Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Matt Worden


No. of Players:
2 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

As a specialist for good family games the German publisher SCHMIDT SPIELE tries to adopt a science fiction theme for his newest game Space Mission. I must admit that I had my doubts as to whether this would work, since many science fiction games released in recent years were a considerable tactical challenge for most players and so they were designed for more experienced hobbyists (even if they do not take all evening to play). Would this fit well with a family orientated publisher like SCHMIDT SPIELE? We will see…

[IMAGE]After opening the game box, you can find 12 planet disks, a lot of cards, small planet tiles and space chips for every player to mark space probes and stations during the game. All of this game material is designed in typical science fiction style. What strikes the eye most, however, are the spaceships: one for every player, standing on small pedestals. They are specially advertised as "3D ships" on the game box, and while this description is not wrong, it is perhaps a bit exaggerated since you could be expecting something more extraordinary after such a big announcement. In comparison, the figures found in Forbidden Island were more intricate, but nonetheless the spaceships found here look quite all-right and fit well to the design of the other game material.

At the beginning of the game the planets are arranged as a circle on the table. Four planet disks are randomly put aside, so that every new game has a different set-up. In the middle of the planet circle, a jump gate is placed. This is the starting base for the spaceships and serves as the main traffic junction during the game. From this base the players discover new planets with their spaceships.


In a turn, each player can carry out two actions. First of all it is possible to top up a player's hand of Coordinates cards to a maximum of five cards. All cards have two coordinates in three different colours. The coordinates must match with the corresponding coordinates on the planet disks where a player wants to perform his action. The colours of the coordinates have the following meanings: green stands for scanning the planets, and this a necessary act before any player can start to develop the resources of a planet by using orange coordinates. Finally the blue colour coordinates stand for jump coordinates to do a space jump.


Jumping is also the next possible action. To make a space jump, a player has to play a card with the jump coordinates of the target planet. This also gives the player the opportunity to place one of his chips on the jump gate, a possibility to get victory points at the end of the game. But the spaceships can also be moved without any card. This action, called flight, can only be used to move from one planet to one of the neighbouring ones. As the jump gate is not needed for this movement, a player going for the flight option consequently cannot place a chip on the jump gate.

This leads us to the exploring of the planets. In the set-up, each planet is assigned eight random planet tiles which are placed face down next to the planet. Before a planet can be developed, it is necessary to scan it. For this a player can use the matching scan coordinates on the Coordinates cards to scan the planet he stands on. He may then look through the planet tiles of this planet and mark one of his choice with one of his space-probe chips. If this planet is developed later, all players will receive the planet tiles they have marked during the game.


However, developing is a little bit more difficult. For this the player must play two cards with the corresponding coordinates of the planet he is orbiting. The reward is a planet tile of his choice - this is similar to the scan action, but now the player gets the tile at once. After a planet was scanned and developed, it can be visited ("discovered") by all players by simply moving their ships into orbit. Each visit allows the active player to take a planet tile, and no more Coordinates cards are needed to carry out this action.

But what is the meaning of all the explored planet tiles? The answer is that they are collected for the scoring phase at the end of the game. At that time the players sort all their collected tiles. Minerals are particularly valuable if a player succeeded in collecting many minerals of the same colour, since the total number of victory points scores with minerals is the total number of minerals collected multiplied with the number of most mineral tiles of one colour. The same rule applies to Aliens, whereas matters are best collected as pairs. Each pair of green and blue matter earns the player 7 victory points, a single type only 2. Water is quite valuable, too, but only if a player succeeds in collecting a lot of these water tiles. Finally there are some tiles showing medals, and each of these tiles is worth 3 victory points. Space tiles on the other hand have no value and must not be taken by the players. If, after a discovering a planet a player leaves nothing but space tiles, these tiles are turned face up and the planet cannot be discovered any more. This also defines the end of the game, because for every number of players there is a given number of space tiles which must be revealed for the game to end.

Space Mission is indeed light fare and so it fits to many other family games SCHMIDT SPIELE has published recently. The short game duration of about 30 minutes invites to play a direct revenge, especially because the importance of the one or other planet tile becomes more clear after the first game. The rules do not give a hint if a player is allowed to re-check his collected planet tiles. I think you can play it either way. If you forbid the players to have a look, the game requires a good memory, because you must remember the tiles at each planet as well as the ones you already possess. Of course it is also possible to allow some players to search through the collected tiles and to forbid this action for the rest. This option can be quite interesting if you are playing with smaller children to compensate the age difference. All in all I am quite satisfied with the game, although for a family game the science fiction theme maybe favours the male fraction. Since I have two sons, this is no real handicap for me...

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany