WBG Score: 8/10
Player Count: 1-4
You'll like this if you like: Splendor, Century: Spice Road, 7 Wonders Duel
Published by CrowD Games
Designed by Yuri Zhuravljov
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A sorely overlooked card-drafting, set-collection game with art that will ignite your boosters!
Beautiful, just beautiful. Zero G's, I don't mind!
As Lemon Jelly once sang, this game is beautiful, just beautiful! The artwork in the game is really what made this release stand out for me. The card quality is very high and feels lovely to touch. The retro feel of the art with the slight pastel colours, takes you back to the early space race period and envelops you into the theme. The imagery on the cards is really interesting to look at, often slowing down the game for me as I stare in wonder. I love getting the Astronaut cards, (surely that should be Cosmonaut?) just to look at the picture on the card!
The project tiles are chunky and feel sturdy to the touch, and the rulebook is excellent. It is easy to navigate and understand, with a brilliant reference on the side distilling the information in a more concise way.
Space Cowboys, we have a problem?
But is this really a Splendor killer? Simply put, no. For most, either game will be enough, but I say if you enjoy one, why not get the other? While they do have similar mechanisms, they also have a completely different theme, and I think gameplay is differnet enough to make both worthwhile additions to any collection. If you don’t have Splendor already, I would recommend getting Space Explorers as it is a better game. If you like it, why not buy Splendor too! If you already have Splendor and enjoy it, I would suggest adding this to your collection, no question.
I bet you have more than one worker placement game in your collection? Why not two engine builder card games as well! Both are great games and I will happily play both, on the same night, time and time again. The only real question is do I want to go to space first or visit the renaissance?
What a Splendid Game!
Touted as a Splendor killer, Space Explorers landed in 2017 rather quietly! I certainly missed it. But when I heard about a Splendor killer on the loose, I had to check it out. I love Splendor, its one of my favourite games. It gets to the table more than most. So when a game of similar ilk lands, that happens to have a retro 60's Russian space theme, I’m sold!
Yuri Zhuravlev is the designer. I have to be honest and say I have never heard of him. He has a few other games out, but nothing that has crossed my path. But I certainly think he is on to a winner here. Splendor came out a few years before, so it must have been an influence on the mechanisms. But the artwork and theme that Yuri has added to this game really make it stand out for me and I will certainly follow his other games more closely now.
To Infinity, and Beyond!
The mechanisms of the game are simple and can be seen in the video below. But essentially you are either playing a card into your research and development hub or taking a card to add to your hand. Playing a card requires resources like the chips in Splendor. The genius of Space Explorers is that when you spend your resources they are given to an opponent, rather than back to a central reserve. This makes spending resources feel like a double-edged sword. You get what you want with the card being added to your hub, but are you just handing your opponent the victory by giving them the resources they need?
When you add a card into your hub, it then builds up your engine allowing you to acquire new cards a little bit easier. This is similar to Splendor, but in Space Explorers, there is a twist. The card builds your engine in two potential ways. Each card added to your hub increases your resources of a certain type when playing a card anywhere else, or resources of any type when played into the same space. Building up your engine in this way is wildly satisfying and can cause for some very exciting moments, as more powerful cards are brought into the game in the later stages.
In Space, no one can hear you scream.
The game plays two to four, but with an expansion or a simple piece of paper, you can turn this into a very satisfying solo game. See my video below to learn how to play two to four. The below will then make more sense! To play on your own, simply write the words "Start", the numbers one through to seven and "end" on a piece of paper. Then place four project tiles above where you have written start. You then place the first player marker on the first of the six face up specialist cards. Each turn your opponent takes the card the starter tile is on and adds to their hub. The first symbol that this card has, activates any project tiles which have the same symbol on, to move on one space.
Once these tiles reach the end mark, they are given to your opponent. The rest of the game is the same as usual. It is a simple and fun way to learn the game, or simply have some fun on your own, against an opponent that gets a new card every turn! As such, it’s hard to beat but quickly develops your strategies. It has some nice variations for more advanced play as you become more familiar with the mechanic and want a harder challenge. I urge you to try even if you are not a fan of solo gaming. It is quick to learn and play this way, but very satisfying when you start to get a few victories under your space belt.