I played a quick solitaire game of Vanished Planet tonight to acquaint myself with the rules and get a feel for the game play. Maybe I'll write a review after I get a chance to play it with the boys this weekend, but for now I'll share a few first impressions:

  • This game is difficult. I played on the easiest setting and lost, though I was close. There is a countdown effect similar to Sauron approaching the fellowship in the Lord of the Rings Boardgame.
  • There are some human factors issues with the game. I found it very difficult to read the symbols for the different resource and personnel types. There is too much use of dark colors like black and purple with too little contrast.
  • The quick reference on the back of the rules could use some work. For example, the symbols for the professions should be shown next to each profession since they are referred to in the purchase cost for some of the technologies.
  • There are too many levels of indirection in the game, which leads to a certain fiddlyness. I'm sure this will become more natural over time, but simple things like distinguishing between a trade station or research station can be tough. Why not just use the resource symbols for these locations on the game board? Or use an iconic representation that would look good on the map but still be appropriate for use on the cards.
  • I didn't realize until too late that the creature will eat the satellites fairly early in the game, which put me in a bind. I only had one goal by the time they were consumed, which made it nearly impossible to win. I had to spend too many resources to build a Communications Relay so that I could retrieve goals from my home planet. Had I been able to save those resources for the actual goals I would have won the game.
  • The rules could use some work - the specifics seem to be bit scattered around the main rules, the tutorial, and the quick reference.

These notes are mostly negative, but I did enjoy the solitaire play and look forward to trying it with a group.