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Mission: Red Planet» Forums » Reviews

Subject: REVIEW: A love child - Can't you see the resemblance rss

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Andrew Rae
New Zealand
Wellington
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You’re hearing it here first. DNA testing has revealed that Mission Red Planet (MRP) is the love child of two illustrious games. Sourcing old media reports we have found photo’s of old El Grande on the prowl at Essen and then subsequent photo’s of him leaving with a young floozy called Citadels. Clearly this was never meant to be knowing that Fantasy Flight guards the chastity of their daughters keenly. However I for one am not surprised by the long leash Rio Grande allow El Grande to run around on since a bucket load more copies were sold with the 10 year anniversary edition.

In truth MRP strongly favours the mechanics of El Grande with the art and role playing of Citadels. I see a polarity in the presentation of the game because on one instant the character cards, allotted to each player, are beautifully done and add an aristocratical (my new word) class to the game. They are cartoon depictions like that of citadels with a genuine character a game has to work hard to develop. But on the other side of the coin the rest of the presentation lacks class with a dull shaded red board, some gaudy coloured tokens and a dull feel to the components. Not that there hasn’t been an effort here, after all the cardboard spaceship are cut to resemble spaceships and the astronauts are strong wooden counters. But I am left wondering, for all the effort expended on those fantastic character cards, could we not have made a little more effort on the board …. Do I hear “Mission paradise planet” or even “Mission Fertile frontiers”. Why pick something bland when something vibrant might be available. Still it is by the by, and this package has some real strengths.

The game play is a flat out area control mechanic where the order of play and the actions available to players are determined by the ‘role’ a player selects. The roles not only have the classic art but also well pitched abilities. The pilot can change the destination of a spaceship, while the saboteur can destroy a ship before it leaves the ground. The fem fatale and travel agent give the game a more light hearted feel.

All in all the game is pretty simple and straight forward. There are a few bonuses that you can receive and add to the board all of which are random factors adding to the chaos of the game. Unfortunately the different areas have their value added to them randomly and this value is multiplied thrice in the final turn. I say unfortunately, because although the value is there for all to see we all know that there is a tendency to follow an investment once it is started. Hence if you pile astronauts into three areas and they all turn out to be low value there are reduced opportunities to receive a piece of the richer pie. I am left wondering how the game would work with even values allocated to each area.

Still MRP is fun, light hearted and easy to play. There are plenty of opportunities where the order that a card is played becomes crucial and someone is left crying on an empty launch pad. There is also enough genuine chaos that everyone has a chance irrespective of skill or experience which makes this game quite accessible … unlike a quick game of Age of Steam. I think the mechanics are well balanced especially the nature and diversity of the roles. All roles are powerful if used right and I like that there are no super roles that role over good strategy.

Clearly MRP is a true love child. It’s not bad to wrap up a night with friends, but not so good as to be the main focus of a hard core gaming session. Although destiny may not be calling you to this one, you’ll enjoy a play of this now and again. Enjoy.
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Adam Daulton
United States
Indianapolis
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I've really enjoyed this game. The way you explain it, as a mix between Citadels and El Grande, is exactly how it was explained to me first. The board and the typos on the cards are my only complaints. Hopefully, if they ever do a second edition, these will be fixed.
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Paul O'Connor
United States
San Marcos
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Thanks for the review. I love this game's theme but I'm not much of a fan of either Citadels or El Grande, so your description has helped bolster my resolve to give this one a miss.
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Wade Broadhead
United States
Pueblo
Colorado
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This reallyy is becoming one of my favorites, not just as a filler for all the reasons you say. AS WELL as...the more you play the more you can really see the strategy in the timing and role selection. It is not just chaos all over. There are some pretty sound strategic moves and knowing what you opponents have played and what they should play is crucial. Plus its so much fun and so concise!
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