Author Topic: Galactic Strike Force Impressions  (Read 1923 times)

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Offline Nefaro

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Galactic Strike Force Impressions
« on: August 05, 2014, 10:53:10 AM »
Played a game of Galactic Strike Force.  Wanted to give some initial impressions.

It's enjoyable although the theme doesn't come through as strong as it does in Sentinels.  Neither does the individuality of each player deck.  It's also rather fiddly.  Not with hordes of tokens to herd, but with lots of triggered text you must search through in every phase of the turn.  Fortunately that's made easier with clearly marked and easily recognizable icons pertaining to the phase in question which is something other games could often do better.  This game might be a tough sell for many as a group game since there is much card searching every phase and even after that you must deliberate on which order you want to resolve them.  So it didn't seem to "flow" very quickly and could possibly test the patience of some.  Fortunately it's a Co-Op game so it can be played Solitaire!

The game mechanics are rather unusual.  It has some deck-building to it, but your 'purchased' cards are placed directly on the bottom of your draw deck, as are your base one-shot ship specific "Boost" cards that don't stay in play.  So you don't normally shuffle your draw deck unless specifically directed by a card effect.  This means that your starter cards all cycle through your deck in the same order and you can plan ahead if your memory is good.  You also play with your deck face-up so you can see the next card on it's way.

The large Sector cards, and their three default "Station" decks are what makes this game unusual.  Each one starts with five cards, the topmost face-up.  You can buy Tech and Boost cards from the top of the stack and put them on the bottom of your draw deck.  This is the basis of the deck-building side of the game.  It is also how the AI player pulls it's nasty abilities on you.  Whenever Opposition ships are left unengaged in one of your game's three sectors they flip over one of these cards for each that gets through.  The back side of these Station cards have an Opposition (aka nasty) effect that will take place.  If as many Opposition ships get through as there are Station decks in that sector, it is considered Overrun and the big sector card is flipped over.  It generally provides an extra bad event every turn or some kind of penalty when this happens. 

Combat is pretty simple.  Each ship has Weaponry and Shield values, tracked by tokens.  When the player engages, their Weaponry is compared to the Opposition ships's Shield value and any extra is taken as "Energy" hits which is an all-encompassing term for both Weaponry and Shield tokens.  The hits are taken off in a specific order.  First are the shield Tech add-ons, then the ship cards base shield tokens, then the same down the Weaponry line.  The Opposition ship's attack is likewise compared to the player's and applied.  Once all Energy tokens are removed from a ship (both Weaponry and Shield) then the ship is defeated.  Nothing terribly fancy here, although there will be lots of effects and tech items that can adjust these values during the game.

The opposition flag ship may come into play when the specific trigger on it's setup card is achieved.  The opposition also has Mission cards that tend to be played into the Sectors during play.  This is a vector for the specific invader's flavor to be portrayed other than it's ship cards' effects.

You win by either eliminating the enemy Flagship or destroying all opposing ships in all sectors.  You lose if all player ships are "Grounded" (defeated).  If a player is Grounded, but there are other players who remain, then the Grounded player flips his ship card to the backside and it has three actions of which one can still be chosen per turn even after defeat.  This will be recognizable to those who've played Sentinels of the Multiverse.

While I've seen some who say they like the artwork in the game, most of it looks as if it was computer generated artwork from a 90s game.  The art for the characters is real art from hand of whomever did Sentinels, but the ships and much of the tech art is some pretty generic and bland stuff.  I like games that are not only fun but also look good and this one isn't so hot on the latter part.  Fortunately the large Sector cards, with their planets & suns, are fine.  Still, I was a bit sad to see the mediocre 'art' for the ships and equipment, which are the most numerous.  Theme is a big deal in tabletop games like this and the component art is a valuable way of conveying it.

The rulebook could certainly use more clarifications about a few things.  I found myself reading through the gameplay example boxes to try to figure out exactly how a few rules are supposed to work due to their poor clarification in the rules.  That's not a good sign because I don't need to read rules examples like that in games with well written rules.

My first game was enjoyable, but I also won without too much of a struggle.  I'm still curious as to how other games could go, and it also has an extra Elite option to provide more of a challenge if that proves to be a regular issue. 

The jury is still out on this one, but I wanted to give some initial impressions.  I've only played one game thus far so keep that in mind.