Mag Blast Review

February 16, 2011

Space! The final frontier! These are the voyages of…. Oh wait! Let’s back it up before I get sued back to the stone age shall we? Today we review Mag Blast by local little engine that kicked kicked *** Fantasy Flight Games. http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/index.asp.

If you’re like most gamers you’ve a bit of the science fiction nerd in you. And if that’s the case you’ve probably spent a few hours minimum dreaming of being out in the black (yes, I am genetically incapable of stringing one hundred words together without making a Firefly reference. Deal with it ok.) commanding your own mighty spaceship or better still armada of same. Travelling the star lanes , meeting interesting new life forms. And blasting them to subatomic particles with your laser cannons and quantum torpedoes. Well, Mag Blast gives you the opportunity to live the dream!

Like most good games, and certainly the overwhelming majority of ones that are going to see a positive review in these pages, simplicity and fun are at the core of Mag Blast. At the start of the game each player is dealt a Mother Ship card

This is the core of your fleet. All Mother Ships have three things in common. They all have eight hit points. They all have some sort of special ability that, were I eager to meet Mr. Lucas’ legion of attorneys I might refer to as a Jedi power but I won’t. And if they get destroyed the person playing them is out of the game.

Next you receive six Fleet cards.

All ship have Speed, Health and Weapons to varying degrees. You pick four of these, arrange them around your Mother Ship and then take a hand of five Action cards.

Action cards are how you do stuff in the game. They allow you to attack, defend and reinforce your fleet. Play starts with the person with the lowest total Health on their fleet and continues clockwise around the table. Mostly this involves shooting at  your fellow players or otherwise screwing with them.

There are a variety of ships in Mag Blast and most of them have a weapons turret or two located in the lower left hand corner of the card. The color of the turret determines what you can attack with. Each ship can attack once per turn and can only attack with a weapon that matches the turrets on their card! Unless you have a card that says otherwise of course.

Mostly the ships attack by shooting at one another. There is however, on exception. Carriers. Carriers can either shoot with their guns or launch Squadrons. Squadrons consist of Bombers and Fighters and there are advantages to using them. To being with, you can unleash a fair amount of damage if you have sufficient Fighter or Bomber cards in your hand. Also, unlike Blast cards Fighters and Bombers go back into your hand at the end of the attack. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that if your target has a Carrier and Fighters they can launch defensive squadrons. In that case Fighters destroy Bombers and go back to the defenders hand while Fighter vs Fighter combat ends with both sides scattered across the battlefield in bitty little pieces. There’s also the small wrinkle of Squadron damage going away at the end of the attackers turn. So it’s best to use Squadrons against already damaged ships.

Speaking of damaged ships there’s two ways to deal with damage done to your own fleet. The first is to reinforce. The second is to repair. Reinforcing your fleet is done one of two ways. First, there is an Action card called Reinforcements. Playing this allows you to draw the top ship from the Fleet deck and deploy it into your Fleet.

The second is to expend Resources. As you play you will notice that some cards have either a yellow moon, a blue star or a green diamond up in one  corner. These are Resources and you can either discard one of each or three of a kind to reinforce your fleet just as if you had played a Reinforcements card. This can be a bit of a gamble but it sure beats watching your Mothership get a multi-gigajoule remodel from one of your fellow players.

Repairing your ship is done by playing a Spacedock Action card on it. This allows you to discard one blast from the ship of your choice. Any ship in your fleet except your Mothership can be spacedocked.

Play continues until there is only one fleet left. One interesting little quirk about the rules of combat in Mag Blast. In order for an attack to be successful you must make some sort of weapon-sounding noise. Pew pew! Kaboom! Zot! Quack!

Waitasecond. Back it up. Did he just say quack ? Yes, he  did. This is a little house rule that we have among my gaming circle. Years ago back when we were playing  the second ed version of this game a friend of mine kept getting his eleven point Dreadnaught picked apart by one point laser blasts, the weakest weapon in the game. He laughed and mentioned that it was like getting nibbled to death by ducks. So, naturally, the next time he was attacked with a laser blast the person responsible said “Quack!” for his weapon sound. And a tradition was born.

Mag Blast is illustrated by the Lord of Dorkness himself John Kovalic of Dork Tower and Munchkin fame.

 

The illustrations are cartoony and humorous and the play reflects it. The game itself costs $24.95 and comes in  4×8 inch box. So it’s good for gamers on a budget or on the go. Depending on how many people you’ve got and how good they are at defending themselves play typically lasts about a half hour. So you can get several games in during a session or play the one and then move on to something else.

Overall this is a solid, very fun game that people of most ages can enjoy. I’ve played it with everybody from little kids who could barely read to my sixty year old father-in-law and the response has been universally favorable. If you’ve got a couple bucks to spare and are looking for something cool to play, click on the Fantasy Flight link above or wander over to your favorite game store and grab a copy.

Until next time keep it fun!

Mech out

Quack!

 

 

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