Endure the Stars 1.5 is a cooperative space survival game by Grimlord Games. Players take on the role of the ship's crew, battling for survival against genetically engineered lifeforms that have escaped containment on the ship and now roam free. Endure the Stars was a successful Kickstarter in 2015 and the 1.5 update funded in 2017 and has just been released into retail.
Off The Shelf / On The Tabletop articles come in two halves. In Off The Shelf we will look at what's in the product along with covering how the game plays. This is followed by On The Tabletop where we talk about our first playthrough games and finish with feedback from the On The Tabletop team.
The On The Tabletop playthrough articles catalog our initial experiences with a game; as a result, mistakes will be made. On The Tabletop should also not be taken as a full review. These articles are simply our first impressions of a game.
Off The Shelf
Endure The Stars 1.5 releases alongside several expansions. In the Core Box, you get all the map tiles, tokens, rules, and components for 6 survivor classes and the core enemies and the following expansions are also available:
- Survivors Gender Variant (introduces a gender variant miniature for each survivor class, along with a new ability board for each that can be used with the originals as well)
- Primus GEP Boss (Adds an incredibly powerful enemy into your games)
- Redeemers of Purpose (introduces a new enemy type of zealots into your games)
- Cybernetic Onslaught (adds robotic sentry enemies to games, along with a survivor type with 2 varients)
3 additional dice packs are also available:
- Survivor color-coded injury dice
- Additional directional dice
- Additional Solomon and weapon jam dice
The missions for each of the expansions are included in the Core Box rulebook and each expansion includes the miniatures and components to use each new enemy. So you are able to see the scenarios in advance and decide which expansions you want to purchase as your campaign progresses.
Endure the Stars is a scenario-driven game and players can select a one-off mission or opt for a more detailed campaign of linked scenarios. Each scenario lists the map set-up, enemies and mission. Enemies for each mission also scale depending on how many players there are.
In the Core Box, 6 character types are available for players to chose from, and each has their own set of unique abilities to choose from. The Captain, for example, is able to stay sane when others are losing their minds, ignoring events that can have an adverse effect. The Engineer is able to create escape routes for the survivors and discard equipment cards to make other weapons more powerful.
The rules for Endure the Stars are extremely simple, although the rulebook does feel complicated in its layout. There are only a few pages of rules, with most of the booklet dedicated to the individual scenarios.
Each turn, players get 3 actions with their survivors, and these can be used to move, search, attack or use other abilities. Searching draws from either the weapon or the item deck, depending on the room being searched and gives the survivors some much-needed equipment, as they begin extremely poorly armed.
The weapons themselves list all the details needed for combat. They each have 4 stats which are range (in map tile zones), a number for the amount of dice to roll, a target number that each dice needs to roll above to hit, and a noise level.
Noise is important because if enemies don’t see a survivor, they can still react to noise. Different weapons and actions cause different noise levels and rather than being cumulative with every action, the noise level is only raised if a louder piece of equipment is used. For example, if an assault rifle with noise 4 is used, anything quieter can be used freely in that zone without raising the noise level.
Enemies have a straight-forward AI system which includes an order of activation for the different types of enemies and a clear target selection, survivors they’ve seen, or can see, followed by noise levels.
A big focus in Endure the Stars is the Resolve mechanic. Resolve is a stat that works like heath and reflects the survivor's mental state. Over the course of the game, resolve can be reduced by coming into contact with enemies. At the start of the game, each survivor is dealt 3 random resolve cards that all have a value on them. When a survivor's resolve stat is equal to a number on a resolve card, that can activate and causes an effect that makes life a little bit worse for that survivor.
At the end of each turn, an event card is drawn, and some of these are extremely thematic. The gravity failure was a lot of fun as you move in the opposite direction when shooting, and enemies are also pushed back, allowing you to set up some very dynamic phases.
If the survivor's life wasn't hard enough, additional rules can also be added to increase the difficulty, such as solo play, constant stress and scent of blood rules.
The miniatures and artwork for Endure the Stars are extremely thematic, along with the components they work well to makes it feel extremely thematic.
On The Tabletop
For our test games, we played through a couple of the introductory scenarios, in order to get a feel for the game and mechanics, along with each of the survivors.
Adam: It was the miniatures for Endure The Stars that first caught my attention, and they don't disappoint. Some of the survivor miniatures are fantastic and they will get use from me in games away from Endure The Stars.
The rulebook doesn't feel like a 1.5 rulebook. For an updated product, I would expect it to be incredibly polished, but for such a simple system, it could be written and laid-out so much better.
The rules and mechanics for Endure the Stars work, and there is nothing wrong with them, but the game feels like it lacks something. If this had been released several years ago, it might have stood out more, but with the huge amount of choice we have in the market, it doesn't stand out enough for me. If this style of game and theme really appeals to you, then you'll have a blast with Endure The Stars. If you play other games of this type regularly and want something with variation, then I'd recommend giving this a look. For me though, after our test games, I'm not sure I'd reach for this over another game when picking a game for game night.
The set-up is fast, rules are simple and it is enjoyable to play, but it doesn't feel exemplary in a market steadily filling up with incredible games.
Adam is the righteous leader of the On The Tabletop Team and is an experienced tabletop gamer. He has played physical and online CCGs to a very high competitive level. He also has a background in roleplaying, board and wargaming and has playtested and produced content for several companies. A veteran tabletop writer who's favorite games includes Dark Souls the Card Game, The Legend of the Five Rings LCG, WarCry and Bushido. You can read his work here on TechRaptor and follow his exploits on Twitter - @StealthBuda.
Kit: Well Endure the Stars. I reckon they could have dropped the "the stars".
The models were high quality, however, poses and class combos I've seen before and in some cases better, nothing leapt out at me that I wanted to paint it. The terrain itself was generic "space corridor", but had fitted the map tile reference into the art.
One bizarre set up aspect was the random weapons. Each player picked weapon cards, they were then shuffled and randomly handed to each of us. There is also a chance your heading into the game with no weapons. From a fluff point of view if you're going to raid a derelict space ship I'm sure you'd at least pack a knife.
The game itself felt like an amalgamation of other games. The noise mechanic was Zombicide with a tweak, but for tweak's sake. Their one unique mechanic was the resolve system. You had a set maximum, and when you started losing resolve random effects would occur. However, it has to be the most clunky card system I've ever encountered. Draw 3 cards at the start of the game, flip them over without looking at them, yet show the bottom number on the card. whaaa? in practice this was difficult.
All in all, unless your some sort of sci-fi board game hoarder and must have them all I'd say pick up a game that does it better like Core Space or Zombicide.
Kit is the owner of ABZ Games, Aberdeen’s gaming community hub. He has been playing board/card/war/role-playing games for near on 25 years. Currently, his favorite game is Wild West Exodus by Warcradle.
Kyla: I'm normally one for writing decent length reviews, but for once I'll keep this short and simple. Endure the Stars has some great looking miniatures, board tiles, cards, and other pieces. Gameplay is also streamlined and really easy to learn, but does the game possess anything that will make me pick it up over something else? I don't think so.
I've played many games like this before, just with different skins, but EtS just lacks anything novel or genius to make it stand out from the rest. I think the awesome competitive gameplay and 3D terrain of Core Space has really spoilt me, and it's difficult to pick up a game like Endure the Stars and enjoy it in the same way. I also felt like some details had been left out of the guide which really shouldn't have been overlooked as this is version 1.5.
Even now, I'm struggling to remember key details from EtS; they are just blending in with the memories of other sci-fi games I've played recently. Sorry Endure the Stars, you're just too generic for me :(
Kyla is a 3D Artist and VFX Compositor. She is also known around the UK convention scene for her costume and prop making work. She's been a regular DM and player of Dungeons & Dragons for the last 3 years, and when she's not busy writing her own homebrew campaigns she can be found playing Zombicide with friends. You can find her on Instagram at @HallowStudios, and on her website.
The copies of Endure The Stars 1.5 and expansions used in this article were provided by Asmodee UK.