You’re the Commodore of a fleet of intergalactic space ships. These ships will earn you money, improve your economic status, give you perks to use throughout the game or just straight up earn victory points. After one game of Space Base, I was sold that this is a game we need on the family game shelf.
Space Base is a 2018 release that AEG president John Zinser shared with us back at Origins Game Fair 2018. Each player is given a board with 12 ships that are placed in the 12 docking locations of their space base. Below the cards is where players track their gold coins, economy and victory points for that player.
On your turn you roll two 6-sided dice. Since it’s your turn, you can choose to take the abilities of the ships in your space base in two different ways. Let’s say you roll a 4 and 6. You can take the perks of the ships in the 4 and 6 locations or you can take the perk of the ship in the 10 location. The ships in those slots will tell you if you earn money, victory points or gain an ability for the future.
Space Base does a great job of including everyone in each roll of the dice. The other players at the table have a chance to take the passive abilities based on another players die rolls. So when I roll that 4 and 6, other players get to earn perks based on the passive abilities that are in the 4, 6 or 10 slots of their space base. This keeps everyone engaged on some level while others take their turn.
Players end their turn by purchasing new ships from the tableau in the middle of the table. These can be as cheap as 2 gold coins or go as high as 40 gold coins for the Colonies that give you a one-time victory point boost. After purchasing a ship, dock this into its matching numerical slot and the old ship is now tucked upside down under the player board. These red perks above your player board are available on your opponents dice rolls.
The goal of the game is to be the first to earn 40 victory points before the other players at the table.
Building Your Space Base
Space Base is all about building a game engine that will give you results. Every card you purchase matters because it will give you a different perk. With so many different ship cards in the game, there are so many strategies to explore. Will you focus on gathering every ship that gives victory point? Will you purchase ships that allow you to change die results? How will you adjust when the dice don’t go your way?
The two blue glitter speckled dice work so well in this game to bring in an aspect of luck and force players to adopt a strategy to mitigate bad rolls. Space Base puts it on the players shoulders to purchase ships that give a wide range of options not only when they roll the dice but when everyone at the table rolls.
When purchasing new ships from the center of the table, players must spend all their gold in order to make a purchase. If your new ship cost 7 gold and you currently have 10 gold, you will not get change during your exchange. This is where your economy comes in. By taking economic perks, you’ll raise the green cube on your player board. This represents the new baseline for your bank account. If your economy track is on 9, your bank account will never go below 9 gold. Raising your economy is a surefire way to afford some of the high dollar ships that roll out during the game.
With so many ship cards involved in the game, there will be times when the market looks like a black hole of mediocrity. We’ve had games where lots of good cards are bought in the beginning rounds of the game only to find the new cards that roll out are worse than the ships you currently have. It’s OK, power through this part of the game. The whole table gets excited when new ship rolls out with a great bonus. Everyone starts saving gold again and working to be the first one to dock the new ship.
The gameplay in Space Base is pretty simple and reminds us of Machi Koro, another card drafting game we’ve played. The difference is that Machi Koro was a game we enjoyed playing while Space Base was a game that we had to own. Downtime in this game is very low because everyone has to decide what dice values they’ll take on opponents turns. There are lots of interesting ships to purchase and enough strategy that you’ll come back to the game to try something new the next time you play.
My biggest gripe with the game are with the amount of room the game takes up and the score tracking on the player boards. At some point you’ll definitely knock the cubes on the player board around leaving you trying to remember which cube was on which number. This is the same issue that games like Terraforming Mars suffers from.
Space Base was definitely a big surprise for me this year. I’ve seen the game, heard about the game but was shocked when I actually sat down to play this one. Designer John D. Clair has done a great job of creating a game that is both simple to learn and also engaging each time you play. If you’re in the mood for a card drafting, dice chucking, space themed game for your family, Space Base is a fantastic buy.
Stop by your local game store for a copy of Space Base or order it today on Amazon.
- Easy to teach and minimal downtime between turns
- Bright, fun artwork with lots of sci-fi references in the ship cards
- So many ways to build an engine to reach 40+ points.
- You need lots of space, the game is a table hog
- Don’t accidentally knock your player board