Number of nut stores in the galaxy increases. But it’s not those common nuts, which grow here on planet Earth on trees and bushes. These are the nuts, that can be mined on abandoned worlds and planets, in craters made by fall of meteorites. After impact, stone in the right environment creates very rare composition, for which many races are willing to pay large sums of money.
Welcome among nutdiggers. People, who make a living by flying around the galaxy, tracking down the craters on the planets, and then looking for nuts inside. Not an easy job, we can tell you that. Sometimes it happens, that you will find no stone in a few days. But its still worth trying. These nuts are merely the beginning of your tour. If you mine enough, you can become a master. Start the engines of your ship and go on hunt!
In board game AstroNuts, you can use these stone nuts to build colonies and dominate the galaxy. Game was created by the Angelo Porazzi and the game is coming as a novelty for 2012, published in production of newly formed company Mücke Spiele. Its label under popular website Spielmaterial.de, which, as its name suggests, produces primarily components for boardgames.
AstroNuts are work of Angelo Porazzi, who has also created graphics for it. It is the newest of small games, Mücke Spiele published. And it’s also the first our review, which is focusing on their games. But its definitely not the last, so look out for more in the future!
The game is contained inside small dark blue box, whose colors and dots remind you of universe. The lid is decorated with image of red spaceship surrounded by planets and other vessels. Ship is operated by screaming aliens. We will join their teams soon, but first we should see, what awaits you inside the box.
At first glance, you will see three bags full of plastic components. In one, there are small human figures representing colonies. Then in next sack, you meet with coins labelled N, and are universally used as currency – Nuts. The third and last bag contains three vessels for each color. Along with those three bags, there are two black dice lying on the bottom.
Under all of these components, just above the bottom, there is very discreetly hidden game board, containing illustrations of various planets – small and large with tiny asteroids around. Entire system is bound to space travel, which you’ll soon be cruising for yourself. Everything is concluded by a short and detailed rules with a table on the back, you will need for playing. Likewise, you must each time use rear side of the box with a scale reaching from one to fifteen.
Players divide colorful ships among themselves. Everyone chooses a color and receives three vessels and in addition also fifteen nut tokens and twenty colonies. The board has four corners and each one is a starting point for one of rivals – they selects it as their home planet. This is the place, where they put their first ship. The other two vessels are waiting in docks to be built.
Now you need to fill all planets on the board with colored nuts. Opponents alternately placed tokens on different planets. On a small planet, there is place for maximum of two, but large can take up to three tokens. None, however, can not contain two circles of the same color. Afther the whole board is filled, everyone is left with some tokens. These are used to create a bank. Each player takes one token of each color for himself. Yes, chips are common from now on, regardless of their color.
And now we can start playing. Start of a turn is common to all players – they all roll dice. This is, how each of them determines, how many action points can he spend during this round for action. But its not so simple and depends not only on luck. Each player chooses a number and bets, that he manages to roll at least the same number (or higher) on his dice. If he can do that, he does not only get his craved action points, but even double it! He puts one colony figure on number of actions, he has available for this round.
Conversely, if the player is too greedy, bets number too high (for example 5 or 6) and rolls lower number on the dice, he gets action points corresponding to number of dots on rolled dice. That means really little action points. It creates a difficult choice players, whether they should risk it, or stick to the ground and enjoy a possible double. Three and four are ideal situation for most of these cases, but from time to time, they just will not work either, because you have to roll a one sometimes.. No doubt about that.
For what can be these action points spent? Well, firstly, you move your ship around the galaxy from planet to planet. Each step pictured on the board costs you one action point, just as extraction of nut tokens from the planet does, regardless of the number of tokens, which are lying there. You take them immediately into your inventory and you can begin to spend them.
For example, reinforcements for your fleet. Building such new vessel needs time, so it does not cost only tokens, but its also an action. Moreover, you can also colonize new planets for one action and one nut of any color. Simply put a standing figure (colony) of your color on that planet. And the number of colonies of the game decides the winner, but we’ll get to it in a minute.
Players can also modernize their technology using the acquired color tokens. Such research is challenging, but it can be lead in four directions. It denpends on color of token you discover, but yu pay same price for each progress. You can research offensive weapons, defensive shields, or better a time drive for your ships. You will then gain opportunity to reroll dice or improve your attack and defense.
Whenever two boats meet on the board on neighboring fields (two ships can never be on the same site in galaxy), they attack each other. Both players roll the dice and add the value of their attack and defense technologies – lasers for attacker and shields for defender. If agressor gathers higher value, he managed to destroy the target – enemy ship. Although this may not necessarily be a hostile ship, but target can be also colony on the planet, the ship is orbitting.
There are unpleasant surprises waiting for your ships on the uninhabited planets, in addition to a chance for new future of your kind. Whenever your vessel arrives at the new planet’s orbit and stop its movement here, you have to roll the dice to determine your fate. This is the moment, when table from the back of rules comes in handy – dice offers you two coordinates for two rolling and creates a total of eighteen outcomes (the first roll of the dice decides the most: 1-3 are good events, 4-6 are bad, the second roll then specifies the row of that event type).
The game is generally quick and ends as soon as one of space travelers manages to build a fourteenth colony on the planet. And because there is place for two on small planet and for three on big planet, player ships must travel a long way to accompish this. Player, who succeeded first becomes an immediate winner.
AstroNuts is family game, which features label 6+ on the box. And believe it or not, but in spite of this being a sci-fi game, it is absolutely correct! The rules are really very simple and children pick it up very quickly. Moreover, it is very interesting beautiful processing, which makes them return and craving for more matches.
Children will be immediately entertained and dragged into a spacecolonization theme. It also suggests, that game time will be around 30 minutes and sometimes even less. Travelling with ships through the galaxy and collecting resources is just really fast and surprisingly entertaining. But AstroNuts still maintains a pleasant strategic depth and more decisions, than you would expect from a family game. You can upgrade technologies, choose routes and planets, collect resources and expand colonies. The more players are involved in the match, the better. There is quite a little interaction, when you are playing with two. But the dice choices make it entertaining anyway.
You might be frightened of a pair of dice, which have two tasks here. First of all, they decide the fate of your ship, when you arrive at the planet’s orbit. This corresponds to reality, you are exploring completely foreing rock, and you can never be sure, who inhabits it. For such purposes, there is a total of eighteen different results, that provide a diverse, entertaining and somewhat frustrating results.
Much funnier and elegant principle created by Angelo Porazzi, is to roll your dice on start of your each turn and bet, how much action points you want to gain, like you could already read in our rules description. You control the number of action points gathered, by deciding, how much you are willing to risk. And then let your courage assess the dice, that can double your points or leave you only with result of this one roll. And it is not too much, trust us on that.
This makes the game exciting at any time, but if a player can gamble well enough, he can even come back from the last place up to the lead. A well planned and particularly successful risk can reverse everything and bring you up to huge number of action points per round.
But this leads us also to perhaps the only drawback. While a player has gained a large number of action points for his turn (which, however, does not happen too frequently), his turn may take longe, than you like. And we all know, how badly children endure waiting, when they do not play (yes, really poorly). Luckily these lags are not too often in the game, and for most of the gametime, players alternate in their moves on fairly regular basis.
Players can challenge each other. And you can be sure, that kids will like this option to destroy opponent’s ship or colony. The adversary can rebuild his darling, which can be costly and time consuming. And it can be a problem with colonies. Others are waiting for this opportunity to fill empty space on planet.
Now we look again at, what is completely clear judging from surrounding images. Astronuts excel with perfect workmanship for such little game! Lovely plastic figures of ships and colonies. And also elegant colored tokens. The entire game does not take itself very seriously and the sci-fi theme is accessed with lightness.
Astronuts is excellent game for families with children, yet surprisingly it will not disappoint gamers either. Everyone without exception will have great fun with it. Each match knows its winner rather quickly. Yet the whole box maintains more than reasonable price tag. So jump into your spaceship (or other vehicle) parked outside your house and fly (drive) to the store to buy this nice game!
+ colony and ship miniatures
+ betting for action points each turn
+ simple rules
+ quick game
+ you can fight others
+ suitable for children
- moves can be long with more action points
- luck when visiting planets might bother someone (just a table with dice - can be excluded from game)