Israel Waldrom
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Dunedin
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Fusion: Asteroid Mining, an entrant in the 2017 Solitaire Print and Play Contest, is a tile laying, space exploration, pick up and deliver game. As an Asteroid miner, you search the cosmos for clusters of Asteroids in order to extract Actium (a valuable metal of some form or another), which you then drop off at Trading Posts for Credits. Space is filled with all sorts of other useful locations which can help your journey as well as the usual empty space. However, even in Space you cannot (easily) avoid taxes, and Prise peacekeepers patrol the area in which you are operating, and should they detect you they’ll jump your ship and ‘tax’ you of their share of your hard work (sound just like space pirates don’t they ^^). As the game progresses more of them pop into existence, making it that bit harder to reach your savings goal. Avoid them for long enough while doing enough clever mining and trading and you’ll win the game. Tarry too long and you’ll either end up overwhelmed or run out of time.


Full colour version of the game at the end of a session. A hotwheels spaceship and tokens have been used for the player ship and Prise peacekeepers respectively, although the game does come with printable tokens (I prefer something that stands out from the tile board).

This was another game that I had been watching on and off for a while, but didn’t get actively involved with until later in the competition and by that point it had undergone a major revision which put it at the contest ready version. While it would have been nice to have been involved earlier there are only so many games that one can play at a time, and I am quite happy that I did decide to give the game a shot, even though only the low ink version was available when I first gave it a go. It made the full colour version even more worth the wait when it was finally released the night before deadline.

low ink prototype of the game

The game starts out with 3 tiles laid out and a seeded stack, as well as a ship board that tracks your available movement and action points, cargo capacity, and accumulated Credits. One Peacekeeper starts on the board along with your spaceship, and your ready to go. On your turn you can do a number of things, including moving between tiles, scanning blank space and placing new tiles (placement is limited to a 5x5 grid), mining asteroids for Actium, selling Actium for credits, and using the abilities of the various tiles (which actually includes the 2 previously mentioned actions). There are a lot of useful and interesting tiles in the stack (as well as all of the enemy ones), and include ones that provide free actions such as resetting actions or movement back to their initial values, boosting actium collection or capacity, and teleporting to a tile of choice, amongst others. There are also tiles that cost actions to use and have effects such as aiding the avoiding of the peacekeepers (or bumping them out of the way), rotating tiles, replacing depleted tiles (asteroids that have been mined already), and so on. While they do have fairly generic abilities (as is necessary and as one would expect), they do have interesting names and astounding art in the full colour version (although one tile does stand out from all the others, looking at you Refinery). One the board starts filling up, evaluating the abilities that you have available to you and using them effectively forms a core part of the game – it’ll be a lot harder to succeed if ignore all of the special tiles. Some are better than others of course, but they all have their uses even if situational. The tiles also add to the fun of the game, giving some character to the corner of the galaxy that you are in the process of exploring.

Seeded into the tile stack are the enemies tiles, that are put into play as soon as they are revealed. They add more peacekeepers, as well as increasing their range (these you can remove from the game as an action when you are on them). There are also two tiles (Scanning Forts), that if they are in play at the end of your turn, and have been since the beginning, cause you to loose, so you want to be getting rid of them as quickly as you can - they get shuffled back in though, so start coming out again more quickly near game end.

Your turn lasts until you have run out of movement and action points, or you decide that you have done enough, and it then switches over to the Prise’s turn. The peacekeepers move according to the arrows on the tiles, with some cavets that prevent them from becoming stuck and also allow for the cycling of sections of the board (namely empty/depleted spaces, as well as the ever important asteroids that you need for mining), and once all movement is done those that are within range (dependant on the number of peacekeepers and supplementary tiles in play) jump over to the players tile and tax the player 1 Cr a piece. It is possible for all 3 to tax you on a turn, and having that happen too many times can really hurt your chances of winning. On the plus side, it does put them all in one section of the map, and some clever planning around that can actually be to your benefit on future turns.

The game continues like this until you either win, having collected an artifact and accumulated enough Credits, or you lose from running out of tiles to place, having both Scanning Forts in play (or a couple of other edge cases).



I wasn’t too sure what I would think of the game when I read the initial description of it (it was very matter of factual), but I am glad I gave the game a go, and it has earned a place in my Solo Rotation. It’s a fun game – there’s the sense of exploration as you fill in the 5x5 grid, mapping out your own unique corner of space, and the challenge is decent as you try and accumulate wealth while avoiding being detected and taxed. The rules are easy enough to follow and well laid out, and the graphic design of the game overall is gorgeous. The art that has been used really fits the theme well and gives it the impression that it could easily be a retail game, although at a glance at a filled board many of the tiles do hide amongst themselves (except for the refinery, which stands out on its own). If you are a fan of tile laying, space exploration or pick up and deliver games, then this title will be right up your alley. Even if you’re not, I would definitely recommend giving this game a shot ^^

There have been quite a number of gems in this years competition, and Fusion: Asteroid Mining is one of them. And like many of them, there is still a lot of potential here as well for further development, which is a good thing.

This review is the fourth in a series looking at some of the games from the 2017 Solitaire Print and Play Contest. See Abounding Creativity - reviews of entrants from the 2017 Solitaire PnP Competition for more reviews.
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Michael Brettell
Australia
South Turramurra
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Thanks for the review Israel.

One thing I'd like to pick up on is the description I used - you said it was a bit 'matter of factual'. I didn't think about that being a problem - can you suggest something snazzier, or point me at some examples of other games with descriptions that immediately enticed you to play?

Thanks
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Israel Waldrom
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brettellmd wrote:
Thanks for the review Israel.

One thing I'd like to pick up on is the description I used - you said it was a bit 'matter of factual'. I didn't think about that being a problem - can you suggest something snazzier, or point me at some examples of other games with descriptions that immediately enticed you to play?

Thanks


I wouldn't say that it was a problem either - descriptions of the games for the contest needed to provide both flavour and an idea of the mechanics, so as to entice people to have a look at the pages and give it a go.

I guess it more of the impression that the description gave me initially, as it had a very bullet point feel to it.

Quote:
You are a FUSION Pilot. Your goal is to mine Actium from asteroids and trade it for Credits. PRISE Peacekeepers will tax your efforts heavily, so avoiding them is paramount. FUSION: Asteroid Mining is a tile-laying, pickup-and-deliver game set in a time when new solar systems are just being explored.


It could be as simple as changing the order and joining a couple of the sentences together:

FUSION: Asteroid Mining is a tile-laying, pickup-and-deliver game set in a time when new solar systems are just being explored. You are a FUSION Pilot, and your goal is to mine Actium from asteroids and trade it for Credits, while avoiding the PRISE Peacekeepers who will attempt to tax your efforts heavily.

It is just a matter of taste and opinion in the end.
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