Wednesday 13 February 2013

Space Station

This great card game comes to us from Fryx Games. I would describe it as a construction driven card game with a touch of worker placement and combat. Space Station supports 2-6 players and although at the moment I haven’t had a chance to try with more than 3, its one of those games that looks like it only gets better with more players.
Objective:  To score the most victory points by the end of the 6th year.
Game Span: The game is played over 6 years, you can think of these as 6 ‘hands’. During each year players go back and forth taking 1 action at a time. After all players have passed one after the other the year is over.

Before a year starts:
Each player gathers up crew tokens equal to the number of crew symbols on all of his/her modules combined and places them onto the ‘core module’ where they will await the year’s orders. 
The White beads represent your usable crew for the current year.
hen each player receives 5 Mega Credits and then chooses a colour module. Each player receives 1 Mega Credit for each functioning module of the colour he/she chose.  Note your starting core module counts towards your total of a colour (starts red and then green when you pay to flip it).
Each player now gets a chance to discard ONE card, and draws back up to 5 before the year begins.
During a year:
Players pick from a list of actions and perform 1 then play passes to the next player, this continues until all players have passed. It is possible to play again after you have passed as long as all players did not pass consecutively. All of these actions are limited by: Your amount of Mega Credits available, your amount of crew available and the amount of cards in your hand.
Build Action: You may play a Module Card from your hand as long as you can afford the cost. Most Module Cards cost 6 mega credits, connecting to a module of the same colour will reduce this cost by 1. In addition to being able to afford the card it must ‘flow’ the correct way, that is the arrows where you connect it must be going the same way on both sides not pointing inwards at each other.  
Module Action: Module actions are actions that appear on ‘functioning’ module cards. Functioning means in play, attached to your space station and not damaged. You may not use a damaged module’s action. Some of these actions require crew, these can only be done once per year and you must move your white crew chit onto the module that you wish to use. If a module does not require crew for its action then it may be carried out as many times in a year as you wish.
Repair Action: You may pay 3 mega credits to remove either a temporary or permanent damage marker from any module on your station.
Event Action: You can play one event card, resolve its text and then discard it.
Pass: If you’ve got nothing left to do, or perhaps you just don’t want to do it yet, you may pass.

Once all players have consecutively passed the year ends, now it is time to score points. The player who has the most modules of a colour will score 1 victory point, you do this for every colour every year and on the 6th and final year you will score 2 victory points for each colour you have the most of.

Each Yellow bead is worth 1 Victory Point and each Blue
bead is worth 5 Victory Points.

All temporary damage is then removed, and the first player from the last year is rotated so that they do not get to go first every turn.
The Shield Generator only protects against specific regular damage,
the Covert Ops card does temporary damage and can be used to take
down the Shield Generator so that you can target other sections of
your opponent's Space Station.

Continue these steps until the 6th year is over, at that point the player with the most Victory Points is the winner.
Components: At first I thought Space Station was going to be ‘fiddly’ and a pain to move the tiny beads but much to my surprise this was not the case. I did not have a single complaint about the components of Space Station, other than there should probably be a sheet that nicely lays out what each colour bead represents so that you do not need to constantly have the rules sheet in hand.
As a bonus the game comes with 2 optional rules, I found that the ‘Market’ rule works great to help balance the game play especially the 2 player game. The ‘Enhanced Start’ rule makes the game more interesting and in my eyes you should always play this way after your first game. There is also a solitaire version, you can find the rules here

Overall: Space Station is a great game that actually leaves room for you to be creative, and although I admit at first glance and first try I did not think there would be as much to it, there is certainly a lot of strategy involved. After a few plays I thought there were some problems with the game, but then I read some fine print and adjusted my strategies and noticed that the game play is quite flawless. So who specifically would enjoy Space Station?

Casual Gamers: Space Station doesn’t take long to play, there is a fair amount of luck involved and it requires a fairly large area to play. Because of the appearance of the game, little colourful beads, all cards, very small rulebook, small packaging you may think that this is a lighter game, but this is not the case. If you play with a sort of laid back not care too much group, this game works great. It just appears to be a lighter game and if you play it that way you will have lots of fun.
Gamers Game: Space Station has a lot of strategy hidden behind its playful cover, how you design and layout your station actually greatly impacts how you will do. A casual player might only look at matching colours to save dollars where a Gamer will look at protecting his important modules by making sure they are not on the exterior, placing modules to make sure your placement options are not limited. The order in which you do your actions on your turn can also completely change the outcome, if you pay attention to detail and think strategically it’s almost like an entirely different game.

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