Move over, Eclipse. Sorry, Star Trek Ascendancy. There’s a new space opera game in town! And by “new” I mean “30 years old”.
Buck Rogers is a space hero that I worry doesn’t get the attention and fame he deserves. Before Luke Skywalker, before James Kirk, before Korben Dallas and before even Flash Gordon, there was Buck Rogers.
Although, not in this form, exactly.
Buck Rogers got his start in Amazing Stories back in 1928, then moved into a comic strip, short film, a radio program, black and white TV series, video game, color TV series and finally achieved the ultimate praise, a Looney Tunes parody.
But along the way, he also made his way into the board gaming world. The Buck Rodgers: Battle For the 25th Century Game was released in 1988, many years after the show ended.
Maybe that’s why this game has flown so far under the radar. It’s certainly not for lack of gameplay. Because this game is simply just so cool!
Flying Through The Solar System
The Buck Rogers game is a competitive multiplayer territory control wargame.
First of all, this game is huge!
Before we even get into the game play and how to fight, we should talk about how the board works. In the middle of the board is the Solar System Display (SSD). The SSD tracks the locations of the planets as they orbit around the sun.
Using tokens to mark each planet’s location, they orbit around the sun at different speeds. So as your troops hope move from planet to planet, they are going to have to find the right turn to hop aboard a ship if they want to make it before their destination planet passes them by.
This is such a simple concept and mechanic, but it adds so much to the game. Knowing that leaving some troops on Mars might mean their demise if you can’t reinforce them until the planet meets back up with Earth makes every decision require thinking a dozen turns ahead.
Each planet’s location on the SSD is considered adjacent to it’s Far Orbit, so as ships fly about the solar system, they will be able to make their approach to each planet. Maybe I’m just a nerd for space and astronomy (Just kidding, I know I am), but this whole theme and mechanic really works for me. Conceptually, I love everything about this. This alone would make me want to play, but we’re not even done yet.
Gather Your Army
The Buck Rogers game comes with a multitude of units and constructions.
Truly terrifying, no?
Each player has 2 or 3 Leaders, and throughout the game will train Troopers and Gennies (genetically enhanced organisms), build Transports, Battlers and Fighters and construct Killer Satellites and Factories.
Rather than having strength and toughness scores for each unit, the game simplifies it all and has a table for every combat interaction, showing what must be rolled on a d10 for a successful attack.
But that’s not all it is. Leaders have special abilities, Gennies gain bonuses on their homeworld, there are options or retreat and surrender. You can even run a Commando operation to blow up an opponent’s factory!
I wish I could go over everything this game has to offer, but I simply don’t have the time. This game has so much depth and strategy, but also optional advanced rules. But, if you ask me, the best one is Slingshot Maneuvers.
That’s right. You can use the gravity of the sun and planets to slingshot yourself through the solar system to gain extra movement. If there is another game out there that lets you do that, please let me know in the comments. Because I’ve certainly never seen it.
I know it seems like I haven’t told you anything about this game. But there’s so much to cover I didn’t really know where to start and end and, honestly, I’m hoping you’re interest is piqued enough to go look it up yourself. There aren’t that many rules to cover really, but there are tons of advanced rules and optional rules.
If you’d like, this is the copy of the rules I used in learning how to play.
This game really does seem just so cool. Maybe I’m geeking out a little too much here, but this game hits all the right buttons for me. I can’t promise I won’t be hitting up eBay to find my own copy very soon.
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!