Review: Project Elite – a mission only for the best
We are waiting at the station. There seems to be peace, but we all know very well that sooner or later someone will call and chaos will break out at that moment. At least that’s how it would seem to an uninvolved observer, but every step we take, every move makes sense. Quickly and efficiently, based on the information, we will find the necessary equipment and set out to intervene on any planet.
Elite units must not be afraid of anything, although the universe can offer a myriad of different dangers. Players in the board game Project Elite, created by the author duo Konstantinos Kokkinis and Sotirios Tsantilas, will also be convinced of this. Their work is then spread across Europe thanks to Esdevium Games. However, this version from 2020 is not new, but it is a reworking of the game of the same name from 2016. In contrast to it, a new designer Marco Portugal was added, but above all, the publisher changed from Artipia Games to CMON.
On the lid of the massive box we see a scene from one hit, which should prepare the player for the drama that awaits them inside as a team. The basis of everything is the crime scene, which is a large double-sided board. As expected, players place it in the middle of the table, according to the chosen scenario and their own preferences. Together they agree on the difficulty and follow the instructions to fill the map with POI tokens, but also create a stack of event cards. The map will also be filled with tokens from the cluster of intruders and searches.
In addition to the plan, he lays out enemy statistics cards, prepares a boss pack (shuffles a set of random eight with another twelve free cards), and creates additional search, technology, and birth packs. After all, the map should remain within easy reach for all players. Individual players choose a hero, get his plan and a piece, which he places in the starting position with the base of the chosen color. He then marks the damage scale on his character with a token of the same color. Players choose one basic weapon one by one from a random joint menu.
The game always has a maximum of eight rounds, each starting with the event phase, in which the player reveals the top card and finds out what chance has prepared for them. It can be a permanent, immediate effect or a ceasefire in the form of a card without effect. However, the events themselves do not mean any good news for the players and may cost them some action and therefore energy for the next moves.
But even then, the rescue team will not get to the action, because it is time for new invaders to be born by revealing one or more cards (depending on the difficulty and number of players). It will appear in the places designated for that purpose. But from time to time, instead of ordinary minions, one of the bosses also appears on the scene.
But then the heroes get a chance to react to the situation. But the joy will pass them relatively quickly, because they will not have peace of mind in retaliation and planning. The phase takes place in real time and at the beginning of this part of the game, the player starts a timer, which is part of the package. The team usually has two minutes to use their prepared action and hit cubes. He rolls at the same time everyone who has them at their disposal and can choose one or more of the resulting icons, or flip the dice straight away.
Dice are of two different types, where one of the icons decides what action they have available. So they can move to an adjacent field on the map or search for a place where there is still a token with a magnifying glass, draw three cards and choose one of them. In addition, there are tasks on the plan. And even to meet them, you need to spend the right icons.
You can also use action icons to try to activate items, attachments, or weapons that require two specific icons. Only then is it possible to use their effect. In the case of a rifle, this means throwing another set of dice and trying to toss a value that is determined by the characteristics for a successful hit. Players will reduce the number of lives of enemies and eventually kill them. But no reward follows.
With the five icons mentioned, there is another red on the action cube and that means the movement of the invaders! Players must evaluate such a result as soon as it appears on the dice. At such a moment, the player must move any enemy by the value of his speed, according to the arrows indicating the path of bloodthirsty monsters. As a result of their movement, other monsters or even heroes may be pushed out, which will immediately take damage.
The dice used by the players can be reused after the action is completed. Exceptions to this rule are fields with a lock symbol. Once the time is up, players can no longer roll the dice and the phase ends. Now there will be retaliation, because the intruders will use their abilities and thus possibly injure one of the heroes who are nearby. Then the intruders move one by one in the direction of the arrows on the map.
The end of the round means that players can take back the dice that have been locked during the action phase and the search locations will become available again. The game then continues to the next round, unless it was the eighth round. In this case, the players probably lost because they could not complete the mission task in time (and return to the extraction site). However, defeat also awaits the player due to the death of one of the team members or if the intruder arrives at the starting field.
Project Elite is a dramatic, but above all hectic cooperative game. Absolutely a key point of the game and also an element that decides the interests of the players is the action phase, which takes place in real time with no chance to make decisions.
The basis of the experience is struggle and experience. There is no time to think, instead players must take their weapons, make the most of their options and kill as much as possible. In that chaos, the team doesn’t even have much of a chance to negotiate, although it’s basically necessary. In addition to fighting monsters, they must focus primarily on survival and fulfilling the task that the currently played scenario gives them.
The dice are definitely not a friend of any hero, and this is true here as well. But their icons are used by players directly to choose their actions, and even to activate weapons. Each of the participants is so frantically trying to throw the pictures as he needs. However, bad luck and delay enter his path if an intruder movement icon appears on the cube.
At such a moment, any intentions must subside for a moment. Fortunately, the active player has the freedom to choose the monster he moves. Here it is necessary to balance the speed well with the right choice, so that the player does not move the piece, which then welds everyone unnecessarily. In addition, they often create chains of movements that delay even more and thus give the accident significant control over your move and its content.
Thanks to the clearly defined length of the wheels, the whole game has a reasonably set frame that cannot be exceeded. It fits easily in one hour in any number of players. It is excellent in lower and higher numbers, you just need to pay good attention to the effect on difficulty. The more players, the better the coverage of the map, control over the dice and therefore easier combat. On the contrary, the solo game is quite unsuccessful, because the player has two characters under control, on which he is not able to concentrate at the same time.
The intruders do not need any complicated determination of the nearest hero to move, after which they should move. Instead, each square has its own way in and out, and that doesn’t leave the player thinking too much. On the other hand, thanks to these arrows, it is relatively easy to predict the movement of enemies and lure them into prepared traps.
However, a simple sci-fi theme with intruders was managed mainly from the point of view of the atmosphere. The players feel like they are in the movie Star Infantry, where they cut one intruder after another and the commotion of battle takes place all around them. This wild feeling is of course helped by the feeling of constant time pressure and the fact that something is happening around you and you have neither control nor an overview of it, because you have to focus on your activities.
And then all of a sudden it’s over. The team can breathe in peace, regroup their forces, agree on other plans, and above all, let their heroes rest.
The game offers different scenarios, difficulties and two side boards. Thanks to this, the game is always fresh and you will hardly resist the chance for revenge. It is far from certain that you will win. In addition, there are a number of interesting extensions on the market (as is usual with CMON), which could turn great fun into an ultimate butchery.
The workmanship is practically perfect. The thumbnails are wonderful, sci-fi concepts, and even the graphics are interesting and detailed enough. You will also enjoy the well-described rules and the appropriate and clear storage of components. Overall, with regard to the design, there is nothing to complain about the game.
One of our players described Project Elite as a chaotic hell in real time. But he meant it positively, because the game looks exactly like that. Chaos reigns over you, it puts you in the body, but despite all the hellish hardships with ubiquitous intruders, you enjoy it immensely. Project Elite is a game that shows the power of playability. This game is a hit for us and the only thing that can discourage you is the resistance to games without moves.