Menu

LIFT OFF

Reviewed by Joe Huber

LIFT OFF (Hans im Gluck/Z-Man Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $59.99)

 

For me, one of the joys of the board game hobby is looking through the new releases for Essen.  It’s really a unique pleasure – the only other convention I find of comparable interest to window shop for is the Tokyo Game Market, and there’s so much less information available in English that it’s not the same.  Now, it seems like many take the shortcut of simply seeing what others have thumbed on the BGG Spiel preview, and pulling their shopping lists from there.  To be fair, if your tastes align with BGG, that’s a very reasonable approach.  But mine don’t, so I take the time to look at everything, at least briefly.

As I was actually going to Essen this year, I was able to leave more games on my list to investigate.  And, with one exception, these games were all in English – not for any lack of willingness to pick up a game without English rules but because, in almost every case, there simply were English rules available or an English edition.  The one example – and one game which survived my investigation and came home with me – was how to find out my ip address using cmd quantitative case studies juvenile delinquency essay writing source site see http://teacherswithoutborders.org/teach/harry-potter-essayv/21/ a person i admire my mother essay source https://homemods.org/usc/essay-on-population-control/46/ source url go https://www.newburghministry.org/spring/marijuana-legalization-essay/20/ https://cwstat.org/termpaper/research-paper-quality/50/ https://earthwiseradio.org/editing/of-mice-and-men-the-american-dream-essay/8/ essay scholarships for undergraduates que hace el viagra yahoo enter site viagra en ligne au quebec follow site where to get viagra in ireland professional letter writer sites for college http://www.safeembrace.org/mdrx/lasix-kidney-scan/68/ essay for ielts pdf free download enter site see url follow https://www.aestheticscienceinstitute.edu/medical/cialis-and-pepcid/100/ expositary essay case study thesis method nizagara efectos viagra commercial campfire https://bonusfamilies.com/lecture/what-is-dissertation-proposal/21/ Lift Off.

Lift Off (which will be published in English by Z-Man Games, though the date hasn’t yet been announced) designed by Jeroen Vandersteen is a game about the early days of space exploration.  Players choose specialists to help them develop the technologies and infrastructure necessary to launch missions while also contributing to the international space station. 

Lift Off is played in two phases, each with four rounds.  Before the game starts, however, each player drafts three end-game goals.  Each round then begins by having each player receive their income and draw to a hand of three mission specialists, which are then drafted.  (Other than in the first round, you’ll have one card left over.  So you draw two cards, and then draft from among the three cards. Each player then chooses two mission specialists to play, each has a built-in capability which is always received and one or two optional actions which can either be taken or forgone for two credits.  Optional actions include contributing to the international space station, upgrading your base, and acquiring technologies. 

Next, each player draws missions – usually draw three, keep one – from those available which they qualify to take.  Finally, each player may make a launch, including any missions they have sufficient technology and space for; with some specialists, multiple launches are even possible.  Each launch scores points – in general, the weaker the reward (technologies, mission control upgrades, rocket upgrades, end game victory points, space station upgrades) for launching the mission, the more points. 

After the first phase is complete, players have the opportunity to sell any end-game goals for five credits, and more complex – and more valuable – missions become available.  Play continues through the final four rounds, at which point players score their end-game goals, their missions which score end-game points, their food technology (there are four technologies in the game which are generically referenced but only food provides victory points) and any leftover credits. (Credits are not directly victory points; you do get points for leftover cash, but only a few.  Money is spent for technologies, space station contributions, and launches.)  The player with the most points wins.

As I’ve been playing through the new releases from Spiel, very few of the games have stood out from the first play.  Some have grown on me with more play and many of them have been enjoyable enough to explore further.  But only one struck me very positively from the start: Lift Off.

Lift Off really takes advantage of a good theme.  While space exploration is not an uncommon topic for games, most of the games on the subject have either been significantly more involved (such as High Frontier, featured in the Winter 2011 issue of Gamers Alliance Report) or less well connected to the theme.  While Lift Off is not difficult to pick up and there certainly is some abstraction, the mechanisms really do support the theme; the use of mission specialists to enable various actions, the tight money situation and the various technologies all help to give a feeling of the subject; the 50’s artwork then really sells it all. But the mechanisms also make for an interesting game. 

There are trade-offs to be made everywhere and many different paths to take.  Players can focus on improving their mission control, on launching as many missions as possible, on launching as much on each mission as possible, on preparing for the more difficult – and valuable – missions only available in the second phase or on the international space station.  From my experience so far, any of these directions can be correct. 

The components are of the quality one would expect from Hans im Glück – both nice AND functional; they even provide components for a space station for players to build as it’s developed, an unnecessary but welcome addition.  There is an error on the game board with a sticker provided to correct it which works just fine but which may bother some.  The German rules seem to be clear if not always logically organized; on the whole, though, a better rule book than average these days.  Those who cannot work with any foreign text should wait for the English edition, as while there are only a few critical words, not anything that will stop those who recall when the possibility of an English edition was remote, they will slow some players down.

I should note that while I’ve greatly enjoyed Lift Off, the reaction of those I’ve played with has been more mixed.  What’s not clear to me yet is what will make those who enjoy German games more or less attuned to Lift Off.  It is encouraging that I’ve not seen any truly negative receptions but enough neutral receptions to be hesitant in my recommendation. 

Lift Off is my favorite release from 2018.  I’d say “so far”, since there are certainly thousands of 2018 releases I haven’t yet tried but Lift Off is enough ahead, and there aren’t any 2018 releases either of sufficient personal interest or sufficiently well received elsewhere that I think it’s likely that I’m missing something.  The game hits all of the things I’m looking for – it’s a good length for the subject, the theme works for me, there is plenty to explore in the game, and through six plays the game has been a little more fun each time. As much as I’d like to recommend folks rush out to get a copy for most, waiting until it’s out in English is probably the best option.  For the impatient, however, there are much worse games to take a chance on importing. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Joe Huber


Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Other Winter 2019 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy ALTIPLANO: THE TRAVELER (Renegade Games/dlp, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes; $30) One of the best games released in 2017 was Altiplano designed by Reiner Stockhausen, a game set in the high mountains of the Andes as players traveled to different locations, ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac AUZTRALIA (Stronghold Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 30-120 minutes;  $69.95) Auztralia is an action planning game with some light wargame and resource management elements designed by Martin Wallace and the first release in Stronghold Games' "The Great Designer Series".  The theme of ...
Read More
CHEF'S SURPRISE Eating is one of those things all of us do. Some of us eat to live; others live to eat. And sometimes the activity of eating can be elevated into art! There are a lot of cooking shows on television today, even a few entire networks, devoted to ...
Read More
EYES ON ESSEN: A LOOK AT GERMANY'S GIANT GAME CONVENTION by Selwyn Ward “Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” ...
Read More
[Altiplano: The Traveler, an expansion for Altiplano, is featured in this issue.  For those not familiar with Altiplano itself, we "flashback" to how we saw it in the Spring 2018 issue of Gamers Alliance Report.]  Reviewed by Herb Levy FLASHBACK: ALTIPLANO (dlp Games/Renegade Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser HALLOWEEN (Quined Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $69.95) I have always been a fan of horror stories, novels and films.  For some reason, I enjoy the tense, impending doom atmosphere that they usually evoke, including the nervous "butterflies" in ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy HOLDING ON: THE TROUBLED LIFE OF BILLY KERR (Hub Games/Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99) Just when you think you've seen every theme that could possibly serve as the basis for a game, along comes something that proves you wrong ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Wray JUST ONE (Repos Production, 3 to 7 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; about $20) Just One is a cooperative party game by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter for 3-7 players.  Released at Essen 2018, the game seemed to immediately catch fire among word game ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy KOI (Smirk & Dagger Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 40-60 minutes; $39.95) To relax, to feel tranquility wash over you like a wave over sand, what a wonderful feeling! Wonderful except when you are a koi fish seeking a delicious meal of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber LIFT OFF (Hans im Gluck/Z-Man Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $59.99) For me, one of the joys of the board game hobby is looking through the new releases for Essen.  It’s really a unique pleasure – the only other convention ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy LINCOLN (PSC Games/Worthington Games, 2 players, ages 14 and up, 60-120 minutes; $45) One of the most popular historical themes for games is the American Civil War. This conflict split the United States of America in two with the Union forces of the North thrust into ...
Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore OBSESSION (Kayenta Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 30-90 minutes; $54) Obsession is an enjoyable new game released in 2018 by first-time author Dan Hallagan and published by his own Kayenta Publishing company.  Obsession is a large boxed game, similar in size to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy RAILROAD RIVALS (Forbidden Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, 45-60 minutes; $49.99) One of the factors accounting for the tremendous growth of the United States during the 19th century was the rise of railroads. This method of transportation was crucial in developing the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans ROSENBERG TRILOGY: COTTAGE GARDEN, INDIAN SUMMER, SPRING MEADOW (Edition Spielwiese/Stronghold Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 or less minutes; $59.95 each) Somewhere along the way, I completely missed Uwe Rosenberg’s Patchwork. Probably because it’s a two-player game. I first became aware of it ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue SCORPIUS FREIGHTER (Alderac Entertainment Group [AEG], 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45-75 minutes; $59.99) It’s been almost 100 years since the Scorpius system was settled. Sentients came from everywhere to start a new life, following their dreams of prosperity and adventure. The ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SPEAKEASY BLUES (Artana Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $60) The "Roaring Twenties" wasn't called that for nothing! In the 1920s when Prohibition was the law and folks were prevented from easily getting their favorite alcoholic beverages, many rebelled against this ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy VALPARAISO (dlp Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 45-90 minutes; € 49.95) The lifeblood of all countries is trade. So it was with Chile when, in 1811, the Chilean Congress voted for free trade and, soon after, independence. As Chilean citizens of influence, ...
Read More

 

No comments

Leave a Reply

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!