Review: PARSEC – conquer part of the universe

PARSEC - packaging

When Fernando missed the first asteroid in the big field, he was really nervous. Lots of stones were all around and behind each of them could be a hidden enemy guarding this sector. He arrived here on the orders of his commander. His mission is to deploy one robot and quietly return to base. The robot will explore the asteroid field and return the data, if there is some enemy there.

He turned off the jets and let the ship go just on inertia. There was movement everywhere, but there was no trace of ship of any kind. He guided the ship closer to one of the larger stones and set up a transport beam. He entered coordinates into the computer and run the transmission confirmation. When he saw the flash on asteroid’s surface, he could hardly do anything to undo his action. The robot was already sent. From the bottom of the crater, the dust rose with the sign of the enemy ship. Just as he had feared. There they were, hidden beyond any sight.

is a board game from , which is company, that distributes its games in the bag without a box. We have talked here earlier about their fantasy game Battle of Four Armies (review) and especially the Disaster on K2 (review) and now its sci-fi time! After the simulation of reality and fantasy, we are coming to a series of science fiction. The author of PARSEC is , which contributed to the game in addition to game design also with illustrations.

PARSEC - game is ready

PARSEC shows us, what comes up, when you interbreed Carcassonne (review available only in Czech) with travelling through space. Instead of building cities, you create (settle) planets and nebulas. Does this sound interesting? It also certainly is. But now we have to look together, how this game actually plays and how we feel about it.

You will find a pile of chips in the bag, that you need to discover the universe – the universe is made up of hexagons, while squares will be used to describe other things – the players and their properties, or technologies they have discovered along the way. The game also is accompanied by a large sheet of paper folded twice. On it, there lies the scoring track and also summary of all activities, which are available to players.

Rules deserve a separate paragraph, because it is made very honestly. First of all, the important passages are made in color and the description in points is very clear. Similarly, the four A4 pages contain enough image examples to shine way into the game even for a beginner. Everybody will learn the game in a few moments and be to play.

PARSEC - game is ready

PARSEC is easy to play and also easy to prepare. You will lay a common list with points counter in the center of the table and beneath it a six-sided token describing your home world. This place is where all players start their journey. Shuffled and randomly distributed starting pieces will create the appearance of the universe. This is the core and closest space around your homeworld, where the action will take place throughout the beginning of the game. You draw this pieces at random every time, so the game is different every time, as is the starting layout.

After players deploy these twelve tokens of space around the world and their journey can finally begin. But they still need to get some stuff for themselves, of course – three credits representing the currency of the game and the ship with sixteen robots of selected color. One of the robots will find its place on the zero on points counter. The remaining fifteen will players put in front of themselves, but they are in fact located on the ship. The token of spacecraft will start its flight at its starting point – the token representing your home.

Other chips make bank – we are talking about research tokens, which you should insert into a bag or bowl, from which you will draw them later. Bag is not part of the package, so you will have to provide yours. There’s still duty to sort the cards by type of nanotechnology and the game can really begin.

PARSEC - game in progress

Players turn consist of several pleasant duties. The first is the expansion of the universe, which they have discovered, by drawing and attaching a new space token. But they must obey a few important rules, while doing so. Space is a compilation of planets and nebulae. If you pull the piece with nebula image, and one unfinished is already on the board, you must attach a piece there. And the same goes even for the planets – they are of three kinds – blue, green and brown. You must always complete one, before starting in preparing another. And because each planet consists of three parts, it could take a while.

Other pieces such as asteroids or black holes have their minor limitations, which will be not discussed in this review closely. Once the players put their allotted piece in its place, they can start to use their five action points.

They can spend it on two main events – the movement of the ship and transfer robots to the surface and back. While the ship’s movement is simple and clear, the distance traveled depends on the site, which was the vessel passing through. Common space costs only one action point, but if you are flying some difficult terrain, such as asteroid field or nebulae, you must pay one more for each step.

PARSEC - game in progress

In addition to movement, it is also important for winning the game, to put your robots on finished discovered planets, asteroids and even nebulae. All mankind is trying to take these places for themselves. Each six-sided box can be occupied by robots of only one player – first comes, first served. The whole group of stones on asteroid field can thus have only one owner, because it never spreads into another sectors.

But what about the planets, which will always occupy three sectors, when you are finished with its disovery? In this case, the number of robots is critical. The player, who has the most robots on the planet, gains victory points for it. But also other players will be lucky during scoring, because they get one credit instead. Each planet has a different color score. And Nebula? Those are not bring points to players, but they can draw research token for every present robot from the bag.

Provided that you have collected three tokens, you can buy a new nanotechnology and so improve any aspect of your game. For example, you get more action points or your combat robots are able to grab victory on the planet for themselves in case of a tie.

PARSEC - tokens

The game runs simply by alternating rounds of players, the movement of ships and filling places in the universe, until third, sixth or ninth planet is finished. At that moment, there comes a time to score points. Players get points for all sites, which are controlled by their robots. And it’s just important to win dominance on the planets throughout the game, because victory points will determine the winner.

The game ends, when you finish the last ninth planet. All players get one last scoring round and the sum determines the final and real winner. This is how today’s space adventure ends.

PARSEC deservedly belongs to the EURO section in the game sorting of Victory Point Games. Its playing is really made for a lot of strategic decisions. First, it is important to lay pieces of space is a way, that provides benefit for you – close to your ship, far from others. Often you do not have much a choice, where to put the new tile, because you need to complete unfinished planet or nebulae.

PARSEC - cards

This sci-fi game is a nice change and variation to game with laying puzzle pieces. Also the dominancy mechanic, where your groups of servants help you to get hold of distant and important planets, is a classic. But here, it is used only as a part of game, because you have to travel around space and deploy robots. You then get victory points for their presence, which are the only thing, that can get you to the finish line first.

Five action points during one turn seems like a the perfect number for this game. You can extend its time from time with a single sacrifice of accumulated credits and make your turn really count. But even with the five action points, you have the feeling, that you managed to accomplish something and hand over the turn to your opponents with a feeling of a job well done. Robots at your disposal have only limited numbers and are crutial to picking up points, so it is important to choose well, on which planet you have the chance to take control.

A great of part comes with nebulae, which you can get you closer to new technologies. There can me multiple players in one nebulae, but not in the same sector. Their inclusion in the game is very important, because it helps you run faster than your opponents. And it changes gameplay one more time and makes a real distance between PARSEC and Carcassonne. But whether it is you, who runs away, or your rivals, depends a lot on luck. You ballot research tokens out of the bag, where only some of the chips are the ones you desire. It can easily happen, that due to bad luck, you simply just do not get the technology. And because drawing of new research card cost a lot of action points, you often spend your precious points on somethin else and less risky.

PARSEC - tokens

The game of PARSEC takes quite reasonably amount of your time. Those 90 minutes on BoardGameGeek were not true in our case. Our fights never exceeded an hour. Perhaps a more meditative and thinking players would make the situation somewhat different.

In addition to the randomness of drawing technology tokens, the biggest setback in PARSEC comes from the space pieces design, which make up the whole universe. They are simply too small. When any manipulation with them on the board occurs, you constantly find yourselves scatterring them and making it right again. This is annoying and a lot of game time will be spent only repairing these shifted chips.

When you look at it in a global perspective, PARSEC is a success and its creator really gave it hard thinking. It offers interesting strategic and still easy sci-fi entertainment for the less experienced gamer. It comes close to becoming a sci-fi variant of Carcassonne, but all was changed with travelling through the tiles and researching technologies. This provides wider strategic options. It is a pity, that your profit in research depends very much on chance and the game board is not as sturdy and heavy as it should be. Nevertheless, we recommend a PARSEC for Carcassonne fans, who would like to try another topic. Sci-fi maybe?

DesignerSean Young
ArtistSean Young
PublisherVictory Point Games
Year Published
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 3 players
Recommended with 2, 4 players
(1 voters)
Playing Time90
Mfg Suggested Ages10 and up
CategoryScience Fiction, Space Exploration
MechanicAction Points, Tile Placement
ExpansionParsec Expansion Kit 1: Moons and Monsters, Parsec Expansion Kit 2: Nebulas and Nanotechs
FamilySeries: Euro Games (Victory Point Games)
Primary NamePARSEC

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: PARSEC – conquer part of the universe
Final word
PARSEC is a board game, which will you get in a bag. But that does not mean, that you will have less fun with it, than with its boxed brothers. You build universe using a hex tiles, complete planets and nebulas and fly it with your ship. You put robots on those planets and are trying to gain dominance over them with force. Reward is sweet - victory points, which will bring you closer to victory. Technologies will help you on your path, but you will gain them only by chance. And you would have to correct the board game tiles making up the universe almost every turn, because the hex tiles are light and constantly shift around the table restlessly. These technical details spoil otherwise good impression from this interesting sci-fi game.
Reader Rating0 Votes
carcassonne plus sci-fi plus ship movement
robots take over planets and nebulas
completing of planets and nebulas
action points to pay for all
sometimes you have no choice than to put the tiles in one place
technology is acquired only by chance
space tiles are constantly shifting on the table
higher price according to production value
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