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Subject: Musings of an Ameritrasher: My thoughts on Galaxy Defenders rss

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Raegan Ray-gun
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[Warning: English isn't my first language so I'm sorry if this is a little clumsy]

This is my thoughts on Galaxy Defenders. I've been wanting to do reviews for a while and for me the hardest part was thinking of how to approach them. I've decided to do it how I would like to read a review! That is to say I'm going to start with a summary of the game itself then skip the technical stuff like rules (Lots of people have reviews that cover them so I don't want to be redundant) and go straight to what I liked, what I didn't like and what my overall thoughts are... And I guess I'll tag on an arbitary numerical rating just to make everyone happy. thumbsup

I'd like to start with a mention that I am mainly an ameritrash gamer, I will play euros but I have to be hard pressed to want to. I like minis and lots of them (but not if they cost the game being good).

Game Summary:
Galaxy Defenders is on it's most basic level a tactical game about shooting aliens and completing objectives! However I would say the game really strikes me as X-Com-ish. I know a lot of people have echoed this thought but it's really true! You play a bunch of agents, each belonging to distinct roles that determines (ideally at least) what they're good at. There's 5 agents you can play as: A biotech (medic), a hulk (think MMO tank), an infiltrator and a Sniper. During each mission you have the potential to level up, gain new weapons and skills, this couple with the narrative campaign of the game helps tie the scenarios together.

Honestly I find summarising this game hard because on a base level it feels so unremarkable to me. I mean it's a few steps short from just being a sci-fi dungeon crawler with AI controlled baddies. Not that I think that's a bad thing! It just means that writing a meaningful summary feels hard to me. Anyways! Onto the bits I liked!

What I liked:
So! This game is a weird one for me. I don't think it's so much that there's a lot that I like, but it's more that the things I do like, I like a lot! Without any further delay, here's my general list of things I think the game does well:

- The AI: I think the AI in this game is great, it's a very simple idea really (have a bunch of set behaviours on a card and execute the relevant one) but this game does it so excellently. The aliens feel distinct and encourage various approaches when it comes to fighting them. The behaviours for most enemies are not only distinct but usually pretty simple so after your first few plays you can almost do it from heart. I wouldn't say this makes the game fast to play but it certainly makes things a little smoother.

- The combat: The dice system in this is great, I love using the different weapons, devices and skills in combat. They help spice things up as you get further in the campaign and you really value having an improved weapon. I will say that without the High Impact optional rule the combat goes from being something I like to something I hate. I generally don't like rolling for enemies anyways but without high impact it just feels way too sluggish.

- The components: I like the components for this game a lot! I think the miniatures look really nice, they're made out of a solid feeling plastic and they have a nice weight to them. The maps and tokens also look and feel great, the icons are generally intuitive and understanding the maps never felt difficult to me. I also think that the use of cover on both the overlays and maps is really good. Cover is really useful in GD and they definitely don't skimp on it!

What I don't like:
Ahah, now there's a lot I don't like in this game, but to keep it from turning into an endless list I'm just gonna try and cover my least favourite bits of the game:

- The scenarios: Even though I like the maps and the layouts used in the scenarios, I generally hate the scenarios. I think most of them are very boring in terms of objective play and achieving the objectives has never felt satisfying to me. I also really despise the event deck. I get that signals have to move and more enemies have to spawn, the problem for me with the event deck is that I hate the stupid weather conditions or other events, they're not fun and they just feel like they add too much random chance or disadvantages for the agents.

- The progression/campaign: Okay, so normally I love campaigns but the one in this game? Not so much. Generally the acquisition of new stuff feels way too random and some agents can end up being left behind not only in gear but levelling, that's mainly thanks to the fact that the levelling system in this game is mind bogglingly stupid! Seriously, I like dice rolling as a game mechanic but generally levelling is something I think should be predictable! Thanks to the stupid design choices for levelling and gearing up it really feels like there's not much in the way of meaningful decisions when you choose skills or other stuff for your agents. It can also result in one agent being insanely powerful whilst the other guys are really weak. I could write all day about how much I *hate* this campaign system. It's awful.

- The agents: So this is more minor but I wish the agents were more customizable. Like you're stuck with the same 5 guys, you can't have 2 medics, 1 tank and 2 snipers. No, you always have to have 1 of each role and they always have the same base stats and equipment. There's no real attachment to your guys because they made them distinct enough to be individuals but not enough to make them characters. They're just a bland group of military types who shoot aliens. I feel like this is where the X-Com comparison falls short. I cared about my guys in X-Com, in this game I'm just annoyed because I lost some levelling or whatever. Not great. They should have either let us have more agent customization or they should have made them more than just generic dweebs with guns.

Overall Opinion:
So, I personally think Galaxy Defenders is flawed. I love the game and enjoy playing it but it's hideously flawed. It falls short on so many levels for me but the thing is that it doesn't matter! For the games irritating failures and weaknesses I find a lot more that I enjoy in what is good. I think the game is an enjoyable solo experience and I love the "tactile"-ness of it all. The miniatures, the dice and the card pieces are all so satisfying to handle and use during your game. I like the story you tell as you fight out the battle, it reminds me of the same kind of narrative play you find in Mordheim!

I would never play the game co-op with other people and I think that it's hard for me to say what I like about the game without also bringing up what I hate about it... That's the funny thing though, even with the weirdly conflicted feelings I have about the game I still love it! I guess it's a weird one? The ultimate question is would I recommend it? And overall my answer to that is a yes, but with the caveat that I wouldn't recommend co-op play.

So TL;DR: Galaxy Defenders might be flawed in my own eyes but I still love it and it's one of my favourite solo games already.

I give it d10-8 probes out of d10-1d10-2

Finishing Note: I have the expansions on the way, I might update my review after I play them depending on how I feel about them.
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I think sometimes the flaws in a game that has so many good things make you more passionate about it as well. Like you keep thinking about it because it was so close to perfection. I have a few games like that.

And maybe another game that you don't regard as flawed is actually more boring for it. It works and doesn't play with your emotions so much.
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Max Maloney
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"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
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shogekiha wrote:
the problem for me with the event deck is that I hate the stupid weather conditions or other events, they're not fun and they just feel like they add too much random chance or disadvantages for the agents.

Just to clarify, this shouldn't be considered random as the scenario specifies exactly which cards go in the event deck. So all weather effects are intended.

I don't mean to undercut your dislike of them, however. It's a perfectly valid complaint.
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Raegan Ray-gun
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Dormammu wrote:
shogekiha wrote:
the problem for me with the event deck is that I hate the stupid weather conditions or other events, they're not fun and they just feel like they add too much random chance or disadvantages for the agents.

Just to clarify, this shouldn't be considered random as the scenario specifies exactly which cards go in the event deck. So all weather effects are intended.

I don't mean to undercut your dislike of them, however. It's a perfectly valid complaint.

Don't worry. I know that you choose the event deck cards based on the scenario. I still feel like they're unneccessary randomness added on to the game though. Like the odds are already massively stacked against the agents so why make it worse?

Logus Vile wrote:
I think sometimes the flaws in a game that has so many good things make you more passionate about it as well. Like you keep thinking about it because it was so close to perfection. I have a few games like that.

And maybe another game that you don't regard as flawed is actually more boring for it. It works and doesn't play with your emotions so much.


I agree. I think that the game is flawed but in a kind of neccessary way.

 
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Skaak
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shogekiha wrote:
Don't worry. I know that you choose the event deck cards based on the scenario. I still feel like they're unneccessary randomness added on to the game though. Like the odds are already massively stacked against the agents so why make it worse?


This is always how I feel the first time I play through a mission. But once I know what's in the event deck, then I find that it adds some more interesting tactical decisions (and since I almost always have to replay the missions at least once, that makes the first and second play throughs a lot different). For instance, I know that event card 4 or 5 will be an Act of Valor, so I can be pretty free with my tactics usage in the early game. Or maybe event 6-8 has the possibility of being the Burning Sun weather event, so I have to weigh the danger of keeping agents in the desert vs. the danger of rushing forward and maybe over-extending my team.

If the event deck were completely static, then the interest when replaying missions would drop dramatically because I'd know exactly when key events are going to trigger, so I'd be able to easily optimize my play. With a little randomness thrown in, though, I know approximately when things will happen, but it's still a bit of a gamble.
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Raegan Ray-gun
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Skaak wrote:
shogekiha wrote:
Don't worry. I know that you choose the event deck cards based on the scenario. I still feel like they're unneccessary randomness added on to the game though. Like the odds are already massively stacked against the agents so why make it worse?


This is always how I feel the first time I play through a mission. But once I know what's in the event deck, then I find that it adds some more interesting tactical decisions (and since I almost always have to replay the missions at least once, that makes the first and second play throughs a lot different). For instance, I know that event card 4 or 5 will be an Act of Valor, so I can be pretty free with my tactics usage in the early game. Or maybe event 6-8 has the possibility of being the Burning Sun weather event, so I have to weigh the danger of keeping agents in the desert vs. the danger of rushing forward and maybe over-extending my team.

If the event deck were completely static, then the interest when replaying missions would drop dramatically because I'd know exactly when key events are going to trigger, so I'd be able to easily optimize my play. With a little randomness thrown in, though, I know approximately when things will happen, but it's still a bit of a gamble.


I've not replayed GD missions yet but I was giving this a thought when I was replaying the Sword and Sorcery demo earlier and I definitely think a knowledge of what is coming makes it *more* enjoyable. Sure there's excitement in not knowing what's ahead and bumbling through but I dunno, knowing that one of the hidden events was a trap A) made me be more careful approaching them B) gave me the satisfaction of knowing that one of them was to go to the shop and that if I got that one first there'd be no trap. For me knowing at least what *might* be coming made it more fun, I liked that I was playing more meaningfully. I assume GD is the same?
 
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