~ SPACE ALERT ~
1-5 Players (I recommend 5)
Ages 12 - Adult
Playing Time: 30 Minutes
Okay, how can I put this...
This game is AMAZING.
I discovered this game through a friend who had heard good things about it. She bought it, we played it, and I fell in love with it.
You and your friends are the crew of a 'Sitting Duck' class vessel. You have 10 minutes to warp into a dangerous sector of space and survive long enough for your ship to make scientific observations of the region. It is a 10 minute real time cooperative mission where the players are playing against the board game.
This game is kind of complicated and takes a bit of practice to get the hang of, so it's kind of a hassle to try and get new players involved, but once you get a core group down it's great.
So the way it works is that you pop in a CD (or a flash player from BGG) and select a Mission. Each mission is a different set of randomized threats. The threats come at you at different times and in different areas of the ship. The idea is that the five of you must work together to defeat all the threats while maintaining the integrity of your ship. The thing is that since all of this happens in real time, there's rarely ever clarity, as it's often hard to keep track of EVERYTHING that is going on when you're so pressed for time.
I don't think I'll be able to succinctly summarize the rules and game mechanics, so I won't try. There are plenty of other reviews for that. What I will do is tell you why the gameplay is so amazing.
This game requires the cooperation and planning of a team of players. It's an intense game of coordination and strategy. Energy must be sufficient to fire lasers, so while one person is firing a gun upstairs, two people are downstairs fueling the energy core and firing secondary weapons to help combat the external threats. Meanwhile, while you're thinking you're fine and dandy, an internal threat breaks loose. Perhaps it's a Nuke in your central reactor that requires three players to coordinate their actions, or perhaps it's an Executioner who boarded your ship and is romping through killing off your crew.
There is a brilliant chaos to this game. Oftentimes the crew will find themselves thinking after a mission that they performed flawlessly. Then when it comes time to resolve the entire mission step by step, they realize someone forgot to do something they were supposed to do, or an enemy behaved in an unpredicted manner, and all of the mission goes to Hell. Sometimes, though, a mistake can be a lifesaver! Someone may have unwittingly fired a missile that happened to be the additional firepower needed to destroy an enemy.
Long story short, there's an amazingly entertaining level of stress and cooperation required in this game that I haven't experienced in any other game.
I'm a sucker for space games. So how could I possibly resist a game where you're the crew of a spaceship? The audio tracks are very thematic, as well as all the threats, both external and internal. The game board design is wonderful and the whole atmosphere is very well done. I definitely don't think I'd have enjoyed this game half as much if it weren't space themed, though.
Alright, this game has awesome components. Let's start with the Rulebook. There's one that's designed as a Space Cadet Academy Training Program, written very cleverly and thematically, that trains you step by step, slowly adding more and more components to the game. Then there's the abridged rulebook which is good for reference once you know how to play! The rulebook is very well written, and the rules are very clear.
The cards are great quality, and the artwork is amazing. I love just looking at the detailed pictures of all the things flying at us trying to blow us up. It's kinda distracting sometimes .
There are tons of wooden blocks and bits. They're mostly energy or damage counters, but some are for other various counters. There are plastic pieces for your crew, missiles, and robots, and although there are tons of pieces, they're almost all necessary.
The boards and enemy trajectories are also great quality and have great artwork.
The game comes with two CDs, one with Tutorial Missions, and one with Real Missions (though the labels might be backwards...). I've never played a game that involves an external timer/event control like that, but it's an awesome aspect.
Between the fact that the game has scaling difficulties, 8 different mission tracks (Along with online mission generators), and countless possibilities for threat combinations, this game has tons of replay value.
There are Regular and Serious threats (both internal and external), and there are white and yellow levels of each, so there are eight sets of enemies in this game. Yellow cards are harder than white cards, and serious threats are way more imposing than regular threats. If your crew is getting tired of the game being too "easy," you can always ramp up the difficulty and only play with yellow threats (good luck).
The game also has a system of scoring points, so there's always incentive to try and break your team's record. You can also play a variant where you're on three back-to-back missions (I haven't tried this yet, it sounds too difficult) where your ship's damage carries over from one mission to the next.
The expansion to this game is coming out soon and promises to add an RPG element, where there will be character sheets and you will gain experience for your successful missions, allowing your character to level up and specialize in various fields. There is just tons of room for replayability with this game.
I'm pretty sure this is my favorite board game. I can't say enough good things about it. I cannot wait for the expansion, because I myself am a sucker for RPGs, and adding a leveling aspect to a game like this will be oh so addicting.
I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a cooperative game for four to five players. You CAN play it with less, but it's not nearly as fun. Also the game scales difficulty between four and five players, so four sometimes feels a lot easier than five because you have less threats to deal with.
I also recommend this to anyone who has ever wanted to pilot a space ship in a desperate attempt to survive an onslaught of enemies. As well as to anyone interested in the RPG aspect or the points you can earn from killing or surviving threats
Although it IS a bit more complicated for a board game, if you have gamer friends they should be able to pick it up with a bit of practice. Some people are just better at it than others though. There's a good deal of spatial reasoning that goes into being able to remember where everyone is and what they're doing, as well as some number crunching to make sure things are actually dead when you think they are...
All in all it's just an amazing ten minute experience. The resolution phase is what takes up the bulk of the time of the game, but that's where half the fun is where you get to see how badly everything screwed up This game is seriously a great example of Murphy's Law.
"Where are you from?" "Long story. The Pacific Ocean, I guess."
Space Alert truly is an amazing experience. My board game group eventually stopped playing though--largely because of the rushed feeling and the high stress the game caused. Most of us loved it to bits regardless. The chaos is inimical, and I've never seen "RTS" so aptly applied to a board game.
- Last edited Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:55 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:55 pm
Because of the intensity, using the expansion pack and the computer Mission Creator (downloadable from the author's site), and keeping the number of missions played per sitting to a set limit, has kept this game going for my group.