NOTE: This review covers the Lost Legacy: The Starship Deck. For an overview of the Lost Legacy series, including basic play mechanics, please read our review here.
Unlike other games in the Lost Legacy series The Starship focuses on fast and punishing gameplay – concentrating on revealing player’s cards and quick elimination strategies. Most games are played over a single round with a winner being announced as soon as the Lost Legacy card has been found, or all other players have been eliminated. The cards are well designed to suit this type of game and force players to balance risk versus reward in most of the cards they play.
Sneak Attack (X) – This card has no effect when played but, instead, activates when another player looks at your hand. If this happens, you discard the Sneak Attack card and claim your opponent’s hand – thus eliminating them from the game. With three of these cards in the deck it makes you think twice before playing a card that allows you to look at another player’s hand.
Assault (8) – Allows the player to look at another player’s hand and – if desired – exchange hands with that player.
Search (7) – This card allows you to look at any card in the ruins and exchange it with the card in your hand. This is one of the only ways to relocate the Lost Legacy card if you happen to have it in your hand.
Old Map (6) – When played, this card allows you to look at the top card of the draw deck then place it on top of the ruins deck. You are then able to shuffle the ruins if you wish. A useful tactic if you’re sure another player is in a better position for the Investigation Phase.
The Starship (5) – This is the Lost Legacy card and cannot be played. The only way this card can be removed from your hand is if you exchange it with another via a different card’s ability.
Swordsman (4) – This card is designed to counter Sneak Attack. When played, you nominate a player and look at their hand. If they are holding a Sneak Attack card they are eliminated. This is a win-win card as, even if the other player doesn’t have a Sneak Attack, you still learn which card they have in their hand.
Shadow Thief (3) – This card lets you have an immediate guess as to the location of the Lost Legacy card. You may look at any card from the ruins or another players hand and, if it’s the Starship card, you win the game.
General (2) – When played, you look at the top card of the draw deck and may then exchange it with your hand.
Sister of Fate (1) – Another passive card, this card activates when another player examines your hand. If someone looks at your hand and you are holding this card, you are immediately eliminated. While it is handy to have the #1 card when the Investigation Phase starts, is it worth the risk of elimination in a deck so centred on examining other player’s hands?
With so many cards providing the ability to view cards, or quickly eliminate other players, The Starship forces players to push their luck, adding a tension not present in the other decks. Personally, this isn’t the sort of tension I enjoyed and felt the game relied too much on luck in lieu of thoughtful choice. Even when winning I felt that it was because of a lucky draw rather than a clever, deductive strategy.
This negative experience felt compounded by the speed of play. I’m always in favour of a quick game however, some of our two player experiences lasted under a minute. The heavy focus on elimination also meant that we rarely reached the Investigation Phase – I’ve only ever reached that phase a couple of times in a four player game, and never with two or three. If you do end up playing The Starship I recommend borrowing a rule from the other games in the series and determining the winner as the first player to win X number of rounds, rather than just one. It doesn’t remove the negative feeling associated with winning or losing a game due to a lucky draw, but it does negate it a little by introducing a means to recover from your loss.
The Starship should suit players who favour quick games with strong “take that!” mechanics. It’s best suited to larger groups of players and has some very interesting cards. If you own other games in the series, I still recommend purchasing The Starship as, even if you don’t overly enjoy the game standalone, the cards are unique and can be mixed into other decks to broaden your overall experience. End Verdict? Worth owning as part of the series but disappointing as a standalone game.