Monday, 26 September 2011
Battleship Galaxies by Hasbro
The box and contents in all its glory - you get two sets of the map boards and 20 models.
Over the years I have played and enjoyed a large number of starship based comabt games. These have ranged in scope and scale from single seat fighter type actions a la Star Wars or Silent Death to massed fleet actions set in the world of Star Trek (resistance is futile) or that of Games Workshop's Battlefleet Gothic. My favourite rules used to be Full Thrust (available from Ground Zero Games) although I now have a number of alternatives to try at some point.
I do not currently own any fleets of starships as most commercially available ranges never seem to 'tick all the boxes' for me in terms of design. There are some truly wonderful models about but I am reluctant to point any cash at them and whilst scratch building presents little difficulty it would be time consuming.
Battleship Galaxies by Hasbro has been added to the collection as a one stop, all inclusive, instant, fast food type of game and it is a beautiful piece of game design. The background for the action is set in a rather good graphic novel and the game itself combines elements of deck building, energy allocation, random and hidden ship deployment (each side has a card screen for this) and, believe it or not, the old pencil and paper game battleships!
The components are first class with two mounted mapboards depicting a hexed starfield (the hexes are the same size as a standard hexagonal flying base - another big plus!) and both the tactical and ship cards being of playing card quality. Some terrain counters for asteroids and various other spatial anomalies are also included. The models, oh the models!
The models are made from a rubbery plastic material (the same stuff that Heroscape figures and Axis and Allies: War at Sea ships are made from - which can happily be painted) and are basically painted. These are mounted on some very cleverly designed bases - some of which are of multiple hexes - that are also set up for recording of hits and damage using the blue (shields) and red (damage) pegs supplied. Energy allocation is at the heart of the system in that deploying ships on to the playing area and firing weapons uses energy. Some starships gamers do not like this but personally I think it should be obligatory - think Star Trek - and so I am all in favour of energy allocation. Each model base has a series of holes into which pegs are placed. Usually at the start of an action these are all blue and so as a ship takes damage so the blue pegs are removed until red pages for actual damage are placed. This is where the Battleships part comes in. Each ship type has picture on a card over which a grid is superimposed. When firing the attacking ship rolls two dice - one lettered and one numbered - which give the coordinates of the salvo. A white box is a miss, a grey box is a hit. There is also a hot spot which, if hit when all shields are down, destroys the ship outright.
The tactical cards contain numbers of events, personalities and ship upgrades all of which can influence play in some way and so careful use and timing is required.
The opposing fleets - 'Good guys' on the left being pursued by the 'Bad Guys'
Did I mention the models?
The 'Good Guys' look like a near future 21st century US Navy/Star Trek style whilst the 'Bad Guys' are almost Victorian looking - with a nod to the Klingons with a dash of GW Space Orks thrown in. If you so desired you could really do a good job on them paint wise as the surface detail is suitably prominent for the brush work. I like the models - which is unusual for me - and am very impressed with the bases - especially for the fighter types as these feature a central mounting that has a ball at the top upon which the fighter is mounted. This means you could easily angle the fighter should you desire.
The graphic novel (aka comic) sets the scene very nicely for the games with the 'good guys' all steely jawed and heroic and the 'bad guys' - the Wretcheridanians (I kid you not!) - looking like a cross between the Alien, General Grievious and a Klingon in need of some assistance from Gok Wan. If the intention of this was to provide a suitable backdrop to the game then it has succeeded admirably and mercifully the sci fi technobabble is kept to relatively low levels.
The 'Good Guys' flagship - the I(Intergalactic)S(Space)N(Navy) Everest
I am very impressed with this - both as a standalone game and as the basis for a couple of starship fleets that are just a little bit different. There is no light speed although NLS (near light speed) is used as the unit of speed and all of the action takes place around Saturn's rings. The rule book mentions expansions and there are also rumours abounding of a film upon which the game is based.
The 'Bad Guy' flagship - the Vapor's Fate, the preferred mount of Krall Draxus, despoiler of worlds, scourge of the known galaxy and all round rotten egg....
As to extended playability at this stage I am uncertain although the scenarios provided are able to be replayed in a variety of formats and certainly the deployment mechanic of keeping units hidden until used will serve to keep the game both fresh and challenging. I hope that Hasbro support this fully in the way that Heroscape was (some of the same design team were involved) because if they do it will certainly get my vote (and money, probably)!
All in all then, this is a great 'one stop' spaceship combat game with much potential beyond its use straight out of the box. The fighter types for example could easily be used for a Silent Death type game and the fact that the map boards have hexes the same size as a typical plastic flying base means that the mapboards could also see a lot of action one way or another with other models.
In space, no one can hear you roll dice....;-)