Comic Book Curious

Unlocking the Door to the Board: Starlight Stage

December 15, 2021

Glitz, glamour, and popularity galore!

At some point or another, everyone has thought about that special moment of making it big! To become that famous actor or YouTube celebrity. However, for many, reality has other plans. Luckily, I have an exciting installment for you today for the fourth installment of Unlocking the door to the board! For that topic of fame is what we will be looking at for today’s game! Before we begin, Let’s start with a question:

Have you ever wanted to be in an idol group?

A colorful Japanese idol group like the one in Starlight Stage

Credit: Idol group Momoiro Clover Z performs | © Dj ph/WikiCommons


Well, how about managing an idol group? You get all the glitz and glamour without actually being on stage! Well, maybe minus the glitz and glamour part, and just all the work as you’re gonna be the agent who has to deal with the tedious realities of:

  • Setting up events for your idol girls.
  • Keeping your idol squad up to date-essentially replacing an idol with newer, more expensive idol talent.
  • Ultimately aiming to be the best talent manager, rising above the rest amongst your rival agencies!

The game for this week is called: Starlight Stage!

Now, for those unfamiliar with the world of Japanese idols, ‘idol’ is typically a musical entertainer. Often, they’ll pair their singing talents with acting, dancing, and modeling. In addition, their talent agencies will produce merchandise to further promote the group. Interestingly enough, idols can be traced all the way back to the 1960s, becoming popular and more mainstream in the ‘70s, when televisions became more of a household item.

Fast-forward to today, the Japanese idol industry is enormous, garnering roughly eight hundred million USD a year. Many sub-branches cater to many niches, whether you are into heavy metal (Babymetal for example, is worth a checkout!) or just pop. There is even spin-off merchandise of the industry itself! I mean…. look at this board game. For example-you, the player is literally playing your way to the top of the industry. So, hopefully now you can imagine how massive its appeal is. To further add to how influential the industry is, Korea also opted for the same type of business model for their Kpop industry (so in a way, you can thank Japan for BTS-any Suga fans?).

Now, the average idol life is rather exciting. Could you imagine? Touring from city to city, country to country, rocking stadiums, or doing model photography for a major brand? Being an idol is their best ticket to becoming a major celebrity, eventually breaking into the entertainment industry for many Japanese girls! However, someone behind the scenes has to schedule all of that: the tours, flights, meetings with the brands, making your idols look and sound amazing (you did buy the latest audio software, right? Perfect!), and that’s where you come in! Then, you have to figure out how to end the game with the most famous talent-i.e.: which group has become the ‘biggest star.’

Before going further, I just want to mention that this game is made by Japanime Games. The same company released: Love Formula, Tanto Cuore, and Tokyo Ghoul: Bloody Masquerade. See a trend here? Yup! They help translate and create English language editions of Japanese games (almost all of the games listed in this series were published through them).

Back to the show! The game is a set-collecting game where you, the talent manager, are in charge of three types of stars: newcomer actress and newcomer model and starting idol. Each of these idols has a corresponding icon with them: a musical note, a diamond for the actress, or a heart for model (I’m not sure why the model has a heart symbol, but roll with it), and on each turn, you can either:

  • Play a singular idol to getting a chip for that respective type-which can be utilized to purchase better cards.
  • Spend icons on the card to get a fame card
  • Replace an outdated idol with a newer, better idol because, hey, you have to keep your group fresh!
An image of the cards laid out on a table.

Image Credit: Kyle Norris

  • Or purchase events, which helps with upgrades.

For event cards: the player must pay that cost for the event and match the achievement points of the card they want to utilize. You can also use talent tokens or achievement points to reduce costs. Once used, those talent and achievement tokens are thrown into the discard pile.

Another way to play is through reinventing your idol! How you accomplish this is by paying the cost of the new idol and from there just replacing your old idol with the new one you just paid for!

Lastly is the fame route. To play the fame game, you also have to pay the cost of whatever card you want (as you can imagine, being a talent manager is REALLY expensive!). From there, you take the 1 talent token from the token area.

Once a player has finished whatever assignment they choose, the play gets passed to whoever the player is next, and the cycle repeats. Once all players have completed their respective plays, that round ends. This revealed card will be available for all the players to purchase. It’s almost like a who takes what idol! So, in this regard, it is like your typical card collecting game. After each round, however, every player will take all of their idol cards or play to their agency office. They even have the agency office in this game! Sparing no expense to give you the most whole experience! Once completed, the starting player marker is passed to the next player, and the next round begins. This repeats until the fame deck runs out, and from there, whoever has the most popularity points is the winner!

It is quite a bit to take in. However, it is pretty fast-paced once you get going! Now one last question is, what does it come with? Well:

  • 132 cards
  • 4 reference cards
  • 31 tokens
  • 6 dividers
  • Newcomer Idol Promo Card!
The game Starlight Stage and what it comes with.

Image Credit: Kyle Norris

  • Also, be on the lookout for the expansion: Starlight Stage: Shining Star Expansion, which includes: 13 more idol cards, 14 fame cards, 27 event cards, and 6 initial idol cards. You can also play with 5 people instead of just 3 or 4!

Overall, the game is a fun, fast-paced game that will definitely fill that void for any idol fan out there! While you won’t be the exact idol you always dreamed of, at least you can guide your group in the way you would want your idol group to go. Plus, any game with cute artwork is a bonus.


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