The endless night sky has inspired science fiction writers for generations. We have thousands of books, tv shows, and films, like Star Trek, Firefly, and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; all dedicated to the exploration of space. So why not board games? Well, actually, there are plenty of ’em out there to take you to a galaxy far, far away. Here are four games full of planet-hopping, star-ship managing, and alien-assaulting fun to make you feel like you are at the helm of your very own space adventure.
THE CAPTAIN IS DEAD
Image: The Game Crafter
Where better to start than the classic sci-fi story of a panicked race against time to keep your spaceship from blowing up as alien invaders attack?
The Captain is Dead by The Game Crafter is exactly what it says. The Captain of your spaceship has been killed, aliens have boarded your ship, and the jump core is offline. As the crew, it is your job is to scramble to make repairs before time runs out. As you play, you’ll draw from a deck of random and catastrophic events that will constantly keep you running around your space ship fixing systems, researching cures, and defending from the alien onslaught. Each player will take on a role such as First Officer, Chief Engineer, or Telepath and each will have unique powers, so you’ll have to form different strategies depending on what kind of crew you get.
This game is a challenge. Every turn you will have to make difficult choices on whether to spend valuable time and resources fixing your warp drive, which is the only way to win, or fixing critical systems, without which the game gets infinitely harder. The game allows for 2 – 7 players, but since it is a cooperative game you can also play it solo. Just make sure you take at least 3 – 4 roles so you can cover the different parts of the ship—no matter how awesome your Cyborg character is, she can’t run the entire ship alone.
So your ship is now safe. Time for exploration!
Image: Tasty Minstrel Games
Space is a frontier of opportunity and in Tasty Minstrel Game’s Eminent Domain, it is your job to seize it and expand your intergalactic civilization. This deck building game for 2-4 players starts everyone off with the same cards in hand. Each turn you will be choosing cards from 5 different roles to add to your deck that will form your strategy for the rest of the game. When you play a card, you become the leader and the rest of the players can either choose to play the same card or dissent and draw a card from their deck into their hands. This mechanic means that everyone is invested in everyone else’s actions, so you never feel bored while waiting for someone to finish their turn.
To win, you’ll need to survey and colonize planets. Each planet nets you some influence and when the game ends, whoever has the most influence wins. Overall the game feels pretty fast and you can build some really big bonuses by focusing on certain tasks. Just be careful not to focus too much. You will need a little variety in your deck in order to win.
Image: Game Salute
Having surveyed and selected planets to colonize, there is nothing left except to start building! Alien Frontiers by Game Salute is a 2-4 player area control game/worker placement game that has you in competition with your friends to colonize a planet. Each turn you roll your dice and assign them to different locations in order to collect resources, build colonies, and send them to claim territories planetside. The game comes with awesome space colony markers that look a bit like tiny snow globes. As soon as someone lands their last colony the game ends and you tally your points to see who won. There is more than one way to construct and land a colony, so you can really have fun trying out different tactics.
From the classic style box art to the planet which is sectioned up into territories named after famous sci-fi writers, such as the Heinlein Plains and the Bradbury Plateau, you can tell the designer (Tory Niemann) really loves old school science fiction. You’ll also have access to cards, such as a mind control helmet, plasma cannon, orbital teleporter, and gravity manipulator, that sound like they are straight out of an Asimov story. The game is quick, fun, and has expansions which let you add additional players.
Image: Fantasy Flight
If you are less of an explorer and more of a conqueror, then you might like Fantasy Flight’s Cosmic Encounter. The game pits 3-5 players against each other in an all out alien brawl to see who is the best at colonizing planets. Each round the game will force you into contention with your opponents over planets. You’ll have to decide if you want to fight, negotiate, or trick your opponent. Whoever wins the fight gets to colonize the planet and then must continually defend their winnings from future invasions.
The coolest part of this game is its variety. Each player gets to play one of the 50 unique alien races. Each race has different powers and skill levels. If you a re a new player you can opt for the green, or easier to play, aliens. If you are a hard core Alien Encounterer then you’ll probably opt for a red alien which comes with complex, but often extremely effective strategies. All of the expansions for the game come with even more aliens so you can play the game numerous times and never play the same alien race twice.
Do you have any favorite space games? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!
Featured image credit: The Game Crafter