Your civilization is on the brink of discovery. The stars are within your reach. Send out your probe and navigate the cosmos til you find the exoplanet. Then, send your explorers to settle in your new home. Empty Space, designed by Peter Collins and his daughters , launches this week on Kickstarter.
The game consists of a deck of cards, four probes, and four spaceships. To set up, the cards are arranged in a grid. There are NUMEROUS set up options, so the path you’ll take can vary widely from game to game.
On your turn you have two options: you can research (draw cards) or travel (move your playing piece). You’ll use cards to buy additional actions. Two non-matching cards will allow you to look at or reveal any face-down card in the universe, with three matching cards you can change a card from the universe with one in your hand, or with four cards of the same color you can purchase the space probe of that color.
Your probe moves freely along planets of the same color. When faced with planets of another color you’ll have to pay to advance (or use cards to exchange it with another planet.) Black Hole are dead ends, requiring your probe to find another way forward.
Once your probe reaches the final row the exoplanets are revealed and the real race begins. Use your colony ship to reach your color’s planet to win!
Designing Empty Space was a family affair! I asked Peter what inspired them to some up with the game. “I think the Eureka moment came one night on a beach in Devon, UK about 3 years ago when we had the clearest night and I was showing my daughter ‘D’ (now 16) the constellations and telling her some of the Greek stories around them and we thought of making a board game. Then a few days later we were playing Settlers of Catan, the Seafarers expansion where you get to reveal what is underneath ocean tiles.”
“My youngest daughter ‘H’ (now 15) would talk about how we could try this way of playing the game, or that way and we’d talk about it in the car on the way to school and then try out ideas when we came home. ‘D’ is now studying Physics and just had a work placement working with the ExoMars Rover that is being sent to Mars next year to look for life. She saw the actual rover in it’s ‘white room’ and then got to do mathematical equations and programme a prototype rover called ‘Bruno’ to drive it around the ‘Mars Yard’, a huge mock up of the planet Mars in the UK Defense and Space building.”
Empty Space is a family friendly space themed racing game. With different layout configurations its possible to change the length and scope of the game depending on your audience. There’s a little take that potential here with the ability to plant black holes in other players’ ways, but the primary strategy is move along on your own (in fact, too much take that-ing will leave you far behind in the race.)
Starship captain worthy pictures of nebulas and planets adorn the cards. The Kickstarter version will also include a special set of cards commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. Set up is quick as is put away, making this great for gamers who want to maximize playtime. Also of note, the ships and ship symbols on cards will be altered in their final state in order to better accommodate colorblind players. Play also includes a solo mode for solitary explorers.