The human race has begun to explore the stars, and the frontier is everywhere.

We thought ourselves Gods….that life was ours to manufacture….but all we did is bring ruin upon ourselves…now we’re hunted by the very things we gave life to, prisoners on our own ship. We must survive….we must endure the stars…

 


 Jump directly to the Interview

¡The players in the role of survivors from the Hikari ship fight to avoid their total annihilation!


 

We, as the good science fiction fans we are,  see the picture in the cover and this introduction text and automatically become interested in a game presented in such way. After the initial excitement, what is exactly behind it? A new British publisher, a couple of entrepreneurs, an incredible art, a theme not as hackneyed as others, appealing miniatures, a very special crowdfunding campaign and, well-known game mechanics? or not? We will attempt to figure all this out below.

Who are ‘Grimlord Games’?

Well, Grimlord Games is a tactical board games developing company, located in the United Kingdom. Behind this company are two young entrepreneurs, with lots of ideas and the motivation to do things the right way, as they have demonstrated up to now, and as we will discuss later on.

AdamAdam Smith
Creative Director
Favourite game: Mansions of Madness
Ever since purchasing a Super Nintendo with money raised from an impromptu family boot sale (garage sale if you’re not British) Adam has been a fan of gaming in all of its forms. Basically if it involves rolling dice or a controller then you have his interest. He is responsible for the creative output at Grimlord Games, so whether it’s the rules of the game or the story of the universe you’re playing in, chances are it spilled out of this guy’s head.

Mike Brown
Mike
Operations Director
Favourite game: Blood Bowl
Mike is a serial entrepreneur having set up, run and sold companies in the past. With a background in fine art and sculpture, he has a creative eye and has been an avid player of board games since his 11th birthday when he got his first copy of Milton Bradley's HeroQuest. A Geordie born and bred, he makes sure things run smoothly at Grimlord Games.

 

In November 2015, they stepped forward when they decided to launch a campaign in Kickstarter with the game that would become their very first game in the market: Endure the Stars.

Wow, what incredible pictures!

This catches our eye as soon as we find any piece of information about Endure the Stars on the internet. It is obvious that the graphic design has a distinctive sign, Brian Coughlan's.

He is the conceptual artist who works in collaboration with Grimlord Games to bring the theme portrayed in Endure the Stars to live, and he achieves to do it in the most amazing way. It is thanks to him that the scenario is clearly visible in our minds from the very beginning: we are in a far away future with really advanced technology, but something has gone wrong…

And their work about graphics does not stop here, as they are also working closely with Urban Giants Graphic Designers on the branding of their games, translating these artworks in the needed game elements.

…terribly wrong

We travel on the spaceship N.W.E. Hikari, where the scientific personnel is performing genetic experiments with other living organisms behind the rest of the crew's backs, with the purpose of optimizing and using them throughout the colonization process, which is the objective of the trip.

A sequence of tragic events results in the exposure of the truth and as a result of the chaos provoked, the genetically-modified are freed from their retaining tanks. Enraged, they destroy everything they find in their way all over the spaceship, killing everyone they come across.

Titán

Now, the surviving crew lives hidden in small groups, gathering everything they need to survive from the remaining of the gigantic Hikari, which is roaming adrift in space.

From 1 to 6 of us, we will take the role of some of the survivors in order to cooperate in the accomplish of certain missions, which will guarantee the survival of the crew… at least for one more day.

We told you it was a tactical game

And as such, it includes miniatures, to represent on the table not only the heroes of the N.W.E. Hikari, but also the different types of GEP they will have to fight with, including the frightening Titan.

First, they showed us really appealing 3D designs, created from Brian Coughlan's art. Then, they took a further step forward. Grimlord Games collaborate with Big Child Studio (just to remind you, a Spanish company that has already worked with no other than CoolMiniOrNot on Rum&Bones and B-sieged) for the final design.

And to really see the great quality of this models Rogland Studio has already made some paintings examples:

If we ever need a final push to assure the quality of this product, its production will be carried out by Ludofact, one of the main board games manufacturers.

An atypical crowdfunding campaign

With all these components, added to the game mechanics that we will discuss later, Grimlord Games launched their game and put it at the Kickstarter users' disposal in November 2015.

Even though it was well-received, the first days of the campaign were not as successful as we have been used to with other campaigns. Most likely, the advertisement before the campaign started was not enough; as a result, it took them six days to achieve their goal, and in the next twenty days, the daily increase of the funding received was low. In the last four days, however, the numbers started to grow and the campaign ended up pledging 300% above the initial goal.

What was the cause of this shift? The untiring effort shown by the couple that represents Grimlord Games, for sure. During the initial stagnation, instead of collapse, or even cancelling the campaign to relaunch it in the future, as we have seen in previous occasions, they faced the situation putting all their efforts into it.

stretchgoals

What did they do differently? Something the users frequently demand: listen to them. They turned their backers into their main ally, listening to each of their suggestions about different aspects of game and the campaign itself, and quickly incorporating all the modifications that were identified as potential improvements: from changing the game mechanics into different ones to adding new contents that were not initially planned (and therefore putting the art designer to work) or even changing the amounts or the order in which to unlock the stretch goals. They even did this multiple times in the same day.

This is how the campaign closed with a game that had originally been created by two people but is now considered by many as the joint contributions and support provided by 1.650 international backers.

Zombicide in space

This was one of the most repeated phrases during the campaign and even after it was over every time anyone asked about the game mechanics.  And even though this could be a brief description, there is nothing further from the truth.

As Adam Smith said himself: ‘So if you've played Zombicide then the core of Endure the Stars will feel familiar. The map tiles are divided into zones, players may search rooms for items and each player/survivor has 3 actions they can perform in their turn. That's about where the two games begin to part ways.

Now we will try to summarize the main differences and additions offered by Endure the Stars.

Survivors

The six character classes included in the core game (Captain, Psychic, Marine, Medic, Engineer and Scout), are completely determined from the very beginning. That is, we will not gain acquire new during the game, but we will have the following available:

  • A passive ability that will remain active at all times.
  • An active ability that will require us to spend one action in order to be able to use it.
  • A crisis ability that we will be able to use only once in the game, but whose effects are really powerful.

Each one of them also has two features: health and resolve. We will talk about the latter below.

The enemies, the GEPs

Apart from having a wider variety of enemies (up to 5 different ones:Swarmers, Jaegers, Icarus, Solomon and Titan) with their own specific abilities, we do not longer have to fight a mindless crowd. Each type of enemy has its own AI, unpredictable in some cases (e.g. their movement, which is controlled by a die whenever they do not have a specific objective), and in the case of the Titan, his actions are controlled by his own deck of cards.

And to make it even more interesting, our enemies will only show up as blips in our radars, represented on the board with token that will keep their identity hidden until we get close enough to them to be able to uncover it.

Resolve

It is nobody's cup of tea to fight for their survival, and this is not what the colonist were expecting from their trip. This is the reason why, in certain situations (the appearance of an enemy, a teammate's death, or any other effects), players will have to check this feature on their character, and its value will decrease as they fail.

A set of cards previously chosen at random from each player's deck will determine the times at which a survivor's resolve is weakened and the events lead him to act in the most unexpected way.

Events

While the N.W.E. Hikari wanders out of control in space infected by genetically modified aliens, it is not possible to be sure about what is going to happen next.

Every turn, an event card will trigger a beneficial, harmful or just a surprising effect, which may be resolved immediately or remain in play. We do not want to disclose too much about this, but we know that some of them are really original.

Missions

The base game will present twelve different mission, each one of that could be played as standalone. But more interesting would be that some of them will have also the possibility to be played as mini campaigns, something frequently asked for similar games.

The core game comes with ten: two mini-campaigns with four missions and two independent scenarios as well as the rules for the survivors' shelter.

And more

Individual achievement cards. Status effects caused by events, weapons or creatures. Wound location with additional damaging effects. Interaction with the scenario, with the possibility of destroying walls.

The not so far Future

Wait! Did you think that was all?

addons

Is already known that Endure the Stars will have some expansions, from the materials showed and available as add-ons during the Kickstarter. This expansions will add different groups of enemies and new missions to play against them.

Cybernetic Onslaugh

The Sentry system was designed as a defence against any of the experiments escaping containment, but electromagnetic interference from the planet below caused the sentries to fail on several occasions. The entire system was deemed too unreliable and shut down in favour of containment teams made up of military personnel. The largest of these was a prototype called the Olympian, designed to go toe to toe with the larger and more aggressive genetic experiments.

Redeemers of Purpose

Not everyone was comfortable with the way the human race was colonising the stars. Some of the crew found the genetic experimentation unsettling, but kept their opinions to idle gossip amongst like-minded individuals. But after the events that led to the current situation, this small band of sceptics has monstrously evolved into a fanatical cult that believes that the outbreak and subsequent slaughter was an act of an angry deity, punishing human’s attempts at playing God. Known as the Redeemers of Purpose, their only goal is to kill all those who do not follow their Mad God, in the hopes the sacrifices will prove their devotion and restore peace to their lives.

Our opinion

The incredible artwork designed by Brian Coughlan and the possibility of customizing the game thanks to Big Child Creative’s awesome miniatures, make Endure the Stars meet the main features that we in PICs look for in a game. Nevertheless, we also believe that the surface hides much more.

Although Zombicide has been a successful formula, it is also true that it has been more popular with casual gamers than with those who look for a more tactical experience because of its simplicity (which is in turn its main achievement, along with its addictive component). That is why Endure the Stars may result of interest not only to those players who were not attracted by the fast and frenetic massacre of zombies, but also to those who are ready for a more thoughtful experience.

In this kind of game, one of the most determining factors for success is the design of the missions, something that we still know very little about. However, even nowadays Grimlord Games keeps listening to their public, and they have recently organized a competition to select the best conceptual design of a mission conceived by a follower. Also they are very active on their dedicated Facebook group (They who Endure the Stars), listening to all kind of suggestions from their followers. If Adam and  Mike keep paying attention so well to their major allies, just like they showed during the Kickstarter’s campaign, we are sure that they will know how to take advantage of all this information about what are we expecting to see in the development of Endure the Stars.

We can only wait until the end of the year to have the game on our tables, hopefully as a Christmas gift, and enjoy playing it and painting its miniatures as well. From our side, as soon as we have the opportunity to play it a couple of times, we will give you our opinion again.    

And, for sure, you will see the results of our contributors’ work and their paint brushes on these miniatures. 


More information

For our article we have focus on the core game, but in the following links you will find more information about Endure the Stars, their additional products, Grimlord Games and their partners.

Web of Grimlord Games

And their Facebook

Group of fans 

Campaing from Kickstarter

More about the work of Brian Coughlan

More about the work of Big Child Creatives

Information about Ludofact


 

¡ #moretimeforplaying !

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