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Subject: Short review after a couple of plays rss

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Fabien Conus
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I just got back from the Cannes Games Festival, where I've had the chance to play quite a lot of new or upcoming games.

Asteroyds is the very first game I tried, on day 1 of the festival. I then went back a couple of times to play again and try some variants.

I must say that I wasn't too excited about the game when I looked at it. The hexagons give it a wargame feel that I tend to dislike:



Furthermore, the theme, a space race, isn't too exciting for me. This is quite strange by the way, because I do like science-fiction... just not in boardgames.

Anyway, my little group of five people decided to give it a try.

... and it was a blast !

Let me briefly explain the rules.

The rules

The board depicts a space arena where our spaceships will race against each others. On this board, there are different kind of tiles:

1. Launch pads : this is where our ships will start the race
2. Pods where the audience will watch the race
3. Empty pods
4. Asteroids

Of all of these elements, the asteroids are the trickiest... because they move !

Asteroids are divided into different types, based on their color:

- red
- white
- blue
- red and white
- blue and white

At the start of a round, a player rolls the three dice (red, white and blue) and starts the timer.

Each player then has 40 seconds (it can be adjusted to 50 for beginners or to 30 or less for experts) to program his 7 moves. For each move, the action can be:

- move forward
- turn left
- turn right
- backflip
- do nothing

When the timer (electronic timer provided with the game) rings, every player must stop immediately.

We then proceed to moving the asteroids.

Each asteroids tile has 6 sides (of course, these are hexagons) numbered from 1 to 6. Each dice has 6 faces.... can you see it coming ?

Yes, the asteroids will move in the direction indicated by the dice of its color. When it hits another tile, the asteroids stops moving (except for the blues).

- Red asteroids will move two spaces
- White asteroids will move one space
- Blue asteroids will move one space but will push other asteroids in their move

Blue asteroids only push other asteroids, not the launch pads, empty pods or audience pods.

Then there are asteroids that are both red and white or blue and white. Well, these will move twice !

The catch is that the asteroids will move AFTER the programing of the moves, but BEFORE the ships move. So the players have to be careful to take the asteroids into account when programming their moves.

Each player, one after the other, then resolves his moves. If he hits a tile, he gets two damages and has to stop his movement for this turn. After six damages, his ship is destroyed.

Each player can however decide not to use his last move and activate a shield instead. If he does this, every damage is reduced by one.

Once in a game, a player who is about to hit an asteroid can decide to hit it at full speed to destroy it. The tile is then removed from the game and the ship gets four damages (three is his shield is activated). He can then continue his movements as programmed.

Goal of the game

The base game is a race. There are four "doors" on the board, the first player to pass through all the doors wins the game.

Of course, to make things simple (not !) the doors are on asteroids… therefore, they move !

This is a very fun setup but with only little to no interaction between the players.

But the game is so rich that a lot of variants already exist and a lot of other variants can be imagined.

Variant: Opposing teams

One variant that I tried is the opposing teams variant. We played with two teams of two players. Each team starts on a side of the board and target (small tiles) are placed on asteroids at random. We used six targets per team.

In this variant, the "do nothing" action is replaced by a "shoot" action. The goal is to shoot all of the opponents targets. To shoot a target, your ship must be facing it (distance does not matter, but obstacles will of course block your shot) and you must program the "shoot" action.

Conclusion

Asteroyds is extremely fast-paced, simply because of the timer. Programming your actions in 40 seconds while being carful to take into account the asteroids moves is very stressful !

A game lasts about 30 minutes. It is extremely fun and you can see the look of despair of a player's face when he hadn't anticipated an asteroid's move. We had so much fun with this game that it was for all of us the best discovery of this Cannes Festival.

The game should come out at the end of the month, and I can't wait to get it !

edit: blue asteroids move one space, not two
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Liang Roo Wang
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sounds like RoboRally to me.
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Fabien Conus
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kang_a_roo wrote:
sounds like RoboRally to me.


With moving obstacles ! And with 40 seconds to program you moves !

It does have a feel of RoboRally mixed with Ricochet Robot, but trust me, this is much more fun !
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Rob Robinson
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FabienC wrote:
This is a very fun setup but with only little to no interaction between the players.


Can the spaceships hit each other? what is the penalty if they do?

FabienC wrote:
Then there are asteroids that are both red and white or blue and white. Well, these will move twice !


So a Red/White will move two spaces, then roll again and it moves one space? and a Blue/White will move two, 'pushing', and then after rolling again one space?
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James Hamilton
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Sounds interesting
 
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Fabien Conus
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zombiegod wrote:

Can the spaceships hit each other? what is the penalty if they do?!


No, spaceships cannot hit each other and there can be two spaceships on the same hexagon.

I think this is a wise decision from the designer, because you could then decide to hit another player's ship that is already badly damaged and eliminate him from the game.

That said, you can decide to go against this rule ! It might be fun.

zombiegod wrote:
So a Red/White will move two spaces, then roll again and it moves one space? and a Blue/White will move two, 'pushing', and then after rolling again one space?


All the dice are rolled at once and you move the asteroids in the following order: red, white, blue.

So a red/white will first move two spaces in the direction indicated on the red dice and then move one space in the direction indicated by the white dice.

A blue/white will first move one space in the direction indicated by the white dice, without pushing and then one space in the direction indicated by the blue dice, pushing.

Does that make sense ?

edit: blue asteroids move one space, not two
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Gene
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FabienC wrote:
kang_a_roo wrote:
sounds like RoboRally to me.


With moving obstacles ! And with 40 seconds to program you moves !

And I thought RoboRally could be chaotic
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tom moughan
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Thanks for the review.

while it sounds fun, there also doesn't seem to be much there. I have grown to expect a much wider array of mechanics all being employed in a game put out by Ystari...though 'Metropolys' had about as many rules as well and I enjoy that title immensely...but there is much more direct player interaction in 'Metropolys' based on your description of this title.
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David Short
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lengthtoavoid wrote:
Thanks for the review.

while it sounds fun, there also doesn't seem to be much there. I have grown to expect a much wider array of mechanics all being employed in a game put out by Ystari...

I too have come to expect great designs by Ystari, but this one seems very disappointing.

Let me see if I get this right... you program your moves based on information on the board (or lack thereof), then the asteriods move due to completely random elements (dice), then you move your ship using programmed moves that are all but irrelevent now... furthermore all this is done in order to reach "Door" milestones that are also moving(!) randomly? Is there any strategy at all besides perhaps attempting to guess the outcome of some dice? On top of this, you mention that there is very little player interaction?

Ouch. shake
 
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Fabien Conus
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dshortdesign wrote:

Let me see if I get this right... you program your moves based on information on the board (or lack thereof), then the asteriods move due to completely random elements (dice), then you move your ship using programmed moves that are all but irrelevent now... furthermore all this is done in order to reach "Door" milestones that are also moving(!) randomly? Is there any strategy at all besides perhaps attempting to guess the outcome of some dice? On top of this, you mention that there is very little player interaction?

Ouch. shake


If that's how you understood my review, then I didn't do a good job.

Let me try again:

Quote:
then you move your ship using programmed moves that are all but irrelevent now


You throw the dice before programming. Therefore, you program your moves based on what you see on the dice, there is nothing random about it. It's just that you have to visualize where the asteroids are going to move.

Quote:
in order to reach "Door" milestones that are also moving(!) randomly


Same thing here. You know exactly where the doors are going if you look carefully at the dice.

Quote:
On top of this, you mention that there is very little player interaction?


I mention that the race game has little interaction but the teams variant is completely different.

Now, let me get this straight, if you are expecting this game to be an Agricola (talk about player interaction), then this is definitely not it.

It's not an Ys either and definitely not a Le Havre.

It's not a game that lasts 2 hours where players each spend 10 minutes thinking about their next move. 40 seconds, that's all you have.

So, no, it is not you typical Ystari game, but it's certainly the game that is the most fun.
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frederic Henry
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Hi.
Many Thanks Fabien for your review (your english is far better than mine, so I'm affraid that I would have some difficulty to answer at some specific questions).
All that writted Fabien about the game is absolutly correct, and the point he stressed in his last post his correct too.
1) There is no random during your programming time : all is based on your capacity to project your mind, in a limited time, on what will be the futur configuration of the board (based on the dice results... but you know this ones)
2) The game is not an usual Ystari game : it's a sort of son of Roborally and "Ricochet" robot (I'm taking back the words of Fabien, which are probably the best way to summon what can be the game).

PS : Fabien, I guess you are the one with I talked about the game genesis during the Canne Event : you told me about your love for ricochet robot and roborally, and I told you about the cards "problem" and how I thought a game needs to match with is own time. Am I right ?
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Fabien Conus
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fred henry wrote:
PS : Fabien, I guess you are the one with I talked about the game genesis during the Canne Event : you told me about your love for ricochet robot and roborally, and I told you about the cards "problem" and how I thought a game needs to match with is own time. Am I right ?


I'll send you a geekmail to talk about this in french
 
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David Short
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FabienC wrote:
You throw the dice before programming. Therefore, you program your moves based on what you see on the dice, there is nothing random about it. It's just that you have to visualize where the asteroids are going to move.


Thanks for clarifying. This makes me feel a little better.
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David Liu
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dshortdesign wrote:
FabienC wrote:
You throw the dice before programming. Therefore, you program your moves based on what you see on the dice, there is nothing random about it. It's just that you have to visualize where the asteroids are going to move.


Thanks for clarifying. This makes me feel a little better.


Wow, then it might really be an interesting game;
The timer will really turn the players into Pilots reading the movements of asteroids and trying their best to maneuver around.... sounds like loads of fun.

But I can see that this will be a brain burner for some people.
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Sheamus Parkes
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I personally like the whole "Damage means less moves per turn" penalties from other race games. That way you're still in, you just have troubles doing what you want.


It sounds really cool though!
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Fabien Conus
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The english rules are now online:

http://www.ystari.com/astero/AstUSLo.pdf
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Phil
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FabienC wrote:
kang_a_roo wrote:
sounds like RoboRally to me.


With moving obstacles ! And with 40 seconds to program you moves !
We always play RoboRally with a time limit of 60 seconds for programming. Would be boring otherwise.
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Ian Collier
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There's a fair amount of skepticism out there but I wanted to say that this sounds like the game of my dreams. I have read the rules and imagined the game play in my head, and as an avid Roborally fan I absolutely can't wait to get a copy of Asteroyds. My local store gets this in tomorrow and I'll be there immediately after work to get a copy.

Thank you for your design!

Ian
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