Components and artwork
The box artwork really brings to life the feel of the fleet to fleet combat contained in the game. The artwork on the alien race and achievement cards is top notch and some of the best I have seen in this genre.
There seems to have been a manufacturing error somewhere as there are blue coloured fleet disks which can only be paired with green coloured achievement cards and fleet tokens. This isn’t too much of an issue but it is a shame they don’t match.
It is also a shame that discs are used instead of little ships. This may have added a fiver on top of the purchase price but I would not have minded and it would have contributed greatly to the theme. The discs do work great however and are very reminiscent of A Few Acres of Snow. All of the components are great otherwise.
The culture track is a little confusing at it has no distinctly defined epochs. The VP scoring track works well but I recommend you sum up all of your victory points and adjust the track once per player during the scoring phase rather than adjusting it after each victory point criteria.
I think the monument tokens could have been replaced with colony tokens. I think building and developing colonies is cooler than building and developing monuments – which look a little like the creepy markers from Dead space!
Great artwork and components, some minor manufacturing problems and lack of little ship models.
Set up and rules
Set up is rather lengthy at 30 minutes for the advanced game. I actually didn’t even follow the base rules and instead jumped straight to the advanced rules for the very first game. I played this game with my wife who does not like space/complex games but she had no trouble in picking up the rules.
I didn’t find that the advanced rules added considerable difficulty. The only added complexity is really derived from the advanced technologies but we hardly used those for our first game. In terms of core rules there are only seven and a half pages. Everything is so well explained in the rule book and on the player boards we didn’t have any difficulty following the rules. Our first and subsequent rounds went very smoothly indeed.
There are a few slight errors with the rules that will hopefully be ironed out in the future e.g. Empire further reactions instructs you to take two development tokens but you should actually take two empire reaction tokens. The architecture technology allows you to upgrade your monuments but this is not stated on the player board.
The game round sequence at the back is detailed but difficult to follow as the sections are not easily identifiable. I just used the main rule book instead to remind me of any trickier rules.
Some technologies interact with focus actions to create legitimate chains/combos where as some potential chains/combos are forbidden in the rules. E.g. Cloning will trigger additional technologies such as robotics. But the additional build granted by robotics wont trigger the Improved PSI labs. This creates a layer of confusion which could have been streamlined a little. Either additional technologies are triggered or they are not, it is a little confusing to have both. I think this is the only example of it so it is not too much of an issue.
Skip the base game rules and take in the full experience, some minor rule glitches but overall superb rulebook.
I actually played with my wife who dislikes both complex games and space games however she loved this.
The game play is top notch and probably one of the only 4x space games that plays well with just two players.
The first half of the game is basically a solo experience as you develop your race and battle an ever powerful empire. The second half of the game allows you to begin to attack your human opponent(s) as you expand your empire and eliminate the empire sectors.
However, player interaction is built in at every stage as you jostle for an advantageous start position, reveal your focus actions and alternately play them out, snatch important technologies and keep track of your opponents cultural progress. There is very little downtime and the technological choices your opponent makes, starting alien race traits and the way the empire develops using a simple tracking method dramatically affect the way you play.
I do like the emerging concept of applying civ-bots or AI bots in board games. Games like Historia have applied this concept and it will be interesting to see how this plays out when my copy arrives. It would have been nice to see the empire react in this fashion by attacking you or blocking cultural leaps etc rather than being a passive receptacle of your oncoming advances. However, the empire advancement system is still genius and forces you to change your method of advancement each turn.
The combat is simple yet incredibly refined and elegant. You really do feel like your fleets have advanced shields and torpedoes which adds to a game already dripping with theme. In this regard combat is very reminiscent of Mage Knight. You can always work out in advance whether your daring invasion will be successful. Instead
of rolling dice and totting up numbers you are totting up laser fire, torpedo hits, shielding blocks and escape pod launches! Combat is very fun indeed!
The technologies in the game are so clever and distinct that the game play almost becomes asymmetrical in the same way as Netrunner. Please allow me to qualify that statement: In our first game I used my Psi labs, Terraforming and architecture technologies to slowly weaken the empire, develop my monuments and extract resources. My wife decided to use advanced shielding, hyper-drives and energy cells to amass a large fleet, conquer extra territories, earn extra VP's and spend the resources she collected to advance herself on the culture track. Despite these vastly different play styles the game ended up with only two victory points in it! My wife won.
Thematic combat, unique technologies, excellent empire development system and multiple paths to victory.
The game is perfect for two or more players with a decent run time at 2-3 hours. I can see this creeping up to an acceptable 3-4 hours for four players. Excellent artwork and rule book and almost asymmetrical game play that drips with theme. An excellent Empire advancement mechanic forces you to adapt your tactics each round. Expansion garners new rewards every turn and sectors filled with secret goodies make exploration and extermination a joy!
Overall score: 9/10
My name is Daniel Wilkinson of Spiral Galaxy Games. This is a great review and we're really pleased you and your wife liked the game. You raise some good points in your article and I thought I'd try and answer some of them as best I can.
The art is by a great artist called Nemanja Stankovic (http://nemanja-s.deviantart.com/) who was a pleasure to work with and really got behind the project.
We did try to ensure that all the colours used on in the art would match the colour of the wooden pieces but this is very tricky when you and your artists are working off photos of colours. No two player colours are similar (we wanted to make the game colourblind friendly) so hopefully it isn't too bothersome for people.
The disks were a conscious choice not just in terms of manufacturing costs but in theme. Battles in Omega represent great wars that last decades, even centuries. Each disk is an armada of ships from Dreadnaughts down to fighters. We couldn't represent this with a ship model, nor could we make a ship model for each race as that would mean making each of them in 4 player colours!
We will be releasing an errata on BGG soon to correct errors in the rulebook, along with a mobilisation player aid.
I can understand the confusion regarding robotics and improved PSI labs, but it is the build focus action itself, not the act of building, that triggers PSI labs. So in your case as soon as your reveal the Focus: build action it triggers PSI Labs (letting you 'steal' an enemy fleet) and robotics (letting you build 2 additional buildings). hopefully that makes it a bit clearer and hasn't confused you further.
The play time initially is longer while people get familiar with the game, but we find even a four player game can be done in 2 hours. I played a 4 player game with 3 people who had only played once before (and this was our old prototype) and we finished in 2hrs and 30mins (which included set up and me explaining the newer rules).
Well that's quite enough from me, I am wasting your valuable gaming time! Omega Centauri won't conquer itself. I hope this has proved interesting (and dare I say insightful?) and that you continue to enjoy Omega Centauri for years to come.
Thanks Marc for the great and clear review, and how awesome it is that Dan also came to comment!