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I had never even heard of this game before today, but the FLGS had a demo copy available, and since I'm such a fan High Frontier, a friend that had heard of this recommended it.
Disclaimer: It was written by an aerospace engineer from my Alma Mater (but I really don't think it affected my opinion of the game itself).
From the time we put it on the table and reading the rules, we were playing in ten minutes, and barely needed to consult the rule book on the first play through.
It plays fast, it is fun, and it captures the feel of a space program with a very simple set of game mechanics.
You start with a hand of 5 cards. Most of the cards are rocket 'components', much like High Frontier, but much easier (no mass to worry about, except for the payload, no radiators,or other secondary effects). The other type of cards are gravity assist (planetary 'slingshot') and Action cards.
The Rocket components consist of: Stage One Booster, Stage Two Booster, Payload (spacecraft), Extra Booster, and Fairings (right and left). The trick is that all of the components have to be from the same type (manufacturer: Falcon, SLS, Atlas, or Delta). This is where the trading comes in as you try to trade away components that you can't use with other players.
The action cards range from drawing extra cards (Ex: Spare Parts), or actions that you can play on other players to slow them down (Government Audit, Cancelled Mission, etc.).
All of the booster types have a delta V rating for Small, Medium, or Large payloads. You need a total delta V that exceeds the mission requirement, as well as the right type of payload (Orbiter, Lander, or Rover), and that's pretty much it.
You can play up to 3 action cards/turn. Then you trade with other players (trading isn't limited, but all trading has to go through the player whose turn it is). After that you build your rocket.
You can play components on to your rocket build even if they aren't all matching, which lets you draw more cards, and lets the other players see what you might have for trade. (It also protects those components from most of the negative action cards.)
Once you have the minimum requirements (First Stage, Second Stage, Payload, Right and Left Fairings) and the delta V is enough, you can launch. You get 'data points' based on the size of the payload you sent.The first player to 10 data points wins.
We played a four player game in about an hour (total) which included reading the rules and explaining it to the player that came a bit later.
I will definitely be adding this game to my collection in the near future.
I will still play High Frontier when I want to scratch the mission planning and detailed delta V burn (I am an aerospace engineer, after all), but I think this one will make it to the table a lot more frequently.
Couldn't agree more. I'll have to try out High Frontier, sounds like I would enjoy that game as well. This one makes is designed to play in a relatively quick timeframe which I appreciate because we have a 3 yr and a 1 yr and it's hard to get longer games to the table. I put this game at the level of depth and ease of play with games like Morels. Which is also super fun.