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Rayguns and Rocketships Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Scott Rogers (II)
Artists:  Simon Grell, Aage Jørgensen, Chris Miller (III), Kaleb Rice, Ronald Salas
Publisher: IDW Games

Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 90 Minutes
Photos By: Andrew Nebrich Photography

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

"Spaceship! Spaceship, spaceship, spaceship, spaceship, spaceship!"
- Benny, The Lego Movie

From the publisher: Welcome to a galaxy of adventure! In the frozen heart of space lies a fantastic galaxy of planets populated by space-faring factions called Planeteers, who wage a never-ending battle of Rayguns and Rocketships. Some seek action like the brash Astro-Rangers, others desire riches like the fearsome Star Pirates. Some Planeteers will to conquer like the horrible alien Blaarg or hunger for honor like the reptilian Zard. Which Planeteers will be the master of the galaxy? That's up to you!

When I was a kid, the television only had five channels. The one I watched the most was channel 29. It just played reruns of old cartoons and TV shows and some minor local programs (bowling, etc..). One of the local shows I looked forward to was "Sci-Fi Saturday." Every Saturday at noon they would take an old random science fiction movie and broadcast it, and it was glorious. When I look at the box for Rayguns and Rocketships, it takes me back to that time of my life where I would get lost in the storyline and get yelled at for sitting way to close to the T.V. set. Rayguns and Rocketships is an action strategy game inspired by the very same sci-fi movies I watched back then.


Rules and Setup:

Players start by selecting a faction and take the corresponding  rocketship miniature, a rocketship interior map, a crew of six miniatures, a captain miniature, a two-sided captain card and a deck of maneuver cards which has a unique skillset for each of the four factions. Player place their crew on their rocketship map--in the cockpit, manning the control systems or manning a raygun. This is important because although you can have the ship's A.I. control the components of the ship, having your crew control the ship will help you in the game in regards to movement and attack distance.

Retro Science Fiction
Action / Movement Programming  
Action Point Allowance System 
Deck / Pool Building 
Dice Rolling   
Variable Player Powers

Game Play:
The play is divided into three phases: rocketship movement, rocketship combat, and lastly, crew movement/combat. Players plot their Rocketship's course using maneuver cards or star cards (star cards provide additional tactical and combat advantages during play in place of general movement).

As the rocketships maneuver on the Star Map, they can attack each other with their deadly rayguns, or crew members can leap out of the airlocks into combat with other Planeteers or board enemy rocketships and try to dismantle the ship from within. Points are scored by defeating crew, playing star cards, and destroying rayguns and rocketships. The player who reaches the game's victory point goal wins the game. Making people bow to you as their new supreme overlord is optional.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork gives you that retro '50s comic book styling and fits the overall feel of the game. Now, I am not a miniatures guy by any means, but these minis are AMAZING! I feel this way for a few reasons. The first is that the miniatures are very thick. You are never going to have to worry about something breaking on them. IDW took the time making sure these were high quality. I also really appreciate them not using gray miniatures with colored bases you can attach to them based on who is using them. The colors give each faction and individual feel which is also represented in the card decks. The last thing is the weapons. This is such a minor detail, but the fact that they can shoot their neurolizer pistol or attack with their circuit sword and every mini has both at the ready is that little extra touch that makes a difference.

The Good:
This game is fun. This might seem like an odd way to start this section, but I feel it's super important. At times this game is silly fun (like the time I was caught outside my opponent's ship and could not infiltrate it which left me out in space to be shot by the ship itself). And at other times the tension ramps up as your rayguns are destroyed by your opponent and you have to figure out what you're going to do to get back in the game (pro tip: Don't try to jetpack multiple spaces away and try to get into your opponent's ship; it might not end well).

The Bad:
If you like slow burn tactical combat, this is not the game for you. For the most part, it is an in-your-face skirmish game. Playing the long game will hurt you when it comes to victory points. All the games I have played of this everyone tries to get on one of the opponent's ships and attack the crew or the rayguns. Also, to a minor degree, I felt the rules sometimes were not clear. It sparked some debates, but nothing major.

Final Thoughts:
This game has a solid sci-fi theme and feel to it. There are a variety of decision to make, and the mechanic of having to program your cards three at a time really changes how you play as the game progressed. If you have a group that likes to smack talk and interacts during gameplay, this is a perfect game for that. The scenario book gives you the ability to change the flavor of the game, but it can easily be a sandbox game where you could progress your own storylines. I have heard people say that they just try to stay on the ship and blow up the other peoples ships. Rest assured, if you play me like that, I'm coming for your crew, and I'm bringing Zards....

Players Who Like:
Light skirmishes, diverse faction abilities, programmed movement, blowing things up in space.

Check out Rayguns and Rocketships on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/164147/rayguns-and-rocketships   https://idwgames.com/games/rayguns-rocketships/   Facebook   https://www.amazon.com/IDW-Games-Rayguns-Rocketships-Miniatures/dp/B071VYSHS2

About the Author:

James is a child of the 80's he grew playing D&D and Stratego. He currently owns more games than his understanding wife of 20+ years thinks he should. James lives in Buffalo, New York with his previously mentioned wife, 2 teenage kids and one Havanese dog. Also, if someone outside of Buffalo says they serve buffalo wings, they are lying.
Rayguns and Rocketships Review Rayguns and Rocketships Review Reviewed by James Freeman on October 04, 2018 Rating: 5

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