Right up front I should tell you that I was primed to like Battleship Galaxies and it did not disappoint me! I’ve been waiting nearly 2 years for it—ever since Mike Gray announced at Gen Con that Hasbro was working on a game targeted at the mass market but designed with strategic game-play that would be appreciated by hobbyists. I’m also a sucker for spaceships, and Battleship Galaxies is a spaceship combat game with 20 very nice plastic miniatures.

Besides the plastic miniatures in two factions—the Intergalactic Space Navy, or ISN, (the good guys) and the Wretcheridians, or Wretch, (the evil alien invaders)—the game includes player screens, coordinate dice, tactic cards, blue and red pegs, energy boards, ship cards, obstacle and discovery tiles, and battlefield game boards. The ship cards detail the capabilities of the ships, with three versions for each one, standard, seasoned, and veteran. Obstacle and discovery tiles provide terrain interest to an otherwise plain space battlefield. Energy boards are used to track available energy, which is needed to launch and activate ships, charge weapons, and play tactic cards. The blue and red pegs record remaining shields and hull damage. Tactic cards provide players with heroes, ship upgrades, additional weapons, events, and sabotage tricks.

The basic rules for Battleship Galaxies are pretty simple. Players start the game with 15 energy points, 5 tactic cards, and a fleet of ships off the board. At the start of each turn, a player receives 10 more energy and 1 additional tactic card. Then by spending energy, the player can launch ships onto the board, as well as activate ship cards to move and fight with the corresponding miniatures. The exact setup and winning conditions are set by the scenario, though in most cases the game ends when one player simply eliminates all of the other players’ ships from the board.

Movement and combat are also straightforward. Each ship has a set number of spaces that it can move. Weapons have a range and when they hit inflict damage to shields and hull. Facing doesn’t matter, neither is line-of-sight an issue. On the other hand, different weapons have different energy charge costs, range, damage strength, and sometimes limitations on the type of ships that they can target. The larger ships also have the ability to carry the smaller ones, which can be a more efficient use of energy, but risks multiple ships lost from a single hit.

Battleship Galaxies accommodates 2-4 players and, in my experience, takes about 2 hours to play a game, depending on the scenario and player experience. One of the more interesting elements of the game is the tactic cards, though these can be left out for a simpler game. On the Wretch side, with skillful use of the tactic cards you can actually board and take over an opponent’s ship. Another is the discovery tiles (alien artifacts, warp gate, etc.), which when landed on can increase the range of weapons, provide energy, or allow a ship to jump to the other side of the board.

In terms of similarities to Battleship, there aren’t many. The game’s lead designer, Craig Van Ness, told me that the team was inspired by Battleship but was trying to build a game that would be more engaging to a new generation. As with the original game, hits are recorded with small plastic pegs. Also, though the guessing element isn’t there, when firing a weapon, the attacking player rolls the ten-sided letter die and the eight-sided number die and calls out the combined result (as in, “B-3”).  The defending player looks that up on the targeted ship’s card hit location chart (a matrix overlayed with an profile of the ship) to see whether it’s a hit or miss. If the hit location has a red star and the ship has no shields, critical damage destroys the ship immediately (“You sunk my battleship!”).

So what do I think about it? Battleship Galaxies is easy easy to learn, yet involves some interesting tactical decision-making. The story behind the game is explained in a very nice graphic novel about the Wretcheridian invasion. And it’s got spaceship combat with cool miniatures. I love it! All the parts work together well and I’ve found that choices in the game can switch the momentum in the game from one side to the other at any point, making it very engaging. Buy it.

Hasbro provided a complimentary copy of this game for review.