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Space Alert: the most fun I’ve had getting screwed (by a game)., posted by Derek

Mr. Carlos suggested that I turn this in to an actual post, rather than simply a comment, so here it is:


I played a new game this recent game night (and since the comment, I’ve actually purchased it for myself). I’m not sure, but it may be the most entertaining game I’ve ever played. It may not be the *best* game, as I first thought, but I can’t remember a time I’ve had more flat out fun in a long time.

It’s called Space Alert. It is chaos and awesome rolled up in to one.

If you don’t know it (and I didn’t), it’s a coop game that does it right. All players are crew members on a ship. A ship that is, perhaps, not top of the line any more. And you may not be the absolutely most valuable crew. So you’re tasked with flying a ship that’s programmed to randomly hyperspace to a section of space, spend exactly 10 minutes there, and then hyperspace out. Everyone in the game has roles (Comms officer, captain, Lt, Security officer, etc) that give them a specific suggested task in the game, but it’s not required. Captain keeps track of everyone, Comms plays the threat cards, and, in theory, reports on them. Security officer does the same for internals. Etc.

You have 16 actions per game. You have 5 cards to determine the first 3, 5 for the next 4 (plus what’s left from 1) and 5 for the last 8. As you go along, threats will randomly appear (ships, monsters, etc). You have to deal with them. You can do one thing each round – move, first lasers, launch missles, power generators, etc. Each person does one thing. With face down cards. That can’t be adjusted after the phase is over. Phase 1 is 3 minutes, Phase 2 is 3, Phase 3 is 4. Then you resolve.

It’s simple, but awesome. Because people quickly start yelling at each other.

“Okay, I’ll fire the lasers on turn 7.” “Wait, which lasers?” “The ones in upper red.” “I’M FIRING THOSE?! WHY ARE YOU HERE?! GO POWER THE GENERATOR!”


“Okay, I’ll charge the shields.” “Wait, I’m firing lasers. We don’t have any power.” “Yes we do, Derek charged them last turn.” “No I didn’t – you told me to go deal with the battlebot uprising!” “Wait, what room are you in?” “Phase 2 is over.”

And then it resolves. And you watch how terribly awful you did.

Bonuses: Every phase, in the first 2 turns, someone has to jiggle the mouse on the ship. Otherwise, the screen saver turns on, and the ship shuts down for a turn.

You can keep track of XP, and level up, gaining abilities as you go (special cards).

You can get achievements. Like “Lazy bum – Successfully finish a mission using less than 6 cards.”

There’s a fan made computer program that is amazingly done, and handles everything. It runs for 10 minutes, announces threats, etc. After you’re done, you program in the cards, and it plays a summary of your doom, and people can focus more on the yelling.

It’s just amazing. It sounds boring, but it’s so frantic. So prone to get people to yell and scream at each other, then crack up. And, with the right team, a game you feel awesome about beating down (Captain Joe runs a tight ship, so we ended the game in turn 10 with 28 points. Captain Andy left us blown up on turn 9).

I’d also note that you might not want to play this with a loved one. The aforementioned arguments can get really heated. I learned to play this with a nice young couple. They were the quintessential younglings in love – he would fetch her a cup of water if she seemed slightly parched, he would sit out of playing a game because she didn’t want to, they sat right next to each other all the time, etc.

I mention this only to throw in to contrast their in game behavior, which involved statements like “You never listen to anything I say” and “I’m just never paying attention to anything you say again” and “You’re a terrible communicator.”  A while after, they’d return to lovey-dovey, but it was always a bit awkward for the 15 minutes or so after the game….

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