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closed-ended, 4X, strategy game, for 1-16 players

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Abandonia has a great review of the game, that is recommended reading for those with more interest. What follows is a paraphrase from Wikipedia.

Stars! is a complex turn-based computer game based around the management of planets and fleets of spaceships following the 4X game model (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit & eXterminate). The game has been around since 1995, and still has a strong following.

The game is well adapted to the Play-By-Email (PBEM) style of multiplayer gaming. One player takes on duties as host, and the other players send their instructions (turn files) by email to the host. The host then generates the results of those instructions and emails back the results.

An alternative to play-by-email is to use the online system Stars! AutoHost. This system automates most of the hosting duties, and can handle a large number of games simultaneously.

The graphics in the game are rudimentary. It is entirely 2D, and the graphics consist of the main map view and static pictures of planets, ship hulls and components. Even battles consist of moving static icons around a grid.

Most of the above comes verbatim from Wikipedia


In the Gameplay of Stars!, each player begins the game with a small fleet of starting ships and one planet (or occasionally two, depending on Primary Racial Trait and universe size.) From these beginnings they develop their empire until they come into contact with the races of other players.

Players initially send scouts out to scan the planets around their homeworld. These scouts determine the environment and also the mineral concentrations. When a planet with a suitable environment (one that matches the environment settings defined in the race wizard) is found, coloniser ships are constructed and sent to the planet. Additional population and minerals can be shipped to the new colony in freighters.

Each new colony will develop its economy by building factories, mines, defenses or eventually a starbase, according to what the player adds to its production queue. Once a starbase has been built, the planet can construct ships.

In this way, colonies spread out throughout the galaxy from the homeworld, until the empire's boundaries meet those of another race.

(read more at Gameplay of Stars!)
I like playing Stars!. I had forgotten about the PBEM aspect of the game.
I have never played Stars!, although I have looked at it multiple times over the years, considering whether to try it or not. I've heard good things about that game, even going back to when I used to play VGA Planets via local computer BBSs.
I have never played Stars! myself, but an old chum of mine was at one point very active in that community. He helped write the Strategy Guide linked to in the first post.

It looks like the basic 4X space empire concept taken to the most detailed extreme. Which kind of has me salivating now. The only roadblock is that it looks like there is a steep on-ramp -- setting up the software, hosting a game somewhere/somehow, learning the client software tool, massive rules, etc. If anyone here knows how to set it up, or knows people who are still actively playing, please invite them to make themselves known here. They are sure to suck in some new players, myself included.
Yea, Stars! still looks pretty awesome from my POV. I'd love to get a game going Smile I just got the software running on Linux, and there is a great tutorial that walks you through 30 turns of a game, it's super helpful so far.
I bought the game sometime ago. Never did multiplayer with it. Only did single player, with everyone else as bots. Never won the game. I did like it though.
One way to increase your odds of winning is to play more than one race in the hotseat version and play as a team.
I'm looking for a new development/programming side project to occupy my creative itch outside my main profession (ie., programming FOR FUN), and I've been considering adopting one of the several open source STARS clones and finishing it.

Over the years there have been several attempts to clone STARS, to make it a modern program and make it open and extensible.

Would anyone be interested in this? I think STARS is a great game, but quickly fading away due to its age.

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