We want to know and see everything, that light experiences along its long and dangerous way. But we can not ask it and we have no other choice, but to follow its footsteps. Towards the vast expanse of the universe. But as it turned out, curiosity is the least of the humankind motivations. A much greater emphasis is put on by all large corporations, that are aware of unprecedented sources and thus unrecognized wealth in other worlds. The chance to determine boundaries of newly born countries by themselves and to use everything, that new planets offer only for their cause. Humans get more and more greedy
And so Nick Sibicky, designer of the board game Farlight, invites us to visit uncharted galaxies. Where the human foot has not yet stepped, you can rise flag with logo of your company. And this trail of humanity is left behind by Game Salute, which published this game. Its creation got help from the community, because there were almost 1500 supporters on Kickstarter funding it. The graphics of the game were taken care of by Dann May.
However, despite dimensions of the universe, the box itself is small. On the lid, it shows us a ship launching to find profit from the Farlight base, which gave the game its name. And inside the box, there is a square game board with exactly the same scene. We will find not only offices of all participating expeditions, but also a semicircular scoring chart as well as the card positions at the bottom. Here will be placed a selection of ship expansions, that players can use to upgrade their craft. Engine cards are assigned dice right now, during setup. Rest of the building parts, that are not drawn, will make drawing pile. On the contrary, on the top of the board, players put randomly drawn victory conditions – three out of seven, that will be used in the current game.
Each of the participants chooses an organization and gets its primary kernel card, that will form the basis of their spacecraft. After doing so, appropriate color also decides looks of their betting tokens and one point marker, which they place on the starting zero spot. Players also need a crew, that is made up of small tokens. All players get three such tiles. Together, they create three mission decks, each ending with a final climactic card, sorted from the lowest value on top, digging down towards the most difficult.
Whole match is played in turns, that players walk through together. Right at the beginning of every round, there is a very important phase – auction (bidding phase). Each player has six tokens of different values (zero to four), which he can freely distribute – two in each turn. After that, his opponents get a chance to place their tokens and only when he gets in order back to action, he can place another two. Player himself can decide, whether to place both of them on one position or divide them among more options. Participants can bid on all available resources, not just ship parts, but also missions and locations (they are in the middle of the board).
However, players are allow even to place bets on an already occupied position. On the contrary, they is expected to be a duel for some action spots and profits. In order to increase value of their bidding, they can also put add one crew token during their turn. Value of the whole bid is increased by one more point.
Once all rivals have successfully placed their last token, everyone goes to the assembly phase. It is only now, that everyone reveals value of their tokens on ship parts and buildings, that have been secret up to now. Once the winner is discovered at a specific space, all owners take their betting tokens back as well as crew figurines. This does not apply for the winner’s crew, that is lost and return to the bank.
Buildings offer players a chance to hire new crew members, get one point of science, refine their engines or discard any number of parts of their ship. This action will be needed in the later stages of the game, if something does not work out as planned. Player can instantly join cards to his ship, but only to positions, that allow it. Some new equipment also requires sacrifice of several crew members. The player can also get engine, that comes with a dice, hat was placed on it at the beginning of the game. Individual parts bring their owners income in the form of new people, science or ship improvements. Profits may be one-off or recurring.
Players are only interested in their bids on missions in the last phase, that is called launch. The one, who won the bidding at one of them now has the opportunity to fulfill it. For their successful completion, players need a certain level of technology, science and engines. And on successful completion, the first and next players will receive a point reward.
As soon as someone completes one of the three final missions (one in bottom of every deck), its the final round to play. Otherwise, everything continues with the next round, with added cards and tokens to fill everything. The end will occur even, when supply of any component is emptied. After that, players get their achievements based on condition cards visible from the beginning. They will provide some players five points. Players add bonuses for remaining resources and the winner is the one, who gathered the most points.
Farlight is a betting game. But these bids are done secretly without any awareness of how much others are willing to sacrifice. This makes the game very unpredictable and it works very well. But the very results of the players‘ efforts are no longer breathtaking, just simply fun. Winners can improve their collections and above all their craft.
Ship was probably the greatest hope of all the players, we introduced to the game. Galaxy Trucker’s style building is still very popular. We like it very much ourselves. But unfortunately qualities of the Czech author Vlaada Chvátil was not reachech. This is because you will not do anything in real time. That could make someone happy, but it also loses much tension. Fortunately, there are other parts of gameplay, that should make it up to you.
Players do not have any visible turns. Thanks to this, they move through each round together and so everything goes well. The game is therefore excellent in any number of players, although it gets better, when there are more players in the competition. Unfortunately, however, the time needed to complete the match will be significantly extended, especially with a maximum of five players. And more than an hour’s play makes you uncomfortable with this simple game.
Secret bidding is all about bluffing. And thanks to it, first phase is the best part of the game, because the rest is just about activating and using what you’ve been able to get. In terms of variability, however, the game has to be praised, because the cards are not all used and ship pieces are revealed randomly. And yet every match is very similar and you always do the same thing – collecting sets.
The game is very conflicting, because it gives gamers the chance to fight for different fields and ranking in scoring competitions. It is not easy to get the mission first and successfully accomplish it. Graphics are solid, though very sterile and artificial. Here the impression depends a lot on personal taste.
Farlight could not escape experience and concept of his predecessors. Game goes too far in the footsteps of what has already been out there on the market. And not only with Galaxy Trucker. And although this game does not do anything really badly, many people prefer to go for proven classics rather than for a solid, but not exceptional, new game.
Farlight is a game, in which you will build a spaceship. It is itself a promise that will be enough for many. Especially in connection, that this is not a real-time thing. The game is, in the first place, about secret bidding, that decides on the use of boxes or the acquisition of different parts of ships. Players gather sets and fight for them head to head without any real battle. But everything is still the same even in future matches. Farlight does not make anything new, but that does not change a fact, that it's still a solid and fun game.