Dale Yu: First Impressions of Andromeda

 

 

Andromeda

  • Designer: Jan Zalewski
  • Publisher: Galakta
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times Played: 3, with review copy provided by Galakta

andromeda box

In Andromeda, players represent different races that all converge on an unknown massive spaceship – each hoping to loot the ship of ancient technologies.  The spaceship has a different layout each game, with 9 tiles being chosen out of a supply of 11.  There are also different technologies available to be found each game (4 out of 8).  Each player is randomly dealt a race, and each comes with its own special abilities as well as a number of explorers that will start on the ship.

 

6 Missions are drawn into a Common missions deck; the top card of this deck is revealed for all to see.  Each player is then given 2 mission cards, one of which is kept, to provide each player with a personal mission.

The game is played over as many as seven rounds, and each round is split up into the same four phases.

andromeda game

Phase 1 – Assign commands

 

The starting player picks up the command dice (13 of them in a 4p game) and rolls them.  The roll is good as long as there are not more than 3 dice showing the Contamination icon.  If there are more than 3, the excess above 3 are re-rolled until they show something other than Contamination.   The starting player then prepares the first offer.  He takes the lowest numbered order card and then places any number of dice on it so long as the number of dice left is at least twice as much as the number of order cards left.

IMG_20160509_160058

The offer is then passed to the player on the left who can either accept or reject it.  If he accepts it, he takes the order card and all the dice on it.  He also then takes any one of the dice left in the pool to add to the offer.  If he denies it, it is passed to the next player clockwise who then has the same options.  If the offer is passed by everyone, the start player must accept it (and still gets an extra die from the main pool).  A new order is then prepared and offered around.  This continues until every player has accepted an offer – all order cards and all dice should be allocated to someone.

 

Phase 2 – Player Turns

 

Now, going in order of the newly distributed Order cards, players take turns doing their actions (which are mostly found on the dice they received this round).  Frist, you resolve the Contamination dice.  For each die with Contamination that you have, you must remove one of your explorers from the spaceship.  Afterwards, you can take your actions in any order.  There are a number of actions that are done using your dice:

 

  • Full training (the two brains) – take two explorers from the supply and place them on your race card
  • Call support (two alien heads) – take 2 explorers from your race card and put them on any room in the ship with a teleporter token of your color in it
  • Improvise (one brain/one alien) – either train one explorer or call up one explorer
  • Move – you can make up to three moves using your explorers ( a move is from one room to an orthogonally adjacent room that has already been explored)
  • Use Technology – you can use any available technology card that is next to the ship – each technology can only be used once per turn.
  • Explore – you can ignore the action icon on any die and use the die to explore a previously unexplored room that is orthogonally adjacent to one of your explorers and then moves one of his explorers into the new room.
  • Single Move – you can simply ignore the action icon on any die and use the die to make a single movement action

 

During your turn, you may also take a single room action – but you must be in control of the room providing that action.  To control a room, you must have more explorers than any other player.  These actions may allow you to remove any explorer from the ship, draw new mission cards, take extra moves, etc.

 

Now, you can check if you meet the criteria to finish any of the missions – either the common missions next to the board or personal missions from your hand.  If you meet the criteria, you generally also have to sacrifice some of your explorers (i.e. remove them from the ship and place them on the mission card).  You then place the completed card in front of you, and this will score you victory points for the rest of the game.  You can fulfill as many missions as you want on your turn as long as you meet the requirements.

andromeda missions

The player with the first order card finishes this entire phase and then the second player does this phase, etc.

 

Phase 3 – Check Victory Points

 

You score VPs for controlling rooms on the ship and for completing Mission cards.  In a 4-player game, the game ends if any player has 6 VPs at this time.

 

Phase 4 – Clean Up

 

All technology cards are untapped.  A new mission card is revealed and added to the Common Mission deck. If you completed your personal mission, you are given 2 new cards to choose one from.

 

 

End of Game

 

The game ends at the end of the seventh round or at the end of any round where at least one player has the target number of VPs.  If there are multiple players tied for the most points, the winner is the player with the most VPs from controlling rooms.

 

My thoughts on the game

 

Andromeda is an interesting combination of the dice splitting mechanism and a tight area control game on the board.  When I first got a demo of the game at Essen 2015, it was the splitting of the huge pool of dice that intrigued me. After three games, I think I’m just getting the hang of it – it is definitely a more difficult task than it looks.  The thing that I continually forget is that the receiving player gets to add an extra die from the pool – and the key in dividing the dice is to come up with a set of dice that would be of interest to multiple players if each could add a die to it.

 

Trying to get someone to accept contamination dice in order to get their desired action choice is a very delicate task indeed.

 

I personally have a hard time in this game reading what my opponents are going to do as I seem to always guess wrong about what sort of private mission card players might hold, and I often find myself unwittingly giving someone an easy way to accomplish one of their cards…

 

The game usually goes in an ebb and flow as players try to get explorers onto the ship and then put them in the right places – but since explorers are taken off with each completed mission, the situation on the board rapidly changes.  In fact, there are often flurries of completed missions because the removal of one player’s explorers on the ship suddenly opens up opportunities for majorities for other players in short order.

IMG_20160509_160250

In our games, the majority of mission cards that have been completed tend to be the private ones.  As people can see the public missions, it’s pretty easy to defend against them if you are so inclined.

 

The game is filled with surprises – it’s not uncommon for someone to chain together a great play by unexpectedly taking control of a room, getting to take a special room action that then leads to the completion of a mission that I never saw coming.  The technology cards can often quickly swing the game in an unexpected direction here….

andromeda tech cards

Thus far, in all three of my games, the winner of each game came from a fairly unexpected position where 2 or 3 points were gained in the final turn (remember that you only need 6VP to win the 4p game).  The endings have been a bit abrupt for my tastes, but it definitely ensures that there isn’t a dull moment in the game… as you never know what might happen!

 

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…
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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2015, First Impressions. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dale Yu: First Impressions of Andromeda

  1. Fraser says:

    The description made me think of the dolphins in David Brin’s The Uplift Wars, is one of the player races Dolphins? Although it doesn’t look like it from the box cover.

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