In scouring the depths of the Kickstarter Galaxy, I have researched, I have studied the stars to determine just where I might find a hidden jewel. There are gas planets out there (long, campaign games with high entry fees), asteroids (campaigns that just get in the way), and dwarf planets (maybe fun for a play or two, but not necessarily worth backing). But somewhere out there…is the perfect planet (the unique and interesting game that deserves greater attention).
And my fellow board game scientists…I believe I have found it –> The Search for Planet X from Foxtrot Games, designed by Ben Rosset and Matthew O’Malley.
Some stats about The Search for Planet X: designed for 2-4 players, ages 13+. Playing time is estimated at 60-75 minutes. At its core, this is a deduction game. Everyone is trying to look out into the stars to determine exactly where Planet X is hiding. By utilizing your starting clues, the research you do during the game, and the inferences you can try to make from your opponents’ actions –> your goal is to prove that you are the best astrophysicist of the bunch!
Now, I’d like to highlight the elements of this game that have piqued my interest.
- Logic puzzle gameplay — As a kid, I loved getting and working through logic puzzle books. You remember the ones with the clues at the top and below a tree of boxes to check off unrelated items, so that you could begin deducing what was true? I get that vibe from this game…and to me, that’s a good thing!
- The time / movement system — In ‘Search for Planet X’ each action you perform takes time…and the better / more valuable the action, the more time you will spend performing it. The next action is then performed by the player furthest back on the time track. Some players may want to perform a few big research actions, while others may opt for smaller nuggets of info in a greater quantity.
- Changing sky — In reality, if I go outside at night to look at the stars, I’m only going to see a certain portion of the galaxy — as time progresses, the Earth rotates, other sections become visible. It is my understanding that this is realistically portrayed by the aforementioned time track system. At any point, only “half” of space can be researched. Thus, if you really want to research sectors 10-12, you may want to help progress time more quickly to open up those areas for research.
- Point system — In many deduction games, the ultimate reward is being first to “figure it out.” And while there are greater rewards for finding Planet X first in this game, it does not guarantee your victory. Every player can get a diminishing amount of points upon determining Planet X’s location. On top of those points, you can score for making correct theories along the way. Now, these theories may help your opponents in finding Planet X, but you will be rewarded for your scientific accomplishments and their advancement of knowledge within the astroscientific community. The player who can best balance theoretical research with factual findings will be the winner!
- App integration — when done well, I am really enjoying app integration in board games –> furthermore, I love it as an addition to deduction games. The app allows for information to be provided privately and for solutions to be judged in secret, negating the need for player elimination and allowing the opportunity for multiple people to reach the answer at different times.
If you are looking for a well-thought out deduction game, especially one that goes beyond the normal “who-dun-it” theme, then take a look at the Kickstarter campaign for The Search for Planet X, which ends Wednesday, October 30th.
What other campaigns are you tracking or backing right now? I’d love to hear in the comments or over on my Twitter feed. Thanks!