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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Tuesday 23 June 2020

120DPM (Dice per Minute):- Project: ELITE

Game: Project: ELITE

Publisher: Artipia Games, CMON Limited

Designer:  Konstantinos Kokkinis, Marco Portugal, and Sotirios Tsantilas

Year: 2020

 Project: ELITE, CMON Limited/Artipia Games, 2019Project: ELITE is a real-time cooperative dice game in which you take the role of a combat-veteran ready to wade into an endless swarm of aliens and mow them down with your endless supply of bullets. Along the way you will probably have an objective to do which is more complex than put lead into non-human lifeforms. If you can complete that, and escape alive to tell the tale then you will win.

Each turn consists of a new event card being revealed, providing instant or ongoing problems to deal with. Next new aliens will spawn.
There are 3 types of spawn aliens: runners which move fast, but don't attack, biters which move at a medium speed and attack in melee, and shooters who move slowly, but attack at range. You will then also draw from the boss deck, many of the cards in here are "all clears" meaning no boss arrives, but there are a wide range of boss aliens which are all tougher and have a special ability unique to them.

Once the aliens have been spawned the players will have a two minute timed "scoot, loot, and shoot". Each player has 4 special dice which they can roll and re-roll as much as they are able during the two minutes. To counter this, one side of the dice shows an alien move symbol, whenever a player rolls this they must stop what they are doing and move one alien figure one space closer to the player's start point. Most of your other faces are used to move, to prepare your guns, to search one of the three locations for new weaponry, or complete your objective for the game.

When dice are allocated they generally go into one of two types of action spaces. Most action spaces are temporary, holding the die only until you have completed the task. This is typical of guns and most standard equipment you might find. As soon as you deem the time right your character can remove those dice to activate the effect, in the case of a gun this lets you roll dice to try and kill aliens. Each gun has a range and a number that you need to roll to get a hit. Some guns are close range and consistent, some are long range, but require lucky rolls to hit, but all are upgrade-able to improve these attributes. once you activate an item this way the dice on it are added back to your pool to roll and re-roll. The other type of action space locks your die until the end of the round, these often give you powerful effects, but at the cost of your prowess for the remainder of the turn.

After the players' two minutes aliens will activate, attempting to attack players in range and them moving towards the player's start location. Should any alien reach there alive then you all lose the game, also if any of you die to a swarm of aliens, well that's not exactly a winning move... Finally you can lose the game by failing to complete your objective and escape by the end of the 8th round.

What a power trip! Project: ELITE wants you to feel like a badass and it achieves it with aplomb! You only have 2 minutes, but in that time you'll likely be scavenging for a new gun/gun upgrade, moving your hero into a good firing position, unloading half a dozen magazines into enemies that keep coming at you at speed due to everyone rolling the alien face. Then maybe, if you have time, heading to the objective to actually win the game. The swarming enemies are all basic enough that after your second, action packed, fast, game you'll never have to look at their stat cards again, but they still remain a unique threat in their own rights. It's a real achievement in making recognizable enemies with minimalist rules.

The rules themselves aren't quite as easy to digest on the first run as I might have liked, but Project: ELITE is super simple to teach, the cooperative nature means you can take care of the couple of fiddly downtime bits between action phases, while new players only really need to worry about what they are doing. The mechanics for actually moving around and shooting are so trimmed of fat that it's a wonder there's any meat left. Simple though the gameplay may be, the frantic nature of knowing the clock is ticking down raises the stakes on even the simplest gameplay.

So the rules are good, the art and minis are great and the game makes you feel like a badass, what's not to love? Well, the one thing I could complain about is the difficulty. I do get the impression that at The Game Shelf we are unusually good are real time cooperative games, perhaps a niche genre of games to excel in, but we do. Playing the game on easy felt far too easy and playing the game on medium was still a guaranteed win. We rarely used much more than half the time needed, and in games where we found particularly good items and weapons we often managed to wipe out nearly all the aliens and advance our objective at the same time. It's a bit of a shame in a game that's so new to feel like you have to jump straight into hard mode to get a challenge out of it on day one.

But perhaps a challenge is not the point. There's something magical in being that action movie hero. A badass facing unbeatable odds armed only with a shotgun and a bad attitude. Project: ELITE makes you feel like a team of the Doom Slayer, Master Chief, the Terminator and Ripley. That's an incredible achievement for a board game. It's a miniature game that doesn't fall into the pitfalls of being a slow exploratory affair. It's fast paced, frantic, alien slaughtering action. While a good set of players might not have much difficulty winning, they will have a hell of a good time doing so!


Project: ELITE was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £89.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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