by Jonathan F.
Designer: Benjamin Farahmand
1 – 4 players (solo involves playing two characters)
Playtime: 45 minutes (too much unpredictability for AP) (listed playing time 90-120 min)
Faza means space in Farsi and is a co-op alien attack game with a casual feel. It has several features that make it special and are worth noting in this first look. It fits the classic co-op form with each turn being a player phase and an enemy phase, which alternate until you win or lose.
You are up to four characters on the planet trying to stop an alien invasion of three motherships and lots of drones. Luckily, you can also bring in rebel drones to both infiltrate the motherships and also take damage when you otherwise might have to.
Effectively, the motherships have hit points and you have to take them out without taking too much damage yourself, as damage reduces your abilities to take actions. This means your bazooka that could normally hit drones a tile away becomes a heal action, which is handy for healing, but not as helpful as a bazooka.
My favorite feature is that there is no turn order in the player phase. Everyone can use their resources, action cards, and special abilities at the same time, or puzzle out what to do in which order to optimize the game. With this, the game can either be played casually as a group or more thoughtfully solo playing multiple characters or with two players. It is much lighter than Spirit Island but can be played somewhat simultaneously the way Spirit Island can be.
Another feature that I appreciate is the double-action cards, a bit like in Mage Knight, Champions of Hara, and Chronicles of Frost. Each character has a deck of four cards and they each have two options. The card can be used for either one and is then exhausted absent another card that permits a second activation. This limits choice a bit and helps players feel that their character abilities and decks are truly distinctive.
The major issue that some might have is that is it quite swingy, with dice and also event cards that can be good or bad. I feel you flip enough cards and roll enough dice that it does even out, but if you get a terrible event card at a crucial moment, it can be brutal through no fault of your own. The designer is considering options for those who would like a more Euro experience.
The art is fun (and all rather Mars colored) and the bits are very nice. A full review is coming soon after I get more plays in.