Eriath-The Worst Ship in the galaxy

Game Overview: An unforgiving tongue-in-cheek cooperative game where the players are on board the Eriath, the worst ship in the galaxy.  You and your inexperienced crew are attempting to deliver cargo that is being carried on the derelict ship.  Each crew member has their own abilities and a random strength and weakness card is added to them each game.   Standing in your way will be fires throughout the ship, hull breaches, power outages, hazmat leaks, and both pirates and aliens that board your ship.

Box Contents: Overall, the components are well done.  This includes all of the playing cards, the game board, cardboard tokens and player mats.  There were a few issues that we had in getting ready to play the game.  First was we had to place multiple stickers onto the four blank dice along with the character tokens which represent the players, the aliens, and the pirates.  The stickers didn’t always come off easy and it took almost 30 minutes to get everything ready.  In addition, one of the player mats, the scientist, has more of a pink color which caused some confusion in setting up his character piece as I initially thought it was supposed to represent red.  However, it was supposed to be purple.

Clarity of Rules: The rules manual is glossy and twelve pages long.  For the most part, it does a very good job of explaining the rules.  It includes multiple examples and provides detailed instructions on key aspects of the game.  It also includes a nice quick reference on the final page.

Game Play:  Initially, players randomly select one of the character cards. Different abilities will be found for each character along with a place to store any equipment that they have picked up during the game and tracker levels for their health and their stress levels.  Once the stress level maxes out, you lose one health. Once your health is gone, you have died and you are out for the rest of the game.  You will also randomly draw a single weakness and strength card for each character.  Each player must be aware of these so they are correctly used throughout the game.  Some may impact their movements, stress levels, or impact dice rolls.

Players start with using up to 4 actions, which include moving 2 movements in the ship, dropping equipment, picking up equipment, using the equipment, or using a special ability.  Certain characters or certain equipment may restrict the player’s movement down to one space.

Next you draw a card disaster card.  For the most part, bad things will happen to the ship.  The text on the card will explain what happens and each card has a list of the affected items, which is very helpful.  Multiple disaster cards will be seen throughout the game including, pirate attack (1), alien attack (1), power outage (2), fire (10), airlock explosion (2), hull breach (6), cargo hatch explosion (2), disaster increase (3), lab explosion (2), system malfunction (1), and move forward (4).

When an issue comes up that affects one of the areas within the ship, a normal six sided die is rolled to identify the location it will go into.  There are six locations within the ship that correlate to each die result.  For example, if you draw a card that tells you that a fire has broken out on the ship and you roll a six then a fire token is placed into the cargo hold, which is location #6 on the board.

To help the crew battle events that are thrown at them, they can pick up and carry a single item.  It may be a fire extinguisher, fire hose, repair part for hull breaches, assault rifle to battle the aliens and pirates, med kit, haz mat suit, and toilet paper if you are the unlucky person that has dysentery.

Each round, if a fire is still burning on the ship before a disaster card is drawn, you must add a fire to that location.

As part of your actions, you can attempt to resolve the different things that are happening.  If you have the correct equipment to deal with them and you are in the same location, you then roll up to four custom dice that you placed the stickers onto.  You will see a red thumbs up (fail), green thumbs up (success), or blank.  When rolling, you want to have more success than fails.  Certain characters or strengths allow you to subtract a fail to help you succeed.

There are multiple ways to lose.  If a fire gets to five tokens in any given room, if your cargo is lost either from pirate attacks or from cargo hatch explosions, if all crew members are dead, or if the disaster level maxes out.

The only way to win is if the move forward cards are drawn and you get to the final spot on the ship distance chart.

Replay Ability: There is both good in bad in the replay ability of the game.  You randomly choose your character and each one is unique and different.  In addition, you randomly choose a strength and weakness for the characters which will change how they play each time.  There aren’t a lot of strength and weakness cards, so you will quickly cycle through them.  The game cards themselves, which drive the game, do get repetitive as you continue to see the same items and then you reshuffle the deck and see them again.

Appropriate Audience:  The game suggests 12+ and you should be able to go a little younger than this.  Our 11 year old son had no issues in understanding the game and its rules.

What We Liked/Didn't Like:  For a cooperative game, you don’t want it to be too easy.  This game goes to the far extreme where it is extremely difficult.  It has some resemblance to the popular cooperative game Pandemic, where the level keeps kicking up the further you get into the game making you draw multiple cards each turn which of course makes the game even more difficult.  Without a certain crew member, you have to cycle through the entire deck twice and get into it a third time before you will have a chance at winning.

However, you will never get into the deck for a third time.  You will lose if you lose your four cargo tokens.  Even if you fight off the pirates and they don’t steal your cargo, the two cargo hatch explosions cards that will be drawn each time you go through the deck, will remove two of the cargo tokens from the game. This means that you will never get into the deck a third time.

I wonder if a fifth cargo token was supposed to be added to the game.  We had four.  It shows just four in the directions.  However, the tokens themselves say 5x.  If there are supposed to be five, it would allow you to get into the deck a third time.

There are 30 bad things that will happen versus 4 good and one of those good cards will be negated by the system malfunction card.  It would have been nice to have different levels within the game that add or remove certain cards.  I think always losing with a very small chance of winning, will drive people away.

Because you will have to go through the deck so many times in a single play, if you make it that far, you continue to see the same things impacting you again and again.  Some variability within the game and the disaster cards would make the game more playable.

The number of players seems to impact the game play.  The game says 2-6 players.  It is a game that you can play solo by using multiple characters.  Playing it at a two player level for us seemed to be almost impossible as there is too much space to cover within the ship, especially when you have characters or items that reduce your movement to one single movement space per movement action.  When we played it at four player level, it was much easier to deal with things as you could easily spread the team and items throughout the ship.

Some of the characters are a must have and seem to not be balanced in any way.  For example, if the navigator isn’t selected in the random draw then you know you won’t have a chance to win as they double up each of the distance cards that are drawn and it means you will have to get into the deck a third time, which as noted above is impossible.

Dice rolls play a very important part of the game as they will determine if you are successful or not.  Certain characters and strength cards help mitigate them.  It also includes player elimination when a character dies.  If you are not a fan of rolling multiple dice or sitting and watching because of elimination, this may not be the game for you.

We enjoyed how we could really work together in the game where you can split up your actions to do what was best for the group and it keeps everyone involved. It gets very intense at times when you are getting close to losing the game.

Overall, we have fun playing it, but we think it needs some refinement and adjustments to the overall game play as it feels broken to us, unless you always use certain character cards.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  n/a

          **A review copy was provided to us.