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Having had the chance to try a 1969 game before the official release, i'd like to write a review for it. Please bear in mind that this is my first review on BGG, and I only had a chance to play one game.
Any comment, suggestion or criticism is kindly appreciated.
1969 is a worker placement game with a risk/reward management component for 2-5 players. Playing time is about 1-2 hours, depending on the number of players.
In 1969, players are the directors of the space agencies of five nations (U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Canada, France and Germany) during the 1960s' space race. Each player tries to build the most technologically advanced rocket by assigning funds to various research branches, sabotage their opponents through espionage and launching training missions, with the final objective to send Man on the moon.
Missions award a certain number of Prestige Points, based on their difficulty (with the Moon mission being the hardest and most rewarding one). The player with the most Prestige Points after 7 turns wins the game.
The game consists of:
- The main game board, displaying the mission tracks, slots to place the scientist pool and Espionage deck, and the Prestige Point track along the border.
- 10 Research sheets (5 Rockets and 5 Ground Control, one of each per player)
- 40 Flag tokens, 8 per player, used to track attempted missions and Prestige Points on the main board.
- 5 Rocket tokens, 1 per player
- Scientist cubes, in 5 colors (40x white, 10x each blue, black, red and green), bought by players during the game and assigned to various tasks on the Rocket and Ground Control sheets to gain bonuses.
- 10 Bonus tokens, used to represent stolen information via industrial espionage
- A deck of 39 Intelligence Cards, bought and used by player to increase their chance to succeed on a mission or to sabotage their opponents.
- 5 custom dice, used to determine the outcome of missions
- Paper money notes, used to buy scientists and cards.
The game is played over seven rounds, each divided into 4 phases. Players act in turn, executing their actions in each phase before passing to the next player. When everyone has completed a phase, the next one begins.
1 – Income Phase
During the Income Phase players collect a fixed amount of money from the bank and, starting from the First Player, have a chance to sacrifice some Prestige Points (i.e. Victory Points) to gain extra money. This action can be done once in rounds 1 and 2, twice in rounds 3 to 5 and three times in the last two rounds.
2 – Purchase Phase
In the purchase phase each player may spend money to hire scientists, represented by wooden cubes, and/or to draw Intelligence cards from the deck. Unspent money can be kept and used in later rounds.
Scientists are assigned to specific tasks either on the Research sheets. Scientists on the Rocket sheet give the player bonus successes on missions displaying the same icon as the one on the task they are assigned to, while scientists on the Ground Control sheet give special benefits to the player:
Radar: allows one "no effect" (blue) result on the mission die roll to be counted as a success (green)
Robot Arm: allows the player to reduce the cost of the first scientist bought every round by 2M $.
Computer: allows the player to re-roll one mission die.
Propaganda: reduces the cost to launch missions by 2M $. (Exception: the Moon Mission cost may not be reduced)
Intelligence: allows the player to draw an Intelligence card for free at the beginning of each round.
Insurance Policy: grants the player 3M $ for each failure (red) result rolled on the mission die
Each benefit on the Ground Control sheet is allowed once per round for each scientist assigned on that task.
Each task can be occupied by up to 2 scientists, which must be of different type (except for white, see below).
Scientists come in 5 different types:
- Basic scientists (white) cost 5 M$ each. White scientists are the only exception to the "no two scientists of the same color on one task" rule.
- Famous scientists (green) cost 9 M$ each, and give the player 3 bonus Prestige Points at the end of the game.
- Rookie scientist (blue) cost 3 M$ only, but the players gets -2 Prestige at the end of the game for each one he or she has.
- Genius scientists (red) cost 11 M$ each, and count as two scientists on the task they are assigned to, while only occupying one slot.
- Spies (black) cost 7 M$ each, and are put on an opponent's Research sheet, locking one slot, preventing that player to put a scientist on it, and also giving that player -1 Prestige at the end of the game.
In addition, anyone who plays a spy puts a Bonus Token on her Research sheet, on the same
task she put a spy on. Each Bonus Token counts as an extra scientist, but only one is allowed per task
3 – Mission Phase
In the mission phase each player may launch a space mission by placing her rocket on a mission slot on the board, paying the corresponding price and rolling the 5 mission die.
Each success (green face) rolled advances the rocket one space, while each failure (red face) removes one success from the pool. Blue faces are "no result" effects.
Each scientist on the Rocket sheet assigned to a task displayed on the current mission adds +1 success to the roll. There are six "Easy" missions displaying one task symbol each, three "Medium" mission displaying two and two "Hard" missions displaying three, while the Moon Mission displays all six of them.
Each player can then play Intelligence cards from his or her hand to influence the mission outcome. Cards have values ranging from 1 to 3, and move the rocket forward on the mission track if played by the active player, or backward if played by another player. On "Medium" and "Hard" missions 2 Intelligence points are needed to move the rocket one space, while on the Moon Mission 3 Intelligence points are required.
Each mission assigns a number of Prestige Points based on how far the rocket has gone on the track, minus 1 Point per player who has attempted the same mission in previous turns. In addition, if the player manages to get to complete the mission (getting to the final position on that mission track), he can advance his starting position marker for the Moon Mission one space forward.
4 – End of turn Phase
At the end of the turn, each player takes his rocket token back, and places a flag token on that mission as a reminder that she can't attempt that mission anymore in the game, and that the Prestige payoff for other player launching that mission is reduced by one.
The First Player gives the First Player token to the player of her left and the next round begins.
After 7 rounds the game is over, and the player who has the more Prestige Points is the winner, with ties won by the player with more money left.
Component quality is overall good. The overall layout of the game board and research sheet is nice, spaces and symbols on the boards and sheets are clear and easy to understand, and the tokens are of high quality cardboard. I don't like the fact that the research sheets come in laminated paper instead of thick cardboard, but that's just an issue regarding the overall aspect of the game, not its functionality.
Rules are quite simple, the rulebook looks well written and easy to consult (not tested, since we played with the creator of the game himself, so we had no need to look through the rulebook for clarifications, but actually there were very few issues that required a reminder). Also, almost any information you need to play is printed onto the game board and symbols are easy to understand.
The game is really easy to learn, but looks like being strategically deep due to the high amount of choices you can make. In a 5-player game you'll never be able to fill al the spaces on the Research sheets, and it looks difficult to do also in a 3 or 4 player game since the available money is limited.
Player interaction comes in various forms: by the placement of spies and the use of Intelligence cards to sabotage other players' missions, and also by attempting some missions before others do, thus reducing their value.
A con for this type of interaction is the fact that it can lead into a bash-the-leader game, which sometimes can be frustrating. Also some "kingmaking" situations can arise in which players with no chance to win can hinder one opponent more than another, thus allowing the second to win the game.
An aspect someone might not like is the luck factor introduced by the dice roll, but it can be seen as an extra risk/reward management system than pure randomness, and can be mitigated a lot by allocating scientists on the right resources and by intelligently using cards at the right time.
Theme & Flavour: How well the theme of the game is implemented, both visualy and via game mechanics; how much a player can be involved in the game instead of thinking he's just rolling dices, drawing cards and moving cubes.
Components: Manufacturing and graphical quality of the components, and fitting to the overall theme. Ease of handling and toughness of tokens, cards etc. .
Rules: Clarity of the information written in the rulebook or on other components as reference sheets, cards etc. Complexity of the rules, relative to the "weight" of the game.
Strategy & Options: Ability for the player to "control" the game, either by availability of meaningful choices or by means to reduce randomness. Depth and variety of strategic approaches to the game.
Player Interaction: Ability for a player to influence other players' strategy, options and position in the game in a significant way.
Duration: Duration of the game, relative to its weight, complexity, and the chances for players in a bad position to make a comeback.
What, no aliens?
Maybe they'll be in the expansion.
- Last edited Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:23 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:23 am
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." -Mark 16:16
Incredible review. Very good job. If I had more geek gold, I'd give you some. The way you describe the game makes me seriously want to check it out. I love the theme. Your rating indicates the it really works well and is evident throughout the game, and that's the impression I get from your rules description. Thank you very much.
“Don't try the paranormal until you know what's normal.” - Granny Weatherwax
What, no aliens?
Green scientists are actually aliens in disguise. They're used to eat rats.
While the game is nice, I completely disagree about the high score you gave to the theme. The theme is almost completely absent, and the game is a cold worker-placement game. We played it several times in the last two weeks, even with different people, and no one actually felt to be in a "space race", not even for a second.
With this, please let me remark it, I am not telling that 1969 is a bad game. On the contrary, it is fun and it may even become a filler with two players. There are multiple ways to win, and I have never seen a game won with large gap of points between the first and the second place (in more than a score of games so far). Plus, it works well with any number of players.
It is just that there is almost no interaction between players (yes of course the spy cards, but they usually cost too much to bother buying, and they can be more useful for your own advantage than against the other players; and the spies themselves... you can really live - and win - without them), and the theme is not felt at all.
- Last edited Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:10 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:08 am
theme flavor yes
strategy options lower maybe 2 as I feel you could break it down to a simple formula if it wasnt for the dice and spies.
player interaction yes
overal rating 6.5