Sunday, May 06, 2012

Battleship Galaxies

The next random game in my journey through my game collection is a rather recent one, Battleship Galaxies.  This is a recent Hasbro game of space combat featuring plastic spaceships.  As some of you may know, for decades there has been a game called Battleship.  You might think that there is something tying these two games together, and you would be right to think so.  We will get to that in a minute.  First, let me explain the basics of the game.

There are two sides, the ISN (humans and friendly aliens) and the Wretcheridians (unfriendly aliens).  Each side has a total of 10 ship pieces available (three capital ships and seven fighter craft).  Each ship or fighter squadron has a card that describes its capabilities, of which there are three variants (standard, experienced, veteran).  The more experienced a ship is, the more special abilities it picks up.  The base game comes with five missions, and each mission explains which ships are involved.  Alternately, some missions instead give you a certain amount of points to use to purchase your ships, so this came can be played with lots of different combinations of ships.  There are also cards that you use to change things during the game, such as adding special crew to your ships, or adding extra weapons or systems, or special tactics (like re-rolling a miss or ignoring a hit).

Everything in the game is ruled by energy.  Each turn you get 10 energy points to use however you wish.  It takes energy to "launch" a ship onto the board, it takes energy to activate a ship or fighter squadron already on the board, and it takes energy to play cards.  Some weapons even require energy to fire.  That 10 energy you get a turn is rarely enough to do everything you would like, so there are times when you have to not activate ships or play cards and instead save your energy for use in a later turn.

Combat is pretty simple but surprisingly effective.  Each weapon has a stated range and damage capacity.  If an enemy ship is within range, you can make an attack.  Here is where the tie-in to the original Battleship game comes in.  Each ship card has a grid of 80 spaces, with columns A through J and rows 1 through 8.  There are two dice in the game, a 10-sided die with letters and an 8-sided die with numbers.  The attacker rolls the two dice and calls out the attack coordinates, and then the defender looks at the target's ship grid and determines whether the attack hits the ship or misses.  Large capital ships take up many boxes on the grid, and fighters take up less, so they are harder to hit (which makes sense).  If the attack hits, the defender takes as many points of damage as the weapon does.  For each hit, you put a red damage peg onto the base of the ship, and once it reaches its hull rating the ship is destroyed.  Many ships also start the game with shields, which are (usually) removed before taking any hull damage.  Interestingly, each ship also has a critical damage space, and any hull damage to that space automatically destroys the ship.

This game is pretty fun.  It doesn't take that long to play, and the players have many choices to make as they try to make the best use of their energy to take actions to defeat the other player.  The only downside to this game is that it could really use more:  more ships, more cards, more scenarios.  The rulebook references expansions to the game, though as of the date of this blog entry I am unaware of there being any expansions, or even plans for expansions.  So while the game is perfectly playable on its own, it could use a little more love and attention from Hasbro.  Still, what is here is a good, fun game that I can see myself playing a lot more of in the future.