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Browsing all articles from May, 2011

From the Cold War to the depths of space (part 2 of 3)

Authorianoble    CategoryBoard Games     Tags

Previously on The Noble Gamer…

In part 1 of my recap of the last few months, I wrote about my experience with a game that I never thought I would own. This article is about a very different game, one that has just about every element that I love about the boardgaming hobby.

Ascending Empires

After one of my very first game nights with my group, the host brought out this round, wooden board with these little pegs in middle and a hole right in the center of the board. As you can imagine, I was very interested in what the purpose of this board was. As soon as I flicked my first disc on that Crokinole board I was hooked! You’re telling me that there are dexterity games that don’t require you to slam your hand on the table to be the first to grab some object or that make you pull out pieces of a larger object until it falls apart? There are dexterity games with actual skill involved that can still be played while seated??

This brings me to Ascending Empires (sort of). The moment info started coming out up on BoardGameGeek that Z-Man Games will be producing a dexterity/euro board game with a space theme, I got very excited. Once the photos of the game came out, I was even more excited. Then at Kublacon I was actually able to see the game in person. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to play it, but I knew this would be something I should probably have in my collection. The day I was going up to Reno for my bachelor party/gaming night I came up with the brilliant plan to drive to my nearest FLGS (still 20+ miles away) and pick up a copy to bring with me. Not having bought a game like this from a B&M store, I was pretty surprised to see it ring up at around $60! I took a deep breath and said, it will totally be worth it. Glad I trusted my instincts.

The game is one of space exploration, technology building and space combat. All using little wooden pieces on a cardboard, puzzle piece board. You start out with just 2 ships (shaped as small discs) on your homeworld, 7 troops available to be used to discover new planets and to build colonies, research stations and cities and 0 level tech ability across 4 different disciplines. The brilliance of the game is in order to discover new planets you must flick your ships so that they land within the orbit of the planet you wish to discover. Each turn moves pretty fast because you’re only allow 1 action (although the move action allows you to do 2 “move” things”). Flick to a planet, discover the planet by flipping it over, putting one of your guys on it and moving you ship back to your dock…next player. Once you have control of a planet you can start building colonies (remove 1 troop to add a colony), research stations (remove a troop and a colony to add a research station) or cities (remove 2 troops to add a city). Each building gives to you different things, but it’s usually good to get research stations early because they help you build up your tech tree. If you have at least 1 research station on a planet, for an action, you are able to move your tech branch, for that color up to the Level 1 row. In order to move up to the Level 2 row, you must have research stations on 2 of those colored planets or have 2 on one of that color planet. Since you only start with 8 research stations you can only upgrade all techs 2 levels, two techs all 4 levels or somewhere in between. This allows all players to build their empire a bit different depending on the style of play they choose.

I absolutely love this game. I’ve played it with 2 & 3 and it really plays great either way. All of my games have unfolded differently, with some being discover heavy and some being very combat heavy. Since turns are very quick it is easy to adjust your strategy as the game goes on. Do yourself a favor and ignore all of the talk about how the board pieces don’t fit together so the ships can hit a seam and fly off course and go buy this game!! After you navigate to and discover your first first planet, you will forget there is even a board and you’ll just be immersed in a wonder space adventure.

In the 3rd and final article recapping my last few months of gaming, I dig into one of the best co-operative games I’ve every played.

To be concluded…

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