My cheap copy of Star Wars: Outer Rim from (Mass)Drop finally arrived, but I had to finish my playthrough series of Blackout: Hong Kong first (Part I, Part II -- two more videos left for editing!) and do an unboxing of this and other backlogged games (three more videos left for editing!), but after filming those, I kept this one on the table to give it a go.
Setup and started a few turns. Of course I had to go with Han the man to start (he shot first ya know!)... but then read the AI setup and had to pick an opponent. Went with Lando as the two old friends have a "friendly" race.
The game is really a bit of a table hog for solo. Was hoping to keep it tight for a single ship, but nope. Have to setup a second player and ship. Of course, if I kept my table clean of other games, I'd have more room too! You also have seven decks for "encountering" planets and navpoints and six decks for acquiring ships, missions, bounties, and gear, etc... So 13 little decks + the AI deck.
AI deck (Can we agree "Automa" is the new "Coke" -- and not "new coke", blech! -- and all these decks will eventually just be called that?) is pretty easy to manage. Never been a fan of the "discard face down to the bottom of the deck" mechanic. All the card decks do that (except the databank which go in numerical order). Would prefer "discard face up" so that becomes your cue to reshuffle, otherwise everything just runs in the same cycle. But for now I'm playing "as written".
So first off (can I say that in the fifth paragraph?), this is most accurately a blend of Firefly: The Game and Fallout more than anything. People keep trying to cast aspersions on the game and compare it with Xia: Legends of a Drift System, but the only commonality there is
Similarities Between XIA and Outer Rim 1. Xia is also set in space. 2. Xia also uses "fame" as the winning condition. 3. "Xia: Legends of a Drift System" contains the letters: S, T, A, R, O, E, I, M
That's about it.
Yes, you can explore in both games, but exploration in Outer Rim makes sense. In Xia it's just busy work. Outer Rim has the planets and connections all laid out as it should be. You're exploring/investigating what's currently happening in the area. With Xia you're playing Columbus, ignoring all the knowledge available to you (as in the in-game character, not you the player) and "discovering" what each tile is during the game... and getting famous for it. No long range sensors or star mapping in Xia. It really is gamey and makes no sense.
Outer Rim also has easy to use, enjoyable solo system, something Xia is sorely lacking (yes, even with the Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star expansion which I helped playtest -- XIA : Variants of a Solo System). As I've said before, there is a GREAT SOLO GAME somewhere in Xia... it's just not been revealed yet. I hope to get a copy again soon and create an AI deck that works.
Final comparison, fame is a little harder to earn in Outer Rim, even for the AI. In Xia, the AI just rolls a die and gains points.
Back to Outer Rim overall though. It moves pretty fast and so far has been fun to play. Someone complained about the ship cards not being "boards", but after getting my copy I just don't see an issue. They are a bit thin, but they are made to be swapped out and flipped through the game, so they don't stay in play too long. Being a Fantasy Flight Games release, I'm sure there will be expansions coming very soon too.
Anyone who's read this blog knows that I'm a big fan of the excellent Combat Commander: Europe from Chad Jensen and published by GMT Games. Sadly though, my ownership predated this blog and YouTube channel. However, as the new fourth printing of the game was recently released, I decided it would be a great time to do an unboxing as well as give one YouTube subscriber a free copy and introduce them to the best tactical WW2 wargame there is. Some come close, sure... but this one is the gold standard.
Details are in the unboxing video below. Entries must be on the actual YouTube site, not here on BGG, to be valid.
The boxes are all 100x75mm in length and width and vary in depth. For the four boxes for counters, I used the 24mm variety with divider to separate groups of counters. For the miniatures boxes, the 35mm height was necessary. The lids are all the same however and I prepared 2x4" Avery Labels for each. I tried (and failed) to get a good full bleed on those, but they still did the job.
Now with everything in a single box, I'm on to my first play. Though a foam core insert may be in the future to hold the cards and boxes in order...
Growing up as a teenager in the 80s, during the heyday of D&D, it was hard not be attracted to the RPG genre. However, I knew early on that fantasy theme with all it’s magic “baggage” was not where my interest lay. Fortunately for me, Mark Miller had created the Traveller series and I of course had a copy of the black book (and later the box set of paperbacks). While I never actually got to play the game, I spent hours reading the rules, rolling up characters and hoping for an opportunity to someday be a Traveller among the stars.
(I also loved that it was spelled with two “L”s as “traveler” just looks weird and seems to violate the rules of English!!!)
Flash forward nearly 40 years and Traveller is making a resurgence of sorts (though it never really went away) with not one but two recently released tabletop games.
The first is Traveller Customizable Card Game: Two Player Starter Set from Horizon Games (III). This comes in a base game two-player starter set as well as expansion packs of ship decks and themed cards. But fortunately, the game comes with three solo scenarios in the box and two more already available for download. In this unboxing video I reveal the contents without preconception of what the cards mean.
The second game to come out (after a successful Kickstarter and troubled fulfillment) is Traveller Ascension: Imperial Warrant by Daring Play. This tabletop strategy game comes ready for two players (and has expansions to increase player count to four or six). While not readily soloable, the hope is that solo rules will be developed either officially or by the community in the very near future (of our timeline, not the in-game one).
Have already played a round of the CCG and a playthrough video is forthcoming. The plan is to do something similar for Imperial Warrant.
SUMMARY In all, I think both of the solo Automa work great and provide a very tough competitor at even the "normal" level. I cannot imagine playing them on the hard challenge (but will someday!).
I do believe that these options DO make Great Western Trail a must buy, even if only for solo play. The Automa run smooth and with little management and allow you to concentrate on playing the game. And the game is that good. One of the best worker placement games there is. Alexander Pfister has created a masterpiece.