Fleet Admiral from Castle Games Inc takes the sentiment of a familiar science fiction universe and brings it to the table as players race to overcome the Galactic Crisis and become the next great admiral in the starship fleet.
Much of the fun in Fleet Admiral comes from its iconic art – literally, the use of icons rather than flavor text. Cards indicate round-headed humans, lizard-like Hragsh, gray Jaal-Riin, and pointy Brerasan as well as starship components like beam weapons and cannons, rocket boosters and reactors, with unique ship designs for each race. The rest of the flavor is in the minds of the players, where it takes forms no text ever could.
The game begins with each player choosing a captain card becoming differentiated as they are dealt Crew and Component cards to modify their ships. This specialization becomes important afterward as players take turns rolling the eight-sided mission die. The die directs whether a player will draw the next mission from the Crew or Component deck or have free choice from the thumbs up.
Requirements for completion of the missions are printed on the same cards as components or crew that may be added to the player’s starship. All these details are laid out simply in icons and make for effective use of space on the cards rather than requiring several decks to do the same thing. Players can have an extra level of fun with the game through a little role-playing, describing how their requirement of shield armor brings aboard a Jaal-Riin operations officer (rescuing his scouting vessel from an asteroid swarm, perhaps).
Players may take their cards and pass the die or, if they feel lucky, they may make another roll of the die to continue taking missions and drawing cards. Once a player fails a mission, however, all the cards previously won in the round are discarded. Social play comes into the game as players on their second or above missions may ask for help. If another captain comes to aid a player, that captain gains a bonus by first choosing from the successful mission cards. Players may choose from whom to accept help, doling out bonus cards, or they may purposely blow a round to keep another player from getting a key component for the ship.
As players develop their ships into battleships and dreadnoughts, Crisis tokens begin to be placed in a shared pool. If the crisis pool becomes too large, it proves overwhelming and the galaxy gets blown up (or some similar catastrophe). Players must work together to keep that from happening and also to win the game as the first player to resolve ten crisis tokens.
Fleet Admiral is a press-your-luck game for one to four players aged twelve and up. Games are quick, usually lasting about fifteen minutes per player. Speedy gameplay along with its decision-cracking strategy make Fleet Admiral great for a quick game night with players who do not want an intensive plotting session or as a “breather” game during a multi-game session. Its rich theme will draw in players ready to feel the thrill of risking just one more roll.