Deep Space D-6 Review

Released 2015
Designer Tony Go
Publisher Print and Play Web Published
Tau Leader Games (Website)
Players 1
Playing Time 20-40 minutes luck depending
Category Dice Rolling
Worker Placement
Push Your Luck
Hand Management
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

To boldly roll where lots have thrown before

There are times when you want to play a game, but no one is around to play with you. Timing, location, last-minute plan changes – there are heaps of reasons why it can happen.

For me, this is a good time for Video Games to step in. But there are also a lot of times I don’t want to look at a screen anymore. Working in front of a screen all day, sometimes I can’t bear the thought of spending another few hours staring at another screen.

I had heard good things about a Board Game Geek solitaire print and play award winner Deep Space D-6 for a couple of years now. It was always one of those ‘next time’ print and play choices. I understood from a mechanical perspective why people enjoyed it, but never took the time to sit down and play a game.

That has all changed in the last few weeks, and I am glad I finally sat down and played Deep Space D-6 without distractions.

It doesn't look like much, but there is a surprising amount of game here

So what is Deep Space D-6?

Mechanically, Deep Space D-6 is a solo dice worker placement game. This is a technically correct sentence, and some people are now interested or turned off.

But hearing the title Deep Space D-6 and looking at the packaging, it’s understandable why people would be confused as to what’s going on.

Deep Space D-6 – is it a Star Trek parody? And why does the box look like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book?

Looking at the back, you see cards, a board with a ship on it, and some dice. Oh, dice – that explains the D-6 in the title. But the cards? Do you choose a route in space or something? It’s hard to follow from the packaging.

You play the role of a captain of a starship. Patrolling a section of space, you receive a distress call and go to investigate. But of course, the request is a trap and know you have to fight your way out of hostile space.

The first thing many new players will encounter - the back of the box
It doesn't look like much if you haven't played, but soon you will see a pitched space battle

You have to make snap decisions in your role of captain, represented by assigning available crew to different tasks. You need to balance ship maintenance with an ever-growing number of threats and random events that never seems to give you a break.

Still confused? Honestly, I don’t blame you. Having the mechanics make sense to me but not quite seeing how the theme integrated everything kept Deep Space D-6 on my ‘next time’ pile for far too long.

Gameplay Basics

There is a very easy to follow play order in Deep Space D-6. When you first begin, the setup has you already in the thick of the action. Threats are already surrounding your ship, and you have to start making choices.

Roll your dice and see if you have anything appearing on your scanners. Then assign your crew, add a new threat to the board, and finally resolve any threat actions.

You do this over and over again for about 20-30 minutes, depending on a few factors like luck and planning. This makes learning the game (or teaching someone else) incredibly simple as you only really need to concentrate on your actions and card text.

To win the game, you need to have drawn all of the threat deck cards. All external threats to the ship (including the big boss the Ouroboros) while having at least 1 hull point. What could be easier?

External Threats on the right, Internal Threats on the left. Sounds like Monday to me!

You can lose the game in a couple of different ways. The most common is being blown up. Just take too much damage, and as soon as your hull hits 0 points, you’re out. You can also have your entire crew incapacitated. If you start your turn and can’t roll any dice, you will lose – so be careful!

Playing Deep Space D-6

This all sounds pretty basic, and it is. But what you can’t picture from looking at the box or even listening to people talk about playing Deep Space D-6 is the incredible feeling of pressure and tension the game gives you. I have played plenty of games that have used timers to create a rushed atmosphere. Tony Go manages to do this while letting you take all of the time you want.

After the first couple of turns, you begin the gamer mantra of “Come on just roll some (Whatever you need to roll) please!”. You know what you need to do, but first, you need the resources (crew) to do it.

Secondly, every turn, you will add a new threat from the threat deck. There are some ‘nothing happens’ cards (Don’t Panic – just needed a towel!) but these can be taken out of the game if you are feeling masochistic.

Do you think I could roll just one shield die? Just one?
And of course as soon as my shields start to come good - they are gone again!

Each turn takes about 30-40 seconds. Some will be longer because you have to stop and think, and threat resolution can take a while as more are added, but a turn itself is speedy.

Because you are playing each turn so quickly, you quickly become so immersed in your game that you don’t notice you have been making quick decisions for 30 minutes. Some actions will cause elation and other despair. You begin dreading what you are going to reveal from the threat deck, but you don’t stop from turning them over.

This is the magic of Deep Space D-6 – in the space of about 10 minutes, you transform from slight confusion opening the box for the first time to complete absorption in trying to save your ship. It’s something that until you experience it yourself, you can appreciate the sentiment from an observers standpoint, but you won’t understand precisely what it feels like.

Replayability and Difficulty

Deep Space D-6’s retail version has a lot of variety going for it already in the box.

Firstly, you can remove the ‘Don’t Panic’ breather cards from the threat deck. This makes for a faster game as you are thinning the pile, but it also means you will have a new problem every turn.

I already mentioned the Ouroboros – the big bad boss of the game. It’s a single gigantic command ship comprised of six individual threat cards you fully defeat by destroying its core.

The more of these you take out, the harder the game
The big bad Ouroboros. It may just look like a few cards, but you will learn to hate this ship.

For your first time playing, you can simply leave the Ouroboros out altogether. You definitely have enough to worry about with the threat deck that this omission would not overly simplify the game.

Personally, I would recommend starting with the first optional Ouroboros setup. When you have cleared the threat deck, take the Ouroboros cards and set up the ship. Think of it as the big final boss appearing and trying to stop you from making it back to friendly space.

There is also the option of randomly shuffling the Ouroboros cards into the threat deck. If you draw one, put it to one side of the play area and reveal another threat card. When you have all six Ouroboros cards out, deal with the Ouroboros as an unveiled threat. You still need to clear the threat deck to win the game though.

This represents a more random timing to the encounter, while also building the tension and suspense as you begin revealing more and more of the Ouroboros. Most will also probably tell you it’s the more ‘advanced’ way to play.

Up in the top right, the Ouroborus is catching up...

The infirmary even has 2 modes of play you can choose from. You can play the standard way and have dice sent to the infirmary usually as a threat effect. Or, you can play where you put one die in the infirmary to make another die wild. This allows you to mitigate bad rolls but lowers your dice pool until a medical officer can treat everyone in the infirmary.

Finally, there are four different ships to master.

The Halcyon is the general all-rounder ship that is good for beginners and getting used to the gameplay. It has a Stasis Beam that lets you stop a threat from activating each turn.

Then you look at the next ship, the Athena Mk. II. On the surface, it appears the Athena has different hull and shield values – nothing unusual. Looking closer, you will see that all of the worker roles have different effects compared to the Halcyon.

The Halcyon (left) and the Athena Mk II (right)

So what’s wrong with it?

Frankly – not much. Not with the game itself at least.

The AG-8 (left) and the Mononoaware on the right.

For example, the Halcyon lets you add up all of your damage and split it amongst multiple targets. The Athena inflicts 2 points of damage to a single threat for each gunnery icon. It’s a subtle adjustment but can make a world of difference in how you play subsequent games.

The same goes for the other two ships – the AG-8 and the Mononoaware. In my head, each board is an expansion that messes with the base rules, giving you new challenges and experiences. I think it will take a long time to be bored with Deep Space D-6.

The component quality is excellent. The dice are solid and roll well, the boards are heavy enough and functional, and the heavy card stock speaks well for durability. The artwork on cards is lacking, but I do like the clean, simple designs this allows.

My biggest issue with Deep Space D-6 is the rules explanations and vagueness of some terms. If you learn to play the game yourself, Tony Go has been very active on the Board Game Geek Forums which is handy. Tau Leader Games also has a pretty good FAQ on their website.

The rules are much better than the PnP, but you shouldn't need to go online for rule clarifications on the second round

While it’s great these are happening, as I got a second edition/print copy, I am a bit disappointed they are still needed. There wasn’t anything game-breaking that I needed to lookup. I was mostly right with my instincts on how things resolved, but that is just gaming experience I think.

If a new gamer pulls a card that doesn’t make sense, they don’t want to have to hunt on the internet for what it means, it should have clarification in the rule book.

Deep Space D-6 is not the first or last game to suffer from this. Hopefully, in a new reprint and/or the upcoming multiplayer Deep Space D-6: Armada, this can be resolved.

More than one player?

Not yet. That said, my favourite round of Deep Space D-6 has been when I taught Alpal how to play. She had a copy from the original Kickstarter, and I have the newer release, and we just set up our games, and I talked through the rounds.

It was the truest multiplayer solitaire gaming session I ever played. We were both in wildly different positions, and it was fun to see what the other was going through.

I was going through the game faster once I left Alpal to play on her own after the first couple of rounds, so she would look up and just see a ton of cards scattered everywhere. She would laugh at my exasperation at being unable to roll anything I wanted, and I enjoyed watching her get just as beaten up by her game.

Things are not looking good for my ship. But I have gotten out of worse!

As I mentioned before though there is a multiplayer version currently in development. If Deep Space D-6 sounds like something you would enjoy but want to play with some more players, maybe hold off for Deep Space D-6: Armada.

Still not sure if you would like it? Try the free print and play!

Still not sure if Deep Space D-6 is for you? Makes perfect sense. I put off trying it for the exact same reason. The good news though is if you don’t mind printing your games, there is a free print and play version available!

It comes with the Halcyon (although it’s not named in this version), some threat cards and the rules. I haven’t made a direct comparison to the retail version, but the cards included are representative of threats in the retail version. There just doesn’t seem to be quite as many, so games will probably run quicker.

Using a conversion chart for the symbols can slow the game down though. When I was looking to play the print and play, I planned to write the pip values over the symbols meaning no lookups. Adds a few minutes to the initial setup, but it will make your life easier.

It may not look quite as nice, but it will save you a lot of time later!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Deep Space D-6

Summary

Deep Space D-6 regularly manages to make me more immersed and invested in a ‘quick filler game’ than a lot of big-box games manage, and that is quite a feat.

There is a lot about Deep Space D-6 that I know will discourage large groups of players. It’s a solo game with a high luck factor with dice rolling and drawing from a deck. There isn’t a lot to the game component-wise. But what is seen by many as drawbacks all make for strengths in Deep Space D-6. It’s great that the print and play is available to everyone, but I also understand that only some people enjoying building their games this way.

I really think if people had the chance to sit and try it, it would catch on even more than it already has. Hopefully, the upcoming Deep Space D-6: Armada with multiple players will help with that ūüôā

Overall
8/10
8/10

Pros

  • ¬†Immerses you into gameplay faster than 99% of games I have played
  • ¬†Simple solid core rules that allow for fast play and learning
  • ¬†Free Print and Play to try first that still has a lot of variety in it

Cons

  • ¬†Rules could include a lot more clarifications
  • ¬†To play with multiple people at the same time, multiple copies required

Dragonvault – A Legends of Dysx Game review

DragonVault Cover Art
DragonVault Cover Art
Released 2018
Designer Robin Gibson
Publisher Button Shy Games (Website)
Players 1
Playing Time 5-10 minutes
Category Roll and Write
Solo
Push your luck
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

If you are willing to give games not ‘On the Hotness’ a go, you can enjoy some great experiences

I have mentioned Print and Play (PnP) games before, as well as PnPArcade.com.  There are many advantages to this format, as well as some disadvantages.

When you aren’t sure if you should be paying for a game, the PnP versions offered by many publishers are a small glimpse of the whole experience.¬† For example, you can get a PnP version of World Championship Russian Roulette – just in case my review didn’t help make up your mind ūüėÄ

And then there are some complete stand-alone games that I could have problems paying full price for in a store.¬† Welcome To… is a good example of a game that straddles this mark.¬† Paying for the deck of cards and everything that came in the box and paying AUD$35 was a point I was OK with.

But sometimes the game is just a play pad. Dragonvault is an example of this.  One sheet of paper with the rules and playing area combined, three standard 6 sided dice and a pen does not make me want to spend $25-30.

But USD$3?¬† The designer gets a thank you, I print the scoresheet, and I don’t have to leave my house.

Dragonvault Components
A lot of people might be turned off by the idea of a game being one piece of paper, but they are missing out!

Yes, that’s right – the game cost me less than $5.¬† I only print one sheet, as I have a laminator, but I am already set up for PnP if you look at it that way.

If you had a hankering for something new one afternoon, doesn’t that sound like a great way to try a new game?

Legends of Dysx

Not going to lie – I have no idea about the world of Dysx.¬† Looking at PnPArcade.com and Board Game Geek, it’s obvious that Dragonvault is part of an ongoing series of different games.¬† I am going to guess it is some kind of fantasy world though, as here we play a Dragon guarding their horde against the annoying heroes looking to make a name for themselves.

Playing Dragonvault

The concept is pretty simple, but it took me about half of my first game to really get my head around how to play.

On your turn, pick up your three dice and roll.  You have one of three possible courses of action to choose from.

The first is the most common initially РAdd Traps.  You do this by adding devices to the grid representing the dungeon.  Choose one die to represent the column in the dungeon, and one to represent the row, the last to represent the trap.

Assuming there is nothing built there already/previously (can’t build over old traps!), or the area is already blacked out, mark your trap and then knock off an hourglass.¬† This round is complete.

Dragonvault Turn 1
Roll dice, look up options, write result. Nice and straightforward ūüôā

Secondly, you can choose to unlock special abilities.  These come in the form of either a sub-basement giving you more build area or magical traps.

To unlock an ability, you need to complete all the squares under what you wish to access.  You can use any number of your die rolls, but the next number in the sequence must be one number higher or lower than the one before it.

Knowing when to sacrifice building traps or having the out if you are unable to build is key to effective dungeon management in Dragonvault.

Dragonvault Unlock
You want to open new powers, especially as the new heroes come through!

The last thing you can choose to do is skip your turn completely.  You mark this by circling an hourglass, with each circled hourglass giving you 3 points at games end.

However this isn’t the same as rolling and deciding you can’t do anything – if you decide to go for the bonus points, it must be before you roll for that turn.¬† This is where the push your luck aspect of Dragonvault starts to come in.¬† Is you your dungeon truly ready to defend against heroes?

Finally you will reach a door on the time tracker – this begins the defend stage of Dragonvault.

Roll one die and count that number on the list of living heroes.  The idea is the more you defeat, the harder the future heroes become.  They then begin their run through your dungeon.

As they follow the trail, you mark off the traps they activate along their path.  Most traps have a number of uses or a condition that destroys the trap, but each use also hurts the hero.

If they run out of hearts from damage, the hero is defeated!  However, if they make it through, you lose a chest and some points for the end of the game.

Dragonvault A hero comes
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

And that’s it!¬† Keep going until you have marked all of the hourglasses and doors to mark the end of the game.

Even if you lose all of your treasure, you would have defeated some heroes so it’s very hard to get no score, but it is hard to get a high score.

After about 20 games, I don’t think I have ever gotten away with all of my treasure intact – one always seems to get through.¬† I thought I was close in the game I have photographed for the review, but the last hero skipped past every second trap to their goal.

Dragonvault Final Score
Like many Roll and Writes, you are just playing to beat your own score - but it's still satisfying!

Some downsides to Dragonvault are if you want to play it safe, there isn’t much ‘game’ to it.¬† Concentrating on placing only traps and unlocking the sub-basement is a solid strategy, if not overly fun in the long run.

If you are unlucky with your dice rolls, you won’t be able to build over previous traps or unlock abilities. This high luck component will put off some more strategic players.

But that is only the opinion of some Рthe fact that Dragonvault is so quick and highly luck based makes this an interesting diversion for me to chuck some dice with.  And for a game that only needs three dice, how much depth did you truly expect?

I would like some more clarification in the rules though.  For example, a magical trap is a teleport that returns the hero to the start.  I am not sure if this is supposed to be to the start of the dungeon, or out of the dungeon where they start.

Assuming the simplest explanation was correct, I play as the start of the dungeon, but this can set infinite loops.  When this happens, I just play it as the second time the hero avoids the teleport.  Is that right?  Not sure, but it works for me!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD
Dragonvault - A Legends of Dysx Game

Final Thoughts

The ideas behind Dragonvault are interesting, and the game itself is a fine diversion when I want to play something with minimal setup.

But it’s not a game like Welcome To where I can see myself settling in for a few rounds back to back – I think two runs would be my limit.¬† But I would come back for another go.

That said, for the cost of USD$3 and a couple of printouts, you aren’t exactly being asked to pony up a massive amount of cash.¬† If you are even mildly interested, give it a go – it is fun ūüôā¬† As for me, I will be checking¬†out some more Legends of Dsyx games in the future.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  • ¬†Easy to learn
  • ¬†Leaves you that challenge of ‘I can do better”
  • ¬†It’s USD$3 from¬†PNPArcade.com!

Cons

  • ¬†Rules could be on a second page and fleshed out
  • ¬†Play draw area is a bit small

Tiny Epic Mechs is live and crushing it on Kickstarter!

Tiny Epic Mechs Feature

Tiny Epic Mechs was a must have impulse buy

I have a bit of an on and off history with the Tiny Epic series of games.  I absolutely love the concept Рa small box with a big box feel.  Sometimes these games have hit, sometimes not.

The first to really click with me was Tiny Epic Galaxies, a Yahtzee style dice roller with variable powers.  What looks simple becomes a frantic race to earn enough victory points in time.  Tiny Epic Galaxies starts slow but finishes in the blink of an eye.

Tiny Epic Western is a game I need to revisit.  I backed it early and went all in, but the almost poker mechanics led to some disagreements at the table.  But the idea is solid Рa worker placement game with poker hands instead of die rolls or similar.

Tiny Epic Zombies looks like a lot of fun, but I am still waiting for it to arrive.¬† I have seen the updates on Facebook of happy backers receiving their copy, so I have been avoiding the ‘Tiny Epic’ updates for a couple of weeks.

Early this morning I woke up to a Kickstarter notification – ‘Be the first to back Tiny Epic Mechs’.¬† Pre-coffee John opened the page, and saw this:

So I am now a backer of Tiny Epic Mechs, the latest Tiny Epic game from Scott Almes.

Really, just putting Meeples in Mech suits had me sold Рit was an early morning impulse buy of the first order.  For someone with sausage hands like myself, there is a good chance these item meeples will be too small to put the items in and out constantly, but the idea is great.

Like every other Tiny Epic game, this one is mechanically different.  Now players are competing against each other in a gladiator-style match, but with action programming Рsimilar to Colt Express.

Tiny Epic Mechs Parts
Build up your pilot meeple as you play

Over on Kickstarter, not even 24 hours in and the Stretch Goals are dropping quickly.  Extra pilots and component upgrades have already been unlocked, with more to be announced.  And unlike some other publishers *cough CMON cough* if the project does well, backers just unlock everything.  Tiny Epic games are designed to fit in the small box, period.

And Gamelyn Games is far from a Kickstarter novice.  On the page you will also see a game run through with JonGetsGames, as well as many previews from a lot of different board game reviewers.

And one of my favourite things to see on the page Рthe rules!  While Tiny Epic Mechs was indeed an impulse buy, having had a chance to look through the rules this morning this really does look like a game I can get behind.

This looks like a straightforward (if potentially component fiddly) programmable game that should be simple to teach during the first playthrough.

Tiny Epic Mechs Solo Meeple in Mech
So many Ripley references will be made early in this game ūüôā

So head over to the Tiny Epic Mechs Kickstarter page and have a look for yourself.  It looks like a lot of fun for under AUD$50, including shipping!

And if you are on the fence, grab the print and play version and give it a try for yourself ūüôā

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Page Quest: Season 1 Kickstarter with the free A4 Quest!

Page Quest KS Banner

A4 Quest. Page Quest. It sounds like when I need to format a report at work.

So the other day I hear an offhand comment about a solo print and play game called A4 Quest. It sounded a standard type of affair – get through the dungeon and beat the boss using dice. It was something that I thought I might be interested in but put in the ‘later’ pile.

Then I go looking through some Kickstarter emails and see a reference to a solo game called Paper Quest. Well, didn’t that sound familiar. Looking around I see it’s from the same guys that did the Superhot Card Game, so I have a closer look at the preview.

To my surprise, it’s the same guys that made A4 Quest! Board & Dice and Thistory Games apparently team up on a few projects, and this is the latest. Looking at the preview for the Kickstarter project, it sounds like a game I would be interested in. So I print up the first scenario of A4 Quest, grab my dice, tokens and Superhot figure, and play.

Now I did this late at night after a long day. My brain was not in the best condition. I was in a funny mood and decided to test if it was truly print and play. And it pretty much was! The gameplay is relatively intuitive, iconography makes sense, and the summary tables on the ‘board’ are easy to follow. My first game took 20 minutes, but that was my own fault. I had to restart as I ran out of dice on the second panel, and it was because I wasn’t playing properly. The Boss battle also took longer than it should of because of rule reading during the game.

I played it again immediately afterwards, and it took about 7 minutes to play and had a ball. A4 Quest is a fun little game that does seem to be asking for a little bit more to it. Not having to cut the board seems to be great for tutorial games, but not knowing the next room and what is required will make action dice management more meaningful. This is already covered by the game as you can cut out the individual rooms and create a random stack to explore as well. I also came nowhere close to losing both games I played, but I am putting that down more to above average dice rolls with a scenario that eases you in.

It’s these areas where Page Quest seems to be stepping up to the plate. Page Quest seems to be essentially the same format as A4 Quest, but have an overarching end goal rather than a single experience. I wouldn’t say campaign as such, simply an episodic format – kind of like Telltale video games. The ‘Season 1’ also strengthens this impression for me. This is by no means a bad thing – it simply means that each month there will be a continuation to the story. Based on the gameplay of A4 Quest, this just means a fun 20 minutes each month as the new boards arrive.

Check out the Page Quest Kickstarter here and have a look for yourself. Do yourself a favour and while your there, grab the pdf for the 3 A4 Quest adventures and have a bit of fun playing as well. It’s a lot of fun to be had with 9 printed pages, 7 tokens and 5 dice!

You can also check out the A4 Quest Board Game Geek page here and pick up extra companions!

A4 Quest Gameplay 01
The idea is simple. Get your piece to the end of the quest. How hard can it be?
It may not look like much, but this adventure is a lot of fun. Superhot mini not required!
Page Quest Characters
Characters from the Kickstarter Page Quest
Page Quest Stephen Miles Bio
Full character dossiers are a fun touch, and the presentation is awesome.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD