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STRONGHOLD GAMES presents SPACE SHEEP!

The front of the box for this boardgame by Anthony Rubbo bears the legend "This Cover is a Parody" probably to
ensure there are no copyrights trodden on. The cover itself is illustrated with Jedis in Sheeps clothing, Sheep2D2
and Sheep3PO, a Darth Wolf, a Planet and Y-Wing style space craft, and finally the game's subtitle "Ewe's the Force".
Actually, of course, that is not the final pun on the cover, the very title itself SPACE SHEEP is an accented way of
slurring SPACE SHIP. So right from the off we are expecting a comedic parody game based on the legendary Star
Wars
movies.

                

The Components are excellent. There are wooden shapes for the Sheep (8), Shepherds (8) one of each of these
in the same colour, plus the Wolf ship (shown as Brown in the rules book but is actually Grey). There is also an
8-sided die and a sand timer, both plastic, a cloth bag, while the remainder of the pieces are good quality strong card.

Anthony Rubbo is a games designer of note and a games consultant. His credits are long -
• Designer of “Hey Waiter!” card game, released Fall 2010 by R&R GAMES --- named GAMES Magazine "Card Game of the Year"
• Designer of “Hey Froggy!” card game, released Fall 2012 by R&R GAMES
• Designer of “Renaissance Man” board game, to be released Fall 2013 by RIO GRANDE GAMES
• Designer of “Space Sheep” board game, to be released Fall 2013 by STRONGHOLD GAMES
PLAYTEST
• Balance and design playtester for RIO GRANDE GAMES and R&R GAMES
• Game developer / tester for published titles such as “Dominion” and “Covert Action”
• Extensive experience in prototype production and presentation
• Honorable Mention: Race for the Galaxy Card Design contest
RULES EDITING / TRANSLATION
• Drafted & translated imported game instructions from German to English, for companies such as MAYFAIR GAMES,
CAFÉ GAMES, CATAN LLC, and KOSMOS.
• Drafted & edited game instructions for RIO GRANDE GAMES, R&R GAMES, and CZECH GAMES EDITION.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
• Attendee of such game conventions as Essen, Origins, GAMA (exhibitor), WBC, and The Gathering
• Collection of 1400+ board & card games
• President Emeritus: University of Pennsylvania Gamers Club
• 5-time champion of “Tichu” partnership card game

                                                    

SPACE SHEEP is a game of survival, that is the survival of Sheepkind, who live in the Lambda sector, are under attack
from a force known only as "Wolf". The players are Defenders, Commanders of the SSC (Strategic Sheep Command)
and as such they are first and foremost Sheep. They are also Defenders who must direct the Shepherd fleet in their rescue
missions, and of course know when to "Ewes the Force"..... One of the players is also designated as Supreme Flock Commander.

This game is for 1-8 players aged 10+, though the initial Family Game which is recommended for new players and for the
learning of the basics is for 2-4 players. There are 5 pages of rules (including one which is an example of play) for the Family
Game and 4 pages of rules for the 1-8 Advanced Game.

STRONGHOLD must have had some feedback about the rules for they have issued (it can be found online) a 4-Page "Training
Manual"
and a One-Page "FAQ" sheet. I was sent these after I had already played Space Sheep and although they do walk a
person through the beginnings of the game in baby-steps I must say that we had no trouble comprehending the rules as they are written.

                                                             

The setup of the either game requires the random placing of Sheep and Shepherds on the System Mats (of the players involved
in the game). However the placing isn't completely random as it no Sheep or Shepherd of the same colour may be on the same
System Mat, nor may either the Sheep or the Shepherd begin the game on its own colour System Mat; thus the setup is a calculated
random. The ides is for the players to work collectively together to achieve success, by managing to return the matching Sheep and
Shepherds to their own colour System Mat. There is a time limit on achieving this, the Tactics Card Draw Pile and the Tactics cards
being held by the players. If the cards are exhausted before the completion of the mission then the players have lost.

Each System Mat has a random Instruction card placed on it and this has a random colour chit placed on its circle space above the
word Shepherd or Sheep. This determines the action that must be taken when the System Mat is chosen (by colour). Players take turns
in Activating one of the Systems and then via the action at that System moving either a Sheep or Shepherd accordingly. These actions
may include such things as Move 1 Past "colour token" Shepherd, so that System's action could be Move 1 Past "Red" Shepherd.

The game can play very quickly, depending on the randomness of the setup and the number, and experience, and compatability of players.
Once you move onto the Advanced  Game the set up can be tailored to suit the experience of the players. You can use less Tactics cards,
have a Stronger Wolf Force, include Infiltrators and have more Systems (players). Infiltrators in the game mean that instead of one faction
joining together against the Wolf  Force you now have another faction. The Defenders are the players who are trying to save Lambda while
the Infiltrators are players who  are Wolves in Sheeps clothing and are working with the Wolf Force and thus against the Defenders, though
of course you try to keep this secret.

The players have to work together in managing the Wolf Force. they do this by playing cards that show where the Wolf ship currently is
and this allows them to knock it over onto its side. This then lets the Supreme Flock Commander flip the sand-timer to prevent time running
out, and roll the die, move the Wolf ship and then stand it up where it lands. If the sand-timer does run out then there is another series of actions
the Supreme Flock Commander must carry out.

In the Family game the players Lose if they do not defend (with cards) against the sand-timer running out, and Win if they get all the Shepherds
and Sheep on the matching Systems at the same time.

In the Advanced game (which is considerably more complex and requires that the players learn and comprehend well these rules) the players
(not any that are Infiltrators) win if they get all the Shepherds and Sheep on the matching Systems at the same time. The players lose and the
infilrators win if the sand-timer expires and the Sheep defenders cannot play any cards to prevent the loss. If there are an equal number of
Infiltrators and Defenders remaining alive and the players win, then the Infiltrators win.

We found the rules were more complicated than need be (hence the special release of the Training Manual) but with several read-throughs the
game becomes clear enough for playing (without the Training Manual). The mechanics work and play requires both thought and communication
by the players, as well as a little deviousness when Infiltrators are in play. I liked the premise of the game, Space-Sheeps and all the puns are my
sense of humour, but though we played several games, each time trying a  different tact, none of our regular group could build up any enthusiasm
for it. There are certainly challenges for the players, as well as luck through the random possibilities.

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015