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Rating: 44 votes, 4.84 average.

Unveiling Battleship Galaxies

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 11:17 AM 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


Astroking112's Avatar
I see a lot of Heroscape in this. I mean, it even has hex spaces for crying out loud! I'm curious about this game, but I hope that the pieces are a little bit more all-purposed, so you don't need to keep getting more to be satisfied.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 12:42 PM by Astroking112 Astroking112 is online now
This is my first spying of the game, and looks really cool. The mini's look fantastic.

From what I can see of the hit chart also that looks very interesting and my brain can already start seeing all sorts of crazy things that can be done with it, in terms of weapons that have a tenancy to strike certain areas and/or 'critical hits' to certain locations.

Either way looking forward to early reviews and rules explanations before purchase, but I am pretty sure this one is going to dent my wallet again.

Wasn't I supposed to outgrow 'toys' as I get older? I don't think I ever did, just looking at the cool minis I was thinking, "yup, I'm still 12, except now I have an income."

Very similar feelings to what happened when I discovered heroscape. Of coarse, I'm buying all this for my son when he gets older. That is what I keep telling myself anyway
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 12:44 PM by Reapy Reapy is offline
truth's Avatar
@Myst, it is no more random than rolling dice in Heroscape. Small ships get hit something like 55% of the time, Medium ships get hit something like 65% of the time and large get hit something like 75% of the time. Those numbers aren't exact but you get the idea.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 12:45 PM by truth truth is offline
Good Pig's Avatar
This looks pretty sweet. I'll have to give this a closer look after work today.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 12:49 PM by Good Pig Good Pig is offline
Chardar's Avatar
What's the MSRP on this? I've been making some money baling hay and need something to blow it on.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 01:26 PM by Chardar Chardar is offline
Jim's Avatar
Originally Posted by Charder
What's the MSRP on this? I've been making some money baling hay and need something to blow it on.
$65, but the link to CoolStuff (at the end of Truth's article) has it for $43.99 plus shipping.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 01:48 PM by Jim Jim is offline
Any reason to get multiple sets? Does the game scale well? Are there unique/common ships?
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 02:08 PM by Eyetooth Eyetooth is offline
Myst9's Avatar
@Truth Thanks. I don't totally understand it, but it sounds like you guys have it figured out, soI should just trust what the developer has to say. lol Looks like a lot of fun!
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 02:12 PM by Myst9 Myst9 is offline
I personally always considered heroscape to be a hobby game, despite that fact that major retailer sold it. I get the feeling that if you like heroscape you'll like Battleship Galaxies.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 02:28 PM by Gant Gant is offline
lefton4ya's Avatar
When is the official release date? I know it will be available at gencon, but will it be available for Demo and/or Sale at Origins?
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 02:39 PM by lefton4ya lefton4ya is offline
Barbasol's Avatar
I actually wasn't too interested in this... but seeing the minis and hearing about the ball/joint connection for banking. Sign me up.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 03:13 PM by Barbasol Barbasol is offline
truth's Avatar
@Eyetooth: There are no commons. No real reason to get multiple sets.

@lefton4ya: I don't think it will make an appearance at Origins. I don't think Hasbro or Wizards has ever done Origins.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 03:19 PM by truth truth is offline
i_r_beej's Avatar
Wow! Battleship grows up! It looks VERY cool. Next pay-day I'm going to track down a copy. Thanks for the preview!
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 03:35 PM by i_r_beej i_r_beej is offline
i_r_beej's Avatar
Wow... just read through the review again. I'm excited! This sounds like a lot of fun.
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 03:43 PM by i_r_beej i_r_beej is offline
gamjuven's Avatar
If there are no commons, will all fleets look the same? I mean I understand some may have differences in that a squadron will be veteran status instead of rookie or tactic cards will be different but in essence will all fleets have the same types of ships in them? Will we not have fleets that can have a bunch of capital ships with no fighters, or all fighters and just one main ship, or variety like that? Along those lines, how will one distinguish ships that are of different status like veteran vs rookie?
Posted June 13th, 2011 at 04:15 PM by gamjuven gamjuven is offline
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