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One Small Step for Stellar Kind: A Stellar Leap Board Game Review

W Updated March 10, 2020
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One Small Step for Stellar Kind: A Stellar Leap Board Game Review

Game Information

Game Name
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There Will Be Games

Outer Space seems to be the perfect setting for a 4x Game. Who isn’t itching to “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and (go full Dalek) eXterminate” in the infinite expanse? But is Stellar Leap a 4X game? Hmmm...Maybe. 

The core of the game involves each player rolling two dice and manipulating them. Manipulation can be done by a player's personal power card or by using the universal power card available to everyone. Each planet or asteroid is placed by a player in a slot numbered 1 thru 6 on the galaxy board. Rows (or planets) are activated when either the die shows that face the they are under or is the total of the two dice added together...but since you always roll two dice, wouldn’t the odds be with you if you put your planet on the “6” space? This, and a few other reasons, led me to feel like it was more “Machi Cosmos with Manipulation” than a 4X title braving the last frontier.

Stellar Leap does, technically, having the “eXplore” where you reveal and place new planets or asteroids onto the board but it literally just involves flipping over a new planet, marking it “discovered” with a chit and setting it up under a number. You can also “eXpand” by moving population to different planets, allowing you to secure resources from them if their number comes up.

I do really like how Stellar Leap does the “eXploit” option. It has this great mechanism where you put a die on an asteroid card when it is revealed and, every time it is mined, you roll the number of dice shown by the pips. The highest result is added to your haul of items from that asteroid. The die is then decreased by one to show diminishing resources. I absolutely love this idea and the execution.I just wish enough dice were included so that you didn’t constantly run out of them to either place or roll.

As for the “eXterminate” or Combat….Well, combat isn’t really combat. It is more of a playground shoving match. You don’t lose population when you are defeated in combat, you just get “pushed” off the planet to a neighboring planet. Like “This planet is overpopulated and I’m getting less resources, so “Bang, Zoom! Straight to the Moon with you, Alice!” Are the booted population exhausted when they get there? They should be since they apparently flapped their arms and flew there. There is no resource cost for retreating to another planet. You almost expect a “Thank you” from other players for the free movement if you “defeat” them. And the only real worthwhile reason to engage in combat is if your Trait card says you get prestige (VP) from doing so.

The problem with Stellar Leap is that It doesn’t really feel like space exploration, it is just sort of moving the cubes on your Food, Fuel, Oxygen and Water settings. And you generally just want a ton of all of the items because you never know what is going to need to buy some victory points and the game doesn’t make resources particularly hard to acquire. Even purchasing the goal cards gives you some resources-Meet the future: we have green stamps.

Stellar Leap also has “Species Trait” cards for every race that are randomly dealt to players at the beginning of the game. But choose wisely in this “Pick one, discard one” opening gambit. Unlike “Gain Bonus VP” cards in other games, it doesn’t give a gentle nudge in a general direction. Instead, it gives bonuses that are on par (or above par) with every other VP gaining action in the game. If you are being rewarded with 3 bonus VP for every new planet you discover and you only usually get 2 or 3 VP for every planet, you would be foolish not to be taking small steps on every piece of terra nova you can.

The game does have some cool artwork but just not enough of it. The player mats are great but the planets and goal cards are bland. Most of the goal cards just have a vaguely familiar sci-fi quote on them and nothing to make them really “pop.”

Stellar Leap Board Game

I love some of the things that Stellar Leap does (the asteroid mining mechanism) but in a crowded Galaxy of space themed games, it doesn’t blast out to the front of the space race.

A review copy of this release was provided by the publisher. 

Editor reviews

1 reviews

I love some of the things that Stellar Leap does (the asteroid mining mechanism) but in a crowded Galaxy of space themed games, it doesn’t blast out to the front of the space race.
Wade Monnig  (He/Him)
Staff Board Game Reviewer

In west Saint Louis born and raised
Playing video games is where I spent most of my days
Strafing, Dashing, Adventuring and Looting
Writing reviews between all the Shooting
When a couple of guys reminded me what was so good
About playing games with cardboard and Wood,
Collecting Victory Points and those Miniatures with Flair
It’s not as easy as you think to rhyme with Bel Air.

Wade is the former editor in chief for Silicon Magazine and former senior editor for He currently enjoys his games in the non-video variety, where the odds of a 14 year old questioning the legitimacy of your bloodline is drastically reduced.

“I’ll stop playing as Black when they invent a darker color.”

Articles by Wade

Wade Monnig
Staff Board Game Reviewer

Articles by Wade

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WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #307885 11 Mar 2020 17:08
I knew i should have used "Welcome to the future...we have green stamps" as the tag.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #307904 11 Mar 2020 23:48
Oh, man. That sounds tedious. And like it needed a lot more playtesters.

"Lessee, an essential aspect of this game is new planets and I can double my points for finding them with this card..."