If you want to keep up with the coolest games in tabletop, look no further than our tabletop game show Game the Game hosted by Becca Scott every Wednesday at 4 pm PT on Twitch and Alpha. This week Becca and company are taking a Thankgiving break, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at a great game to play with the family: Abandon Planet.
Ah, it’s a beautiful evening. The stars are out. Merriment abounds. Friends sit down to play a peaceful game of…OH MY GOD METEORS ARE FALLING FROM THE SKY AND YOU NEED TO GET OUT NOW! NOW! NOW! That’s right. It’s the meteor apocalypse and even though we’re all friends here, someone has to perish on the planet while someone else blasts off in their rocket to safer skies. But, who among us will survive, and who will get to Abandon Planet?
In this game, you must team up with one of your allies and collect items from different parts of the planet until you have enough to build a rocket and launch into space. You cannot do it alone, and you can only leave with one ally. It’s a race to collect resources and vie for loyalty. But in this game, resources trump friendship.
Phase 1: Get Ready
This first phase is kind of like Poker meets Russian Roulette… in space. The Leader for the round learns where the meteor will strike next. But you don’t know what kind of leader this is. Will they betray you by telling you the wrong location? Will they be honest and save the lives of both their allies and enemies? Or will they remain silent, and leave it up to fate? That all depends on the leader holding the meteor card and their agenda.
But hey, this rocket isn’t going to build itself. So players still need to decide where they’re going to fly for their resources. Once players decide what path they’re going to take, they place their pathway cards face down. Because they don’t have to tell anyone what their plans are unless they dang well please! And here’s where human nature is revealed. Will everyone work together and coordinate so they avoid fighting for resources, or will it start to get nasty?
Phase 2: Fly Out
Grab the popcorn because in this phase you get to find out who is lying. Players reveal their pathway cards and fly to that tile to get their resources. That seems simple enough. Unless Jenny was lying to you about going to 4 to collect tools and she’s really going to tile 2 EVEN THOUGH YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING THERE. Jenny is such a jerk. So now you two duke it out and see who gets that resource. Whoever wins will get the resource and everything else in the loser’s loading bay. Ouch.
This isn’t the only “Take That” moment that can happen. Players can also use special meteorite tokens to change their pathways or change the turn order, allowing them to be on the offense instead of the defense of a takeover. Or, you know, everyone could just be chill and actually go where they say they’re going. That’s entirely possible-ish.
Once everyone has landed on their tiles, and won their loot, the Leader reveals (drumroll please) the location of the meteor! Yeah, Jenny said she was going to 4 because she’s the Leader and she wanted to fool everyone into thinking that 4 was a safe place. But it wasn’t. So a whole lot of people got hit by meteors and lost everything in their loading bay. (Jenny is not popular right now.)
The resource tile that was struck by the meteor is whisked away and an aftermath tile is laid down in it’s place, giving players one more chance to scavenge that part of the world. But the next time that spot is hit, that tile is obliterated and the world is a little closer to meeting its doom.
Phase 3: Fly Back
After all the excitement/watching part of the planet get destroyed, players fly back to home base. At this moment, if you and a fellow ally have enough resources to build your rocket, you can blow this popsicle stand!
The game ends when one or more teams Abandon the Planet, or when there is only one pathway left on earth. If there’s only one pathway, there aren’t enough resources and everyone dies in a storm of fire and fury. Oh, and you’ll also lose if everyone abandons the planet at the same time because your rockets will all crash into each other right after launch. So seriously, someone has to stay behind. If that doesn’t light some fire under your bottom, amirite?
But if no teams are ready to abandon the planet, and there are enough pathways to continue, then you can go ahead and move your resources from the loading bay to your inventory, trade items, business as usual, etc.
For such an intense and dark theme, Abandon Planet is a great, big mound of light and backstabby fun. It becomes clear early on that an ally is only an ally when they are useful. With that precedent set, it’s difficult to hold a grudge when getting knocked off your resource tile, or getting tricked into landing on a meteor. It’s an every-man-for-himself kind of situation, which becomes easy to embrace once resources start becoming scarce.
But of course, it will play differently depending on the personalities around the table. Though the opportunity for deception is built into the game, it’s not required or even necessary. In fact, it’s possible to have an entirely cooperative game. Rainbows and sunshine can prevail until the end… when someone actually has to be left behind.
The game is great for both new and veteran players. As with many semi-cooperative games, this game ensures that no player a is victim to being pushed around the board. And with conversation being encouraged, the environment is a welcoming one for players who are learning the ropes. There are enough elements to make for a fun fight but not too many so as to overwhelm players. For instance, meteorites can give players even more opportunities to deceive, trick or attack but one is never required to use them. The game also provides plenty of reference guides in case anyone needs a little help.
Abandon Planet is a certainly a lot of fun for a group of friends who aren’t afraid of a little “take that” in their game night. After all, Orange Machine Game’s slogan is “We make the games that let you betray your friends.” It’s all in good fun, and inevitable high fives will ensue.
What are your space-themed games? Let us know in comments! To keep up with all the games you should be playing, as well as learn how to play them, look no further than our tabletop game show Game the Game hosted by Becca Scott every Wednesday at 4 pm PT on Twitch and Alpha.
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Image Credits: Orange Machine Games