I’d never seen it played and after reading some reviews decided to give it a try. After three or four games I really like it. The rules are basic, but simple enough for an 8 and 10 year old to get (mostly). The ship models are good, maybe not design classics, but perfectly serviceable for our purposes. Both sides fight differently. The humans are tough, a bit slower, but pack the firepower, especially at longer ranges. The aliens are a bit faster generally and like to get up close, especially their fighters.
The gaming matt is nice, and it includes a bit of space ‘terrain’, like asteroids and orbital bases etc, which have small extra effects on the game play. I like that these are counters that you have to investigate to flip and see if there is anything useful under it, an nice extra element to the main course of blasting each other to bits.
Overall, the game plays well, but so far the aliens, that’s me, have won all the battles. Now, maybe that’s because I’m not 10 years old, but the aliens do seem to have a slight edge in the stats. The best part of the game is hiding your forces behind a screen (it comes with the game) and revealing them as you spend energy points to ‘launch’ them onto the board, either from inside other ships (for the fighters etc) or onto the table edge. Not knowing your enemy’s force or how it will deploy adds a little extra guess-work, which I like.
Although called 'Battleships' this game has nothing to do with the classic (super-dull) boardgame of the same name. That was my first fear, but it plays out as a straight tabletop wargame, not a tedious guessing game. It’s a full game in box, just set-up and play. I think after 10-12 games the lack of diversity in the forces will start to feel restrictive… the planned expansions never materialized, but we won’t play it that often so it’ll take a while to grow repetitive on us. We might have to tweak the rules or ship stats a bit, otherwise Earth is going to fall to these mean aliens pretty rapidly…
One thought is to buy some different ship models and design our own ship datacards for them, that way, we can play with the models we like best. I'll keep my eye open for cool spaceship models. One for the future that idea.
Here are a few shots of our first trial games.
The game laid out for play, both fleets closing, this time facing off across an asteroid belt.