Spaceteam Is Fun & Frantic – Board Game Review

Phew, I’m pretty exhausted, so let’s do a real quick one today – Fitting, since we’re talking about the cooperative card game, SpaceTeam. SpaceTeam is a great little party game I discovered while Chritstmas shopping for cheap, fun games for my family. The game is small and portable and rounds are typically 7 minutes or less, making for a good road trip game. The only thing I’d recommend is a nice big table (preferably rounded) so everyone can see each other and pass to each other accordingly. I also highly recommend downloading the official timer from playspaceteam.com (or pulling it up on your phone) for complete immersion and flavor.

SpaceTeam is a pretty simple matching game against the clock. You and your 2-5 friends (I prefer 4-6 total players) are the brave members of SpaceTeam who are stranded in the depths of space with a malfunctioning spaceship. It’s up to you to bring all six major systems back online before you all run out of life support. Each player is dealt a pile of malfunction cards and a hand of tool cards. When the timer starts, each player flips over their first malfunction card and attempts to fix it. You can fix a malfunction card by laying down the correct combination of tools from your hand – it could ask for certain types of tools or specifically named tools. If you don’t have the necessary tool, you can ask your other crew members to trade tools with you, but remember, they’re trying to fix their own problems as well. Trading can only happen between players directly to the right or left of you, so sometimes it takes multiple trades to get a tool around the circle – and with the clock ticking and everyone shouting things can get hectic in a New York Minute.

What truly elevates SpaceTeam is the fact that all of the tools are weird, made-up, alien words like the “Orbring” or “Fluxloosener Inducer”. Sometimes a malfunction will only give you a picture of the tool so you have to describe what you need like, “Does anyone have a purple vacuum cleaner?” or “An orange dart board with purple dots and yellow horns?”. In addition, a set number of “anomalies” are shuffled into player’s piles as well – these physical challenges range from everyone trading seats to not being able to use your thumbs for the rest of the round. The cacophony of players yelling absurd names and descriptions over each other is always a comical experience. The difference between success and failure is balancing fixing your own problems with listening and helping everyone else, which can often end in everyone clearing their board and helping the last straggler in the final moments. When all six systems are go, the timer is stopped and the ship is saved, if not the self-destruct sequence is activated and all participants go out in a blaze of glory.

The art design is simple and appealing. The cards are easy to read and the simple shapes make describing the tools a little easier. The cards have a nice weight to them and a semi-glossy texture which feels nice to the touch. They can get a little slippery with all the hand shuffling and trading between players, and the stack in front of you can shift and become disorganized pretty easily. Also, the cards are easily damaged, particularly the tool cards since they change hands the most. Almost like chipped paint, the cards can develop purple and white splotches, presumably the color underneath the card prints. In my opinion it gives the cards some character, but just be aware that it’s challenging to keep the cards in mint condition with such a hectic game.

SpaceTeam is a really easy card game to recommend. New players may feel overwhelmed at first, but that’s kind of the whole appeal. Failure is quick and painless and it’s easy to reshuffle and try again refreshed. More advanced players can push the challenge even harder with additional cards and shorter timers, making the game very replayable. And since the game is cooperative rather than competitive, everyone is encouraged to work together and help the weaker players. For those who don’t like yelling, or have a hard time multitasking SpaceTeam might have a steep learning curve, but I’ve yet to bring this game out and not have a good time!

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