The Great Space Race
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At the speed of light, no one will hear you scream! A short time ago, in a galaxy not too far away, powerful aliens gave the six most inept species a choice -- win the Great Space Race or be destroyed! As one of these alien racers, you must use speed, tactics, and luck while avoiding hazards such as black holes and space amoebas (not to mention the missiles and deadly weapons of your opponents) to ensure the survival of your species!
But after seeing the Great Space Race being demoed at GenCon I couldn't resist.
The good news is Kenzer apparently learned a few things from Dwarven Dig. Production quality on Space Race is top notch. This is one massive game. Weighing in at five pounds the large box is crammed with components.
The premise of the game is that a Great Race is being held in Space pilots representing their various races/species. The winning pilot saves his race from annihilation by the Emperor. The losers...? Well, you get the idea.
So it's an all out race with nothing held back.
Each player gets a console that represents the dash board of his ship. Here he must manage his shields and speed while keeping a watchful eye on his Hull points (when they are gone you explode). The console also has two equipment bays where new equipment can be added enhancing the ship's abilities.
This game takes the best elements of Robo Rally, Formula De' and even a bit of Flying Buffalo's Nuclear War card game and combines them all into a game that's elegant and simple to play. We've played it about a dozen times so far and it's already a group favorite. I don't see this game gathering dust.
I'm not all that good at writing reviews but I know a good game when I see one. Just go to boardgamegeek.com and read Tom Vasel's excellent review on the game. It pretty much says everything I want to say.
In my opinion you can't go wrong with this one.
NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine
The Great Space Race is a cosmic event that is sure to excite aliens from around the cosmos. Deep in the far reaches of space, the emperor has called for a race of galactic proportions. He has commanded that the galaxy’s lesser races provide a hero to race for the existence of their species. To the winner goes more than a mere trophy, as their race gets to survive. Those losing the race will have their species wiped from existence. It is truly a race for survival, but fortunately it is just a game!
Players represent these various inept races from the far reaches of the galaxy, all called to participate in this supreme sporting event. Borrowing heavily from Richard Garfield’s Robo Rally game, The Great Space Race uses pre-programmed moves, with each player organizing up to five movement and/or action cards, then executing those actions in a randomly determined turn order. As in Robo Rally, the actions of opponents can impact your own fate, oftentimes causing your ship to be shoved to a different location. This may well mean that your pre-planned moves will now lead you to undesired locations. This can often have disastrous results, which in game turns means damage to a ship’s shields and hull. Too much damage and the ship will crash and burn, much to the delight of one’s opponents.
The massive board depicts a modified oval track, upon which is superimposed a hexagonal grid to regulate movement. Each player receives a console depicting the player’s unique ship, as well as its speed, hull and shield ratings. These can increase or decrease as the game progresses. Two bays provide space for equipment, and there are spaces for up to five action cards.
Each turn, players can increase or decrease their speed, and damaged shields can be partially repaired. Players receive a number of action cards based upon their speed, with the idea being the faster a player is going, the more cards he will receive and be able to play. These action cards are the heart of the game, as they regulate movement, trigger events, and provide maintenance and equipment. Players must immediately play any event cards drawn, then replace them with additional cards. Events generally give the player a minor advantage, or an opponent a moderate inconvenience. Sometimes, however, they trigger the dreaded major events, which can cause quite a bit of strife and hardship.
Movement cards are the most plentiful, and graphically depict various movement options a player can choose. Some are basic (forward 3 spaces), while others offer numerous choices, including changing the facing of one’s ship. Players pre-plan their turn’s move by laying out their cards onto the spaces provided. The number of cards played is equal to the ship’s speed, and the order of execution is determined by randomly distributed initiative tokens.
As ships are moved, players may deploy mines if their movement card allows it. Mines are obstacles which, if encountered, may explode, causing damage to the impacting ship. Further, ships may also impact other ships, possibly causing damage and shoving the impacted ship into a new hex. This sudden re-location will usually cause that player’s movements to take him to locations he did not foresee, often with adverse consequences. Fortunately, the game does provide each player with four control tokens, which can be used to alter one’s facing, avoid an obstacle, or even rearrange one’s action cards. Once used, however, these tokens are gone, so players must employ them judiciously.
This cycle is repeated turn-after-turn until one player successfully crosses the finish line after the prescribed number of laps (1 – 3 are recommended). I personally recommend two laps, as this allows mines and other obstacles to be more of a factor.
The Great Space Race borrows heavily from Robo Rally, but is more forgiving and somewhat easier to play. It offers players a chance to hinder their opponents’ efforts, as well as manage their movement and ship’s features. The excitement level of a particular game, however, is largely determined by the number of events and obstacles that surface. If there are too few, the game can be a bit dull. If they surface liberally, the game can be quite chaotic and fun. Fortunately, the fate of one’s species is really not at stake … only bragging rights!