If you move the moon backwards you can go back in time!
So far this year we have received a few games from Kickstarter projects, the most recent of which is Lift Off! Get Me Off This Planet!, created by Ed Baraf, who you may remember from his guest post on this blog last year.
First off, I have to say that this is a charmingly presented game, with first rate components (like the ultra-cute “alieneeples” and the chunky, interchangeable jigsaw-connecting board elements) and a nice premise: the aliens are trapped on a planet that is a few days from exploding, and they need help to escape to safety.
Gameplay revolves around collecting resources (of two types) and moving your aliens to “lift-off points” where they can pay resources to escape through mechanics that vary from point to point. For instance, there is the rocket ship which can carry up to 6 aliens and if enough resources have been amassed when it is a full moon (there is a moon that orbits the board, partly acting as a timer and partly affecting the mechanics of some of the lift-off points) the rocket takes off, saving all the aliens onboard. Alternatively you could go to the bonfire and throw fuel on the fire in order to roll a die and, if you get lucky, a passing spaceship may notice the flames and rescue everyone gathered there. The game comes with a heap of different lift-off points that you can choose in order to have a huge variety of board configurations, and even special cards that allow the lift-off points to change during play (we haven’t tried using those yet).
We’ve played a couple of games so far, once with just Miss B and I, and once with S also joining in. I have to say that it was more fun with three players than two. That is not to say we didn’t enjoy the game for two (we did), but with more people the bigger lift-off points trigger more, and there is fun to be had by trying to freeload off someone else’s efforts to escape, and you end up with temporary alliances as you try to launch the rocket ship, etc. The game flows well, though we found Miss B spent quite a lot of time thinking about her moves, which slowed things down a lot — though this was the case for many of our games that we now play far more quickly, so I’m sure this will speed up too.
There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of strategy in the game (at least using the set-up that we used), but there is a little, and to be fair this is a game pitched mostly as a family game, and I think it hits that really nicely. We also found that in our plays, particularly late in the game, there were periods where turns were largely fishing for the “right” cards, and sometimes not bothering to move your aliens, though after a little while you got to make a couple of cool moves and launch some aliens, which made it all worthwhile. There some suggested variant rules to turn the game into fully cooperative, partner-based, or more cut-throat modes, which is nice to see. All in all, I rather like this as an addition to our collection, which we all enjoy, and I think we’ll be introducing it to people outside the family.
While I’m here, by the way, I’d like to draw your attention to Ed’s latest project, The Siblings Trouble, which is on Kickstarter now and only has a few days left to run if you want to get on board. It’s a lightweight storytelling game (kids having adventures in their backyards) with gorgeous artwork and it ran the gauntlet of the Tabletop Deathmatch, so you can watch that if you want an idea of what industry experts thought of the game as it was last summer. I’ve backed this one and have confidence in Ed producing a quality product again, but you’ll have to make your own mind up, of course.
Anyway, back to Lift Off!…
The verdict from Miss B (aged 8¼): “If you had a bit more things to do than just move around 2 spaces to get to a lift off point, and then collect up cards to move off the space, I’d think that it would be a 9.9.9 out of 10, but at the moment it’s 9.6. I like the cute little alien meeples. So like I said, 9.6 out of 10.”
The game: Lift Off! Get Me Off This Planet! (Pencil First Games), 2 to 5 players aged 8+.