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As the galaxy’s most powerful dynasty, you can turn your family’s fleet of ships into an armada with which to control the galaxy! Start with a small collection of ships, and upgrade them into bigger and badder ones. You’ll also be able to research and develop new technologies in order to improve your fleet. Eventually, you’ll be able to challenge the rival dynasties for control of the galaxy, and use your fleet to crush their defenses.

If you’ve been watching a lot of sci-fi movies lately, you’ve probably seen the trope a dozen times: the human race has finally mastered interstellar travel, and we’re rushing to colonize the stars. There’s just one problem: there’s already someone out there. This isn’t a bad sci-fi premise, but it’s one that’s been done before. So how do you make it your own? By starting out not with humans, but with a race of aliens.

In the past, games created by independent developers have focused on making up for a lack of budget by using creativity, innovation, and ambition. Star Dynasties is no exception. This new sci-fi strategy game from Zloy K. Games promises to be a refreshing new take on the 4X genre, as it allows players to experience what it would be like to be the leader of a dynasty.

word-image-6516   Star Dynasties is a science fiction role-playing and strategy game developed by Pawley Games under the banner of Iceberg Interactive. It takes the tropes of space feudalism from science fiction classics like Dune and Foundation and integrates them into a package that emphasizes character interaction and procedural storytelling. The game is set during an interstellar dark age: after the unwanted destruction of Earth. Lacking the infrastructure and means to live, the various existing human settlements have fallen into disrepair. Political, technological, and economic achievements from before the destruction of Earth are lost, and local feudal lords show up to make your noble house part of the human drama and feudal politics of the time. word-image-6517   Star Dynasties was conceived by developer Glenn Pauley out of a desire to better showcase the human element in strategy games. It’s a mix (no, not a spice) of the dynastic game of Crusader Kings, wrapped in a shell of turn-based strategy, with a touch of RPG elements and an adventure of your choice. As Glen explains, I love turn-based Empire Management games, and the initial spark for the game came from a desire to add a more realistic human side to Civilization. In deciding to focus on this aspect, I was inspired by role-playing simulations like The Sims, King of Dragon Pass and Crusader Kings, as well as choose-your-own-adventure games like Nation States and Reigns. To understand how complexity creates emergent stories, games like Dwarf Fortress and RimWorld have been instructive. word-image-6518   And yet, despite the jumble of influences and genres, Star Dynasties remains remarkably focused. Even in early access, the game has a clear direction and a strong sense of what it wants to accomplish. And how does he play? Each turn you perform a series of actions. Each action costs a certain number of action points, which are the main resource in the game – credits/money are the other. The player has an impressive array of actions at their disposal, covering both public and personal matters, from asking your liege lord to press a button on the system to assigning personal medical care to a sick member of your court. And despite the large number of options available to the player, the intuitive interface makes it very easy to know what to do and what not to do in a given situation. word-image-6519   Also, the calculations used to determine the likely outcome of a particular action, as well as its impact on the game world, are clearly displayed in the tooltips. If you try to kill a character, you can see what the chances of success are, how likely you are to be caught, how hard it is to hide the crime and keep it secret, and how these numbers were obtained. Click on a character and you can see how their opinion of you is determined, how your actions towards one character affect another. The game adds an extra layer to these interactions between players through the justice mechanism. Like the Knight’s Code, the legal system is a set of social and political norms that govern society in the game environment. For example, appointments to the Council for the Judiciary are considered to be for life. It is also common for the ruler’s spouse to be a member of the council. If you don’t adhere to these traditions, your reputation with other characters will receive a negative modifier. The court system is so detailed that it deserves its own rider on each character’s profile; it shows the injustices done to you, the injustices you are responsible for, and the people who owe you favors for various promotions and noble deeds. word-image-6520   In fact, Star Dynasties does an excellent job of combining these mechanics with the game’s main setting. Population control is explained by the lack of technological know-how to improve the existing livelihood infrastructure. Therefore, only a limited number of family members can live in a large house. Crossing this boundary will be seen as an unfair distribution of the colony’s limited resources and will affect your relationships with others. It also means that if you are a caucus leader, you must get permission from your family members to try to get pregnant. It’s an interesting set of mechanics that helps develop the framework of the game while balancing the gameplay. Eventually, the characters become a sort of control or gateway to factional power. Indeed, many actions require a character to perform a mission on behalf of his home, and his stats affect the likelihood of success or overall effectiveness of that action. If you want to improve relations with a foreign power, you must send one of your characters as an envoy to the target’s home system. If you want to plan an attack on a system, you need to designate someone to oversee the operation. This means that you can only make a limited number of moves and you can only concentrate on a limited number of questions at a time. word-image-6521   By focusing on the characters and the action that drives them, a swirling story begins to develop. As the twists and actions (of various characters) unfold, a web of intrigue, injustice and heroism unfolds. A vassal passes to a rival house, a strategic marriage allows you to claim new territories. An enemy house captures a member of your faction while on a mission in their area. Each of these events is recorded and their effect on your relationships with others is monitored. For an early access game, Star Dynasties seems to be further along in the development cycle than other games. It is stable, has a clear and functional interface, there is a tutorial and the basic mechanisms seem to be already implemented. It seems the developer is using the early access to gather feedback, refine gameplay and make balance changes, rather than giving buyers a proof of concept and a promise to deliver the game in the future. word-image-6522   True 4X If I have a problem with Star Dynasties at all, it’s because the game focuses almost entirely on character interaction and story. This ultimately led to the lack of any deep aspect of imperial administration in the game. When I asked the developer about this design decision, he explained that he didn’t want to weaken the narrative focus of the game. My design principle is that the mechanics of governing an empire exist as a means to support a procedural narrative. What’s the most interesting thing about battles in fiction? Who won, who was brave, who was wounded, who honored his alliance and joined the battle, who betrayed his commander. I’m not a critic of games with complex combat mechanics, I like them too, but with Star Dynasties I wanted to focus on the narrative elements of leading an empire. word-image-6523   Glen admits that this was a difficult design decision and that he had to rework certain aspects of the game following player feedback during the closed alpha phase of the game. This led primarily to a deeper set of combat mechanics that play like a board game, with phases, dice rolls, and combat abstractions. To be fair, Star Dynasties is not called a 4X game. It even explicitly states that it contains a layer to manage light richness. This means that there is no technology tree to unlock in the game, nor is there any colonization of new planets. And while it makes sense from a historical perspective, given the current dark ages, I personally found it a bit strategically sterile. Here there are no buildings, no industry or resources to manage, no economy to manipulate other than setting low, medium or high taxes. There are no ship designs and only three abstract ship types – fighters, bombers and frigates. word-image-6524   The lack of an in-depth strategy layer is not a bad design decision in itself, and some may see it as a simplification of the micromanagement found in other games. However, if you were expecting Star Dynasties to combine the empire management aspects of games like Stellaris, Galactic Civilisations or Endless Space with the drama of Crusader Kings, you’ll probably be disappointed. Star Dynasties is definitely a game about characters and their relationships, and if you like that, it’s worth checking out because it’s coming out in early access. If the concept of playing from a character’s point of view (rather than the invisible hand of the government) appeals to you, you can also check out our exclusive preview of Alliance of the Sacred Suns.In the dawn of the 3rd millennium, the Xin Dynasty’s empire was decaying, and the rebellion forces were at the gates. As a member of the Xin Dynasty, you must use the military and economy to reclaim the land back from the rebellion, and restore the glory of the Xin Dynasty. Game Features: – Play as the Xin Dynasty – one of the most powerful dynasties in China. – Build a Unity Palace as your base of operations. – Conquering the land earns you Prestige points which you can use to unlock new cards. – Play for hours on end in a single campaign with a pre-defined map or even a randomly generated map. – Match your skills. Read more about star dynasties trainer and let us know what you think.

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