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Matt Thrower
United Kingdom
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SPIVS is an amusing little game that would be good for kids, or adults looking for an amusing diversion from serious or heavy games. It's a very, very random game which is redeemed by the variety of different things that can go on in a game.

The basic premise is that the players are all dealers in alien life forms, which is illegal. The players move across a hex-board which represents a quadrant of space in order to find planets on which to capture aliens, and then take them back to a space station for sale. You throw a dice to determine the number of hexes you can move.

Each section of the board has a different danger which can ensare ships. One has a solar flare, another a huge galactic ameoba and the third a black hole. There is also an asteroid belt circling the whole board. The flare and the ameoba move randomly and can thus ensnare a ship by chance. The black hole is static, but it's huge and has a chance of ensnaring players: the chance becomes greater the closer to the center you go. All these obstacles can damage a ship, slow it or catch it in place. Movement is basically a calculated risk affair. The faster routes between planets and space stations generally take you closer to these dangers.

Having arrived at a planet, a player can begin to scan for aliens. There are three different kinds of aliens: metallic, lithic (stone) and organic. Each different planet has a greater or lesser chance of throwing up one of these kinds of aliens, or nothing, when you scan. You roll a dice to find the scan result, and if it's an alien, you draw an alien card from the appropriate deck. Your ship can hold up to four aliens. The more aliens you take on board the more likely your return trip is going to be difficult, and the more likely you are to beam one up that has a detrimental effect on the others. So fishing for aliens is again a calculated risk process.

It's the aliens that really make the game: the names and artwork on the cards are entertaining and most aliens have some sort of effect on your ship or any other aliens they're sharing the hold with. The more valuable the alien, the more drastic this effect is likely to be. These effect vary a great deal from the obvious (some aliens will eat others in the hold) to the bizarre (one alien is magnetic and can force you to move closer to metallic objects on the board). Having several aliens on board and combining all their effects can result in some very odd play indeed! Once ships are going round the board with aliens in the hold, the game really livens up, but it's still a dice fest.

Once you've made money you can spend it on upgrades for your ship: bigger hold, faster drive and so forth. However, it's the first to a fixed amount who wins so it's not always a good idea. Player interaction is limited but brings a lot of fun to the game when it happens. The board is large and you'll usually find that people stick to their own favoured trade routes. However, should two ships be adjacent one can attempt to steal aliens from the hold of the other. Which they get (if any) is random, and of course the new alien can have all sorts of effects on the aliens already in the pirate's hold.
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Matt Thrower
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Re:User Review
MattDP (#19204),
Mistake

Movement is not determined by a dice but by a fuel mechanism. You can move one square for free, or pay fuel to "hyperspace" and move faster but this can be risk. Extra fuel can be bought at spaceports.
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