Stranded in deep space you’ve got to work against the deck and against the dice in ….
Deep space D6 became something of a grail game for most solo players to the point that copies were going for inflated amounts of FLGS due to the limited nature. To combat this they brought it back to kickstarter and that’s where I managed to get my hands on a copy. The game is essentially really simple as you roll your dice with their coloured sides telling you where you can use them in your ship. It’s not always a simple slot them in mechanic with some allowing you to change others or some stations giving you multiple options. You deal with the cards to the side of your board and then draw some more. Every so often your sensor bar will fill up which will generate even more cards that will, or won’t if you are lucky, be triggered by a simple D6 that’s rolled every round. If all of your dice get locked and can’t be reclaimed at the end of the round; because their on away missions, in the medical bay, or are powering the sensors, then you lose. If you’re ship reaches 0 hull you lose. If you manage to survive until the deck is dry then you win to carry on boldly on your trek through the stars.
The game comes with four ships which feel different and are mostly explained on their board meaning you won’t be relying on the rule book every time though you may for your first run with each ship as some technicalities are hidden away in the rule book. I appreciated how different they felt without feeling like they were making you relearn the whole game over. The commander dice going from re-rolling to copying and even the drone ship locking in your results to let you rely on certain things each round rather than the dice gods for some favour and mercy. If this is all sounding a little FTL then you’re probably right as this feels like the board game equivalent with the dice and deck filling in for the rogue like nature of the P.C game I love so much.
The simple nature of the rule book makes tries to get across its simple nature though for me I found it could have benefited from being a tiny bit bigger in order to just clarify a few things before your first game or two. I would also say that the game feels incredibly luck based. You are relying on rolls and from what you draw from the deck. If you have a number of threats breathing down your neck and you can’t roll that weapon dice then the game can feel terribly unfair. Had you been relying on either the deck or the dice I would feel this was a bit smoother. That’s not to say it doesn’t come with a difficulty setting, and something I liked a time setting too, this just dictates how many cards you are going to put into your deck sort of like with Pandemic though in reverse as you add in cards that give you a break rather than making things worse this time.
The presentation for the game is a little mixed. the components for the game are great if basic. The boards for each ship are solid and mostly explain the systems for you. The cards are decent quality and while a little small are easy to read and while some necessitate grabbing the rule book the small size stops this quick, little, solo, dice chucker from being a table hog. The box is probably what the chose your adventure games, War With The Evil Power Master and House Of Danger, should have come in though for some reason there is a really low quality image on the back that makes me think my game is a cheap pirate copy of Wish.com.
The expansion, endless space, that came with the second wave of kickstarter pledges adds a bit to the game but not too much. If you like your copy of the game and want to add a bit more to it then you can still pick them up for about five to six quid. I’m not sure I would pay that for it but that’s up to you. It adds a new final boss which is neat I guess though doesn’t seem like a huge selling point. It also adds some new cards for the deck which again can help if you’ve played your copy to death and know each card like the back of your hand. But with the way they are randomly drawn I can’t see that mattering too much unless you have really played it to a level that I would call too much. The main thing it adds are upgrade cards that give your dice something to do when they would be left sat around useless in the base game. You can work toward new abilities instead of letting that attack dice go to waste on the rare moment you haven’t got a fleet of ships hovering to the right of your player board. It also comes with some stickers to help turn the game into an rpg more via the pdf online than through the stickers though they are a nice touch.
The rpg is free online though I will say that this is not some one page supplements to add a few twists and kinks and the reason the box doesn’t come with a copy is because it is a 75 page booklet that adds fuel, credits, and new sectors to explore really making the FTL connection stand out but also potentially destroying the small box nature of the game if it was slotted in the back. This is RPG is also open to everybody with a copy of the game whether you have the expansion or not.
At this point the book like nature of the box makes more sense as the rpg adds in a lot of choose your own adventure style elements to create your story. Each of the sectors on the map has a code, like a page number, for you to find in the book and read out which will give you more cods from which to make your decision. Going back to FTL though I think some of the way the game is laid out could benefit from a computer or an app. For instance your cargo is identified by sequences which you string together meaning I have in my hold EE7 or 000 which is fine for a computer but considering we’re only using bits and bites to generate my rule book could have been just listed for me the very simple human who is running this. The nature of the rule book means that this probably only has a fairly finite lifespan unless your leaving a very decent time between games though I do appreciate that they’ve chucked in more than just ‘if you go left turn to page X and if you turn right go to page y’ with puzzles and stuff to solve for the player to engage them a bit more than a plan dice chucking choose your own adventure.
This is marked as game one in the Tau leader series and if they ever come out with game two I’ll probably check it out. Instead we’ve done a few more expansion and tie ins that I’ve not really paid attention to. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the game and get it out every so often for some sci-fi dice rolling on my lunch break but I wouldn’t say it’s got great legs. And that’s okay. This is not some sprawling, several hour long, solitaire, experience but a quick little solo game to fill your time and fit in the gap between your keyboard and the edge of your desk while you balance your instant noodles on your lap. If you’ve heard great things and feel like this is your sort of game and you see it going for a decent price then I’d pick it up but unless you have played this before and know you love it I would avoid the over priced copies lingering in game stores. As for the multiplayer copy coming from Kickstarter soon well I don’t think it kills this game outright. Due to the small size and low price point if you’re after an aforementioned coffee break type game of space ships and ray guns then this may possibly still be the one for you while if you are someone who wants a decent game for them and their friends that they can also play solo then you probably want to hitch a ride on the armada.