It’s dark, and as one of the few remaining human crew members, you try to make your way to one of the escape pods of the damaged spaceship SELVA. You creep around, sector, by sector, trying to keep your location a secret from the malevolent flesh-eating aliens lurking aboard. Klunk! … you’ve disturbed some debris among the damage. You freeze … have you been detected? A screech of frustration from a nearby sector … you have escaped … for now, but the alien knows you’re not far away …
In its most basic form, this game is a little like Battleships, but in space, with moving ships.
The premise of the game is of a damaged research ship in deep space, where a mysterious alien virus has crept aboard and infected the crew, transforming them into creatures of nightmare. The onboard systems have failed, leaving the ship in darkness. The remaining crew members must make their way to an escape pod and leave the derelict ship before becoming a tasty supper for the unseen aliens lurking aboard.
At the start of the game, each player takes a flip book of maps and a dry-wipe marker. The group selects a map to play. This represents the ship the humans are trying to escape from.
The maps range from fairly small, apparently simple affairs, to vast meandering routes taking up the whole page. Each location on a map is a hexagon, with a unique identifying row/column reference (e.g. M05). Hexagons are either shaded or white.
Each player is given a secret identity card. This will let the player know whether they are playing as human or alien. In addition to the human/alien identification, each character with have a special ability as denoted on the back of the flip book.
Now comes the fun part… attempting escape! Humans can move one hexagon at a time, and aliens can move up to two hexes at a time. With the exception of special abilities, a move must be taken each time the player takes a turn. If a player lands on a white hex this is a silent sector. This player can announce silent sector and nothing more needs to be said. If a player lands on a shaded hex, they must take a card from a communal pool of cards. This will have one of three symbols on it such that the player must either announce the sector they are in, announce a noise in any sector, or silence in all sectors. Herein lies the ability to make false trails, for the humans to lure the aliens away from their true path, or for the aliens, to disguise their true target. This builds tension, as the cards are discarded face down, and only the active player knows the truth.
These cards also have symbols which are useful to the human players for a one-off bonus, but not playable for the aliens unless they have a specific ability to do so.
Using the information (or perhaps misinformation) revealed from the sector cards, the aliens hunt their human prey, and can, when close enough, attempt a kill. To carry out an attack, an alien moves into the sector where the active (alien) player believes a human player to be, and announces an attack. If any player is in that sector, they are now dead.
For any chance not to be devoured, humans must reach the escape pods, and draw a card when they get there. If they’re lucky, they make a clean break and are away! If not – the escape pod may be broken and all they have succeeded in doing is alerting the alien(s) to their presence. (this really is tense while playing!)
Prior to playing this, I wasn’t quite sure how much fun it would be, but I found it engaging, entertaining, and with the kind of tenseness that can only build up in a game where information is scarce, and there are hunters on the loose! We’ve played it with a group of four, and managed to get the full quota of 8 eight playing in a beer garden. The kind of tenseness is different with eight – it took a lot longer for all the aliens to be revealed than with four players.
Game by Santa Ragione, Illustrated by Giulia Ghigini.
Published by Osprey Games
Available as print and play
or online from:
Osprey Games £29.99
(may be available from other stockists)