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Starship Awesome 3000 Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look:

Info:
Designer: Matt Chapman
Artists: 
Publisher: 
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages:
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Starship Awesome 3000. I was sent a prototype version of the game. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. 

The Mercenary's Guild has tasked a small group of pilots to deal with some combat drones left behind during an old conflict. Your weapons are hastily installed, your shields are faulty, and you're flying into an asteroid field - not to mention the possibility that one of the pilots has their own plans for the drones! Just another day at the office, I suppose.

In Starship Awesome 3000, you play as a pilot tasked with clearing drones from an asteroid field. In doing so, you must balance powering your engines, shields, and weapons while navigating past friend and foe alike. With asteroids looking to crush you and the element of a rogue pilot, the drones might be the least of your worries!

The components, in all their science-fiction glory

Review:


Rules and Setup:
Each round of game play has four phases: Initiative, Piloting, Environment, and Engineering. The Initiative round is a simple Engine dice roll to determine the order for the turn. The Piloting phase is much more complex.  Using the roll from the Initiative phase, the pilot moves that many spaces on the board, either in a straight line or turning. Then, they can attack by rolling their Weapons dice (if their roll matches an activated Technology card, then they can use its bonus). If the target of the attack has their shields charged, they can roll their Shield dice. Exceeding the Weapons roll means that the target takes no damage and their shields are no longer charged. Otherwise, the attack damages the ship and the player loses a Tech card. After attacking, players must (if possible) charge their tech and shields. They may also reconfigure their Tech cards if they so choose. Each pilot gets a chance to move, fire, and reload before the Environment phase. During this phase, asteroids move around the map and drones move towards the pilots in an attempt to attack them. The final phase, the Engineering phase, allows players to rearrange their Reactor dice if they so choose.

The goal of all players is to destroy the drones. However, during the course of a game, one player may reveal the card stating that they are the "Rogue." If this happens, then the win conditions change; the Rogue can win by destroying another pilot's ship, and the other pilots can attempt to win by either destroying the Rogue or sticking to the mission. If a player runs out of Tech cards, that player is out of the game, and the game may potentially end.

The table is set, ready for a night of space flight and dogfights!

Setting up the board takes just a couple of minutes. After unfolding the game board, the Drone tokens are placed in the center of the board. Each pilot then receives their game components: three tokens (a Starship, a Shield, and an Asteroid), an Asteroid Direction marker, five dice (one 12-sided High Power Reactor die, two 6-sided Medium Power Reactor dice, and two 4-sided Low Power Reactor dice), and a Starship Control board. Pilots pick a side of the game board and place their Starship and Asteroid tokens along the edge, along with the Asteroid Direction marker atop the Asteroid token itself.

At this point, one player shuffles the Technology deck and deals cards to players until their entire Starship Control board is full (cards are placed face-up or face-down, depending on their location on the board). Finally, players configure their power systems (Engines, Weapons, and Shields) by choosing which dice to put in which category. The High Power Reactor die gets put into the most important category (and adds +2 to all its rolls), the Medium Power Reactor dice go into the next important, and the Low Power Reactor dice are saved for the least important system. Once all players are ready, everyone rolls their Engine dice to determine the order of the first round, and the fight begins!

In the thick of the battle. The Rogue hasn't been revealed, yet...

Theme and Mechanics:
I won't deny that the starship dogfight theme is a pretty cool one, and this game does it justice. From the in-game threats like asteroids and drones to the Tech card powers and artwork, Starship Awesome 3000 bleeds science fiction. The idea of a rogue player "hacking" the drones and trying to abscond with them also fits with the kill-or-be-killed mindset of most sci-fi universes.

A full control board. Shields are a must for this player, so they get the highest Reactor die type.

The game's mechanics are fairly solid, save for one (which I'll get to momentarily). The ship combat is solid, and the drones' behavior doesn't feel overpowered - unless you get unlucky rolls, you have a pretty good chance of taking them out. Having the obstacles of asteroids also adds an interesting challenge to work around. The ability to swap and link your Tech cards, along with your dice rolls determining which Tech can be used (similar to the resource gathering of Catan), gives the game a nice mix of strategy and luck.

The only major issue for me is the role of the Rogue; the concept is sound, but its implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Once a player has been revealed as the Rogue, the entire game changes. No longer are drones the issue - the focus becomes killing the Rogue. 75 percent of the time, the card designating the Rogue (the "Drone Transponder" Tech card) starts on someone's board, and half the time it's revealed immediately, making the entire focus of the game to kill them. Essentially, there's a guaranteed one-in-three chance that a game will end well under the expected 45-minute mark, and whoever draws the Rogue card is out of luck. The rules for the card are also somewhat vague, and it makes the Rogue's ability to avoid drone fire seem like a short-lived mercy. The "Drone Transponder" doesn't show up in every game, but it's always there in the backs of players' minds and can heavily affect play strategies.

Tech cards can grant you bonuses to attacks, allow for more versatility, or even turn you against the other pilots!

Artwork and Components:
This is where the game truly shines. The colorful, semi-realistic artwork on the cards and components lends itself well to the game's theme and adds to the excitement of flipping over a card to reveal you've been hiding a "Death Ray" on your board. My favorite bits are the starships. They're extremely detailed and unique, and making them rubber means that I'm less likely to hurt myself stepping on them in the middle of the night. And I always appreciate a game that includes optional rules in its manual to add some variety.

The slightly unique designs don't hurt, either.

The Good:
Starship Awesome 3000 is like the matured version of space combat computer games of the nineties. It's sharply dressed, complex, and easy to work with, but it's not afraid to have fun and live dangerously.

The Bad:
The Rogue seems to complicate the majority of the game, instead of its intended purpose of adding an interesting dynamic.

Final Thoughts:
I seriously can't get over those starships!

Players Who Like:
Players looking for a kick of nostalgic sci-fi with a nice blend of strategy and luck will definitely enjoy what Starship Awesome 3000 brings to the table.

I am giving Starship Awesome 3000 7 out of 10 super meeples.

710

Check out Starship Awesome 3000 on:

     

On KICKSTARTER between now and July 21, 2017.

About the Author:
David Jensen has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he writes reviews and works as an editor for a literary magazine. When not busy procrastinating, he's playing tabletop games with friends and writing fiction.
Starship Awesome 3000 Kickstarter Preview Starship Awesome 3000 Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Dane Trimble on June 22, 2017 Rating: 5

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