Disclaimer: This review is from a review copy of the game that was provided by AEG to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on playing through the campaign.
Warning: Since this is a short campaign, there will be spoilers for the campaign in our review. So, if you want to do this completely spoiler free, you may want to skip on reading this one.
Game: Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Design: John D. Clair
Art: Chris Walton
Mechanisms: Dice rolling, Card drafting
Number of Players: 2 – 5
Game Time: 30 – 75 minutes (per game, several games needed for full campaign)
Description: The Emergence of Shy Pluto is an expansion for Space Base, check out our review of the base game here. It includes new cards to play in any mode of the game, as well as a story campaign that takes place over several games (the actual length varies based on how quickly you accomplish the objectives, and some objectives will span multiple games).
Some of the new mechanics include:
- Diagonal arrow rewards that when activated as blue give you the red rewards of a neighboring sector, and vice versa when activated as red.
- Arrows plus double arrows, which let you reap the rewards of multiple nearby sectors.
- Extra dice are included in the expansion to allow you to activate bonus roll rewards, which let you roll 2 dice as though it was your turn and only you benefit from those dice (some rewards are not eligible for bonus roll payouts).
Review: So, if you remember, Space Base was in my top 10 games (and may still be? Who knows, we’ll update in March). I love the engine building and the way that it ramps up, and I just think that it’s a clever game overall.
Campaign Spoilers Ahead
First, the campaign was really nifty. It was a cool way to slowly introduce the new things to the game, allowing you to become more confident with the way that one type of card worked before you tried another one out. Also, I loved that, as soon as something got introduced, there was a new line you could purchase from – then, after the campaign was over, they were shuffled into their respective decks (1, 2, or 3).
Another great thing about the campaign is that you could determine its length. Most people on BGG said that their campaign was 2-3 games, and we found that to be accurate. We could have made it go longer, but we were typically able to step on the brakes a bit so that we didn’t end a game before the story objectives had been completed.
Campaign Spoilers Over
So, how does Shy Pluto help with game play? Well, first, I love the bonus rolls. Not only is it something fun that you could possibly do on your turn (or someone else’s), but it helps you to get more resources, more quickly. You start buying from the higher tiers of cards faster, which gets you toward the end game faster.
The extra cards with the double arrows and diagonal arrows give you lots of resources as well. There were multiple times where, we would want to buy a card, but we had so many resources that some of them got wasted. The new cards also provided additional opportunities to increase your income, which also helps the game go more quickly.
I say all of this to express – I think that Shy Pluto did a lot to help Space Base. One of the biggest issues that a lot of reviewers had with Space Base is that it started to lag at 4 or 5 players – and the bonus rolls and extra reward options have done a lot to speed the game up. A 4 or 5 player game could take upwards of 90 minutes, and those bonus rolls help to cut it down by at least 15 to 20 minutes.
In my opinion, Shy Pluto is a necessary expansion for Space Base, especially if you’re considering the next expansion, Command Station. We haven’t gotten our hands on Command Station yet, but it adds modules for 6 or 7 players, and you’ll need the “speed up” mechanisms introduced in Shy Pluto to make it easier to play at those counts.
Try, Buy, Deny: If you really enjoy Space Base, then Shy Pluto is definitely an expansion you will want to buy. The campaign is fun, the extra cards add some new strategy, and the new strategies really help to increase the pace of the game. If you’re lukewarm on Space Base, give this a try. Those new cards definitely fill in some of the gaps that people notice in the game.