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Battleship Galaxies

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

(Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 120 minutes; $65)

 

battleshipgalaxiesOne of the popular games of my childhood back in the 70’s was the game Battleship where you and your opponent placed ships on hidden grids and then took turns calling out row and column coordinates to try to find and sink the enemy’s hidden ships. Battleship Galaxies is a re-imaging of that game expanding play from 2 to 2 to 4 players in a light space battle miniatures game by game designers Colby Dauch, Jerry Hawthorne and Craig Van Ness (the same Van Ness who helped design Heroscape and the quirky Buffy, the Vampire Slayer game).

Battleship Galaxies comes with five scenarios which play with various numbers of people. Once you have chosen the scenario, you need to get out the correct ship miniatures for each side (one side playing the “good” Intergalactic Space Navy, the other the “evil” Wretchridrians). The well made miniatures need to be mounted on the correct stands. The stand bases have holes for shields and hull points. You place the ships behind your player shields since, for most scenarios, ships do not start on the board but have to be brought into play. After this, you put together the correct scenario boards along with any obstacles (asteroids) and discovery tiles (more on these later). After you assemble the board, you take your tactic deck using the scenario suggested deck or you own using a point system. Tactic cards are “enhancements (weapons, crew) which you can to your fleet, as well as events that can influence the battle.” You will begin with five cards and replace them as you use them.

battleshipgal2As mentioned, in most scenarios, the ships begin off board and must be brought into the players’ start zones on their respective side of the board. Each ship has three cards which range from an average ship to a veteran with varying special powers and weapons. The type of ship you have depends on the scenario or, if you are playing with the “design your own fleet” rules, the point cost of the ship. The ship card has a lot of information including ship name and the experience level of the ship, a hit diagram, size, jump cost (cost to bring on board), movement cost, movement, number of shields, number of hulls, weapons including charge cost and effect, special abilities and, at the bottom of the card, how many and what kinds of tactic cards can be used with the ship. Starting with the side named in the scenario or chosen by a dice roll, the active player goes through three phases.

In the first phase (called the energy phase), you get a standard 10 energy points (the start player gets only five energy points the first turn). Energy is used to pay for things like moving the ship, bringing a new ship on board or playing tactic cards from your hand. The second phase is the deploy phase where you spend energy to launch ships on the board and/or play cards out of your hand to enhance your ship. An interesting part of the game is that larger ships can act as carriers for smaller ships so one large ship can carry 1-2 smaller ships or fighter squadrons. These ships have to pay the launch cost to leave the larger ship and are destroyed if the larger ship is destroyed before they can launch. Finally, in the action phase, you choose which ships to move (paying the movement cost). You can then attack if you are within range, powering any weapons which require a cost though most are free.

Attacking is done by rolling two dice for each hit of damage and if it hits the grey part of your opponents hit diagram, the opponent takes damage with shields being destroyed first before the hull. The ship is destroyed if you are lucky enough to hit the critical hit location on the hit diagram of if you have destroyed all the shields and hull of the ship. If you move onto a discovery tile (which are put on the board as part of a scenario), you get special abilities such as extra cards or energy as long as your ship remains on the discovery. Your opponent then does his three actions.

The game continues until you meet any of the three ending condition: if you succeed in the scenario’s winning conditions, you destroy all of your opponent’s ships or if one player goes through his tactic deck twice.

The strategy in this game is to use your energy points wisely, balancing when to bring your ships on and what tactic cards you play. The components are fairly good especially the miniatures though I found both the ship and tactic cards fairly thin and a bit flimsy as so will wear out rather quickly if not protected. The rules are fairly good though some rules are put in odd places and might require reading the rules a few times to get them all. The game even includes a full comic explaining the background story to the game which, while entertaining, does not really add much to the game but extra cost and would have been better as a download on the game’s website.

Overall, Battleship Galaxies is a nice family friendly miniatures game good for the young teenage market but sophisticated enough for the gamer who would like to play this with either casual or hobby gamers.

 


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