Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Man O'Kent first launched SSO (short for Space Ship Omega) on Kickstarter in 2018. It was a low-budget 'semi co-operative' space-themed survival puzzle game designed by Glenn Ford (no, not the movie star). The game incorporated a 'modular' challenge deck so you could choose alternative storylines and missions. Now SSO is back, with another new storyline and notably upgraded components, including wooden meeples replacing the cardboard tokens in the original version. There will be printed plastic tokens for use when players vote on whether or not to tackle missions and we gather there is to be improved art by Henry Peters.
The rulebook has been improved but the game itself is essentially unchanged. Players (1–6) are each controlling several crew members, each of whom has special situational skills, moving them between ship locations as they collectively deal with the cascade of 'challenge' disasters that befall this ill-fated ship. Many aspects reminded us of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you'll have noticed in this new edition's subtitle the homage to Star Trek's Wrath of Khan (Ricardo Montalban).
The challenge cards present an existential threat to the ship's crew. They will deplete the crew's oxygen and sap their morale. Players will be tracking both oxygen and morale and will be using their actions to try to sustain these resources and repair the damage that is done to ship systems. Along the way, you can expect crew members to die; sometimes as a result of heroic sacrifice but often just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. No-one on the SSO is safe: doom isn't just limited to those wearing a red shirt. And to achieve a collective win, you'll need to have at least one crew member survive until the challenge deck is exhausted.
With Rage of Montalbano as with the previous SSO challenge decks, survival is a puzzle-solving optimisation juggling act. You'll have to decide (vote) on whether and when to tackle missions: success will advance your progress through the challenge deck but you can expect failure to have negative consequences for the crew... And, make no mistake, SSO is a tough game, whether played solo or as a fully co-operative game. Tho' it can still be played as a 'semi co-operative' game (where players will score for who controls the most surviving crew members) we don't recommend this, at least for your first several plays: SSO is tough enough to beat with all the players pulling together; you may find it impossibly difficult if one or more players who know they cannot win decide to sabotage the others in order to force a collective loss.
SSO has returned to Kickstarter with The Rage of Montalbano. Click here to check out the KS campaign.