Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

Alien: Nostromo Board Game Review Fate

Aliens are a very iconic franchise, so there’s no shortage of great games that have been inspired by aliens over the years. Some are unlicensed, such as Lifeform, Space Hulk, and Nemesis. There were others like Legendary Encounters: Alien and Aliens: Another Day in the Corps. But there was one thing they all had in common. It was aimed at the end of the market hobby.

Aliens: Nostromo’s fate seems to cross that boundary. Published by Ravensburger, who has a proven track record of promoting franchise board games. It also has commercial influence to ensure competitive prices and space on mass market shelves. And it’s a cooperative game. That means everyone can win or lose together, or even play solo.

What’s in the box

Like other Ravensburger games, the box opens with an image printed on the back of the board. In this example, the cat Jones is horrifying and screaming at you. It’s a good feeling to raise expectations for digging into the content.

On the business side of the board, there’s a slightly confusing split-level map of the movie spacecraft Nostromo. Below that are some token punchboards, some card decks, and a soft plastic figure bag. Kane, the alien’s first victim in the movie, is unavailable as action begins after his unfortunate death.

This is a licensed game and the player board and its corresponding figures all look like related characters in the movie. The cards and boards use specially commissioned art rather than film steel, but they look great and help set the scene.

Rules and how to play

Alien: If you’ve played one of the Ravensburger co-operatives before getting used to the rough structure of the Fate of the Nostromo. Your character has a pool of actions that you can use to activate special forces such as moving items, picking and dropping, or the ability to move another crew member on Ripley’s turn. Then get an encounter card that might show items on the board or move the aliens.

One of the new things in this formula is that you can collect scrap from around the ship and use it to create items such as flashlights and flamethrowers. First, reveal some goals based on the number of players. Most of these are based on movie scenes, such as taking a flashlight to Medbay, including creating an item and taking it somewhere on the ship. You need to reach these goals to advance the game.

But just-named aliens are hunting you. You can come across it in one of two ways. On the board are figures that move a lot of space towards the nearest target depending on the encounter card. However, these cards often tell you to put the hidden token face down in a space where you can send aliens to the room to simulate an ambush.

It’s a great, simple system that creates a lot of suspense and cinematic moments. You can take risks based on the crew’s distance from the alien figure and the potential for hidden tokens to lead to an attack. However, the variables involved mean that there is always room for annoying surprises. If you are attacked, you have to escape, which can mean playing more tokens leading to more attacks. This rarely happens, but it feels like the aliens are chasing the crew through the ship.

No crew has an individual health condition to track. Instead, alien attacks run down the overall morale counter, causing immediate losses when they reach zero. This prevents player exclusion, but feels like a weird way to handle the pervasive heterogeneous danger. In movies, people die horribly often. Keeping everyone alive, even after repeated barbaric acts, feels like a soft emergency repair to keep everyone on the table.

It’s a great, simple system that creates a lot of suspense and cinematic moments.


However, there is another more serious problem with the game. A simple framework combined with the location of aliens on the map can mean that your turn is best spent doing nothing. If you don’t have any resources or goals nearby and the aliens are in the central area, it’s a good idea to move away from them. Parts of the board are often cut by aliens. This is tactically interesting, but it exacerbates this problem because you don’t want to move to areas that can be dead ends. It rarely breaks the game, but it’s boring for affected players.

The game, on the other hand, provides a fun range of tools to deploy against this extraterrestrial threat. For example, you can use the Grapple Gun to move aliens and the Motion Detector to look into hidden tokens nearby. Between them and the special abilities of the crew, your group has many options to be creative by minimizing threats while you are trying to count their objectives.

However, the threat level will fluctuate. Adding players makes it harder to get away from aliens in the cramped territory of the ship. You start with more morals to make up for it, but the game still feels tough overall. Certainly, with a small number of characters, it feels almost too easy. In both cases, the focus is on creating the items needed to meet your goals. In other words, you often don’t create items that are tactically interesting. In any case, you rarely need to step up to the creative possibilities they offer to win.

As a way to increase the difficulty of the game, you can add Ash, a rogue scientist in the movie. He is also impressed by the encounter card and steals scrap from unprotected areas. Like the lack of death of the character, this also seems like a bad way to reflect his sinister role in the movie. Also, it doesn’t tend to make things that hard, as players can get spare scrap before Ash reaches it.

Both the ash and alien theme roles are backed by encounter decks. Many of the cards are “quiet” and add scrap to shuffle the aliens by one space. Others make ash and aliens behave more aggressively, which can be a real threat. Some cards will reshuffle ash and alien cards, but quiet cards will not. In other words, the deck becomes more dangerous as the game progresses. “Lost the Signal”, which returns aliens to their nests and hidden tokens to all empty rooms, is especially effective.

When you clear the goal, you will enter a randomly drawn endgame mission. These also mimic the movie scene and are well designed to draw tense conclusions. While the self-destruct timer is counting down, you may need to stack coolant canisters or find the cat Jones to reach the docking bay. Meanwhile, the aliens continue a murderous rampage inside the ship. There’s a lot of variety of excitement, but once you understand the lightness of the game, they start to level off.

Where to buy

Alien: Fate of the Nostromo is currently available at a suggested retail price of $ 29.99.