Before I begin:
I was a fan of Sentinels of the Multiverse and found this game shortly after playing SotM. I wasn't aware of the Kickstarter or anything like that, just that it was made by the same designer/company. I wasn't expecting the same experience and was able to find the game on sale for super cheap ($10) and decided to give it a go.
Blasting more than Wompa Rats:
Galactic Strike Force sets players in a universe in which the "big bad" is out of control and needs to be stopped. The only ones who can stop them is the rag tag group of ships and pilots known as The Galactic Strike Force. This is a co-op game with a touch of deck building but mostly attacking ships and hand management.
GSF utilizes a style of play that gives players simultaneous turns where everyone plays every turn at the same time. This may seem like a great concept and it is but unfortunately it also creates some problems as well. I'll explain these problems a little bit later but do realize that this will be a HUGE turn off for many gamers.
The basic arc of any game of GSF is that each player begins with their own deck of 8 cards and the opposition having both mission and ship cards. Ships are typically Attack/Defense with an ability here or there while Missions have an assortment of abilities that will really impact the game. Missions are sort of like event cards in other games.
After a certain criteria is met the oppositions main ship will come out and then players are aiming to blast it away. Typically players will want to build their ship up first before letting the criteria to be met. If all players are blown up (grounded in GSF) then they will lose. Defeat the opposition by blowing up the main ship or completing a possible other set of criteria and win!
Sounds a bit confusing but it's hard to describe exactly since the game really exist within the cards themselves.
GSF is the type of game that blends the lines of RPG vs Board Game. On one hand it's all about strategic ship placement, knowing which cards to buy and how best to plan a big attack and on the other you're basically running around shooting ships willy nilly enjoying the different cards and their abilities.
Make no mistake about it, you will feel like you are battling a big opposition and that your quirky little ship is finding interesting ways to scrape by each turn all the while blasting ships along the way. The 8 cards in each starting ship deck are well designed to work very well with the other cards. This is not a deck builder where you build towards exciting rounds, you are thrown right into it. That being said you still have to make proper purchases at the markets to help your ship function as it should.
If you just read the rule book there isn't a lot there. It's really obtuse in explanations and it sort of has to be since there are so many little things going on all at once. Each game will feel different and yet also feel the same. You will go on an adventure for sure but the game play will also feel a little repetitive.
I find myself enjoying the game best when I have an epic soundtrack playing and can role play a bit.
IT'S A TRAP!:
So...this is the tough part of the review as I'm going to discuss parts I don't like about GSF. These are going to really turn gamers away and it's a shame because there is so much to be offered in GSF.
The graphic design and iconography is nearly awful.
Those tiny green triangles on top of a green background are tough to see up close, imagine holding this in your hand with X number of other cards with tiny icons. The text on top just doesn't pop either. You're doing so much reading in this game as it is so the square-ish look to the text that doesn't pop is not even noticed.
All the cards have a rectangle cut out for the image to sit making an odd frame around it. The images really seem to be fighting the text and are losing. It would have been awesome to see a full bleed on the space imagery to really tie the cards into the theme. Because of this losing battle most of the cards are just seen as a text scroll. It's annoying because I want to see more of the image, I want to be totally immersed but I'm not. Each enemy ship looks so similar that there's nothing that sets them apart graphically.
Again all the tiny text and iconography forces you to focus on the text portion. Opposition ships have a bounty but that text/icons are even smaller than the usual ones in the main text of the card! That red icon against a red background is very hard to read even up close.
This is a mission card. Really simple but the continued mix of white colored text against a gradient background can make it tough to read at times. Also the icons have way too many clashing colors and designs that they are so hard to read at times. These cards are also double sided; this is fun for game play and makes them interactive but...
That is the backside of that mission card. Just a bunch of text with more tiny text and hard to read icons. While playing it becomes easier to pick out icons but is still a detractor to playing the game and enjoying it.
You may think that, "so a little text here and there with some repetitive looking iconography comes up, big deal who can't read?"
Imagine this is your game! Each card with tiny text, tiny icons, clashing colors, text that doesn't pop and this is only 1 of 3 sectors used in the game. Some cards affect all sectors so at the beginning of each turn you must scan every card just in case something needs to be done.
Just wait until you need to start distributing tokens!
Okay...so what is that one ship's bounty again???
Just a little bit closer...
Cool, +1 attack. Good to know.
Are you done yet?:
Even with all the graphic design issues going on...I still love GSF. GSF is among my favorite games. The chaining of cards together, getting to know your ship, exploiting the opposition's weaknessess, working together as a team and the amazing story this game tells is better than any game I have ever played.
The interesting abilities that come up are so unique and fun that you won't need to read flavor text to create the story. You know when you get surrounded, when the opposition just scored a giant victory and when with a little luck and a lot of planning you conquered all odds. There is so much variety and interaction going on that you will feel in the moment. There's a great cinematic feel to the game once you get the hang of it.
With all the awesome things I just said about GSF heed my warning. If you are not fine with the graphic design you will not like this game. If you have trouble seeing even a little bit the amount of upkeep will really turn you off. GSF is not for these gamers.
Also GSF is best with 1-3 players where the text is manageable and a lot of the game can be controlled. GSF is a hard game at times with turns really screwing you over so more players may seem like a good idea but with the possibility of number of players +2 amount of ships (not including missions) at EACH sector you are best to save the trouble of extra reading and math.
GSF is described as fiddly and that can also be true. It doesn't bother me personally but there are moments of +X, -X, remove X at nearly every turn.
GSF will have a very limited audience. It's the savvy complex version of Sentinels of the Multiverse that really pushes the variety. There's more "game" than with SotM but it also takes a lot more work.
From a non-objective outlook I can't recommend GSF to most gamers. However if you like the theme, love the idea of investing time towards a rewarding, cinematic, co-op experience than give GSF a try. It's incredibly affordable including the awesome mini's you can buy as an expansion.
Speaking of expansion...the one expansion available for GSF is fun but only if you already enjoy the game as is. It doesn't add anything game changing just more of the same.
9/10 for me based purely on game play. I think this game fires on all cylinders matching theme and game play 100%.
7.5/10 for me overall just because the graphic design is so...just functional at best.
Sectors/ships are fine and there is a clever bit of color coding going on with the card backs but the bulk of it is awfully uninspiring.
- Last edited Sat Sep 10, 2016 7:08 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sat Sep 10, 2016 6:54 am
I own this game and have played it a few times, and damn does it make Sentinels look streamlined in comparison.
This game would be super fun as an app I think.
What an excellent review! Clear, insightful and useful. Thanks.
I love GSF. The sense of identity with your ship is deep, and reconfiguring it over time is very satisfying, wether you are building up for a hammer strike or making the best of your poor shot up baby.
As if that weren't enough, the game constantly teeters on the edge of sudden defeat. The only way to win is with heroic rescues, daring raids, brave stands and a dramatic final smash-mouth battle.
But I have to play with a magnifying glass And pass it around, since none of us are that young.
So it seldom makes it to the table.
Which is a shame, because when it does, it is glorious.
The symbols printed on the cards is an issue. My friends had a lot of difficulty making out the energy symbol and the cost symbol. I found them hard to read as well.
I do find it to require a lot of book keeping. Every phase, you have to look everywhere to see what triggers. It is easy to miss things. The expansion had a tech card that triggers on one of the phases and I missed it because I was mostly trying to pay attention to the sectors and enemy cards.
I actually like the game. It really feels like Battle Beyond the Stars. (For those who don't know, BBtS is the space sci-fi version of Magnificent 7 which is the western version of 7 Samurai.) It does require some planning to be successful. There is a lot of reading and you have to figure out what is the best course of action. For example, depending on the enemy boss, you sometimes want to prevent the flagship from coming out and other times, you want the flagship to come out. The game could become very hard if do the wrong thing or allow the wrong thing to happen.
Just got this game out again after a year of so. I got hold of some cheap mini's last week.
The game is brilliant - I like to play solo with two ships.
In days where we play LCG's such as Lord of the Rings - the small text on cards and differing game play between stories makes GSF card text more normal. OK I still have to wear reading glasses!
I use the game tokens generated by Spiff - available to print through the Greater than Games website GSF forum. These act as essential reminders for the events occurring at the start of each phase. I turn the token on it's side when the event is done - after deciding the order.
My starter game was the Neo Elves taking out the Technovores on elite. Bring on the hard guys now......
I strongly recommend getting a copy for the price you can pick it up for. The above is a great review If only the art were bigger on the cards....
Admin @ www.cigargeeks.com
I bought a pack of colored gaming pawns from Amazon (the type that cheap games use for player tokens). They just happen to match the phase colors. I put one on each card that has an effect on each phase.
The bookkeeping aspect all of a sudden becomes 100x simpler since you can just scan over everything looking for the right colored pawns for the phase.
Admin @ www.cigargeeks.com
My opinion about this game is that it is brilliant. However, it does not hold your hand. In fact, it will give you all the rope that you want to hang yourself.
The biggest complaints that I hear (aside from the bookkeeping) have to do with the game allowing players to play badly.
Complaints from newer players are often things such as (paraphrasing):
1) The decks become too generic and unwieldy. - This is because the player took every card they could and bloated them, diluting out the powerful starting boots.
2) I sit back and turtle and the enemy forces become too overwhelming to defeat. - Again, the game doesn't force you to play well, and sitting back in one sector is a recipe for a long slogging game because you let the enemies build up to crazy levels.
Players who want a game that forces you to play somewhat well, and keeps a very simple draw one/ play one structure should consider Sentinels instead.