Boardgames in Blighty Review – Fleets – The Pleiad Conflict from Fryx Games

Fleets cover

Boardgames in Blighty Review – Fleets: The Pleiad Conflict from Fryx Games

Design: Daniel Fryxelius

Assistant design: Fryx Games & Thomas Fryxelius

Graphic design & artwork: Daniel Fryxelius

Many thanks to Fryx Games for a review copy of this game.

I’ve cut down a lot on reviewing games as you would have noticed due to changing priorities as well as life getting more in the way meaning I have less time. I was intrigued by the new project by the guys from Fryx Games though so I thought that I’d play and write up a review.

Fleets: The Pleiad Conflict, is a space conflict game. And yes, there have been a lot of these types of games. I’ve tended to avoid these as I am generally not interested in the resource collecting and empire building so much as the conflict stuff. Low and behold, the Fryx brothers, who have made some lighter fun Euro style games have come up with a space game that is ultimately a combat game with a bit of these elements, but just a bit, with the main focus on kicking 7 bells out of each other. Ok I am interested.

Fleets: The Pleiad Conflict

In 3400 AD, mankind has colonised the Pleiad star cluster where mighty corporations vie for control and influence. Each player equips fleets with escort ships and upgrades, and uses them to control star systems for victory points. Diplomatic leverage, cunning, and brute force will determine the victor.

In truth its about the brute force really, which suits me. The diplomatic stuff is a side show.

Goal of the Game

From the rules –

In Fleets – The Pleiad Conflict each player controls a corporation. Each system that is controlled by only one corporation at the end of a round gives 1 Victory Point (VP) to that player. The game ends when any player has 7 (or more) VPs. Then the player with the most VPs wins the game (ties are won by diplomacy points, or total
value of possessions if still equal).

 

Unboxing

In the box you get a die-cut pieces and cards with gorgeous art.

74 Escort Ships – these are bought to add to your fleets

Fleetsships

20 Fleet Boards – this represents your main ship, with space to add support ships

fleetsshipcard

28 Upgrade Cards – you can purchase upgrades for your fleet

Fleetscards1

4 Player Boards – for tracking your reactor energy and megacredits for spending

1 Rule Book

58 Action Cards – there are combat and diplomatic cards with a good selection of bonuses and effects

Fleetscards2Fleetscards3

10 System Tiles – these become the “game board” and the number of tiles corresponds to the number of players +1. Each game will probably have a different game board as there are more tiles than players so random distribution will mean a new situation each game.

2 Rule Sheets

4 Player Order Cards

20 Fleet Markers – 1 for each Fleet

Fryx Games have art here which can stand up to pretty much any other space game. I would have preferred that the card stock for the Fleet boards, Player boards, Player order cards and the cards was thicker. I also would have preferred the cards to be larger but I assume that this was a cost saving decision which I can understand. The components should stand up to many plays and they do look lovely.

Gameplay

Fleets1

Each round consists of these phases:
1. Player order – using randomly drawn cards, except for the 2 player version which has both players alternating start.

2. Building -1) Buy fleets and upgrades. There are a number of choices from support ships, each with their own abilities to upgrade cards for your fleets. 2) Equip fleets simultaneously. Each player, in turn buys and equips the purchased upgrades. You will be using your limited funds to beef up your fleets from amongst the various options between offensive and defensive measures.

3. Deployment -all players take turns placing their fleet markers
on the systems they want to control this round. Only one Fleet per player can occupy a given system. VP’s are awarded for sole occupation. Battle must occur if opposing fleets are in the same system.  Your strategic decision as to where you place your fleets is at the heart of your success or failure. Although being the sole occupier brings a Victory Point, it may be more advantageous to place a fleet into combat situation. In fact, leaving an opponent alone in a system with a diplomacy action may hurt you more than engaging in combat so you will need to make the best choices that you can, knowing that there are no perfect choices.

4. Diplomacy -The players take turns doing 1 diplomatic action at a time. You may choose from the following actions: 1) If any of your fleets have a diplomacy effect, you may use it. 2) Play a diplomacy action card. 3) withdraw one of your own fleets. 4) force an opponent’s fleet to withdraw from a system.  5) Tax a system where you have a fleet. 6)You may pass

Generally you will spend Diplomacy points in order to do a diplomacy action. There are too many effects to list, nor should I. Suffice to say that diplomacy actions bring benefits directly or indirectly by effecting opponents.

5. Battle – Fleets in the same system must battle. Combat takes place in Initiative order. When a player performs his battle initiative he may also play battle action cards. For combat, you will be rolling dice (in some cases lots of dice) in order to score hits. Attacks take place in priority order, with the first player shooting first in each of the 4 priority stages. Its a good idea to have a good balance of attacking upgrades as well as defending or it will leave your main ship vulnerable. 

6. Rewards -The last phase of the round consists of collecting VPs, rewards, and new resources for the players before the next round begins.

Fleets1 Fleets2

Winning

The first player to score 7 victory points wins although it is suggested that this should be reduced to 5 for 2-player games and shorter games.

Did I enjoy Fleets – The Pleiad Conflict?

I’ve only been able to play 2-player games so my comments reflect this. 

As a 2-player game, Fleets works really well and I found it to be good fun. The round moves relatively quickly with 2 players but I can imagine that with 4 players, the game will drag on too much for my patience. A head to head game is very attractive to me in Fleets for sure.

Thankfully, this game is pretty much about the conflict and battles. The building is solely about getting your fleets ready for the coming fight and not about building an empire or resource management. Its all about putting your fleet in the best shape possible.  Its not so much a brain burner which I don’t want its about spending effectively to gear up.

Now the combat is dice laden but I have no problem with this at all. Its just about scoring hits or not and makes it very easy to conduct the battles. There is a lot of variety between fleets and you do get to choose between 3 that are available when you are shopping. There are interesting choices between fleet sizes and capabilities. Each fleet has a special capability and different initiative values which keeps things interesting.

No two games will play the same which makes for a lot of replayability.  This may put off those who like to create an optimum strategy or a formula for the best fleet but this is not a puzzle to be solved. This is making the most of what you can leverage with restricted resources. And then when the battle is joined, lady luck has a part to play. To me, this is the unknown factor of battle which is actually realistic. Others may not like that.

I’m not so sure that the the randomness of choosing the start person works with more than 2 players as going first can give an advantage and if a player gets more than one turn in a row to go first, that could unbalance things. Not a problem in 2 player games as the players alternate being first player.

There are some small areas in the rules where more clarity would help. but nothing major at all. Once you get into it, the game plays and the process flows well.

Overall, I really prefer a game at this level. I’ve read about other space games and have often felt that they sounded much to heavy for me. Fleets – The Pleiad Conflict, for me, is challenging and not for beginners but its not about complex mechanics either. Its about fun! And fun is often missing from so many heavier games. It has just enough interesting decisions and complexity to get you to battle, where it all happens. you just better hope that you have enough shields and intercepters to delay the inevitable damage that your main ships will suffer before your fleet goes BOOM!

For further information go to – http://www.fryxgames.se/games/fleets/

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