Albedo is a fast playing deck building card game which offers lots of options for strategy. Players start off with identical decks from which they draw a hand of 6 cards. These indicate a space combat and/or ground combat value. Some cards can be inverted (rotated 180º) for alternative values (so, for example, a Fighter with space combat value 2 and ground combat value 0 can be inverted for values space 1 and combat 1). Players use their cards to compete at one or more of the two or three planet locations laid out on the table. They do this by stacking their cards under cards marked with a 1, 2 or 3, simply representing the first, second or third of the planets. Players are deciding on their actions (deciding how to deploy their combat cards) simultaneously, which means that this is a game which has the big advantage that it should take no longer to play with four than it does with two. The game can actually be played with up to eight players, but you’ll need to buy two copies to play with more than four.
Planets each have three sub-locations on them and the player with the highest space combat value gets first choice as to which of these planetside sites he is going for (deploying his ground combat value). These will offer victory points as well as the opportunity to add another card to your deck which will strengthen your hand on a future turn, or to thin your deck of the weaker starting cards by placing cards out of play (turning them face down and, in effect, exchanging each card for a victory point).
Tracking the different values for cards when inverted is initially a little counterintuitive. Most card players will not be used to checking the different values that depend on which way up they have the card fanned in their hand. This can also be fiddly (you have to be careful which way up you lay out your cards when placing them face down underneath the number card). Similarly, the planet cards, when claimed for victory point scoring, have to be rotated to the correct way up and have to be kept in that position for you to accurately track scores. Once you’ve got to grips with these idiosyncrasies , however, the mechanics of the game are quite straightforward.
The different planet locations allow for strategy and a degree of bluffing – you can never be sure which planets your opponents will be competing for. This makes for a tense and exciting game, but one that you can expect to complete in about 40 minutes.
Albedo was designed and published by Kai Herbertz (shown here demonstrating the game in our Board's Eye View 360º photo). An expansion for Albedo (Albedo Space Pirates) is currently running on Kickstarter, and that campaign offers pledge options that include the core game.