SNAP Review – StarLink: Sketch New Constellations
Do you ever look at the stars and wonder how ancient people drew pictures in the sky and named the constellations?
Now it’s your turn to create some constellations in StarLink – like a washing machine? Give us seven minutes of your time; Andrew and Claire will tell you all about it.
StarLink is a draw-and-guess game for 3-6 players, published by Blue Orange Games. Designed by Markus Slawitscheck and Arno Steinwender, it is best for ages 8 and up.
You’ll be providing most of the art in StarLink – but illustrator Gaëtan Noir has done a wonderful job with the star board which is beautiful and inviting. The really cool white dry-erase markers are unique, and they help the constellations you draw to feel more genuine.
StarLink is a draw and guess game (like Pictionary). On a player’s turn, they pick a word from a hidden card. Once they’re ready, they flip the sand timer and start drawing – only straight lines, connecting stars on the board. Don’t worry, you’re allowed to erase if you make a mistake, and you don’t have to connect every star in your area.
As soon as the player begins drawing, everyone else can start guessing. When making a guess, grab the sand timer and place it in front of you. Each guess places the sand timer in front of the guesser – and no one can guess twice in a row!
As soon as someone guesses correctly, the illustrator and the guesser earn points (either 2 or 3 depending on the card). Grab some face-down cards to use as counters. Get a bonus point if the drawing fits inside the provided “telescope” hole (about 2 inches in diameter).
If no one guesses correctly, no one gets any points this turn.
Either way, pass the marker to the next illustrator and start all over again! The game ends when everyone has had two chances to draw.
[I thought] it’s some sort of party game where you’re drawing constellations. With more people, it would feel like you have fewer turns and it would lag. I still feel that way a little bit, but since everyone gets exactly two turns, it’s pretty even.Claire
My expectations were pretty low for this game. I’ve been feeling burnt out on drawing games, and it’s easy for feelings to run high if players get very competitive about the guessing.Anitra
But StarLink solves this problem with the sand timer rule – if the sand timer is in front of you, that means you just guessed, and you need to wait to make another guess until someone else takes the timer away from you. This is great, because it slows down the race to guess a little bit.
The level of restriction here (connect stars, use straight lines) feels just right – it’s enough to be challenging, without distracting you from creating a drawing.
I really liked this when I first saw it at New York Toy Fair. Even though it’s a drawing game, it’s almost like a puzzle. You’re looking at the dots already on the board and you have to figure out how to create a picture using those; you’re not just drawing something out of whole cloth. It’s almost more puzzley than a regular drawing game.Andrew
Claire was surprised at how big the board is! It folds up to fit in the box, so it’s a nice large circle.
The white dry erase markers are really unique and we really like them. It sounds silly to keep coming back to it, but the white marker really does help with the idea of drawing constellations.
We are also fans of the telescope – it provides an extra challenge to the game. In addition to connecting the star dots in a clever way, you’re motivated to make your drawing small enough to fit inside that circle.
This has become a great after-dinner or before-school game. For our family, it plays in 20 minutes or less, and the competition is pretty gentle. When you know your opportunity for guessing is limited, you’re more careful about what you say, and makes it a more mellow experience than typical party-style guessing games.
Both the illustrator and the correct guesser receive equal points, which keeps everyone engaged and looking for rewards (similar to the game Concept).
We really enjoyed StarLink. The competition is mellow, and the game has puzzle elements as well as drawing. Even though it’s a party-style game, it plays well at small player counts.
It also plays very well with an odd number of players, since there are no teams. Everyone is having fun guessing, everyone is enjoying the experience, and everyone is playing at the same time – excellent features in a family game!
We give StarLink 3.5 constellations out of 5. Find it on Amazon or at your local toys and games store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of StarLink from Blue Orange Games for this review.
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SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 3-6
Playtime: 20 minutes