Saturday, May 11, 2013

Board Game Review - Galaxy Defenders

I love playing games that have come from foreign lands and been translated into English, mostly because the rulebooks tend to be very amusing. I've seen strange phrasing that sounded like references to blowjobs. I've seen words that are absolutely not in the English language. And Galaxy Defenders, a tactical co-op that is currently on Kickstarter, provided me with the option to see game rules that use unintentional stand-in profanity. Watch, I'll show you what I mean.

In Galaxy Defenders, you'll each play a GD agent sent to defeat aliens. The game plays out on a tactical hex grid and uses card-based AI to tell the aliens what to do when they get to go. Kill enough aliens, and you can earn some GD wings, which will let you improve your character and call for more resources from your GD headquarters.

Right now, you can't actually buy Galaxy Defenders. It's only available on Kickstarter, and it's not even in a published enough state that my review copy looks like a game. It's definitely a prototype. The hex pieces are square, for one thing. But I could mostly tell what it's going to look like when it's an actual game, and it's going to be a hoot. The GD art is comic-book cool, and it's all over the place. The maps are really excellent, because they're both easy to read and full of fun details. Like if you're playing in the desert outside Area 51, the sand might be hiding half of a flying saucer, or a road sign warning drivers of possible alien activity. It's fun and quite functional.

The game itself is fun, as long as you're ready for a tactical cooperative game with a few tweaky rules and some exciting violence. It's not made by Fantasy Flight Games, but it sure seems like it could be, with all the GD miniatures and cardboard GD tokens and thick-ass GD rulebook. There are a whole bunch of GD minis in the box (the exact count being undetermined and waiting for stretch goals and add-on orders), and they're really fun. They are, however, rather large - if you were thinking of porting the figures to another game, think again. They call them 32mm heroic scale, but they look more like they could be fighting against the plastic toy soldiers you picked up at the dollar store, in terms of size. In terms of detail and what-not, the one GD miniature I got with my review copy looks sweet. If I end up really loving this game, I'll probably paint them.

One thing to keep in mind is that my review of Galaxy Defenders might not be completely accurate when you actually get your game. If you could read the GD rules in Italian, they're done, but the translation is rough. I mean like 40-grit toilet paper rough. I am virtually certain we did something wrong at some point. The basics aren't going to change - it will be fast and action-packed and explodey (explodey being a word that is not a word, but someone used it on the Internet and so I did, too). But I can't tell you how refined and clean it will be until I actually see the finished game.

The neat thing I found playing Galaxy Defenders is that it might not reinvent any part of the cooperative board game market, but what it does, it does well. Turns are fast. Violence is a matter of a few die rolls leading to dead bodies. Aliens spawn, move and fight in a hurry, and most of the complication results from stuff that's added on to the GD basics, like searching stashes to find alien artifacts and trading it for goodies from your GD headquarters.

I would really love to comment on the production value of the GD miniatures, the plastic they used, the art on the GD cards or the design of the GD rules, but as I mentioned, my copy of this game is a rough prototype, and while I can tell it will look cool, it's impossible to be perfectly clear as to how pretty it will be in the end. But if you check out the Kickstarter page, and then consider that this is the company responsible for the War of the Rings reprint, I think you can probably assume it will be fairly sexy.

I know I swore off reviewing Kickstarter prototypes, and that moratorium is still mostly in place. But two things made me decide to make an exception for Galaxy Defenders. First, the miniatures look cool and the game looked fun. Second, the publisher is established and has some big titles, so I felt confident they could turn out something impressive. I guess that I can revise my solid boycott of Kickstarter review copies - if you want me to review your Kickstarter prototype, you can email me, but it better be God-damned impressive.


1-5 players

Fast cooperative tactical game
Bitchin' miniatures
Cool art
Fun and exciting

I don't really know. I haven't seen the whole game.

If you would like to find out more about Galaxy Defenders, you can check out the Kickstarter page here:

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