Game Review: Battleship Galaxies

Last weekend was our date weekend away.  We went only 70 miles from home, but it was a nice trip.  The kiddo was content with her Nana and Papaw Shannon.  We hit up a mystery dinner theater on Friday evening.  Saturday we were due at a minor league baseball game, but with a heat index around 110, sitting in the sun on the lawn of the ballpark didn’t sound enticing.

So, we headed to a couple of game stores.  We were happy just to pile into our air conditioned vehicle rather than walk through the heat and humidity.  We came out with Battleship Galaxies.  It was my husband’s pick. We debated between a couple of different games, but the others were similar to games we already have.  This one was completely different.  I’m not a huge fan of strategy games — mostly because I am married to the most strategic man in the world.  He’s so strategic, in fact, that at Gen Con Indy a couple of years ago he was doing a demonstration of a new game with the game’s creator versus another attendee.  Chris was down on his luck. The other attendee was smirking.  But, Chris did some crazy shenanigans that totally worked.  When the demonstration was over, the game’s creator came around to shake my husband’s hand.  He was super impressed.

I am not like that.  I was ready to start comforting Chris during that demonstration, actually.  All hope was lost to me.  At the same time, I’m also very competitive and don’t enjoy losing.  So, strategy games played with my husband aren’t my forte.

All that background aside, I actually did enjoy our Battleship Galaxies match.  Maybe it was the vacation type of feel to our weekend.  Maybe it was the cold marble tabletop in the hotel lobby.  Maybe it was my new dangling earrings that made me feel trendy.  Who knows?  I lost, and I still enjoyed it.

A creation of Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast, Battleship Galaxies has a few similarities to the old Battleship board game.  (I’m not a fan of that game either.  Again, Chris beats me too easily.)  But, it has enough twists and differences to make it more interesting.

You can play with more than two players.  Two fleets are pitted against one another — basically good guys and bad guys.  I chose to be the good guys.  For a two-player game, we each got a fleet of three small spaceships, two medium ones and one large one.  The cool thing about some of the medium and large spaceships is that they can carry the smaller ones to deploy them elsewhere besides the far side of the space map where new spaceships are set to deploy.  (Chris utilized this.  I did not.  Again, he won.  Need I say more?)

The other reason that is important is because everything you do costs “energy.”  Each player has an energy tracker.  To bring ships out onto the map costs certain amounts of energy (the ship card tells you how much).  To activate it once it is on the board to move and attack costs three energy points.  To equip some weapons costs energy points, so you have to spend very wisely to make sure that you have enough energy points to actually do something.  At the beginning of each turn, players get to give themselves 10 additional energy points, which spend much quicker than you might think.

Also at the beginning of each turn, players draw a card that will help them.  Some are additional weapons that can be attached to ships, some are people that can attach to ships (I had one person, for example, who added a point of damage to every attack I made) and some are one-time event cards that can help your game.

The spaceships you play with each come with an information card that tells you everything you need to know and a miniature to put on the board.  Each ship has its own stats including shields to protect it.  Little blue markers that go on the miniature denote how much shield the ship has and makes it easier to keep track of when figuring out things like damage.  Red markers denote how much damage the ship has received so you don’t have to try to remember or write it down.  The information card for each ship tells you how much damage the ship can take before its destroyed.

To battle with one another, you have to move your spaceships to your opponent’s within range of your weapons.  So, if my spaceship’s gun fires at a range of five, then my spaceship has to be within five spaces of the one I want to attack.  Each spaceship card also tells you how far you can move.  Once you are in place and ready to attack (and have enough energy to do so), then you declare what spaceship you’re attacking and roll two dice: one with letters and one with numbers.  This is where it gets a bit like the old Battleship game.

The information card of each ship has a diagram of the ship that is gridded with a row of numbers on one side and letters on the other.  The roll of the dice tells you where the attacker is hitting.  It is possible for them to miss.  In fact, near the end of our game when I was fighting for my life, I did three attacks on one ship and, thanks to crummy dice rolls, ALL of them missed.  Frustrating!  There is one key spot on each ship, though, that is denoted with a red star.  If a ship has no shields and an attack hits that spot, then it is instant destruction.  Each weapon tells you how much damage it does.

Basically, the winner is whoever destroys their opponent’s fleet first.  For game play, you are supposed to hide most of your information behind a cardboard screen, but we opted not to do that for our first match as we were learning.  So we knew a bit more about each other’s fleets.  I don’t think it would have changed our game that much had we not known.  Of course, I was too busy trying to figure out my own fleet to pay too much attention to things on my husband’s side.

In all, the game took us about two hours.  Without a learning curve, I would expect the next game to go even quicker.  To me, a game that lasts an hour or hour and a half is just right.  If it goes too much longer, it’s hard for us to find time to play it.  And if it’s too much shorter, it doesn’t seem worth getting it out.

Though it’s a loathsome strategy game, I’d actually give it 4 out of 5 stars.  It has quite a few different components, but it was pretty easy to figure out.  I’m looking forward to playing it again!

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