Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Home on Lagrange

Game: Home on Lagrange

Publisher: Grizzly Games

Designer:   Jordan Anderson-Hyland, Callum Badger

Year: 2018

Home on Lagrange successfully funded on Kickstarter back in February 2018, as a first time project from Grizzly Games.

Playing as admirals, you compete with each other to construct space stations, built from an assortment of modules, which you will fill with a wide array of inhabitants, technologies, and other unknown curiosities.Throughout the game you'll build four space stations, perhaps focusing on education or technology, but ultimately creating a space station that is unique. You can find out the backstory of your space station in the admirals log.

If you're a sci-fi or pop culture fan, then make sure to check out Home on Lagrange at the UK Games Expo from 31st May - 2nd June 2019.


Gameplay

Home on Lagrange is a simple card game. Each turn you will do one of 4 actions and then draw a card. You may either spend cards in your hand for their monetary value in order to buy one of the 4 modules in the market (which increase in cost the more modules you own) when you do this you may keep any resource cards of matching colour to the module you bought face up attached to your module which are worth points later. Alternatively you may play one of your resource cards face down on your modules, these are typically worth points, though a few may be a nasty surprise for anyone trying to attack you. Alternatively you can play black of white resource cards, black cards typically hinder your opponents, while white cards typically help yourself. Finally you can Discard a resource card in order to draw a new resource card off the top of the deck.


After taking an action you will then draw a new resource card before refilling the market of modules to 4 cards, if it is already at 4 cards you will destroy the oldest module before drawing a new one. On top of these actions once your base starts to grow you may unlock bonuses, having two modules of a matching colour will unlock a special ability based on the modules you chose.

The game will end once *every* player has built 4 module cards, so if you are first to complete your station that simply gives you longer to make use of your special powers and build upgrades. At the end of the game you score points based on how expensive your modules are and what combination of modules you chose to build. You then look up every players combination in the admirals log to find out the story of every person's station.



Amy’s Final Thoughts

Gameplay wise Home on Lagrange is nothing spectacular. The card play is acceptable, though there can be a fair amount of take-that and there certainly are some cards which simply won't make sense unless you know what other cards are in the deck. What card combos there are are mostly based on the luck of the draw, managing to get resource cards that match your building colours in order to maximise your points an your efficiency. The special bonuses while useful are all fairly basic, usually just altering the way you draw or play resource cards.

It isn't the game itself that charms you with Home on Lagrange, but rather the constant barrage of pop-culture references. Expect to see many classic sci-fi references hidden among the cards. Not only this but the admirals log contains a multitude of stories all the ones I encountered seemed to be homages to some of the great classic films. Perhaps it's unfortunate that this is where so much of the fun lies in the game. It almost feels like more enjoyment could be gained from reading the admirals log cover to cover, though without the investment in it being *your* base that suffers these catastrophes perhaps the fun would be lost.


Ultimately I feel that Home on Lagrange is not designed for gamers, If you are expecting nuanced gameplay then there are thousands of games out there that do that better. But if instead you have a gaming group of movie buffs who want a quick intermission between their cult-movie marathon then everyone around the table will fall in love with Home on Lagrange's unique charm. This is not my game, and that's ok, because out there somewhere there is a group of people that this game will be perfect for. Perhaps that's you?


Fi’s Final Thoughts

I'm not a big sci-fi or film nerd, and as a result I could only recognise a few references in the artwork on my cards. I was delighted to find that my first result in the admiral's log was a reference to Oliver Twist, which was very well written and full of charm. Unfortunately all later results just flew over my head. Amy had a lot more success recognising references and it was clear that perhaps I'm not the primary audience for this game.


The gameplay here is very simple, and with just one action per turn, the turns  go very fast, which is a great trait for a game to have. The fact that cards are multi-use and can be used for either their monetary value or their ability, is perhaps the most complex part of the game - it's a tough choice whether to throw a card away to get a station or hold on another turn when you'll have more cards to play with. The cards feel well balanced between their cool special abilities or alternatively poor abilities with low value. However, if you get stuck with a hand of low cards you will feel a little trapped and unable to build stations.

Playing at two players, we have typically avoided some of the take that elements of the game where cards allow you to destroy or steal other people's things. In two-players this is always going to come back and bite you and it just isn't a style of gameplay we enjoy. However, it's worth acknowledging that this might combat some of the resulting luck of the draw that happens where someone who draws high value cards can race ahead to build stations and simply build up points until the end of the game.

The game ends with a count-up of points and then the slightly weird moment where you each look up your space station in the admiral's log and have a 'story-time' around the table. The admirals log is a huge component in this game and the story element isn't really one that I find enriches the experience, not helped by not understanding the references. The book alone might well be a big draw for pop culture, fantasy or sci-fi fans though and that's the audience I would recommend for Home on Lagrange.


You Might Like...
  • The artwork is amazing and the sci-fi references are really fun to try and spot in every image.
  • The game is very simple to learn and would engage players who are drawn to the game by the artwork and theme.
You Might Not Like...
  • The game is very simple, with not enough meat for most seasoned gamers.
  • A lot of your success comes down to luck of the draw, in terms of high value cards or good matches of cards in your hand with stations available to buy.

The Verdict
5.5/10 Home on Lagrange is the perfect gift for a sci-fi fan. The references and stories in the Admiral's log and definitely enough to introduce a fan to a very light game with ease. However, for gamers, the game is likely to be far too simple, with not enough mitigation and tactics to interest us.


Home on Lagrange was a review copy kindly provided to us by Grizzly Games.

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