Theme and What is it?
The solar system’s sun is soon to go nova and your faction seeks to evacuate as many of the people as possible from the doomed worlds about the sun. Choose one of four factions and save your people by playing cards to improve your chances while also impeding the progress of the other factions. The accompanying app creates random effects to interfere with your best laid plans. Rescue as many of your faction before the sun explodes!
Over the course of the selected rounds of play, accumulate the most victory points from rescued faction cards of yours.
Download the Lost Galaxy app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store as appropriate for your mobile device. Start the app and follow directions given; create an account with Rudy Games if you’ve never played the game before. Each player chooses a faction in the game. The factions provide unique in-game effects. Place a single value 1 planet card from each faction (even if there are less than four players) in the positions 8, 2, 6, and 4 as noted on the screen in the app’s game setup. Pull out some of the special cards and shuffle the rest; the cards pulled out will be shuffled in later in the game. Make sure there is space for the draw and discard piles. Each player is dealt six cards. The app will determine which starting conditions such as which player goes first, direction of play, etc. Finally choose how many rounds to play.
Each player plays the cards in his hand, up to the number of cards in it.
Numbered planet cards are played on the card numerically after or before the one previously played (eg. 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, etc.). Any number of planet cards can be played in a pile and they can be of any faction as well. Only value 1 planet cards can be played in empty positions around the device. Special cards are also in the deck that allow you to collect planetary piles, remove cards, skip player’s turns, etc.
Once a player has played as many cards as he can play, he draws up to a hand of six cards. Once the cards are drawn, his turn is over.
At the end of a round (signified when the sun goes nova, the app will tell you), the collected cards are scored. The cards collected for the factions being played are given to the respective players while the cards of the factions not being played are ignored.
The app provides a handful of functions to support playing the game and injects random effects into the game. You can press pause, adjust settings, and review the special faction effects as well as quit the game. Random effects include discarding cards from specified planetary piles, draw bonus cards, change play direction, etc.
The game was a little difficult to play to start with because there was no rulebook to be able to go back and reference to ensure that we were playing our cards correctly. We had to end the game and start over to make sure we understood everything because the rules aren’t accessible while playing the game. Once we understood it, the game got brutal with players stabbing each other in the back and all sorts of intergalactic shenanigans.
Game Build Quality
There are two parts to the game: the deck of cards and the app on your mobile device. The cards are of decent quality and have held up to a lot of shuffling, even in piles the size of regular card decks. The app is simple and straightforward. It gives the basics to support playing the game, no glitches or the app dying during play.
The art is quite well done, mostly computer-generated. The alien factions are suitably creepy, evoking the “greys” of popular conspiracy theories, cybernetic organisms reminiscent of those from a famous sci-fi property, etc. The cards are quite intricate in their designs and very pretty to look at. The art on the app is as good as the cards, coming from the same source.
At its core, this game is similar to other simple card games of my youth (Golf, Speed, etc.). Yet, it has more strategy to it with how and where you play your cards and more randomness initiated by the app to make the game fresh each time, not just leaving chance up to how well the cards are shuffled.
Age Range & Weight
The game is touted as 8+ and I believe that is correct for learning how to play the game and understanding the rudimentaries of it, but I would consider maybe more like 10 at least for devising and implementing more complex strategies. The weight of the game is fairly light once you are able to understand the rules’ concepts.
The game held up well when we tried all the factions and with different numbers of players, but was best when played with more than two players. We liked the art a lot too. The box says 10-15 minutes but that’s more the duration of a single round than a whole game when you take into account taking out cards, shuffling the cards, logging the round’s score, etc. What got us the most was the lack of access to the game’s rules while playing the game, it was something I sent as a comment to customer support (yes, you can send comments to customer support in the app itself).