We took Rogue Stars out for a spin again last night, and despite the rulebook suffering a lot of the usual Osprey problems we had an enjoyable game. Osprey has a hard word count on their Osprey Wargames series which often leads to very condensed rules, short on examples. Unfortunately, I think Rogue Stars suffers from this a fair amount, and people have reviewed it rather negatively online because of this. There’s a lot of reading between the lines, and common sense has to be applied in a game simply because the rulebook includes a lot of content in a fixed space.
Having said that I’ve always enjoyed Ganesha Games’ interesting activation mechanism in their skirmish games and Rogue Stars improves on this by having an activation/reaction system too. This means you’re always involved in the game regardless of which side is active. It also leads to some very interesting choices about how many times to try and activate a character vs how many reactions you’ll give away. The reacting player also has to be careful about how readily they react and what they do as there’s a cost involved for them too. It really is a clever system and works better than any other skirmish level system I’ve played.
We played Space Cops vs Bounty Hunters, with Kieran fielding a lovely set of old Grenadier/Copplestone metal soldiers with rounded helmets that looked exactly like Space Cops should. I dusted off my usual motley band of Necromunda Scavvies and called them Bounty Hunters. The Rogue Stars random scenario/complication system gave us an Abduction scenario with a whirling space vortex of doom in the centre of the table which rather complicated things for everybody! It was a ding dong fight with people getting knocked down, arms blasted off and dropping weapons all over the show – which promptly started sliding towards the vortex. We called the game after the Abduction target was blown to smithereens when a hail of heavy laser shot ruptured his flamer tank, and it was adios muchachos. A shame really because he’d been happily flaming Space Cops in the limbs and heads until then. We’re definitely keen to play some more Rogue Stars in the future, particularly since we can bust out a random selection of sci-fi figures and build them into a force.