Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Lost Galaxy



rudy GAMES

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Some years ago my two sons have created a new word on a whim. In German this word is “Aschkohlkopf” which literally translates to something like “ash-cabbage-head”. It is a nonsense word with no meaning at all. But the two boys still use the word when they fear that they hear or see someone or something in the dark. Especially when they arrive late and have to park their bike or scooter in the dark back of our garden, they make the excuse that they heard some “ash-cabbage-heads”. And often I am the one who parks the bike then instead of them.

An “ash-cabbage-head”, that was also the first thing they said, when I wanted to playtest Lost Galaxy from RUDY GAMES with them. The cover of the box shows the torso of an alien, the fraction of the Sirius in the game. And in their vivid imagination this picture materializes the real “ash-cabbage-head”. Of course nobody wanted to play this species, and so my wife – who arrived late – was chosen to take on the role of the Sirius. The other races of the game are cyborgs, mechs and broods, all of them also not exactly what you would call the perfect son-in law, but for my sons not so awful as the Sirius....

RUDY GAMES is a small publisher from Austria with an interesting concept: all of their games integrate the mobile phone as a game element. But, in contrast to many other games from various publishers, it is their aim that the mobile phone not only acts as a counter or storyteller. It really shall improve the gameplay, learn how the players react and – by further developing the software – adjust the game to the player's experience.

In Lost Galaxy the mobile phone brings special random events into play, and the app updates cause new additional game contents from time to time. Of course, the app also counts the victory points for us. Moreover it serves as a counter, for the game is a real-time game and you only have limited time to reach your goals.

Those goals are very simple: a cosmic catastrophe in a galaxy far away approaches. It is each players' aim to evacuate as many from their own race as possible from the various planets. The population come in form of different coloured cards, one colour for each fraction. Eight of these cards are arranged around the mobile phone which represents the centre of the galaxy and leads us through the game. Each space next to this galaxy stands for a planet and the cards show the actual population of the planet. Each card has a number between 1 and 4, representing something like the number of population and equals the number of victory points.

On their turns the players must either play or exchacge cards from their hand. To play a card a player chooses one of their hand cards and plays it on one of the eight spaces around the mobile phone. There is only one requirement: The card you play must be one step higher or lower than the top card of the space you choose (if there is no card on a space, you only can play a number 1 card). The colour of the cards doesn't matter at the moment (but of course it is important for the scoring, as you will see).

On your turn you can always play as many cards as you wish. You end your turn always by drawing up to 6 hand cards again. In case you cannot play a card, you have to discard all of your hand cards to draw a complete new hand for your next turn. This procedure carries on until a player evacuates a planet by playing a spaceship (this is a special card that is shuffled under the population cards) on top of a space with a value 4 card on top. As a result the same player takes the whole pile of cards from that planet.

As said the app brings random events into play. For example it let us change the player order or prevents us from evacuating the planets for a short period of time. Another time a small coloured orbit flies through the galaxy, and if the player whose race matches the colour, sees this and touches the mobile phone in time, he or she will get a small bonus. All the events seem to be rich in variety in the first three or four games, but of course, after some time you will know all of them and you will be alerted. But still there is the possibility that the next update of the app brings us new variations.

Of course there are much more special cards next to the spaceships. All of these cards are played in the same way as the population cards, but they have their own effects. Skipping the next player's turn for example, stealing cards from a planet or protecting another the planet. Also, the fractions have all their unique special powers, some of them mean against the other fractions, some of them more to pour the game forward.

In the end, when the app ends the round, all players sort their planet cards from the evacuated planets. And all coloured cards from other fractions go back to their owners (and count as victory points for the other players too). The only bonus a player gets for evacuating other player's population is the spaceship bonus. But this bonus is a great one, because a spaceship counts as 5 points, while all other cards only count as their population value (1-4). As a result, it can also be worth to evacuate a planet without any of your own population cards...

A game of Lost Galaxy consists of 3-7 rounds (you can choose the exact number at set-up). I found Lost Galaxy to be a nice little card game, not very complex indeed, but definitely good enough to come to the table from time to time. The app-driven mechanism works fine. Although the game would also be easily playable without the app, it shows us the potential of combined app board games in the future. And maybe we still will get more complex new mechanics or mini-games for Lost Galaxy too. Up to now, I got three updates since I installed the app. For example I could imagine to introduce a bonus-malus regulation system for the players. So minus points for the leading player would be possible, if he or she delays the game by playing thier turn very slow. Because the game is real-time, a stalling technique can win a round for the leading player, so a malus system would be great to prevent this. Anyway, mobile phones and board or card games grow together more and more. I'm personally not convinced that I want this, but I must admit that in Lost Galaxy the mobile phone did not feel to be a foreign body. And of course, my two sons loved the concept. And whenever they see the picture of the Sirius faction, a silent “ash-cabbage-head” is whispered.

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany