The Captain is Dead is a game by Joe Price and JT Smith, published by The Game Crafter, LLC. It is for 2-7 players. In this game, players take on the role of a crew member of an elite starship. The captain of which has just died of inexplicable causes. If that wasn't bad enough, the ship's Jump Core just went offline and a hostile alien ship is trying to destroy them. Players will have to work together to get the Jump Core back operational to survive the alien onslaught. If they can somehow manage to do this, they will be declared the winners. Otherwise they'll become just another casualty in space.
To begin, the board should placed in the middle of the play area. The 6 system cards should be placed on their designated spot with the "Online" side face up. The 5 system upgrade cards should be placed near the Science Lab with the "Inactive" side face up. A yellow status bar is placed on the Jump Core at the chosen difficulty level. The 3 alert decks are shuffled separately and then placed face down on the designated space on the board. The cards should be arranged so that red are on the bottom, orange in the middle and yellow on top. The top 2 cards are drawn and placed face up beside the section of the board marked for the Face Up Alerts. The Battle Plans deck is shuffled and placed face down on the designated space. The Skills deck is shuffled and placed face down on the designated space. 3 Skill cards are drawn and placed face up next to the appropriate space on the board, just like the alert cards. Each player is then dealt 5 random Skill cards from the deck. Each player chooses one of their Skill cards and places it in the Cargo Pod, along with the 5 Tool cards. The orange blocker bar is placed near the Engineering section of the board, to be used later. The 12 hostile alien pawns are placed near the board, also to be used later. 5 of the red torpedoes are placed on the red torpedo icons on the board beside the Armory. The remaining torpedoes are placed beside the board to be used later. Players choose or are randomly given a colored player pawn. The remaining pawns are placed back in the box, not to be used. Each player is then given the role cards along with the other pawns that match their colored pawn. Players then choose their role and take the matching pawn. The remaining pawns are then returned to the box. Players place their pawn in the corresponding room that matches their pawn's color. Alert cards are drawn from the face up Alerts and read aloud. The card is resolved and then the process is repeated until 5 Alerts have been resolved. This is the initial damage that the ship has taken before the game begins. The first player is the lowest ranking officer as designated by the role cards. Once this is determined, play now begins.
Players will take turns performing a series of actions in turn order based on rank, as mentioned earlier. Each player may take some or all of their actions on their turn. Each player can perform one of the actions listed on the back of their role card. Unless a player is injured, a hostile alien is in the same location or some other effect specifically states that an action is unavailable, then these actions are available at any time during the player's turn. Most players have 4 actions, also listed on their role card. These actions can include moving, repairing a damaged system or attacking aliens on board the ship. They also have a certain number of skill discounts that make it easier for them to perform certain tasks. The player can use these discounts to perform an action for free. However if the player doesn't have the appropriate skill discount to perform the action, then they will have to spend skill cards from their hand equal to the cost. It should also be noted that each role card assigns a player a certain hand size. This is how many cards including skills and tools that they can hold at one time before having to discard. Once the player has finished with their turn, they will draw a new Alert card and read it aloud. The card is resolved and then play passes to the next player.
The game continues with players taking turns performing actions until either the game is won or lost. To win, the players must repair the Jump Core to "Engage" status. They can lose the game if one of the following conditions occur. If the shields are lowered to 0% and the ship takes another hit, the ship is destroyed and the players lose. If a player is told to place a hostile alien somewhere on the board, and there are no more alien tokens left to place, the players are overran and they lose. If they get to the Red Alerts of the deck, there are numerous ways that this deck can kill the players. However, if the players somehow manage to get through all the Red Alerts alive, and then if another Alert card must be drawn and there are no more cards to draw, the hostile alien ship destroys the player.
This game looks really cool. Everything has that Star Trek like feel to it, from the character role cards to the board itself. The board looks like the layout of a Federation starship. Each section is color coordinated and matches the characters that belong in that area. The board has a very informative look to it that's really streamlined for ease of play. Everything you need to keep up with is right there. The many different card types are really nice. There's a bit of iconography that you have to deal with but it's not difficult at all. I like that each of the character role cards has an actual artistic rendition of that character. The game also comes with a couple of wooden pieces much like the fences in Agricola. These are good quality and brightly colored. There are also some plastic torpedoes that are really cool looking. Much better than just having a cube or a cardboard token. I like the added touch that was given here. The final pieces are the plastic pawns and stickers. Like those character role cards, these stickers have that same artistic design that looks great. The pawns are brightly colored and look great moving around the board. All in all, I'm really thrilled with the look and feel of the game. It definitely draws you in to the theme.
8 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is rather well done. There are lots of pictures throughout the book. There's even a full page example of gameplay. The first several pages consist of full color pictures of the components and set up instructions. The next couple of pages center around how the game works in a very basic overview. The next several pages go more into detail on each of the different roles and systems as well as more details about how skills and actions work among other things . Further in the book details all the bad stuff in the game and how the rules affect each part. Finally, the last sections give a really cool strategy guide for getting the best out of your actions as well as several variants to the game. The back cover has a quick reference to the system actions used in the game. It's pretty simple to read and I didn't see anything that confused me or gave me any problems. Overall, the rules look nice and they get the job done.
8 out of 10
This is a good game. As a co-op game, it works quite well. The game has a really great Sci-Fi feel to it that feels like you've stepped onto the bridge of the Enterprise. There aren't a ton of decisions to make, but even so there's quite a bit of strategy involved. As things start breaking down, you have to prioritize what's the most important thing to get done. There's a good bit of tension involved in the game and you really have that sense that time is against you. You will find yourself wishing that you had more actions available so that you can do more things before the next wave of alerts hits. In a lot of ways, I get the same feel with this game that I do from playing Pandemic, just a different theme. Fans of co-op games like Pandemic should enjoy this one as well, especially if they like Star Trek or the Sci-Fi theme. This is a great introductory game as the limited amount of choices makes it easy for new players. I have to say, I like this game, especially the numerous amount of different roles that a player can choose from. It's like the whole crew of the Enterprise is available to choose from. The only real negative that I can offer is that if your game group suffers with the Alpha Gamer syndrome, then you might have a problem playing this game. Other than that, things work really well and I would recommend this game as a introductory co-op game. Overall, it's well designed and fun to play.
8 out of 10
The Captain is Dead is a co-op game with a Star Trek Sci-Fi feel to it. It doesn't take a very long time to play. Most games sessions last about an hour and a half, give or take. The game looks nice and is very streamlined in it's design. I really like the artwork on the character role cards and the board. It really gives that whole Star Trek like feel to it. The theme is pretty spot on. There's plenty of tenseness during the game, much like you would feel in a game of Pandemic. Fans of Pandemic or other co-op style games should really enjoy this one, especially if they like the Sci-Fi theme. The game has a lot of replayability due to the randomness of the bad things that happen during the game and the many choices of character roles. This is a great introduction into co-op games and it's one that I would recommend. I enjoyed it quite a bit and think you will too. Now somebody come get me, the Transporter is down...AGAIN.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out the Gamecrafter at their site.