Review – Space Base (Alderac Entertainment Group)
As the commodore of a Space Base, your job is to draft new ships into your fleet to work and patrol the 12 sectors under your watch. Use cargo vessels, mining ships, and deploy carriers to earn profits and expand your influence. Only one Space Base commodore will become U.E.S. Admiral of the Fleet!
Commodore Sean Chen floats in the void, protected only by his space suit. Today he is overseeing the flight crew and signal officers of the Knight Class Cargo Vessel: U.E.S. Scobee as it pulls away from port. It has five long years ahead of it in sector seven, engaging in trade with the natives and colonies. Replacing the Scobee in base is the new Bradbury Class Carrier: U.E.S. Allen. The recently assigned Allen will lend support and influence to the bases and sectors to which it is designated, and these newer C retrofit models can even hold a moderate amount of cargo.
Chen smiles to himself, “Influence.” Influence over one’s sectors is how a Space Base commodore becomes an admiral.
His brow furrows momentarily. There is only one promotion available and Commodore Liz Valor, a capable, sassy and dynamic officer rising through the ranks, has her eyes on the position. And there is also the newly-promoted Z-bot: Z-4045 was built for promotion, and even has the hat to go with it!
As he turns to watch the Bradbury move through the silence of space towards its docking stand, he knows that he has his work cut out today, as he does everyday.
Space Base Set-Up
Each player sets up their Command Console with their starting ships. Each console has twelve sectors arranged from 1 to 12. The sector number indicates where new ship cards will be placed on the Command Console when they are purchased. Each player receives an identical set of starting cards to place in each sector at the start of the game.
The flow of the game is fairly simple. Players take turns in clockwise order. A turn consists of the following four phases: Roll Dice, Allocate Dice, Buy 1 Card (Optional), and End Turn.
Space Base Gameplay
First, the active player rolls both of the six-sided dice and allocates them. They may choose to use either the sum of the dice or the individual values of each die. When allocating the dice, there are benefits and rewards for all players. When a player is rolling the dice, they gain the active (blue) rewards and activations on the card or cards. All of their opponents receive the passive (red) rewards and activations on the card or cards. As the players’ fleets grow during the game, the passive benefits are going to surpass those that occur when they are the active player. So it is important to recruit ship cards that will have benefits after deploying.
Next, the active player may buy one ship card from the shipyard or buy one colony card. Even if they can afford more than one card, players may only buy one card on their turn.
When purchasing a ship from the shipyard, the ship that is already in that sector now gets “deployed,” rotating it upside-down and tucking it under the top part of the console in the same sector so that the bottom section of that card is now right side up. This now reflects the “passive” reward that a player will receive when the active player rolls the dice. Throughout the game, more than one ship card may accumulate in the same sector, earning multiple rewards on each roll.
The active player may also purchase a Colony Card. The sole purpose of Colony Cards is to score immediate victory points. Purchasing a Colony Card establishes a new colony in that sector, and that sector is no longer under that player’s control. Ships deployed deep in that sector remain under their command and will reap passive benefits. However, once a Colony Card is placed, the player no longer receives active benefits, and can no longer purchase ships from the shipyard for that sector.
The purchase phase is optional. The player might not be able to afford to purchase a card. Or, they may find their strategy is best to pass on buying a card on this turn to roll their credits over and purchase a more expensive card on their next turn. Finally, refill the cards in the shipyard, and pass play to the next player.
When any player reaches 40 victory points, they will finish the current round so all players have the same number of turns. The player with the most victory points wins.
Space Base is a fun dice drafting game that is easy to teach and play. Did I just say that a DICE game is fun? That is a unexpected statement coming from me, considering that I am usually not a fan of dice-driven games. But as a dice drafting game, Space Base has little more strategy to it than a “luck of the roll”-type dice game.
Players have the option to purchase ships that give them credits to buy more expensive ships on future turns. They may purchase ships that give them victory points, or allow them to increase their income, which is amount of credits that they earn at the start of their next turn. There is also the added strategy of charges. When a player claims the reward on a card with a charge ability, they place 1 charge token on the card. (In some cases, cards may require more than one charge to activate.) This allows the player to use the activation in a future turn.
With benefits occurring as both the active and passive player, the game keeps players engaged at all times. If they are not engaged, they may lose out on a very important reward or activation that could cost them the game.
The biggest complaint that I have about this game is the command console – specifically, the cube tracker for the Credit, Income, and VP counters. One swift knock of the table or one rogue dice roll and these counters are easily knocked from their current location. I could see a companion app for tracking and scoring being a welcomed addition to this game.
This game also has one of my least favorite components – little cards! I understand that the cards must be a little smaller though to fit 12 of them underneath the player console. People have expressed concern about sleeving the cards due to the constant handling and sliding under the player consoles. A playmat is very helpful when playing this game. But I can see how the small cards may get worn easily over time.
Space Base is a fun and engaging dice drafting game that will appeal to a wide variety of gamers. Gameplay is easy to learn and is fun. There is never any downtime, so players remain engaged throughout the entire game. The theming is great, the artwork is solid, though some of the components may wear out easily. With a higher replayability factor, I’d recommend Space Base as a welcome addition to anyone’s game shelf.
- Release Date: April 25, 2018
- MSRP: $39.99
- Playing Time: 60 minutes
- Age Range: 14+
- Player Count: 2-5
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