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Stardust is a tactical space combat miniatures game designed to be played with 2 or more players. It can be played standalone or as part of a greater RPG campaign. With the included “AI” system, which uses a decision flowchart to move enemy ships, single-player or cooperative play is possible.
Players control flights of fighter voidcraft using an array of advanced weaponry such as high-powered laser weapons, railguns, and missiles in straightforward dogfights, objective-oriented competitive game modes, or cooperative story-driven campaigns with friends.
The game features an abstracted hex-based Newtonian flight model which features a built-in “Flight Assist” that allows each fighter to maneuver more like an airplane, provided their movement speed is kept below a certain margin. This is designed to help acclimate new players to the game and keep it accessible, while allowing veterans to fly decoupled maneuvers if they so wish. More advanced Newtonian gameplay can bestow major advantages upon a skilled player. All this is accomplished without having to provide an alternate introductory set of rules for movement, so that players can focus on learning the game at their own pace, while ensuring that the player base is not divided by competing rule sets within the same rulebook. A new player can, with the built-in speed limitation, choose to play without the Newtonian flight system, while quite effectively fighting against a veteran player utilizing that system to its fullest, with no downtime.
Players can choose between fielding the forces of one of the five major powers of The Bary, an independent mercenary or privateer command just looking to get by, or roving pirate gangs seeking their next big score. Each faction offers a wide variety of unique fighters, ships, and weapon types, each with different capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. The fighters can’t fly themselves though, and players will design and customize their stick and throttle pilots with unique character abilities and modifications that provide their own unique bonuses and downsides, if they so wish. Each fighter is rendered beautifully in miniature form at common 6 mm scale, making them compatible with a wide range of science fiction miniature terrain and accessories.
Additionally, the game’s peripherals such as the miniature bases have been exhaustively designed to make signalling board state effortless, keeping gameplay fast and exciting. Bookkeeping is minimized to keep players engrossed in the game, not focusing on jotting down notes. Every system has been abstracted just far enough that no math is necessary to play the game at any point, without removing anything of gameplay value. The guiding principle behind the design of Stardust has always been to provide a game that is easy to pick up and difficult to master, with an accessible, uncomplicated gameplay loop to keep players engaged. To this end, the game can even be played without the hex map ordinarily used for the flight system, without any loss of mechanics or functionality.