Planet Defenders is a gateway game for 2 to 4 players and requires some set building and resource management. The play time on the box is 30-60 mins.
I love the artwork. You can imagine my joy when I opened the box to find 3 good sized robot figures. The other reviews I had seen had little cardboard character pieces. The rest of the components are of great quality too with nice card stock.
The rule book is not one that leaves you tied up in knots. It enables you to set up and play the game without too much difficulty. It is easy and clear enough to reference it if needed during play.
The Backstory (as interpreted by me)
Within the last 50 years since 2020, humans have advanced space exploration and galactic colonisation. Planets throughout the galaxy have become our work-places, play grounds and homes.
To assist us as we spread our roots, robotic science and production has progressed so far that thousands of robots have gone from being the tech of tomorrow to the tech of the past. Unlike the smart phone you loved so much last year that is now upgraded and forgotten, these robots cannot simply be relegated to the junk draw. No…the only ‘humane’ fate for these outdated semi-sentient once helpers of human society is for them to be banished to the cold depths of space. Where they stay until their batteries die. They become just another piece of space junk in the vast dark vacuum…out of sight, out of mind!
The only problem is plans do not always work out in practice as they do in theory. One day the colonies detect a building threat from a number of the once discarded robots. They somehow have recharged batteries and an attitude that was not part of their original programming. This is where you and the Planet Defenders (PDs) come in.
You are tasked with directing the 3 robots (Blue, Yellow and Red). You must round up the threats in the hope an answer can be found to the problem of the rogue programming.
Planet Defenders – How to Play
The objective of Planet Defenders is to secure as many points as you can before 2 of the 4 derelict robot piles are depleted. End game scoring is calculated by adding up the total point value of captured robots. There are extra points you can gain by capturing a variety of the types of robots and upgraded technologies.
Upgrading technologies will help give you an edge over your opponents. They make it easier to claim batteries, substitute required energy cells, move the PDs extra spaces or reduce the capture cost of the derelicts.
To capture the robots and upgrade technologies you need to collect batteries and energy cells (combinations of blue, orange and green).
A total of 9 planet tiles, the base tile being the centre, make up the system in which you will play. Each tile has a different effect that is activated once a PD lands on it, this is the main way you will be getting your energy cells and batteries.
The 4 piles of derelict robot cards are placed North, East, South and West of the outer edge of the play grid. To capture a robot, a PD must land on the edge closest to it or end it’s turn on the centre base tile, where you can choose from which pile you will take a derelict.
Control tiles are used to determine how many tiles you are to move the PDs. There are 3 control tiles, each with a picture of one of the robots and a number that shows how many tiles that PD can be moved. You may activate 2 of these during your turn, the first will cost you 1 battery and the second will cost 2 batteries. Once you have completed these 2 main actions, you can then choose either to capture a robot or upgrade a tech. Before the next player starts their turn, the activated control tiles are turned over to their opposite side. This changes the available movement options.
…so I think that pretty much covers the nuts and bolts of how to play the game, aside from the fact it is turn based and runs clockwise.
Planet Defenders – How it Played
As mentioned in the outset, this is designed for 2-4 players. We felt, however, it plays better as a 2-player game for those who are a bit more advanced when it comes to table-top games.
One reason we preferred it as a 2-player game, is it feels a bit more ‘chess’ like. You can plan for a couple of turns ahead and at the same time create some denial moves to frustrate your opponent
Playing by the rules, with more players, did feel like it took longer to start achieving anything of note than is normally desirable. We found that with a few little house rules, it become a nice and fun gateway game. We were then able to include those younger than the 10+ as suggested on the box.
Some of the house rules we used were:
- a) You can capture a robot from whatever pile regardless of where your robot ends its movement.
- b) Having no category requirement from tech cards that reduce robot capture costs.
Although it is not overly complex, it does require thought. You need to avoid getting stuck in a loop of having to exchange batteries for energy cells then vice versa. Only being able to store 5 energy cells means you cannot just stockpile, then take the win. You are trying to hit that sweet spot where you have the batteries, the energy cells and the opportunity. You know like in real life where to get anything done you need to have the money, time and inclination? ….sometimes it takes a little while for all 3 to come together at once!
This is an attractive game with great components.
I must confess the actual story line felt a little disjointed. For me it was like they were trying too hard to fit game rules into the backstory. It is no ‘Rise of Fenris’. I also felt the title “Planet Defenders” evoked a greater anticipation of imminent peril than actually exists in the game.
Do not let that put you off though as this game does have a lot to offer. You can always tweak the story in your imagination so it fits the feel of the game play…I am sure that is allowed!
I would not necessarily bring this to the table that often during our regular game nights, but if I want some fun 2 player action this is a game I would consider. Also, with the house rules, it’s a fun way to introduce new or young players to the world of tabletop gaming.