“Fame, fame, fame, fame, FAME!!” – David Bowie
“SPACE TETRIS!” – Game Night crew
Designer: Cody Miller
Publisher: Far Off Games; Maldito Games
Artists: Cody Miller, Steve “Coolhand” Tyler, Pete Wocken
Time: 1-3 hours; more, if you have a lot of new players and choose a harder setup
The name of the game is “Fame”. You have to gather the most Fame by the end of the game.
You are a hopeful Space Captain, in charge of a small spaceship – a Tier One ship. You and your fellow Captains are flying around the solar system, gathering cargo via trade, salvage, trading, or plundering, and avoiding obstacles, on the way to Titles, Wealth, and the ultimate prize: universal Fame.
Your Tier One ship – your choice of 6 different ships – is customizeable: you can buy various missiles, engines and engine sizes, or guns. Beware, however:
Your ship only has a certain amount of ‘space’, represented by the cubed blocks in the picture above, and the layout of the spaces are unique to each ship; each piece of equipment is also shaped differently, making you have to think about where to place the equipment on your ship board.
In the above picture, my ship only has 10 spaces. I bought a 5-spaced Engine, which I only had room to fit in the center of the ship. That left 2 spaces to the left and 3 spaces to the right free, for cargo.
Game play has 3 stages: the Action stage, the Business stage, and the Update Status phase.
- Action Phase: this is the first phase. It can be further divided into Declare (you announce what you are going to do), Spend/Roll (spend Energy and/or roll dice to move, attack, mine, salvage, rescue Stranded ships, and/or explore), and Resolve (resolve any issues, including turn in Missions). Movement can take you into some serious obstacles – for example, Planetary Shields (which can mess your ship up big time, depending on dice rolls) and Debris Fields (which don’t hurt quite as much). Attacking – and Defending – have to be declared before taking the actions; Attack and Defend rolls are compared to see how much damage (if any) the defending ship takes. There are shields that you can purchase and equip for your ship.
- Business Phase: this is the second phase. Once this phase starts, the Action Phase ends. If you happen to make it to a planet, this phase is important; it’s skipped if you are anywhere else. The Business Phase lets you do such tasks as: recharge your Energy reserves, repair damage (very important… but you must have at least 1,000 currency to do it), rearrange your ship’s items (could be important if you need some new shields….), and buy Fame… for 5,000 currency.
- Update Status: the last phase. You refresh your special abilities, claim Fame, draw Titles, and/or arm markers.
Other actions available per turn are in the above card picture.
Fame Points (FP) are the main resource to gather to win the the game. There are apparently different FP amounts that you can play to (our group, since it was most of our first times, played to 5). Gathering FP is detailed in the above picture, but it really depends on your personal play style. You can be more aggressive and attack opponent ships, cross the line of the law and become an Outlaw, or mix and match styles. The choices are up to you!
Speaking of choices, the game board is full of them. Once you decide to explore, different tiles are revealed, making no two games totally alike. There are nebulae (pink-rimmed area, above) that you can fly through, at a potential cost of energy; outlaw, neutral, and lawful planets that you can land on… if you can get through their shields and don’t mind reputation hits; debris fields to navigate through, and so on…. none of which will be in the same place from game to game.
We had 5 players on Friday. I took the ship pictured earlier: “Puddle Jumper”. I also purchased a 5-space engine, allowing me to roll a d12 dice (yellow, above) instead of a d6 for movement, but didn’t have the currency to purchase weapons or shields. Since I was short on time, I started down the “Explorer” route; I wanted to find as many FP through Exploration Tokens as possible (Exploration Tokens are the “?” tokens in the picture of the game board). I got 1 FP from the 4 Exploration Tokens that I found. However, I picked up 3 FP through maybe the best dice-rolling I’ve had in any Game Night game. When moving through debris fields, asteroid fields, or any kind of hazard, plus on certain encounters, you have to roll a d20 die to determine you outcomes; if you roll a “natural 20” (the “20” pops up, with no modifications on dice rolls), you earn a FP (you can only earn one per turn). I got 3. Unfortunately, I left the game one FP short of the win.
I liked what little bit I got to play! It wasn’t as hard to pick up as it seemed when we were going through the rules, although I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under 10. The game requires a good bit of strategy, from arming your ship to deciding on whether or not to do certain actions. There appears to be a good bit of customization to the game, not counting the base game board. Luck is also a big part of the game – if your dice rolls are bad, you will be in a world of hurt, because damage-dealers hit hard. A potential turn-off for some is the game length: it can easily run over 2 hours, probably 3.
I need to play this game again, to see some of the features that I didn’t get a chance to use. From what I did experience, it is a very fun game.