We were orbiting a nearby black hole when the ship went through a freak shutdown. Alarms were ringing, red lights flashing and all 6 of us had to scramble to repair the ship for fear that we would spaghetify in the approaching event horizon. We knew the mission was dangerous but this was unexpected. I grabbed my mezzotackle and went to work on the main propulsion unit. Luckily it was a quick repair and I was able to let my crew know that the 1st engine repair was completed. However, other crew members were not as lucky. Our chief engineer was in search of an orbring, and the ensign who was holding it got sucked out of the ship. We all had to work together to save his life and recover the tools. It was touch and go as the 6 of us frenzied through dangerous maneuvers but in the end we completed all of the repairs and made our way back to the space station for some much needed rest.
This is just one of a multitude of scenarios players might encounter in a game of Spaceteam; A chaotic and cooperative card game. This real-time game supports 3-6 players and takes only 5 minutes to play. Players work together to resolve ship malfunctions and anomalies. Players must be quick and coordinate their efforts or else they will be unsuccessful. Each player must work their way through their personal pile of malfunction cards and coordinate use of group tools to repair each of the malfunctions. Along the way players encounter challenging anomalies which can cause the entire team process to break down at a moments notice. Once players find all pieces of the ship (which are hidden within each of the malfunction decks) the team wins, but if the timer goes out while they are working to restore the ship the team loses and the ship is pulled into oblivion.
I found Spaceteam to a be a wonderful addition to my party game collection. It is a short enough game that it can be used as a palate cleanser or between game, or it can enhance a stale grouping by interjecting some controlled chaos into an otherwise yawn worthy gathering. If you enjoy pressure games like Escape or Space Cadets, you will likely enjoy Spaceteam.
As a family therapist I am always on the lookout for effective cooperative experiences to use in therapy sessions. Such games can introduce challenges that can both provide evidence of how a group communicates, as well as assisting them in improving that communication. Spaceteam fits this goal. I used the game in family therapy and the family was able to use the activity as a catalyst for discussion about how they communicate as well as develop better strategies for meeting the game objectives. The resulting communication meant that the family was able to graduate to more advanced levels and challenge themselves further.
For all of the above reasons I found the game to be a praiseworthy endeavor. Providing both a fun gamer activity as well as a teambuilding foundation made the game quickly addictive. This makes it rather hard to offer any critical points. However, it’s not a game that requires a very steep learning curve. You can probably get the gist of things in 2-3 plays and perhaps you may find that you will thoroughly exhaust replayability in 20 or so plays. Nevertheless, the easy setup table provides the challenge level and randomization necessary for multiple play variations and as you encounter new groups you are likely to encounter new challenges and distinctly different solutions to play. Furthermore, there is an easily available expansion pack that allows games of up to 9 players as well as offering some more adult oriented scenarios to spice things up for the 18 and over set.
The design of the game is rather spiffy. The artwork is all retro space age. Perfect for the addition of some Esquivel on the stereo and perhaps a pan galactic gargleblaster. Should you spill your drink during the chaos of play, the cards are all high quality glossies that will likely wipe down with a damp rag. The game comes with a fairly accurate 5 minute sand timer, but who needs such things when the creators offer a link to a more space age friendly counting website. The internal divider provides an effective means of separating tools from malfunctions but the rest of the cards will have to be mixed together. Finally, the rules are well written and easy to understand. There is very little ambiguity in the instructions and house rules can easily be applied to areas without sacrificing the overall value of play. In summary, this is a well packaged and highly produced set of cards, the box is equally highly durable.
My overall feeling about the game is that it scratches my party game itch without it feeling overwhelming. It provides a supportive activity for building team work and can thus be used in group settings where an icebreaker may be helpful. Similarly, it can provide a good discussion framework for examining group communication skills in small groups or families. I will be pleased to add it to my gaming library. I don’t see it being a consistently played game, but I do not believe I have any game that is similar and I think it will provide numerous opportunities for a fun filled break from more serious gaming. If you like short party games, Spaceteam is highly recommended.