Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Space Cadets: Away Missions

Product-Space Cadets: Away Missions

Producer-Stronghold Games

Price– $ 100 here http://www.amazon.com/Space-Cadets-Away-Missions-Board/dp/B01068EDBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1446045035&sr=1-1&keywords=space+cadets+away+missions

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 60 minutes per scenario (1-6 players)



TL; DR-Simple, Sci-Fi Fun! 96%


Basics-And now another thrilling tale of the ROCKET PATROL!  Enter the worlds of 60’s Golden Age Sci-Fi with Space Cadets: Away Missions.  In this game, the players take the role of different members of the Rocket Patrol as they undergo some of their most famous missions.  At the start of each game, a scenario guide instructs the players how to set up the game, what parts to use, what aliens will be necessary for this adventure, and an intro paragraph to set the mood of the game.  After set-up, turns are pretty simple.  First, players decide the player order, and then they take the tokens to signify that order.  Next, players perform actions based on their available actions on their player board.  Once all players have acted, the monsters all act in order of intelligence typically attacking the closest player and then attacking close players in reverse turn order.  Each player has a different member of the Rocket Patrol who has a number of health and oxygen, action tokens, a IQ score, and a special ability.  If ANY Patrol person runs out of health or oxygen, that player dies and all players lose the game.  A player’s action are: move, attack, subdue thrall/brain-in-a-jar, heal, open/close/lock hatch, and some scenario specific actions.  When you attack, subdue, heal, or do scenario specific actions, a player rolls a number of dice equal to the weapon strength at that range of the enemy (attack) or IQ (subdue, heal, som scenario actions) and counts the 1s, 2s, and 3s.  Monsters attack in the exact same way.  The key mechanic of the dice is overkill.  For any action to succeed, you only need one success.  However, if you roll more successes, you can spend these overkill successes to activate extra abilities such as one patrol person being able to take a free move action and another can attack another adjacent enemy.  The enemies even have some overkill options that can be activated based on who the player hit.  But, when the enemies score overkill, the also have options they can take to hamper the heroes.  Play continues in these rounds until the heroes achieve the scenario goal or one player dies!


Mechanics– As you saw above, the rules are not complicated.  They might even be a bit too simple, but that also means a much larger audience can play the game.  I’ve already seen a six year old play this game and have a blast.  In terms of difficulty, I would place this game solidly in the company of Mice and Mystics.  That’s a good place to be!  However, I do have one semi-serious complaint-this game doesn’t really do a campaign mode.  There are some connected scenarios as they tell the story of the Rocket Patrol, but no real character progression and building.  The items you get at scenario start are dictated to you (with some wiggle room), and you won’t really get a chance to keep anything cool you find.  That does enhance a story a bit as you don’t have the crazy random events in some other boardgames, but you won’t find awesome  stuff to carry with you or have a way to better your character over time.  But without that, each scenario feels a bit like an old school Star Trek episode-you can jump in at any point, play, and not have to know an absolute ton of background to be involved.  It is a double edged sword to not build character progression as the easy of jump in play and play, but hampers the hard core set as they lose a bit of their involvement.  I’m a hard core RPG player, so I need my character improvement over time.  That said, it’s a more minor thing.  What is here is phenomenal and a blast to play through 4.5/5


Theme– This game oozes theme.  You have awesome cards, sculpted figures, great tile art, and just enough rules to make things work.  You feel like some old timey announcer will read out the intro paragraph to each adventure.  Everything looks amazing, and that really puts you on board a old school rocket driving through the galaxy.  The game itself feels like it should.  Everything works together well making you feel like you’ve been sent out on an away missions to save the universe or destroy an alien menace.  It feels like I’m riding shotgun with either Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon! 5/5

Instructions– This game has some great instruction with lots of explanation, but the length will intimidate a few people.  What’s here is great, but then again, the rules don’t really need to be the complicated.  The game has an absolute ton here, but it’s mostly compartmentalized.  The rules explain it all, and that depth might put a few people off.  However, don’t let it!  The rules are honestly covered by two amazing inserts that the players use as a reference.  If you can get past the fact that there is a ton of rules, you will see that it’s mostly clarifications of the fine points.  There are enough pictures to help you understand how to play as well.  I like what I see here.  4.75/5


Execution–  100 bucks for 100 minies is a price Reaper can’t match.  Now throw in an entire game beside that.  Add on top of that the art is great, the materials well constructed, and sparkly dice(!), and you have an amazing product.  Heck, FOR THE MINIS ALONE YOU’RE MONEY AHEAD!  The one minor criticism I have is I’d like a few more colors than green.  Maybe a blue for thralls?  That’s such a minor point, it’s barely a whisper.  Even the brains-in-a-jars are green, but they come with some awesome plastic around them so they look like a brain-in-a-jar!  Furthermore, this game put so much thought into the game that you don’t even realise when you start to play.  Overkill is the big, cool mechanic for this game, so you need to know what dice came from whose attack.  Normally you’d have to roll all the dice pairs separately, but in this game you get five pairs of differently colored dice.  So, you can roll your dice pool and look to see if red hit you twice, once, or not at all.  It speeds up the game in such a smart way, you won’t even notice it if you’re not careful!  If you’d like to see all the part of this game, I did a unboxing of the game here:https://youtu.be/J4igYLjvVzU 5/5

Summary-I’ve never been a miniature gamer.  Sure, I do like the co-op games out there, but I don’t like getting bogged down in a ton of random rules (I’m looking right at you Warhammer 40K!).  This game has just enough rules to make it fun.  You don’t need to break out some string to find range or if your shot is blocked.  You get to take quick, fun turns to attack the alien menace as a team.  This game doesn’t need a GM so everyone can play and be on the same side, and that right there sold me on this game.  Everyone get’s to play, try to win, and have an awesome time.  It has an amazing theme and a beautiful execution.  My only real problem is a bit with the rules and no real progression.  I’d like to build my character like in a RPG, but that would take away from the plug-and-play nature of the game.  The problem I have with the rules is that some players will get frustrated before they begin, but if you crack the cover of the rule book, you clearly see that 70% of the rules clarify sticking points about otherwise simple rules.  Overall, if you’re in the mood for an awesome, simple, and retro sci-fi game, Space Cadets: Away Missions is a great game to bring to the table. 96%

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