Monday, 19 December 2016

Nope - A Rogue Stars review

So. Rogue Stars.

On paper this seems like a game right up my street. Sci-fi skirmish game. Small number of figures. Gorgeous illustrations. Copplestone figures. Decent price. Comic book styling. Sounds great.


I can't even remember when it was first mentioned but I've known of the impending arrival of these rules for at least a year. The author, Andrea Sfiligoi, has done 'Fistful of Kung-fu' and 'Of gods and Mortals' for Osprey as well as running Ganesha Games and writing 'Song of Blade and heroes', so he has pedigree.

Northstar have ran a Nickstarter campaign for this game and got a whole load of figures produced for it, some of them are classics. It's nice to see a new range of Sci-fi figures being produced with no fixed back ground.




The rules are detailed. They are based around D20 and there are target numbers you have to roll in order to achieve various things. This roll is then modified by various factors. There are critical failures and critical successes an addition to normal passes and fails.

Initiative is based on a dice roll with modifiers. You activate each figure individually by passing activations rolls (up to 3) and then carrying out that number of actions..........oh for fucks sake! I'm boring myself even typing this......

I don't like it.

I don't like Rogue Stars.

I'm really disappointed.

These rules are just not my cup of tea. As someone else mentioned, they are like 'Homework:The Game'.

Counters!! The game uses counters to keep track of three different items. By the end of a round of shooting there are markers all over the place along with figures lying on their backs. It's a mess! Why am I having to track 4 different status' when the characters don't have any stats??


Character creation is basically just buying skills. Everyone of which comes with modifier. Some of the characters can have 10 skills each with their own modifier not even mentioning the weapons and armour and each of the status' that i don't want to have to track having modifiers as well. Add on to that the need to keep rolling on charts for injury to add more counters!!!!

The game just don't flow.

I'm sure there are people who will love the granularity, that will want to play a game that feels like the slow motion scenes from the matrix. They will want to see each of the shots flying through the air and each skills use as they attempt to jink and dive and fight their way through the game but slow-motion gets boring after a while.
Sometimes you want the bang and the crash and the rush as characters sprint through an explosion with laser blast flying left and right and desperation in their eyes.
You want to feel that in the game.
You don't want to look up another chart or add up six different modifiers on your fingers.

I really wanted to like this game. I wanted another Dragon Rampant or Frostgrave, a easy to grasp, quick and intuitive game. Something fun, fast and easy to play. Rogue Stars isn't that. It's a complex game. The author has admitted as much. That is no excuse though because at the end of the day this is a game. I want to have fun and be challenged by opponents and the game system should allow us to do that. Instead i'm challenged by the game system and bored by all the stuff i have to do in order to NOT KILL A FUCKING FIGURE! I mean come on! If I am standing in front of you and open up with an automatic rifle I'd expect you to be dead.

Oh, and did you see the little sneaky 's' I put in there? The plural of opponent? Well you can forget about that. Rogue Stars is a two player game and doesn't contain and mechanism for expanding that. No multiplayer for you chummer.

Don't get me wrong. Rogue Stars does work. It's a very refined and nuanced game that has a lot of depth and will allow players to be very selective and creative with their characters. It is full of detail and the Mission and Environment creation rules are pretty in depth and intriguing. I'm sure a certain type of gamer will love it.

I'm not a certain type of gamer though.

I think this is a missed opportunity.

A slick, fun, enjoyable game could have become incredibly popular. Something that was easy to pic up and fly through with beer and crisps while slagging off your mates dice skills and chatting about the rest of the crap that life throws at you. Something that was easy to remember and intuitive. As is Rogue Stars will probably be similar to a lot of Osprey's other releases. A short period of excitement followed by a hardcore of players sticking with it. Everybody else will move on. It's a shame.






41 comments:

  1. Thanks for this review. It's really helpful. Among many other good points that you make, I totally agree that using counters (and knocking over figures) is a bad idea for a modern wargame. Part of the experience of the game is the beauty of it, and a bunch of counters just ruins that whole look.

    My secret confession (don't tell anyone) is that I've never been impressed with any of the Osprey Rules. I find them lacking flavour and whimsy.

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    1. I'm feeling much the same way...though at Monolith Con we had a lot of fun mixing Black Ops rules in with Rogue Trader...So there are good parts mixed into some of these rules sets.

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    2. I've found Frostgrave to be a brilliant set of rules, though haven't tried Ospreys other stuff.

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  2. Counters all over the tabletop, fail.
    A whole lot of rules to remember, fail.
    Laying out cash for yet another rule system......no.

    Thanks for the review Whiskey. I was never in the market for a new set of rules anyway, but it was interesting read your take on it. I'm disappointing to know that the "perfect" system hasn't, to date, been created :(

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    1. Also, forgot to say "you lost me at D20" :)

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  3. Whoops!! Sorry Major, I deleted your reply as well as your post. 4am fat thumbs!

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    1. Lol
      No problem. You read it, that's what matters.

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    2. Cheetor/sho3box told me about your thoughts and as I was already thinking about writing a post, they spurred me on! Cheers!

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    3. Have you played ROGUE PLANET yet? If not, drop me a line here:
      https://bombshell-games.com/about/contact/

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  4. If you want flow you should try Rogue Planet

    https://bombshell-games.com/rogue-planet/

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  5. Ouch! Unimpressed to hear this; it's a shame, I was really curious about the game :(

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  6. I'm sad to say that my initial impression is pretty much the same as yours... I had high hopes for this game, but the first couple read throughs of the book have been more akin to attempting to read War and Peace. I'm not completely turned off yet, but I'm just glad Frostgrave is so much fun. Rogue Stars makes 40k look like childsplay...

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  7. My only disagreement is that I think Frostgrave is dull too. Fun for a couple games, then just the same thing over and over.

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    1. In fairness I'd have to agree about its continuing appeal but it's easy enough to pick up.

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  8. I confess, flicking through my copy of RS when it arrived, I had exactly the same impression as you. My brain cannot cope with complex calculations. If you recall, I only managed to deal with our game of Confrontation because I had a maths teacher telling me what number I needed to roll! I can cope with Necromunda, because I'm so familiar with the rules. But I can't cope trying to learn a new complicated one.

    Cheetor recommended Void Pirates to me recently. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like it might be the slick, fast-paced easy game you would prefer: http://www.four-colorstudios.com/void-pirates.html

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  9. I must admit that I found Rogue Stars a bit of a non starter for me too. As you mention in your review, it just seems too slow and dull to really catch my interest which is a real shame as I was quite excited when it was originally announced.

    I too have heard good things about Void Pirates!

    All the best

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  10. A shame; I'd been hoping for Dragon Rampant in spaaaaace from Rogue Stars. Still, at least you've saved me a tenner!

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  11. Like most people I was hoping for a plug and play rule set (like Dragon Rampart)so I could pull out some Rouge trader miniatures which had spent far too long in the shade. Shame to read your review.

    Got to be honest I found Frost grave really underwhelming, especially compared to Mordheim.

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  12. Thanks for sharing this - saved me a tenner!

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  13. I played one game yesterday and very much enjoyed it. I don't think the rules are nearly as daunting as they first appear. My eight-year-old son was right on top of the modifiers. Anyone who's played Song of Blades and Heroes will get the hang of things pretty quickly, I reckon. I'm very keen to play more - it's a game of very intense firefights, with constant involvement of both players and lots of tension. I'd urge anyone who has the rules to give it a go.

    One thing: there are free character sheets and markers on the Ganesha Games site. The sheets have spaces for the counters, the implication being that you don't put them on the table but on the character sheet. That's what we did yesterday.

    For what it's worth, my write-up is here (along with some truly abominable photos):

    http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=96358.0




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  14. Hrm... Maybe a mate or other has picked this up so I can try it before deciding to buy.

    Thanks for the review!

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  15. Much like Frostgrave, I *really* wanted to like it, but just couldn't get into either. Guess I'll stay with RT and Mordheim.

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  16. I agree it seems very fussy, too much chits and dice rolling (and I'm used to heavy duty rpgs). Thankfully we still have Death Ray Lasers as a much simpler skirmish game...

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  17. Thank you for the review. I'm still trying to wrap my head around Void Pirates, and while that's turning out to be more of a task than I'd hoped I'll take it under advisement that Rogue Stars is not the game for me. Sometimes a good negative review is the most helpful kind. (Once in a while they even sell me something, simply because it's clear my taste and the reviewers are different. But in this case, I think our priorities are similar.)

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  18. Thanks for the review! You convinced me to buy it: "It's a very refined and nuanced game that has a lot of depth and will allow players to be very selective and creative with their characters. It is full of detail and the Mission and Environment creation rules are pretty in depth and intriguing."

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    1. Fair Play. I tried to be fair. It wasn't for me but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who will love it. Cheers.

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  19. thanks for your review. The game has been designed to be different from my other games and I was asked to do something more complex than usual, that would allow for depth in campaigns and advancement. That "Matrix slow-mo" mention is one of the best decriptions of the game, actually, even if it is not your cup of tea. This is obviously not your play style (and not mine, normally). This is not a game for easy pick up games, it is basically a relatively-simple competitive rpg with plenty of random generation tables to fire up your imagination. I agree that counters are a mess on the table, and I can't count how many times I have told people you do not place counters on the table, you place them (or even better use 3 differently colored dice) on the play sheet. However, I totally see why one might not like it. You may want to give a look at my Harder Than Steel system coming out later this year with Ganesha Games, which is basically "song of blades in space" and is d6 based with little or no modifiers, and allows for running larger forces if you want.

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    1. Thanks for being so gentlemanly about it. There are things I really like about the game I can see how i'd make it work for myself but it was at that point, when I was already inventing house rules and deciding to avoid sections that I didn't like, that I decided it wasn't for me. I think if I had known the brief for the game before hand then I would have a bit more of an insight into the sort of game it was intended to be. I think the issue wasn't so much with your design abut in the way it was marketed. The two didn't seem to coalesce.

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    2. Harder than Steel sounds great, but please do a nicer layout than Song of Blades and Heroes! I found the layout on that to be such a shambles that I never ended up playing it, whereas Frostgrave is clear, with readable typography that invites you to use it.

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  20. I think wargame rules should go back to do something that was done in the old days, have a 1-10 Complexity number on the cover. I will probably start doing it with my Ganesha Games products. If I were to put a complexity number, RS would probably be a 7 (I am told it is still easier than Inquisitor or Infinity, but I can't really tell) while my Revised Song of Blades is a 3 and Mutants and Death Ray Guns is a 4, and Flying Lead is a 4/5. The more individuality you want in character creation and advancement, the more granularity you need, and the more rules you need. However, for those interested, in the Rogue Stars Fans facebook group there is a document I typed up with several ways to simplify the game.

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    1. Complex games in themselves don't worry me really, I've played RPG's since i was 11 and looking back on them now I have no idea how my little brain coped. It's just that the level of complexity for a game of this scale didn't sit well with the kinds of games I like to play. The initial marketing led me to believe it might be, the preview in the games magazine filled me with doubt and reading the rules proved that it wasn't. These things happen. You should still be happy with your product as people seem to like and are playing games with it. That's the reason i didn't spread the review around games groups and just left on the blog, i didn't want people to assume i was trying to burn your work. It's just a clash of perspectives.

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  21. I wouldn't call RS a complex game, but it does has some different concepts that some players may find different to their normal games. If so, just start with the simple core of the game and expand when it becomes second nature. Although designed as a 2 player game, I'm finding no problem going beyond that, just give the player with the nearest character a chance to react to an action fail, and the player with the least pins (for example) a chance to steal initiative. Or whatever suits the way your group likes to play. RS is an excellent framework to build your own style of game upon. The action/reaction system is one of the cleverest ideas I've seen in my 5 decades of wargaming and I shall probably steal it for other games. After all, that's what wargamers do!

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  22. I'm on an ever continuing search for skirmish game and campaign rules that can knock Mordheim (Fantasy) and Necromunda (Sci-Fi) off the top of my list. None yet.

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  23. I got the exact same impression from my copy of the book too, can't even bring myself to try and play it.

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  24. Initiative sounds pretty much like SOB&H.

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  25. This game is a *lot* more accessible if you're already familiar with Ganesha Games's products, such as Song of Blades & Heroes. I'm not put off by the complexity of it, but I am a little disappointed that the game seems to top out at 6 figures per player. I'm more interested in a game that can accommodate 12-20 figures per side, as that's the sweet spot for me as far as sci-fi skirmish goes.

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    1. I'm adding rules for Redshirts and drones to beef up your gang, these are basically cheap characters that activate as a group and go down at the first hit they receive, but can still be useful

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  26. I think the core concept was pretty good, and the core mechanic with the activations is really cool.

    But the second I see tables, and individual tables for arms and legs, I was ready to vom

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  27. "The action/reaction system is one of the cleverest ideas I've seen in my 5 decades of wargaming and I shall probably steal it for other games."

    I completely agree...it has now spoiled my willingness to tolerate IGO/UGO mechanics in most other games.

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  28. Love this game. Totally unlike anything I've played before. I've got Necromunda and Deadzone, so didn't really want another one. The indepth creation (which I admit took ages) was one of my favorite bits as it let me get a real feel for the characters I was creating.

    Each to their own, but for a tenner, I'd recommend giving it a go

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