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Card Game Review: ‘Space Race’ Interkosmos from Boardcubator

Interkosmos is the expansion for Space Race from Czech gaming company boardcubator that takes its base game of celestial exploration into the next level. In Space Race, players compete with one another to be the greatest space-faring agency by recruiting historical leaders and making technological breakthroughs. The original game included sets for players to act as NASA, Roscosmos, the EU’s ESA, or the Blue Origin company representing the private sector. This expansion adds another player to the mix, China’s Taikonauts, along with a slew of additional cards reflecting mankind’s progress into space and bonus Achievements that players may race to complete.

At its core, Space Race is a modified bidding game in which players have a set of twelve Control cards with four suits: Propaganda, Technology, Space Programs, and Breakthrough. Universe cards are drawn from the deck and laid out according to type. These cards feature major components of the historical Space Race of the Cold War as well as the ongoing pursuit of space travel from today. Each gives a bonus, such as Moon Speech (featuring an image of John F. Kennedy) being a powerful Propaganda card that grants hand-size bonuses and special actions from one’s agency. Breakthroughs like Escaping Earth with an image of Sputnik or the first probe landing on Venus, Technology like the Saturn V or ISS, and Space Programs like the Hubble Telescope or Vostok Program give further bonuses ranging from additional card draws to free points to even copying the abilities of another player’s card.

Each round in Space Race, players secretly choose which Control card they wish to bid in hopes of getting their preferred choice of Universe cards. As players collect new cards, their individual abilities will quickly blossom into different directions. Players may develop strategies, but the random draw of the Universe keeps everyone on their toes in every round. Flexibility is key to success as the game can change with a simple draw. Play continues until the end of the seventh round, when players will add up their collected cards to see who has made the most Breakthroughs and highest level of agency. The player earning the most points wins.

Beyond its solid gameplay, the aesthetics of Space Race are what launches the enjoyment of play to the top. The cards feature original illustrations and photographs all showing the vibrant world of space exploration. Fun attention to detail shows how much creators cared during game development, such as different language headlines in the Propaganda Control cards or more coffee cups for each level of Technology. Many Universe card choices are expected from history, such as Yuri Gagarin or Neil Armstrong, while recruits like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk remind us that we are still racing to space today.

Space Race is a card game for one to four players, or five with the Interkosmos expansion. It is a medium-length game, lasting a little less than an hour while packing a density of game material rarely seen outside of games lasting two or three hours. Scenarios and solo play offer even more chances to take the game in new directions. With each Universe card offering different bonuses and more than 140 in the complete Space Race: Interkosmos Universe deck, replayability is high as players will race again and again to be the top by any and all means.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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