When you think of space exploration, what first pops into your mind? Maybe going to a new planet, building a colony, and then starting a life there. Maybe you’re driving huge equipment in order to mine the materials that can be found there. Maybe we have some space battles over territory that both groups find valuable.
But, did you ever think that we might have parks out in space? You know, well-preserved areas that will allow travelers to see the beauty of another planet. That’s what Keymaster Games is hoping to bring to your table in Space Park, a game that is wrapping up its Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of March 2018. Players will ride rockets to travel to seven exotic locations around the galaxy, collecting crystals in order to earn badges and buy victory points. The player who does the best exploring (gets the most victory points) wins! So should you go pack your bags and get ready for the next space flight, or should you sit this one out and just stay at home?
The first thing that will catch your eye about Space Park is the art. It’s awesome! It reminds me of those national park posters that are meant to look like they’re from the ‘60s or ‘70s. Each location is represented by a beautifully drawn card, and they are shuffled and randomly dealt out to make the map for the game. The three spaceship tokens (which also look cool, even in their prototype form) are placed at their starting locations, the players are given a few supplies, and then the action begins!
Two to four players will be working to gain 20 victory points before their opponents. The major way this is done is by collecting three types of crystals – moon, sun, and sea – from three different locations. You can then turn the crystals in for space badges at Outpost 13. These badges don’t only give you points, but can also give you extra bonuses. You may be given some extra gems, or maybe specific badges can be gained for a lower cost, or perhaps you can take more actions at another location on the board.
You can pick up new badges from a selection of four, found at Starlight Station. If you’re in need of just a quick point, you can also swing by Fusion Falls and trade a sun crystal for a victory point. The final location is the Astral Arcade, where you can take control of a robot that will earn you bonuses like crystals or Fast Travel passes. These passes allow you to increase your movement around the board.
So how does all of that movement work? Well, there are three rocket tokens on the board, and on a player’s turn, they can take the action of any location where a rocket currently resides. They then move the rocket from their location to the next open space in a clockwise direction. Thus, you’re never controlling a piece, and your options for each turn depend on what the other players have done. The aforementioned Fast Travel passes allow you to move a rocket forward one space before you take your action, but these can be rare commodities.
The game includes a cute robot named SCOUT which can be used to get a leg up on your opponents during the game. When a player controls SCOUT, they will get their choice of a pink crystal or Fast Travel pass when other ships visit the location the player placed him at. You can essentially exploit areas that might be popular or get a bonus from someone else moving their ship to that specific park.
All of these components make this some sort of worker placement, resource management, mix up… thing. The game drastically changes based on the player count. With two players, you have a lot more control and predictability for the rockets. Only one of them is going to move, so you can often determine what you’ll do for the next few turns. In addition, it’s not very hard to keep up with what your opponent is doing and try to guess where they might be headed next.
Add in two more players though, and things get a bit more complicated. Often, you’ll have to rely your third or fourth plan on your turn because the other players have moved the rockets away from your prime locations. The Fast Travel passes become much more important with a higher player count, as you might need to boost a bit here and there to get to the right locations. I also found that it became much more difficult to keep up with the plans of each person. Something we noticed as we played Space Park was that the end of the game snuck up on us a bit.
A Joy Ride Through Space
While the game sounds more complicated with more people, I think it’s where Space Park really shines. I think there’s something about having to fly by the seat of your pants, so to speak. You can make plan after plan after plan, but more than likely you’ll have to think quickly on your feet because you can’t pull off the move that you’re wanting. Some gamers might dislike that approach, but I love it. I love the improvisational aspect, forcing you to be on your toes and pay close attention to each player’s move.
The game is really simple in its setup and you would be forgiven for thinking there’s not much going on here. The ship movement mechanic really allows this game to be much more than it appears on the surface, but in a way that’s not overly complex. I believe that younger gamers can jump in easily, though they might not understand some of the details of how to best play the game. I also think that the game works well as a gateway game for your less game-y friends, especially given the amazing artwork.
Space Park is not a groundbreaking game, and it’s not going to soar to the top of the BGG charts. I think it’s a solid game to add to your collection with beautiful art and solid mechanics. The mechanics stand out from other games that I’ve played and Space Park will give you a variety of experiences depending on your player count. All in all, I would recommend that you check this game out on Kickstarter to learn more. Until next time, we’ll see you….. IIINNNNNNNN SPAAAAAAACCCCEEEEEE!!!!!
You can find out more about Keymaster Games at their website, or check out our reviews Campy Creatures and Control. Keymaster Games provided us with a prototype copy of Space Park during their Kickstarter campaign. This in no way influenced our opinion on the game. Previews are a glimpse into an upcoming game with the pros and cons that we experienced prior to production of the game.