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At the Play 2012 in Modena / Italy Astronauts was presented to the Italian public as part of the Area Autoproduzione which is supervised by Angelo Porazzi.
Designer and Artist: Angelo Porazzi
Publisher: Mücke Spiele
This is a 30 minute 4x game. There is exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination, sort of. It is an elegant essentialization of the genre. The map below has way points, large planets, and small planets. Players start in the corners and progress towards the middle to found colonies and gain currency (Nuts). The end game trigger is having a certain number of colonies
Along with colonies, there are also spaceships, randomly generated planets, and combat. Even though you can see the planets, you roll two dice to determine which of 36 planet types it is. Is it a crash landing, an unbreathable atmosphere, or a planet of aggressive ogres? That will affect your stay on the planet and whether you come away with anything.
There are tokens that improve offense and defense, permit combat rerolls,and all sorts of fun. Turns are simple, spend action points and then the next person goes. Do you protect your colonies with your spaceships (below) or use those same spaceships to go exploring to gain Nuts (above)?
Do you expand rapidly or tech up? Do you mine planets for extra Nuts (the currency) or move them to the next planet to create a new colony? It is a great balance of a big theme in a small box and 30 minute playtime.
This will never be a mainstay of a game night, but it is a fun jaunt in a small box. If the game is too simple, the rules even includes variants for astroholes and asteroids to spice things up. Once all the planets are explored, the player with the most colonies wins.
If you like lighter games, you can give these three a whirl within two hours and see how they suit you.
Until next time, remember, “filler” is not a bad word.