12 May 2017
This sci-fi spin on Reiner Knizia’s Tower of Babel might leave you with a feeling of déjà vu
With 600 or more games to his name, Reiner Knizia is probably the world’s most prolific games designer. Most are essentially abstract games but the majority have at least a thin veneer of theme. True to form, Planet Rush is a clever abstract game lightly disguised as a corporate contest of colonisation.
Players each control a faction representing a corporation working towards the colonisation of the Earth-like planet Zenobia. There are eight ‘structures’ to be built, and development is progressed by contributing cards from their hand that represent the game’s four different resources.
If the active player is seeking to complete part of a structure that calls for six robotics, players can offer to contribute to this total. The active player does not have to accept any of the offers but any they do accept they must take in full.
If they accept an offer with a ‘faction negotiation card’, they place their own coloured cubes on the structure mat but the assisting player takes the bonus counter for that part of the structure.
Any offers the active player accepts without a negotiation card means the contributing player’s cubes are placed on the structure.
If the active player is able to complete the section of a structure without accepting a negotiation card, then they will take the bonus counter for themself.
In a nutshell, this is a bidding game but with scoring based on area control. The bonus counters also score, of course, but their value depends on the symbol they bear and the number of similar counters the player already has: something else for players to bear in mind as they make and choose between bids.
The game plays briskly and there is very little downtime, but don’t expect to walk away from the table after half an hour feeling you have developed a planet.
If you are an aficionado of Knizia games, play may leave you with a feeling of déjà vu. That is because Planet Rush is essentially a reskin of an earlier well-known Knizia design, Tower of Babel. In that title, players were bidding to contribute to the building of Ancient Wonders, but the basic mechanics were the same.
By all accounts, Planet Rush is the ‘purer’ game of the two because it is closer to the designer’s original concept; reputedly, the publishers of the earlier game introduced changes that deviated from Knizia’s initial design.
Planet Rush involves players in some delicate balancing acts as they weigh up the pros and cons of accepting each other’s contributions. It is playable as a family game but there is certainly enough meat here to appeal to experienced game players.
Publisher: Victory Point Games
Genre: Bidding and area control
Time: 30 minutes
This review originally appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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