Frost over the Core of Stargrave Space

After about a week or so, I finally completed painting the core minis for Core Space. Now to get the crew of the Ion Hope onto the table and finish off the campaign in the Perseus Arm of the (... Stargrave ...) stop that! original game of (... Stargrave...) shut up! Core Space that I started so many Stargrave years ago... ooooooo... Stargrave! Shiny!

The crew of the Forlorn Hope led by the aristocrat Oona Blint is on the backwater planet of (... but... but... Core Space! ...) shut up! on the hunt for the bounty of Collen Preks, who is on the run and about to escape off world in a quiet little spaceport run by smugglers. 

The crew of overpriced bounty hunters consists of an aristocratic Captain, a rogue First Mate, a Codebreaker (hacker), Casecracker (glorified thief), Pathfinder, Grenadier, Hacker, Chiseler, Trooper and Recruit. 

Their bounty is the notorious criminal Collen Preks (cyborg, bandit, raider, and slaver. His raids are infamous, and the disappearances of many small, isolated settlements have been laid at his door. So detested is he that even some of the pirate fleets have placed a bounty on his head). With his 2 guard dogs, 2 troopers, burner, armoured trooper, grenadier and sentry.

At first, things actually go well for the crew as they slowly move up the table, keeping to cover as much as possible because the way the rules are written, cover merely enhances your chances of not being shot vs. giving you some protection against wounds so staying out of LOS as much as possible is the key.

Then my recruit gets a lucky shot at Preks, who’s arrogant enough to parade about in the open, and my Captain finishes him off by turn 2. 

That would normally be the end of it except that... The complication is that the mark is so universally detested that actual, physical proof of his demise is required before the bounty is paid up. So I actually have to go base to base with the body, spend and action to take DNA samples and actually withdraw off the table with it to get paid.

In the ensuing fray, Preks’ gang (enraged by his demise?) attack furiously and put down my Pathfinder, Chiseler and First Mate! (Basically, if someone rolls a crit (natural 20) the target is as good as dead.) The two camping Troopers on a vantage point are too difficult to dislodge.

The crew fights back, providing the Captain with covering fire and knocks out 6 of Preks’ gang. 

Meanwhile my Casecracker, Hacker and Codebreaker make for the loot crates (under fire, too) but only the Codebreaker successfully retrieves the data loot. Important info worth 200cr. The Casecracker isn’t successful because the enemy Sentry is camping on top of the other loot crate containing physical loot.

Then reinforcements start showing up around turn 4! 

The Captain decides to pull out before any more crew succumb, and they manage to get paid. 

Thankfully the Pathfinder, Chiseler and First Mate are fully healed with no lingering injuries and they are good to go for the next mission. 

+ + +

So... Stargrave. I wasn’t too keen initially on its predecessor Frostgrave as it was a 2 player game with some limited solo scenarios that (to be honest) didn’t look too interesting. Rangers of Shadow Deep fixed that... but the specific terrain requirements needed to play the campaign meant I didn’t progress beyond the first scenario. 

Then came the (FREE) Stargrave solo expansion that actually seemed like it would work. Then I watched some YouTube game play videos by the Oldhammered guys. They provide entertaining, well-shot, clear, no shaky-cam gameplay videos that actually make you want to play the games. 

So immediately after I completed painting the core Core Space... literally while the paint was drying, I statted up my Stargrave crew and went bounty hunting. 

I actually had to stop my first game and play again because I made the EXACT same mistake about taking damage as I had in ROSD. You’d think I’d learn...

The game is fast, the AI works but can give you some clunky results so be prepared to house rule something that makes more sense. 

It’s still the same swingy d20... somehow what worked for me in Forbidden Psalm felt incredibly swingy here. Maybe because I'm only rolling ONE d20?

The other downer is of course the ‘grave system means you only ever meaningfully level up your Captain and First Mate. Everyone else are literally Red Shirts. You even get Recruits that cost you 0 credits! That says it all, really.

Still, I’ll play one or two more bounty hunting missions while assembling my Deadzone Plague zombies to play the Quarantine 37 solo mini-campaign before I hang up my Stargrave hat.

For those interested, 5 Parsecs still gives an overall better game because of the story and your crew really grows in an RPG-like fashion. Pulp Alley is easier to design missions for and give you the same (if not more) narrative flavour. 

Fans of Frostgrave will of course be over the moon (heh) with this one. And if you don’t mind the swinginess of d20’s (with little chance of mitigation) and not being able to level up your entire crew, Stargrave is still a solid, fun game. Especially for 2 (or more) players. I'm not sure if you should get it for solo play.

(EDIT: my Quarantine 37 games have to wait as I recently discovered all my Deadzone Plague zombie sprues are not with me! So any more games will have to be sometime in the 2nd half of 2022... probably the final quarter as I am so slow in painting the minis as well.)