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Space Cadets - Board Game Box Shot

Space Cadets

| Published: 2012
110 37 3

It's your lifelong dream – to join the Star Patrol and be part of the crew of an interstellar Starship. You've worked hard, graduated from the Academy, and received your first assignment as part of a team of young recruits, confident in your training and ready to be put to the test.

Nothing can possibly go wrong…
You've been prepared for anything…
You are the Space Cadets.

Space Cadets is a fun and frantic cooperative game for 3-6 players who take on the roles of Bridge Officers of a Starship. Each officer must accomplish his task in order for the team to successfully complete the mission.

If your crew can work together to accomplish the mission goals you just might make it home in one piece.

The differing roles in the game require a varied set of gaming skills. The Engineer, for example, utilizes dominoes to bring power to vital systems, while the Weapons Officer solves puzzles to load torpedos and flicks disks in order to fire them. Then there's the Shield Officer, the Sensor Officer, and the Captain... which role will you inhabit?

User Reviews (4)

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32 of 33 gamers found this helpful
“Space Race: The Mad Rush of Space Cadets”

The crew sat alert at their stations, ready for the captain’s command. At his word, the awesome starship came to life, its engines alive, its systems primed and ready. Then it promptly flew into an asteroid field and collided with the edge of the universe. And with that, our doomed first game of Space Cadets got underway.

At first glance, Space Cadets looks like someone took a good look at a bunch of old board games in their collection and thought, “What can I do to re-use all of these?” It’s a co-op game wherein each player takes on the role of a different position in the crew of a starship, with a different mini-game to represent their responsibilities. So the Shields officer plays poker, the strength of their “hand” determining the strength of the shields. The Engineer basically plays Carcassonne, trying to match tiles in order to provide energy to the various departments. The captain plays Concentration in an effort to lock on with the ship’s tractor beam.

The twist here is that each position has 30 seconds in which to play their mini-game, with the fate of the ship in the balance. And nearly all the mini-games are played simultaneously, preceded by a brief planning period. It’s this timing element that gives Space Cadets its spark, and keeps it from simply being a hodgepodge of various game elements. All the games work together as well. If the Engineer doesn’t match the right tiles, some stations won’t have enough energy to be as effective as they could be. A successful lock from the Sensor position can make firing weapons easier. And a good turn at the Shields can make the Damage officer’s job a whole lot easier.

Damage repair is a harrowing process of drawing cards that are equal parts helpful and harmful, then having to make a successful repair roll based a range shown on the cards that allow repairs. Do enough damage to the ship, and you’re dealing with a core breach, which introduced yet another mini-game, a frenzied matching game where multiple players have to search a deck for the match to a card they’ve been dealt. Since this is done during the same 30-second turn in which all the other actions are performed, too many core breaches is a recipe for disaster.

But you’re not simply zipping around the galaxy trying to keep your ship pointed in the right direction and in one piece. There are alien spaceships to contend with, and a nemesis ship that is an unrelenting threat to the crew (and a neat way to keep the game moving forward, since dawdling too long means almost certain destruction at the hands of the nemesis).

There are also different scenarios included with the game, such as the one we played which involved exploring for rare crystals and capturing them with our tractor beam. Throw in various obstacles on the game board itself, such as gravity wells that affect your ship’s movement, and there’s plenty to keep players on their toes, on top of the frenetic rush of trying to properly man their stations.

Some of the mini-games are clearly easier than others. I was on Shields, and didn’t find the poker mechanic all that taxing. And our Weapons officer had little trouble with the Tetris-like component of the position required to arm the weapons. But actually firing the weapons — which entails flicking a wooden disc, similar to Pitch Car or Catacombs — proved a little more daunting. The game does offer a mechanic in the form of a damage card that forces players to change positions, so it’s possible to move from a game that isn’t your strongest suit to something more to your liking. But that also entails possibly moving a player away from a game at which they’re excelling. Since it was our first game, we played this effect as being optional, and most chose to stay put. There was some good-natured ribbing as some players had more success in their roles than others, but everyone had a great time, and it’s a game that could be enjoyed as easily by a bunch of avid gamers looking for something fun as it could at a family game night.

As much fun as we had, there were a couple of downsides though. The individual game boards are rather flimsy, a sort of paper stock as opposed to an actual hard board. The other components are pretty good quality, and I imagine thicker boards would have added to an already hefty price tag, but it was somewhat disappointing. Also, there does seem to be a bit of a snowball effect. Once things start going badly, it’s hard to recover, and a string of bad luck can doom your ship pretty quickly. Our Damage officer had some unlucky repair rolls that resulted in enough damage to the ship’s core that four of the six players could do nothing on their turn but try to repair the core breach. This led to the ship being unprepared for the next attack, which resulted in more damage, which resulted in even less efficiency. You can find yourself in an inevitable death spiral pretty quickly.

But the game really isn’t trying to be an exacting space sim. It just wants to be a fun, hectic race through the galaxy, and on that level, it succeeds. As our ship exploded into billions of molecules, every single one of us had a smile on our face.

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Went to Gen Con 2012
I Walk the Talk!
44 of 46 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A whole new take on co-op gaming!”

Just started playing Space Cadets after a holiday gift showed up early, so thought I would try to field some questions that people probably have about this game:

What kind of game is it?
A 3-6 player cooperative game that puts players into the roles of bridge officers on a starship in the vein of Star Trek. Each player mans a ship system console such as Engineering, Helm, sensors, weapons, shields, damage control and of course the captain’s chair as well. The crew then goes off on a mission of space exploration and combat, fighting enemy ships and collecting jump crystals before spinning up the jump drives and jumping for home, which finishes a mission.

How does it look?
It is a very good looking, colorful game. It has a LOT of bits – at first, a downright confusing number of them. All of the boards and bits take up a lot of space on the table too, due to awkward shapes of the various playing boards. This game has a very large footprint.

Is it hard to learn?
No, but yes. The core activities of the game are the various player stations. Each player system console is in fact a little mini game, with simple mechanics and rules. But – the interaction between these systems, managing the turn sequence, and the surprisingly deep decision making and planning needed make the learning curve pretty steep. Sadly, the rule book is not terribly well done, and needs thorough study to assure you play correctly. The box says ages 8+, but I think that younger children will feel a little left out of planning, although they should have no problem running a system console.

How does it play?
The mini games would be easy except for one thing – you are on the clock, with most “Action Phases” allowing only 30 seconds to “win” your mini-game. It can get pretty crazy at times, as players scramble to work their stations, and three minutes to plan at the start of the turn sounds like a long time, but it’s never enough. The multiple station dynamic beautifully neutralizes the type A gamer who tells everyone what to do in a co-op game. That guy has no time to micromanage others, his own station takes all of his attention!

Does it take long to play?
It depends on the mission you play through, but you should be prepared to spend 2-3 hours on your first game. After that is should fall into the advertised range, 1-2 hours. It may also take longer with more players.

What about replay value?
Good question; I have not played enough yet to know for sure. There are three difficulty levels and 6 missions, so you should get quite a few play throughs, I think (hope!). Stronghold also says more missions will be coming out, so that should help too.

Who will like it?
Anyone who claims to be a Star Trek fan needs to play this at least once. Gamers who enjoy fast paced games that require quick decisions, planning and teamwork will really enjoy this. This is NOT a casual game, in my opinion. Gamers who are looking for a light cooperative experience like Castle Panic will find this one way too much to deal with. I personally enjoyed the experience immensely, and I look forward to my next opportunity to get this one out again.

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35 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“Cosmic Catastrophe”

On the surface, Space Cadets has a lot going for it– a light-hearted, campy sci-fi setting where you are taking the controls of a certain station on a starship, the promise of mini games within the game that determine whether you successfully complete your task, and most importantly, lots and lots of bits. And on the surface, that’s what it is. Unfortunately, it’s also needlessly complicated and just not very fun.

My brother picked up this game for the afore-mentioned reasons. He and one of his gaming associates somehow managed to play it twice, just the two of them. I don’t know how they slogged through it, since this is supposed to be a 3-6 player game. But they did to learn the rules and figure out the mechanics. And I’m glad he did, because this is definitely one of those games which could easily bog you down with a case of rulebook psychosis. So he was pretty excited to bring the game over and finally play it with four people.

He set up the game while the rest of us imbibed distilled beverages in the other room. When we saw the game laid out on the table, we were agog at the sheer volume of pieces. To say there is a lot is to say that Captain Kirk has a bit of luck with the ladies. We took our seats and my brother began to explain what was going on. Then he explained how all the stations were set up. Then he explained how all the mini games worked. Then he kept explaining until everyone got a little glazed over.

Some time later, we started playing. To me, it seemed like every aspect of the game was overthought into oblivion. Each phase had complications that felt randomly added on to somehow make it feel more significant. Maybe after a few playthroughs, it would go more smoothly. But it just wasn’t fun enough to want to ever play it again. I think most of us here play games at least in part to have fun. For my taste, it felt as though all the fun had been sacrificed to make the game just a little more complicated.

And those mini games? Not fun. Especially in the replay value department. How many times do you want to reach into a bag and guess the shapes? How many times do you want to play a memory/matching game? How many times do you want to flick a little piece down the board like a miniaturized game of shuffleboard? If the answer is “lots,” then you may have found your game.

For a game as complicated as this, the rewards are…well…none come to mind. So we’ll call it “few.” I am certainly not one who finds games with a lot of rules/steps/phases or a high learning curve to be a turn off. But they have to be compelling. There was nothing about this game that drew me in and made me feel invested in what was happening. We made it a few rounds before all of us, my brother included, decided we were wasting time during which we wanted to be having fun.

There were complaints from everyone around the table regarding the quality of the pieces. The game boards are just paper, giving the entire thing a very cheap feel. Maybe we are spoiled by the quality of Fantasy Flights games, but if a game is going to be so heavily reliant on many pieces and cost $60, I expect better.

We also all agreed that this was a great concept gone bad. The difference between our expectations and reality could be measured in light years.

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My First Heart
11 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Crazy Intense Fun! Mini game concept brought to an entirely new level!”

This game is insane.
Most of it runs on a timer giving you 30 seconds or so to resolve your actions.

You do have a planning phase which is untimed, but there is a new instruction part that is timed.

Each character serves a role on the ship.
They make decisions based on their role.
This could be weapons, navigations, sensors, engineering and couple others.

You make your plans and to determine if you succeed, each station has a series of mini games.

You might have to assemble a Tangrams style puzzle, pull pieces out of a bag that match a shape, or even play a mini shuffleboard game.

Those are only 3 of the nine or so.

At the end of the round, your head is spinning like mad and you can’t believe how difficult some of the percieved mini games are.

It’s a tremendous amount of fun.

I’ve not given a fifth star for replay simply because it’s intense and some in your gaming crowd may prefer to play it once per session and move onto to a second.

We shoot for 2/3 games in one session so that’s just us.


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