It’s a Space Race Ameritrash #Boardgame – First Impressions of Tranquility Base (@worth2004, 2018)

I’LL ADMIT IT, I LOVE SPACE. As a historian, I also love the history of the US Space Program. So when I saw the ad copy for Tranquility Base (History in Action / Worthington Publishing, 2018) on Kickstarter I had to pledge my support. I am very happy I did because Tranquility Base is pure Ameritrash gaming awesomeness!

Now, I am using the phrase Ameritrash in the most favorable way here. Tranquility Base hits all the best parts of Ameritrash:

  • Theme – It’s the US Space Race
  • Player-to-Player Conflict – A bit of “take that” to prevent multiplayer solitaire
  • Moderate to High Levels of Luck – You need the right cards at the right time; no drawing from a river of cards just cycle the deck! But there’s no dice….
Courtesy Worthington Publishing

Turns out Tranquility Base is an update to the 1997 & 2006 title Moonshot the Game (History in Action). I never saw the earlier version, so Tranquility Base is my first exposure to the game. I’ll admit I got this game in large part because of RockyMountainNavy Jr., my aspiring aerospace engineer. He loves all thing aerospace right now and the game will help him learn the history of the US Space Program.

Courtesy Worthington Publishing

In terms of game mechanics, Tranquility Base is at heart a set collection racing game. Each turn players spend Fuel (the game currency) to Assemble Missions, Launch Missions, Move, rearrange equipment, or even Scrub Missions. History cards provide bonuses while Wild and Instant cards are often used to slow down an opponent. I wasn’t really expecting this “take that” element of the game but upon play immediately see how it is necessary to interfere in your opponents plans. In many ways it is no different than the Fate Decks in Villainous. Most importantly, it prevents the game from devolving into multiplayer solitaire.

The RockyMountainNavy Boys and I played our first game of Tranquility Base for our Family Game Night this weekend. True to the box, our first play at 3-players took about 90 minutes. We all caught onto the game mechanics quickly, though it did take until about mid-game to internalize some of the more subtle aspects. Future games will be faster; maybe not fast enough to make Tranquility Base a filler game but fast enough to make this a good candidate for a 1-hour-or-less time block. I won the game by completing my six missions and already had relaunched a mission which I used to get to the Moon first. RockyMountainNavy T was next in turn order and he would have completed his last two missions and been able to land on the Moon in his turn. RockMountainNavy Jr. had four missions completed and was probably two turns away from winning. It really was a close race!

Soviet Moon inside the box with the upgraded metal landers

Tranquility Base has an in-box solo mode. The game is also packaged with the new Soviet Moon Expansion which can be used as an extra non-player for the regular game or as a timer in the solo game. I have reviewed the rules for the expansion and look forward to using it in the game as it not only imparts more history but also adds more “Space Race” flavor to the game.

Tranquility Base will definitely relaunch and find its way back to the RMN gaming table, and soon. Excitedly, RMN Jr. said he wants to take the game to school for his aerospace class. I can also see this box rocketing about the block with the Neighborhood Gaming Gang. The rich theming, educational appeal, and simple mechanics of Tranquility Base also make it a good “gateway game” for non-gamers to launch into the hobby.

In a year where my two purchases of a non-wargame family strategy game have turned out to be less-than-stellar (Villainous: Wicked to Core and Star Wars: Outer Rim) I am really pleased with how the simple Ameritrash awesomeness of Tranquility Base is a success. It’s a well-themed, mechanically simple game with a high enjoyment factor that also happens to be highly educational – in other words a perfect family game.


Feature image by self.

@Mountain_Navy 2019 half-year #wargame #boardgame stats check-in

Almost a month late, but here are my wargame/boardgame stats for Jan 01 thru June 30, 2019. Compiled thanks to BoardGameGeek and BGGStats.

So, does this make me a better gamer than you? NO! I am just gaming in my own way and enjoying it. I’m not looking to compare myself to others but rather share with all of you the joy gaming has brought to myself and my family. It’s not important if you play one game a month or 100; the important part is to enjoy the hobby!

My #Boardgame Week – Evil times with Villainous: Wicked to the Core (Ravensburger, 2019) & questing with Quarriors! (@wizkidsgames, 2011)

This was a much different week of boardgaming than I imagined when it began.

Courtesy BGG.com

Our weekly boardgame night was moved to Friday to accommodate a family event on Saturday. I pulled out the new Villainous: Wicked to the Core (Ravensburger, 2019) to play. Wicked is a stand-alone version of Villainous with three new villains that is fully compatible with the original game. Youngest RockyMountainNavy Boy took Hades, Middle RMN was the Evil Queen, and I took Dr. Facilier.

I can understand why these villains were not in the original game. All three play with a bit of a more complex mechanic. Hades has to summon and move Titans, Evil Queen must find ingredients and Brew Poison while Dr. Facilier has a Fortune Deck. Not that the new mechanics are overly complex; just different and a bit harder to understand given the short villain guides.

Component-wise, it was Youngest RMN Boy who pointed out the villain “Movers” (oh, how I hate that term!) seemed a bit better quality than the original. The cards are made with the same somewhat flimsy core and the new game does not have the cheap plastic Cauldron for holding the Power Tokens. For only a few dollars less than the full game one gets half the number of villains and less components. Not sure it is really a good bargain.

The game experience was ok. We all need to play these villains again to get a better sense of how to make their decks work. Bottom line is that Villainous will land on the table again, but we are not going to be in a rush to get there.

After Ravensburger won the Toy of the Year Award for Villainous, I expected a bit of some hype to accompany the release of Wicked. The game was released Sunday, March 3 in the states. Late Sunday, I went to the local Target to find the game because it showed in stock when I checked online. I couldn’t find it on the shelves; as a matter of fact, I couldn’t even find a spot on the shelves where it was supposed to be. I asked a clerk about it and he checked the item number then said, “Oh, they’re still in the back.” They hadn’t even moved the stock to the shelves. He brought an unopened box of four out and gladly sold me one. So much for the hype!

Last week, after playing our first game of Quarriors! (WizKids, 2011) in something like eight years, and not really enjoying it, the RockyMountainNavy Boys challenged me to  a rematch the next night…

…and the next night…

…and the next night…

…and the next night…

..and the next. All through the week, as a matter of fact. Youngest RMN Boy even went so far as to declare Quarriors! amongst his new favorite games. So why the total change of heart?

pic1063487
Courtesy BGG.com

Quarriors! plays fast. We are able to fit a game into a 45 min slot after dinner. The game also plays in a very balanced manner. Youngest RMN is 3-3, Middle RMN 2-4, and I am 1-5. The RMN Boys like the stories the different cards create. Some games have a nice balanced selection of creatures. In one game all the creatures were expensive to summon which really changed the dynamic of the game. Another game it was the spells that made a powerful difference.

Quarriors! has moved to the living room cabinet as a game that can be brought out after dinner for a quick play. Given the card variety, it will be a while before it grows stale. Interestingly, I asked the boys about the other Dice Masters games built around the many superhero themes. They both declined buying a new version as they like the original theming just fine!


Feature image BoardGameGeek.com