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Subject: My very early impressions from a PAX East playtest rss

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Matt Evans
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I had a chance to play a test copy of this game at PAX East this year. At the time it was called "Warp Duel" but this appears to be the same game. Geoff Engelstein sat down with me and 7 strangers for what was honestly one of the most frantic and exciting gaming experiences I've ever had.

I'm going to give a general overview of the game from my short session as a random fan and avid gamer. I'm not going to go into the details of the rules but you should at least get a basic idea by reading the overview. PLEASE understand that this is was an early play test copy and various things (as well as my potential interpretation of certain things) may differ from the final product.

The game is basically two teams going head to head on a large grid map with each team controlling a single space ship miniature. It plays 4-8 players and takes about 10-15 minutes to play. Each team member controls one or more stations which share the same names (and somewhat similar thematic functions) as ones in the original Space Cadets. In practice the roles are quite different, but I'll get to that in a moment. Each team is looking to destroy the other ship by firing torpedoes, dropping mines, or (hilariously) using the tractor beam to push / pull the other ship into mines or vice versa.

Now here is the best part...The vast majority of this game takes place in REAL TIME! Each station has it's own custom dice that need to be frantically rolled to meet the orders of the Captain. I won't go into the details of every station, but let's just say they're all really important. The Captain has arguably the most important (and stressful) role of all. He stands behind his team members and gives them orders based on what he sees the other team doing. Everything on the table is open knowledge to both teams, so the Captain is constantly trying to plan and give orders to his crew to outmaneuver and destroy the other ship.

For example, the Captain might see that the other team has their ship within firing range and a torpedo nearly loaded into the chamber. At this point he'll need to make a decision. Does he call for the Shield Officer to power up the aft shield? Tell the Sensor Officer to jam the other team's sensors to drop the other ship's effective firing range? He could even order the Helm Officer to power up the thrusters and move out of the way. He'll need to pay close attention and work with his entire team to make the right choice.

As I said before, this game takes place almost entirely in real time. The only moments where the action pauses are very brief so you can resolve certain actions. The first thing that pauses the game is any time either ship fires torpedoes. As soon as the Captain looks down and sees a torpedo loaded in the chamber, he can stop the action by yelling "FIRE ONE!" This pauses the action for all players at that moment and the firing of the torpedo is resolved. The Captain will first check to see if the enemy ship is within their firing arc. Then compares the range of the enemy ship to the number of range given from the Sensors. If the torpedo hits, the opposing team checks the shield levels where the torpedo hit and resolves damage accordingly. As soon as this is done the action picks right back up and all players resume playing.

Use of the Tractor Beam also pauses things for a moment while you resolve the action. The Tractor Beam is downright awesome and can be really powerful, but being new players we were still learning and didn't have time (or the skills) to use it properly. I seriously can't wait to give it another shot.

The final thing that pauses the action is using Warp Gates. They're basically worm holes that you can use to teleport around the map. They require resources to use them but they can really save your skin in a tight spot. Once your ship enters a space with a Warp Gate, the Captain announces that he wants to use it. The game then pauses for just a moment while the team decides where to teleport to. Aside from those slight pauses, the game never stops. It's a constant race to try to take out the other ship.

I really can't describe how frantic our game session was. I was playing the Captain for my team and my heart was pounding the entire time. There was so much to pay attention to I felt overwhelmed with choices. I worked with my team and stayed focused and we ended up with the victory. The last moments of the game were so exciting that they've stuck with me for weeks. The enemy was nearly destroyed as we had already hit them directly with 2 torpedoes a few minutes before. We now had them in range again and their Captain had no idea! My heart jumped when the Weapons Office shouted "Captain, I've got both torpedo bays loaded!" I quickly checked our range and positioning one last time before screaming "FIRE TWO!" The other team frantically started counting the range to verify the shot, but I already knew... They were toast.

If you couldn't already tell...I LOVED this game. It supports a ton of players and it's incredibly engaging from start to finish. I seriously cannot wait for the final product!
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David Harding
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Woohoo!
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Michael Norrish
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Can you describe how any of the roles worked with the dice?
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Matt Evans
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Sure.

First of all the Engineering Station is responsible for providing "energy" to each of the other stations. Engineering has a large number of standard D6 dice that are rolled and distributed to each of the other stations based on the roll. From there, each station has a set a of custom D6 dice that are unique to that station.

The Sensors station dice have a icons that represent either range or jam. The Sensors officer rolls a number of those dice based on what the engineer has allotted to them. As they roll dice they put aside any dice they want to keep as they go. Each range symbol present on a die that is set aside increases the firing range of the torpedoes by 1. Each jam present on a die that is set aside decreases the opponents sensor range by 1.

The Shield station rolls dice and sets the aside to determine what section of the ship is protected with shields. There are 4 different areas to apply shields to.

The Helm station rolls their dice to try and set a path a for the ship. They set aside dice that have a arrows pointing in certain directions. Once they have set aside 3 dice total, they resolve the movement of the ship based on those dice.

The Weapons station rolls the allotted dice to try and make a full torpedo image using the dice. The die faces have either a front, middle or back of a torpedo pictured on them. As they are set aside, they form the torpedoes being loaded into the chambers. Each die face has the ability to form 1/3 of a single torpedo. Meaning if you want to fire a full 2 torpedoes from the station, you'll need a total of 6 dice.

The Tractor Beam station needs a set number of dice before it's fully powered up and ready to use. The dice rolled for this station can show either 1 or 2 power symbols and you need a power symbols equal to the distance you're attempting to use the tractor beam. In the game I played we didn't get to use this station much, but it has a huge potential for amazing game play. We were just so overwhelmed with the rest of the game that we didn't get to it.

That's the basic overview. There are other rules that govern the stations but that's the general idea of how they work. Hope this helps!
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cyberpunk 42
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mattamd wrote:
I had a chance to play a test copy of this game at PAX East this year.
...
I really can't describe how frantic our game session was. I was playing the Captain for my team and my heart was pounding the entire time.


Ditto here. I played captain of a victorious team in another session and it was very exciting.

I shouted "FIRE!" really loud and a PAX enforcer came over and said, "I hate to censor your fun, because this looks like an awesome game...but you are shouting FIRE next to a crowded theater..."

Definitely a game to play and pick up at GenCon this year!

btw, there is a thread in the Space Cadets forumhttp://boardgamegeek.com/thread/950837/geoff-engelstein-demo... with a video on the explanation of this game.
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Neil Sorenson
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How does it work if the teams don't have an equal number of players?
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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It's really designed for equal teams. However, from the rules:

Divide the players into two teams. Both teams should have the same number of players. If you have an odd number, you can put the less experienced players on the larger team, or the extra player can moderate the game and keep things moving. The game is fast enough that an extra player will be
able to rotate in for the next play.

Geoff
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Chris Schenck
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Oh wow.
That sounds fantastic!

This just shot to the top of my game radar.


EDIT: The main BGG game page says the release date is "Q3 2013" ... so hopefully this will be available at GenCon. (fingers crossed)
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Charlie Theel
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What's the minimum number of players needed to actually have a fun game and get the real experience?
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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charlest wrote:
What's the minimum number of players needed to actually have a fun game and get the real experience?


4 players min. 2 vs 2 actually works really, really well and was a slight majority plurality of our playtests.

Geoff
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Charlie Theel
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engelstein wrote:
charlest wrote:
What's the minimum number of players needed to actually have a fun game and get the real experience?


4 players min. 2 vs 2 actually works really, really well and was a slight majority plurality of our playtests.

Geoff


Good to hear, thanks!
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Philip Hoffman
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Don't suppose this is showing up at Pax Prime? This sounds EPIC!

If anyone wants to send me a copy I'll run demos. whistle
 
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