- Designer: Lucas Gentry
- Artists: Sara Beauvais, Marty Cobb, and Daniel Ido
- Publisher: Button Shy Games
- Release Date: August 2019
Disclaimer: This game was provided to us for review by Button Shy Games.
Luke: I’ve always been a fan of roguelike video games like Into the Breach or Rogue Legacy. There’s something about the exploration of a freshly-generated world that makes for an unpredictable, exciting adventure. It pushes me to try new tactics, never get comfortable, and always try again… even if it’s a few months later.
Phil: I’ve personally not been a huge fan of the genre, but the idea of stumbling through a new world each time you play is an appealing prospect.
Luke: Enter SpaceShipped, a solo card game that brings the ideas of the classic roguelike FTL to the tabletop and does it surprisingly well.
In SpaceShipped, you are an interplanetary trader who’s looking to make the biggest score of their lives, selling some of the galaxy’s rarest crystals to the highest bidder… that is, assuming you can find them first. Space pirates are on your tale, looking to scoop them all up before you have the chance to make the sale. You’ll have to put together a sturdy ship, a strapping crew, a ship upgrade here or there, and enough credits to finish first.
Phil: There’s no time to lose!
Luke: Players start with some rudimentary equipment, just enough to get by, as well as a handful of credits. Each round, you’ll read through 2 different event cards, dictating what sorts of things you encounter that day. Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a shipyard that’s having a competitive sale or a band of marauders looking for trouble. Events will generally affect how much health you have, how many credits you have, and how you can buy or sell items that round.
Phil: I can see that becoming pretty random at times, although that fits with the roguelike theme I guess. Sometimes, the cards will just destroy you in the matter of a few turns, while other games will give you the chance to go the distance if you can predict the cards well enough.
Luke: You’ll definitely encounter an unlucky game here or there, but they are infrequent enough and quick enough where it’s not really a bother and ends up being funny in a “this is absurd” kind of way.
After your daily encounters, you’ll stop by the local shop, able to buy or sell whatever wares are available. Upgrades will give you power-ups, ships will increase your cargo hold and health, and crew members will give you extra actions or choices you can make.
Phil: Sounds like, for a trader, you’re doing a lot of buying and not much selling.
Luke: I was getting to that! Each round, the Marketplace will dictate the stock prices for the 4 goods in the game. You can either buy goods from the general supply or sell them for the indicated price. And because you can see what the market will look like in for the next couple of turns, you’ll want to plan what you’re buying or selling in hopes of earning the maximum profit.
Phil: Of course, assuming something bad doesn’t happen.
Luke: You have a limited cargo hold, meaning you can only carry so much with you at a time. Some events can make you lose cargo you’re carrying, and others will skip the market phase altogether. In other words, you have a good idea of how to work the marketplace up to a point.
Phil: Now where do the crystals come in?
Luke: They can be found in the marketplace as well, but come at the steep steep price of 20 credits. Once you’ve scrimped and saved enough for one, you’ll have to use one of your cargo hold slots to carry it until you get your second gem and win the game.
Phil: That is, unless those pesky pirates snatch them first.
Luke: After each round, cards will shift to the right, with an encounter moving to the marketplace, a market item turning into a resource, and a resource transforming into the first encounter of the next round. If a crystal ever becomes an encounter again, the pirates earn a crystal, tracked via a set-aside card. If the pirates can gather their crystals before you, you can’t find anymore in the entire galaxy and lose the game.
Phil: Any other ways you can bite the dust?
Luke: Your ship can blow up if you run out of health and shields, and you can’t win the game if you’re in debt, which can give the pirates just enough time to get a jump on you.
Phil: Seems like a lot of game to pack into 18 cards.
Luke: And that’s the rub, isn’t it? SpaceShipped does what it does very well considering its small card-pool, but I can’t help but feel like this game would be so much better with more cards. More encounters, more crew members, just a little bit more of everything.
Phil: I don’t know about that; sure, more stuff can be nice, but I think the quality over quantity approach here is well-founded and benefits the game design.
Luke: The big thing, for me, is that while the game can be hard and tense, there are certain play styles or strategies that I’ve found to spell out victory for me. I’m not going to say that this card or that effect is “broken”, as that devolves into a childish way of talking about game design in my opinion, but I will say that there are certain card combos or specific abilities that have consistently brought me positive results. And when a solo game becomes too easy, it can start to lose its charm.
Phil: So is this a no-go from us?
Luke: Not necessarily; I really like the game design and what the experience as a whole is. It’s smart, quick, and makes you think, even if luck can have a bigger factor in some of your games. I find myself bringing it out now and again, and the small size of the game makes it easy to carry with you onto planes or to a bar. And there are 4 mini-expansions on the way, promising new enemies to face, ships to pilot, and upgrades to install. I have high hopes for the future that can spell out for this little title.
Verdict: SpaceShipped provides a tense adventure in 18 cards and 18 minutes. The choices are interesting and the encounters spice up each game. It’s not always the most fair or exciting experience, but it does something no other game on the market has for me; replicate a roguelike in a satisfying manner. Give this one a chance, especially after the mini-expansions are released.