“It’s the group vs. the game. Work together, consider the options, yet don’t overthink for the next Alert card will change your plans.”
Publisher: AEG – Alderac Entertainment Group
Designer: J.T. Smith
Designer: Jamie Vrbsky
Artist: Guitano Leonardi
Artist: Scott Nicely
Game Type: Co-op
Game Type: Hand Management
Game Type: Set Collection
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Age Range: 14+
Expected Playtime: 60-90 min
Number of Players: 2-7
Theme and What is it?
You’re part of an intrepid crew whose jury-rigged starship gave up the ghost. You’re pursued and captured by hostile aliens, then placed in a detention facility. The captain is dead. What do you do? Escape — that’s what you do, it’s what the captain would want.
The Captain is Dead: Lockdown is a cooperative game where you can be a variety of different members of a starship’s crew attempting to break out of an alien prison and escape on a starship. Gain skills and tools, unlock systems, kill aliens all in the name of freedom.
Increase the Launch Bay Status to Escape! with at least one surviving crew remaining.
Place the game board in the middle of the players. Arrange the cards and decks, seeding piles as necessary on the board. Place the status indicators on the Launch Bay Status and Concealment Status charts. Deal 5 Skill cards and 1 Veteran card to the players. Players randomly pick a colored base (not grey, that’s for aliens) and then select their character from those associated with the chosen color. Place the character’s pawn in the appropriate starting location.
The player with the lowest rank value on their card goes first and turn order proceeds from lowest rank to highest, players determine the order if there is a tie.
Each character has several actions to be performed in a turn: Move up to 2 spaces, Kill Hostile Alien, Carry a player one space, Give Skill or Tool to player at your location, Take Skill or Tool from player at your location.
At the end of each turn, the adversary mechanic activates and you draw from the Alert deck and perform the action stated. Character abilities and/or spending Skills can cancel or override these alerts. After resolving the Alert, activate the Hostile Aliens. Then, Patrol Aliens move, static aliens injure characters in their location and escort them back to their starting locations (there are a couple of exceptions).
Players work together to take control of systems to provide additional advantages (teleport, trade Skills and Tools without being in same location, gain Skills and Tools, etc.) all aimed towards meeting the requirements for increasing the Launch Bay Status.
Characters can be killed/deactivated when in the presence of Hostile Aliens when they activate and the Concealment Status is Set to Kill. Dead characters are out of the game.
There are several optional and variant rules regarding dealing with dead characters, gameplay difficulty, and even solo play.
The game started off well in the setup, rules straightforward and helpful. We faltered a little with the unfamiliarity but the concept came across from playing other cooperative games.
Game Build Quality
The game consists of a game board, character and alien pawns, cards, and marker pieces. The game board is nice: great finish, art, and construction. The pawns are a plastic cutout with plastic bases. The cards come in a variety of sizes, using the same card stock and glossy finish. The marker pieces are of the same hard, clear yellow plastic, quite durable.
The art has a futuristic flair to it. The cards, pawns, board, and rulebook are all consistent in palette and design. And it is paying homage to some great sci-fi shows helps too.
It’s the group vs. the game. Work together, consider the options, yet don’t overthink for the next Alert card will change your plans.
Age Range & Weight
The age range for the game is appropriate given the complexity and need to work together with other players. Younger players would enjoy this type of game but guidance from an older player is recommended.
The Good and The Bad
The good comes from the art and the multitude of choices the players have in being able to participate and contribute to the objective.
The bad was the difficulty with some rules not providing clarity. They started off well, but the organization could have been better and missed a few things like being a little more specific in how characters move or visual representations of some rules to help provide a clarification.
I felt this game gave more for the players to do and think about than other cooperative games I’ve played. A lot of cooperative game experiences can fall victim to a dominator, a player who takes over the direction of the game, and something that I am known for. With unique abilities given to each character and how they interconnect with the various aspects that can lead to your escape, all players can provide input and feel like it is a real team effort, win or lose.