Time: 20 minutes
Times Played: 3 times with copy gifted from a friend
Availability Note: At the time of this review, copies are available from Sugorokuya
I’m currently reading John McPhee’s Draft No. 4, and just seven pages in, was struck by the following passage, where he is discussing choosing topics to write about:
[a] general question about any choice of subject is, Why choose that one over all other concurrent possibilities?…For nonfiction projects, ideas are everywhere. They just go by in a ceaseless stream.
Today I’m choosing Meteor Recovery Corp. (in BGG as Meteo Inc, as that is how bodoge.hoobby has the English name). I usually choose to write about the games that I “love”. Sometimes the games that I “like”. Sometimes I have a story I want to tell or an experience from a game that I want to relate. But I think this time is something different.
There’s a certain amount of whimsy to Meteor Recovery Corp. that makes it feel special – even if the game play is not stellar.
In Meteor Recovery Corp., the players operate robots on the surface of an asteroid. The robots are mining three types of ore that consistently arrive via meteors: small yellow, large yellow, and blue. The first player to obtain a certain amount of large yellow ore wins.
(And when I say “arrive”, the meteors are dice which have been stickered with the various ores, and the players will be dropping them onto the game board –which is also the box lid.)
Each player will have 2 actions on their turn and may execute additional actions by paying certain amounts of ore. The basic actions are moving two spaces; acquiring the ore shown on an adjacent meteor; purchasing a technology card (while in the base); or rebooting a fallen over robot.
The additional actions include upgrading small yellow ore to large yellow; moving one space; gaining two additional actions; and acquiring the ore from a meteor anywhere on the map.
The technology cards do things like grant a player a free blue ore at the start of every turn; discount the cost of the additional actions; and allow players to move through the slime spaces.
Once ore has been acquired from a meteor die, the player immediately drops the die onto the board from a height of at least 16cm (the diameter of the box). Any robots which have fallen over will need to be rebooted before they can take any actions, and the new meteor has brought ore corresponding to the shown face.
Is there strategy? Sure. The technology cards can be costly and you have to consider the pacing and arc of the game.
Is there tactical play? Sure. Sometimes you have an extra action and can use it to maneuver yourself somewhere interesting. Or when it’s Meteor Time and you aim for where it should drop.
But, uh, it’s also fairly chaotic, right? Well, yeah. Some games go on in an uninteresting way if the die are only showing blue ore. And the take-that and randomness of the meteor arrivals can be jarring, and you may only be setting up the next player for a valuable meteor face.
Yet there’s something charming about it. Some routine action pointing punctuated by these moments of joy and terror. Where will the meteor land and what will the face be! I haven’t looked up if meteors landing on asteroids is a thing because, well, I don’t want to break the fragile case my mind keeps this game in. I’m just going to go with the chaos being acceptable under the Eklund Simulation Exception.
In the ceaseless stream of games that go by, this one stands out for me. Not necessarily in its game play, but there’s a certain passion that shows through. It doesn’t feel rushed to market or polished to the SdJ juries’ liking. It doesn’t fit nicely on your shelf and the card stock is thin. You get to sticker the dice yourself. The box is unfinished and bears only a simple sticker.
But it feels fully formed. The product of the designer’s intent unrestricted by notions of standard box sizes or mechanical archetypes.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. James Nathan
Not for me…