Space…The Reality TV Frontier. The year is 2047 and the new “Green” is cleaning up space. There is tons of clutter littering the space around Earth and the future Jeff Probst has launched a reality TV program that will not only drive up his ratings with a race in space, but also clean up space as well.
In comes the cast of Space Junk. Sgt. Ned “The Hammer” Cole, Manuel Guerrero, Wynonna Fudd, Kitt Vicious, Mr. Smith, Bubba Johnson, Thomas “Tommy” Carmichael, Jimmy Ross and Johnny Tantrix. Join the cast as they race their ships made up and adapted from space junk!
Publisher: Lamp Light Games
Game Designer: Lief Steiestol, Mike Friesen
Players: 2 – 6
Ages: 6 to adult
Playing Time: 60 – 90 Minutes
Game Mechanics: Dice Rolling, Story Telling, Take That
Contents: 1 Game Board, 150+ Junk Cards, 8+ Character Cards, 6 six sided dice, 6 Ship Boards, 18 Translucent Cubes (3 of each color,) 12 Point Trackers (2 of each color,) 6 Space Ship Tokens and 1 First Player Marker.
Suggested Retail Price: N/A Currently in Kickstarter
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
In Space Junk players are characters that are featured on a reality TV show while racing each other to get the most point victory points at the end of six rounds of play. While racing the players are ramming, attacking and searching for space junk to attach to their ship in hopes of making it better and increasing their chances of winning.
The race happens within 3 rings around Earth which the players may traverse basically at will. The closer rings score points faster, the farther rings allow for more searching which allows to enhance the players ships as well as score points as most space junk cards have a victory point value. The player board holds six slots (used for ship enhancement) for attaching junk to to each players ship as well as a fuselage slot that can never be damaged. The cargo hold will hold as many junk cards as you wish (points!) and can never be damaged. Only the six slots on your ship can be damaged.
Sequence of Play
Movement Phase : During the movement phase players may move the amount indicated by their Character Card and any junk cards. They first decide what ring to move in and then move the number of space indicated by their totals. A player may score points this way each time they pass the starting line which is very easy to do if they are in the center ring.
During the movement phase, players may ram another players ship if they land in the same space. This allows players possible to take junk from another players ship and place it on their own.
Attack Phase: During the Attack Phase, players may attack one other player no matter where they are on the board but will suffer a -1 penalty for every space away the defending player is. The attacking player roles a six sided die and add it to their attack total based on their Character Card and junk cards then subtracts any penalty. They score one hit for however many times the total is divisible by five i.e., if the player scores 15 then they hit 3 times and score points for the hit. Then the attacking player rolls one six sided die per hit and the defender move any card hit in a slot number (1-6) rolled by the three die. The damaged space junk cards are turned sideways and discarded after everyone’s turn.
Search Phase: The Search Phase allows each player to pick up space junk to add to their ship or cargo hold. The rings have a “limit” as to how many pieces of junk a player may pick up. The center ring is 3, middle ring is 6 and outer ring is 9. This limit is not altered by a players search total. A player may have a search of 13 but will only be allowed to take as many cards as the ring allows.
After all the players have adjusted their ships totals from junk lost or gained they are now on TV describing their character, ship and round just like any other reality TV episode you have seen. This is actually the most fun part of the game. I put in a house rule that any player that didn’t participate in this would lose 5 points just to make sure no one got to shy.
After six rounds of these three phases, the player with the highest point total wins!
Space Junk is a light game that tries very hard but misses on a few levels. It feels more like a party game and this is what are gaming group came away with. Being that the most fun was had during the characters describing themselves, the rest of the game pales in comparison and is a lot of work when you could just pull out Snake Oil or Cards Against Humanity and have no set up or tear down time.
Now to be fair, I reviewed the prototype so I am not sure what the real game will look and be like. The rules we a bit vague especially in the attack phase description. You are supposed to score 3 points when you successfully attack another player but it doesn’t specify if it is 3 points once or for every successful hit.
The scoring track is a major issue with me. It is completely fiddly and more confusing than helpful. I am sure it would not have increased the cost hardly at to print a scoring track around the board to make it easier to score and see immediately vs. having a track on the left in increments of 10 points except where they skip from 100 to 120. What happened to 110? Then to have another track on the right side to track the single points. Is this really necessary? Using two tokens to score instead of one on a board that had plenty of room for a scoring track all the way around it?
That artwork was good, the flavor text was sometimes funny although it didn’t always have something to do with the card it was printed on. I think the final product will be an attractive one. The cards and board I won’t comment on as I don’t know what the final product will be.
Space Junk is a decent first effort from Lamp Light Games and might fill a spot for people who love party games and space themes. I did enjoy the “TV time” portion of the game as did the rest of our group but the rest fell a bit flat and felt like just going through the motions with out any real need for much strategy. The dice are completely random and many times when scoring 3 hits, no damage was done to the other players ship.
Due to the amount of cards given in this game, it has some re-playability and I suppose expansion could be made I am just not sure it would be worth it. This is definitely a game that should be played with at least 4 – 6 players to have enough chance to ram or attack anybody with out penalties and to have enough “character stories” to have fun with.
Due to the lack of any real “game” and the best part being the “stories” I am giving this a 5.5 out of 10 stars. For what it is, it plays to long, is to much work and you can get the best of Space Junk in simpler cards games that aren’t as fiddly.
I was provided a review copy of this game.