Dale Yu: Review of Gravity Superstar

Gravity Superstar

  • Designer: Julian Allain
  • Publisher: Sit Down!
  • Players: 2-6
  • Ages: 7+
  • Time: 20-30 mins
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Sit Down!

Gravity Superstar is set “At the edge of known space, the most famous adventurers converge on a strange little planet that is uniquely capable of attracting precious stardust with its befuddling gravity. These adventurers are there to collect as much of this rare resource as they can, while their rivals constantly try to steal it. You are one of these superstars on a quest for wealth, and you must overcome the gravitational challenges set before you!”

In this game, this round planet is depicted on a flat board whose ends wraparound… the board is constructed by a random set of double sided tiles which can be flipped and oriented in whichever way the players desire.  Each board section is a square – and each contains one Door space as well as a number of different walls. One of the door spaces is marked with the Door Pawn. There are also markings for stars and replay tokens scattered around the boards, at the start of the game, each of these spots is filled with a star token randomly drawn from the bag. Each player gets a set of 5 action cards as well as a character card which both serves to show that player’s color as well as providing an area to keep collected star tokens.  

On a turn, the player first must make sure that his pawn is on the board.  If not, it comes into play at the door marked by the Door Pawn – and then the Door Pawn moves clockwise to the next free Door space.  The pawn is placed in the same orientation as the door – that is with the feet at the bottom of the door, standing on the floor. For the rest of the game, it is important to note the orientation of your pawn – the feet will always show the “down” direction for that pawn.

Then, the player must take an action – there are three options.  First, you can play a simple move. All of the action cards are double sided.  The back side of every card shows a simple move on a purple background – you can move your pawn one space to the left or right (with left or right being in respect to the current orientation of your pawn).   Second, you could play a special move; these are found on the opposite side of the card. This might allow you to take a long jump – which is a move 2 spaces to the left of the right or a long jump which lets you move up and then one space to the left or right.  The drop action allows you to fall through the floor where you are standing and the last special action allows you to rotate 90 or 180 degrees while remaining in the same space. There is also one wild card which can be used for any of the four special actions.

After you take any of these actions, then gravity takes over.  After you have completed whatever action is depicted on your card, you pawn then falls downward (the direction of your feet) until you land with your feet on a platform.  If you run off the end of the board, you “loop around” and come in on the other side of the board in the same row/column. If you pass through stars or replay tokens, you collect them.  If the board space has a star icon on it, it remains empty for the rest of the game. If that space had a replay token on it, now place a replay token on it. If you hit another pawn, the opponent’s pawn is knocked off the board, and you may steal a star of your choice or a Replay token from that player.

The third action choice is to take back all your cards.  When you play movement cards as above, they stay on the table until you pick them up.   If you want to take back all of your previously played cards, it takes an action to do that.  There is one important exception to this rule – if you play your fifth (and final) card to the table, you are allowed to immediately pick up all your cards for free.

Once your move is complete, you have the option to spend a Replay token once per turn.  If you spend one, place it back into the supply and then take another action from the three choices listed above.  Turn then moves to the next player clockwise around the table. The game continues until most of the stars on the board are collected (essentially no more than 2 per board segment in the game left).  When this happens, play continues around the board until all players have had the same number of turns.

Scoring is fairly simple. You score one point for each star and replay token you have at the end of the game.  Additionally, you score one point for each pair of identically colored stars that you have. The player with the most points wins.  Ties go to the player with the fewest Replay tokens in hand at the end of the game.

My thoughts on the game

Gravity Superstar was a game that kinda lingered on the shelf due to the cartoony graphics on the cover and the 7+ age range on the box.  I’m more than a little sad that I didn’t get to this game earlier. It’s a fun little strategy game that combines a little bit of planning, and a little bit of luck due to the bumper car nature of the game.

After my first few games, I have realized that there is really no way to protect yourself in this game.  Because other pawns can literally come at you from all four directions, odds are good that someone is gonna be close enough to fall on you and steal your stars.  And since you can’t really stop that from happening, all you can do is to do the best you can on your turn. More often than not, you’ll start your turn dropping into the next available door space.  Each of the door spaces has at least two paths which lead to easy stars, but once these are taken, you’ll often need to take two actions from a door in order to get stars. Hopefully you’ll have some Replay tokens by this time so you can zip around the board.

There is a little bit of planning to make sure that you have the card you need – but in reality, most of us just save the wild card as long as possible to keep our options open.  It is a nice bonus when you are able to play your last card and then you get to replenish your hand for free.

This is not the sort of game that will require you to spend minutes (or even a single minute) planning a turn.  Just find a card that puts you on a path towards a star or Replay token, and let the pawns fall where they may. I wouldn’t even spend too much time figuring out which star to take – with the number of collisions we have in our games, the stars go back and forth a lot.  Sometimes I’ll take a star to make a pair of my own, and when I can’t do that, I’ll take a star to break up a pair from my opponent. It’s probably not worth worrying about the colors until the last third of the game or so.

The graphics are maybe geared towards the younger end of the spectrum, and this is a good choice as the game is easy enough to be picked up by kids.  It’s an interesting (and not overly difficult) sort of puzzle game to try to figure out where your pawn will end up after gravity takes effect. There is admittedly not a great deal of long term strategy, and lots of laughs are the pawns crash into each other.  I maybe wish that the star icons needed in setup were maybe a bit more prominent, but I’ll just use my phone flashlight to irradiate the board so that I can see where to put the stars at the start of the game. This is a family friendly game which has served as a nice super filler for my game group. I like it.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

James Nathan (1 play): This was fun. There’s a lot more ‘take that’ than I could stomach in a more strategic endeavor, but it’s at home here in a lighter romp. I enjoy programming games, and maybe this is more hand management, but inevitably, someone will bump you out of the plane of the game before the options in your hand limit you. The logistics portion of planning what is, practically speaking, up to 2 turns, is interesting – at first gaining stars, then replay tokens, and at some point, how to reach the nooks and crannies of the board that have remained elusive.  I don’t need to own it, but would be happy to play it again.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it.
  • I like it. Dale Y, James Nathan
  • Neutral. Craig V
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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