All Your Base - A Double-Take Review of Space Base

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Greetings Commodore! It's time to take command of your small fleet of ships, commission more into the fleet, and garner enough influence in the galaxy to become an admiral!

Space Base, from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) and designer John D. Clair (Mystic Vale, Custom Heroes), is a dice-rolling, engine-building game for 2-5 players and takes about 45-60 minutes. You'll build a fleet of ships and deploy them in order to gain Credits (income), as well as Influence (victory points), to become an Admiral... 

So, is this new game a Credit to dice games, or is it way off its Space Base. 


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All your base are belong to us...

Space Base - 2-5 Players
30-75 Minutes
14+

The Components

  • 5 Player boards--these each have Sectors numbered 1-12 on them
  • 60 Starter Ship cards (12 in 5 colors)--these all have a Sector number on them and are placed in the corresponding Sector on each Player board
  • 48 Level One Ship Cards
  • 48 Level Two Ship Cards
  • 36 Level Three Ship Cards
  • 12 Colony Cards
  • A pile of clear Charge tokens, yellow Credit tokens, green Income tokens, and blue VP tokens.
  • A pair of custom d6

The Setup

Each player takes a player board, a yellow, blue and green token for the three tracks on the board. They'll also grab a set of Starter cards and place the corresponding ship on the correct spots on the board. Then each player takes a random Level 1 card and replaces the ship in the Sector that it goes in by taking the starting ship, flipping it upside down, and sliding it under their board in the same Sector, leaving a red-colored reward visible.

Then you'll shuffle all three Levels of cards and deal out six of each face up in a line, and setup the twelve Colony cards. Whoever drew/replaced the starting card in the highest Sector will be the first player. Then players gain a certain amount of Credits (money) depending on their starting position. And you're ready to roll.

The GamePlay

 Level 1 Ships

Level 1 Ships

The starting player rolls the dice and chooses to allocate them either individually or as a single combined number. So if you roll a 6 and a 2, you can either activate Sectors 6 and 2 OR activate Sector 8. As you can imagine, the higher the Sector, the better the rewards. 

Then they will collect the reward in the Sectors that match the number(s) rolled. Not only does the active player do this, but so do the other, passive players, except the passive players can only collect rewards from ships they've Deployed (replaced on the board, and flipped & slipped under the board).

These rewards are often come number of Credits, but could also be Income or VPs. There are also cards that need you to Charge in order to activate. The number of Charges needed depends on the number of players. So those cards take more turns to activate, but their reward is usually quite good. 

After you've rolled and allocated your dice, and received income, you can choose to buy one Ship or Colony card. Here are some important things to note when buying. You'll spend all of your Credits for every purchase--no matter how much the thing you're buying costs. After you spend it all, it will reset to wherever your Income level is on the track. So those ships that increase your Income end up giving you a better start point.

The last card type to talk about are the Colony cards. There are 12 Colony cards--one for each Sector--and each gives you immediate points. The higher the Sector, the more expensive the card, and the more VPs. However, once they're placed into a sector they don't give you any other rewards--it's a one time shot. On top of that, they cannot be replaced/deployed, so they can gum up your engine. You still score Deployed cards in that Sector as a passive player, however.

Once a player hits 40 VP, you complete the round, ensuring everyone has had an equal number of turns. The player with the most VP wins!


 Colony Cards

Colony Cards

The Verdict

Firestone--Yes, Space Base shares some similarities with Machi Koro and Valeria: Card Kingdoms. But I think that's just like most deck-builders could be compared with Dominion. There are enough of these dice-triggering games now that we can just let them be a genre. 

Of course, Space Base has a couple of things that make it stand out as a unique game. The fact that you start out with all 12 Sectors, for one. You're not spending round after round building your tableau, including rounds where nothing happens. You upgrade the Sectors, but they're all available from the beginning. The fact that you can choose to take your dice singly, or as one combined number, is unique, and a great mechanism. Finally, the fact that you have to spend all of your Credits each turn is unique, and makes your decisions more important. 

Jeremiah--I agree. This is a genre now folks, so deal with it. HA! It also happens to be a genre I really enjoy. I like games that let me build an engine and try to mitigate the randomness of the dice. I'm not saying I'm great at it, but I find them a fun challenge. And for the reasons Scott just said, Space Base is a great addition to this genre. It's fun, and it's full of really great, heavy, decisions, even though the gameplay is lightweight.

Firestone--There are simple decisions here, but they're interesting. You're looking for combos. You're looking at the Sector numbers. You're looking at the Deployed powers. And you're deciding when to grab those Colony cards. It's not overwhelming but there could be a little bit of Analysis Paralysis with some players. 

Jeremiah--I’ll fully admit that my boys can often suffer from AP during a game of Space Base, and even I find myself overthinking from time to time. After a few games, though, you begin to learn strategies that work for you and selecting cards becomes a bit smoother. 

Firestone--As the dice-triggering genre gets more crowded, some games will get pushed aside. Machi Koro had already been replaced by Valeria: Card Kingdoms. But even if it hadn't, Space Base is the final nail in that coffin. While Space Base and Valeria are unique enough to own both, Machi Koro is just too basic now. Space Base is a fun game. 

Jeremiah--I don't have Machi Koro, and I probably won't, but I immediately said after my first game of Space Base that even though it's very similar to Valeria, there’s definitely room for both of them in my collection, thanks to unique mechanics and theme. In a way, I feel Space Base has an even faster learning curve, and the setup and clean up are WAY easier than Valeria. I almost view Space Base as a gateway into this genre—a really fun, interesting gateway. (And the term gateway is no slight on the title!)

Firestone--The game seems to scale well. I haven't played with 5 players, but 2-4 does just fine--especially because your cards can trigger on other people's turns. In fact, with more players you really want to be Deploying cards, more so than in a 2-player game. So the dynamics change with different numbers of players. I like that. 

Jeremiah--Yeah it gets interesting with different player counts. To me this sets it apart from a lot of deck-builders. Games like that don't add much variation with different player counts. In fact, I know some folks who think most deck-builders should only be 2-player games, and it's hard to disagree...

Firestone--If I have one ding, it's that the tokens are fiddly. There's a lot of moving tiny cubes back and forth, and if you bump your Player board, you're just screwed. 

Jeremiah--I can see that. But it hasn't been an issue yet for us, and you know how fidgety my kids can be!

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--Space Base is a great addition to the dice-rolling engine-building genre. It’s got a really fast learning curve, with easy mechanics but weighty decisions, and plenty of opportunities to be clever that make for a really fun game experience. Space Base is an elegant design and an extremely balanced game. Tons of fun in this box! 

Firestone's Final Verdict--Space Base is a fun dice-roller that wraps luck, interesting decisions, and broad appeal into a great package. Gamers. Non gamers. Soon-to-be gamers. Space Base covers the spectrum. Now bring on the expansions, AEG!


Thanks so much for reading! Have you played Space Base? We'd love to hear your thoughts on the title too! Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!


We would like to thank AEG for providing us with review copies of Space Base. This is no way shaped our opinion of this title.


Want to hear more of Jeremiah's thoughts on Space Base? Listen to this episode of That's How I Roll!