Sunday, June 20, 2021

Starting with Stargrave (or: How to Get Space-Money)

Dave's copy of Stargrave

Stargrave is a new game from Osprey Games, and is one of the latest offerings from the prolific Joseph A. McCullough.  I was lucky enough to get my copy several weeks back, and I've been from one cover to the other checking out the sci-fi goodness.  I am a big fan of all of Joseph's games, which include Frostgrave, Rangers of Shadowdeep, Oathmark and Ghost Archipelago.  The rulesets are elegant, but with plenty of room to expand.  It also helps it's based on a D20, which helps the D&D crowd relate.

Stargrave follows the same vein as Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago.  You choose a Captain and First Mate, then recruit a crew of up to 8 other models.  The rules of the game and the stats of the models are the same as those games, and you choose Powers for your character models based on sci-fi abilities and technology rather than spells or magic.  The game itself is heavily scenario-based, and like it's brethren-in-print is designed for campaign play.  The campaign systems in these games alone make it worth the buy, just to see how it was done.

I was very excited to get ahold of this one.  In anticipation, I really scoured the model range for Stargrave, as three new plastic sets from North Star Military Figures hit with the release.  All three of these - Crew, Mercenaries and Troopers - are fantastic sets, especially if you are just starting a sci-fi miniatures collection.  If you're not familiar with North Star, get that way.  They have tons of awesome plastic box sets for all kinds of troops and / or kitbashes.

One thing I noticed was that Stargrave pretty much takes the ball from Rogue Stars as Osprey's go-to sci-fi game.  It's not that Rogue Stars is an inferior system at all, but Stargrave has more content right from the start.  In addition, the systems are very different beasts and serve different audiences.  Stargrave's system is easier for casual gamers to pick up, as Rogue Stars has some advanced wargame conventions that can confuse new players pretty easily.  I pretty much confirmed this when I saw the few metal minis North Star had released under the Rogue Stars line had been moved to Stargrave.

My problem with Stargrave is that I wasn't sure where it was going to fit in my gaming curriculum.  I am making a move back to narrative gaming mostly, and with my player groups I want to make sure I don't provide too jarring of an experience moving between systems, settings and games.  Unlike Frostgrave, to me, Stargrave didn't stand well enough on it's own considering my sci-fi settings are Star Wars and Warhammer 40,000.  It didn't have a distinct setting, the minis are great but kind of generic (as they are supposed to be - that's a good thing).

The fantastic campaign system begs to be used in just about any sci-fi milieu, however.  We can easily approximate any number of settings with this game, and I can report there has been interest in both a 40k-themed and Star Wars-themed campaigns of Stargrave.  Therefore, instead of embarking on a new project entirely like I did with Frostgrave, with Stargrave we'll be using the campaign system in other settings, with all kinds of different models.

One thing this is prompting me to do is sort out all my random sci-fi minis according to their setting.  Right now I have several cases of miniatures that have no defined system as home. These are random minis I've picked up, made, converted and been gifted I had no place in any army or game schema - until now.  It's finally time to sort them into "40k-style" or "Star Wars-style".  They are currently scattered among several cases, labeled things like "Sci-Fi Heroes", "Sci-Fi Future Wars", "Antares - Concord"...and even one labeled "Stargrave I" with nothing inside it.

Nothing like being able to find the exact mini you're looking for and only having to dig through five to ten cases because your miniature storage filing system is working.

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