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Terraforming Mars designer remakes debut game as Star Scrappers: Orbital

Hexis stage right.

Create a mighty space station and gather precious deposits of Hexis in Star Scrappers: Orbital, an upcoming remake of the debut card game by Jacob Fryxelius - the designer behind Terraforming Mars.

Newly set in the Star Scrappers universe - a space-western inspired tabletop world where various civilisations squabble for control over Hexis, a rare and powerful mineral - Orbital sees players taking the commander’s chair in a space station. Drawn to an asteroid belt called the Sybil Cloud, one to five players must develop their very own orbital station on behalf of their chosen corporation in the hopes of mining the most Hexis. With various competing corporate factions to choose from - each containing a mixture of intriguing alien life forms - players will need to outsmart and outgun their rivals in order to win.

Star Scrappers: Orbital is a worker-placement game that has players acquiring cards in order to construct the various modules of their space station. Each turn, players can choose to lay down one of their module cards to develop their station, with each module providing the player with various benefits. To activate these benefits, the player can decide to place one of their crewmembers on a module - whilst also paying whatever funds are required - on their turn. Module benefits can include protecting the player’s station from various forms of sabotage performed by enemy players.

Building modules requires the player to place their cards in a way that connects them up with the rest of the station, with every module card showing multiple connection points on its sides. Once connected, the player can choose to upgrade their existing modules to improve the benefits they receive. Besides module cards and upgrades, players can discard event cards to directly target their rivals, or otherwise aid them in some way.

If a player’s station is attacked by another player, they can use their turn to repair any damaged modules. Not only do damaged modules prevent players from activating their benefits, they also do not grant players money and victory points at the end of each year-long round. Whichever player has the most victory points by the last year of the game is named the winner.

Orbital is a remake of a card game called Space Station, released by FryxGames - the studio co-run by Fryxelius - in 2011. Aside from bringing the game’s theme in line with the Star Scrappers universe with new artwork and background story, Orbital includes an updated rulebook and adds two separate solo game modes not seen in the original title. Both are only available to backers who pledge for the game on Kickstarter.

Star Scrappers: Orbital board game cards

Orbital publisher Hexy Studio is the studio responsible for the previous entries in the Star Scrappers series - including competitive mining game, Star Scrappers: Cave-in - as well as a 1980s movie-inspired miniatures board game called Hard City.

The Kickstarter campaign for Star Scrappers: Orbital is live until November 21st, with a pledge of €32 (£29) getting backers a copy of the core game set to arrive next May.


Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Staff Writer

Alex’s journey to Dicebreaker began with writing insightful video game coverage for outlets such as Kotaku, Waypoint and PC Gamer. Her unique approach to analysing pop culture and knack for witty storytelling finally secured her a forever home producing news, features and reviews with the Dicebreaker team. She’s also obsessed with playing Vampire: The Masquerade, and won’t stop talking about it.