Ed Lovell
United States
Tracy
California
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Planet Run is another fine solitaire game from the minds of Robertson and Jason Sondoh. As with most of their games, it is designed to print out and be ready to play in just a few minutes.

The game is very easy to print and assemble, using only 2 sheets of paper. I would recommend that if you weren't going to mount the board and tiles to something that you use some thick card stock. That will make moving the tiles around a lot easier. If you just want to do a quick print job to test the game out then a quick B/W print, 5 minutes with the scissors and you're ready to go. Color is optional, but as I mention below, it makes the game more fun when it's in color.

The game outline is as follows:

1. Your spaceship crashed and you need to fix it.
2. You need to gather resources to fix your ship.
3. You need to explore planets to find the resources.
4. You need to hunt space animals so you can eat.
5. You need to eat so you have energy to do the above or you will die.
6. There is never enough energy to do everything.

It took me a few times of reading through the rules and playing it through to really figure out the game. It seems simple enough, but everything you do is based on dice rolls. The progress you are able to make is highly dependant on how good/bad you roll the dice.

Playing the Game: The game is set up by placing 2 space animals in the hunting area, and placing the four resource planets face down to the left of your game board with the rest area next to the planets. Place the clock marker on the time track at 01 space. Your character gets 4 HP, two food, and three energy (dice) to start the game. Whenever you gain a resource or food, move the appropriate token along the number track to the left. If you fix a part of the ship, place the "fixed" marker on that section. If you find a tool/gadget, place the "owned" marker on that tool/gadget.

Each round has five phases: Upkeep, Draw, Order, Eat, Turn End. If you have played Oh My Lair! (another of their games) you will be fairly familiar with this system.

UPKEEP - During Upkeep you use your Hook gadget (if you have obtained it) to try and gather food (you get 1 food on a roll of 2-6). If you don't have the Hook, you skip this phase. (Trust me you want to get the Hook as soon as you can)

DRAW - During the Draw phase, you draw up to 2 space animals and put them in the hunting ground. There can only be a maximum of 2 animals in the hunting ground at any given time, so if there are already 2 there, you don't draw any more.

ORDER - In the Order phase you allocate your energy dice to the different areas of the board. They can be used to hunt space animals for food, explore a new sector (so you can later harvest resources), collect resources, rest, construct a tool/gadget, or fix the ship. Each action has a certain number of pips on the dice that are needed for the action to be successful. For example, harvesting a resource, you get one resource from that planet for every 3 pips on the dice. If you assigned two energy to find a particular resource (rolled 2 dice) and you rolled an 8, you would get 2 of that resource.

EAT - During the Eat phase, you can eat food you have gathered to determine how much energy (dice) you will be able to expend on the next turn. If you don't have any food, you can still use 2 energy the next turn, but it will cost you 1 HP.

TURN END - During the Turn End phase, the clock token advances by one.


GAME END If you lose all you HPs, then the game is over. If you manage to get the clock to 15 then you immediately score (you don't get to do anything but score during round 15). You will get one die to roll for each section of your ship that you fixed. Roll the dice, add them up and use the scoring chart at the bottom of the board to see if you made it back to earth or not.

The game plays out as you try to balance gathering food to spend energy and resources to fix your ship. It plays very tight and you never seem to be able to do all that you want (of course the dice play a big part of that too!).

1. Graphics - If you have ever played one of Jason and Robertson Sondoh's games, you will immediately recognize the graphics. The graphics are very simple yet colorful and add to the fun factor of the game. I first printed the game out in black and white to try it out and I can say that going with color definitely makes the game more fun.

2. Difficulty - After playing this game about a couple dozen times, I've only made it to round 15 a handful of times. I can't say I've won yet, because on the final roll, I did not roll high enough to make it back to earth. Of course the first few times playing I was trying to figure out the strategy and how the game mechanics worked. Even still, after I came up with what I thought was a winning strategy (or rather a more likely to win strategy) it all comes down to the dice rolls. If you roll poorly you won't be able to progess in the game very well. The game is easy to learn, and semi-difficult to beat. That's a good thing because I don't want a game to be too easy.

3. Replayability - There is definite replayability in this game. There are 7 space animals to hunt and they are randomly drawn each time. The order in which you are able to obtain gadgets will affect how you play. Even when I lost, I felt like I wanted to play it again and try to beat the game because I usually lost by being short only a couple of pips on the dice on a roll.

4. Time - This is a pretty quick game and takes about 10-15 minutes to play once you've got the game figured out. Most of my games lasted about 10 minutes, so it is definitely a quick game.

Overall I quite enjoyed this game. It took a few plays to get everything figured out, but once that was out of the way, things went pretty quick. As the game gets closer to the end it feels pretty intense as you are trying to make sure that you have enough resources/food to get your ship fixed. It has a "beat the clock" type of feeling and is very similar to Oh My Lair!. It often came down to the last few turns to determine whether or not I was going to win or lose. There is a fine balance to find between getting food and getting resources. It ends up being pretty tense at the clock ticks away. I would recommend trying out this FREE PnP game, especially of you have tried any of the other games by Robertson and Jason Sondoh.

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