Sword of the Stars




Sword of the Stars

Developer:Kerberos Productions Genre:Strategy Release Date: Download Games Free Now!

About The Game

Sword of the Stars is a space strategy game in which you can control a fleet of starships and explore the galaxy.
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Sword of the Stars

Sword of the Stars Review

By James Archuleta |

It's sometimes good to get back to the basics. That seems to have been the philosophy at Kerberos Productions with Sword of the Stars, a slightly flawed though highly likable space strategy game that trashes much of the micromanagement seen in the genre and distills the core gameplay down to a highly sleek and streamlined form. The result is a strategy game with little fat, which makes it all the easier to focus on your goal of conquering the galaxy.

Sword of the Stars is a fresh take on the age-old formula of galactic conquest.

Sword of the Stars is an interesting take on the traditional space strategy game. Your goal is to explore the galaxy, expand on new worlds, exploit them to build a larger economy to support scientific research and huge navies, and then use those navies to exterminate the enemy. The game features four playable alien races, each of which has a fundamentally different approach to the game. For instance, humans can zip quickly between stars using special space lanes, while the insectlike hivers must slowly fly to different stars, but once there, they can build interdimensional gateways that let the civilization instantaneously travel to any other gateway. This can affect your strategy, as you might be able to exploit your knowledge of the human space lanes to blockade key planets to contain them or use the dimensional gate system to rush reinforcements around the galaxy.

There are some old-school elements in Sword of the Stars, which goes to show you than even old ideas still have merit. For instance, the economic system doesn't burden your construction of various buildings on planets or require you to carefully eek every dime out of your budget. Instead, the game uses a slider system that's similar to the one seen in 1993's Master of Orion, or even 1992's Spaceward Ho. You'll use a handful of sliders to determine how much you want to spend on research, terraforming, infrastructure development, and shipbuilding. Planets are rated by size (which determines the population they can support), as well as the amount of resources on them. The game then calculates the math behind the scenes, and you're presented with only the important information you need to know, such as how many turns it will take to complete a dreadnought under construction.

The rest of the game is laid out in a very logical manner. The more planets that you settle, the larger your economy, which means you can dump more into researching the fairly sizable tech tree. New technologies unlock more powerful weapons, larger ship classes, and different components that can be designed into your ships. Once you've designed a ship class, the shipyards can then crank them out. There's very much a rock-paper-scissors balancing with the technologies, and the artificial intelligence is good at the tougher difficulty levels of countering whatever tactic you've devised. For instance, if you find yourself relying heavily on massed missile attacks, don't be surprised if the enemy suddenly shows up with point defenses that nullify most of your missiles. At which point it's back to the drawing board to come up with a new design. And Sword of the Stars has a cool feature that slightly randomizes the tech tree each game, so you're not quite sure which technologies you'll have at your disposal.

The game eschews complex micromanagement in favor of simplifying the gameplay to only the key points.

The sheer number of different ship designs translates into a lot of depth to the game, but Sword of the Stars offers even more depth when it comes to fleet composition. One good aspect about the game is that it's not possible to come up with a jack-of-all-trades ship design. Instead, you need to build a mix of different vessels. You might have your primary front-line warships, but you'll need tanker support to help move them over vast distances, as well as command ships to allow for larger numbers of vessels in battle, assault ships to land troops on planets, and more. Fleet management itself is a bit cumbersome but otherwise nicely thought out. You can quickly organize your dozens of vessels into fleets.

Combat is both the strong and weak point of the game. Battles take place in real time, and it's very hands off for the most part. You can issue your fleet a basic command, such as standard attack, standoff attack, or close-range attack, and the ships will carry out the orders. Being able to sit back and watch the ensuing battle can be both exhilarating and frustrating, as you might sometimes wish for more control, but the system is designed to make it feel like you're a real commander. At some point, real commanders can no longer influence events and must hope that their strategies work out.

Unfortunately, combat has other, larger issues that hobble the game. You have the option of playing each battle or having the computer automatically generate the results, but it's far too easy to accidentally end up watching battles that you don't need to watch. Each battle can take up to several minutes to resolve, so the pace of the game can quickly slow to a crawl. Far too often, there's nothing happening onscreen for a minute or two, and there's no way to speed up the action. Or, a planet might come under attack from a mysterious threat. If you're lucky, it's a real threat such as slavers, but if you're unlucky, you have to sit through dreaded meteor storms. These are dreaded not so much because they're particularly dangerous, but more because they're incredibly boring, as you have to sit and watch giant space rocks slowly being blown apart. There's no way to exit out of these combat situations early and let the computer resolve them, though this is promised in an upcoming patch. Hopefully, the patch might address some stability issues that we saw, as well, particularly with the game locking up on numerous occasions.

Epic turn-based strategy games tend to be best played in single-player due to the huge time constraints involved, though Sword of the Stars does offer multiplayer support for up to eight players. Be prepared to invest a large amount of time in multiplayer, though, as even with time limits on turns, a game can take a formidable amount of time to resolve. The good news is that the AI can take over for you if you drop out, and you can give it basic orders, such as to expand your empire, while you're away. Still, the pace of the game is such that only the most diehard will likely participate.

Research and ship design play a huge role in the game, as you've got to constantly keep adapting to new threats.

Sword of the Stars has a very unconventional look to it that works in its favor. The art design is a mix of 3D elements and old-fashioned line art, and while it might strike some as incongruous, we found it stylish and an interesting change of pace from the predominately CG look of most games. The galactic map is presented in a nifty 3D form that can be rotated and zoomed in and out of at will. It's a slick piece of work, and one that's reminiscent of 1995's Ascendancy. On the other hand, the audio effects are rather weak, as they're mainly limited to the whoosh of missile launches or the little plink of lasers firing.

Admittedly, we don't get to see many space strategy games these days, but regardless, Sword of the Stars feels like a breath of fresh air in a genre that has been veering toward complexity for far too long. The game has its quirks, but if you can get over them, you'll find a rather deep and enjoyable game about galactic genocide.

Sword of the Stars Game Walkthrough

Sword of the Stars FAQ

Table of Contents use Ctrl + F and enter the number to skip to section.
001 Version history (boring)
002 The races
003 The weapons
004 The ships
005 Creating a game
006 General FAQ
007 Copyright stuff (boring..)
008 Contact info

08/26/06 FAQ first written so uhh 0.4
08/27/06 Fixed some incorrect info(oops)
|| ||    Added some new info 0.5

Time for some useful information about Sword of the Stars.

Starting off with the most basic race the Tarka.
The Tarka are an honor driven people. In appearance they are reptilian 
though they are warm blooded. Tarka tend to like larger planets which 
choosing a location for a new colony. The Tarkan method of transportation is 
a warp drive. This is the most known system of faster than light travel by 
most players. Think Star Trek, select ships then select the destination and 
if you have enough fuel you will be on your way. It is basic but has no real 
limitations; of course no major advantages either

Next we come to the Humans. I won't bother you explaining what humans are, 
chances are you can just look down and get a pretty good idea of what they 
look like. The Human transport system is the node jump. Think the TV show 
Andromeda I guess. The node jump is very fast movement, the fastest true 
movement in the game. But in order to node jump the star must have a jump 
point, now almost every star will have at least 1 jump point, but it is 
usually only to the closest star or 2. So if you want to go to point B you 
may have to go through point C in order to get there via node jump. Also you 
cannot refuel in node space so the ships must have enough gas to reach the 
next jump point in 1 go. For example if 2 stars are 10 light years away, the 
starting human node engine can only go 9 light years; so the human would not 
be able to get there. However a Tarka ship even though it can only go 4 
light years with starting engine tech can bring a tanker and refuel mid rout 
and thus reach the star. The node engine is a very nice advantage with its 
great range and speed, but it is also limited due to node paths and fuel.

Up next are the Liir. The Liir are highly intelligent..dolphins. So long and 
thanks for all the fish. They move by making rapid tiny teleports. You don't 
actually see it in game, but this method of movement has some very big 
advantages. All other ships in game are effected by inertia, so if they go 
on an attack run often they will fly past the ship having to turn around and 
repeat the process losing valuable shooting time. However since Liir ships 
never actually thrust forward they have no inertia. Think the Arilue in the 
Star Control series. This lets them stick close to the enemies in combat, 
attacking like a pod of ...dolphins. The stutter drive as its called is pretty 
standard, like the Tarka warp drive it goes from point A to B, however when 
close to gravity wells (planets/stars) is slows WAY down and when in open 
space it is very fast. This takes place both in the space map and in 
tactical combat. When right next the a planet Liir ships practically cant 
move, but at the far reaches of the combat they circle the target easily. 
The stutter drive away from gravity wells is the second fastest movement, 
but the second slowest with close to them. The Liir being the intelligent 
space dolphins that they are also have access to more tech.

And last but certainly not least are the Hivers. Hivers are an insect like 
race, though they have a regular circulatory system. They never developed a 
method for faster than light travel, so that star that is 9 LY away takes a 
long time to reach as a hiver. But of course they have an advantage. The 
Hivers can set up a gate, when deployed the gate allows 1 turn 
transportation of ships between gated worlds. So while expanding with Hivers 
can be slow, trying to break the hiver shell is hard. The unpopulated world 
you are 2 turns away from suddenly has the entire hiver defense fleet around 
it the next turn. The balancing factor is that there is a gate capacity, a 
hiver player must gate many worlds to increase his gate capacity or he will 
have a hard time moving large numbers of ships around at once. World wise 
hivers usually have no competition since they prefer the smaller worlds with 
less gravity that the other races can't live on.

The weapons

There are a few different branches of weapons in Sword of the Stars, each 
acting differently and doing different types of damage.

Starting with the simplest of weapons the Gauss cannon.
The gauss cannon line simply shoots a chunk of metal at the enemy. While not 
the most damaging of attacks or the most accurate it has an added bonus of 
pushing the enemy ship a bit. While a single gauss cannon won't do much to 
an enemy ship; in numbers they can send ships spiraling out of control 
unable to fight back.

Gauss cannons when used against planets have a high effect on the 
infrastructure and population, in addition the environment does not handle 
high-speed impact very well and it can raise the hazard rating. Gauss 
weapons come in a variety of sizes ranging from point defense to an entire 
siege cannon mission section.
Bursters. The cousin of the gauss cannon, it also fires a solid object 
however this object is not intended to directly strike the enemy (though it 
does happen occasionally, and it does a lot of damage. Instead the 
projectile detonates mid flight and releases a bunch of fletches. Good for 
tight formations.
Lasers are the other starting weapon, they come in a variety of flavors. 
Lasers are very accurate and do decent damage. Nothing really special about 
them, they are a simple and basic weapon. They are small weapon, but make 
excellent point defense.

Beams, beams beams beams. Beams are the heavy laser and come in two 
different types though each type has a variety of different choices.
The first type of beams are the turreted beams. They are VERY accurate and 
highly damaging. They fire a solid stream of energy and can slice ships 
apart. The highest level of these beams also introduces some gravitational 
powers :)

The other type are fixed beams. These are massive beams they draw from the 
ships power and thus slowing it down. But they can do major damage to 
anything they hit. While they can't rotate on their own like the other beams 
and thus only what is directly in front of the ship can get hit, they are a 

Both lasers and beams when used against planets effect population mostly, 
they damage the infrastructure a decent amount but not like gauss weapons, 
they have a minor effect on the environment.
Energy cannons are pretty simple. They fire a blob of stuff (the stuff 
depends on your tech level). They are rather inaccurate like gauss weapons 
and don't have a neat side effect of bouncing a ship around, they fit in 
medium turrets and do good damage. 

Energy cannons deal pretty decent enviroment damage and good pop damage.
Emitters are the basic lightning discharge weapon. They come in 3 different 
sizes and have pin point accuracy. They don't do a lot of damage per shot, 
but the shot can arc to nearby enemy ships. This can be extremely effective 
vs. early destroyer swarms. 
When used against planets emitters do nothing. As the game designer pointed 
out, planets tend to strike themselves with lighting quite a bit, so 
lightning weapons don't have much of an impact.
Torpedoes are long range and very deadly. They gain strength over time, but 
will detonate before hitting the target if enough time goes by. Torpedoes 
can be shot down, but they do excellent damage. 
Missiles are very long-range weapons, the longest in game. Missiles are 
automatically upgraded when you research improvements for them, which is 
nice since you don't have to retire old ships. Missiles can be shot down, 
but they travel very fast and in numbers are very damaging.

When used against planets they attack population, infrastructure and the 
hazard rating. They do the most damage to the environment for the most part.
Bio missiles are fun tools. Directly they cause no damage to planets (though 
if the missiles happen to ram a ship mid flight they cause decent damage), 
but if they reach the planet bad things happen. What happens depends on the 
type of virus you have loaded, but it ranges from mass population 
eradication to causing massive anarchy to mind washing the populace to 
following your command. The bio missiles in flight can be shot down, and you 
can research the vaccine to the virus but you are not guaranteed to get the 
vaccine in every game.
Mines are simple for the most part. Mine layer moves forward while placing 
mines. If an enemy ship gets near the mines they track, swarm, and detonate 
causing high damage. The higher tech mines have other effects such the mine 
acting as a small but effective gravity well disrupting missiles and such.
Tractor beams don't do damage, they hold stuff. I know its weird.
This section will be updated with more details with weapon damage listings, 
fire rates and so on. Also all techs and tech chains will be updated.

The Ships.

Ships in Sword of the Stars come in 3 sizes, starting with Destroyers, then 
Cruisers and finally Dreadnaughts. 

Destroyers are the smallest and easiest to modify, though they can't carry a 
lot of weapons they can be designed to fill a variety of specific roles such 
as missile spoofing or sensor jamming.

Cruisers are up next they can hold A LOT more weapons than destroyers, and 
due to their size they can do some roles than destroyers can not such as 
mining operations. But cruisers cannot perform some roles that destroyers 

Dreadnaughts are last, they are very expensive and carry a lot of weapons, 
they carry a lot of weapons; they carry a lot of weapons. Dreadnaughts are 
very limited in the roles they can perform; there are no colony dreadnaughts 
any dreadnaught fuel tankers. But the 1 thing dreadnaughts do they do very 
well. Dreadnaughts made things dead. A single dreadnaught can take on a 
fleet of cruisers, and carries enough weaponry to silence a planet in a 
volley or two.

Platforms also come in the same 3 sizes. A planet can have up to 10 of each 
ship class orbiting it for a total of 30 platforms. However planets have to 
be a certain size or larger in order to support larger platforms. Size 1 - 3 
planets can only support Destroyer sized, 4 - 6 can support destroyer and 
cruiser and 7+ can support all 3. Needless to say attacking a world with 30 
platforms orbiting it releasing wave after wave of missiles at you is very 

Non-platform ships are divided into 3 sections. A command section up front, 
this section has many different types each offering different weapon sizes 
and locations. In addition some command types offer special bonuses like 
extra scanning range or increased turning. 

The mission section is where the bulk of weapons are and where the role of 
the ship is determined. If you want a mining ship you select the mining 
mission section, if you want a general combat section you select the armor 
mission section.

The last section is the engine section, each engine will move the ship at 
different speeds, in addition the higher the engine tech generally the 
better it is armed.

Platforms are just 1 section nothing to change, just make the weapon load 
out what you want.

If you have researched them under certain sections you can apply upgrades. 
These affect that section but also increase the cost of the ship. Some 
examples are a reflective coating which has a chance to reflect incoming 
laser fire, or extra hull plating.

Creating a game.
Click single player then select custom. The next screen with have a bunch of 
boxes and sliders. At the upper left you can select the shape of the galaxy, 
this simply changes the location of the stars, to the right of that you will 
see a big box showing you what it will look like. Below the galaxy box you 
will see a slider marked number of stars. This is obvious enough, increasing 
the number of stars will increase the number of stars; bet you can't guess 
what lowering the number of stars will do. Below that you will see 4 boxes 
with a picture of each race. If you want a play a game with only certain 
races you can turn them off. To the left of that you will see number of 
planets, remember you count as a player so if you want to play against 1 AI 
then select 2 players.
Below that are options for random encounters and alliances. To the right of 
that is an AI difficulty box, and to the right of that are options to 
increase the number of starting colonies, money, and technologies; also 
there is a slider to increase the research and economic rates, moving these 
to the right will increase your income/research rate. A yellow box is what 
you currently have selected. Clicking on create game will bring you to 
another screen with yourself and a box for each AI. Click on setup for each 
box to determine the race/player icons for each player, if you want to turn 
off an AI you can click the icon that says AI and it will close the spot on, 
click the red mark in the box to turn the AI back on. Leaving the players 
untouched will result in random race. Click on launch and the game will 

OR instead when you click on single player you can select scenario. Each 
scenario has different preset rules and objectives, be sure to read them.

If you want to create a multi player game the same applies, but you can 
leave blank spots for human players. If you don't lock a spot human players 
can join and take over the AI mid game.

General FAQ

What does ____ mean?
DE: Destroyer
CR: Cruiser
DN: Dreadnaught
SotS: Sword of the Stars
Node line: The path between 2 stars that only humans can see and use.

I'm player hiver and it won't let me move my fleet between gated worlds, it 
makes me plot a sub light course.
You need more gates deployed, each deployed gate adds 3 to your gate 
capacity, to move a destroyer takes 1, a cruiser takes 6 and a dread takes 
12. So to move a fleet of 10 cruisers would require 60 capacity. You can see 
your current use and capacity at the top of the screen. Gate capacity tech 
increase makes each gate add 6 to your max.
Can I steal enemy tech?
Sort of, you can research repair and salvage ships, when built they have a 
chance of obtaining tech from destroyed enemy ships. This chance is very low 
and even after obtaining the new tech it can take a very long time to 
research, and there is no guarantee you will get something useful. You NEVER 
gain enemy engine tech.
Why can't I research ____ I did last game?
What tech you get is random; there are a good number of core techs that you 
get every game no matter what, for example the ability to build dreads and 
cruisers. But most weapons and such are not guaranteed. Also sometimes you 
will get a shortcut between techs and sometimes not. For example you may be 
able to research UV lasers right after red lasers, other times you have to 
research green lasers and then you can get UV lasers.
Is there a way to automatically refuel ships with a tanker?
Yes, select a fleet with a tanker in it and click the special button. Then 
select auto refuel. With the uncomming patch this is on by default.
There is a fleet inbound, can I see what's in it? 
Depending on your tech level and if you have a ship with deep scanning at a 
nearby star you can see different details of ships. If you right click on 
the enemy fleet you will get some information ranging from X ships to the 
amount of ships, their type, and how the fleets are organized.
Can I see the details of weapons from the ship design screen?
At the time of writing no, but if is included in a patch to be released 
When defending a planet where do my reinforcements go? 
They appear at about the 3 o'clock position assuming that 12 is the view you 
started with. The reasoning is that you wouldn't want your reinforcements 
flying from the surface into an ambush. I don't agree with how it is, but 
it's just how it is.
Why can't I select my ships in the sensor screen?
You cannot at first, however with a low-mid level tech you can.
How can I move the view around my ships/enemy ships?
Mouse over (don't even have to click, just mouse over) and press the F key, 
this works on ships, planets, missiles, torpedoes, and such. Or you can 
press the TAB key, this will cycle between your ships.
I met another race and my ships didn't fire, wtf?
It is intentional; at the top left of the screen you will see some fleet 
commands and a red button. Click the button to turn your weapons on. This 
ONLY applies to the first time when you meet another race. You don't want to 
say hi by shooting plasma at them do you? 
I researched AI tech and now I'm losing colonies and ships and I can't build AI 
command sections, what's going on?
When you research any of the AI techs there is a rather high chance that an AI 
rebellion will start, this will randomly take over colonies. Above the AI 
command section/factory/administration is a tech called AI Virus. The AI virus 
wipes out the AI, when you research it you lose all bonuses with the AI tech 
and will still be unable to use the AI command section for example. You will 
also have to reaquire the colonies the AI took over. However if you are lucky 
you will get a random tech above the AI virus named AI slaves. The slave tech 
will give you control over the AI again letting you use the AI command section, 
factories and administration.
Where can I get additional information?
Well you have a few choices; my FAQ here which will be updated with more and 
higher detailed info. 
Gamefaqs.com of course and the official website swordofthestars.com
Copyright 2006 Daniel Geller
This guide is intended for the use by fellow gamefaqs users and visitors, it 
cannot be used on any other website than gamefaqs.com without my permission.

Contact info, questions, comments, shooting the breeze.
Hmm I guess I will go with my AOL mail
Please send any questions or comments to eternaix@aol.com 
Also please be sure to include in the subject line its about Sword of the 
Stars. When I check it I quickly delete the standard crap, and "Hey I got a 
question" will be deleted. I will do my best to respond to your 
question/comment and then I will include it in the guide for other people.


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