(Stronghold Games 2012)
Cooperative games have become somewhat commonplace in the last few years. There’s been many variations on the mechanic, which has included a traitor mechanic seen in The Resistance, Shadows Over Camelot, and Battlestar Galactica, to fully cooperative games such as Pandemic and Arkham Horror. With Space Cadets however, the Engelstein family (Geoff, Brian, and Sydney) have attempted to focus on the “cooperation” aspect, creating a game where each individual’s role is important, yet completely different from the next player’s role. It’s an intriguing idea, and what better setting than a crew on an interstellar spaceship?
(Although there are advanced rules, and corresponding features on certain station boards for these advanced rules, I will just be going over the basic setup and rules explanation for Space Cadets.)
During Space Cadets, players will take on different roles in charge of various stations on an interstellar space academy ship. There are many missions that can be played out, and an adjusting difficulty level for each. The rulebook will show how a certain mission should be setup, and will look something like this:
The player map is made up of grid-based spaces and various map tiles that will be randomly laid out throughout the game. Your team of Cadets are represented by a ship on the player map, and will be used to move to different sectors and sections of the map throughout the game. Also, Crystal and Enemy cards will randomly be drawn from their corresponding decks and placed face down on blank areas on the table that represent unexplored map tiles. Once these tiles have been revealed by in-game effects, a new map tile will be added to the player map, and then the enemy and crystal token will be physically added onto the map to represent their locations. Their cards will be placed to the side, and in regards to enemy ships, reference the attributes of that particular ship. To win the game, certain mission objectives must be completed as well as a successful final Jump, before the ship is destroyed.
To better understand Space Cadets, let’s first go over the various phases of the game and what they entail. Then we can discuss how each player role takes effect within those phases. Each turn is made of 9 phases, as shown on the Captain’s Log.
Some phases (1, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9) are timed phases and will use a sand timer. These timed phases are represented by a white outline around the phase. Other phases (2, 4, and 7) are not timed, and are therefore represented by a red outline around the particular phase.
The 9 phases are as follows:
1.) Discuss & Distribute Energy Phase:
All players will have 3 minutes to discuss and plan for their turn. The player in control of Engineering will also distribute Energy to the stations depending on how the tiles were played during the previous Action Phase.
2.) Preparation Phase:
There is no time limit to this phase, and all that is really done here is that players will get their stations ready for the following phase 3, Action Phase. Once all players are ready, the Captain will start the timer for Phase 3.
3.) Action Phase:
The Helm, Sensor, Shield, Weapons, and Engineering stations will take their main actions during this phase. In addition, if a Core Breach is in effect, players must simultaneously try and repair the breach. If the breach has not been prepared by the end of the 30 second phase, the ship implodes and the game is over.
4.) Resolution Phase:
Shield, Helm, and Sensor stations will (in order) resolve their main actions from Phase 3 during this time. There is no time limit to the Resolution Phase.
5.) Tractor Beam Phase:
The player in charge of the Tractor Beam will have 30 seconds to attempt to tractor an object, or if the player decides to not tractor any objects that turn, may instead try and learn the layout of the tiles on the Tractor Beam station for future turns.
6.) Weapons Fire Phase:
The player in charge of the Weapons station, will have 30 seconds to fire torpedoes that were loaded during its Action Phase (phase 3), at nearby enemies.
7.) Enemy Action Phase:
This phase is not timed, and during its resolution, enemy ships are able to move and fire. The Nemesis Ship will also move along the Nemesis track on the Captain’s Log, which will move it closer to entering the player board, or once on the board will increase its strength.
8.) Jump Phase:
The player in charge of the Jump Drive will have 30 seconds to roll dice and try to activate Jump Flux cards to make future jump attempts, or can try to successfully Jump off the player board to end the game. The player can pay an additional Energy for an additional 30 seconds, as many times as that player wants as long as there is Energy available.
9.) Repair Phase:
The player in charge of the Repair station will have 30 seconds to try to repair ongoing damage effects by turning over repair cards and resolving them. Additional cards can be drawn for additional energy.
After the Repair Phase is complete, the next turn begins with Discussion and Energy Distribution (Phase 1).
Roles & Stations
Now that we’ve taken a brief look at the different phases and steps of a turn, let’s explore the different stations that players will be controlling in Space Cadets, and what roles are involved in running each.
The Captain will be in charge of the Captain’s Log and Equipment Cards. The Captain’s Log is basically the layout for each turn of the game, and includes 9 steps (or phases). The Captain will be in charge of moving the sand timer along the track for each phase and is ultimately responsible for keeping up with the progression of steps in a turn and flow of the game.
The Captain’s Log is intuitive and easy to understand, as the different station symbols on the Log represent the various stations being controlled by other players. Each station board will have a symbol in the top left corner that corresponds to the symbols shown on the Captain’s Log. These show when actions will be taken from a particular station each round. Phases numbered in white on the Captain’s Log are phases with a time-limit, whereas phases numbered in red have no time limit. There are also two sides to the Captain’s Log depending on whether it is a 3-4 player game, or a 5-6 player game. The main difference being that the Action Phase (3rd phase) is split up into 2 parts, since players will be controlling more stations at once.
The Captain is also in charge of Equipment Cards. There are 8 total Equipment Cards in Space Cadets and each give a 1-time (per game) bonus that the Captain can choose to use at his discretion. At the bottom of each card will be the numbered phase in which the card takes effect, as well as the bonus that is given. For instance, the X-95 Torps equipment card takes effect at the beginning of Phase 6 (Fire Weapons Phase) and allow targets to be treated as locked instead of unlocked when firing Torpedoes at them, thus causing more damage (I’ll discuss more on this during the Sensor and Weapon station explanations). At the beginning of the game, the Captain will choose 4 of the 8 Equipment Cards for use during the game. Only one equipment card can be used per turn, and once it is used it is discarded from the game.
The Engineer will be in charge of gaining and distributing Energy to the other stations in the game. Some would view this as one of the most pivotal stations in the game, and will usually be controlled by the Captain (Players can allot stations to players any way they wish at the beginning of the game as long as a player is not controlling two stations that take place simultaneously during the same phase. But some stations coincide a bit better than others. In this instance, Captain and Engineer seems to go well together.) .
The Engineer station includes a board that has 4 empty Energy spots for each station on the ship. Along with the board, the Engineer will be provided with Energy Tokens and 16 Engineer Tiles. The Engineer will take actions during Phases 1, 2, and 3.
Phase 1 – Discussion & Energy Distribution: During the first phase, the Engineer will distribute Energy that was previously obtained on the Engineer station board during the 3rd phase (Action Phase) of the previous round. Before distributing Energy, the Engineer can choose to trade Energy from one station to another at a 2:1 ratio (So if the Weapons station is supposed to be distributed 3 Energy and the Sensor station only 1, you can trade 2 of the Weapons station’s Energy to provide 1 additional Energy for the Sensor station, before distribution.)
Phase 2 – Preparation: During the Preparation phase, the Engineer will return all the tiles used in the previous round (from the 3rd Phase) and shuffled them with the unused tiles, to make a new draw pile. The Engineer will then draw 7 new tiles from the pile, but keep them phase down.
Phase 3 – Action Phase: The Engineer will have 30 seconds to flip over the 7 drawn tiles and connect them adjacent to each other in whatever way he wishes. Each tiles is made up of one station symbol in the middle, followed by a half station symbol on each of its 4 sides. For every completed station symbol shown at the end of 30 seconds, an Energy token will be rewarded to that particular station’s row on the Engineer board. A station can never be rewarded more than 4 Energy Tokens. It is important to discuss with the Engineer what stations need Energy tokens more than others during Phase 1, so that the Engineer will be prepared to connect those particular stations together on the tiles.
In the above example, Energy would be rewarded as follows: Helm – 3, Jump – 0, Damage/Repair – 2, Sensors – 2, Shields – 3, Tractor Beam – 1, and Weapons – 2.
The Helmsman will be in charge of driving and maneuvering the ship. The two main parts to the Helm board keeps track of the speed of the ship, and a space to place Maneuver Cards for steering the ship. Energy received from the Engineer can be placed in the Thrust section (top right of the Helm board) and/or can be placed in the Maneuver section. There are 14 regular Maneuver Cards (there are 7 different regular Maneuvers Cards, with 2 copies of each card) that will be placed face down in a Draw Pile and 5 Special Maneuver Cards that will be placed face up in front of the Helmsman. The Helmsman will take actions during Phases 2, 3, and 4.
Phase 2 – Preparation: After receiving Energy from the Engineer, the Helmsman can divide the Energy among the Maneuver and Thrust sections of the Helm board as he sees fit. For each Energy token added to Thrust, the Helmsman can adjust the speed of the ship either up or down by 1. The speed of the ship will determine how many Maneuver cards can be resolved during the Action Phase (3rd phase). Thus, if the speed of the ship is at 4, 4 maneuvers will be made.
Even though in this example, only 4 maneuvers can be made, each Energy added to the maneuver box will allow the player to draw that many additional maneuver cards. So if the speed of the ship is 4, but 2 Energy tokens were added to the Maneuver section of the Helm board, then the Helmsman could draw a total of 6 Maneuver Cards during the Preparation to be used during the next phase. The drawn cards are kept face down.
Phase 3 – Action Phase: The Helmsman will have 30 seconds to flip over the cards drawn from the previous phase and can decide how to steer the ship for that round. Remember that the speed of the ship determines how many maneuvers can be made, and there is a spot for each card underneath the corresponding speed on the Helm board. The maneuvers will be carried out from left to right, so it is important for the Helmsman to get an idea of where the ship needs to go in order to plot out a course (by placing the cards). While the standard Maneuver Cards will be simple maneuvers, the Special Maneuver Cards will give more complex movements, though at a possible price. The 6 Special Maneuver Cards are available to the Helmsman at all times, and can be placed as any of the maneuvers along with the drawn Maneuver Cards during this phase.
(Special Maneuvers at top, Regular Maneuvers below)
Phase 4 – Resolution: The Helmsman will now move the ship according to the plotted course from the previous (Action) phase. Cards are resolved from left to right. For every Special Maneuver Card that is resolved, a die must be rolled. If the die matches the die number on the bottom of the Special Maneuver Card, 1 random side of the ship will take damage. So it’s a bit of a risk/reward element. Also, if the ship moves through particular objects (asteroids, nebulas, gravity arrows, or rifts) other immediate effects will take place, such as losing a Sensor Lock, to slowing the ship down.
This player will be in charge of keeping the ships shields active and energized during the game. Over the course of a mission, many enemies and objects can do damage to the player’s ship, but only after the shields have been broken. The shields reset to 0 after each turn, so the Shields Officer will have to reenergize them each round. The Shield board represents the shield range on each of the 4 sides of the ship (fore shield – front, starboard shield – right, aft shield – rear, and port shield – left). The Shields Officer will be partaking in a type of poker-style mechanic in order to raise the shields for each side. This player will take actions during Phase 2, 3, and 4.
Phase 2 – Preparation: After the Shield Officer has obtained Energy from the Engineer, he will draw the corresponding amount of tiles according to the Shield board (for instance, 1 Energy = 6 tiles, 2 Energy = 8 tiles, and so on), and keeps them face down.
Phase 3 – Action Phase: The player will have 30 seconds to flip over the tiles and allocate them accordingly onto the Shield board. Tiles come in blue and orange and range from numbers 1-8. Each shield side can hold 3 tiles, while the two tile spots in the middle are community tiles that can be used for any side. So each side can contain a combination of up to 5 tiles. The Shield Officer will be trying to make combinations (hands of poker) with the placed tiles in order to increase the shield of that side. During the action phase, this player has 30 seconds to decide where tiles will go and place them there.
Phase 4 – Resolution Phase: The Shield Officer will then move the tokens on each side of the ship to their respective shield strength according to the combinations he has made with the tiles. For instance, in the above picture, if the player has placed a Blue 5 and Orange 3 in the central area, and has a Blue 2, Blue 4, and Orange 6 on the starboard shield side, he has a combination of 2,3,4,5 and 6, which is a “5 Straight”. According to the bottom right side of the Shield board, the starboard shield would be raised to a strength of 3. If the 3 colors on the shield side are all the same, the strength is doubled. So in the previous example, if the starboard shield side was instead a Blue 2, Blue 4, and Blue 6, the shield strength would be raised to 6 instead of 3. Also, keep in mind that the central area cannot hold pairs.
(If the ship takes damage during the course of a round, the Shield Officer will lower the affected shield. Damage is not done to the ship until the corresponding shield is at 0.)
This player will be in charge of locking on targets and scanning for new areas to explore. As enemies and crystals come out on the player map, the Sensor Officer can designate energy to try and put locks on them (which can increase damage done to these items as well as increased success with the tractor beam – I’ll explain both of these two next). There are two different types of locks: a regular lock and a super lock. As such, there are five different things that a player can use Energy for at the Sensor station. The player can put a lock on an object/enemy, put a super lock on an object/enemy, upgrade from a lock to a super lock, scan for a new sector on the player map, or break an enemy lock. This is done by a combination of drawing sector cards with shapes on them, and trying to draw those particular shapes from a bag by feel alone. The Sensor Officer will take actions during Phase 2, 3, and 4.
Phase 2 – Preparation: The Sensor Officer can choose up to 3 enemies/crystals to scan on the Sensor board, designated by Target A, B, and C. This is done by placing the corresponding enemy/crystal card onto the Target area. That player can also choose the Sector Scan area to activate. During the Preparation Phase, the player will draw a number of Sensor Cards equal to the number of Energy received from the Engineer. The Shield Officer will then choose which cards to place face up under which area of the Sensor board. Each completed card in the 3rd phase (Action) can generate 1 sensor point for that particular Target or Sector Scan. Sector points can be used as follows:
Lock (1 Sector Point)
Super Lock (3 Sector Points)
Upgrade Lock to Super Lock (2 Sector Points)
Break Enemy Lock (1 Sector Point)
Sector Scan (1 Point)
Phase 3 – Action Phase: The Sensor Officer will have 30 seconds to reach into the bag and pull out the shapes that correspond to the Sensor Cards placed below the Sensor board. The player can only pull out as many shapes as there are cards. If the player pulls a shape that does not match, he must designate a shape to place it on anyways (thus that Sensor Card has failed). If the shape does match, place it on the corresponding Sensor Card (success).
Phase 4 – Resolution: The Shield Officer will receive 1 Sector Point for each successful match. So for instance, if an enemy ship has been placed in the Target A section and a Sensor Card was completed during the Action Phase for that target, the Sensor Officer can place a Lock (1 Sensor Point) on the enemy. Locks will stay on an enemy from turn to turn (until broken by other effects), but a Super Lock will always revert to a regular Lock at the end of the turn (after phase 9). If a Sector Scan was successful, the Sensor Officer will place a new map tile on an unexplored area randomly.
This player will be in charge of the Tractor Beam, used for capturing Crystals for mission objectives and focus in on enemy ships. The Tractor Beam board is set up like a mini-game of Memory, and is comprised of various tiles of numbers, shapes, and colors. For each Energy that is obtained from the Engineer, 2 of these tiles can be flipped during the Tractor Beam Phase. The Tractor Beam Officer will only take actions during Phase 5.
Phase 5 – Tractor Beam: An enemy or crystal within a range of 4 spaces can become subject of a Tractor Beam attempt. The object must also have a Lock (from the Sensor) on it, in order to be attempted. The Tractor Beam Officer will have 30 seconds to flip over matching tiles in order to complete a successful Tractor Beam on an object. 2 tiles can be flipped for every Energy provided by the Engineer. A matching pair of tiles are ones that are equal in number, shape and color. If this happens, the Tractor Beam is successful if the numbers on the Tractor Beam board is equal to or greater than the sum of the ship’s speed and the range to the object.
So for instance, the range to a certain crystal is 3 spaces and the speed of the ship is 2. If a pair of Purple Star #3’s are flipped, they will be compared to the sum of the range to the object (3) and the speed of the ship (2), thus the Tractor Beam is unsuccessful because 3 (the number on the matching tiles) is lower than 5 (range + speed). All tiles that are not part of a successful Tractor Beam attempt are kept on the board and flipped back over. Now if the next turn, the matching Purple Star #3’s are flipped along with a matching pair of Red Triangle #3’s, the Tractor Beam would be a success and these tiles would be removed from the board. (The Tractor Beam Officer can choose to reset the board before or after an attempt to add all tiles back). Also, it’s important to note that a Super Lock on an object will double the numbers on matching tiles.
The Weapons Officer will be in charge of loading Torpedoes and firing them at enemies. Damage done to an enemy will be determined by what kind of lock (Regular Lock or Super Lock) is on the enemy, if any, as well as a dexterity-flicking mini-game that will be played by the Weapons Officer. The Weapons section is made up of a long narrow board with different increasing damage amount running up the board, depending on whether there is a Lock, Super Lock, or no Lock. Also provided to the Weapons Officer is a stack of Torpedo Tube Cards with various shapes and individual smaller shape pieces. These will be used in loading and firing Torpedoes. This player will take actions during Phase 2, 3, and 6.
Phase 2 – Preparation: For each Energy that was provided by the Engineer, the Weapons Officer will draw that many cards from the Torpedo Tube deck and keep them face down. This will represent how many possible Torpedoes the player can load.
Phase 3 – Action: The player will have 30 seconds to flip over the Torpedo Tube card and fit the smaller shapes in a sequence that exactly matches the shape on top of the Torpedo Tube card. For each Torpedo that is completed before time runs out, that’s how many times the Weapons Officer can fire at an enemy ship during Phase 6.
Phase 6 – Weapons Fire Phase: As seen on the Weapons board, the player can fire at an enemy from a range of 6 or less. For instance, if the enemy is 4 spaces away, the disc must be flicked from behind the #4 line. For each completed Torpedo from Phase 3 (Action), the player may fire 1 Torpedo at an enemy. They have 30 seconds to flick the disc the number of times, accordingly. As can bee seen on the board, the number of damage done to the enemy will be determined by where the disc lands, and what kind of lock is on that enemy. The sum of all Torpedoes fired will total the overall amount of damage done to the enemy (minus the enemy’s shield amount).
The team can only successfully end a mission (after mission objectives have been completed, of course) by making a final successful Jump off of the map. To do this, the Jump Drive Officer must roll 5 dice that are all the same number. Since this is highly unlikely to happen, the Jump Drive Officer will be preparing the final Jump throughout the game, by collecting Jump Flux cards that will allow him to manipulate the facings on the dice in certain ways. All cards will start on the left side of the Jump Drive board, representing the inactive side. The cards have two parts to them. The top part represents what the Jump Drive Officer needs to roll in order to move the card to the right, or active side of the board, and the bottom part of the Jump Flux Card represents what manipulation it will give the player. The player will only take Actions during Phase 8.
Phase 8 – Jump Drive: The player will have 30 seconds to roll 5 dice and use the manipulations on the active cards to get 5 of the same numbered dice to make a final Jump. Once the 30 seconds are up, a Jump is attempted. If it was not successful (not 5 of the same dice, or mission objectives have not been completed), 1 Flux Card can be activated it the dice meet the objective on the top part of the card.
Once the top part of an inactive card has been completed (for instance, on this card, rolling a sum of dice less than 15), that Flux Card can be moved to the active side of the board. Once on the active side of the board, it’s manipulation bonus (in this case, adding +1 to any die) can be used once per turn. The Jump Drive Officer will continue to collect these cards throughout the game (1 card can be obtained per turn) so that it is easier to make the final Jump at the end. That player can also choose to pay Energy to reroll any number of dice, and can also spend 1 Energy to add another 30 seconds to the phase. These can be done as many times as there are Energy tokens to spend.
The Repairman will be in charge of repairing damage to the ship. The Damage and Repair board is comprised of 5 decks of cards; 4 representing the 4 sides of the ship and 1 representing the Repair Cards. When damage is done to the ship throughout the game, the top card of the corresponding side that took damage is flipped, and the effects on the cards take place.
Some cards will have both an immediate and ongoing damage effect, while some will have no effect at all. Others are called Shift Change, which will make all players switch to different stations from the remainder of the game (until another Shift Change occurs). Ongoing damage effects can really hinder that different stations on the ship, so it is up to the Repairman to do away with these effects. The Repairman will take actions during the final phase of a turn (Phase 9).
(Damage Effect card, No damage card, and Shift Change card)
Phase 9 – Repair Phase: The Repairman will have 30 seconds to turn over a certain number of repair cards to see if repairs can be made to the ship. There are 3 types of Repair Cards: Automatic Success, Automatic Failure, and Random.
Since these cards are not added back to the game, eventually the cards drawn from the respective sides of the ships when taking damage will run out. When this happens, the ship experiences a Core Breach, which must be resolved during Phase 3 (Action) during the next turn, or the ship will explode. For each event that would have caused damage to that side of the ship, the Core Breach marker is first flipped from its “Ok” side and then moved 1 spot on the Core Breach track of the Repair board. During the Preparation Phase (phase 2) of the following turn, a number of cards from the Core Breach deck equal to the numbered space that the Core Breach marker is in, are passed out by the Captain to whichever players he sees fit (though no player can receive 2, unless all have at least 1). The Core Repair deck is then given to one of the players with a Core Breach card.
During the Action Phase, players will simultaneously have to work together to repair the Core Breach. The player that starts with the Core Repair deck must find the card that matches the shape of his Core Breach card and place it on top of it. He will then pass the Core Repair deck to the next player. If the 30 second timer ends before all players have found their respective Repair card, the ship blows up and the game is over. If players are successful, they will flip the marker on the Core Breach track to “Ok” and continue the game.
Enemies & Nemesis Ship
As discussed before, enemies will be attacking throughout the game. Enemies are represented by tokens on the player map, but also have corresponding cards that will show their different abilities (green icon = movement, blue icon = shield strength, red icon = health, orange icon = attack range, and grey icon = how many dice rolls will determine the amount of damage to players).
There is also a Nemesis ship who will be hunting the team of Cadets throughout the game. It can never be destroyed and increases in strength as the game continues.
During the 7th Phase, known enemies within range will take their turn. Each enemy takes the following actions, in order:
– Attempts a lock on the player ship
– Moves towards the player ship
– Fires weapons on the player ship
Attempt Lock: An enemy must lock onto a player ship before it knows where the ship is. In order to see if an enemy has gained a Lock a dice is rolled. If the number on the dice is equal to or greater than the range from the player’s ship, the enemy gains a Lock (the enemy token is flipped onto it‘s “Locked“ side on the player map). An enemy ship will automatically Lock onto the player ship if it is fired upon.
Movement: Enemy ships cannot move unless it has a Lock on the player ship. Once Locked however, it does not lose the Lock unless the Sensor Officer can do so, or by asteroid/nebula effects. The enemy ship will move the number of spaces that is printed on its corresponding card (in green), towards the player’s ship. It will always move toward the player’s ship in the least amount of moves as possible, but if more than one equal path exists, it will take the one that does the least amount of damage to it (enemy ships can be damaged by asteroids, rifts, etc.).
Firing Weapons: If the enemy has a Lock on the player ship and is within range (orange number printed on the enemy card) the enemy will fire and the player ship is automatically hit on whichever side the enemy ship is facing it. The amount of damage done is determined by how many dice the enemy requires the players to roll (grey icon on the enemy card). The player ship’s speed can also modify the amount of damage taken, as indicated on the Helm board.
The section on the Captain’s Log for Phase 7 also indicates the Nemesis track. The Nemesis token is placed on one of the spaces at the beginning of each mission, according to the mission setup in the rule book. During Phase 7, the Captain will move the Nemesis token DOWN 1 number for each turn until it reaches the 0 space. Once it has reached the 0 space, the Nemesis ship will enter the player map on the same space that the player ship originally started the game on. The Nemesis ship will then take a regular enemy turn during Phase 7, and always has a Lock on the player ship no matter what. Each time after the Nemesis ship has been placed on the player map, the Captain will move the Nemesis marker UP 1 number. This modifier will then be applied to the Nemesis ship’s speed and attack strength. It is possible to attack the Nemesis ship (though it cannot be destroyed), and for every 2 damage done to the Nemesis ship, the Captain will move the Nemesis marker back DOWN 1 number on the Nemesis track.
If player’s are able to complete their mission and have made a successful Jump before the Nemesis ship or other enemy ships can destroy them, they have won the game!
Cooperative games have been a force in the gaming community in the last few years, but one of the major issues some have found with it, is the lack of actual cooperativeness when one player tries to take over. And we’ve all been there. There’s been the guy who tries to instruct everyone else what move they need to make and what combo is the most logical to complete the best route to victory. While it may not happen often, it is a noticeable downside to a great genre. I only mention this in order to praise The Engelsteins and what they’ve accomplished in creating what I would call a “pure” cooperative experience. In Space Cadets, each individual is important to the success of the overall mission, and for the most part, only they in particular can control that certain function of the game. But it’s also cleverly done (by the way phase orders play out) in a way that other players are able to check up on their progress, making sure that they didn’t miss a rule or that player’s aren’t cheating their way through a station objective.
While it can take time to learn all the nuisances of each station and be able to teach them to new players, it never feels like a brain burner, and is quite intuitive after the first few turns. With the combination of various missions and the fact that you’ll be playing different stations with each play, the game provides a deep sense of replayability. It captures the team-aspect of working together on a starship and the theme flows throughout the min-game play of each station.
The game plays remarkably well between 3-6 player since the layout of roles can be done by multiple players, and with the sand-timer mechanic, downtime is very minimal. Being able to scale the difficulty level will allow families and more dedicated gamers alike access to playing the game. The game is quite lengthy (1 ½-2 hours) for what it is, but it doesn’t drag. Just make sure you’re family is willing to sit down that long before you set it up. And make sure you have lots of table space, as you’ll have 8 station boards and the main player map to lay out.
Space Cadets is one of kind. It’s a cooperative game, yes, but it adds more to the genre than it borrows. I have no doubt that we’ll see more games incorporate this “pure” cooperative mechanic of simultaneous actions and roles in the near future, and that is something to be excited about.