Designer: Michal Mikes, Jan Soukal
Artists: Dalibor Krch
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-5
Playing Time: 30-90 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
WARNING: This is a preview of Space Race: Interkosmos. I was sent a prototype version of the game. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
Rules and Setup:
Let me start by explaining the base game before explaining the new additions that Interkosmos adds. In Space Race, you need to lead your country to be in the pages of history as the first nation ever to conquer the universe. Each player has twelve Control cards that determine the type of cards you acquire and the order in which you acquire them. After looking into what cards are available in the universe, you will decide on the Control card to use. Control cards will only be used once and will be left in front of you in a pile as you play them. Each player will decide on their card and flip their cards over at the same time. Players will go in order of picking cards depending on what type and number of card they choose (later in the game, cards in each player's agency will help determine order as well). This card will be added to that player's agency, and the actions on the cards are performed. Actions might consist of drawing more cards from the deck, adding cards to your laboratory (worth a point at the end of the game), or adding from one of those areas into your agency. Some actions are single use, while others might be reusable; certain cards will give you actions to uncover single-use actions to reuse again.
After each player has done this, you prepare for the next decade by adding cards from your hand into a pile that will eventually go into the universe. Other players won't be able to see these until after showing their next Control card, and you are able to get the card you want if you play it just right. At the end of the game, players receive points from total space agency levels, laboratory power, and breakthrough categories. Whoever has the most points wins.
Setup and rules are pretty easy to understand. It's explained in the rulebook using basic concepts and terms used in the game. You will not be playing straight from you hand, but you will acquire cards from the universe where you will compete with other teams to get the card you want. Cards in your hand are instead used to learn more information about what will potentially come to the universe and then be used in your agency. Knowing zones is also important, and in the rulebook, there are great pictures and diagrams used. Make sure you understand the difference between your hand, your space agency, your Control cards, and your laboratory, as well as the deck and the universe. The universe will have cards both face up and face down at times.
The Interkosmos expansion includes a fifth player (the Chinese space program) to be used for the game, different scenarios, added achievements (my favorite addition to the game), and some new terms and mechanics used on the new cards added to the deck.
When playing with the expansion, you add seven cards into the deck, with two cards face down at setup, and when preparing for the next decade, you will flip three cards face up. The scenarios will put historical context to your game and will have you start with certain cards in your hand. You will need to read each scenario when playing, as they all change the game a bit to keep things balanced and to put those big historical events into play. Achievements are added by revealing two from the card types set, two from the agency levels set, and one from the miscellaneous set. Everyone can claim these achievements on their turn similarly to using abilities. When claiming achievements, you place one of your Control cards in your hand on top of the achievement. This Control card will not be usable anymore. The first player to place on a card will get four points at the end of the game, the second will get two points, and the third will get one point; no points will be awarded after that.
The achievements really add on points to the game and help direct players to a goal while playing. There are different achievements each time you play, and your strategy might change each time you play due to these goals being different each time.
Theme and Mechanics:
The theme is exactly what the game title says, a "Space Race." The game uses events from space history to help with the theme, and you will feel it when playing the game. The mechanics used in the game include card drafting, hand management, and simultaneous action selection. These mechanics are used in a way that differs from other games. With the way they are used, you will need to think strategically about your moves and cards.
Artwork and Components:
The artwork is just wonderful, and the lines used across the cards make it easy to know if you have any other actions from cards other than the recently acquired one. The icons match well, and after learning the icons, you will be able to sort out what actions each card has. I was sent a prototype version that was printed differently than the base game and not as good quality. I would expect that in the final version, you will be able to add them to the base game and not know the difference in cards or quality.
To me, a good game makes you think. This game definitely made me think a lot. You have to find a strategy to go with, since you can go after many different cards, as well as figure out if someone else might get to the card you want before you do. You don't have straight conflict with other players, but there is conflict by taking a card that another player wanted or that another player planned on getting when placing it into the universe. The achievements in the expansion game made this game a whole lot better for me, as it guided play a little more for me and helped score more points. Also, everyone else playing was going after the same achievements, and some cards seemed to be more precious than others due to this.
If you are a player that has a hard time making decisions, then you will not like this game as you will gather many cards to potentially get and use, but you won't have enough turns to use them all. You will have to figure out which cards you really want, and sometimes this will take lots of time to sort through. Also, when new to the game, learning what actions are on the cards will take time and will cause the game to be longer than needed. This will also get better with more plays.
The base game is a great game by itself, but the Interkosmos expansion adds some much-needed mechanics and goals into play. It also adds some scenarios that end up telling a great story. We played "The Dawn of an Era" with NASA (USA) and Soviet (Russia) going head to head and using special cards like Moon Speech, Small Step for Man, Sputnik 1, and Leaving Earth.
Players Who Like:
If you enjoy games that connect you to history or tell a story, you will need to check out this game. This game is perfect for those who don't like direct conflict during play but still enjoy the strategy and interaction it presents.
I am giving Space Race: Interkosmos an 8 out of 10 super meeples.
See Brody's original post at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/2017/11/space-race-inter...