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Planet, Catacombs, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space

Hello Friends!

So, living in the great white north of British Columbia, the board game community up here is a bit sparse and so often I find myself rolling the dice (so to speak) on the games that I buy, because there isn’t really a space to try things out in advanced. Now, thankfully these gambles have worked out pretty well without many stinkers coming through. I’m hoping you might be able to offer your thoughts on three of the games from my Wish List that I am currently the most interested in:

Planet, Catacombs, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space.

So, what are your thoughts on these three - are they worth picking up when they finally become available? A little bit about me, when it comes to board games theme and creative design go a long way (for example, Root is probably one of my all time favourites and the theme has a lot to do with that). I also am not someone who really likes to collect the same type of game over and over - so for example I’m less interested in filling my collection with lots of Euros or lots of Worker Placement games or lots of legacy games. I try to keep things relatively unique when possible.

SO what do you think? Are these games as much fun as they appear?

Thanks :slight_smile:

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Where in BC are you? If you’re in the greater Vancouver area I’ll run a game of Catacombs for you any time. Escape is a little harder to coordinate due to the required player count but otherwise is really easy to get into.

I’m in the north actually, up beyond Smithers :slight_smile:
I appreciate that though .

Escape does list itself as 2-8 players - does it not play with two? That will definitely be a deal breaker for me

I wouldn’t consider playing 2P in a million years. It can be done, but I don’t know why you’d ever want to.

Kinda figured you meant Northern BC, but you know, sometimes that’s just how we refer to anywhere this side of the border. :wink:

[EDIT] Catacombs plays very well with 2P, by the way. It’s a pricey game though, maybe consider Catacombs Conquest or Catacombs & Castles as an introduction? Especially since those are purpose-built for 2P duels.

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I looked at Planet at Essen last year and didn’t love it. The dodecahedron with the magnetic tiles, yeah, that’s great. But the game rules looked as if someone had said to the designer “we’ve got this tech to make a dodecahedron with magnetic tiles, I know it’s 5.15 on a Friday but can you make a game that uses it?”.

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There’s a print & play version of EFTAIOS if you want to try it out.

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I failed to mention that Catacombs & Castles has the side perk that it incorporates into the main game, if you ended up going for the original down the line.

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I’ve played Escape from… about half a dozen times on various maps. About 6-8 players each time. I concur with the sentiment to never play this 2 player and even 3 would be poor IMHO.
Great with max count but I couldn’t play it more than once a sitting as it can get tedious and oh my, if you get out early, (which happened to a poor buddy boy of mine) whoopsie that’s a bummer as you’ll be sitting there on your phone for half an hour whilst the rest of the group play.

Tl;dr it’s good, not great.

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Catacombs is a fun and beautiful game but has some major strikes against it. First of all, the rules of the game require that there is one Overseer (Dungeon Lord/bad guy) and four heroes playing, always. Which means that in a two-player game one person is controlling all four heroes and their assorted cards and mats and so on. Which, trust me, is a lot to deal with. Second, the game is designed to be played over multiple boards in a sort-of mini-campaign. There’s no such thing as a short game of Catacombs.
Finally, it’s really, really expensive. The expansions in particular are ludicrously overpriced. I am not entirely sure I agree with VictorViper about it playing well as a two-player game–I think three is perfect, because there’s less down time–but I DO agree that either Catacombs Conquest or Catacombs & Castles would be a great way to dip your toe into the Catacombs world. Or, if it’s the flicking/dexterity aspect that’s appealing to you, try Seal Team Flix, which is a co-op that plays from 1-4 players. It’s cheaper by far and offers both a campaign mode and a skirmish mode.

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I haven’t played the other two but can say I wasn’t as impressed with EFTAIOS as I thought I would be. A lot of the game is in what the group brings to it and having played it a handful of times the groups I played with got lost from the theme and it repeatedly became an exercise more than a game.

That being said I still think the game concept an implementation is brilliant but having played it I can’t justify getting it back to the table.

It’s a fun concept but it unfortunately demonstrated to me the power of a theme/art and a shared board to pull a collective imagination together.

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I have to agree with most of what @Habilis said there, but I’ll offer my perspective on a few points.

  1. Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s a long game. This can be mitigated somewhat (you have control over the scope of the dungeon you create), but a properly meaty game of Catacombs is gonna last at least 90 minutes.

  2. I actually think 2 players makes the game run faster. If the Overlord can handle swarms of baddies with unique properties, a single player can handle the heroes just fine. Primarily, I find the main time gains from the elimination of “the consultation”, where the team huddles up to really coordinate and figure out their turn. One innately understands their own skill limitations as well, which helps eliminate time wasted on shots that were never gonna hit.

  3. Price is a barrier to entry, no doubt about it. I don’t find it egregious, though. It’s a notoriously complicated game to manufacture and it’s a tiny handful of folks making it, and that always hits the end user. As an old Crokinole fan, I could suss out what I’d think of Catacombs the second I saw the back of the box, but for almost literally anyone else on the planet, this is one of the hobby’s poster children for “try before you buy”.

Thanks for elaborating, Habilis. I’ll talk for days about this game but sometimes you gotta crank out a quickie on coffee break and these are real barriers to consider.

[EDITING to add] Thinking about it, a consistent partner for catacombs would not only inspire competition and likely accelerate skill development, but the poor bugger that shelled out for the game doesn’t always have to be the Overlord, you know. I’m dying for a chance to play the heroes. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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I played Planet at UKGE this year with my husband and step kids (9 & 11). I thought it was a nice little tactile puzzle - the planets are quite pleasing to hold. The 9 year-old particularly enjoyed it, although sabotaged his score rather by deciding that he wanted all the ocean tiles when his secret objective required him to collect desert tiles.

In summary, pretty light. I might be tempted to pick it up if I found it for a reduced price somewhere.

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For me personally, anything north of Whistler might as well be in a hop-skip-jump to 100 Mile House.

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