Recently I had the pleasure of playing a beta copy of Gunship: First Strike from Escape Pod Games. You may recognize the name from our interview we did with Steve about the 20 year process it took him to create his space combat game. Currently on Kickstarter, Gunship has been very well received by the community and is sitting at 650% overfunding on its goal.

So what is Gunship: First Strike all about?
It’s a spaceship battle game where each team (up to 2 per team with the new Kickstarter overfunding goals), duke it out trying to destroy each others carrier and be claimed the victor. Squadrons of fighters and capital ship bombardment add support to your mainstay attack vessel-the Gunship. Players are heavily encouraged to customize the weapons and defenses of their own gunships while battling across the civil-war torn stars. Ion guns, blasters, heavy torpedoes and thruster bombs are the weapons that come in the basic set, but due to the success of the campaign, EPG has released a plethora of upgrades that you can add into the game for new tactics and bigger explosions.

Gametime is listed as 45-60 minutes, (add another 30 mins on top for your first play) but once you get the hang of it, you can get through an entire play in about half an hour. The manual is very thin but jam-packed with information to give a very good grounding of the game. I would suggest putting a little time aside to go through it before playing your first game. But once you get into the swing you will be laughing as you smack the dice around the table, saying “pew pew pew!”, as you imagine your gunship dodging past the carriers defence cannons on its attack run.

It is not a scratch-your-chin-and-go-“hmm” type of game what so ever. In fact, each turn as you draw your hand back up to 5 cards you will see that every card is either ammo to fire into your opponent, repair cards to patch your holes, or cards to make your guns shoot better. Long-play euro fans may come up short on this title but with everyone that I have played this game with so far, we either laughed or scowled as one of us tried to blow flaming chunks out of the other. The most memorable moment came from when I was watching two of my friends play; one had defeated the other, but the game allows the loser one full turn to even the score upon defeat. He took in a deep breath, charged forward, took severe damage from the defence cannons and rolled two fives and a six, destroying the other players carrier and ending the game in a tie on the last dice throw. That was one shot in a million kid.

This is a fun game that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a no-messin’, straight up, space combat game. But don’t get me wrong; with the advanced rules (downloadable for free from the EPG website), and some clever thinking around combat zones and fighter movement, there is ample chance to get your strategy head on.

So in conclusion
Gunship offers a fast pace, impressive production values, dice, cards and an all round explosive payload. With the current stretch rewards, backers are getting a pretty decent bang for their buck, and if you want to add an exciting space combat game to your collection, Gunship is recommended – Pew pew pew!