Recommended Game: Darkrock Ventures

-A.J.

Title:  Darkrock Ventures

Darkrock Ventures

Game Type:  Worker placement. Think Agricola, except that the theme is mining in outer space instead of farming in the Dark Ages.

Number of Players:   1-5. I’m guessing it’s best with 4.

Complexity of Rules:  Low-Medium. The rulebook is awful. Much more on that in a moment.

Time to Play:   The box says 30-45 minutes. We’re usually running over an hour, even with only two players.

The Concept:  Each player represents outer space mining interests. The object is to make the most Credits by the end of the game, since Credits double as Victory Points. Each turn a couple of dice are rolled. Players then take turns placing workers either on mines, or on bases that offer other advantages, such as bonus dice, dice manipulation, more crew, or increased space in your cargo hold. More dice are rolled, and the player(s) that can manipulate the dice to make favorable outcomes receive resources. The resources can then be “exported” for Credits. We haven’t played with the optional “Hostile Alien” cards yet, though I’m of the suspicion that they’ll mostly just increase the “luck factor” and drive me nuts.

Photo from the BoardGameGeek site.

Photo from the BoardGameGeek site.

Why I Like It: It has an outer space theme, and I’m a sucker for those. It involves risk management/estimation too, which is another plus. Once the rules are understood the game moves fairly briskly, and with low downtime.

Having said that:  The rule book is among the worst I’ve ever seen, period. We learned a lot more about how to play from just from watching a guy do a walkthrough online. The rules feature minimal pictures and illustrations, and the graphics are poorly thought out and not very informative. Many passages are poorly or ambiguously worded. And no, I’m not being too harsh. I get the impression that the developers taught the play testers how to play and didn’t force the players to learn by using the rule book.

Other issues:

  • Worker placement covers up information on the board.
  • The “Captain” meeples are very similar in size to the “Crew” meeples — we’re going to add stripes to the Captain meeples so that they’re easier to tell apart from the crew.
  • If the player cards were larger the game would feel less fiddly.

I know that’s more than a few negatives, but it’s an enjoyable game with a fun theme, and it was a holiday gift so the price was right. It does feel like the game was rushed to market though.

Recommended.

BoardGameGeek page here.

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