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Bureaunauts (Preview)

Filing Paperwork, earning and spending the Almighty Photon, dealing with hazardous Solar Jellies, and planning out your fiscal periods is just all in a day’s work in “Bureaunauts”, a game that’ll be launching on Kickstarter early August of 2016.  In short, you’ll be competing with other players to complete career goals in order to gain votes across the five department heads.  Before we go any further, I’d like to thank Allison Markello from Fox and Ox Creations, LLC for reaching out and providing me with a prototype for preview purposes.  It’s important to stress that prototypes are a work in progress and not reflective of the final product, making everything featured here (including the rules) subject to change.


Bureaunauts: 2-6 Players, Ages 14+, Average Play Time = 45 Minutes

Bureaunauts: 2-6 Players, Ages 14+, Average Play Time = 45 Minutes


Bureaunauts is not some dry game about space politics, so let’s clear the air first and foremost.  It’s a game about discovery as you explore the cruel vastness of space.  The border cards 1-10 and A-H will form the outsides of your grid, giving each point in space a specific coordinate (like in “Battleship”).  When setting up the game, players will seed both solar system and space cards across this grid, face-down, so that no one knows who will discover what where.  As players find space pirates and relics, they’ll replace them with open space cards after resolving them.

Each turn represents a fiscal period, which is broken up into a number of steps:

1. Solar Jellies move and spawn.

2. Players receive Almighty Photons based on the amount listed on their budget tracker.  Budgets increase as players complete their career goals.

3. File paperwork (pay one Almighty Photon to do an action or move).  Players who don’t file paperwork cannot participate again in this fiscal period.

4. Players who paid a photon in step 3 choose coordinates or ** (perform action) on their dual dials, then reveal them simultaneously.

5. Players repeat steps 3 and 4 until all players run out of almighty photons (currency) or choose not to file paperwork.




Turns continue until one player has completed all five of their career goals (assigned to them during setup), which in turn initiates a vote.  The player with the most votes, wins the game!

I know what you’re thinking…”Solar Jellies?  Paperwork?  Almighty Photons?  What does all that mean?”

In a word, Solar Jellies are bad.  They’re the “scourge of Bureaunauts everywhere”, as the manual describes them.  One jelly will spawn for each player in the game every turn, which occurs after any existing Jellies move.  There’s a Jelly Activity deck to determine in which direction they move.  Jellies can even increase in level by combining should they spawn on onto a space already occupied by a Jelly or moves/spawns onto a solar system space.  You can destroy Jellies by leveling up your own spaceship and landing on jellies whose level is lower than yours.  You can also pay Almighty Photons to temporarily increase your level.  Once a Jelly is defeated, you’ll advance your Jelly Tracker on your player board appropriately.

It’s easy to get sucked into slaying these nasty things, but completing career goals by doing various tasks will give you the edge you’ll need to get those votes.  Every player has five career goals and they MUST be completed in order.  Don’t worry, players will be able to choose the order during setup and can re-arrange them later via the “goal adjustment” action.  When a goal is completed, players can place their color’s influence cards into the appropriate department head stack(s).  Getting as much influence into these department head stacks is imperative, as votes are decided via a random shuffling/draw of each of the five decks at the end of the game.  A player who gets 3/5 votes automatically wins via a hard vote, while those who only get two win a soft majority and need two to win (another voting round occurs).




In the meantime, moving around the galaxy can be quite dangerous (or rewarding, if you’re lucky).  Players can run into space pirates which can be defeated in the same way as the Jellies…by upgrading your spaceship so that your level is higher than your opposition.  Finding and defeating them can be a good thing though, as they can help you complete Law & Order career goals.  Relics can be discovered to help you complete the Relic Hunter career goals without the need for all that messy combat.  Space junk can help you upgrade your ship up to level 4 (no further).  The Dark Star and +X Photons will give you a nice monetary boost to help you move and take more actions.  Solar Systems have their own similar effects and include things like pirate outposts, relics, and dreaded Jelly swarms.

There’s a good bit of the rules that I didn’t cover, but hopefully the above will help give you an idea as to what you’re in for should you decide to support the game.  I personally enjoyed this one, as it reminded me a bit of “Star Trek” (playable in BASIC on older PCs & released in 1971) to where you went around a grid hunting for Klingons.  Only here, you’re actually competing with others to do a whole heck of a lot more.  There’s some luck involved as you never know what you’re getting into when you land on an unexplored space.  It could be that relic you need to complete your career goal, or it could be a nasty pirate waiting to damage your ship.

I really liked the voting system at the game’s end, though I can see where some may have a problem with it.  Some abstract gamers don’t like it when things are left to chance as it’s very possible to have 4 out of 5 influence cards in one of the five decks and still lose the vote due to the random draw.  I find that it serves to keep things casual and give losing players a chance to still win, even if their chances aren’t all that great.  The rulebook is about 20+ pages so I recommend that you have an experienced gamer on hand to read through it to teach any casual gamers in your family the basics.  Taken as a whole, everything can seem a bit overwhelming at first.  If experienced gamers keep newcomers focused on completing goals and upgrading their ships, then you shouldn’t have a problem.

Editor’s Note: I was told after the fact that they are reworking the rulebook and managed to get the word count down by 40% on just the first pass.  The expected length of the rulebook is to be 12-16 pages, though this information is subject to change.

Well, what are you waiting for?  If you’re a sci-fi nerd like me, then head on over to the game’s Kickstarter page and take a look.  “Bureaunauts” isn’t just space politics, it’s a sci-fi adventure waiting to be discovered.

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/247507164/1251873692?token=55bd9369

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