There's a classic Star Trek episode (the one that first introduced the Romulans) called Balance of Terror. Romulans don't make an appearance in Crash Factor but Balance of Terror would be a highly appropriate alternative title for this cleverly-designed space-themed dexterity game.
The game is played on a solar system board with six planet locations on opposite corners. The board itself is placed so that it balances precariously on a central mount. Players each have matching sets of space ships to place out on the solar system: the idea is that you need to be able to position your ships without crashing the system (ie: without the board tipping over and spilling all its contents.
Designer Herb Stanway has worked some clever maths into the game, so his universe follows orderly rules of physics. Space ships all bear symbols indicating their relative weights, so players know at the outset that a spaceship with a hexagon symbol (6 lines) weighs precisely twice as much as a ship with a triangle (3 lines). The markings on the solar system board also bear corresponding symbols so that players can see that if they place their square symbol (4 line) ship on the 2-line ring, it will counterbalance precisely a 2-line ship placed on the opposite side of the 4-line ring. Ships are designed to be stackable so their weights are always cumulative.
The polygon symbology used in Crash Factor makes it easy to grasp, so you're not having to engage in astrophysics or deep calculations working out where best to place out your ships. It's a dexterity game too tho' so you'll also need a steady hand - tho' the game incorporates a Heath Robinson-type hook-on-a-paperclip 'transporter' tool to help players lower their ships into position: especially helpful to pilots suffering from the shakes.
Too often, dexterity games are more dexterity than game. Crash Factor stands out because it manages to successfully meld the dexterity element with a genuine strategy game. The 2-3 players are racing to be the first either to have a space ship in orbit around all six planets or (more likely) to place out in the solar system all of their space fleet plus any space junk they may have been landed with during the course of play. There are missions to complete along the way, yielding potential bonuses at the risk of penalties for failure, so there are plenty of judgement calls to make as you quite literally tussle for position without tipping the balance of the solar system.
Crash Factor has collected design awards in Canada but it can be difficult to find in the farther reaches of Earth, let alone the rest of the solar system. Click here tho' to order the game direct from the www.massgammon.com, the publishers in Quebec. Just be warned, postage to the outer planets is likely to be prohibitive :-)
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