The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Very rough thoughts on SpaceCorp

This is based on two solo plays (with some rules wrong, tainting my victories) and one two player game vs the TaoLing.

This is a race game. You do build an engine, but you are racing for contracts (“First to do X get $y”), and upgrades (“Adaptations and Breakthroughs”), which let you break rules (and earn some $ if you get them first). The board is just the focus. I must admit I was hoping for a more interesting free form game (ala … well, I’m not sure what … ) but you just spend cards for values (move, build, explore, rarely produce, genetics, etc) and sometimes you put the card on your HQ to re-use it (and — in multiplayer — let others use it, with you getting a reward). The mechanics are dead simple, but there is a fair chunk of variety. For example, when you build, do you want a spaceport to make movement cheaper, a refinery to maybe earn some money, a research to grab a card, etc.

There’s always a tendency to be emotionally attached in a new game. It’s new, and I spent money (and P500’ed it). And I want to play it a few more times right away, but my suspicion is indifferent (maybe Indifferent-plus) as a multiplayer game, but playable solitaire (once I fix rules). It’s too long. 2.5h solo and 3-ish 2 player. I suspect each player adds 30minutes. And fixed fun applies.

Worse, after all that you may find “Oh, hey, he drew three great planets that provide a discount for a big VP colony and I drew three mediocre ones.” Worse yet, one tile (an alien race) kicks you out, after you spent one turn going to a system and 3 turns waiting to get there. (Adaptations and Breakthroughs can mitigate, but one of the mitigating ones is arguably the best multi-player adaptation in the game, so if you get shut out of that, you are extra boned if you get them). And to be fair, there’s a stack of aliens and only 2(?) tiles that say “Draw an alien.”

None of which is a deal breaker, but at the 3 hour mark … it’s annoying. This gets back to my “I’m not sure what this wants to be.”

SpaceCorp is long enough to be an experience game, but its not, really. It’s a race game, but for the most part there’s no fluidity to the initiative. I go, you go, (he goes, she goes). Actually, in thinking about it, I suspect there’s some fluidity because if you go to X adn then I go to X, if you explore I can claim jump. (You get $2 for your troubles). So I’m hoping to be proven wrong on this. But if we’re not in a position to claim jump, if you are one step ahead in the base building process, there’s nothing I can do to catch up.

Except for — you know — the “Take an extra turn card,” or the “Name an action, nobody can take that until the start of your next turn.” And again, do I want a 3h game decided on a few take that cards?

  • I generally like the components, but the colony’s “# of players” markers are small enough even the TaoLing had trouble reading them. There is a key on the back of the rule book, but it’s annoying. There are two rule books, one for solitaire and one for MP, so if you only play one way, that’s great.
  • The rules are mostly there, but not as clear in some edge cases and vague wordings abound. Some of the rules I missed are fairly subtle, and having two distinct rulebooks threw me (since I was worried they varied more between MP and solitaire).
  • At least in the 1-2 player game, some of the contracts (“First person to do this gets $x”) seem nigh impossible. Like “Hey, get 4 asteroids” in the Planeteer (2nd) era.
  • It’s always rough to talk “broken” after a single play, but I was shocked at how good one adaptation was (that wasn’t used in solo game). But we’ll see.
  • This game cries out for an app that handles the AI card deck. That would shave 20 minutes off the solitaire game (not flipping the cards, but having to build the deck for each phase and then tear it down is 5+ minutes an era).
  • The solitaire AI is reasonable. Most cards list a place and the AI moves a team there. If it hits again they grab it, but they also cycle your deck and earn points for what you leave lying around in the draw offer. And there are a few variants (using the backs of the cards that you pull from the game).
  • Even in the solitaire game, there are a few key cards. If the AI gets a “Two turns in a row card” or you do. The “Leak” card in solo basically steals a breakthrough from the AI. Getting that early (versus late) is huge.
  • Once people know the game, I think player the 2nd and 3rd era only will be fairly popular.

I suspect I’ll still play this 5+ times over the holidays. Plenty of time for that, after all, so I’ll get my value. And hopefully the game will reveal more depths.


Written by taogaming

December 13, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Reviews

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  1. […] multiplayer game does contain the “claim-jumping” angles I had hoped for (in my last article). You may send a team to an opponents (unexplored) site, hoping that if they explore you build. This […]

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