A fan of new Knizia games
We broke out Space Alert last night for an initial session. Having inhaled the training book four times, I was tempted to just jump in and play the full game. Wow, I'm glad we didn't!
I sat down with Janet, and patiently went over the ships systems, let her push a few A and B buttons to see how the energy flowed. We were only two players, so we broke out the blue android (Tina) and red android (Debbie), dealt out slightly larger hands to cater for android programming, and commenced training scenario 1.
Janet was commissioned as Captain, Doug was Comms. Officer.
Warning - possible spoilers ahead.
Up front, I thought this would be a doddle. It was not... this game is tough. You think seven minutes would be ample to take in the threats and program up your seven actions. Not so ... the seven minute track seemed to end in about three minutes, and our action tracks were a shambles. Panic basically sets in during the final minute, and you just toss down cards and hope all is well! We were also hindered by having the program the androids, and having hands full of C and Battlebot actions (i.e. can't use them). Still, we worked through the resolution of training flight 1.
We dealt with the threat coming in on the blue flank at T1, mainly because that was the first thing we saw and immediately reacted to that. The destroyer and stealth fighter pinged away at us, and the destroyer blew away our bridge by dealing double damage.
Lesson 1 - get the shields up and maintained on the white zone! A quick look at the rules and they recommend we repeat training flight 1. Okay...
Flight two ... now we began to talk some tactics - send android Debbie to blue to take out the Pulse Ball. Do NOT start shooting from the white zone in action 1 - the destroyer isn't there yet. Get someone down to the reactors to chew up the fuel cells, etc. It sounded great and the programming went okay until the computer announced the jump back after what seemed like 3 minutes (7 minutes... yeah right!).
Flight two was .... worse. We didn't take out anything, but did keep the shields up in the white zone longer. But the Pulse Ball just kept eroding them, and the destroyer crashed through again dealing double damage. We totally ignored the red threat... we blew up again. Lucky it's a simulator.
Lesson 2 - take out that destroyer and that Pulse Ball ... make it happen!
Flight three ... we coordinate better. We must shoot from the white zone on phases 2 and 3 to take out the destroyer, and it will be better if we shoot the lower white cannons during phase 3 - that will guarantee a kill. Suddenly, it's like a ballet that all comes together. However the final minute of programming is still a bit of panic - we hope we've done enough to pass, but I'm not convinced. We resolve the flight, and both the destroyer and pulse ball are taken out early, leaving us enough resources to destroy the stealth fighter. Our final panicky programming sees Doug in the white zone going up and down the elevator, pushing B buttons (why?) and Captain Janet on the bridge firing the main pulse cannon at nothing (why?). We had tears of laughter (and relief) at finally passing the easy-peasy training flight 1.
The great leaders ... Kirk, Picard, Adama, Spiff... and now Janet.
Taught in 10 minutes, 21 minutes of programming, 20 minutes of resolution, 10 minutes of talking tactics. One hour of fun.
This game is a hoot - fun, but tough. Half our problem was having to program the two androids, which may have been biting off a bit much. I can't imagine what the full game is like, with delays, battlebots, hitting the screen saver, tougher threats.
Its great to hear what attempting the game for the first time with two players was like. I have exactly the same routine planned for one weeks time and I am really looking forward to it
Do you have any idea how well the game will play with less than five players in general? Is running the androids as well as your own charaacter difficult/irritating/impossible/etc?
(The usual number that I game with is three total so I am hoping that the game will scale well to that number. Getting five players would be an extreme rarity for me.)
Thanks for the report!