Board Game Review
Publisher: Keymaster Games. Designer: Henry Audubon. Year Published: 2018.
1 – 4 Players / 20 min / 14+ / Weight: 1/5
POST BY DAVID BOCK. Almost four years ago, I learned a game called Splendor. It was one of my first gateway games into the hobby. It was such a shift from the other board games I’d played. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with a card game called Manipulation (a form of Rummy). You’d play a card and then rearrange cards to create sets. So for me, a game about set collection was very close to my heart. It was simple to get, but the process of getting to the end was always different.
Most recently, Century Spice Road became an overnight success (though I’m still a fan of the Golem Edition). It was a game I loved just as much as splendor and I can personally attest to having seen it become a gateway game for folks at my game night. So can Cathy. Even still, these are still, at their hearts, full length card games.
Space Park wants to be something different. It wants to blast off into unchartered territory while still staying tethered to its roots. Unlike most set collection games, this one actually pulls off being called a board game. And even more surprising — it’s a filler game. I’d argue that this small little game could be your next gateway drug of choice to give to your unsuspecting friends and family.
In SPACE PARK, you’re adventurers, blasting off in your rocket ships and flying throughout the galaxy to visit the futuristic version of national parks, and doing your best to collect more explorer badges than Russel in Disney’s “Up.” Various locations give you different items. Some planets give you gems, others give you tickets to travel faster, you might even get a friendly robot that’ll give you some aid. And as you collect cards and trade in gems to fulfill them, you’ll also be building a little engine that will help you be more efficient at your job.
In most games you’d expect to have your own rocket and go where you want. But here’s where the game takes a sharp left turn. These rockets are usable by everyone. You’ll have to choose a location (action) where a rocket has already “landed” and then it’ll automatically move after your turn to the next available space. This limits your choices and makes the game intensely satisfying.
Like most KEYMASTER GAMES, you can explain it in less than five minutes. And because your choices are limited by what other players do, it’s a very equalizing game. As well this makes it unintentionally mean at times, but no less fun. More importantly, it can take as little as twenty minutes or as long as forty — depending on the level of intensity and focus you want to give it. But at its heart, this is a solid filler game.
With SPACE PARK you’ll also yourself spacing out (pun completely intended) as you look as the incredible art. It’s everything I come to expect from KEYMASTER GAMES. So much love was put into every single detail that you can’t help but love it as well. The gems are gorgeous, color matched beautifully to the beautiful vistas. The typography is easy to read and still as immersive. Take note here, designers, because I’m going to say that again. A game can be absolutely beautiful and still have extremely legible typography choices. For examples, please see every single game that KEYMASTER has produced.
Is it mind-blowing? No. It isn’t. But it’s fun. It’s well edited. It’s affordable. It’s a game you can enjoy with non-gamer folks. And it’s very very pretty.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love games that stay on the hotness for months, that cost hundreds of dollars and are addictive cardboard drugs. But sometimes I just want something short, fun, and simple that my wife and I can play at a restaurant, or between rounds of Lisboa to give our brains a break, or take to a family gathering, or bring when we have new folks coming to our game nights. THIS is where that game shines.
See for me, part of what I love about games, is how it makes other people feel when they play it. I love watching a fresh gamer immediately snag a rocket ship as I set things up, watch them inspect the gem stones and smile at the little robot. I see myself in them. I see myself playing Splendor for the first time with this big grin on my face at how heavy those clay chips were. And then, when we get to the end of that first game, they’ll look up, nod, and say what I always love to hear.
“Can we play again?”