oddball Aeronauts 2 - A Double-Take Preview

Earlier this year we did a preview of oddball Aeronauts, a fast-playing 2-player card game of warfare in the wild blue yonder. Well Maverick Muse is expanding the world of oddball Aeronauts with an expansion to the base game that brings more of the same in an expanded and fun way. How, you may ask? Let's take a look!

We're not going to spend a lot of time explaining the basics of the base game. You can check out our preview here, and we'll be reviewing the final retail version of the game soon to discuss a few of the tweaks that happened between preview and production--spoiler alert: It's good!

But for those of you who haven't gone and read the preview, here's an overview of the base game:

Each player is given a deck of approximately 25 cards. These cards are held so that the faces of them are facing the player who has that deck. For each round players will fan out the top three cards to see the skill and skill support value of those cards. There are three skills Sailing, Guns, and Boarding, and if there aren't any Events that pop up in those top three cards, players will decide and announce what skill they will battle with that turn. They will then decide how many of the top three cards they'll use--they get the skill value for the top most cards, and the support value of the 2nd and 3rd cards, should they decide to use them. On the count of three each player holds up fingers indicating how many cards they will use for that round. Then you show the skill results (skill + support) and declare a winner. If you win with Guns your opponent discards 2 cards, if you win with Sailing you recover 2 cards, and if you win with boarding it's 1 and 1. Discarding a card means it goes on the bottom of your deck face down. Recovering a card allows you to turn the first face down card up. The goal is to cause your opponent to discard all of their cards.

Jeremiah--We both really liked the base version of the game, the cards are cleverly designed and the game requires no play surface at all! You can simply hold your cards and play the game, it's pretty cool! It's not only clever, it's a good game, lots of decisions to make depending on the cards you have available for that round, etc. It's a fun game!

Firestone--Yeah, the first game wasn't just a gimmick. It was genuinely fun, too. 

That's a quick-but-accurate overview of the gameplay. So... What's new?

Factions! oddball Aeronauts 2 adds two more factions! The cool thing is that you can just pick up the expansion and play the regular 2-player game as-is with the new factions, or you can now grab a few more friends and play a 3- or 4-player game with some cool new variant rules.

The first variant is called Dog Fight! You can play 3 or 4 players in this variant and it's basically every Aeronaut for themselves! Here's a break down of how it works:

Each round will have a "lead" player, who selects a target player (who can't be the same target as the last round). So you now have a lead player, a target player and some leftover player(s) who are called "Free" players. 

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The round goes as normal between the lead and target players, but the free players are also announcing their skill they wish to use, and declaring--with the finger trick--how many cards they will play. Once the lead and the target players have resolved their battle, the lead player then encounters each free player one at a time. If the lead player wins, the free player suffers the penalty as normal--discarding 1 card for a boarding loss, and 2 for losing against guns--but if the free player wins, they recover 2 cards no matter what skill they used! The lead player never recovers cards when they face a free player.

There are a few other things that happen as the round resolves. If any of the players beat the lead player, they become the lead for the next round, and if there is a tie the lead player gets to choose who leads for the next round.

There's no player elimination for this variant; once a player is out of cards the game ends, and whoever is left standing with the most cards wins!

Jeremiah--This is a fun little variant and so far in our playthroughs it's added a lot of depth. The free players aren't suffering from downtime when it isn't their turn. And there are those times when you just HAVE to have the lead next turn so you really want to ramp up your attack for that turn, and being a free player is a great way to recover cards and stay in the game if you can time your attack just right!

The other variant is called Brace the Mainsails! 

This is a 4-player only and has two teams of two going at it!

Just as in Dog Fight! there will be a lead player, and the other team then selects a player to be the target. The round is played between the lead and the target as in a normal round. Once both players have announced their skill totals of the cards they've played, the two remaining players count to three and reveal how many cards they want to add--again by doing the finger trick thingy--they then add their support value--of the skill their teammate played--to the total. This new total determines the winner. The win/loss effects will affect both players on a team, i.e. a Guns loss will result in both players discarding 2 cards!

The team that won the round selects either player to be the lead and another round gets under way. Again there is no player elimination, so when a player runs out of cards the game is over, and that team loses!

Jeremiah--I really like this variant. There's a little bit--ok, maybe a lot--of bluffing that takes place, especially with the support players. A round can really cause a total swing from one team to another. Bluff like you've thrown in the towel only to toss out 3 cards into the fray and snatch the round up! 

Firestone--This was my favorite variant of the two. I like the teamwork aspect--there aren't many games out there (other than some trick-taking games) where you get to team up against others, and I enjoy that. 

Jeremiah--There's also some cool customization of the cards themselves available through the Kickstarter (and they aren't terribly expensive to get!) Maverick Muse sent me a deck that has the name of the Mechinauts faction's ship as "The Ology." It's really cool, and only adds to the cool factor of these slick-looking, and wonderfully illustrated cards!

Firestone--Yeah, that customization is a terrific option they're offering. How fun is it to name your own Faction?! Plus, just like with the first game, I LOVE the artwork. These are awesome creatures, and so interesting and evocative that I really want to find out more about this world. I would totally read a graphic novel set in this world. So would my kids. 

Jeremiah Final Verdict--This game already has so much going for it, it's one of my favorite Kickstarters of the year, and in my opinion they've only made it better! I love that more than two folks can play the game now which makes it the perfect game for a restaurant or standing in line with friends etc. It's a very compact game that doesn't skimp on fun and strategy!  

Firestone Final Verdict--oddball Aeronauts was one of the most cleverly designed Kickstarter games I'd seen in a while. This sequel keeps pushing the cleverness, while giving new options for fun. If you liked the first game, this is a no-brainer. If you're not sure, this is a great diving-in point, since the sequel is also a standalone game. Well done Maverick Muse!

Check out the Kickstarter for yourself. And thanks for reading!