Dale Yu: First Impressions of Godspeed

 

 

Godspeed

  • Designers: Adam Hill and Clayton Hargrave
  • Publisher: Pandasaurus
  • Players: 2-5
  • Age 10+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Pandasaurus

Godspeed is a science fiction themed game about racing to colonize Minos, an exoplanet circling Ursae Majoris 18.  Somehow on this distant planet, there are teams of astronauts from the USA, Japan, Soviet Union, Europe and India.  Yes, I said the Soviet Union.  The backstory here is that this all happened back in 1968-1969, before people stepped foot on the Moon.  Though the game is set in the midst of the Cold War, the goal here is not to annihilate the opponents, but rather to have the most victory points at the end of 10 rounds.

 

Each player takes on the identity of one of the 5 competing nations, takes a matching nation board, and a bunch of flag markers, scoring markers and the five crewmembers of that country.  The five team members each have a different specialty (Captain, Trader, Engineer, Biologist, and Ambassador) as well as a numerical influence value – each characteristic will come into play at different times when assigning your team members to the board.  Each player is dealt a Cargo hold card which gives them some starting resources.  Each country also gets one production building at the start of the game. 

The main board is placed on the table. On the left side of the board are prestige tracks (each player puts one marker on each track) as well as three Lunar Season scoring cards – chosen at random from the appropriate card decks.  The right of the board is dominated by 4 Development areas, each has its own deck and cards are placed face down here in the matching spots.  The supply deck is created by taking all the cards marked for the current player count. A high council deck is made, shuffling 2 random cards from each of the five crew specialty types; this deck of 10 cards is placed facedown on the board.  Finally, each player gets a random Initial Objective card.

As I mentioned earlier, the game is played over 10 rounds. The goal is to have the most VPs.  In each round, there are four phases: High Council, Supply Depot, Actions, Resolution.

 

In the High Council phase, the top card of the High Council deck is flipped over, and it will present the players with a challenge – that must be met with a specific team member.  If a player commits the corresponding team member to the High Council card, they will escape the penalty printed on the card.  There is time for negotiation here, because if ALL players play the matching team member, not only do they all escape the penalty but they also all gain the bonus on the card.

 

In the Supply Depot phase, countries participated in a closed fist auction to get their share of supplies being sent from Earth. (Yes, thematically, this makes no sense, because it’s not like there is a United Earth Federation sending common supplies for the different countries to fight over.)  Anywho – there is a tableau of 1 Supply card per player as well as the First player marker that are on offer.  Players use Team Members (for their influence value) and certain resources (Credits and Rovers which are each worth 1 influence) in their hand.   The other three types of Resources (Munitions, Tech and Lithonium) can be placed in the fist as well, but they have no Influence value though you can use them to bluff about how many cardboard chits you have put in your hand.   Once bids are made, all players open up their hands and the highest value (team member influence + credits + rovers) wins.  Ties go to the player closest to the Auction Tiebreaker marker.  In order from most points to least, players take a supply card or the First Player marker from the display.  Then, the winning player takes a second item.  Any unchosen cards are discarded.  If the First Player token wasn’t chosen, it goes back to its previous owner.  The supply cards might give you resources, Prestige Points, Victory Points or allow you to draw a Development card.  It might be an Assistant or Special Ability which you can save to use at a later time.  The supply card might also allow you to draw a Relic Plan – though you can only ever have one of these in the game.  All players discard their team members to the supply depot area on the board and their influence bearing resources to the supply.  Decoy resources are returned to the players.

 

In the Actions phase, players will get the chance to play up to two of the Team Members (or Assistant cards from their hand) – one at a time in clockwise order from the Start Player Token.  There are 11 possible spaces to take actions – 2 for each of the five Team Member types and the Scrap Yard.  The Team Member spaces are limited (1 spot in 2-3p games, 2 spots in 4-5p games) while the Scrap Yard has unlimited capacity.  Note that if you use an Assistant card, it can be placed on a spot even if the action space is fully occupied; additionally, the Assistant card counts towards the occupancy limit of that space for other players.

On your turn, place your Team Member in an available spot and then take the action associated with that spot.  The Captain, Trader, Engineer and Biologist each offer a space where you can either draw a Development card (actually, draw 3 and keep 1) of that type OR complete a Development card of that type (by playing it from your hand along with the cost in resources printed on the top of that card).  Each of these four types also has a specific unique action as the other option: The captain lets you reuse a discarded Supply Depot card, the Trader gets you 2 resources, the Engineer lets you build a Production building onto your player mat, and the Biologist lets you draw 2 different Development cards.  The Ambassador has a Diplomacy action where you get 2 Wild Rover resources and a Development card while all other players get a resource of their choice.  The other option here allows to complete a Development card of any type.  In the final spot, the scrap yard, any Team Member can be played here and you can choose any of the non-wild resources (Munitions, credits, Lithonium or Tech).

 

Often, as you complete developments, you will be directed to advance up one of the Prestige Point tracks (one for each area).  As you travel up the track, you will pass starburst icons; when you reach or pass one going up, you get a resource of your choice.  If any player reaches the 12th and final space, no other players can enter that space as long as it is occupied (though game events could cause you to leave that top space). 

The milestones

Additionally, as you take actions, check to see if you have reached any milestones.  There are 7 different achievements: first to 3 development cards in each of the 4 types, first to reach the 12th space on any Prestige track, First to have 1 card of each of the four types, and first to have build all 4 Production buildings.  As soon as you meet any of these criteria, take the milestone marker off the board and place it in your area.  You cannot lose this marker, and it will score VP at the end of the game.

Relic bonuses

In the Resolution phase, you first get Relic bonuses. If you have completed a Relic, score 1vp; and if you have a Relic Power Tile that can be activated, you get that action now as well.  Then check any Development cards that have been completed that grant Resolution bonuses.  Now, look at your player mat and take resources for each of your completed Production buildings.  Check to see if you have met the conditions for the current Lunar Season scoring card – if you have done so, put a scoring marker for your country on the card.  You still score these at the end of the game. Finally, take all of your Team Members back and then pass the Auction Tiebreaker marker clockwise one position.  Either move the round marker ahead one space, or if you have completed the tenth round, move to the Endgame.

 

At the end of the game, points are scored for a number of things

 

1] For each of the four Prestige tracks, score 8/4/2 VP for being 1st/2nd/3rd position on that track.  If you are below the start space on a track, you may not collect a bonus AND you also must take a penalty

2] For each Civilization milestone marker that you collected, score 4VP

3] For each Lunar Season scoring card you were able to complete, score 3VP

4] for Artifacts, Objective cards and Relic Powers that give VP, score as written on the thing

5] for each extra Relic Power tile, score 1VP

6] For every 10 leftover resources, score 1VP

 

The player with the most points wins.  Ties are broken in favor of the player with the most completed Development cards.

scores from my first game

My thoughts on the game

 

Godspeed is an interesting take on the Worker Placement game – mostly because the game makes you make a few more decisions with what to do with your workers rather than race to occupy spaces for actions.  Here, you must decide when/how you are going to use your Team Members.  You only really get to use two of them in the Worker Placement phase of the turn; but you’ll have to keep an eye out of what your opponents are trying to do and which Team Members they have at their disposal to try to get the things that you want.  Having to decide which Team Members to use for the High Council card and for the Supply auction can be quite difficult, and this is the sort of decision tension that I enjoy in the game.

 

The assistant cards can be a huge benefit.  They let you take advantage of a space that has been previously blocked by an opponent; and they also let you possibly make a sneak attack (if your opponent have forgotten that you have said assistant) – because you might still be able to take an action and block it even if you have already used the specific Team Member earlier in the round.  In my plays so far, I have found these to be amongst the most valuable cards.

 

The game plays fairly swiftly, and once you have played two or three rounds; the pace picks up as you buzz through the different phases.  That being said, the rounds all feel the same as there is no significant difference or crescendo through those ten phases.  The auctions don’t get more expensive, the High Council cards don’t get more difficult, etc.  I suppose that the Lunar Season bonuses are slightly harder to get in each successive season, but not enough to make the rounds feel any different from each other.

 

The bits are decently done, but beware – the game is a table hog!  The board is huge, and you still need a bit of space for each player’s space camp board as well as room for all the resources.  As you play, your area will accumulate a bunch of cards as you collect them.   Closed fist bidding isn’t my favorite, but I do wish that there were player screens.  It’s continually a bit awkward as everyone takes their team members and resources into their hands (or places them on their chair) so that they can select things secretly.  It’s always a dead giveaway when a player has to try to sneak their hand back onto the table to grab a credit or a rover.   

My area at the end of the game

The 2 players game is decent; there are a few extra rules thrown in to help it be more competitive.  First, each worker spot only has 1 spot (there are 2 for each action at 4-5p).  Second, each player gets a blocker – this is a Team Member from an unused nation.  At the start of each round, before you see the High Council card, the players in turn order get to block off an action space with their marker.  The one thing that I didn’t like is that I could permanently block a space.  After I built all the Production buildings that I needed to build, I chose to block that action space each turn with my blocker – and since I held the Blue Assistant in my hand, there wasn’t a lot my opponent could do about it.  Sure, he ended up choosing other things, and I guess it didn’t hurt him all that much; but it was frustrating for him to not really have a way around this.

 

The color of the different jobs is a super thin rim around the edge of the circular team members.  I would have liked the country background to have maybe been 10% less wide to allow for a larger ring around the outside.  It was sometimes quite hard to see what discs were where. 

this thin rim of green is what tells you this is a green person (and not red)

The other issue I have with the bits are the development cards.  The icons have them in the colors matching the jobs… i.e. a pink card icon for the captain cards.  However, the cards themselves have grayish/non matching backgrounds!  This makes them super hard to distinguish them.  Sure, there’s a small colored logo on the back side; but to me, this choice makes the usability go way do. 

the icon for this card is a blue rectangle with a gear in it. The cards? Red with a super small gear and a tiny thin blue outline around it.

Furthermore, on the front, the color of the card isn’t particularly evident – in a game where players are racing to be the first to have 3 of any color, it would be super helpful for me to be able to see at a glance what everyone else has built.  Thematically, the art is great, but usability wise, the art is not so great.

 

The rules are a huge 24 page book – filled with many nice illustrated examples.  The organization was a little weird; I would have liked some of the explanations (for the Relics, the Milestones and Lunar Season cards) to have come earlier in the rules.  They are all kinds smooshed together at the end just before the Game End/Scoring section.  As I passed thru the rules the first time, I had so many questions on how these things fit into the game and they weren’t explained until the very end.  But, everything seems to be included in the book, and once you know the game, you know where to look in order to answer any lingering questions.

 

Overall, the game is an enjoyable worker placement/resource management game.  There isn’t much of an arc to the game, and maybe I would like it to be 2-3 rounds shorter – but it does not overstay its welcome.  Rounds move quickly, and each round you have the same challenge of trying to maximize the use of your team members – saving some for the action phase, sometimes saving more than you need to give yourself flexibility; but when you do that, you aren’t able to use their influence for bidding or fighting off the Council penalty…

 

 

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers

James Nathan: It was fine.  For me, the lack of an arc to the game was my biggest concern, as round 8 or 9 didn’t feel different than round 2. Which workers to bid with, etc., was generally self-evident by which actions I needed to take, and which back-up action I wanted to consider, and I didn’t feel like the decisions there were especially interesting. There seemed to be an abundance of ways to draw cards, but limited ways to complete them; in practice, this meant less use of Draw 3, Keep 1, and more random draws off the top.

 

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral.  James Nathan
  • Not for me…

 

 

 

 

 

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.
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