New Release for Patrons – Ship Card Upgrade Pack

Quick update today! If you’ve been waiting for the new Tarot-sized ship cards, the entire set of Standard vessels is now available in this format to all our Patrons!

We Recommend sleeving these with Tarot card sleeves. If you’re printing on basic printer paper, back them with blank Tarot Cards to make them more sturdy, or laminate them instead of sleeving.

Fans of Refits may notice these powerful vessels are missing from this file – They’re getting their own upgrade pack soon. We’re still working on adding the Refit overlay to the new layout. In the meantime, the original Refit cards are still perfectly legal for play (and will remain so even when the new cards release).

That’s all today, Admirals!

Future Tuesday – Star Strike Season 2

Welcome back to Future Tuesday, where we take a look at releases further down the line. Last week, we talked about February’s ship expansion, containing new Bombers for every faction. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about our “Season” format, and what to expect when Season 2 of Star Strike kicks off later this year!

Each expandable game we build here at Cage Free Games follows our Season model. Unlike other design studios, we build our seasons around accomplishing new and better game states for each game. Season 1 for any game is the bedrock of the game, giving a good selection of customization to your “Fleet/Army/Deck List”. In addition, Season 1 for any game introduces the core gameplay formats.

Additional Seasons should strive to introduce new mechanics, new gameplay options, and new list building options, presenting a minimum of 3 new major game elements. For Admirals: Star Strike, Season 2’s highlights will include:

  • Battleships (or comparable) for each of the 4 factions
  • “Hero” ships
  • Co-Op/Solo Gameplay capability

Let’s take a quick look at what each of these new pieces of Admirals: Star Strike will bring to your gaming table:



If you’ve followed Future Tuesday, you might remember the Valkyrie-class Battleship we teased for Planetary Accords players. Now the Space Sharks get their turn with the gargantuan SW-GWS! While we don’t have much to share with you on these massive vessels yet, you can look up the Common Rule “Massive” in your Core Rulebook for a taste of how durable these monstrous vessels will be:

Massive [B-xxx]

When assigning orders, you may assign a Basic Order with card ID [B-xxx] to it in addition to any other orders. This Ship cannot be Crippled. If this Ship would suffer a Critical Hit that would cause it to become Crippled, it suffers 2 Direct Hits instead.

Hero Ships

As we move from Season 1 into Season 2, there will be a number of Plot threads introduced that will hint at the contents of Season 3 (and provide some potential clues as to the origin of the Grandis galaxy itself). While you can experience these plots directly with Historic Play missions, Season 2 will also introduce Hero ships to the game.

Heroes ships can’t receive orders, but instead keep their Hero card attached for the duration of the game. This card grants order-like abilities to the ship, but more importantly, it gives you (and your opponent) a new way to earn Objective Points and win the game!

Each Hero has a Mission that their owning player can complete in order to earn Objective points. The ASV Ranger (First of her class), for instance, is tasked with searching for information on the ancient Psiarian race. Psiarian stations have been found in deep space nearby habitable systems, so the Ranger’s mission involves searching hexes adjacent to Star System hexes.

ASV Ranger, PA-FS

Conversely, Hero ships and their missions are top priorities for their factions. Should the Hero be forced to disengage (IE, the ship is defeated), your opponent will score Objective Points instead!

Co-Op and Solo play

Inspired by games such as Blackstone Fortress and Star Trek Alliance, Season 2 of Admirals: Star Strike will include “AI” opponent cards to play against. These generally will be designed to represent forces not specifically under a single command, dropping Orders for Combat Doctrines. These Doctrines represent the training of each faction, meaning each AI opponent will behave differently and present a new, unique challenge. These AI opponents can be used to play games solo, or can be tackled in massive Battle Line games with a friend.

You can expect Season 2 of Star Strike to begin in the second quarter of 2022. If you’re itching for some starship combat right now, grab a friend, print up a Cadet Pack (or grab all of Season 1 released so far through our Patreon!), and get started blowing things up in the Grandis Galaxy!

Fall of Merridia is live – With a free bonus!

Welcome back Admirals!

Short update today (Tom is frantically working to get everything updated and uploaded), but more FREE downloads are now available for Admirals: Star Strike, in addition to our newest expansion “Fall of Merridia”, which you can find on our Patreon right now!

Free for all players, the Heavy Weapons Pack includes 2 new weapons that can replace your SRM or D-BLASTER weapons in your fleets. This pack comes with the required Orders to equip these powerful weapons to your vessels. Players who attended our Career Mode launch or have managed to get their hands on a set may recognize these cards, as a set of either Storm Missiles or Lances (depending on your chosen faction) came with every Career starter.

In addition, Fall of Merridia contains 2 more new weapons, the Ion Barrage Warhead (LRM-I) and Malus Blaster (M-BLASTER), alongside a new ship for each faction, presented in our new Tarot-sized format. This set will eventually be available on Etsy, but for now it is exclusive to our Patreon backers. Want to pick up these new vessels? Sign up for our Patreon and get every Star Strike release so far, and early access to every new release!

Lastly, expect updated Fleet Value charts later today. These will be separated by Faction from now on, so grab the ones you need for the factions you love!

That’s all for this week, tune in next week for sneak peeks at more Season 1 content, and the long-awaited How to Play videos!

Merridia Has Fallen – Admirals: Star Strike Core Rulebook V1.1 is now available!

If you’ve been itching to try the new rules for Skirmish and Evade, we have good news – the 1.1 Rulebook for Admirals: Star Strike is now available for download!

The surprise attack on the Merrin homeworld has left the Accords reeling. Merridia, once a beautiful blue oceanic planet, is now charred rock and broken shards. Where billions once lived, not even corpses remain.

But hope still stands. Now searching for clues as to the disappearance of the ancient Psiarian race, the Accords Navy is ready to hold the line against the genocidal Selourian Warlords.

What’s new in V1.1?

In addition to more specific delineation on formats and play modes, a couple major additions were made to the system to improve gameplay and reduce the impact of large skirmish-oriented vessels.

Ships now use less of their Armament dice when performing multiple skirmishes during their activation. Tactically, this now means you can use ships as blockers to reduce the impact of even the largest Skirmishers on your back line vessels.

Evade is a new ability available to every ship with the Escort role. When a Heavy or Super Heavy role vessel attempts to initiate a Skirmish, these nimble craft can now slip away once per turn. This helps you keep your Escorts alive, and can be used to put them into tactically advantageous positions.

While the new, larger layout Ship Cards aren’t yet available, you can expect a new version of the Cadet Pack soon, and Fall of Merridia releases this Friday with a new ship for each faction!

Finally, returning players may notice the disappearance of the Historic Play scenarios from the Core Rulebook. These three scenarios will return soon as a free download, as the first Story Pack Booklet. These booklets contain Historic play scenarios, as well as additional lore and art from the Star Strike Universe.

Take Command

This is the best version of the Admirals Engine to date, and the Star Strike story has only just begun. Download the Rulebook today and seize your destiny as an Admiral in the Grandis Galaxy!

Future Tuesday – Bombers!

Welcome back to Future Tuesday, Admirals! Yesterday we talked briefly about the next Expansion for Admirals: Star Strike, Fall of Merridia, which will be digitally released later this week. But what’s next for Season 1?

Bombers, that’s what!


As the four empires of Grandis move to wartime economies (well, except for the Natarans, who are pretty much always on a Wartime economy), the need for inexpensive, quick-to-construct vessels prompted starship designers to develop larger, independently operated Bomber craft to provide offensive firepower to fleets without tying the ships to a Carrier.


The success of the SW-AWS “Eradicator” series bombers led smaller Selourian kingdoms to request a heavier variant they could use to support their smaller fleets. The new shipyards at Bhurg came back with the “Manta” Super Bomber, equipped with Ion Bombardment Warheads to strip a target’s shields.

This new heavy Escort supports Selourian fleets by exposing enemy hull to your powerful plasma weaponry, and works well with SW-AWS bomber support.


Following the purge of the Darkwater sector, Coalition Leadership commissioned a series of small, light vessels to combat the Selourian threat at minimal cost. The G1 “Spitfire” Escort Bomber was one such venture, mounting a ventral small arms turret for close defense, with a large reserve of Attack missiles for long range encounters.

Spitfires can help shore up the long range capabilities of your Coalition fleet with their LRM-A die, and are a cheap alternative Cover provider to the OCV, keeping you protected from return missile fire.


The smallest of the C-series designs, the C1 “Fire Ant” Patrol Bomber was initially designed to fulfill a policing role within the Nataran Empire. Forced into general combat service as the conflict with the Coalition in Darksteel escalated, the C1 proved a valuable combat craft despite its lack of attack missiles.

Fire Ants are a valuable alternative to the Silverfish assault craft, bringing more attack dice and slightly improved durability at the cost of reduced Skirmish capability. They can provide excellent long-range coverage with their R-CANNON die.


Fighting both the Natarans to the East and Selourians to the West, the Accords shipwrights were struggling with solutions to combat the close-quarters firepower of both enemies. Taking the Malus Blaster technology originally designed for the Ranger-Class Heavy Scout (seen in yesterday’s preview), the Kysshan yards created an up-armored variant of the Defender, replacing its Laser Cannons with the newer Blasters. The new ABM “Arrowhead” Shock Bombers proved an effective tool for reducing losses on both fronts.

More ways to include the valuable Malus Blasters means keeping your Accords ships safe from aggressive skirmishers long enough to use their Malus Launchers at Distance 0. While the damage output on Arrowheads is relatively low, their defensive value cannot be overstated!

That’s it for Future Tuesday this week! Which Bombers are you most excited for? Let us know through Facebook or Twitter – One lucky commenter will receive a free set of 2 of their Bomber of choice next month!

Vengeance for Merridia – A Sneak Peek at Star Strike V1.1

Welcome back Admirals! After a series of setbacks, we’re nearly back on track again with Star Strike. V-I-Penguin Patrons can now access the first issue of Penguin Quarterly in digital format, and we’re hard at work preparing for the next phase of Admirals: Star Strike!

Wait, what’s this about Version 1.1in the title? Well, that’s what we’re here to talk about today, alongside some teases of what this new content is going to look like! Without further ado, lets get into it!

Version “Merridia” 1.1 is primarily a quality of life update with some balance adjustments to Skirmishes and ships with the Escort role. In addition, the story of the Grandis Galaxy continues as the Grandis War brings all 4 factions into conflict, fighting for territory, resources, or in some cases, their very existence.

New Ship Card Designs

Several players had commented that our Ship Cards, while well-organized, were very small and difficult to read. After a good friend suggested using Tarot-sized cards and enlarging the ship art, we began toying with layouts, resulting in what you now see above! For our players using printouts, these cards can be more easily laminated and cut, and multiple size variations will be made available should players prefer something larger than Tarot-card size.

All the same information from the old Ship Cards is present, and the larger art window allows us to design alt-art cards with the top-down token art now shown on the Shields chart. (Players looking to get their hands on such cards should stay tuned – more information on this is coming soon!)

Skirmish & Escort Rework

While the mighty Megalodon is still the king of close combat, some of the gameplay we’ve seen around Skirmish made it clear that player positional choices mattered less when monster super-heavy vessels could plow through screening forces to clash with support ships. Escort vessels, a prime tool for Career Mode players especially, also suffered from a lack of capacity to stand apart from Light ships (other than being easier to blow up).

Version 1.1 addresses both of these issues with a minor revamp of Skirmish, via two functions:

  • Skirmish Die Decay
  • Evade Abilities

Skirmish Die Decay is the term we’re using to refer to the core changes to the Skirmish system. In V1.0, every time an Active ship Skirmishes, it uses all of its armament dice (plus any granted by abilities such as Shuttle Hangar). In V1.1, however, after a Ship has initiated one Skirmish during its activation, it only uses half of its Armament dice if it initiates a second Skirmish, and only 1 of its Armament dice if it then initiates a third (or indeed fourth) Skirmish. Note that the defending ship’s dice are never adjusted, even if that ship had initiated Skirmishes during its own activation.

Evade abilities are a new, Escort-specific defense. Once per turn, an Escort may use its Evade ability when a Heavy or Super Heavy ship would initiate a Skirmish with it. That Escort may then make a single move (as an Escort, this goes in any direction). Then, the Active ship completes its move into the previously announced space (the larger ship doesn’t have the reaction time to change course once the Escort has escaped its clutches!)

New Lore

If you’ve read Penguin Quarterly’s article on the Grandis War, you may recognize the name of this new edition, dubbed “Merridia”. The ancient home of a race of merfolk called the Merrin, Merridia was utterly destroyed by Selourian Megalodon Dreadnoughts in the opening actions of the Grandis War. With one of the Accords’ core races now robbed of their ancestral home for all eternity, the Accords now must decide which fronts to defend. Meanwhile, having struck a devastating blow to both the Accords and the Coalition, the Selourian war machine now turns towards the Nataran flank…

As open war engulfs the galaxy, all 4 factions are now looking for new solutions on the battlefields of Grandis, which means:

New Starships, New Technology

We did promise a sneak peek, didn’t we? Planetary Accords players need not weep long for Merridia, as Selourian vessels salvaged following the Warlords’ retreat allowed Accords shipwrights to reverse-engineer several Selourian technologies. The result? The Ranger-Class Heavy Scout.

Equipped with newly-designed Malus Blasters (a hybrid of Selourian Death Blaster technology and Kysshan EMP-style Weaponry), the Ranger is designed for mid to close range combat, reducing an opponent’s effectiveness in Skirmish with it’s blasters before closing in for the kill. While its ranged damage output is significantly lower than the similarly-costed Guardas Class (both clocking in at 3 Fleet Value Points), its utility in protecting your fleet from Skirmish-heavy opponents makes it a solid new entry in the Accords fleet.

The Ranger-Class Heavy Scout will debut alongside 3 other new ships in the Fall of Merridia expansion on January 28th. Following the release of Fall of Merridia, you can expect regular 4-ship releases alongside other new goodies. Stay tuned, the Grandis War has only just begun…

Transparency Report – January 2022

Sometime, bad things happen. When they happen to small companies, they can cause disruption to the company’s plans. Our Transparency reports tell you what happened, how it affected our plans, and where we go from here.

New Year, Same problems. Between Tom still dealing with long Covid symptoms, and a massive rise in cases due to Omicron, Coronavirus is already dominating 2022 for us here at Cage Free Games. Despite a solid turnout for our Career Play launch, we have decided to hold off on regular Career Play events until the state of Massachusetts can react properly to the Omicron wave. Adding more in-person events for gamers who already are loathe to give up time with their hobbies is asking for further spread, so we’ve decided to take an alternate path:

Star Strike will be returning to Tabletop Simulator with updated graphics and selections, in advance of our first Virtual Event! We’re still working on prize support, but you can expect to see more about this event by the end of this week!

While work on our backlog is now moving along with no in-person events planned, we ask that you be patient while Tom continues his recovery. New digital files can be expected later this month (details to be covered in a separate article), and our Etsy store will still, at some point, be stocked with physical copies to order.

Finally, we know there’s been requests for How to Play videos on our youtube channel. While we had initially planned to have them up prior to the Career play event on Boxing Day, this was another piece of work that was delayed due to the loss of most of December to Covid. While we build up to the Virtual event, getting these videos out will be one of our top priorities!

As always, thank you for your support. We’re a small team doing our best to bring you new and exciting games to play during difficult times. Stay safe, mask up, and be responsible. With any luck, we’ll be seeing you at in-person events again soon.

Contact Imminent – Star Strike Sealed Play drops this Sunday!

Welcome back Admirals! Do you live in the New England area and have nothing to do the day after Christmas? Cage Free Games and Battleground Games and Hobbies have your back with the Career Mode launch for Admirals: Star Strike! Don’t live nearby but still interested? Read on anyway, because we’re here to talk about this exciting Sealed Play format and how you can get it in your hands to ring in a new year of space combat!

Career Mode is a unique Sealed Play format where every 3 games you play earns you access to a new Booster or a powerful new ability. Whereas other games’ sealed formats are designed around single events, Career Mode lets you grow a powerful fleet that can very quickly exceed the limitations of Constructed play fleets. The drawback, of course, is the sealed format – You’ll have to develop strategies around what Order and Refit cards you pull, and which Ships you have unlocked access to. The format borrows from various miniature game Narrative campaigns and classic TCG Sealed events, creating a fun and challenging new space combat experience.

Career Mode sets come with a range of high-quality components, including:

  • Waterproof plastic cards that are pre-sleeved for convenience and protection
  • Clay Composite Ship Tokens
  • Dry-Erase markers and Dice

We are also debuting our neoprene playmats, complete with some basic gameplay reminders so those first few games go by with fewer rulebook-checking breaks!

To start your Career in the Star Strike Universe, you can pick up a Starter Set (MSRP $40), containing 7 Ships, 16 Orders and all the Weapon Cards necessary to play your faction for the current Season. Career Mode games can be played on any of our maps (For a free option, grab Map Pack 1 from the downloads page).

Once you’ve played three games, you’ve completed your first Tour of Duty! Each Tour you complete allows you to add one Booster Pack to your Fleet Roster, or alternatively you can take a Perk or Skill Upgrade, improving your options for Fleet and Order selection each time you play a game.

What happens though, if you’ve racked up a few Tours and are introducing a friend to the game? While you can certainly start a new career with them, the Career Mode system lets you play your “Experienced” fleet against newcomers easily. For each Tour you’ve completed more than your opponent, you include 1 fewer Order card in your Order Library, restricting your options and leveling the playing field for the newer player.

For Patreon subscribers interested in this format, there’s a guide coming on how to transform your digital files into a Sealed Play collection to run a Career set for you and your friends (as well as a number of other assembly guides, now that we’ve recovered from our recent health crisis). However, if you want to get your hands on our waterproof plastic cards, your first opportunity will be at Battleground Games and Hobbies in Norton, MA on the 26th. Following that, the $10 discount on Career Mode starters will also be available for all of our Patrons for use on our Etsy Store!

Cage Free Games is committed to affordable, quality physical copies, and while the initial price of a Career set is a little steeper than we wanted, the core idea is that once you’ve picked up your starter, you’re playing roughly a Tour (3 games) a week with friends and/or family, and committing $8 or less rather than dropping tens or hundreds on packs and singles every week like other card games. We want this to be a sustainable hobby, not one that burns through your money! If you have ideas or input on how we can improve this aspect of Career Play, please let us know by emailing, or reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter!

We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate (or don’t!). And on a personal note: COVID sucks, even a “mild” case. Be safe, mask up when in public, and if you can get the vaccine/booster, we highly recommend you do.

Prices for Career Play sets are as follows:

  • Starter Sets (all factions): $40 ($30 at launch event and for Patrons)
  • Playmats: $35
  • Booster Packs: $8 (First booster free with a completed Tour at Launch event)

Transparency Report – December 2021

Sometimes bad things happen. When they happen to small companies, they can cause disruption to the company’s plans. Our Transparency reports tell you what happened, how it affected our plans, and where we go from here.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the top 2 here at Cage Free Games, Tom and Erin, contracted COVID. We are currently recovering and feeling better by the day, however we had not received our booster shots yet and had a rough time with these breakthrough cases. With little to no productive time for a couple weeks, this impacted plans and production here at Cage Free.

The damage report was largely confined to previously unannounced small events, distribution of updated Free rulebooks in local stores, and (most notably), Penguin Quarterly assembly and release of 2 minor digital sets. Our plans for Career Mode launch day at Battleground Games and Hobbies in Norton MA on December 26th has thankfully remained unaffected.

The following changes will be made to previously announced time frames:

  • The free holiday digital pack containing the turkey Cruiser will be available January 1st through February 1st
  • The Heavy Weapons pack will release in physical form as part of the Career Mode on December 26th, with the digital pack expected by the 27th (possibly sooner).
  • Penguin Quarterly is waiting on physical components before being mailed. ETA currently unknown, we will update further once they are in hand.
  • Refit Ship fleet values will be published before Christmas Eve.

In addition, the following new additions can be expected before the end of the year:

  • A Patron-only coupon for our Etsy store to purchase physical products (details coming soon)
  • Several new physical products on our Etsy store, including Career Mode sets.
  • Announcements of next year’s projects, including a new Party Game and a new Arena Skirmish game.

Thank you for bearing with us, we’re chomping at the bit to get back on track and very excited for our launch event on the 26th. An extra special thank you to our first 2 Patrons, Tanya and Karen, you guys are awesome!

Penguin Preview – Darkwater Sector

Today’s the last day to sign up for Penguin Quarterly in order to get your copy at a discount and sent straight to your door (US residents only currently). But what will this quarter’s issue contain? Well today we’re here to answer those questions!

This Quarter’s issue is all about the first contact between the covetous Dathian Coalition and the wrathful Selourian Warlords, at a mining operation in the Darkwater Sector.

Darkwater is the furthest sector out from the galactic core that the Coalition has claimed (So far!)

This set is designed to allow you to play a new scenario, Wrath and Water, in which a Megalodon commanded by a freshly minted Samuron (The elite commanders employed by the Warlord Kingdoms) attacks a Coalition mining operation in progress. The set includes all the cards and ship tokens needed to play this scenario, as well as a short story recounting the historical event itself.

With perspectives from both sides of the conflict, and 2 special promotional Ship Cards featuring the main characters of the incident, this issue of Penguin Quarterly is a great way to start your journey in the Grandis Galaxy, and provides a good starting point for playing Selourian or Dathian fleets in Constructed Play!

Also included is a combat mat depicting the Darkwater sector, an inner rim territory with plentiful resources but few star systems.

Map artwork without hex overlay

Experienced players may notice this will be a 1-system map, with a Nebula stretching from one end of the map to the other. The system itself is also surrounded by Nebula, making any Skirmish approach to the system a risky affair for ships reliant on shields.

The Darkwater Sector map will not be separately available until next year, and the Penguin Quarterly issue as well as the limited edition Ship Cards are unique to this box, and will not be reprinted once they’re all sold out (though digital copies of the issue book itself will be available for purchase).

Penguin Quarterly costs $60 plus shipping if ordered from our Etsy Store, but for $15 a month ($45 per issue), you can get it sent straight to your door (In the US only currently), AND gain immediate access to every digital product in our catalogue! If you want to get your hands on Issue 1: Wrath and Water, sign up for our Patreon Today, and you’ll be guaranteed a copy!

Note on shipping timing: Penguin Quarterly is made to order, and we order our copies on the 2nd of the month at the latest. Due to supply chain strains worldwide, we cannot guarantee a delivery date at this time, but we anticipate having your copy on its way before the end of the new year. We understand any frustrations regarding these delays, and have 3 actions we will be taking to help:

  • Penguin Quarterly itself (IE, the magazine alone) will be made available in our PDF Library for both V-I-Penguins and Basic Birbs upon its completion.
  • The Darkwater Sector Map will be made available to V-I-Penguins in our normal Print and Play Map format. This will be exclusive to the V-I-Penguin tier until the map is fully released next year.
  • We’re committed to keeping V-I-Penguins in the loop on when they can expect their loot, and will be providing updates on a weekly basis (at a minimum).