Red Alert, set in the distant future, plays out a political struggle gone sideways. The two leading factions break out into all out space war which is where get involved
Publisher: PSC Games
Designer: Richard Borg
Artist: Rhys Pugh
Game Type: Sci-Fi Wargame
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 14+
Expected Playtime: 60-90 Minutes
Number of Players: 2-6 Players
Theme and What is it?
Red Alert, set in the distant future, plays out a political struggle gone sideways. The two leading factions break out into all out space war which is where get involved.
The game plays out in scenarios that could almost be classed as a campaign but, as with a lot of wars, it has no end.
For the most part the factions are evenly matched with ships and manpower, so it really depends on the commanders of the fleets (that’s us) and their strategical prowess to dictate the tides of war.
The gameplay is surprisingly simple. Each player is dealt command cards and combat cards… they pretty much explain themselves. Each turn you get to play a command card which dictates which area of the board you can activate and how many ships in that sector you can command. There are also special command cards that have specific actions on them that can help turn the tide of war.
Once you’ve played your command card and moved your fleet you decide whether combat should take place, either ranged or close quarters, meaning you are a distance from the enemy or right next to them. Being right next to the enemy increases the amount of dice you can roll for each attack… but it also leaves you wide open for retaliation if you don’t wipe out the ships you’re attacking.
This is also the point where you can use combat cards, only one per combat round, but again these can make or break combat. They may increase the amount of dice you roll this attack or reduce the enemy’s defences to open them up to attack. This is all done using very thematic cards with excellent descriptions.
Once the combat round is complete the opponent can opt to retaliate at the cost of command tokens. These tokens can be used for almost anything in the game, normally to activate abilities, cards or retaliations. Again, running out of these tokens can be a major hindrance to your fighting ability so use them wisely.
And that’s pretty much how a round plays out. Rounds continue like that until the end game criteria for the selected scenario has been completed.
Just from the box art alone I hooked with Red Alert. I had no pre-conceptions about it because I am one of the few gamers in this world that hasn’t played one of the other command and colour games like memoir 44.
Who couldn’t be swept away with the idea of commanding huge space fleets in all-out war!?!?!
Game Build Quality
The quality in every aspect of Red Alert is outstanding! I hate this to sound like a paid review, but every component has been well thought out and finished to the highest of standards. The fleets are just different enough to tell them apart (not just by the colour of them) but close enough to believe they are still part of the same race fighting for the future of the galaxy.
The cards stock is top quality for all the relevant components.
I guess one minor downside would be the board (sheet). My table is 7ft by 3ft 6inch. The player sheet is 6ft by 4ft. This left a slight over hand on both sides of the boards cutting one of the furthest edge hexes down the middle. This obviously isn’t a major issue as you rarely spend time at the edge of the board anyway, but I figured it would be worth mentioning for anyone who games on a smaller table.
Another very minor quibble would be about the set-up time. Due to the amount of ships used in each scenario basing them can take, what feels like, an age. I did consider gluing the bases and ships, but they would never fit back in the box. However, once you’ve built them for a session its done. Just need to get passed that initial faff.
Red Alert has exceptional artwork that fits into the theme of the game perfectly. Every card has imagery that fits the purpose of the card very well. Not only is the art excellent on the cards but also on the basic things like planet tiles and asteroid tiles. They have been down to such a level of detail that they blend in nicely with the space background.
I had hours and hours of fun with this game just playing through the scenarios. I haven’t even had a chance to step into the bespoke skirmish mode where you can play with variable fleet etc. Red Alert is simple enough to figure out in a very short time but then mastering the movement and combat of all the ship types add such a level of depth to it. I also know that there are still command cards and combat cards that we still haven’t seen yet meaning there are still some surprises hiding around the corner.
I’m also interested to try the 2 and 6 player modes, having to work with allies instead of commanding the whole fleet, would add to the challenge level.
Age Range & Weight
14+ seems spot on to me. It simple enough to explain to teenagers but anyone younger than that might struggle.
The weight of the game seems about right to me too. The game length certainly depends on the scenario and the experience of the players.
This is a game that I will happily pull out at any time and show people, gamers or non-gamers. The set-up time might be a bit long but the pay off in the end is well worth it. I could easily show someone how to play Red Alert in 10mins and be into the game immediately after that, which I will be honest, I was very surprised about.
The minis are top quality, the components are top quality and the play mat is also top quality (although it would have been epic in neoprene… a man can dream).
The rules are simple enough to understand… but an I honestly think there could have been an abridged version of it for gamers. Maybe a “quick guide” with a basic run down of the actions because once you get going it really isn’t complicated at all.
So, to conclude… yeah! Just go and buy it! Once you’ve played through the base scenarios there are expansions to delve into all of which add new ship types and scenarios so you will have plenty to get on with. Enjoy :o)
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