Universe is filled with debris civilizations. Sound makes no sense here, but the silence even more accents devastation caused by people. Earth filled with craters resembled the moon, while Luna completely disappeared from the scenery visible from the surface of our home world. And it was not just due to the ubiquitous dust raised after the explosion of dozen atomic bombs. Moon as such was shattered into several pieces.
One of them fell into the Atlantic Ocean and plowed into the heart of our world. This shrapnel made it clear for: this is no longer our land. And never will be again. We failed our hospitable home. But the fight for a place in the sun and survival will begin again, somewhere. People like to fight, so even in the universe, it will be no different. It´s going to be a new battle and winner will have a new world just for himself..
This inhospitable future is the subject of an interesting sci-fi board game Exodus: Proxima Centauri. Its authors are Agnieszka Koper and Andrei Novac, both from Romania. Unusual location for the creation of board games with them also shares company, that covers the whole issue – NSKN Legendary Games. Science fiction illustrations were prepared for the game by Maria Marin and George Necula before it was released in 2012.
Exodus belong to a group of grand space strategies, for which is common name 4Xgames, referring to the four English words containing X. In our editorial we already had a representative of this category, Space Empires 4X (review) or smaller Exile Sun (review).
Game impresses you with its glossy black box and space fighter on the cover. Dimensions and weight are fair and suggest a proper kick of playful components inside. And you will not be disappointed. The package is filled to the roof with nine sheets for punch-out tokens and planets. There are blueprints of vessels too, but also of their engines, shields and weapons. Superiority is hidden in number of movement tokens – 168 of them and each of the six participating parties collects his 28 pieces.
Next we have a compact three decks of cards. 36 of them will be divided between players. Forty-five smaller leaves are engaged in politics, while remaining 51 aims not to only provide information (few help cards), but also serve local resistance – army of Proxima Centauri, the so-called centaurians.
The major components are now only player boards and one central desk, which will monitor all the important game informations. But dimensions are not everything. You will be convinced about this easily, as you meet hexahedral blocks of six colors. Just by shades of competing parties are divide respectable 150 wooden blocks. 184 small columns will serve as a source of raw materials. The most important in the box from the very first impression are ships. There are eight for each of the opponents, always in pairs of all four types.
Game starts simply with preparation of star system. Its shape and size will vary depending on the number of players, who will compete for its domination. Distribution can be found in the rules for all possible counts ranging from two to maximum six players. In the middle of everything, there will always be tile of the High Council and around it will be distributed defense in form of centaurian ships.
Players get their home planet on the edge of space. These are the only ones, they managed to capture, when arriving in a foreign system. Space in the middle is filled with a variety of random planets, creating everdifferent designs. Each of them contains a certain number of starting materials printed, which you should move there right now.
Breakdown of colors follows. Players each take all eight ships and also dice and wooden cubes of all its population in the same color, 28 movement tokens, six action cards, three voting tokens and four ship blueprints – one from each category. Home planet is settled with three population cubes and in orbit, there will be one Dark Raider and one Battle Carrier watching over your people.
There is yet another board for each player, where you put five tokens of crystallized platinum (C.P. = basic raw material in blue color). You have to also split four nuclear drives among your ships, as well as a shield and two phase cannons. All other common objects create piles next to the central board of the Great Council. This is aslo place, on which you put shuffled pile of cards of centaurian resistance divided into three levels according to Roman numerals. First round can begin as soon as you deal random order cards among players and placing a token on the round track.
Match is divided into seven large rounds, which are separated into five smaller stages. Players go through these together and alternating according to order cards. Each round begins with income phase, that will bring everybody a new population (two cubes) for home planet and minerals mined from all planets you own. You have to pay a tax for both advanced materials – axinium and phasium – in the form of one C.P. At the same time you also have a chance to repair damage on one of your ships, if you have sufficient technology.
Now is the time for a peaceful meeting of leaders of opposing parties. Under the supervision of the Elder, they meet and make political decisions. There will always be two or three cards in the menu. Players vote on them with finance (platinum). Finally, selected card is usually activated and its effect will apply until you choose a new one in the next round. Second part of voting involves order of players and consequently also naming of new Chancellor (first player), which has a slightly better position, than others.
Second phase is a bigger portion of the whole turn. Competitors have a choice of all cards in their hands. They play them face down in front and then simultaneoulsy reveal their choices. Action card is divided into two parts, upper one is played right away as an action and is immediately executed. Then all players have a chance for reaction printed in lower part, but not just on your card. But it will always cost you some population – one with your own card, two with enemy one. Then players play another action and can again perform reactions. Players with politics researched can take used cards back now.
There is plenty actions to choose, starting from research (advancements are noted on your player board), obtain funding, through building of new ships, improvements of these space vessels up to trade with other players. Many activities are also affected by level of invented technologies. To research them, you always need one cube of population and on top of that, pay their development cost.
But finally we get to the stage of conquest, where players move their ships, but also transfer population between planets. To do this, you must load them onto vessel with sufficient capacity. Each ship can then move in turn up to three fields of space, based on quality of its engines. Players schedule their movement secretly with the help of tokens, that determine direction of flight for every step. Then all the boats move along their planned route.
When boats of more player get together in one place, encounter will be followed by a fight to the death until there is only one surviving army. They will be shooting at each other with help of dice. Their number are determined by strength of your ship´s cannons and all fives and sixes are considered hits. Other times you will have to confront the squadron Centurians under the same rules. At the very end, after fights are over, you can land people on surface of the new world, if you wish.
During the game, all players collect victory points, which are a way to win. You get points primarily for combat, specifically for each destroyed opponent´s ship in winning battle. Other points are awarded in the end for population size, occupied space (at least one ship is present), defeated centaurian resistance and current role of Chancellor. Player who accumulated the most victory points in total is the winner and the ruler of the entire solar system!
Exodus: Proxima Centauri is excellent and very sophisticated game, in which you´ll get everything you imagined could be important in exploring the universe. Battle for a new home on a system of planets is not won alone and you have to stretch all your tactical skills and take advantage of opponents weaknesses up to the last drop.
The most important in your quest for victory is technology. It will enhance the ability of mining, but also raises profit of banking, improves population growth or even allows you to play third action card during one round. And that really counts!
There are three kinds of materials in the game, with which you can trade and buy things supporting your war capabilities. Thanks to this, your efforts should be directed at mining in the beginning. Each occupied planet provides only one type of raw materials, which guarantees really slow onset of development.
Opposing civilization evolve, increase their ship strength and their objectives are changing. While at the beginning, everyone is building army and extends the scope only in his part of the universe, then greed starts to lead the way not only towards centaurain rebel forces, but also towards other players. They are enemies as well. Planet and its resources are decreasing and you have to fight for them.
Battles are solved very easily by consulting luck in the form of dice. While this may seem like unnecessary in an otherwise really tactical game, but we´re not opponents of this gaming style. You have 33% chance to hit with each dice, which is just right. And battles in the universe simply never run quite as planned, and every shot simply can not be a straight hit.
Random disposition of planet to mine at the beginning is the only major difference between the games, along with political cards. Rival factions make no differences, they are all people, starting with the same assets. Differences create with time, depending on who researches which technology.
There are various ways to win Exodus. Game brings a really wide options, you have to consider with every move. Less experienced players will have problems at start, but learning curve with this game is really steep and you will get there in almost no time.
Game retains relatively simple rules. There is just a few of phases and your options in each of them is clearly summarized by action cards in your hand. Everything else just depends on minitransactions with mined resources and exploiting the capabilities of technologies you can install on your ships.
Their development was for us one of the most enjoyable stages of the game, although (as we have heard), its not as great as in for example Eclipse. But we have not played this game, so there could be no comparison coming from us in this matter. Still, having the ability to take care of your fighters, while actually able to see, how they really look, it´s really a great feeling.
Seven rounds may seem like too little, but as number of ships is increasing, also time required to move with them grows. Thanks to this, Exodus: Proxima Centauri is quite time consuming game. While the two adversaries can ideally get in 90 minutes for a match, once you fill the universe a bit, you should count better with twice as much, ie 180 minutes per battle. But its battle for space, so it has to take some time!
With variable space and presence of centaurian troops, the game luckily did not change too much, when it comes to impression in different numbers of players. Rules also come with options for more intensive or longer experience with a modified disposition of planets and varying initial sources. Excellent!
There can be found minor bugs in the rulebook, such as the numbering of the phases. Fortunately, all the relevant information are clearly stated. Yet some important information and questions are answered in the Frequently Asked Questions instead of rules itself (FAQ is located at end of rules). Fortunately, each stage contains a detailed example, which explains almost everything.
The processing itself seems nice, when you open the box, although some pieces are made of relatively thin material. But punching out those lots of tokens is a horror. As there is really a bunch of them, we really would not mind, if their removal was a little easiler. Instead, they are badly perforated and you often tear a part of paper with them. You will spend a lot of time unpacking this game. And even when playing, those thinner ones are not picked up easily as well.
Fortunately, Exodus: Proxima Centauri eventually rewards you for your efforts. Wonderfull and entertaining sci-fi game with all the tweaks, the universe offers. It puts emphasis on technologies, that are essential path to success. However, you will not be bored for a minute and will not regret hours spent with this game. Its a pleasure to go there and look up at Proxima Centauri again and again.
ATTENTION: Game is currently SOLD OUT, but authors are planning a reprint with revisited graphics and more new additions for smoother gameplay. They promised to address also quality issue. If this all is done properly according to promises, you can then raise our rating to the highest level: BRILLIANT!
Unboxing by Deskofobie:
Více o hře.
+ contains everything for a sci-fi board game lover
+ upgradeable ships
+ technological tree with interesting gains
+ balanced match
+ you have to defeat resistance of locals
+ action cards are used also by other players
- processing (will be corrected in upcoming second edition)