Star Chamber FAQ
Table of Contents :
1. What is Star Chamber?
2. Win Conditions
3. Definition of terms
4. The game board (maps)
5. Tech : What is it and how is it used?
6. The Races of Star Chamber
1. What is Star Chamber?
Star Chamber can be a bit hard to describe to people who've never
played it, but I will make the attempt. Please note that this FAQ will
not even scratch the surface of the depth of strategies in this game,
so go to the website (www.starchamber.net) and download the demo. You
won't be disappointed.
Star Chamber is an online collectible card game, similar to Magic: The
Gathering. It uses 5 "tech" colors which have the same function as the
five "mana" colors in Magic, but it has never been a physical card
game. It's also a turn-based strategy game in space, similar to the 4X
space strategy genre embodied by Master of Orion, Galactic
Civilizations et al, yet many of the staple elements of that genre are
So what exactly is Star Chamber? I believe that Star Chamber can best
be described as an online board game, where players can build ships,
citizens and heroes to take over the various planets on the "board".
Cards are used to deploy special ships, personae or modifications to
gain and maintain control of the board.
2. Win conditions
There are three ways to win a game of Star Chamber: Militarily,
Culturally and Politically.
To win militarily, you must capture the opponent's Homeworld, which is
defended by a powerful starbase (as well as any ships he leaves there
to defend it). Military wins trump the other two, meaning that if one
player gains a military victory on the same turn the other player gets
a cultural or political win, the military victory takes precedence. A
great deal of enjoyment in Star Chmaber comes from smashing your
opponent's fleets into space dust.
Culture is theoretically the "easiest" win, as the player must simply
control more Artifact planets than his opponent, which give 2 Destiny
per turn. The first player to have 30 more Destiny than his opponent
wins. However, there are many cards that boost Destiny output, or give
you Destiny from sources other than Artifact planets. For example, the
card 'Majority Senator' gives you 1 destiny per turn if you have more
political influence than your opponent at the Star Chamber.
To win politically, the user must win 3 Power Play votes at the Star
Chamber. Votes happen every six turns, and various things can be voted
for. Power Play votes give you a choice of various bonuses, and three
Power Play wins will give you the political win. Alien Support votes
will give you Destiny (for the cultural win) in an amount which
increases with every Alien Support vote won. Peacekeeper votes will
give you access to Peacekeepers, powerful vessels that can turn the
tide of battles. Players win additional Peacekeepers for every
Peacekeeper vote won. Star Chamber votes often swing the game, and
players ignore the vote at their peril.
There is no such thing as a tie in Star Chamber. If both players
conquer each other's Home Worlds at the same time, whoever has the most
Destiny will win. If that is also tied, the player with the most Power
Play vote wins will win. If this is ALSO tied (highly unlikely), then
some arcane method involving wuzzles determines the winner.
3. Definition of terms.
In this section I'll define the common terms used in Star
Chamber. For other term, read the on-line manual or try the forums. Any
term on a card which is in a grey box (such as 'Stationary') can be
moused over for a complete definition. Note : BP = 'Build Points'
3.1 Ships :
Ships are vessels that can travel between planets and can carry
personae with them. There are three basic stats on ships which need to
A) Attack : Attack power expressed as a number. In a one on one
battle, if your opponent's defence rating is lower than your
attack rating, he will be destroyed. There are 4 different
weapons a ship can possess, which fire at different points in the
combat round, so raw attack power isn't a perfect indicator of
who will win a battle.
B) Defence : Defense power expressed as a number. Defense is divided
into Shields and Hull. Damage generally hits shields first. When
hull is zero, ship is destroyed.
C) Jump : The number of spaces between planets a ship can move. A
group of ships can only travel as quickly as the slowest ship.
Except when teleported by a card effect, no ship can travel more
than one planet in any direction.
The four standard types of ships (which you'll generally see every
game) are :
A) Scouts (8 attack, 15 defense, 3 jump), which cost 5 BP to
B) Cruisers (25 attack, 30 defense*, 2 jump), which cost 8 BP to
C) Bombers (No attack, 20 defense*, 2 jump), which cost 4 BP to
build. Bombers don't have weapons (generally) but destroy 1 local
enemy citizen per turn while the galaxy's at war. They can only
be built while the galaxy is at war.
D) Peacekeepers (20 attack*, 30 defense*, 2 jump), Peacekeepers have
to be won at the vote or brought out with cards.
3.2 Personae :
There are two types of personae in Star Chamber : Citizens and
Leaders. Standard Citizens can be built for 4 BP, and have 1 influence.
Whichever player has more influence at a planet controls that planet.
Leaders generally have Leadership, which boosts the damage dealt by
your ships. You carry leaders around with your attack groups, and
whichever player has more leadership when in combat gets to fire first.
Leaders also tend to have special abilities. Leaders can only be
brought into play by cards. Each player starts the game with a standard
Leader with Leadership 1.
3.3 Planet Types :
Planets have to be captured for resources in order to win the
game. There are 3 types of 'minor' and 2 types of 'major' planets.
Note : the player must have more influence at the planet to get its
full benefit. If influence is tied at a planet (or there are eneemy
ships in orbit) the planet is considered 'blockaded' and produces only
one BP/Destiny per turn.
The three types of 'minor'planets are :
a. Industrial : colored a ligth brown, these planets provide 2 build
points per turn which can be used to build ships and citizens.
b. Artifact : colored green, each artifact planet you control gives
you one Tech which can be used to play cards. This works like
'Land' in Magic except that the 'Land' must be captured and held
to get the Tech. Artifact planets produce 2 Destiny per turn. The
first player to have 30 more Destiny than his opponent wins the
c. Barren : as the name suggests, Barren planets generally give you
no resources or benefits. There are numerous cards that target
only Barren planets however, and several which are most useful
when Barren planets are targetted.
The two types of 'major' planets are :
d. Home World : This is the planet you begin with at the start of
the game. It is protected by a Star Base that has 15 influence.
It also gains Build Points like an industrial planet. Each Home
Worlds starts with 15 Build Points and gains 5 per turn (reduced
by 1 BP per turn after each vote). If your Home World is
conquered, the game is over. The Home World counts as an
Industrial planet, but not a minor planet.
e. Star Chamber : The Star Chamber is unique in that no combat can
take place there. Many cards target only the Star Chamber, or
entities at the Star Chamber. The Star Chamber is where the vote
happens after the end of every sixth turn.
There are several other types of planetary and non-planetary systems,
some unique to particular maps. To find out about these systems, click
on them, and then double-click the description icon on the bottom right
of the screen. Other common system types include :
f. Asteroids : Ships in Asteroid fields take 8 missile damage at the
end of every turn.
g. Nebulas : Damage taken at Nebulas (from combat or cards) passes
through shields. (Ships die when Hull reaches zero).
h. Wormholes : Wormholes teleport local ships to a random location
on the map. The location will change after every vote.
i. Nexus : Nexuses teleport local ships to a random other Nexus on
3.4 Card types :
Cards are used to effect the game, deploying special ships,
personae and effects.
a. Ships, Personae (already described) : Can generally only be put
into play at your Home World or Industrial Planets controlled by
you, unless they state otherwise.
b. Modifactions : These cards always specifiy a target (a planet,
personae, a ship, a player, or the galaxy). They are generally
permananent, and are known as 'buffs' by game vets. They can be
removed by other card effects.
c. Zaps : Single-turn effects. Sometimes zaps will also provide
permanent buffs that cannot be removed.
4. The game board (maps)
Each game of Star Chamber takes place on a game board, known as a
map. There are a large number of maps, with more being designed all the
time. Occasionally the developpers will hold a map design contest and
allow players to design new maps.
So how do maps work? What are their important features, and how
does map design influence strategy? These questions will be answered
below. I will be using the map " XXXXXX " for my explanations.
Each map consists of the Home Worlds of both players, the Star Chamber,
and the minor systems. Lines between systems, known as 'hyperspace
lanes' indicate that ships can travel between them. Occasionally
planets will have line with arrows point one way or the other, these
are one-way lanes. Each lane line will have a number of prominant
square dots on it, this indicates the number of 'jumps' (-1) required
to travel all the way across. For example, a lane with 2 dots on it is
a three-jump lane. It would take a scout (speed 3) one turn to travel
accross it, but it would take a cruiser (speed 2) two turns to make the
same trip. You can group ships together for added defence and power,
but such groups only travel as quickly as the slowest ship. Prepare to
be amazed at my ASCII art skills as I draw the map for " XXXXXX "
On this map, there are relatively few planets, all of which which
are far from the Home worlds. The only planets which can be reached in
one turn (by standard unbuffed ships) are the two barren planets. As
there are few artifact planets, decks with a lot of expensive cards may
be out of luck, unless you stock cards that increase your tech pool.
Cruisers would be much less useful than usual, as it would take them 2-
3 turns to get anywhere. However, because each Homeworld is attached
directly to the Star Chamber, each player has to be wary of attacks
from that direction, and may want to build cruisers for defense.
This map favor scouts and is especially good for the Kej, who
have 3-jump cruisers. If you were to build a deck for this map, you
would want to put in high-jump ship cards, engine boosts, and cards
that let you deploy influence without physically carrying citizens
around. The vote is very important on this map, as decks not designed
for this map can go into deadlock, fighting back and forth for the same
4-6 planets. This can make a turn 18 political victory both plausible
and desireable. Consistently winning the Peacekeeper vote could nab you
the ships you need to conquer the enemy Home World.
As you can see, the design of this map effects strategy a great
deal; quick military victories are difficult, as are Culture victories
(due to the small number of artifact planets, which are vulnerable from
many directions). Power Play voting cannot be ignored on this map. Each
map is different, and brings with it new strategy. The maps are part of
what gives Star Chamber its infinite replayability.
Tech (short for 'technology') is a resource gained from cards or
artifact planets, which can be used to play cards. Each player will
also get a 'Research Breakthrough' on pre-defined turns (1st, 2nd, 4th,
6th, 9th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 25th, 30th) which will give him the choice
to add one of his 'native' techs to his tech pool. Tech acts like
'Land' in Magic, in that it is fully replenished each turn to be used
again, and each player can play as many cards as can be paid for yout
of his tech pool. Unlike Magic, however, when one of your artifact
planets is captured, you will lose whatever tech it was contributing to
your tech pool and your opponent will gain a new tech. Like Magic, each
tech has a "theme" which flavours the cards in that tech.
5.1 Cyber (blue) is the tech of machines. Cyber cards tend to be ships,
hull upgrades, orbital platforms, and anything else having to do with
machines. Cyber tends to give defensive rather than offensive buffs,
but the extra ship speed provided by many cyber cards can be a huge
5.2 Life (green) is the tech of living things, and tends give boosts to
the citizens and heroes of the game. It is also the color of all the
major Destiny buffs in the game, and can help you gain Destiny for the
Culture win. Cards that require only Life tech to play tend to be very
powerful, with both personae and ship buffs native to the tech.
5.3 Mind (purple) is all about mental manipulation. Mind has great
political buffs, and can help you to steal personae out from under your
opponent. Mind tech if for those that like to get their opponent to do
the hard work for them and steal his gains out from under him. Many
Mind cards allow your ships to avoid battle completely, or slow down an
opponent by making his ships/personae stationary (unable to move).
5.4 Order (white) is all about the status quo. Order has buff removal
galore, and lots of defensive boosts. Order is for those with a
defensive style of play. Order also has a large number of industrial
boosts which allow your industrial planets to build ships or citizens
5.5 Entropy (black) is destruction, pure and simple. If you want cards
that will turn your opponent into a smear on the wall, then Entropy's
for you. Entropy has a lot of cards that increase weapon damage, kill
enemy personae or let you destroy things remotely. Entropy is also the
tech of Pirates, powerful ships that can be brought out anywhere but
which may turn around and attack the person who played them.
6. The Races of Star Chamber
There are 10 Races in Star Chamber, each of which uses a unique
combination of two "techs" (colors) for their card base. There are also
mono-tech cards which are shared between the races that use that tech.
Clever deck builders can always "splash" in a non-racial tech, but will
have to capture artifact planets (or play tech generators) in order to
use the cards.
Each race has a special racial ability, and a set of cards which
tends to give them advantages in one of the win conditions. The
Ferrier, for example, are political powerhouses, but as it's impossible
to win politically before turn 18 (must win three votes, which happen
every six turns), they tend to be overwhelmed by races that specialize
in cultural or military wins. However, there are many cards in their
card base that translate political superiority into destiny or military
power, so they can viably win in any of the three categories, or at
least hold off opponents until turn 18.
6.1 6.1 Androids (Cyber and Entropy): The Androids have the most powerful
ships in the game, period. Their ships also tend to be expensive, but
who can argue with a single ship that can take on fleets of your
opponent's ships? The Androids have the most native ship buffs in the
game, and like to use their ships to destroy their opponents' citizens
Racial ability : Android scouts cost +1 BP to build, but have +X hull
and +X beam. Androids cruisers cost +1 BP to build but have +X hull and
6.2 Clave (Life and Entropy): The Clave are great warriors, tending to
rely on charismatic leaders to give them a military edge, while they
also know how to do research for the cultural win (Life). A good
strategy with the Clave is to use their military might to capture and
exploit artifact planets for the Culture win.
Racial ability : Clave heroes always get +1 leadership, and their
cruisers cost -1 BP to build but have -X.
6.3 Ferrier (Mind and Order): The political bigwigs of SC, these guys
created the Star Chamber as a forum for the races to work out their
differences, but they use their political acumen to steer things the
way they want it to go. These guys are just scary politically. They use
lots of de-buffs (Order) to keep military races in check, and use
persona manipulation (Mind) to take control without getting their hands
Racial ability : They start with an extra citizen (vote and influence)
at the Star Chamber.
6.4 Humans (Life and Order): The Humans spread like rabbits. They can
pump out citizens like there's no tomorrow, overwhelming opponents
simply by force of population. I'm guessing the developers of this game
have big families. The Humans are the most versatile race, and players
can strive for all three victory conditions at once with a good Human
Racial ability : Humans get a free citizen at their Homeworld after
6.5 Ixa (Order and Entropy): A tricky race to play right, the Ixa are
masters of resource theft. They like to disrupt opponents, and even
will kill their own citizens to get an advantage. They are also masters
of Pirates and cards that let damage pass through shields.
Racial ability : Ixa cruisers have torpedoes (which fire in the first
and second round of combat) instead of missiles (which fire in the
third and sixth). They get 1 build point at their homeworld every time
a citizen controlled by them dies.
6.6 Kej (Cyber and Order): Defensive robots. These guys like to take
over industrial planets, use a few production boosts (Order), and crank
out ships to do it again. They have lots of speed boosts (Cyber) and
defensive boosts (Order and Cyber), so they're good at spreading
Racial ability : Kej cruisers get +1 jump but -X.
6.7 Omior (Life and Mind): The Destiny masters. The Omior can get
destiny out of industrial worlds and barren rocks as well as the usual
artifact planets. They often control the Destiny vote at the Star
Chamber as well. You have to change tactics against the Omior, because
if you leave artifact planets to grab industrial planets (where you can
build ships and citizens), you'll lose before you can get your fleet
together for the final rush.
Racial ability : The Omior get 1 destiny per turn.
6.8 Silica (Life and Cyber): The Silica are living rocks. They like to
use ground troops to clear the way for their ships, which can then be
given defensive mods to keep what they've captured. Silica ships have
no shields, but have a regenerative hull instead. Silica are master
copy-cats, so if one player brings out his uber-death-star-like ship,
you can expect to see a Silica copy of it on the board shortly. A good
strategy to use when playing as the Silica is to use any Nebulas on the
map as chokepoints, as the Silica's lack of shiels is a distinct
Racial ability : Silica scouts and cruisers do not have shields, but
have regenerating hull instead.
6.9 Thrass (Mind and Entropy): The Thrass are brain-eating bugs. Their
ships are weak but cheap, but their card base tends to buff entire
groups of ships. The Thrass are masters of swarming in, taking over,
and then eating the brains out of any citizens in their way. Thrass
cruisers, as well as being cheaper, give opponents -1 influence at a
planet when they arrive, so you can take over for a turn, eat someone's
brain, and be off. The Trass specialize in military (Entropy) and
Political (Mind) wins.
Racial ability : Thrass scouts cost -1 BP to build, but get -X. Thrass
cruisers cost -1 BP to build, but get -X. Whenever a Thrass cruiser
arrives at a planet, enemies get -1 influence there until the end of
6.10 Zhikani (Mind and Cyber): Aaah, the Zhikani. My favourite race.
They are masters of citizen control, and can zap citizens from afar and
make them unable to move or take over planets. Your big ship is all
very well, they say, but you can't do any conquering with it because I
just bribed your citizen over to my side.
Racial ability : Zhikani get 1 extra point of production (+1 BP per
turn) at their Homeworld after turn 6.
7. Sample game
To give you a sense of what Star Chamber about, I'll give you a
description of a quick game I had some time ago. Each player plans out
his moves and hits "go". When both players have hit go, the moves are
shown and then you go on to the next turn. I was playing as the Ixa, a
tricky race that specializes in controlling pirates, denying the enemy
resources, and surprise attacks.
At the beginning of the game, each player has a homeworld with a
starbase, a scout (weak but can move fast), a citizen (to take over
planets with), and a hero (the amount of leadership your hero has
decides which player fires first in battle, and can boost damage
dealt). Each player also starts with 15 build points, with which to
build scout ships (Cost: 5), Cruisers (cost 8), or citizens (cost 4).
Each player gets 5 build points per turn at their home-world for the
first 6 turns. We were on a map where both of us could easily attack
the other (Euclid's Bane).
I built a Cruiser and a citizen, figuring he'd do the same. I
also played a 1-cost card which was a citizen that can't take over
planets, but has other benefits. On the second turn, I had captured a
nearby artifact planet with my starting scout, so I had 3 tech to
spend. (Research breakthroughs on the first and second turn + 1
artifact planet = 3 tech). I sent my cruiser with both citizens towards
his homeworld and expected him to do the same to me. He did. I also
gave my cruiser a big weapons buff, a defensive bonus, and played a
card which would give me an extra tech. I now had a cruiser powerful
enough to take on a starbase, but not strong enough to also destroy any
other ships he might build. However, I now had 4 tech on turn 3, and a
card in my hand which would let my cruiser's damage pass right through
shields. Since about half of a ship's defense is shields, this was
enough to win me the game at the end of turn 3. Total game time: 4
Games in Star Chamber can go for 30 turns (or beyond, if certain cards
are played), but are often over before turn 12. Average games last 15-
20 minutes, although I've seen a few epic games go almost an hour.
Unlike most other turn-based strategy games, you can play several games
of Star Chamber in a few hours. There's more strategy packed into that
20 minutes of game than in any other game I've ever played.
8. Final Note
The Star Chamber experience is not for the twitch gamer, nor for the
faint of heart. After 2 years of playing, I'm still discovering new
combos, deck ideas and strategies I'd never seen before. This is a game
I'm going to keep coming back to for years to come, and deserves to be
tried by everyone who enjoys a true strategic challenge.