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The rules begin by stating that "You are a Fleet Commander, leader of an entire space-faring battlegroup..."
Indeed this is a fun game if you enjoy a sci-fi theme that involves building a spaceship armada and then firing weapons back and forth to defeat your opponents. It is also a nice way to pass 30 minutes or so on a lunch hour break with a few friends. However, it is only recommended if you want a nice light game that is easy to learn and not too hard on the head. Most of the game is based on the luck of the draw with minor strategy.
To begin, you can choose to play one of four spacefaring races: the lizard-like Trajj, the lavarock-like Spatha, the butterfly-like Papili, or your everyday space-faring Humans. Each player receives a starting hand composed of one ship of each type:
A Fighter (Health = 5)
A Cruiser (Health = 10)
A Destroyer (Health = 15)
A Battleship (Health = 20)
In some ways the starting hand is reminiscent of MB's Battleship classic.
You also begin with a hand of seven game cards. These may be Damage Cards or Utility Cards:
Damage Cards represent Lazer, Plasma, Radiation, and Missile weapon damage of various power (from 2 to 10). You can only use a Damage Card against an opponent if it matches the type of weapons on your ships. Each race only has up to two of the four weapon types. For instance, Papili ships only have Plasma and Radiation weapons. As the game progresses, you gain more ships of various types which allow you to use more Damage Cards.
Utility Cards include a variety of cards that allow you to Full Repair your ships, add a New Ship to your fleet, launch a Boarding Party against badly-damaged enemy ships, deploy a Minefield against an opponent, raise Light Shields and deploy Minesweepers to protect against enemy attacks, and use a Stasis Field to slow down an enemy.
When drawing a new ship, you can find some reinforcements from your own race or some defectors from another race who are willing to join you. Also there is a fifth type of ship that acts as a wildcard: the Mercenary ship. All Mercenary ships use all four weapon types, regardless of their size. And finally, the most powerful ship of all is the Juggernaut: a ship with all four types of weapons and a health of 30! Finding one of these guys to join your fleet will help turn the tides pretty quickly!
Game play is simple. Each turn a player will:
1) Draw a game card and add it to their hand.
2) Play a card from their hand -- either a Damage Card against an opponent or one of the many Utility Cards. A player may also choose to discard a game card instead of playing a card.
The last player left with at least one ship in his/her fleet is the winner.
I was impressed to know that this game was made by a student, and was partially funded by a government grant for student entrepreneurs. For a first-time, independently-published game, I find that it is very well done indeed. Of course, it does not have the same component quality that you might expect from a general game publisher. For instance, the box is a bit flimsy. However, the artwork and the design is very well conceived. I am impressed at the imaginative variety and quality of graphics depicting each type of spaceship and weapon.
The playing difficulty may be low, but the enjoyment of the theme is high. I would recommend playing with at least 3 players. Although a 2-player game is still fun, there are some cards like Stasis Field that get a little redundant when there is only one other player.
Overall a thumbs up! Hats off to Jonathan Ritchie--the designer and artist!
Woodstock-1h from capital of NB
Nice review and nice job!