A. M. Casasola-Merkle

Publisher: Queen Games 2000



Lift Off is a very interesting, fast-playing cardgame about Space colonisation for 2 to 4 players.

The most interesting attribute of the game is the fact that the players do not take turns, but that instead all players operate simultaneously.

At the beginning, all players have a stack of exactly the same colonisation-cards, consisting of Settlers, Power-units, Lift Off cards and three different action cards (Mining, Stealing, Terraforming). Each player mixes his stack, and on a given start-signal all players start turning over and placing their cards. The number of planets available depends on the number of players participating in the game, thus keeping the game interesting despite varying numbers of players. When a player has turned a card over, he may decide whether he wants to place it next to a planet, below his stack or whether he wants to discard it. If he places it next to a planet, he has to observe certain rules: Only Settlers and Power Units may be placed at the first stage, and this stage may be ended by a Lift Off card. Only after a lift off has been placed, the different action cards may be played. Especially the placement of these action cards needs good calculating. Planets do have varying amounts of mineable resources, so that not an indefinate number of Mining cards can be played. Likewise, the terraforming is different on each planet. Furthermore, it is important to keep a good look at how many Power Units have been placed into this mission, since the action cards usually demand a certain amount of power for activation.

When the first player has used up his stock of cards, the card placing is stopped and the planets are evaluated, one at a time. Alternately, the players now use up the cards placed at the planet to be evaluated, one card at a time. Victory Points are awarded for Settlers on a successfully terraformed planet and for successful mining.

To my mind, this new, easy cardgame by Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle is an outstanding piece of work. With the rules providing for simultaneous play, the game cannot be compared to usual tactics-games where players have all the time needed to work out how to proceed. Like in a real Race for the Stars, players have to make fast real-time decisions, while always keeping an eye at the progress of their opponents. Rounded up by efficient and attractive artwork, this game is one of the real highlights of the SPIEL 2000.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany