1-5 players, Semi-Cooperative, Objective Based Space Terror
Designer: Adam Kwapinski
Artwork: Piotr Foksowicz, Ewa Labak
Publisher: Awaken Realms
Overview of Gameplay
This one is pretty huge. I’m going to give a brief rundown of what is happening here as there is just SO much it would take forever to go through it all. So basically you and your crew are trying to complete very specific objectives individually. Running all over this massive space ship trying to complete these while at the same time there are “Intruders” see: Aliens that are snapping at your heels, popping out of venting ducts and generally just being super annoying. Also let’s not forget that the ship needs to be taken care of as well. If too many fires pop out or rooms malfunction that means disaster for the crew too.
So on your turn you will have 5 cards in hand you can utilize to perform either basic actions (such as moving or attacking) by discarding a card or card specific actions which also have you discard cards to pay for the action. Each player gets 2 actions then the next player takes their turn and this continues until all the players pass from either running out of cards to pay for actions or wanting to wait and keep a couple cards in hand for the next round. Once all players have passed there is an event phase in which any aliens on board attack players in the same room they are in and an event card is drawn. These event cards dictate the movement of aliens around the ship and also some other random event that can and usually will wreak havoc on the ship in some form.
There are a few negatives around the gameplay that I have seen however. Player elimination is a huge one, the randomness is overwhelming and the game is fiddly AF. So let’s start with player elimination. PE is something that should just be done away in games completely if they are longer than 1 hour in length bottom line. Who wants to die early on in a game and just sit there while everyone else is having fun? Who Goes There? Is guilty of this and it just sucks. LUCKILY this game does have an official ruling that allows the first player to die the ability to take on the aspect of playing as the aliens themselves. It’s a neat thrown in rule but still.
Then we have the randomness. Now this is VERY dependent on what kind of player you are and what kinda games you like. For those that HATE dice and card draws and just anything random in general, you will more than likely despise this game. This game is like the master onion of boardgames when it comes to randomness. There are layers upon layers upon layers of randomness held within. Almost everything in this game was designed to be random. From EVERY card draw pile to combat to noise to events to objectives. Even to the point of picking your character is a random draft. Personally I like a bit of randomness in my games, gives them a bit of thrill. However this game pushes that randomness to the point where entire games could end suddenly and furiously depending on cards drawn. Now, that said, I don’t hate the amount of randomness in this game. I actually feel that the overwhelming amount of it just adds EVEN MORE theme to the game, makes it more unnerving. Just something to be aware of.
Then finally we have the fiddle. There are so many things going on here it’s super overwhelming. Some of the stuff I can forgive as it makes the game more interesting but trying to keep track of everything can quickly lead to forgetting some things. The slime token is a prime example, as one of those little clear tokens are placed on your player mat you may forget what it even does if you remember you have been slimed at all. Of course this is par for the course with a heavy-centric game.
Win Condition /Length
There is such a narrow line to winning in this game it’s almost comical. I mean each player has a completely different objective to fulfill and even if you fulfill said objective there is still the possibility that any number of random events could happen to prevent that. The other players are all working on their unknown objective which more than likely will intersect yours and possibly ruin your plans. You could get contaminated and even though you may have completed your objective…..that could still mean death. If you don’t take care of the ship such as putting out fires and repairing rooms, the ship could blow up. Of course that might be exactly what you want…….
The length can be very swingy depending on what events are drawn and other aspects that happen. I mean in one game that I played there were a couple rooms on fire and I hadn’t found any fire extinguishers yet. The next event card was one that caused the fire to spread from every room that was on fire to all adjacent rooms…..which incidentally was just enough to destroy the entire ship. Game over and this was only about an hour into the game. Of course that was just bad luck BUT this game is littered with bad luck so don’t be surprised if something like that happens.
Goodness this is a BEAST of a game for setup and takedown. There are so many moving parts that need to be organized and laid out from cards to tokens to player stuffs. Expect to spend at least 15 minutes setting everything up, if not more. Your first time will take every bit of half an hour as you read through the setup while also learning what the stuff means such as all the different tokens and cards. Let’s see just the board setup alone has randomized room tiles and on top of those randomized exploration tokens. Then the….7? I think different card draw decks that encompass all the different item decks and events and aliens attacks and serious wounds and contamination cards. You will also have the little draw bag with the starting alien tokens mixed within and the intruder board setup with the egg tokens. After that your player boards with your specific card decks and items cards.
I mean there is a lot here to get setup and one of the biggest reasons it takes so long is the fact that a lot of the beginning setup is randomized, from the room tiles to the player selection. You never end up using everything so every game is unique from what rooms you will see to what player you will play as.
Very nice Clark, very nice. This game thrives on its theme and the components just go to improve that theme even more. The noise tokens are little yellow plastic triangular things, the fire tokens are red plastic fire looking things. The tracker markers are clear plastic tokens that actually act as a small magnifying glass to the numbered tracks they set upon on the board. The ammo tokens are tiny red plastic cubes. There are little plastic broken cogwheel tokens that represent malfunctioning rooms. I mean this game is just awash with cool tokens and when they all start getting laid out on the board they bring a ton of color and excitement to the board and game. Usually the excitement is more “panic” as you never want too many of those things out but excitement nonetheless.
The minis are superb, very highly detailed and look outstanding and also add a ton of theme to this already theme heavy game. Ugh I can’t wait till I get to the “Theme” section of this review as I have a lot to discuss. The cards are all of an actually really nice thickness, even though they are the slick style the thickness more than makes up for that and they feel very premium. The gameboard itself is large and double-sided so you can play a standard game and a more advanced game if you desire with a different layout for each.
Pretty standard box that sits on the deeper side because there is just so much to fit in the box. I will say though they utilize every inch and everything sits pretty, even if stored on its side. There are a couple inserts to hold all the components and…..they aren’t terrible. For the most part they are good inserts, sturdy and they have enough spaces for everything BUT some of the spaces are so damn tight. It’s hard to get my fingers in and dig out what I need. For that reason alone I find myself just dumping out the components and putting them into their own ramekins. Not only that but once you get everything set up there just isn’t any room to keep the insert out with the components.
Visual Appeal /Theme
Yuuuuss. SO much theme here. This game literally oozes theme as you can and probably will get slimed. First off let’s get it out of the way, this is Aliens the board game. I know it’s been discussed and mentioned before by numerous people but it really is. I mean the “larva” are basically facehuggers that can burst forth from you. The mini models look a bit different but were clearly modeled after Aliens. Heck there are lines of flavor text on some cards that are quotes taken directly from the Alien series of movies. I’m not complaining though, I think it’s amazing that someone finally made a good Aliens board game and I’ve even went so far as ordering some Aliens miniatures to round out the experience.
So, more on the theme. I mean beyond the premise of your crew being stuck on a space ship and each one of you has some secret objective to fulfill when all of a sudden you hear suspicious noises in the corridor…..Eh that’s prob just the ship settling. You keep moving about until finally an Alien appears! Then it just gets deeper, what with the contamination cards which you have to scan to see if you truly are infected. The interesting technical corridors that the aliens can leap into or out of to attack or escape. The cool escape pods or any other number of gameplay elements that just reinforce the theme. That’s what is so great about this game, every gameplay element that is in the game is meant to add to the theme in some way or another. And it works so well!
Not the worst rulebook I’ve ever read but far from the best. They did something that I haven’t seen much before in a rulebook and I think they tried this to make it easier but instead it just made it way worse. They listed the base idea of something and then right below it, “see page whatever for more details”. So then I’m whipping through pages trying to find more details right then. All through the book I was doing this back and forth because they wouldn’t put everything I needed to know about something in one spot.
The worst offender was the “Surprise Attacks” rule. Haha this one is funny to me now thinking about it but when I was trying to figure it out, I wasn’t laughing. So I was doing my first encounter (which I already talked about those being set up in a rather complex way) and was going through the rulebook at the same time. Well I got to the bit about if there are less cards in my hand than the number on the back of the token, it unleashes a surprise attack! Oh shit. Ok now WHAT exactly does that do? Right below that little bit it said “See page blah blah for surprise attack”. I whip over to page blah blah and find it AH-HA. Hmmmm, ok it is telling me that an alien is surprise attacking me but nothing else. Eventually I did find the info for this in the combat section in which I basically just needed to draw an intruder attack card. But ugh the confusion around that was just too much the first time through.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
The game is a lot of fun and it’s just dripping with theme and if you play with a group that really gets into highly thematic games then you will find no shortage of table talk here. Even though you will all probably be working towards different objectives, the sheer amount of random occurrences that keep popping up will surely erupt table talk. Oh and speaking of that randomness, it adds a bookoo of fun to the game as well, if you like that sorta thing. This is probably the furthest thing from a Euro I have ever seen so don’t come to play expecting to control anything. That’s not to say decisions don’t matter however. What you do will have an effect on everything and everyone and you and others will need to learn to adapt on the fly.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
As of this writing I haven’t played a full 5 player game yet so I cannot comment on how crazy everything gets at that level. However I have played 2 and 3 player games, and also solo using 2 characters to learn the game. From those plays I can see the game being very fun multiplayer over solo JUST because of the unknown objectives from the other players. That sense of tension you get is amazing. I hear there is a dedicated solo mode however I have still yet to unleash that one. I had a blast at 3 players but could see this being really good at 4. I suspect the downtime between turns could be a problem the more players considering the noise markers and encounters start building up later in the game.
The replayability is crazy good. That randomness that I mentioned earlier also creeps its way into board setup. Exploring the ship is fantastic and there are more tiles than room spaces included in the box. So you will have different rooms each time you play and in different spots on the board! Not to mention the added exploration tokens on the rooms that are shuffled and placed as well. These add yet another layer of random replayability. Each character is a bit different based on a few of their action cards but not so different that it will blow your mind. It’s not like the Vast board game or anything here.
Positive Final Thoughts
It’s a super fun, thematic, explosive game. I really love the theme most of all and for the most part the gameplay is spectacular. Outstanding components all around and the replayability is off the charts. I would recommend this game to anyone that loves the Aliens franchise and doesn’t mind a game that could chew you up and spit you out on a whim.
Negative Final Thoughts
The rulebook needs some work and player death is never a good thing. Some gameplay elements feel like they were added just for the sake of making the game even MORE complicated. There is a ton of stuff to manage and keep track of on the board such as noise tokens, fire, malfunctioning tokens, the self-destruct sequence etc etc. I would say that if you are a Euro player by heart and don’t much care for the theme, you will probably want to pass on this one.