Gen 7 from Plaid Hat Games – Review

A fun Star trek style story backed by challenging game play. Gen 7 is a good puzzle with a solid finish.

Theme and What is it?

Earth is doomed. Humanity has sent an arc ship to the closest inhabitable. The journey is long and will take thirteen generations to arrive. You are the seventh generation and you’re taking over command of the various departments. Unfortunately, something has gone wrong. A mystery has reared its head and it’s up to you and your fellow commanders to solve this puzzle. A dark path lies ahead of you and humanity itself may be at risk if you fail.

 

Gen 7 is a cooperative worker placement game with a replayable campaign setting. You will be constantly torn between your need to operate the ship, complete personal goals, and work towards the solution to the mystery over the course of seven chapters. In the end, will you save humanity or doom us all?

Gameplay Mechanics

At its core Gen 7 is a worker placement game. Each player has a set of dice that represent their officer and the civilians under their command. At the beginning of each round you roll the dice and use them to complete objectives, gather supplies, and perform ships tasks.

The balancing act of the game is the need to complete critical tasks while working towards individual goals. Failure to complete individual tasks will result in penalties but individual goals can reward you with merit points and other bonuses.

Merit points also give you rank increases and the ability to buy special skills and abilities in between chapters. These can be invaluable to success.

 

There are other systems that get introduced over the course of the story, but I’ll leave those out since they qualify as spoilers.

Initial Impressions

 I like story games and enjoy Plaid Hat products. I’m a Star Trek geek from way back and was looking forward to this based on those vibes.

Game Build Quality

The components are all top notch. The dice are nice and easy to use. The cards are all high quality. All of the player ad department boards are quite good. The story book is good quality and has a ring binder which made finding a place to put it easier with limited room.

 

The one negative of the game is that the rules are awful. Learning to play the game from the rulebook is politely described as rough. The glossary in the book is great for looking things up once you start playing but getting to that point is nigh impossible. Thankfully, Rodney Smith at Watch it Played has done a how to video that I will link to in the notes above.

Artistic Direction

The art in the game is good, it’s just sparse. It evokes space stories and TV shows well. It gave a very Star Trek feel. I do wish there were more of it. While everything is clear and works in the systems it’s all a bit bland. I understand that it’s for the purposes of clarity, but a splash of art here and there would have been nice. Though I’m not sure where they would have added it.

Fun Factor

Gen 7 is a super focused puzzle. You never have enough actions or workers to do everything you want or need to. You will spend some time each round discussing what you need to do and who can do it. As the story progresses there will be other hurtles added that will add additional complications. This is a brain burner for sure.  

Age Range & Weight

The box says 14+ and I think that’s pretty close. My biggest concern is the amount of balancing between personal and group tasks will be difficult for younger players. Your fourteen year old might be great at it but another might stumble. The mechanics aren’t that difficult to figure out so there won’t be too much there to worry about. You’ll have to make a judgement on whether the teens you intend to play with will be able to handle the strategy of the game.

 

For weight I think this game falls between medium and heavy leaning towards the heavy. While the rules aren’t particularly involved the balancing act you have to undertake. I think we often spent as much time planning our turns as we did playing them out. 

Conclusions

I enjoy Gen 7. It’s not perfect. The rules are a little simple and I get a bit repetitive. There are places where you have a lot of choices but only one of them is clearly better than the rest. If this were just based on gameplay then I’m not sure I would recommend the game.

I found the story engaging. I liked the choices we had to make. Everything felt meaningful. It also felt like making the other choices would result in entirely different results. I’m anxious to go through again and see what the other options are.

Like many coop games Gen 7 can suffer from the alpha gamer syndrome. It’s also easy for players to get bogged down in completing their own personal goals and ignoring the group necessary tasks. I was guilty of this a couple of times. Though, I’m not sure this is a problem as much as a feature. I think the game intends for us to get caught in this loop.

Even now, I’m trying to figure out how I could have played better, made different choices, or worked towards different goals. The fact that I’m away from the game and still thinking about it is what tells me how good this game is.

One of the sections in the game is clearly designed with expansions in mind and I’m excited to see what those will be. Until one comes out, I will still have plenty to play through and see. We only got to play with four of the five included crew members. Even then we only saw one story line for the four we had. I don’t need an expansion right now and can wait till it is released. *Note* In between writing and publishing this review Plaid Hat released the game’s first expansion.*

The crossroads deck. If you played Dead of Winter and loved the crossroads deck you’re probably curious how it holds up here. In Gen 7 they changed how often you draw cards, as such they were able to stream line the deck itself and it feels like the cards come out more often. There are also a couple of ways to manipulate the crossroads deck that make the cards come up more frequently.

 

I like Gen 7. It’s a good game, and I had lots of fun solving the puzzle and hearing the story. As always I suggest you try the game before you buy it. However, if you like Star Trek style storytelling, I think you’ll enjoy this.

 

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