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Into The Black: Boarding Party - Kickstarter Preview

 
The airlock hissed as it sealed, maintaining adequate air pressure for the passengers on the small, unmarked transport to enter the larger starship. The four pirates peered down the corridors, expecting resistance but finding none. How long their luck would last, none could say.

The pirates searched the ship, room by room, until they came to a corridor that was heavily guarded. Without waiting for an introduction, Laurence, navigator and chef extraordinaire, jumped into view and opened fire with his trusty plasma pistol. Caught unawares, the guards dropped to the metal floor, dead.

“Let’s move,” said Tyrene, the pirate captain. “We gotta find that engine room and blow it up before reinforcements arrive.”

Laurence, however, had a different plan. Following his senses, he snuck away from his group and made his way down a darkened corridor. After avoiding two more groups of guards, he found his target and the source of what would be his most successful day as a pirate yet. Grinning from ear to ear, Laurence entered the mess hall, blasted the three men eating within, and packed a go-bag for his return trip.

His crew could find the engine room. But Laurence? He grew tired of eating on the run and longed for something more sustaining, something…with flavor. Pushing one of the dead men off his seat and taking his place there instead, Laurence began devouring the hot beef stew that sat half eaten at the table.

Laurence leaned back with a sigh. This was the life. He’d meet back up with his boarding party once the mission was over.


Quick Look:

Designer: James Campbell
Artist: Jared Sanford, Kirill Chepzhoko
Publisher: I Will Never Grow Up Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 90-120 Minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Into The Black: Boarding Party. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Review:


Into the Black: Boarding Party is a tile-laying, meeple-moving, gun-slinging game of space piracy. Players work together to achieve a common goal, all while working secretly to complete their own personal mission. Players win by successfully completing the Primary Mission as well as their Personal Goal. All players lose if:
  • The Apprehension Track reaches 24,
  • The Morale Track reaches zero,
  • The Traitor has completed and revealed their personal objective during their turn, or
  • No more character boards are available to replace a lost character.



Rules and Setup:

There are a lot of pieces and components to this game, but once a player has set the game up a few times, it shouldn’t take too long.

To begin, separate the airlock tile (labeled “Start Here”) and place it in the middle of the table. From there, place tiles up to three spaces away from the airlock in all directions (some paths may branch out, creating more expansion). Corridor tiles with a while line (a doorway) on the side mean a room must be placed face down next to that white line. Place 2 random meeple tokens (drawn from a bag) on the corridor tile next to a room with an eye icon.


That must be the welcoming committee...

Divide all cards and tiles into their individual decks, and place them off to the side. The Room pile will have the three Command Center tiles in it, with two shuffled into the bottom half and the third shuffled into the top half.

Eight player boards are selected at random (the remaining boards returning to the box), and each player receives one of the eight player boards, along with two Reputation cubes. Each player also receives two Gear and two Valuables cards.



Select a Primary Objective card at random. This is the goal each player must work towards as a group. Players also receive two Personal Goal cards; select one, and return the other to the box. Players keep their Personal Goal cards secret and must complete it before completing the Primary Objective. If the game ends with the Primary Objective completed, but a player has not completed her Personal Goal, that player loses, despite fulfilling all the requirements for the Primary Objective (hey, you’re a pirate; you work for yourself!).



Turn Sequence
Into the Black is played in a series of rounds, and each round consists of four phases: Actions and Events, Expansion and Maintenance, Combat, and Check for Win/Loss Conditions.

Phase 1: Actions and Events
Each player may take two actions (move, search, equip items, trade/discard cards, or utilize items) each turn. Certain Events will come into play during this phase, either changing certain aspects of the game as a whole or only affecting the room in which the event takes place.



Phase 2: Expansion and Maintenance
Once all players have completed their actions, new tiles are added to the layout of the ship on which the pirates stalk. Once the new tiles are placed, enemy defenders are moved, more are added, and the Apprehension Track is increased.


The ship's interior expands outward as the pirates move forward.

Phase 3: Combat
During this phase, players fight against enemy defenders and resolve all combat.


A critical hit (hit x 2), a single hit, and a miss (hits and critical are also used as successes while searching).

Phase 4: Check for Win/Loss Conditions
If any of the aforementioned win/lose conditions have been met, the game ends.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme of space piracy is one that immediately caught my attention. I love science fiction-themed games, so I was excited to give this one a try. During turns, players search rooms and gather loot, steal weapons, and create havoc with explosives - just like a good pirate should!

The fact that each player has their own secret mission also adds to the theme. Like all pirates, each one in this game is in it for their own gain, whatever that may be. (During one game, my secret mission was to find the galley and eat food. Can’t argue with that!) While everyone attempts to find a way to accomplish the main goal, players may find themselves dawdling as they attempt to complete their personal goal first. That can increase the tension, since the dawdler may be needed elsewhere, such as a certain corridor with lots of baddies.

In the end, I found the theme to be quite engaging.

As for mechanics, there’s a lot of tile laying and exploring. To be honest, exploring unrevealed rooms was one of my favorite parts of this game. And, once inside a room, the events can really be a game changer. Searching through the unknown is a big part of this game and, fortunately, one I like. Throughout the game, tiles are continually added to expand the starship in which the pirates lurk. While an interesting aspect to the game, it didn’t really do much other than have us guess at how much table space we would need (which usually ended up being more than we expected).


One player's play area got commandeered by the board.

Other mechanics include a lot of dice chucking (with custom dice, might I add), which adds a lot of randomness to the game; this isn’t inherently a bad thing, but in this case, it didn’t really work for me. Characters have a certain amount and type of dice to roll for combat and searching, and weapon cards can help increase the odds. Unfortunately, because there is a lot of dice chucking, I didn’t feel like much of what I did had any weight to it, even though there were ways to somewhat mitigate the luck. I never felt a dire sense of urgency throughout the game. But that’s what dice do, and if you’re a fan of dice, then that most likely won’t be a problem for you.

Another interesting aspect about the game is the event cards. After entering a room, a certain amount of event cards are drawn, each one usually producing a rather unpleasant result. Some of the cards added an enemy defender to the room; others set explosions in motion that destroyed certain parts of the ship. While it was fun to see what bad things would happen to us, many of the cards came off confusing with no real explanation of how to properly use them, not even in the rulebook.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork on the cards was nice and detailed. Some of the character cards were missing illustrations, but this was a Kickstarter preview, so it’s expected that some things aren’t complete. Speaking of incomplete, the tiles were very thin, which made it easier to shuffle, but it came off as flimsy. The tokens were likewise thin and flimsy, but since this is a pre-Kickstarter game, I trust those components will be upgraded before its final release.


I guess that Invisicloak really works!

There were a few different colored dice to use, each one with more or less “successes” on their sides. In this way, the dice either gave you a good chance of successfully searching or hitting an opponent, or a bad one (with some in-between in there as well). The problem we faced when playing was the colors of the dice. The orange and yellow dice were so close in hue that it took us a little while to realize they were two different colors! But, again, pre-Kickstarter, so hopefully that gets remedied as well.


There are two different colored dice here...

The Good:
  • I enjoyed running through the corridors and exploring rooms. That, added with the various events that took place, certainly spiced things up.
  • The theme is solid, and there are many aspects of the game that fit perfectly in with the theme of space piracy.
  • Each game is different with various Goal and Objective cards, as well as the layout of the ship.

The Bad:
  • Gameplay was simply okay.
  • Some of the cards were confusing, with no clarification available.
  • Components need work.

Final Thoughts:
I’m a huge fan of all things science fiction, so when I saw a game about space pirates, I was more than interested. During each game I played, however, things kind of fell flat, and with each subsequent play, I tried to like it more than the previous time. However, it just didn’t catch me.

Now, I’m not one to talk down a game simply because I don’t like it; there are many games I don’t like that scores of others do. As such, I always take that into consideration. When it comes to Into the Black, though, it just seemed a bit scattered, no matter how hard I tried to get into it.

Into the Black has potential, don’t get me wrong; there are some wonderful things about this game. However, I was hoping for something a bit more polished.


I am giving Into the Black: Boarding Party 5 out of 10 super meeples.

510



Check out Into the Black: Boarding Party on:



                

Into the Black: Boarding Party is on KICKSTARTER now thru September 28, 2017.





About the Author:



Benjamin Kocher hails from Canada but now lives in Utah with his wife and kids. He’s a copywriter, social media manager, freelance blogger, and SFF author. When he’s not writing, Benjamin loves to lose himself in the wonderful world of tabletop games, especially those with a rich, engaging theme. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.
Into The Black: Boarding Party - Kickstarter Preview Into The Black: Boarding Party - Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Dane Trimble on September 01, 2017 Rating: 5

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