Most gamers—who aren’t exclusively interested in brain-burning strategic games or highly-detailed historical simulations—can understand that thrill of getting a new game with lots of great ‘bits’. I can trace this back to getting the old Haunted House game when I was a young child, a fantastic game which was the first time I saw ‘3D’ elements used in a game. Mousetrap was also a big favourite back then. The great thing about today’s games is that you can recreate this childhood feeling of excitement even—in my case—decades later; whether you’re playing the games with friends of the same age or with your own children—and as long as you haven’t lost touch with your childhood and still love games!
As soon as I saw Battleship Galaxies: The Saturn Offensive Game Set, the new ‘hobby’ game from Hasbro, I knew this was the kind of game that I really love. What isn’t cool about spaceships in desperate combat in the depths of space?
After Hasbro decided to call it a day on HeroScape, many gamers wondered if they would be coming up with something new for the mainstream/hobby gaming crossover market. And hopefully Battleship Galaxies is that game—certainly there’s a huge potential for extra ships, scenarios, cards and other expansions, and the title ‘The Saturn Offensive Game Set’ seems to brand this one as a ‘starting set’. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s have a look at this wonderful new game in detail.
Opening the Battleship Galaxies box and you might have one those ‘take me back to being a kid’ moments that I was talking about earlier. Inside, a lot of high quality components nestle in a well-designed plastic tray. First and foremost of course are the awesome plastic spaceships! There are twenty in all—ten for the human Intergalactic Space Navy (ISN, the good guys), and ten for the crustacean-like Wretcheridians (the bad guys, in case you didn’t guess—the comic book explains the silly name). The ships are highly detailed and fit on very cleverly designed snap-together stands that cover a number of spaces corresponding to the size of the ship—one hex size for small ships, two hexes for medium ships, and a huge six hexes for the fleet flagships, the ISN Everest and the Vapor’s Fate. The ships are pre-painted with a base coat and wash that brings out all the detail. I imagine some people will be creating custom paint jobs for these but really, they look great as is and no further work is required.
Once you’ve stopped playing with the spacecraft, check out what else is in the box. There are two 10-sided dice, one marked with numbers and the other with letters. You’ll use this when you’re rolling for hits on each ship’s unique card. There is a deck of these large cards, two for each ship, which detail three different variations of each ship (standard, seasoned, or veteran); describing its weaponry, abilities and special powers.
Two energy boards and plastic markers are used, one by each player, to keep track of their fleet’s energy use. Energy is a core mechanic of the game, and you’ll spend it to launch your ships, activate them, and fire their weapons, among other things.
Two large full colour screens are used to hide your fleets before you launch them. There are 36 illustrated Tactic cards per faction, and these detail events, heroes, upgrades, weapons and even sabotage. You can attach some of these cards to your ships (and to your opponent’s ships, in the case of the sabotage cards) to give them extra abilities.
Of course, spaceships need space to fight over! Two 4-panel thick gameboards fulfil this function beautifully. Finally, there are red and blue pegs that fit into the ship bases to track shields and hull damage, and a number of tiles to represent things like debris fields, asteroids, a warp gate, orbital market, energy sources, and more.
There’s no doubt that Battleship Galaxies is a stunning-looking game when it’s all set up, as you can see from the above photo.
And there’s one other treat—a 48 page comic book which is very high quality and has a surprisingly engaging story. Definitely the best ‘comic book in a game’ implementation I’ve seen.
But how does it play? Well, you’ll have to wait for part 2 of this article in a few days time, when I’ll have got this game on the table and sent the ships into battle—plus I’ll also give you the lowdown on the easy-to-play rules.