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Hey there Star gazer - A Starry Night Sky review

Starry Night Sky from Emma Larkins is a game in which you will be moving around the board, completing constellations. So I guess it's a movement, pattern building game, with end game bonus points. Or maybe star placement or star exploration would be a better summary?

Starry Night Sky is a game for 2 to 4 players, and takes place over a number of rounds, until you've placed all the discovery markers on the board. At two players the game feels super super short and that it's over before it's even began!

But how do you play, I hear. Its a breeze to explain and teach. On your turn you'll draw an exploration card, and then draw upto 3 stars from the bag and add one to each of your star pools on your player board. You'll then move your telescope to an adjacent constellation, after which you'll place stars from one of your star pools on the constellation. You can't move to a constellation you can't add stars to and you skip over completed constellations and the start space. If you've moved to an already explored constellation, you earn a bonus 'turn' of moving again and placing stars again.

Points come from a mixture of sources. Exploration cards give you mini goals to achieve throughout the game and give you a couple of points for each one you complete, although you can always trade exploration cards in for a star of your choice. The vast majority of your points will come from discovering new constellations and placing stars on constellations. Each discovery marker is worth 1-3 points as indicated on the discovery track (the values change throughout the game). You'll then score 1 point for each star you place. There are also end game goals, know as myth cards, which will require you to complete two different constellations to earn some final end game points.

Starry Night Sky is simple, it's easy to teach and a game I suspect you'd find on a non-gaming store shelf. Although it will probably be at home in a game store too. However, the price point of £40+ feels a little too much, I suspect its due to importing fees etc as in the US it appears to retail for around $20-30, whilst here in the UK it appears to be sold in a number of places for £40 or more! To me this is a £30 game at most.

Is there enough here though to appeal to heavy gamers? Probably not, after a handful of plays I felt like I'd seen everything, done everything and it felt like very much a game that in game points were more important than the few points that myth cards provide at the end of the game. However, Starry Night Sky is probably a game that you can sit down and play with new gamers, there's few rules, helpful player aids that means you'll be able to teach it in a minute or two and then be playing.

The game estimates 30-45 minutes and at two players we were done in just under 20 minutes, the game felt incredibly short. We found it near enough impossible to complete more than 1 myth card unless you got lucky with constellations being close to each other and the other player unknowingly helped complete the constellations on the other side of the board. Therefore putting an emphasis on in game scoring, with myth cards almost being a bit of end game luck that can swing the scoring. You can also find yourself somewhat held back by the stars you draw from the bag, a couple of turns of drawing stars of all of the same colour back to back feels frustrating, yes there are tools e.g. discard a exploration card to take a star of your choice, but it's not enough to mitigate multiple bad draws.

As you know, I rate games on a

- Buy or play

- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ

- Avoid

For me Starry Night Sky looks to be a solid board game that I suspect many may enjoy, but for me it's one I am very very unlikely to ever pick to play. If you're a fan of astronomy I suspect this is a buy, although maybe not for £40+. Or if you're after a new game to introduce new gamers into the hobby with, this could be a nice mix up and has a new theme with new components. Fundamentally, to me Starry Night Sky is okay, and a firm 6 or 7 out of 10 and that makes it a Wait for Sale or play if you like games like Century Spice Road, Pan AM, Quacks of Quedlinburg as Starry Night Sky sits in this kind of space, an easy rule set wrapped around an interesting theme that is likely to be appealing as an introductory board game, or that before or after the main game of the evening sort of thing.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Starry Night Sky for review by Emma Larkins. I was not paid for this review and all thoughts remain my own.

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