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Vanished Planet
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Store:  Family Games
Theme:  Science Fiction
Genre:  Cooperative
Format:  Board Games

Vanished Planet

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Product Awards:  
Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game, 2005

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 60-120 minutes 1-6

Manufacturer(s): Vanished Planet Games

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Product Description

A seething mass of darkness has appeared where Earth once was, and it's stretching out deadly tentacles towards the six homeworlds of the galaxy's other empires.

The galaxy has been thrown into chaos; colonies are rebelling, workers are fleeing their jobs, and old hatreds are threatening to foment into war.

Now, cryptic missions are being transmitted from the vanished planet Earth. It's up to you to complete those goals, banish the creature, and restore Earth to its place in the galaxy before your homeworld is consumed!

Vanished Planet is a cooperative strategy game for 1-6 players, who must work together to manage resources and complete mission goals to win.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Game, 2005

Product Information

  • Manufacturer(s): Vanished Planet Games

  • Year: 2003

  • Players: 1 - 6

  • Time: 60 - 120 minutes

  • Ages: 8 and up

  • Weight: 1,932 grams


  • 1 game board
  • 55 black creature tokens
  • 60 small tag tokens
  • 24 large ship tokens
  • 20 goal cards
  • 29 event cards
  • 11 creature growth cards
  • 100 resource cards
  • 50 personnel cards
  • 30 technology cards
  • 18 upgrade cards
  • 12 equipment cards
  • 1 resource score pad
  • 1 rulebook

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.4 in 8 reviews

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Cooperation takes time, but it's worth it
December 16, 2004

In order to appreciate Vanished Planet, players must enter the Vanished Planet world as students. They must realize they have much to learn and be willing to take the time to learn it. If players think they can take the lid off the game and commence playing an exciting match, they will be disappointed. Each race in the game has certain functions. Different equipment and resources need to be acummulated in varying quantities to accomplish different goals which are selected according to where the races are in the game and the level of difficulty the players have chosen to embark upon.

Players can only choose the level of difficulty at which to play the game once they are familiar with what the levels mean (that is, they have to have experienced playing the game on the different levels). I believe this game is the hardcore strategist gamer's dream. It will never cease to challenge even its most experienced player. On the other hand, it will never interest those whose idea of gaming is a fleeting romp through Sorry, Phase 10, or Uno while simultaneously talking about their latest dating adventures, shopping trips, or engine repairs. This game demands the attention of Chess, and, as is so with Chess, the peculiarities of each race and resource must be ingrained in the player's psyche before the strategizing (and, subsequently, the fun) can begin. A few slow tedious games in the beginning will yield magnificent fun in the long run.

A family would do well to have the adults in the family learn the game and scale it for their children before it is played together. In this way, children learn cooperation from their elders at a level they can understand. Those who know the children playing the game are the ones who decide the level of play for them. A game designed specifically for the family playing that not the best?!

The BEST cooperative game ever!
June 02, 2004

When I first played Vanished Planet, I was dismayed at the poorly edited manual, and the fact that there are no gameplay differences between the different races. But after playing that first game (2 players, on 'nightmare' difficulty), we were intrigued, and played again. It is through repeated play with different numbers of players that this game really shines, for then you appreciate the brilliance of the scaling difficulty - not just of the number of 'creature growth' cards you put in the event deck, but also of the goals themselves.

Unlike other 'co-operative' board games (the much-touted 'Lord of the Rings' springs to mind), actual co-operation is a necessity in this game. Players have to discuss and strategize together in order to win, trading cards in a manner similar (but far less competitive) than in 'Settlers' games. There can be no competition between players if anyone is going to win, and this may be the source of frustration for some of the reviewers: there is no competition, only co-operation. So if, for your gaming satisfaction, you need to be able to lord it over the other players that you 'beat' them, this is not the game for you.

The other compelling thing about this game is how different the game is with different numbers of players. When you play the solo game, you are able to pick and choose which goals to pursue, and have a reasonable chance of success, since you only need 5 points to win, but the goals you will go for will be fairly modest in scope. With even just three players, you have to carefully consider ever goal, because the ten extra points needed make a HUGE difference...but at the same time, the increased number of cards allows players to accomplish some of the extravagant technologies that are completely impossible with fewer players. With six players, each one pretty much has to complete any goal that he or she turns over, because 30 points is outrageously ambitious! If, however, the game seems too difficult or too easy, you can adjust the difficulty by adding or removing 'creature growth' cards as necessary ('nightmare' difficulty, with all 'creature growth' cards in the event deck, is well-nigh impossible), which is another nice contrast to other so-called 'co-operative' games out there.

Finally, the thing that really draws me back again and again is the real sense of accomplishment when you do manage to win: you really feel like you have succeeded against insurmountable odds when you do win. In one two-player game, my home world Talis teetered on the brink of absorption for *four turns* while both of us worked on mines to hold back the creature long enough for my ship to reach the winning goal. It was a titanic effort, and while we were convinced that we couldn't succeed, we did in the end, and the creature was defeated!

All in all, 'Vanished Planet' is the most satisfying 1.5-2 hour game I can remember playing, ever.

Cooperative Settlers of Catan
June 07, 2005

I am a big fan of cooperative games. Not only is it nice to take a break from competitive angst, but my wife and multiple friends of mine really enjoy cooperative games (that is, it's easy to get a cooperative game going). So when I saw a cooperative game that won Game magazines family board of the year, I bought it without reservation. Vanished Planet has not disappointed me.

Both my wife and I have played Vanished Planet solo multiply times, as well as together, and we've played a couple of times with groups of four people. My wife now regularly asks to play this game (a big plus to me).

Another reason Vanished Planet is popular with my family is that it plays is similar to Settlers of Catan (a favorite of mine for nine years). The game involves building, limited trading, and resource management. Instead of building for 10 victory points, the player builds for individual goal points of 5 (or more) per player. The incentive to do this quickly comes from a giant black tentacle monster that will eat all the player's home worlds if the goals aren't completed in time. The difficulty of the game is adjustable, and right now we're doing pretty good with 'hard' (I'm working up the courage to try 'nightmare').

Unfortunately, this game does have its flaws. In terms of components, the black creature disks are a little to big, the spaceships are domed wooden disks, and the rules could use some editing. My wife thinks the game plays a little long, and I could see people have some difficulty with the complexity of the building (there are 16 different 'things' that can be built).

However, I still think this game is very worth while, and consider Vanished Planet one of my better game purchases. I strongly recommend it to families and cooperative game enthusiasts.

An excellent cooperation game.
February 15, 2004

Ive really enjoyed my playings of Lord of the Rings by Knizia, because its fun to take a break from our extremely competitive play and work together for once. The sad thing is that good, quality, and most especially FUN cooperative games are few and far between. When I received the game Vanished Planet (Vanished Planet Games, 2003 Samuel Blanchard and Craig Oliver), I was interested to see that here was a science fiction cooperative game, and we eagerly gave it a try.

Since then, Ive come to the conclusion that aside from LOTR, Vanished Planet is the best cooperative game Ive played, and an excellent game any way you look at it. The components are excellent for an independent publisher, the game is HARD but fun, and it certainly invokes the theme of hopelessness and unity that the designers intended.

The board is laid out in the middle of the table, made up of a large hex grid, itself in the shape of an hex. At each corner of the hex is the starting planet of each alien race (differentiated really only by color), and resource planets are scattered throughout the board, as well other space phenomena. The very central hex is earth and is where all the trouble is going to begin. Each player gets 3 large markers (representing their ships), and several smaller tokens (representing resource markers also known as tags). Twenty separate piles of cards representing resources, personnel, technology, and upgrades are placed near the board, as well as two decks of cards goals and events which are shuffled and placed face down near the board. Depending on how difficult the game is (and its hard even on the easy level) determines how many Creature Growth cards are shuffled into the Event card pile. Each player puts a ship on their home world, and a black token (representing the evil Creature) is placed over earth. One player starts, and then turns take place clockwise around the table.

The first thing a player does is turn over an Event card. Most of them are good, giving the player a variety of resources, but some are a real pain in the neck especially the Creature Growth cards. After this card has been resolved, the player starts their turn, moving their ship(s) on the board up to three spaces. If their ship encounters any resource planet, they may tag the planet. At any time during their turn, but only once, a player may collect resources during their turn from all their tagged planets and their home world. Also, during a turn, a player may trade resources either to the bank with a 4:1 ratio, or to other players. If a player lands on a Satellite with their ship, they may take a goal card (of which they may only have one at a time). This goal details something that the player must do, such as visit each of the home planets, build a technology at a certain planet, etc., and reach the amount of victory points needed for a goal.

There are five basic resources: ore, energy, money, research, and colonists. During a turn, these can be traded in for a second level of resources, called personnel: doctors, engineers, diplomats, soldiers, and scientists. (For example, a doctor costs one colonist, one money, and two research). Technologies dimensional shifters, fusion reactors, harmonic oscillators, meta-translators, and cryo generators, the third level of resources, can be gained by trading in personnel and technologies. (For example, a harmonic oscillator costs 1 soldier, 1 scientist, 1 energy, and 1 ore.) Neither the second nor third level of resources give the player any advantage, except that they are both needed for certain goal cards. The fourth level of building is upgrades and equipment, (Trans-locaters, phase shielding, neutron drives, communication relays, mines), and new ships. Each of these cost a certain amount of resources, but give the player a benefit. For example, the trans-locater, which costs 1 dimensional shifter, 1 fusion reactor, and 1 cryo generator, allows a player to move his ships to anywhere on the board.

After a player has finished their move, the Creature grows one spot from the center towards their home world. There are nine spaces between the Creature and each home world, limiting the turns of the game. Ships cannot move through the Creature (unless they have built Phase Shielding), and it cannot be slowed except by using mines. The Creature also moves towards planets of home worlds of players who are not playing (if there are less than six). Once the Creature reaches the home world of a player, that player is out of the game, but the game is not over until every home world is dead.

Unless, of course, the players reach their goals and reach the Goal Point Total (which is five points for each player playing). If they do that, all the Creature tokens are removed, Earth is saved, and everybody wins!

Some comments on the game:

1.) Components: The components for this independent game are stellar, and I was very impressed. The board is absolutely beautiful, and very convenient as it shows the costs of all the levels of resources at each corner. The Creature tokens are thick round black cardboard tokens. There are piles and piles of cards, and it can be a pain sorting them out into the twenty-two piles at the beginning of the game, but they all look good, and have cartoon space artwork on them. Little plastic ships might have been nice, but the wooden tokens used for tags and ships are quite functional. My only minute problem with them was that they were rounded on the top so that if tipped over, they rolled around quite easily. A pad is provided so that each player could keep track of their resources they gained each turn, but we found that it wasnt really necessary. Everything came in a very, very sturdy black box with nice artwork all around it. It really looks sharp on my shelf, and often draws visitors eyes when they are viewing my collection.

2.) Rules: The rules are written very basically, almost as if telling a story. What I found more useful then the rules were a Quick Start and Tutorial printout included in the box. These full colored, illustrated sheets look like the designers realized the rules were a little unclear (they were) and are very helpful to learn how to play. I played through the tutorial game and then was very easily able to explain it to other players. I think every game should include a tutorial, because it helps understanding of the rules that much more. The game isnt really that hard to teach, and people dont usually complain about the rules because the game is cooperative. The quick start rules can be downloaded form the companies website .

3.) Hardness: I cannot stress just how difficult the game is. The first time we played, we played on the easiest level, and we barely won. And that is when we were working together, with absolutely no arguments or dissension. The second time I played, I upped the difficulty one level, and we were destroyed viciously. The designers of the game seem to delight in this, however, for at the end of the rules there are several optional rules each one making the game even harder to complete! When a player turns over the goal, usually there are gasps from all players as to just how hard that goal is to attain. For example, one goal worth five points has the player visiting each other home world. That goal is only possible if the player builds a trans-locator, which takes an obscene amount of resources to accomplish! And even then, the Creature moves so quickly, its still difficult to finish the goal.

4.) Fun Factor: Do not let this discourage you from buying the game, however. We found the fact that the game was so difficult to be a lot of fun! Its fun to try and rise to the challenge, to face overwhelming odds, and be the victor. Im not sure that I would enjoy Nightmare mode as much, but perhaps, after multiple wins, we will feel confident enough to give it a whirl.

5.) Cooperativeness: The game, because it was so hard, inspired a good feeling of teamwork. Everyone worked together to help each person figure out the best way to accomplish their goals. There was no backbiting, fighting, etc., everybody realized that if one person died, hope was that much dimmer! Its not very often where all the players come together in my groups in such a display of unity, and its refreshing every once in a while.

6.) Theme: The theme is certainly not tacked on, but ebbs and flows throughout the entire game. Chapter one of a novel (the rest of this novel will slowly be added to their website) can be found in the rulebook, and it adds a nice backdrop to the game, as do all the pictures and art found throughout the game.

7.) Number of Players and Time: The game takes a bit to play the authors say about thirty minutes per player, but once players get experienced, this cuts down to 15-20 minutes per player. The game plays fairly well solitaire, but its a lot more fun to play with more players. I think four is the optimal number, but five and six dont seem to slow down the game that much.

8.) DIGers: There arent too many of TGWL that are cooperative, as most in this group like the competitiveness found in a game. But this is one that I think would appeal to this group. It works well, and aside from a sloppily written rulebook, I dont see too many problems with it.

So, if you are looking for a challenging, cooperative game, this one certainly fits the description! Vanished Planets is certainly one of the most interesting games Ive played over the past year, and I look forward to many future playings. The Creature must be stopped, and its difficult to do it alone, so gather some friends, buy the game, and work together to defeat him! Seriously, though, if you like puzzle-type games that can be solved in a group, with a small dash of Euro mechanics involved, then this game is for you!

Tom Vasel

by csw11235
Better than some, worse than others, but probably better as a computer game
August 13, 2007
Our game group recently gave this game a try after several months of letting it sit on the shelves. We've recently become intrigued by cooperative board games and in that light decided to give it a whirl. Over all we felt it was OK, but probably not good enough that we'll seek it out to play again. The game has a lot of pieces, both physically and conceptually. However the mechanics were pretty straight forward once we'd played a round or two. The quick-start walk through was very useful to get us going. The mechanics style is exception driven - a general set of rule with ways to bend and break those rules available by spending resources. Once you learn the base mechanics the cards tell you everything you need to know. The flavor is fine, though there are some places where there's dissonance between the flavor and the mechanics. The general style economic. Players start with a small income and over the course of the game they invest their resources either in increasing their income or in action which more directly get them towards winning the game. Income tracking gets to be a bit of a pain. The game went on a bit long. There came a point where it was obvious that we were going to win and we didn't feel like playing anymore - the actual process of play wasn't fun enough keep us going. Also, there was a bit too much open information - the best move was too often obvious to all players, leading to a lack of interesting discussion. If you're interested in messing with game rules, this would be a good one to get to use as a framework. If you like relatively light games this would probably also be OK. If you're going to buy only a single coop board game, get Shadows Over Camelot instead. If you already have that then this might be worth your time as an exploration into other styles of coop play (though you'll probably be a bit disappointed by the play). All of us in the group liked this much better than the Lord of the Rings coop game.
Not bad, but not great.
February 16, 2004

I really wanted to love this game, and I didnt hate it, but it lacked the pphhzzazz that most german games have. The card aspect is very good though, and the game itself is worth playing once or twice just for the gameplay. It is the kind of game you want to play, but not own. Give it a try, you may really like it, but chances are you'll walk away with an 'eh' attitude.

by Roy L.
Uninspired and Poorly Produced
June 05, 2005

I'm not sure what the hype is about. This is an average game at best: uninteresting mechanics and mediocre art along with terrible production quality. The rules, in particular, are a mess.

If you're an experienced gamer, you'll find nothing here. If you are new to games beyond Monopoly and Clue, you might enjoy a few games, but will quickly move on. Try before you buy.

by Bill
Overrated Borefest
March 14, 2004

Bought this game due to reviews. Must have been done by company shills.

This thing is tedious and very quickly becomes tiresome. It is touted as a great cooperative game - unfortunately if everyone is bored than what is the point.

Our family is big into games - and there is just too many good ones out there to waste your money on this dog.

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