FTW Staff Picks - Space Cadets
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Cooperative Real-Time
Designer: Brian, Sydney & Geoff Engelstein
Player Size: 3 to 6 Players
Game Length: 60-120 minutes
For fans of: Escape: The Curse of The Temple, Space Alert, Magic Maze
Cooperative board games typically pit players against the game itself. The difficulty and challenge comes from the randomly built-out scenario of the game. There is however another sub-genre among cooperative games where the challenge comes from your own teammates. Space Cadets was among the first games to put an emphasis on players fulfilling unique roles, and relying on your teammates to carry their weight. It is also one of the most punishing cooperative games in that regard.
In Space Cadets, each player is assigned unique tasks to control a spaceship as the players attempt to explore and conquer space. Each task requires the player to engage in a mini-game, from puzzle-solving to flicking discs. The different tasks will allow the players' spaceship to do things such as move, collect crystals, fire missiles, power-up shields and even jump through time & space. There are 6 missions for players to choose from in the rulebook. Players must complete their mission and successfully jump before their ship is destroyed by enemy ships and the Nemesis.
There is a bit of an uphill climb when learning Space Cadets, because there are a lot of moving parts and each task is unique. But once everyone gets a grasp on how all the stations work, you begin to hit a rhythm. And even when you think you feel comfortable, the game adds things like Seat Switching forcing players to take on new tasks. The mini-games themselves aren't too challenging, but under time constraints it's common to crumble under the pressure. The missile firing task in particular is anxiety-inducing. In spite of what may seem like a lot of stress, the game is actually a lot of laughs. The game doesn't take itself too seriously, and neither should you.
Space Cadets is one of those games that suffers from having an ineffective rulebook. Learning the game feels like a chore at times, but if you get someone to teach everyone it makes the experience a hundred times better. That makes it a tough game to recommend as there's so many different parts of the game to teach. But for any gamers willing to learn it all, there's a very rewarding experience to be had for anyone who loves real-time gaming.