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Unveiling Battleship Galaxies

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 12:17 PM by truth
When I pick up the box the first thing I notice is the weight of it. Then I notice the construction of the box itself. It is one of those small but noticeable details that many premium hobby board game companies pride themselves in – the use of high quality materials. You see, these companies want you to recognize that they have put great care into every detail of their product, but this product isn’t coming from a premium hobby board game company. Battleship Galaxies is a Hasbro product. Then I flip the box over and see that in the back corner they have printed “A STRATEGY GAME BY CRAIG VAN NESS”. This is another departure for Hasbro. They never credit a designer on the game box, but they have here.

So the box hasn’t even been opened yet and already I can sense that I am holding something special in my hands. I tear open the cellophane like a seven year old tearing into a Christmas present. I lift the lid. That first glorious glimpse of the contents makes good on the promise that the box made.

The ship minis are the star of the show, so I will start there. The sculpts are very cool, they’ve all been given a wash to help bring out the detail and make them look good out of the gate, but I have visions of all the ways players are going to customize their ship fleets with custom paint jobs. They all get mounted to bases via ball and joint connection which means you can position the ships in a variety of ways making your fighters look like they are banking into a turn in formation.

The game board is well made and attractive, but the truly great tale to tell about the board is that the box comes with TWO of them, opening up the ability to make dual board scenarios. The game comes with a 48 page graphic novel. This is no Heroscape comic. The story is legitimately entertaining and goes a long way toward helping tell the story and set the tone for Battleship Galaxies. The ship cards and tactics cards are good quality and the art is fantastic and helps stimulate the imagination as you picture these battles playing out. The rulebook is well laid out and approachable. The attractively designed player screens even come pre-assembled and the discovery tiles come pre-punched out.

What Hasbro has done here is create a hobby board game. For those of you not familiar with the term – a hobby board game is a game that is not sold in big box stores like Wal-Mart. Instead they are distributed through hobby game shops. These games are often more complex in nature when compared to things like Sorry and Monopoly. Some of the best hobby board game publishers put a strong focus on production quality and Hasbro has clearly followed that example with Battleship Galaxies.

Many could argue, and I would be one of them, that at its heart Heroscape is a hobby board game. It got away with being successful in the mass market because the pieces are so darn cool that you can just use them as toys, and because someone at Hasbro had the genius idea to put a basic rule set in the game so that they could lower the age on the box. It is my guess that the type of success that Heroscape had with the ‘gamer’ audience, along with the influence of people like designer Craig Van Ness has spurred Hasbro to explore that kind of game further. The first result of that exploration is Battleship Galaxies. And Hasbro hasn’t shied away from this game’s identity as a hobby board game. They are distributing it through hobby channels and marketing it as a hobby board game. I for one am hoping that this venture works out for Hasbro. It brings a company with the resources to take chances into the hobby realm.

Battleship Galaxies could not have a much closer pedigree to Heroscape either. As mentioned already it is designed by Craig Van Ness, who designed Heroscape. Further design work was done by myself (Colby Dauch) and Jerry Hawthorne. We both worked on the Heroscape line as well. Finally it was edited by Chris Dupuis, who did the same kind of work for Heroscape. It is not a far stretch to say that fans of Heroscape should be interested in Battleship Galaxies. So let me tell you some more about it.

Battleship Galaxies holds no gameplay in common with the Battleship we all remember from childhood. You won’t spend the game randomly guessing grid coordinates only to find out you can never hit your buddy’s ships because he keeps moving them around on you. However there are some clever design elements in Galaxies that point toward its roots. Players start the game with their ships hidden behind a screen, mimicking the hidden ships element from the original Battleship. Players track damage with pegs on their ship’s base which harkens back the pegs used in the original. The good guys (the human race) are called the Intergalactic Space Navy (or ISN) and their battleship is clearly influenced by sea-going naval battleships, which are references to the game’s naval roots. Finally when players attack they roll a number die and a letter die. They then call out the roll results “B-5”. The players then reference a grid on the card of the ship that his being attacked to see if B-5 is a hit or a miss.

Galaxies is a game of space ship combat that pits the ISN (earth) against the Wretch (undead cyborg space pirates). Players build a Fleet of ships to send into combat as well as a deck of tactics cards to aid their fleet.

Ships come in 3 levels of experience - Rookie, Intermediate and Veteran. Each level is more costly than the last, but comes with more tricks up its experienced sleeves. There are two types of ships - Solo and Squadron and they come in 3 sizes - Small, Medium and Large. The ships have several values (Examples: Shield, Hull, Speed) and often come armed with a ‘Primary Weapon’ which is used when that ship attacks. Weapons have their own set of values (Examples: Range, Attacks, Damage).

Tactics Cards come in a variety of different types. Additional Weapons let you arm your ships to the teeth, Ship Upgrades let you add versatility to your ships, Heroes bring a variety of skills to your fleet, Events allow you to pull of all sorts of tactical maneuvers, and Sabotage cards let you hinder enemy ships.

A big part of Galaxies is how you manage your Energy. Each turn you will gain Energy and each turn you will need to spend that Energy to play your tactics cards, to launch ships, and to activate ships.

A sampling of other interesting gameplay bits includes the ability to load up your ships with smaller ships and then launch them out while in the thick of battle. The Wretch can board enemy ships making them vulnerable to some of their nastiest tricks. The ISN rely on smartly using your ships as a team to realize their full strength. The game comes with a solid set of scenarios that will serve as a launching point for fan creativity to take over and push the game in all sorts of fun directions.

If you’ve never bought a hobby game before, Galaxies is a great reason to start. If you don’t know where your local hobby game store is, or if you even have one, poke around an internet search engine and see if you can’t locate it. These game stores are usually the places that sell a bunch of Magic the Gathering cards, but if they don’t already carry hobby board games you can usually get them to order the ones you’re interested in. Alternately you can order from an online hobby game store. Here is a link to CoolStuffInc. A Site Sponsor who is carrying the game: CoolStuffInc.com
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Comments 92
Total Comments 92


Games Workshop is a perfect model for how to be successful...just look how good their retail stores are...uh...um.....ok nevermind.

Also calling them names doesn't help your cause.
Posted November 16th, 2011 at 09:22 AM by Onacara Onacara is offline
Johngee's Avatar
I rank Games Workshop right up there with some of my other favorite corporations like Hasborg, Generally Motors, and MicroSofty... if it wasn't for innovative entrepreneurs we all be down by the levy in our Chevy playing the newest Windows version of MONOPLY!
Posted November 17th, 2011 at 03:32 PM by Johngee Johngee is offline
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