Posts tagged ‘science fiction’

New Race For The Galaxy Card Game Expansion Videos Posted

Cory Duplantis has hooked us up again with some more review and overview videos. We focused on Race For The Galaxy again, but this time, we dove into the two expansions, The Gathering Storm and Rebel Vs. Imperium.

If you are curious about this game, hopefully these will help you get a better feel for them.

August 7, 2009 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

New Race For The Galaxy Card Game Video Posted

We have the first in a multi-video series posted about the Rio Grande Games card game, Race For The Galaxy.

This game is an advanced version of Puerto Rico and San Juan, but with a science-fiction theme.

In this first video, of three, Cory Duplantis introduces the concepts of the game and how the basic flow of the game works.

July 29, 2009 at 2:48 am 1 comment

Twilight Imperium Board Game – A Newbie’s Guide To Ruling The Galaxy

Author – Jeff Woods

Twilight Imperium (3rd Edition) is a board game of galactic conquest and strategy for 3-6 players. With the expansion, up to 8 can play, and rules variants are available for 2 players. It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games.

I have not owned Twilight Imperium very long, and have not played that many games yet. But, it is a game I truly enjoy, and you may as well. It’s not my intention here to go into a lot of detail about every part and every rule. I thought I would write down my thoughts, and why I already love the game, to help you decide if it’s the game for you.

What is Twilight Imperium (TI) all about, you may ask? TI is a massive strategy board game that takes place mostly in outer space. The ‘game board’ is actually a map of the galaxy made of hexes, and is different every time. Players play one of several galactic races trying to take over leadership of the galaxy. You do this through conquest, politics and even economics.

Twilight Imperium Is HUGE!

TI is a huge game, and not just in scope. If you’re considering getting it, make sure you have plenty of table space for the map, all the different cards, and areas for each player to keep track of his stuff. My 4-by-5 foot table is barely big enough for a 4-player game. This is not a light, “hey, let’s play something,” game, but an event that you need to plan for and set aside plenty of time. All the games I’ve played have taken at least four hours. If you’re playing with any optional rules (yes, there are plenty, and lots of markers/chits for those, too) plan for longer.

When you first open the box, be prepared to be overwhelmed. The amount of pieces and parts is staggering. You get map hexes, cards, plastic ships, markers for this and that, and a nicely put-together rulebook. But don’t worry about what to do first; the rulebook itself tells you what piece is what and how to organize things. The production quality of the parts is wonderful. The map hexes and various markers are made from high quality material, and are sure to last a lot of games. One note of warning here, though: the box itself has no dividers. Invest in some baggies, tackle boxes or a combination of both to keep everything organized.

Basic Play

Twilight Imperium is played in rounds, each broken into three phases:

  • The Strategy Phase
  • The Action Phase
  • The Status Phase

The Strategy Phase

During the Strategy Phase, players pick a strategy card that gives them some type of bonus for that round. You may be able to get a free technology upgrade, or resolve a political situation and change the rules of the game, among others.

The Action Phase

During the Action Phase, you move you ships, engage in combat, and play to the bonuses of your particular Strategy Card you picked.

The Status Phase

The Status Phase is mainly a book-keeping phase in which you check your score, repair ships, and ‘reset’ the board for action in the next round. While you’re taking your turn, other players are planning their next moves, trying to sabotage you, and bartering for political gain.

Everything Has A Cost

This is a game where everything you do has a cost. You have a limited number of Command Counters, which allow you to move your fleets, and take advantage of certain strategies. You have, or may not have, Trade Goods (the game’s currency) you can spend to either help build ships, research technology, or buy votes in the political arena. Planets you’ve taken over provide you with resources and influence, which you use to expand your fleets or vote in politics, respectively.

How Do You Win?

You win a game of TI, and leadership of the Galaxy, by achieving objectives, which are random and different every game. An objective could be a simple as controlling 10 planets, to more difficult, like controlling Mecatol Rex (the Capitol planet that’s always in the center of the galaxy) with a number of ships and ground forces.

Why Do I Like Twilight Imperium?

I really like this game because for me it has it all. I love science fiction, so to me the theme is golden. You have large scale space battles, planetary invasions, politics and lots of player interaction. Although it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely that a player is eliminated from the game. The map is random, as are the main objectives for winning, which makes every game different. Each Race that can be played has a different bonus, and adds a bit of role-playing. There is plenty of player interaction, with very little downtime between turns. Even though it can take a long time to play, there’s enough going on to keep most people interested.

Of course, what appeals to some can turn others off. As I said before, it’s a massive game that takes a long time to play. There are a lot of rules, and a lot of steps to accomplishing any goal in the game. If you don’t have the table space, or aren’t into a LOT of bits, this isn’t the game for you.

A Little Advice

Check out the rules (They are 44 pages long), then the FAQ section on Fantasy Flight Games’ website for rules clarifications. Then head over to Boardgamegeek.com and peruse through some of the excellent articles there. This is an expensive game, both in money and time. If you’re interested and trying to find buddies that you can play with, let your friends know it’s a little like Risk, but with politics and economics. Although combat and galactic war are big parts of the game, they’re the means to an end, and not the end itself. Although unlikely, it’s possible to win without firing a shot.

And for your first game, set a time to stop, and allow lots of mulligans as you interpret the rules.

Twilight Imperium is a great game for me. I can’t play it as much as I’d like because of the investment in time, but when I do, it’s an event that’s remembered.

You can also check out more information about Twilight Imperium here.

April 15, 2009 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

A Night with Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

Author: Shawn Wolen
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is a semi-cooperative game for 3-6 players ages 10 and up that can be played in 2-3 hours. The theme of the game is devised from the recent remake of the 1970’s television show, Battlestar Galactica. The game picks up after Caprica and the surrounding planets have been decimated by a nuclear attack by the Cylons and the humans are running (flying through space) for their lives in search of Earth.
The game is enjoyable for fans and non-fans alike. If you are a fan of the new series you will enjoy detail and homage the game makers gave to the miniseries that launched the recent television show. The characters and their storylines from the show are weaved into the development of their characters and talents in the game. If you are not a fan or not an avid watcher of the television show fear not; it is not a requirement of the game to know the show or their story lines. You can easily pick up this game and start playing after reading through the games instruction manual. You do not need to know or understand any elements of the show’s stories to understand, enjoy, and play the game.

The game, as with most co-op games, has a “screw you” element. At the beginning of the game, cards are handed out to indicate if a player is human or a Cylon.

If you are a human, your goal is to survive until the last jump to earth.

If you are a Cylon, you have two options:

  1. Embrace your robotic nature declare your metallic stature to the group, and spend the remainder of the game thwarting the human’s efforts of trying to reach Earth or
  2. Remain quiet about your true identity and hinder the human’s efforts using subterfuge and malice.

Both options provide some interesting game play. There is no requirement in the rules that players announce their affiliation if they don’t wish. So, if you are a Cylon, you can continue to feign humanity in an effort to defeat from within (there is a caveat to this rule; during a later round, the Sleeper Agent Phase, if a player has a Sympathizer card they are dealt with immediately. To learn more about this phase, see the rule book). Some creative game play is required with this method. A player wants to cause enough havoc to prevent the human’s advancement without being so obvious as to be caught (being caught means being sent to the brig, but does not infer a need to reveal yourself a cylon).

If the player decides to announce their true selves, the thwarting can be completed in any number of obvious ways; destroying their main ship (Galactica), destroying enough civilian ships, boarding Galactica, or depleting any number of resources the humans need. As a reveled Cylon, you have much more powerful options available to you to prevent the humans from escaping.

Get your own copy of Battlestar Galactica.

March 22, 2009 at 1:25 am Leave a comment

Android Review – Blade Runner As An RPG/Board Game

Seth Brown – www.RisingPun.com

Android is a giant 3-5 player board game for ages 13 and up, that can take 3-4 hours to play.

This conspiracy-filled board game set in a dystopian future inspired by various famous science fiction novels, where players each play a detective on a murder case. You have two weeks to follow leads, uncover evidence, reveal conspiracies, and resolve your emotional baggage. Imagine if Blade Runner were a 3-hour adventure board game, and you’ve got the general idea. At the end of two weeks, detectives are awarded points for correctly tagging the murderer, uncovering conspiracy, and resolving their own issues. Whoever has the most points wins.

Pieces/Parts:

Many.

A large fold-out board six times the size of the box, conspiracy puzzle pieces, event cards, murder-specific cards, suspect cards and sheets, and hundreds of cardboard chits of various types representing everything from favors and evidence to baggage and trauma. Each detective also has their own playset that includes a play sheet, a strategy guide, a flying car caliper, two decks of twilight cards, a deck of plot cards, and more.

Yes, you’ll want some bags.

How Do You Play?

Even summarizing the 48-page rulebook may take half an hour, but the basic mechanic is this: Every day, you have six times in which to explore the world and make progress.

Each time allows you to do any of these options:

  • Move to another location – Go anywhere you can reach from your current location by measuring with your flying car caliper.
  • Follow up a lead – Use the lead on your space to either uncover a piece of evidence (which you then place on a suspect to increase/decrease guilt) or uncover a piece of the conspiracy (to add a piece to the puzzle and possibly effect end-game victory points)
  • Draw, discard, or play a card – Play light cards on your turn for various benefits. Dark cards may only be played on other players’ turns, to attack them, but take no time.
  • Use a location ability – Various locations on the board allow you to spend time to acquire favors or trade favors for other benefits.

All the while, you’ll also be trying to add good baggage to your plot. In addition, each detective has their own unique mechanic with some affect on the cards.

What’s Cool?

Android has theme coming out the wazoo. Check out the trailer on the Android product page and you’ll have a pretty good idea for the feel of the game.

Unlike many more cerebral games where you calculate points and rarely get into the game itself, Android really draws you in. After flying around earth and the moon for two weeks chasing suspects, retrieving evidence, and dealing with the personal baggage of your detective, you really feel like part of a large story. The flavor text on all your character’s light and dark cards really adds to this, and the plots weave theme into gameplay really nicely.

Android easily could have been a movie, and many people would still want to see it. The same cannot be said of most board games.

There are also a number of interesting mechanics.

  • When you draw dark cards, you choose which player’s dark deck to draw from, and then the card is keyed to attack that player only. Each player has a twilight marker that can shift from light to dark. Playing light cards and dark cards requires shifting the marker in opposite directions, with the result that players must balance the types of cards that they play.
  • The conspiracy puzzle is also quite innovative, with 24 pieces of actual puzzle that can be constructed into a 5×5 grid during the game. In addition to scoring points for completing rows or columns, the placement of pieces determines whether certain favors are worth points at the end of the game, as each piece has a line that can connect the conspiracy to different organizations.

Perhaps the best combination of theme and mechanics comes in the interplay of cards with locations on the board, such as seedy locations. When entering a seedy location, you draw a dark card to injure other players and enable more light card play, which is good. However, many of the dark cards played against you may only injure you in a seedy location (and have appropriate flavor text), which is bad. Players can enable this by moving leads to seedy locations, luring you there. The end result is that you and your detective start to feel that seedy locations are dangerous but good sources of information, which is exactly how things should be.

What’s Not To Like?

Android is an absolutely huge game. It takes up a lot of space, it has hundreds of pieces, takes a lot of time to set up, lots of time to learn (48 pages of rules), and lots of time to play. If you only have a small card-table, or aren’t willing to invest a few hours into playing a single game, then Android may be more game than you want to deal with. The reward (in terms of fun) can be quite high, but the time investment is substantial, and may be off-putting to players who can’t imagine spending 4 hours on a single game.

Some people may also be disappointed that “solving the murder” consists mainly of adding evidence to the suspect you believe is guilty, rather than any process of deduction. Try to think of it as uncovering evidence that confirms your hunches (rather than planting evidence), and it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Finally, some players dislike being directly attacked by other players, and that’s what dark cards are. However, most characters can easily reduce the risk of attack cards by avoiding certain locations.

Overall Thoughts

Android is a giant 4-hour adventure board game, far bigger than my usual Euro-style fare. The first game took way too long to set up and learn the rules, but I really wanted to play again. Things are a lot faster the second time through, and after that, setup time becomes almost reasonable. My friends immediately wanted to schedule a time to play again, because the game just has so much fun in it. Any big science fiction fans – especially if they like Blade Runner – should definitely consider this game. Android is still a very long game, but if you don’t mind spending a full evening on it, it will provide a full evening of entertainment.

Buy your own copy of Android

January 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm 1 comment

Race For the Galaxy – Strategy Card Game Review

Author: Seth Brown (http://www.risingpun.com)

Race for the Galaxy is a card game for 2-4 players. The average age range is for 12 year-olds and up. Typically, it takes 30-60 minutes to play a single game

Race for the Galaxy is a card-based game where players attempt to build developments and settle planets by playing cards from their hands. You start with a single small planet card in front of you, and over the course of the game, you add to your empire, with each development or planet granting you additional powers. When a player builds a twelfth card, the game ends, and whoever has the most points wins.

Pieces/Parts

Race For the Galaxy is mostly cards. There are four identical hands worth of role-selection cards, as well as a large deck of planet and development cards with varying costs and powers. There are also a few victory point chips for extra points scored during the game, and some very handy informational mats.

How Does It Play?

Players all choose a role and play it face-down. Roles are revealed simultaneously, and every role that was chosen at least once occurs for all players. The roles are:

1) Drawing more planet/development cards

2) Paying cards to play developments from your hand

3) Paying cards to play planets from your hand

4) Trading goods for cards or victory points

5) Producing goods

In addition, each player who chose a role gets a bonus ability during that role.

What’s Cool?

Race for the Galaxy manages to use cards for almost everything in the game. You draw lots of cards, pick your favorites to build, use the rest as currency, and use cards from the deck as goods. This helps keep the game from getting too complicated, since the cards are pretty much all you need.

In addition, becasue unplayed planet/development cards are used as currency leaves you with a lot of flexibility.

· Do you throw away a hand of 4 good cards to build the 4-cost development in your hand?

· Do you build the cheap planet and try to save up enough cards for the 6-point development?

Every planet and development has its own benefits (usually focused on a specific role), which means that not only are the decisions of which cards to keep or throw away often interesting, but that the game plays differently every time.

What’s Not To Like?

There are two main criticisms leveled at Race for the Galaxy. The first is that some people find the card icons a bit tricky to learn. Non-gamers who haven’t played anything much more complicated than Monopoly may well be confused by the various abilities cards have, and almost certainly won’t understand on the first game through. However, the game comes with informational mats that explain all the icons, so those willing to play a second game will quickly catch on.

The other complaint some people have is that there is not enough interaction in the game. Players who prefer to directly attack each other may be disappointed that there is no attack option here. However, many people find being attacked frustrating, and so for those who enjoy building a varied empire without someone else knocking it down, Race for the Galaxy can be a very enjoyable game.

Overall Thoughts

Race for the Galaxy is a game with lots of replayability. It may take you a game or two to learn the iconography, but once you do, the gameplay is fairly straightforward. There’s a certain joy in slowly building up your array of interesting powers, and the choices you make along the way definitely affect your late-game. If you need a game where you can attack your opponent, Race For the Galaxy isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a fun middle-weight game where you build your own little empire as best you can, Race For the Galaxy is a fine choice.

Also, if you are comfortable with games like Puerto Rico or San Juan, and you like the science-fiction theme, you may want to give this game a look.

Get your own copy of Race For the Galaxy

December 3, 2008 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment


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