What people love about a good PC strategy game is that you can play one for tens (if not hundreds) of hours. But the kind of complexity and diversity that games like Crusader Kings 3 and Civilization 5 This is how appealing it can feel endlessly in a table setting. Classic like dune or Twilight Empire can easily catch players at the table for six or more hours.
Designer Gunter Eickert believes he may have solved this problem by combining the latest innovation in board games with a niche genre of PC strategy games. His next project for the publisher Academy Games is called Stellaris: Infinite Inheritanceand it’s one of the most ambitious new tabletop games announced this year. Polygon received the exclusive first details on how the game worked.
Stellaris is a PC strategy game released by Paradox Interactive in 2016. It is part of a niche genre of strategy games known as 4x games, which is synonymous with exploration, expansion, exploitation and eradication. Players take on the role of an alien civilization and embark on a journey to colonize the stars. Along the way, players harvest resources, build their armies and infrastructure, and finally come into contact with other civilizations. It’s the kind of game that takes 20 or more hours to figure it out. Once you have your feet under you, it is possible to play a single campaign for years.
There have been similar types of 4x board games, but they all take an extraordinarily long time to play. Add that it takes four to six skilled players to have a good time and you can understand how rare it is to have a decent game with your friends. I’m lucky if I can play a 4x board game once a year.
But strangely enough, Eickert says that 4x board games aren’t just too long. They’re too short too.
“I’ve spent all this time having all this fun developing this great empire, and then it just ends,” Eickert said in an interview with Polygon on Friday. “I want to see what happens. I want to keep playing this great empire that I’ve built. “
The solution, said Eickert, is to apply the latest advancement in tabletop gaming: the legacy system. Pioneering work by designer Rob Daviau with Risk: Legacy In 2011, legacy games change over time. From game to game, player characters or factions develop new skills or are permanently damaged. New gameplay components are revealed in sealed packages, while others are destroyed, never to be used again. Over the course of 10 to 15 games, a single copy of a legacy game transforms completely into something unique, ideally something that can be played and enjoyed for years to come. Some people will even hang their game boards on the wall to prove the dramatic narratives created over dozens of hours of play.
Eickert’s new board game aims to do the same, but for an entire galaxy.
in the Stellaris: Infinite InheritanceEach player at the table receives a customizable player screen and a box of cards. Inside this box is everything they need to build their own unique civilization, including special skills, styles of government, preferred planetary biomes, and even a range of morals and ethics. Everything – cards for technological and infrastructural improvements, exotic spaceship weapon systems, everything that could possibly be created or destroyed in the game – is in this box.
When the two hour session is over, players simply close it. Everything unique about this civilization is still in the box, right where it should be, ready for the next two-hour game. The next time you sit down at the table, you can take out the same civilization you played before, pass your box to the right and mess things up, or even start over with something new.
Eickert says the game will be steady throughout – even when a new, inexperienced player sits down to play with old hands for the first time – thanks to random objective cards drawn at the start of each game. The older and more advanced your civilization, the more goals you have to achieve in order to win.
But Stellaris: Infinite Inheritance also has a complex tactical wargaming system. Players won’t get hits every round, but if they do, he says it will be just as epic and consistent as it is in the video game. The secret, he says, is the unique modular game board. Each civilization will keep its home worlds from game to game, but the shape of the galaxy itself will always be different. That will force players to adapt to new tactical situations every time they sit down to play.
It’s an ambitious project full of unproven concepts. To complicate matters is that Stellaris: Infinite Inheritance is a crowdfunding campaign hosted on Kickstarter and later on Backerkit. Tabletop strategy fans won’t really know if Eickert made it until the game ships sometime next year. For now, all they have to do is take his word for it … and spend at least $ 100 on the privilege.
But anyone who has ever played Eickert’s games, or one of the titles of Academy games, knows they have the ability to make it. The boutique tabletop publisher is known for its historical games. This includes the squad-level simulations of World War II in the Conflict of Heroes series. the popular war game 1775 Rebellion: The American Revolution;; and Freedom of the subway. All of these titles are known for their complexity, lightness and balance.
Recently, Academy Games entered the world of licensed intellectual property. I demonstrated the publisher Agents of Chaos: Pride of Babylon with Eickert at Gen Con a few years ago and was impressed with the way he used cards to expand and grow a simple tactical miniatures game into something much more lasting and satisfying. I have high hopes that he will make bold design decisions here too.
Also, don’t expect to find the game on the shelves next year. To like Vampire: The Masquerade Chapter Other direct-to-consumer offerings have no plans for a retail product. Academy hopes to sell the game online for around $ 150 if the campaign goes well. The Crowdfunding campaign starts on March 11th.