Disaster Looms! (Preview)
It’s Armageddon for real this time, and Bruce Willis is nowhere to be found…what can be done? Well, for starters, you can take control of a major spaceship corporation and charge an arm and a leg to ferry customers off of Earth and onto other habitable planets. I know, sounds cruel…but the Ferengi’s 22nd Rule of Acquisition states that “A wise man can hear profit in the wind” and Star Trek hasn’t let you down yet. It’s a dog eat dog galaxy, and you’re out to be the biggest asteroid in the belt.
In, “Disaster Looms!”, you’ll be doing just that. As a major corporation, you’ll be trying to collect resources by evacuating the population of Earth onto other planets. You’ll be buying ships and researching technologies to help you do this, but you’ll up against other corporations trying to do the very same thing.
I’d like to thank Eric from Break From Reality Games for sending me a free demo copy. Please be advised that the pictures that you see in this article are prototypes and are not part of the final product. Since the game hasn’t been released and the rules and components aren’t final, the below will simply be a preview of what’s to come as well as my first impressions.
The Earth tile will be placed in the middle of the table at the beginning of every new game. Players will be adding new, random exploration tiles adjacent to it as the game goes on. There are six starter technologies that are also placed on the board that everyone will have access to from the get go.
The research cards and exploration tiles are each categorized into tiers…specifically the A, B, and C decks. Players will shuffle each deck separately and arrange them so that ALL players draw from A first, then B, then C.
Each player gets a corporation of their own color (along with their colored ships) and two resource tokens. Players will place their smallest ship on Earth and put one customer token on their player dashboard in the appropriate cargo hold space.
Players decide randomly who goes first.
It’s worth noting that there are multiple variants inside the prototype manual to help balance the game for two, three, or four players. The above is an overview of the four player game, though being a prototype, these rules are subject to change.
Players will be taking turns during each phase of a round. The different phases in a round can be summarized as follows:
Phase One: Research Phase – Players will be able to research or license technologies and are limited to researching one time per round. It costs resources to research technology, and you can only have up to three. Players also have the ability to buy licensing rights to someone else’s technology, for a fee, allowing them to use that technology for that round only. The player owning the technology can’t refuse this transaction.
Phase Two: Fleet Phase – Players will take one action with each of their ships in play. Ships will be able to perform various actions: explore, establish colonies, and ferry customers…just to name a few.
Phase Three: Management Phase – Players will sell technologies to Earth, build ships, and/or build warp gates.
Phase Four: Revenue Phase – Players will collect resources from Earth and from their respective colonies, profits, and trade routes.
Phase Five: Check for Game End Phase – If the Cataclysm exploration tile is revealed or there are no more customers in the pool, then game over.
Phase Six: Auction Phase – The bidding begins on who will be the first player during the next round.
The winner of the game is the person with the most points after it’s been determined that the game is over in Phase Five. Points are awarded based on a player’s number of colonies, customers inhabiting said colonies, resources owned, and unsold technologies.
I won’t go into the specifics since the game hasn’t been finalized yet, but the above should give you a general idea of what you would be in for.
“Disaster Looms!” is a lot of fun. I personally like how the drawing of random tiles when exploring helps to give players a new experience every single time. You may end up with a bunch of asteroid fields around you one game and have habitable planets surrounding Earth the next…this mechanic adds to the game’s replayability tenfold.
The idea of owning technology and then having someone else pay to license it is a neat mechanic. It helps to prevent one particular person from hoarding all the of the good technologies for themselves, while adding a strategy element to the game. Some folks may not want to acquire the tech but only use it when they need to…making licensing viable and freeing them up to purchase and own other technologies.
The threat of someone else taking over one of your worlds until it is fully colonized adds a bit of strategy to the game as well. Do you keep your ship above the planet to prevent others from taking that colony away from you? You could, but you might be missing out on other opportunities by keeping your ship in one place.
Based on what I have played so far, I’m anxious to get my hands on the final production of this game. As of 5/29/12, ”Disaster Looms!” has reached its minimum funding goal, though more content is provided as they reach their stretch goals…so if you like what you see, feel free to pledge your support using the links below. If I end up acquiring the final production of this game, I may do a separate, full review to show you what the final components look like among other things…so keep an eye out!
You can learn more about Break From Reality Games on their website here:
You can pledge your support for “Disaster Looms!” by visiting Kickstarter here: