Early this week I received a copy of Eduardo Baraf’s Lift Off! Get Me Off This Planet! I was excited to see this arrive at my door as I’d been following the campaign eagerly and it looked like a fun game. My 9 year old and I almost immediately tore into the box, set it up and had a go at it. Then we had a second go at it. The premise is simple – your planet is about to explode and you’ve got to get all (or at least the most) of your people off of it ASAP! Shortest of all short reviews? We liked it! Fun game, plays quickly, a bit of strategy and lots of replayability. If you like a little more meat on your reviews, read on.
Lift Off is a fairly simple game. The board is set up so that the core of the planet sits in the center. Around this are placed 4 Exit Points and 4 Lift Off Points. The board is modular and actually sits on top of a larger game board to facilitate a few other aspects of play. In the planet’s core you place your 10 ‘alieneeples’ along with the Garglore meeple in the lava pit at the center. The Moon token goes on the top of the board, with the Sun token going on to the Sun area on the number of players in the game.
Each player is then dealt 2 cards and the game begins! The object is to get your Alieneeples first to the surface of the planet, and then to a Lift Off Point and finally into space (and off of the board). There are two basic resources in the game to facilitate this: Screws and Fuel, with 64 cards representing them. Each Lift Off point will require a certain type of resource to place your Alieneeple on it and ready to go. Such as 1 Screw and 1 Fuel. Lift Off Points can then be triggered by various game states. For instance, the Bonfire Lift Off Point is triggered by someone playing 1 Fuel to it. At that point the Lift Off die is rolled and depending on the moon phase, you’ll need to roll at least 1, 2 or 3 spaceships on the die. If you succeed, than any alieneeple on that Lift Off Point which has paid it’s 1 screw gets off the planet. Other Lift Off points have other conditions.
On your turn, you draw 2 cards and then perform any of these actions, in any order. Move twice (either 1 alieneeple 2 spaces, or 2 alieneeples 1 space), play card(s), Pay Lift Off costs or discard 2 cards to draw 1 new card. Other cards that you can play can give you extra move points, change the moon phase of that turn and otherwise affect the game state. There’s also the Garglore, that black death’s head meeple at the center. If you play a Move the Garglore card, you can place the Garglore on any Lift Off point or back into the lava pool. If he’s on a Lift Off point, no alieneeples can leave the planet from that point.
There are 10 Lift Off points provided in the box, with only four being used for any game, which gives this game a good amount of variety between games. Each of these points is affected differently depending on what phase the Moon is in as the Moon token tracks around the board. At the end of every player’s turn the Moon is moved one space counter-clockwise, with the space it occupies being the full moon. The Moon space directly opposite it is the New moon and every other space is a half moon. Once it reaches star on the moon track again, a day has passed and the Sun is moved further down the Sun Track towards planetary destruction. Some Lift Off Points are easier to use during a new moon, others during a half or full moon.
The winner is whomever gets all of their alieneeples off the planet first, or the person with the most off once the whole thing blows up in our faces.
The game is actually slightly simpler than I had conceived when originally following this project. That’s not a bad thing though. Once we got the hang of it, we could play a 2 player game in 35 minutes. There’s a bit of luck with the card draws but this can be mitigated a bit with the ability to discard two cards to draw a new card. Other than that there’s some solid strategy and decision making to be had in the game. The light-hearted take on planetary destruction is a fun theme to play in and I really like that one of the Lift Off Points is a giant freaking slingshot.
There is a bit of a take-that element with the Garglore and one of our games clearly boiled down to who had the last Garglore card (hint: it wasn’t me) but that didn’t take away from the fun of the game. My 9 year old has already asked to play again and I know this one will be hitting our table both in the near future and during our Extra Life event. I feel it’s also a pretty accessible title for those not into the hobby board game scene. If you enjoy light-hearted, fast playing games where you move lots of little wooden aliens around in a frantic race to escape an exploding planet, you’ll really dig Lift Off.
You can find the rules here on BGG and I understand the game will be going into distribution soon!