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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Thursday, 25 June 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Project: ELITE

Game: Project: ELITE

Publisher: Artipia GamesCMON Limited

Designer:  Konstantinos KokkinisMarco Portugal, and Sotirios Tsantilas

Year: 2020

Project: ELITE was originally published by Artipia Games, and perhaps wasn't on too many people's radar until Tom Vasel, of the Dice Tower, named it as his number one game of all time. That certainly put it on my radar, since real-time cooperative games are a favourite for the two of us. The game was picked up by CMON games who brought it to Kickstarter with huge amounts of expansion content and, quite importantly for many people, upgraded miniatures.

Players are members of the ELITE squad , working together to stop an invading force of aliens. Working in real-time, the games progresses as a series of two-minute combat rounds, where frantic dice rolling is your only option. Hoards upon hoards of new aliens will arrive each turn, but as you get slightly more powerful over time, you stand a good chance of obliterating them and completing your mission objectives.

Project: ELITE plays with a time limit of a fixed number of rounds depending on the difficultly you select. In each round, the spawn deck will randomly generate a certain number of type of aliens at different spawning points, and you might also have a larger, boss-type alien appear. Once spawning is complete, you enter the real-time phase, where each player rolls their four action dice repeatedly for two minutes. With every roll, you might get movement for your player character, or movement for the aliens. All dice faces can be ignored if you don't wish to use them, but you must assign alien movement each time it's rolled. Sometimes that alien movement can be helpful, bringing someone in range of your weapons, but other times the aliens will be advancing closer and closer to your starting base, and if one breaks in, then you will lose. The other dice faces can be used for searching for gear, charging up your character's weapons, or sometimes interacting and assigning dice to one of your objectives.

You can roll dice A LOT of times in two-minutes, which certainly does a great deal to mitigate the chances of getting a bad roll. That means that you feel confident to make a plan before the start of every times phase. With experience you'll get better at making your plan realistic - you can probably each kill about 5 aliens in a 2-minute timed phase, and perhaps hope to work together to complete one objective towards the end of the phase, because the objectives lock your dice for the rest of the round. I'm often not good at tactical movement games, but make them cooperative and all of a sudden I'm immersed in the idea of how we're going to best collectively take on different urgent issues around the board - I get really into the idea of dividing and conquering!

Project: ELITE is, by it's a very nature, a fast game. It will likely take no more than 20 minutes. So far, on easy and medium difficulty, we've won quite handily and not taken the full number of allowed rounds to do so. Having said that we're a well oiled machine when it comes to real time co-ops. When people complained that Kitchen Rush was too difficult, we were gearing up to play on hard mode and excited for an expansion to up the difficulty. Our familiarity and ability to communicate and work together quickly is what makes me want to be very insular and only play real-time co-ops with Amy. There's certainly people out there who don't gel well with real-time, unable to make quick decisions, or getting too stressed out by the experience. Project: ELITE won't change your mind - it's made to suit a certain audience.

Amy asked me if I liked Project: ELITE enough to play it as a solo game, and I said no. Firstly, I probably don't like any game enough to play it solo - even Terraforming Mars, which is my favourite game of all time. But, what her question made me realise is just how much of what I enjoy in Project: ELITE is about the cooperation and planning conversations around the table. Most of my favourite real time cooperative games have the real-time and resolution phases and without the need to talk together and plan, Project: ELITE's resolution phase might feel more like a clean up, or typical 'bad stuff' phase in cooperative games, whereas with two or more players it's a planning phase that feels really important. Planning to split up or achieve certain objectives during the turn is one of the most fun parts for me.

I'm really pleased that CMON brought an older game back into the limelight and onto my radar with a successful Kickstarter campaign. Project: ELITE is a big box minis game that is far less intimidating in terms of gameplay and time commitment than most I've ever seen and I can't wait to up the difficultly, play it some more and give it the paint job that my only collection favourites earn. There's a few games in my collection that I turn to when I need to relax, and quite surprisingly Project: ELITE is one of them. Add to that the huge possibilities for stress relief that come from mowing down a few dozen aliens and Project: ELITE is very good value therapy! If real-time games are your thing then I can't recommend Project: ELITE highly enough.

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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