Like Lego? Then you're probably going to love the first 'game' of snap ships tactics. As you build your ships in a lego like fashion, there's no clippers or glue needed here. There's a few suggested builds in the manual, or you can build your own creation of space death! The only real cavaet is that you need to ensure your loadout is on your ship. Now playing at home and unlikely to ever enter another tournament of any sort again. This rule for me is akin to tabletopmagic or warhammer at home, on that pretty much anything goes! We're not playing tournament FAQs rules here.
I was pleasantly suprised by the build quality and ease of building, in fact we spent so much time building and rebuilding ships that we came back the following day to actually play. There isn't an exhaustive option list within the starter set, but its pretty much the name on the tin. A starter set, a hook in the hope that'll you be back for more, and more purchases. I did however find that, after building the instructions for attaching a base could have been a tiny bit clearer, I didn't realise that I needed to remove a piece from the ship to attach the stand. I did also find that some bits took alot more effort to snap some pieces together than others, some pieces required a fair bit of force that I suspect a child might struggle with on their own. My biggest complaint here is that once assembled the ships don't fit back into the large box, meaning unless you've space to store the ships, you're going to be assembling and disassembling ships every single time. And these parts come in single use bags.
And I guess that leaves me with gameplay? A natural starting point is probably the rules, which were overall well laid out and written, in fact I feel like this might one of those rare games where I didn't need to consult an FAQ or the Boardgamegeek rules forums, every question we had seemed to be answered, plainly and simply.
Within the rulebook, there's several different game modes including a solo gameplay, however, we went straight to the dogfight, the head to head, 1v1 battle (which is the standard mode of play). I hadn't realised we'd need a 3 by 3 foot playing area, so to the floor it was! As I'm not going to grace the internet with my paint covered and uneven floor (we're in the middle of renovating a house and the floor is the last bit to be done in our dining room) I've taken photos afterwards on the table.
Turns in Snap Ships Tactics follow essentially 5 steps or 3 phases. The first phase the Chasis action, has what feels like a thematic pull as you reset, vent heat and move, before the parts action, which is where you'll find the bulk of the game. Depending on the ship you've built and playing with, will dictate what parts cards you have. During the parts action, you'll be placing cubes onto different parts to activate them, there's an array of attack actions, movements, raising your evasion and there might be a reaction card or two.
The parts action, is where you'll find yourself subject to the enemies attack. At first reading the rules, I found it a tiny bit confusing as there's two diagrams next to each other, which used a range scale. But I didn't realise they were using a different scale of image! Attacks are decided, like most wargames by dice, taking account of your evasion. There's no defense rolling here, there might be effects allowing you as the defender to force a reroll though. As a defender, seeing a roll of multiple critical hits, feels like game over. As each critical hit means a part on your ship becomes faulty, forcing you to return cubes to your chasis, which can mean returning heat, which causes further damage! And missle attacks can be deadly, causing multiple damage for each one that successfully lands.
Snap Ships Tactics, feels like a more accessible X Wing, I remember sitting down to play X Wing with my brother after we got a starter set for Christmas and thinking eh? Is that it? We're just flying around avoiding each other. This felt like getting straight into the battle, yes there is manoeuvring, but we're very much a forge straight into battle kind of pair.
As you know I rate games on a:
- Buy or play
- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ
This for me, is a definitive play if you like skirmish type games. If you're a fan of games like x wing, Super fantasy Brawl, Gaslands, or even Combat patrol games of warhammer 40k. This game probably is going to scratch a very similar itch, with lego like building on top!
In fact, if you've never played a skirmish type game before, this is a solid choice, with the lego like building and ease of play. However, if like me, you like the idea of skirmish games but struggle to get them to the table, as they aren't your groups thing (skirmish games are fairly low on my group's want to play list). Then its hard to recommend this, as it probably isn't going to change that opinion. Yes its got nice building, yes its got accessible and easy to digest rules but its still a skirmish game.
Overall, my time with Snap Ships Tactics has been a blast, through and through. Fundamentally I doubt it's going to turn a non skirmish gamer into one, but there's so much fun here, I want more ships just for building!
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Snap Ships Tactics to review, all thoughts remain my own. I wasn't paid for this content.