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Space Expatriate

The premise behind this oddly titled game from al-Khwarizmi is that the 2-4 players represent private companies setting up colonies in space to exploit the resources of the planets they are terraforming. It's a competitive game but when you choose an action, it triggers actions for all the players.

On your turn, you get to draft an action card from one of the four action decks on display. You add the card to your individual tableau, which represents your space station, and you take the action indicated; all the players share in taking a similar action. The Delivery action generates resources, the Engineering action enables conversion of resources and can earn you Terraforming Points. At Engineering you can also dock additional modules onto your space station. The Terraforming action lets you undock station modules to establish colonies. These will give you multipliers on your Terraforming Points. Finally, there's a Military action which involves a comparison between players' strengths and can, for example, result in the active player stealing a module from another player’s space station, tho’ they benefit from compensation that might well leave them better off.

Mention the word Terraforming and board game players immediately think of Terraforming Mars (Fryxgames). Don’t worry; Taras Tomyshch and Ihor Chulinda are really only sharing the word and the space theme: the gameplay in Space Expatriate is really quite unlike Terraforming Mars. Space Expatriate is a highly interactive engine-building game but it's one where players will have not just to build their engine but will also need to decide when to dismantle it to create the colonies needed to maximise their score. You need to balance the resources you generate because any that you can’t utilise will end up in the Space Garbage, and it’s a game where you’ll want to keep a watchful eye on what other players are doing, particularly as the number of colonies increases and takes you towards the end-game trigger… And Space Expatriate is a game that plays quickly – certainly much faster than Terraforming Mars. The game works well with just two players and it’s not unrealistic to expect to complete a two-hander in just 30 minutes. Even with a full complement of four players, we found our games nudged only just above an hour.

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