Date: March 16, 2021
Recently, Iceberg Interactive has kindly let us play a preview (pre-Early-Access) version of Star Dynasties. What a better time to discuss the things we were able to do in the game, when you might be able to do some of them yourself starting tomorrow, March 16th! If you are excited to give this game a shot, remember to grab your own copy on Steam!
As we have discussed earlier this week, Star Dynasties is described as “the Crusader Kings in space.” Still, you might see some visual influences of Stellaris and, after getting a chance to play it, we can draw some comparisons to Civilization series as well (this strategy game is turn-based and is packed with events.) Okay, all of this is great and all, but good games aren’t good just because of what they are: they are good because of what experiences they get you to have.
So, what are you able to do in Star Dynasties?
(Keep in mind that this review comes pre-Early-Access, where the majority of the game is subject to change.)
Expand Your Empire
Your goal in Star Dynasties is “to make your house the most powerful house in the galaxy,” so a lot of what you do will have to do with conquest, diplomacy, and intrigue. While you might have a favorite approach, the chaos of events and alliances will probably force you to do at least a little bit of each: attack and defend in combat, obtain influence through marriage and favors, and participate in unrest, shady dealings, and secrets.
Assisting an uprising to break a large faction into independent kingdoms and then intermarrying and bargaining for obedience is an example of a very effective approach that combines scheming, battle, and diplomacy.
Handle Unexpected Challenges
Your reputation, holdings, military prowess, and established alliances will be at the center of your strategy, even if you levy one of these more often than others. Unexpected situations will most certainly come up, and they will come up often.
One uneventful afternoon you might catch your wife and your brother doing something rather inappropriate in the alleyway. In your desire for justice, would you risk your wife’s reputation, a member of your council, as well as the good standing of the man you assigned to be the head of your military? Or, when a stronger faction offers you allegiance, will you be willing to betray the ally that has never refused you assistance? When your family members fall ill at worst possible times, will you be willing to sacrifice resources to demonstrate loyalty to your blood ties? Are you willing to let one of your sons and your mother-in-law pursue their mutual attraction, even if it will be frowned upon by the others?
Narrative events and opportunities for intervention will saturate every corner of your view. Even with the code of honor tracking your decisions, there are no right and no wrong answers amidst the diplomatic chaos — only the consequences you are willing to deal with.
Assign Tasks to Your House Members
Competence of your house members isn’t here just for show: those whom you assigned to be responsible for administrative, military, diplomatic, security, and technology areas will make up your council and will need to be sent on assignments, often outside your home system.
Secure a diplomatic bond, prepare for an assault, establish a spy network, rebuild your fleet. Frequently, there will be some risks and some stakes. Their skills, their opinion of you, and their personal circumstances (their happiness) will all affect success of the operation, so you will need to assign only the best to handle your most important tasks.
Colonies, Taxes, Vassals, Oh My!
We didn’t get a chance to amass enough wealth to improve infrastructures or restore abandoned colonies, or see long-term effects of overtaxing our vassals or granting them independence. These are only some of the examples of other actions you will be able to carry out in Star Dynasties: among them are subduing or leading rebellions, improving your fleet, granting rights to your vassals to have more children, hosting feasts in someone’s honor, spreading unrest, covering up secrets, scheming assassinations, forcing others to press claims to territories or doing so yourself!
Some of these you will get a chance to initiate yourself, others might come up as opportunities or as this turn’s opportunities and suggestions for action, or as a part of a story where your space shuttle experiences a failure while you are on a trip with your nephew, offering you a chance to teach the child a valuable survival lesson which might affect their future personality.
Some of these actions might be familiar to you from Crusader Kings and Civilization series, but developers of Star Dynasties promise us a unique focus on human drama and relationships, which already shows in the early stages of the game, as people react to happiness of those they care about, and tragedy of those they despise; as your actions are influenced by your loyalties, family responsibilities, and personal affections; as your sense of justice and fear has to be balanced off with what’s best for your reputation and the success of your faction.
We are eager to see what other actions and storylines will be unlocked in the Early Access version of the game, and the updates going forward. After all, our journey with Star Dynasties has just begun.
What games does Star Dynasties remind you of? Does the need to balance so many aspects of leadership and court drama feel exiting or intimidating to you? Do you have a lot of experience with sci-fi grand strategy or is Star Dynasties your introduction to this setting?
Let us know in the comments below!