Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
We recently posted a review of oddball Aeronauts. This was a successful Kickstarter campaign that brought us a strategy game that can be played without a table. I enjoyed the game a lot and think it makes a great travel game. The people over at maverick:muse were not done with this game however, and currently have a Kickstarter running for oddball Aeronauts 2: Double the Trouble. This standalone game adds two new factions to the battle and gives people the opportunity to play the game with up to four players (if they have the first edition). I’m not going to go into detail about how the base game plays, for more on that please see my full review of the first game. Let’s get into the preview to talk about these new decks and new game play.
The two new factions to the world of oddball Aeronauts are the gun-toting Free Kingdoms and the gadget obsessed Mechinauts. Each one of these decks has their own set of cards that have differing strengths than the other decks in the game. This version also comes with six event and four mercenary cards to mix into the decks as you play. You can play with just these two factions, or you use the new multiplayer rules for all out dogfight or a 2v2 battle.
How to Play:
The only new wrinkle to the cards is the type of tricks for these two new factions. A few of the cards require a support card with a cog on the top of the trick box to activate the lead card’s trick. This requires more deck manipulation then with the first edition of the game to active the special bonuses. There are also some new types of tricks that these new factions use.
The two new game rule sets for multiplayer games are Dog Fight! and Brace the Mainsail that use much of the same basic rules as the two player game. This doesn’t fundamentally change the game, but adds some new situations about who you battle against and how to resolve the results from that battle.
In Dog Fight!, it is every player for themselves. At the start of the round, the lead player, the person who won the last round, chooses one player to be the target player this round. Anyone who isn’t the Lead or Target is known as a Free player. The game continues in the same way as each player chooses their skills and the number of cards they will play. When the battle and effects stages of the round start, the Lead and Target players fight first and resolve the results. Then the Free players will battle against the Lead player. The Lead player cannot lose or gain anymore cards, but the Free players are able depending on the outcome of the battle. After these battles are resolved, the person who beat the Lead player becomes the new Lead the next round. The game will end when one player runs out of cards. The person with the most cards remaining face up in their deck will win the game.
Brace the Mainsail
In Brace the Mainsail, four players split into two teams. At the start of the round, the Lead player chooses a Target player from the other team. They will go through the normal phases of the round until they have finished their battle phase. At this point, the other team members can add cards to support the battle. They will announce the number of cards they will add to the fight simultaneously. The skill values on these cards will be added to the total from the Lead and Target battle. The Win effect is applied to both players and the winning team decides which player on their team will be the Lead next round. Whichever player runs out of cards first causes the game to end and their team loses the game.
I’m going to break down each element of this game just like I did in the how to play section. Let’s start talking about the new decks. Overall, I think they are great additions to the game. They feel very different from the first set of decks. This is due to the various types of tricks in these two factions. They seem a lot more complicated than what I have seen before with activating more movement cards in the deck and requiring a certain order to be effective. I personally love these new decks. They add more layers to the decision-making process as you decide what skill or number of cards you are going to use this round. These new sets of cards also balance well with the first set of factions. Even though they don’t feel the same as the first two, they don’t feel weak or overpowered. I also like the addition of more event and mercenary cards to the game. Both of these add some variability to what type of effects and powerful cards you have to face in the game.
In regards to the multiplayer game Dog Fight!, I think it handles the three player game quite well. What does it for me is the involvement of the Free player during the round. Rather than just letting a player have a free pass this turn, they are forced to have a stake in the battle. This mode moves very quickly and keeps everyone involved. Although I personally don’t like it as much as a four person game. Dog Fight! drags as you have to check numbers with three different battles each turn and check the effects of the tricks. It doesn’t play badly, I just would rather play Brace the Mainsail if I’m playing with four players.
Using the Brace the Mainsail rules adds a new element to the game, cooperation. No longer are you by yourself in this fight, you have someone to help you out. This set of rules requires a lot of communication between the two players on each team. You need to view your cards and plot out which skill that will allow both of you to contribute. This does force rounds to take longer than normal, but not enough to make game play suffer. If I have four players, this is the game mode for me.
The use of Lead and Target players makes an appearance in both rule sets and is what allows these new rule sets to work. The battle becomes more focused rather than just a sporadic mess. I also like how the players not involved with the direct fight have some interesting decisions to make rather than just be bystanders.
oddball Aeronauts 2 is a worthy second edition to the world of oddball Aeronauts. You get two unique new factions which are very well-balanced with the original games decks, but also add new experiences. Both rule sets for more than two players work quite well and a worth playing if you have the first edition of oddball Aeronauts. oddball Aeronauts 2 is also great as a standalone game if you haven’t played before. If you are looking for a new two-player game, consider giving them your support.
If you’d like to become a backer, pledges start at $18 for the full game and all stretch goals. oddball Aeronauts 2 is scheduled to be in backers hands in June of 2015 and you have until Friday, December 5th to become a backer. So head over today and check it out.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review