the tactical space combat. So if that element sounds interesting, I think the game will work better for you.
I really love this game. If you didn’t know that already, it is in my Top 10 games of all time. I think that the mechanics are just fun to play with. I don’t really mind any part of it. Like I said, I do think that the space exploration is a bit more boring. But it is also the smallest part of the three main parts of the game. So to me that is a minor issue at best.
And I really do enjoy the story. Which I think is one of the very fun parts of the game. It has a space opera feel to it but also I get bits of comedy in the game and so much more. I don’t know why, but I get of bit of Ender’s Game, Space Dandy, The Thing, and more thrown into this game. And I like that mish-mash of everything.
My Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: C