I admit that I enjoy cooperative games because they are easier to play with non-gamer friends. While the games can sometimes be tougher to win, there’s nothing like celebrating a shared victory with everyone at the table. Finding a good cooperative game can be difficult, especially if it seems too easy. It needs to have a hook to get my attention, and that’s the case with Space Movers 2201.
In Space Movers, you play as a member of the crew of the spaceship Liberty. The ship picks up goods from one planet and delivers them to other planets. However, you need to fly under the radar of the evil governing body Universal Oversight, as they are always on the hunt for any goods that might challenge their power.
You win the game by completing five objectives. The prototype I got a look at included a set of five objective cards played in a specific order. These cards follow the storyline of the included comic book Finding Liberty. While this starter pack does a good job of providing a way to play, I am assured that twenty additional objective cards will come with the final product. I am happy to see that this will be the case. While I have no problem with using the five initial objective packs for the first few plays or using it to introduce Space Movers to new players, I’m glad that new ones will become available to increase its replayability.
Every ship needs resources to survive in space. To get resources you have to go to a planet, pick up goods, and drop them off at another planet. These jobs become available through a deck that also contains event cards, pursuit cards, and reaction cards. Since the deck holds a variety of cards each draw is unpredictable. However, the draw distribution can determine how the game plays. Having several cargo cards early can make the game much easier, while back to back pursuit cards can lead to a premature end. Putting in a semi-random distribution might be a way to help balance this.
After that, the player can move the ship to another planet on one of the paths of the board, although a few require a skill check to traverse. Then the player can perform an action if they wish. These often involve skill checks, and different crew members are better at different skills. The different locations on the ship also allow for different actions to be performed, and some cards allow for specific actions to be performed as well. Once this phase has been completed, the cleanup phase begins. The ship loses a resource during this phase and all the dice are returned to their owners. Any pursuit ships on the board move closer to the liberty and can possibly take a player to the interrogation chamber. If a player is in there they can’t roll dice, making some skill checks impossible to complete successfully.
When I first read about the game, I noticed that every die for a skill check had to be a five or above on a d10 to be successful. My first reaction was that this would make the game impossible to beat due to the difficulty of making every die roll a success. Then I read the rules and found out that this wasn’t nearly as impossible as I first thought. Each check has specific dice representing the skills the crew has. Each die is rolled one at a time inside the game box. If the die gets out of the box, the skill check automatically fails. As each die is rolled, the next die can be rolled to try to nudge an unsuccessful die roll, or completely avoid the die if it is a successful roll. After all the crew dice have been rolled, a blank six-sided die is rolled by the current player, even if all of the current rolls are successful. This little addition of dexterity gives the game a fresh spin. Since Space Movers is cooperative it doesn’t suffer from having the person with the best coordination winning every time.
The player board includes a graphic of the ship as well as the routes you can traverse. Each player has a character with a corresponding token that indicates where in the ship they are. At each of these locations the player can perform special actions like moving the ship another space, finding a cargo card, performing two actions on two different cards, or letting a drone perform a delivery of goods up to two planets away. Having abilities you can always perform during a turn helps to make sure that every player can do something useful on their turn.
Losing the game can happen either by running out of resources, allowing the UO to have too much presence on the board, or an objective card has text on it which indicates conditions for losing the game. At first the resources and UO seem manageable, but they do start to creep up on you, which is what a good cooperative game does.
Since this is a prototype, some of the artwork and components will change. I have been informed that the d10 dice will have a medical symbol instead of a 0 on them. A stand for rolling the dice into the box will be included as well. Eventually the card backs should have artwork on them.
Space Movers 2011
Designed by: April and Kevin Cox
Published by: KnA Games
Time: 60 minutes
Mechanics: Cooperative, resource management, dexterity, pick up and deliver
I really appreciate games that try to innovate some aspect of gameplay. The addition of the dexterity element to Space Movers 2201 makes the game more interesting than just rolling a regular skill check. While there are a few minor issues, I recommend this for fans of cooperative games who are looking for a unique twist, especially if they are fans of sci-fi.