Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games You Can Play Online

Over the last few months, my normal game groups have changed character quite a bit … because we can’t get together to play!  We have played around and discovered a number of ways to play card and board games “online”!  By “online”, we usually mean “over the Internet”, but we could mean with just a three-way call over the phone with audio only! Even “over the Internet” takes a on a few meanings because we discovered a number of ways to “play online”!  So, this Top 10 is organized by “how we play online” rather than by our favorites.  Below, we categorize the games into several ways to play.


Physical Games That Have Components That Need to Be Shared Beforehand

Requirements: These games have physical parts that need to passed out to all participants before the games begin online.


Baker Street Irregulars
How to Play? Over Discord/Zoom (or multi-way phone call) with audio (video helps, but not required)
Video Feed? Not required, but helps non-verbal communication
Requirements? Physical Copies of the book must be passed out (the base game comes with 4 books, so you can share those): Each player must have exactly one book to play
Chat Necessary? Will be useful for Episode 2, otherwise not necessary

This is a fantastic game in the Sherlock Holmes universe that we reviewed very recently here and here!

The Crusoe Crew!

Crusoe Crew
How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom (or multi-way phone call) with audio (video helps, but not required)
Video feed? Not required, but helps non-verbal communication
Requirements? Physical Copies of the book must be passed out (the base game comes with 4 books, so you can share those): Each player must have exactly one book to play
Chat Necessary?  Not necessary

This game started the Cooperative Graphic Adventure game, and to be honest, this game has gotten better the more we have played it.  We have reviewed it here and here, and this game made our Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2019 as well!

Games over BoardGameArena

Requirements: Someone must have a BoardGameArena ( account to invite everyone to play

Box front of the English first edition of Hanabi.
How To Play? Inside your browser (
Video feed? Not required, but helps
Requirements?  One player must have paid to have a board game arena account.  That person can invite others to play.
Chat Necessary? Either Zoom/Discord or chat for communications can be useful, but not required.  Since this game is all about “limited communication”, it may make sense to ONLY use the browser (each play has his own browser) and have no external comms.

Games You Can Play Over Tabletop Simulator

Requirements: Someone must have bought a Tabletop Simulator License (played over Steam).  That player must share their screen with everyone over Zoom/Discord. That player ends up doing all the maintenance to run the game in Tabletop Simulator while the other players talk over Discord/Zoom (and communicate what to do via Discord/Zoom).

To get steam, go the  From there, you can get Tabletop Simulator.

Note: These games (below) CAN ALSO BE PLAYED WITH PHYSICAL COPIES OF THE GAME! Just One player just has to share a copy of the board/cards over a  feed (like he would be “sharing the screen” of Tabletop Simulator over Zoom/Discord). To do this streaming, you may have to be clever to stream the video over a different stream than your discord/Zoom set-up: it depends on your set-up/equipment. Similarly, the person with the physical copy will have to do all the maintenance of the game over the stream while the others tell him what to do.

Just One, Repos Production, 2018 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)
Just One
How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom
Video feed? Required
Requirements? See below
Chat? Can be Essential: depends on how you play

There are two ways to play.  In both ways, the beginning plays the same: The guessing player looks away as the other players look at the card/word over video.  The players then think of Just One word as an answer.  From here, how you play changes:

  1. If you are playing completely electronically,  then, chat is essential: when people write their  “Just One” word, they write them in chat! The guessing player doesn’t look a chat until players have cleaned up the chat and written ONLY the non-matching words.
  2.  You can write answers on paper, chalk boards, etc. if you have multiple
    copies of the game, those players can use the built-in pens/boards.  Then, share answers (as appropriate) just like Just One in person!

There’s almost no maintenance if you are the player running the game: the player with the physical copy just shows a card to the video feed every so often.

(If you want to be very clever, you could play this only via texting, where you text clues and answers exclusively over your phones.)

Yggdrasil, Ludonaute, 2018 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom
Video feed? Required
Requirements? Share video over Discord/Zoom
Chat? Helpful, not required if you have audio

This game works up to 6 players: we have played 4 in chat and it worked extremely well. The amount of maintenance by the player “running” the game wasn’t too bad.  This game made our Top 10 Cooperative Games Off The Beaten Path some time ago!

Box art for Burgle Bros.

Burgle Brothers
How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom
Video feed? Required
Requirements? Share video over Discord/Zoom
Chat? Helpful, not required if you have audio

The game only plays up to 4: we have played 5 in chat and it worked decently (one person was the “the consultant” and “the cheerleader” and each other player took the role of character). The amount of maintenance by the player “running” the game isn’t too bad.

Games You Can Play Over the Internet Where You Have a Physical Copy

Requirements: At least one player must have a physical copy of the game (multiple copies among other players helps).
Legacy of Dragonholt, Fantasy Flight Games, 2017 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Legacy of Dragonholt

How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom or possibly multi-way phone call
Video feed? Very, very nice to have, you strictly only need audio
Requirements? A glass of water: there will be a lot of reading!
Chat? Can be very useful for sharing info, but not required

This is an adventure game with a lot of text! This game works because it’s mostly reading from the books, and each player maintains their own state (each character in the game will actually be maintaining quite a bit of information for the character they play). You will get sick of hearing the same person read the books over and over, but multiple copies of the game can help alleviate that.  This game made our Top 10 Cooperative Storytelling/Storybook Games!

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, Z-Man Games, 2018 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger
How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom or possibly multi-way phone call
Video feed? Very, very nice to have, you strictly only need audio
Requirements? A glass of water: there will be a lot of reading!
Chat? Can be very useful for sharing info, but not required

Like Legacy of Dragonholt, this is an adventure game with lots of text, but much simpler. We played with my friend’s niece for her birthday!  It worked really well because we all picked up a copy of the game (it’s like $25 at Target) and that way we could all read text.  This is a fun, silly choose your own adventure game.  See the Top 10 Cooperative Storytelling/Storybook Game here!

Adventure Games: The Dungeon, KOSMOS, 2019 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Adventure Games: The Dungeo
How To Play? Over Discord/Zoom
Video feed? Required to see the board
Requirements? A glass of water: there will be a lot of reading!
Chat? Required

This is the only game I haven’t played online (I have played it with friends before the Pandemic): my friends assume me this works well over the Internet as well.  I love this game!  It made my number 2 spot on my Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2019!
This is an adventure game that’s very reminiscent of point-and-click adventure games of early days.  There’s a lot of reading, and you need to share the share of board (either via Video preferred, some other way).

Games on IPAD/Computer

Requirements: Everyone must have a digital copy of the game on their own device.

The cover art for the Enhanced Edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse, which will be released at Gen Con 2012!

Sentinels of the Multiverse
How To Play? Over your device
Video feed? Nice to have, audio is all you really need for comms.
Requirements? iPad, iPhone, or Android device.
Chat? Can be very useful for sharing info, but not required

So, all players need to buy the game from Handelabra (it’s a fantastic version of the game).   Then, everyone plays over the Internet.  The nice thing about the game is that each player can be on different kinds of devices: iOS (Apple) iPhone or iPad, or Android device AND THEY STILL WORK TOGETHER!!!   Handelabra has done a fantastic job on this app, and a fantastic job so people can play together on their own devices.

The only thing to look out for: Make sure everyone has the “same set of Heroes/Villains”: there is the base game, and then there are expansions (“Season 1” and “Season 2).  It’s better if everyone has everything, but there is some good play in the base game if you want to give it a try.

This game made the Top Spot of my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Board and Card Games!  I still love the physical game, but the app really does make the maintenance easier (and gets rid of the fiddliness that some players don’t like).



A Review of Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars. Part II: Final Thoughts

Graphic Novel Adventures!

We did Part I of the review here (with unboxing, solo rules, and first impressions).  What do we think of it now that we’ve played through it?

This summarizes the game: it was fun!

This picture is a summary of the review: “It was fun!”  You can even see little scratch marks of some of the math we had to do in the game!


Package up the books (with comic book bags and boards) so I can deliver them to my friends

In order to get a full review done, we played all 4 adventures in the book with 4 of us.  In this age of Social Distancing, I had to physically pass out the books to my friends at work.  Then, on game night, we would each have our own little book to play with.  Nominally, this is how the game plays anyways (each player has their own book), but normally you play together in the same room.  Not us!  We ended up playing over Discord with only the audio.  And you know what, it worked really well!

Playing over Discord … I was Wiggins! 

The only thing this is shared among all players was the Map of London: We ended up putting that up in Discord. Other than that, each player had their own notes and their own book!


To play, we all chatted over Discord, taking notes, and followed along in the same panels.  Sometimes, a player would do something only they could do! For example, my character Wiggins was observant and good at noticing things, so he would occasionally go off BY HIMSELF, take a little side-quest for just a few panels.  The rest of the players would wait (never more than a minute) for him to get back .. when he got back, these little side-quests (typically) gave much-needed clues!


Some notes, if you can read them, there might be some spoilers

The Four Adventures


There are four Adventures in the book.  We have played through all four as a 4-Player group (and I played the first adventure solo before we played as a group).

  • Adventure 1: Simple mystery: shows how the game works, but it has enough puzzles to be fun. About 75 minutes?
  • Adventure 2: This adventure was .. different.  It was fun, but there was more math than we expected.  About 90-120 minutes?
  • Adventure 3: ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!  This adventure is the reason to get the game! It was an interesting, well-written mystery that had us on the edge of our feet the entire time.  120 minutes.
  • Adventure 4: Fun clean up, although there was one poorly expressed warning that really confused us and soured our final experience (see below). About 90 minutes.

Overall, there’s about 6 hours of content in the books.  To be clear, once you’ve played an adventure, you probably can’t play it again (unless you wait a few years, hopefully forgetting the mystery).  The game (especially Adventure 2) almost feels like an Escape Room game, where players cooperatively interact solving lots of puzzles.

The graphics are cute, and they work really well.



We mentioned in another review of a very closely related game (Crusoe Crew: See review here) that there were binding issues: pages would fall OUT after just a few plays!

Luckily, the binding was NOT a problem this time! We played 6 hours with these books, turning pages quickly, going to different parts of the book, and generally flipping a lot of pages.  None of the books had any problems: the bindings are fine.

Some Notes

If you make it to the last adventure, we have a suggestion.  If you end up getting the game, read this BEFORE you do the very last adventure.  There was something poorly expressed which kind of soured our very last adventure.

Skip this and go the conclusion to avoid spoilers!

Warning! Don’t read this unless you are playing the last adventure!

Adventure 4: That sentence with the warning is poorly expressed, it should probably read:

Warning, only panel numbers with marked sewer panels are considered valid numbers!

The poorly worded sentence implies that only sewer panels WITH NUMBERS RIGHT ON THEM are valid, and that’s not true!  After we went through the last Adventure, we were stuck (and frustrated) until we realized that the warning in the book is poorly expressed.  We figured it out when we realized that the last Adventure is 1 out of 4 stars difficulty, so we were making it too complicated!   It had to be the simple answer! And it was!


This summarizes the game: it was fun!

Sara’s picture of her character from the game summarizes it all: this game was fun! It worked VERY WELL over the internet (over Discord), and we were able to play 6 hours of really fun Escape Room type game/puzzles.    Adventure 3 of the game was worth the price of the game alone (It was FANTASTIC), but the other 3 adventures were still good and worth playing.

If you can’t pass the booklets of the game out (because you all live in different cities), it’s easy for each player to buy their own copy of the game and still play remotely.

Now that I am done with the game, I will be passing it on to my friend Sam, who will playing it with his family in their house.

Final thought: This is probably the cooperative game that has played BEST over the Internet.

Top 10 Cooperative Dice Games

What Will Become of Scotland's Moors?

It turns out me and my family have been cursed by the Sea Hag of the Scottish moors, so we can’t roll well on dice.  If you want to make money on this, you should bet against me in Vegas.   I have noticed, recently, that I have been doing better at dice games lately (or perhaps that’s part of the curse?), so perhaps the curse is fading ?  Either way, I have been enjoying a lot of cooperative dice games lately: these are cooperative games where dice are the major component of the game.  (Maybe this is why the curse has lessened, I am playing cooperative dice games WITH MY FRIENDS rather than against them?)

Here’s my top 10 fully cooperative dice games.

10. Pulp Detective

Box cover

Plays Solo?  Yes.  This is 1 or 2-Player game only.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below), but they are a little generic.
Real-time? No

Save up for that final boss…

The dice are the driving force to the game as you roll and re-roll the dice every turn.

This is a small cooperative dice game which has a lot of play for such a little box.   You are solving one of the “mysteries” by rolling dice and placing cards.  My favorite part of the game is the the card placement:  the physical way that you play cards (next to previous cards) can trigger special things.  This is a very small game, but I liked it.

Pulp Detective on Tabletopia

9. Pandemic: Rapid Response

Pandemic: Rapid Response Cover

Plays Solo?  No.  I have played solo my playing two positions, but it doesn’t work well.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below) and they are colorful!
Real-time? Yes

Spectacular dice

This is real-time dice game, which I usually don’t like too much, but this one is fun and the components really are nice.

Portion of the game board

Players move around the globe (see track on the outside), working together on a “rapid response” to the Pandemic: this is a real-time game that puts the “rapid” in Rapid Response.   This is available at Target and has a mass-market feel, but the dice are pretty awesome.

8. The Masters’ Trials: Wrath of Magmaroth

The Masters' Trials: Wrath of Magmaroth - Cover

Plays Solo?  Yes.  By default, plays co-op 2-4, with some mods for solo play (it works well solo).
Custom Dice? No.  Just some colorful plain 6-sided with pips.
Real-time? No

My board set up

This is a bargain bin find. I got this for pretty cheap (and it seems to be cheap everywhere I look).  The thing is: I liked it.  It played well solo.  The dice crafting idea is interesting, but it’s more implemented “abstractly” by changing cards, rather than actually changing the actual physical dice (like you would do in Dice City).

2 player coop!

I think the reason this game didn’t do better is that there isn’t a lot of replayability: there’s like one boss at the end.  But, the art is great and I had fun!

7. Elder Sign

Front Cover, English Edition, Actual production copy, High Quality

Plays Solo?  Yes.  Plays up to 6!
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below). Not super colorful dice.
Real-time? No

Elder Sign : make sure the Ancient One is sealed away! – The ...

Players take the roll of character(s), and roll dice at Locations to “explore” said Location at the museum.  If you successfully explore a Location, you gather resources … if you fail, evil things happen to you!  You gather resources over time,  hoping to collect what you need to to defeat a big Cthulu type monster.  There’s a lot of different monsters and a lot of different characters the players can choose from (and tons of expansions). It’s really just a dice rolling game, but it’s quite thematic. 

Our game night on 02-10-2012.

I think I would like this game more, but it’s quite lucky.  There’s some dice mitigation (using spells and items) but they get used up pretty quickly.  I sometimes get very frustrated when the dice just do not go my way.  You can lose very easily if you have a bad night, but yet, I still do like it a lot.  It’s so thematic and pretty.

This game made my Top 10 Cooperative Fantasy Flight Games.

6. Kung Fu Panda: The Board Game

Kung Fu Panda: The Board Game, Modiphius Entertainment, 2019 — front cover

Plays Solo?  No: there are no solo rules.  I have played solo by playing two characters and doubling the time limits.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below). Not super colorful dice.
Real-time? Yes


This game centers on dice because you are constantly rolling and re-rolling your dice in real-time as you explore the universe of Kung Fu Panda.

This game alternates between #5 and #6 for me.  If I want a brainless real-time game, #5 (see next entry) is a better game.  But if I want a few more choices (but have to remember some more stuff), Kung Fu Panda is a better choice.Four Player board render

The production on this game is really great.  There are tons tiles to explore, and TONS of miniatures! Each play has special powers (playing one of the characters from the movie), and the game really embraces the Kung Fu Panda Universe.


Here’s the thing: there’s a lot to remember in this game for a real-time game!!!   But this gives the game has a real nice decision space (granted, you have to make those decisions in real-time).  So, it’s a trade-off: do you want a real-time dice game with exploration that’s easy?  … then see Entry #5 (below).  Do you want a real-time dice game with exploration with a little more meat?  .. then Kung Fu Panda is for you.

5. Escape! The Curse of the Temple

Front Of Box

Plays Solo?  No.  Too easy to get stuck if you play alone!
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below). Not super colorful dice.
Real-time? Yes

Close up of every side of the die

This game centers on dice because you are constantly rolling and re-rolling your dice in real-time as you explore the temple.

This is a dumb, silly, real-time game exploring a temple.  There’s a not a lot to teach or to remember to play: you can usually just jump right into the game.  Of all the games on this list, this is probably the easiest to explain and play.

Essen 2012 - Escape on display.

Each player has some dice, and they have to roll certain combos to find things and explore.  Sometimes, your dice get locked (the black side) and you have to unlock it (with the gold side).  In the worst case, you have your friend unlock your dice when ALL of yours get unlock!   This is why you need multiple players!!!  It’s too easy to get completely locked!!

Players explore trying to find their way out together.  This is the only game I don’t actually have because a lot of my friends already have it!  (And it’s also hard to get right now?)  A silly, real-time roll-as-much-as-you-like same for multiple people.

4. Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War


Plays Solo?  No.  You might be able to if you take 2 positions.
Custom Dice? Yes!  The faces have custom sides (see below)
Real-time? No


This is a fun game where players roll dice and try to stop Thanos from getting all the Infinity stones!  The components are pretty cool, with custom dice, cool cards, and a Thanos in the middle changing where he looks!

The final two, I had 11 dice to roll with tokens, tripped two enemies... it was great... poor Thanos, not this time

Players role dice to recruit new heroes (and activate abilities) to help them defeat Villains.  The players win if they defeat 7 Villains before Thanos collects all the Infinity Stones (or they die, or too many heroes die).  It’s a fun game, if a bit lucky.

If you don’t like the Thanos theme, this has been rethemed for Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising (in a Harry Potter universe with Voldemort as the big bad) or Dark Side: Rising (in a Star Wars Universe: not available in the USA?).

This game made my Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2018 and my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Games.

3. Set A Watch

Plays Solo?  … yes.  Sorta.  It’s not great, because you have to play 4 characters, but it works well enough.
Custom Dice? Not really: You have standard colored 6 and 8-sided dice.  My version has numbers on all dice faces (rather than the pips below).
Real-time? No


This game has worked shockingly well in many different types of gaming groups: My heavy, medium, and light gaming groups have all embraced and enjoyed the game.  Players each take the roll of adventurers trying to travel back to the city: each round, one adventurer stays back tending the campfire, and the rest protect the camp by taking out monsters in the night.  Dice can be used directly to defeat monsters (by beating the HP value of the monster) or you can just a die to activate special powers!  Each player has 3 special powers!   Players work together really well, strategizing how to defeat all the monsters with the dice and player powers.

The reason I think this game works so well: your dice can be used for multiple things! Either: One of three powers, or the actual number rolled.  Players feel engaged as they make decisions.

This game also made my Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2019.

2. Batman: The Animated Series–Gotham City Under Siege

Plays Solo? Yes, rules included, and it plays well  (you play two characters)
Custom Dice? No. They are kind of small, plain 6 sided dice, but they are pretty colors
Real-time? No

Full Game

Those of you paying attention will notice that Batman has (ironically) risen above Thanos Rising (number 4 previously on this list).   In my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Board and Card Games, Thanos Rising is above Batman in the rankings.  What’s changed?   Very simply, Batman allows solo play and it gets to the table more so I have really been enjoying.   It’s a lighter game, but it seems like you can “usually” do stuff with the dice you roll.

Players take on the roll of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, or the Commissioner and roll dice fighting crime.   You assign dice to abilities on your card, which allow you to do special things.  Really fun, if a little lucky.

This game also made my Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2018  and my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero games.

1. Reckoners

Reckoners Box Cover Front

Plays Solo? Yes, rules included, and it plays well
Custom Dice? Yes! The nicest dice of any game on this list!
Real-time? No

The dice: this is really just a Yahtzee game, but the dice are SO nice!

I picked this up because it was a SuperHero game, but I was skeptical it would be good.  It was fantastic!

There was no question what game would be number 1 on my cooperative dice games list.  This game is fun, it’s full of interesting decisions, and the components are stellar: the best on this list.  But the main reason this is number 1: all your dice do something!  A lot of dice game require a threshold (“roll over 4”), roll an exact number (“roll a 1 to activate”), or have some dice that do nothing.  Every single side of the dice will do something good for you!  You roll your dice a few times, keeping what you want and rerolling the others (ala Yatzee!).  You may not get exactly what you want, but every dice face will give you something GOOD the in the game.  Even if it’s not relevant, you can use a “unused” face for movement (to move around the city).  So, every turn, you do good: literally.

The Stellar components of the Reckoners!

This game surprised how good it was.  The gameplay was rich, the components amazing, and a lot of depth for a game based on rolling dice.  This is easily by favorite cooperative dice game!

This was my top game of 2018! Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games of 2018  and it was very high on my Top 10 Cooperative Superhero Games!

A Review of Solar Storm: Part I. Unboxing, Solo Rules, and First Impressions

Solar Storm! Straight out of the Kickstarter bag!

Solar Storm was a Kickstarter that fulfilled in October 2019.  It promised fulfillment in May 2020.  Mine arrived just a day or two ago (June 30th, 2020), so they were a little late. In a COVID 19 world, that’s not bad.  Honestly, if a Kickstarter delivers within a month of its promised date, I call that a win.

Solar Storm is a cooperative game where players work together to fix their spaceship! Players must divert power to the core (“More power, Captain!”) to power the engines so they can escape the gravity of the massive star (see cover).  It plays 1-4 Players in about 45 minutes. There are solo player rules (but see below).


My Kickstarter copy of the game (note the little K in the corner … that means I got extra stuff)

I was a little disappointed because I had a ding in my box (see, just over the designer’s name?), but in general the box arrived in good shape.

Back of the box

The back of the box shows the components, has readable text, and demonstrates what the game looks set-up.  This may be one of the better back of boxes I have seen: If I saw this in the store, I would be impressed and more likely to buy it!


The box is smaller than I expected: this is a smaller game.  It’s a little bit bigger than Space Hulk: Death Angel (but not much).  I don’t know if Space Hulk: Death Angel has recently entered my consciousness (it was in my Top 10 Cooperative Fantasy Flight Games), but Solar Storm invokes more than a few comparisons to Solar Storm (see Conclusion below).

The components are nice: the space meeples are slightly silly, but I like them.

Most of the game, however, is cards.   The cards are very nice linen-coated.

Back of the Location cards. Linen finished!

The main cards are resources (4 different type: red, green blue, purple, and wild for fixing the ship), Locations (the ship itself), and Damage (Bad News! cards).

The Locations look real nice!  And you can read the special power on the Location.


Overall, the components look nice and very readable (although the Resources are a little generic, but they are very clear).



The rulebook is small (because it has to fit in a small box).  I personally REALLY don’t like black backgrounds and white/light text for rulebooks!  It’s harder to read and the black tends to “smear” over time  (so you see smears in the rulebook).  It’s worsened by the tiny font.   Black background, tiny font: I am not a fan of these choices.  I understand why: it’s a game with  a space theme.


But, the rulebook is pretty good besides those choices.  The back of the rulebook is used for a very good summary of the game (see above).  There are also summary cards for each player.

Shows the Components

The first few pages do a very good job of enumerating all the components in the game with corresponding pictures.  This makes it MUCH easier to unbox and figure out what all the components are (“Wait, what are the Rooms?  Oh ya …”).  I was very pleased with this.

What does the game look like Set-up

What does the game look like when set-up?  See above! A very good picture.  Makes it MUCH easier to set-up the game.


You”ll notice in my pictures, I have to “hold” the rulebook open to see it.  This is another pet peeve of mine: I want a rulebook to lay flat on the table so I can consult it while learning the game.

Despite breaking 3 of my cardinal rules of rulebooks (tiny fonts, black background/white text, won’t lay flat), the rulebook was good.  I was able to learn the rules fairly quickly.  If you are like me, you’ll probably need your glasses (for the tiny font), something to hold the rulebook down (because it doesn’t lay flat), and bright light (for the black/white contrast).  Caveat Emptor, but the rulebook was good despite those issues.


“Wait, that picture shows the rulebook laying flat!  Are you exaggerating Rich?”  Maybe a little: I had to “rough up” my rulebook (bend it back) a little to force it more flat (but I hate to do that: I am one of those people who tries to keep his games in pristine condition).   I’ll be quiet about that now.

Solo Rules

A Solo Game (with 2 players) set-up!

The game comes with solo rules (Ya, Saunders’ Law!) .. but you play with 3 characters.  After playing a few times, I see why it’s the “endorsed” solo mode: the interaction between the 3 characters creates some interesting interplay!  But, it was easier to learn playing two characters like a 2-Player game.  Once you know the rules, the solo game is better with 3 characters, but I suggest just playing 2 characters your first time to get the feel.

Two Players start the game in the Power Core

Gameplay and First Impressions

A losing first game!

My first game: I lost!  But I had fun.  There’s a lot going in this game.

Like Pandemic, you have a certain number of actions per turn, so each player can perform up to three things.  I love that if you DON’T use all your actions, you can save them up with the action tokens for a later turn!  Very strategic!

A typically turn is (a) moving (b) discarding cards to “fix” a Location (you have to match the cards at the Location) and (c) “hopefully” diverting power.  You need to divert power from all 8 Locations to win the game.  You divert Power by discarding 3 Matching resources, if you have them.

There’s a bunch of reasons I lost my first game:

  1. I forget to scavenge!  As an action, you can roll a die and try to get MORE resources (you tend to run out quickly in this game)
  2. I forgot I could save my actions!  Rather than “waste” an action doing something kinda ok, I could saved an action for the next turn to do much better!
  3. I forget to use the special actions of the spaces! (Each Location has a special action you can ONLY use if the space is completely fixed).

Learn from my failures.  There’s more to the game than that, but that’s the essentials.

Lost Opportunities and Worries


So, after playing a few times, I am worried the game may get a little samey.  The base game ONLY has the 8 Locations (you always need the Power Core in the middle) with the same 8 special actions.  I think just a few more Locations (or even better, flip the Locations and add a different Location with a different power on the opposite side) would have made a lot of difference!  As a Kickstarter, I got 9 extra Locations which will help me elongate the life of the game.  But I think those should have been standard.  Having said that, the game still has lots of life (especially since you can simply get rid of more wild resource cards to make the game harder).  I feel this is a legitimate concern to be aware of.  It’s a cool, small game which doesn’t cost too much, so maybe this isn’t a big deal.

A more “esoteric” comment, and this may be just me: I wished this game had “Special Player Powers”.  The game doesn’t have these roles, but what I wanted was  play the Junk Scavenger, or the Captain, or the Transporter Chief, or the Engineer, each with their own special ability.  This isn’t in the game , but how cool would it have been:

  • The Junk Scavenger: Can adjust scavenge rolls by +1 or -1 (almost always want +1, but in the end game, you may want -1 so you don’t take ALL the resources!)
  • The Captain: Can take 4 actions per turn
  • The Engineer: Can use any resource to repair anything (once per turn), maybe for an extra action?
  • The Transporter Chief: Can “teleport” any resource he has to anyone, or vice versa, or can move himself or someone else for one action (maybe if he’s in the Transporter room)

Don’t get me wrong, this is a really sharp, tight little co-op! Special abilities like this (above)  would require major playtesting, and more art, and maybe unbalance the game.  I love the art in the game: imagine how cool it would have been to have a character sheet with a gruff looking Junk Scavenger?  I think it might have helped immersion just a little more.


A Winning Second game!

In the end, this was a tight little cooperative game.  It I had to describe it to someone, I would describe it as Pandemic meets Space Hulk: Death Angel.  It’s like Pandemic because you have to “fix the ship” when it gets hit by damage (not unlike healing cities in Pandemic), and it has that “Bad News” cards that damage the world as well.    Also, every player has action points.  However, a lot of this game also reminds me of Space Hulk: Death Angel: the art, the theme, the size, the scale, the limited randomness.

In the end, I liked this game.  It has lots of interesting decisions and a surprising amount of depth considering how small it is.  My only worry is the game might get a little “samey” because the powers of the Locations don’t change (there’s exactly 9 Locations so they are always the same) unless you get the expansion (the Kickstarter version comes with more Locations to keep the variety up).

I recommended this to my friend Josh: I think he and his son Jackson would really enjoy this game.  It’s easy to learn, but short enough (30-45 minutes) that the younger Jackson will stay involved the whole time.