No more beta!

We’ll be able to travel Among the Stars on May 10

iOS, Android •

Yesterday I vented a bit about the seemingly endless barrage of board game betas being thrown at us in 2018 without anything actually, you know, releasing. The folks at Cublo heard my cries and, today, announced that their 7 Wonders-like, sci-fi builder, Among the Stars, will be arriving on iOS and Android on May 10.

We talked about Among the Stars back when the beta opened up, but if you don’t remember here’s a primer. It’s like 7 Wonders in that the game’s central mechanism is card drafting; picking one card from your hand and then passing the remainder of your hand to either the left or right. Unlike the rather loose theming of 7 Wonders, however, Among the Stars has a concrete theme where each card is a new room of a budding space station. Thus, it’s a bit like 7 Wonders and Castles of Mad King Ludwig had a kid who grew up to be a Trekkie.

That tweet is all the info we currently have, so no word on pricing or other release day details. Who cares. In only a couple weeks we’ll have a new board game to play on our mobile devices! It’s been so long since I’ve been able to say that, the details can wait.

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Notable Replies

  1. Cublo, eh? Are they the ones that did Brass? That at least would suggest they know how to do online and asynch, whether or not it is in this game.

  2. They are the makers of Brass which does have a decent online multiplayer system.

    The online system hasn't been turned on during the beta (the Online button is grayed out), but i have a feeling asynchronous would be hard to implement. Literally, all you do on your turn is select a card and place it. That said, it's doable, just not sure I'd want a game of AtS to last 3-5 days...

  3. To each his own. It may not be ideal, but asynchronous is the only way I can play with my closest friends.

    Asynchronous card drafting works in Agricola.

  4. Async is never hard. All it requires is a server and save state code, no big deal. No async, no play. Sync means depending upon everyone else and in my experience, “everyone else” is not a reliable opponent. He can take too long or she can just give up and walk away, whatever. Sync sux, that’s my beef and I’m stickin’ to it.

  5. I wonder how many people play with strangers. Among friends, I think synchronous play is the way to go. It's not like none of us have ever had someone walk away from an asynch game, either...

  6. We have a dedicated “Boardgame Buddies” chat group. We do not play anything sync that requires even a half hour to play. Depending upon who’s playing, we’re up to six time zones apart. Playing sync requires too big an investment of “right now” time. In fact, the only sync game any of us play is Hearthstone, which typically requires only ten minutes.

  7. Yeah, but I think we're kind of the exception to the rule. Most people's friends aren't scattered across the globe, probably.

  8. my nearby friends don't want to play sync online games. the downtime can be hard to bear at the boardgame table, but in long online games it kills all the fun.
    so we meet at a boardgame table or don't play at all.

    on the other hand my online friends who i met and learned to know on sites like SP, PT or on Slack are scattered around the world, of course. they want to play online games, but sync is simply impossible.

    the only sync online games i ever played were short-trackers like Ticket to Ride, Spectromancer, a complete race of DiscDrivin'2, some battles in Primal, some CR and SR games and HS.
    even a game of Cabals (can take more than half an hour) seemed like the absolute limit, and often enough failed when an opponent walked away.

    i once played some Brass turns in realtime with strangers. of those about 40 minutes 30 minutes were just waiting time :disappointed_relieved:
    when it started to hurt i just went away and waited for my next turn notification.
    impossible in a sync-only game. not sure what i would have done then.
    we were not even half-way through...

    so which online games do you play in sync mode, and how often?

    btw all async games can be played in realtime too. so async mode never hurts.

  9. I mainly play shooters online, which are synch by nature. I sometimes play Pax Porfiriana on yucata.de, asynch. I mean, I agree that it's a good thing to have, my only thought is that I don't think it's super common for people to play with other people who are widely dispersed, and thus developers don't see it as worth the effort.

  10. It is not just about distance, though. Different jobs and family situations can make it almost impossible for four friends to find the exact 30-45 minutes to start up an online game at the same time.

  11. I agree...every board game should have asynchronous play unless there's some mechanism that prevents it (such as the ability to interrupt another player's turn, like Talisman). In a perfect world, the publisher would sit with the designer to change the way the game plays to make it work asynchronously (like CGE did with Galaxy Trucker), but that's a lot to ask for a game that, even if it does well for a board game, isn't going to make the company a bazillion dollars.

    Even if Among the Stars has asynchronous play, I'm not sure I'd partake in many online games due to the way the game's turns work. The option to play asynchronously should still be there, however.

  12. Just to play devils advocate, but which is the bigger market - people like us, or people who play games with randoms online?

    I do both, and the big games have a whole lot of people just looking for random quick games. Even through the ages just got updated with a speed to cater to those sync players. With async, random players can be a real headache. They drop out when they are losing (or for any reason really, who knows). When you’ve invested weeks into a game that’s a real blow, whereas it’s merely annoying when they drop out after half an hour in a sync game.

  13. Well if we’re going down the “which is the biggest market” road, then it seems like that’s the AI only crowd. I’d hate to live in that world!

  14. It's not even close.

    I've heard all of these "asynch or die!" arguments a thousand times before -- and I'm not anti-asynch, as many of you who have played against me should know -- but after a while, it just gets ridiculous. A news item about an upcoming game can't be posted here, or at BGG, or wherever else, without the usual suspects chiming in about how they won't be playing it because it doesn't cater to their tiny niche. It gets very old, very quickly.

    There's an interesting article to be had here. For whomever ends up writing it, I'd suggest there's actually four different (but related) topics:

    1. Synchronized play ("live games") with randoms;
    2. Synchronized play with friends -- or at least people from a friends list
    3. Asynchronous play with randoms
    4. Asynchronous play with friends

    If you're a boardgame/card game developer, can you hit all four successfully? Do you even want to hit all four successfully? Does it depend on the type of game? The "expected" speed of play?

    There's all kinds of judgments to be made about games already available. For example, I'd argue that Ascension does a pretty good job of pleasing players in all four categories. On the other hand, Hearthstone has no interest at all in the third and fourth categories. Neuroshima Hex is built for the first and second slots, is perfectly fine with the fourth slot, but is nearly impossible with the third (the NH player base does not seem to accept slower-paced games). Ticket to Ride actually dropped its Pocket series (read: "asynchronous play") years ago -- was it because the player-base wasn't there? At some point, is it ridiculous to wait a couple days, then have your entire turn consist of drawing two cards? It sometimes felt that way ...

    I could go on and on, and I'm sure everyone here could add other examples. But at some point, I think it becomes pretty clear that the fourth category -- online games with friends, played at whatever pace -- is a niche of a niche of a niche. It is simply not what most consumers are after, even boardgame consumers.

    And that's a real concern if you're a developer. Time and effort aren't free -- they are very real concerns when you're making a game that probably has the thinnest of profit margins to begin with. Add in the facts that the asynchronous component to many existing boardgame apps seems to be buggy as hell (Apple's fault? Lazy programming? I really don't know), along with often-minuscule player bases (seriously, has anyone ever played an asynch game of Kahuna? Alhambra? Keltis?) and it seems to me that we shouldn't be surprised when some developers just decide not to bother with it at all.

  15. i played some games of Kahuna with zebracadabra. we played several Alhambra games in our "boardgame buddies" group.
    other games played in our group were Ra, Greed, Fealty, War of the Roses, Battleline, Tikal, Brief History of the World, Dynasties, Lanterns, endless streams of Disc Drivin' races and just recently Medici and Tsuro.

    btw the new Ticket to Ride app did not drop async gameplay. it's there, and our group played many async games: Pennsylvania, India, China, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Great Britain etc.

    i'm not shying away from sync. i even played boardgames live on Brettspielwelt (wasn't exactly what i'd call fun though). i played Kingdom Builder, Through The Desert, Cabals and Spectromancer sync games with strangers.

    it's just that i prefer playing async.

    agreed on that maybe 90% of all players give a damn on whatever kind of multiplayer option and just want to play solo vs AI bots.
    well, to each his own.

    but i can't imagine to have missed all those truckloads and waggonloads of fun i had in async tournaments of Samurai, Kard Combat, Starbase Orion, Puerto Rico, Neuroshima Hex, Tigris, Le Havre, Carcassonne, Stone Age, Ascension, Nightfall, Agricola, Brass, Titan HD, Eclipse, Lost Cities, Suburbia, Small World 2, Qin, Steam Rails for Riches, RftG, Patchwork, Galaxy Trucker, Cthulhu and Star Realms, Lords of Waterdeep, Twilight Struggle, Summoner Wars, Terra Mystica, Potion Explosion and the still running Decathlon.

    never ever would i have wanted to miss all that greatness.

  16. I was going to mention things like tournaments in my post above, but it felt like it was already getting pretty long.

    I'll say real quick that asynchronous play is at its best when like-minded players get together at sites like this. Whether it's tournaments or informal "I'll play X, Y, and Z" threads, everyone knows that the result will probably be a bunch of asynch games.

    That's where you really see the strength of technology bringing together players from different time zones, ages, backgrounds, etc.

  17. Not to derail the thread with discussion about the game in question, but iirc I watched some footage of this awile back and was really impressed with it. Probably the video in the first post, which is from March.

    I still haven’t bought 7 Wonders, though my finger has hovered over the buy button a bunch of times. Same for Through the Ages (yes, I know, I know).

    I’m going to have a rather long plane flight not long after this comes out...

  18. The game is out, and the blurb suggests that it is, indeed, Asynchronous.

    My new question is: can I play the game with just 2? The tabletop game uses dummy players for a 2-player game, so I don't know if/how the app handles it.

    Edit: Nevermind; the blurb clearly states 3-4 players. I'll leave the question here anyways in case anyone else wonders.

  19. js619 says:

    Haven’t fired up a multiplayer yet, but messed around with the settings. Looks like your username is whatever email you used to create your account, which I don’t particularly love - wish they had an option for a nickname.

    It appears to be async, with a turn timer anywhere between 15 minutes and 48 hours. Not sure if it kicks you after that or skips your turn?

    You can only choose between 3p or 4p; I’ve never played the cardboard, so I guess 2p isn’t an option? Private, password protected “rooms” appear to be the only way to setup games between friends that I can see right now.

  20. imho the best universal method. no GC woes, no iMessage stuff. simple and effective.
    same as for Brass, and we successfully played two tournaments with it.

  21. Yeah, I have no problem with the password protected rooms or anything. I do with you could set a username separate from your e-mail, but Brass was like that, too, and it wasn't a game changer for me.

  22. yeah, would be nice. i remember that i had to use one of my before unused apple email accounts (icloud.com/me.com) for Brass registration for being able to install JammaTal as my username/nickname.

  23. js619 says:

    I’m up for a game if anyone is... game. Jhschaer at iCloud dot com

  24. I’d be willing to play once I buy it. No need to wait for me if a game is ready to go, though. I’ll probably buy an iTunes card tomorrow and download it when I get home.

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