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Subject: Is this belle ready for the ball? rss

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Jason Farris
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This review is a follow up to my prior effort based on a prototype version of the game. You can find it here. I’m not one to rehash old territory but I feel it is both fair and necessary to review the finished product of a game that I thoroughly enjoyed in its “primitive” incarnation. There is no flashy session report in this review, although I’d love to tell you how my super sniper Earthers made my opponents weep. But that is another story for another galaxy.

It’s not every day that you get to see the physical evolution of a game from prototype to finished product and it is interesting to see the improvements and compromises made when mass producing the game (And all you budding designers out there: feel free to send me any good ones you want me to review ). Gone are the 3D lava rocks, 3D probes, unique looking ships on stands, and beautiful silk screened battle mat. Instead you get cardboard asteroid tokens, quasi 3-d ships (1/2 3D and ½ flat to sit on the map), and a glossy fold out board. I loved the art of the cloth map, but I really prefer a true flat board. Sadly, the board artwork is bland and totally overshadowed by the glare created from the glossy finish. I don’t understand glossy boards or pieces at all. Matter finish please, it makes it much easier to play in almost any gaming environment. The ships are similarly underwhelming compared to the prototype. It’s clear that the goal was to get the most pieces into the game as possible and corners were cut everywhere to sandwich all the bits into the budget. On the other hand I am okay with the cardboard tokens. Lava rocks have always looked like barbecue or grounds cover to me. I just don’t see them as asteroids. They also shed red dust everywhere. If I had a good alternative to lava rocks, then the tokens would be tossed in a heartbeat.

Compared to one man’s labor of love prototype, Battle Beyond Space is a pale shadow. But that’s not a fair comparison. This is a mass produced board game and needs to be reasonably priced and play well. For that it gets a solid B for components. It would get a higher score except the Earthers have two squadrons that are almost an identical shade of blue. Since each race has the same sculpt for every ship, this makes it extremely difficult to tell the two apart. Had they changed the shade more, I would move it up to B+. There are even a few nice extras in the tokens supplied to help player represent their special powers in the game and even a damaged capital ship token that mimics Frank’s fire on a clip from his prototype. Overall, I think Z-Man did the best they could to reach a reasonable price point and offer a solid gaming experience.

The rules have not changes one iota from my last play of the game and my previous review outlines them adequately. So if you want to know if anything changed, it didn’t (unless my memory is faulty). They are simple and well organized. The game continues to play fast and smooth. You can teach and play it in just under an hour. And yet, it is probably one of the most engaging light games you will find. Sure the decisions are limited, but the ones that exist are compelling and you definitely interact with your opponents as the game progresses (If you call reaching down the barrel of your laser cannon to throttle an opponent to death interacting).

I see a tendency for slow turns initially with new players, but it also fades as the game plays out. For one thing, the most options you will ever have, you have on your first turns. As your fleet gets whittled down, it gets far easier to take you turn. Also, I think new players tend to over think the game. They unconsciously expect there to be more to the game than there is because we all know space combat games are long. Not this one. Special abilities are generally straightforward for new player, except possibly the Dreckach which rely a little bit on timing. The game is so clear right from the start that the only piece of advice I would give to new players would be to go out guns blazing and not worry too much about the survival of any of your units. Kill and be killed. Kamikaze when necessary, there is no shame in it in this game. Your ships are your money and you need to spend them liberally. Playing defensively will not generally win you the game.

Battle Beyond Space still supplies that thrill of space combat without needless down time. It’s the equivalent of a mental adrenaline rush where the game just moves along and the Carnage flows. I love longer and more strategic games as well but there are tons of worthy options to play in that category. There are few to none that fit into this niche. If you like space combat, and you want to be able to pull out a game you can play with almost anyone (except small children who might eat the bits) in a very reasonable amount of time, then Battle Beyond Space is for you. It’s, light, engaging and never out stays its welcome.
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Lee Sweeney
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Use the Lava rocks, just do the following.

Use a dremel to carve out some deeper holes, to your liking.

Gloss coat with a heavy gloss spray, then when dry Matte coat.

The Gloss is needed for a protective layer, the Matte to kill the glare.

As for Ships,

http://www.star-ranger.com/Home.htm

Covers most out there.

Not sure if you can Matte spray the board, but a test in the corner might tell you.

Lee
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Chef D
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I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.
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Lee Fisher
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Funguy wrote:
I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.


How did you attach them?
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Martin Smith
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I haven't got my copy yet, but, from the pics, the spaceship models look like ones from games of 10-15 years ago, or from breakfast cereal packets in the old days, rather than 21st century games. I guess it's just a cost thing.

You could always use other models I suppose, but then they wouldn't match the Movement Cards ...

Still, the game and rules seem good, which is the main thing.
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Chef D
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lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.


How did you attach them?


I used Liquid Cement for plastics from Model Master. It has a nice fine tip and I ran it along the top edge of each stand. I did a row of about 8 at a time and then attached the ships. After 3 minutes they were pretty much stuck. This worked like a charm.
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Lee Fisher
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Funguy wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.


How did you attach them?


I used Liquid Cement for plastics from Model Master. It has a nice fine tip and I ran it along the top edge of each stand. I did a row of about 8 at a time and then attached the ships. After 3 minutes they were pretty much stuck. This worked like a charm.


A picture would be really cool.
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Mark Crane
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I hope this game develops a thriving pimping subculture. And by "pimping" I mean "customizing" not

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Chef D
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lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.


How did you attach them?


I used Liquid Cement for plastics from Model Master. It has a nice fine tip and I ran it along the top edge of each stand. I did a row of about 8 at a time and then attached the ships. After 3 minutes they were pretty much stuck. This worked like a charm.


A picture would be really cool.


I can't seem to upload directly here. Not sure why. I uploaded last night 4 pictures and all were declined by an admin.

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Lee Fisher
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Funguy wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.


How did you attach them?


I used Liquid Cement for plastics from Model Master. It has a nice fine tip and I ran it along the top edge of each stand. I did a row of about 8 at a time and then attached the ships. After 3 minutes they were pretty much stuck. This worked like a charm.


A picture would be really cool.


I can't seem to upload directly here. Not sure why. I uploaded last night 4 pictures and all were declined by an admin.



You can also just upload to your personal gallery.
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Chef D
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lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
lfisher wrote:
Funguy wrote:
I bought a thrifted copy of Star Wars:Jedi Unleashed for .99. It comes with 74 stands that I used as bases for the sculpts. It worked beautifully.


How did you attach them?


I used Liquid Cement for plastics from Model Master. It has a nice fine tip and I ran it along the top edge of each stand. I did a row of about 8 at a time and then attached the ships. After 3 minutes they were pretty much stuck. This worked like a charm.


A picture would be really cool.


I can't seem to upload directly here. Not sure why. I uploaded last night 4 pictures and all were declined by an admin.



You can also just upload to your personal gallery.


I did that last night and it wouldn't upload for some reason. They appear to be there now. Here is one of the 4 pictures. I will try later to get the others uploaded as well.


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Sophie Gravel
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Jason, thanks for the nicest comments in the galaxy

Sophie
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Jason Farris
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SophieGravel wrote:
Jason, thanks for the nicest comments in the galaxy

Sophie


And thank you for your graciousness as I did have a Little tough talk about the bits.

Let me reiterate for all the fearless readers of this review that I am comparing a finished game with a handcrafted and painted prototype. The bits are fine for the finished product except for the one color issue.

I don't see this game being the new Puerto Rico (just because of the theme being a little more limiting) but if you ever can do a deluxe edition of a game, this is one I would like to see fully enhanced.
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Frank Branham
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Thanks for the comments.

There were really two goals for the production:
1. Plastic ships.
2. Affordable. Battle Beyond Space is a simple quick game, and a completely full-blown production did not really fit.

As is, I now prefer to play on the actual game over my prototype. The cards and flat board are obvious improvements.
The fighters don't stick together (my prototype uses these freaky rubber spaceships where the paint never quite cured properly.)
The "bland" board is SO much easier to set up and locate the asteroids. You also don't lose your ships in the visual riot of the Hubble nebula image I used on mine. It looks stunning, but there are so many pieces on the board, it just doesn't work.

And the ships look quite a bit better than my first prototypes, which used these:
http://www.sciplus.com/singleItem.cfm/terms/5098
There has to be something cool that could be done with these.
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Aaron Gelb
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it seems like the first player to go would be at a disadvantage...first to move, but very little in firing range...and then the next few players to go can shoot at him as a sitting duck.

Yes? No?
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Mark Buetow
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asgelb wrote:
it seems like the first player to go would be at a disadvantage...first to move, but very little in firing range...and then the next few players to go can shoot at him as a sitting duck.

Yes? No?


Only slightly. In a three player game, you get first dibs at the probes of you have a higher card. In a four player game, you don't have a direct line to the center, and asteroids give you some decent cover. Any disadvantage is easily mitigated by smart play.
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Timothy Young
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Larac wrote:
Use the Lava rocks, just do the following.

Use a dremel to carve out some deeper holes, to your liking.

Gloss coat with a heavy gloss spray, then when dry Matte coat.

The Gloss is needed for a protective layer, the Matte to kill the glare.

As for Ships,

http://www.star-ranger.com/Home.htm

Covers most out there.

Not sure if you can Matte spray the board, but a test in the corner might tell you.

Lee


Cool site- lots of cool minis. But I didn't see a way to tell how big the minis are. And replacing all 80 minis in this game with minis from this site would cost some serious cash. 3 minis for $12?! Yikes!
 
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Frank Branham
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The best choice for cheap pretty ships is probably the EM4 series.

http://www.em4miniatures.com/acatalog/Science_Fiction.html (look at the bottom)

These are the same Nexus/Atlantic figures that were used in a Silent Death boxed set. You still need 6 sprues of the EM4 (72 ships.)

Then for cap ships, you could go with these Chinese knock-offs of the same designs. They are larger, but have very much the same designs. I used these for cap ships in the later prototypes.
http://www.ustoy.com/toy-space-cruisers

You are probably looking at: 5x6 (Fighters) + $6 about $36 plus two sets of shipping.

Also: these are a bit larger, and don't QUITE fit the current board without stands, but are really interesting. We never figured out who made them, but I see them on Ebay occasionally:

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=4&cam...

Trust me, I'm spaceship-obsessed.
 
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