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Author Topic: Ad Astra  (Read 3595 times) Average Rating: 0
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Zarniwoop
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« on: 22 September 2009, 01:51:27 »



This game kind of snuck up under the radar but when I read about it my interest was peaked.

Components:
These are of a very good quality and the artwork is superb.

The shame is that the colours could have been more distinctive on the cards and score tokens. The other let down is the movement cards which use icons to represent the various Suns which are replicated on the Sun tokens. The problem is that you end up looking at the Picture of the sun not the small icon on the edge which causes a little confusion in the game.

Mechanics:
Each player has 11 action cards, 3 scoring, 3 movement, 3 Production, a Building card and a Trade Card. At the start of a round each player picks an action card then starting with the first player places it on one of the 15 (or 12 if 3-4 players) action slots on the main board. This continues until all the spaces are filled. The game then starts by revealing the first card an acting on it. The owner of the card gets an advantage for playing that action but everyone normally gets to do the same action in turn as well (Trade is only carried out by the card owner)
The idea is to explore various planets settling on some to generate resources to build or upgrade your assets. Then, and this involves careful planning, you need to start playing your scoring cards (which only get returned to your hand after you play all 3). You are unlikely to score high on all 3 so the trick is to minimise your loses on 1 or 2 of the cards and try to maximise on the 3rd so you can try and get a couple of good rounds scoring with it. The various planets produce either one of 3 different ores, energy, food or Water. Amongst these planets are Alien worlds that hide artifacts that give a variety of bonuses or special abilities usable during the game. The Alien worlds do not produce goods but you can score bonus points for building colonies and upgrading these to factories.

Each player colour has a different pairing of resources on each production card which means you need to plan carefully what resources planets you build on. Each player also has a different pair of systems on each movement card and has all but 2 of the systems represented on the 3 cards. This means that for the other systems you will be reliant on other players movement cards.

The rules are not that complicated and can be explained quite quickly, but there is depth here and further plays of the game will reveal different strategies to win with the ability to play with a different colour set adding to the games longevity.

Also, as a Douglas Adams fan, the Alien Artifact Card: “Omnibus Rebus Responsum” (Answer to Everything) where you win at the end of the game if you score exactly 42 points is just perfect Smiley

Winning:
When either the last planet is explored or someone gets 50 or more points the current round is completed, then simply the person with the most points Wins.

Conclusion:
This game plays extremely well and generally remains quite close until the last few rounds. The theme is well suited, the various mechanics work well together leaving a lot replayability.

I would recommend this game, with the caveat that it will take at least one game to get to grips with how all the elements tie together so that your second game you will be much better placed to use subtle strategies needed to play it well.

I will be playing this one a lot.
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Zarniwoop

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« Reply #1 on: 21 April 2012, 01:30:51 »

I've read that this is like an improved 'Settlers of Catan', would you say that's accurate or are they very different games?
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Zarniwoop
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« Reply #2 on: 21 April 2012, 01:49:17 »

I've read that this is like an improved 'Settlers of Catan', would you say that's accurate or are they very different games?

It shares some similar aspects: Gaining Resources, Trading, Building and Upgrading but there is also a lot that is different here as well. Trading is not automatic you have play the card that allows you to do that.
There is a lot more strategy involved and being careful not to expand to early leaving you with limited resources for other options.

I have not played this for a while, which is a real shame as the game is really fun to play and provides a good mix of options to win the game.
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Zarniwoop

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