Thursday, March 7, 2013

Card game review - Light Speed

Light Speed

Game Type:  Card Game for 2-4 players
Designer:  Tom Jolly and James Ernest
Publisher:  Cheapass Games
Medium:  cardstock with color on one side
Price:  $5.00

Light Speed is a real-time card game of space combat.  The premise is simple, the game play is simple, and the game is almost too much fun.  The players each have 10 ships.  Each of these 10 ships are different, but each player has an identical set with the exception of the color.  In addition to the 40 ships, there are 2 asteroid cards.  The cards are on cardstock with the ships being printed in color with a glossy finish, while the back of the card is gray cardstock without a finish.  The rules come on a page slightly smaller than an 8 ½” by 11” page, folded in quarters and printed front and back.

Each ship card has the following details:  a number in the top left corner, the name of the ship beside the number, a number of health dots in the lower left corner, and a number of laser shots firing from the ship in a specific direction.  Some ships also have shields, which are represented by red lines on the border of the card.  The laser shots come in three colors, representing 3 different power levels of shots.  The colors are distinct, so there should be no confusion on which is which.

The goal is to score points by mining and destroying other ships.  You lose points by destroying your own ships.  And it is very easy to shoot your own ships.  One of my playtesters continually ended up in the negatives because he kept shooting his own ships by accident.  If the game were not real-time, you probably wouldn’t shoot your own ships, but a lot of the flavor of the game would be lost as well.

You play the game by shuffling your 10 ships face down.  You do not see which ship is next, so it is random and a surprise for you.  Once all the players are ready, someone says “Go” and the race begins.  Everyone places their ships at the same time, at whatever speed they want.  Some people will slap their ships down haphazardly just to get them all out.  Others will go the methodical route, but end up with fewer ships on the board.  The first person to place their last ship says “Stop”, and the remaining players can drop whatever ship is in hand wherever it is, or they can not play it.

Then you proceed to the scoring round.  The different laser colors do 1, 2, or 3 points of damage.  You start with the lowest number ship, and trace the lasers from it.  The first card the laser crosses, be it ship or asteroid, will be hit by the laser.  If the asteroid is hit, the ship counts as mining the asteroid for points equal to the damage of the laser.  If the laser hits a ship, it does a number of damage points to the ship.  Once all of the ships for the lowest value have fired, you removed destroyed ships and proceed to the next lowest ship value.  Continue this to the highest ship value on the board.  Higher value ships tend to be stronger, but might not be around if they get shot by smaller ships before their turn.  Whoever does the most damage points to a ship collects the ship for points.  Then you tally up points from mining and ship destroying to determine who wins the round.

All in all, this game is a blast to play.  It is simple, quick, and fun.  The ease of the rules makes it a game children can play as well.  Just be sure they don’t eat whatever you use as damage tokens.  This game is a great game to get out and play while waiting for the rest of the group to show up, or in those times where you don’t have anything scheduled, or anytime you just want to play a quick, fun game.  I highly recommend this game, and for the price, you cannot go wrong.

Playability: ***** (great fun to play and easy to pick up and get going)
Game Mechanics: ***** (very easy to learn and simple to play)
Presentation: ***** (simple, efficient, and very well done)

Originally written 3/17/2003

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