“T minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…!” And we have lift-off! Yes! Be prepared to live out your space travelling dreams while playing Apollo: A Game Inspired by NASA Moon Missions.
If, like myself, you love all things space-related and managed to miss the world-famous Moon landings by a couple of years – or even decades – then playing Apollo will allow you the chance to experience these iconic moments in history in your own home. Just like many did back in the ’60s while glued to their television sets and radio devices.
Apollo, published by Buffalo Games and Pandasaurus Games, provides quite the variety when it comes to its style of gameplay. Apollo is a co-operative tabletop game for 2-5 players (aged 12+). It’s a fast-paced, strategy/dice management game, with an added touch of role play included should you choose. You take on the roles of either Mission Control in Houston, or Astronauts within the lunar capsule heading out on your Moon missions.
The game includes two different missions for you to take on. The Gemini mission, which essentially is your training mission, or a novice level game.
Alternatively, there is the much larger and more involved Apollo mission. This is undeniably designed for a more intermediate level of gamers (or for those of you that like a challenge).
How to Play
Between your team, you will need to first decide on who takes on which roles. One of you will need to play as Mission Control. The remainder of players will play as Astronauts taking on tasks to reach the moon and complete their missions successfully.
The Mission Control player is the overseer of the Astronauts’ tasks (very similar to a Dungeon Master role in traditional RPG style games). They also help to maintain the structural integrity of the capsule.
Mission Control will help guide the astronauts through their mission by keeping a close eye on a few systems. Flight control, life support, power distribution, experiments and probably most vitally, communications.
This is all monitored by referring to the mission control screen and game board. But watch out! Should vital system levels drop and go into “crisis” mode, this could mean danger for the Astronauts and their mission.
Astronauts must work together, not only to complete their experiments but also to keep their system levels up to avoid going into crisis. Should the Astronauts fail to complete tasks or repair their systems, then the game and the mission end lost in space.
The mission board shows a number of stages and required experiments that you must complete before reaching the next stage. Should you not complete these before arriving at the next stage the game is over, resulting in a failure to finish your mission.
Apollo comes with many well designed and great quality game components. The makers of the game pride themselves on the fact that they have included “actual NASA Mission information”. Attention to detail is key and it’s very clear to see!
The box alone looks visually stunning. With silhouettes of Astronauts and the landing module from the lunar landings back in the 60s – all including colours that associate well with NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
However, be sure to make some space (pun intended) for Apollo when adding it to your collection. It is a rather chunky box, but with so much included – and there’s good reason for that. So it’s worth the extra organising to fit this brilliant title on your shelves.
As pictured, there are an awful lot of items within the game box. This can appear overwhelming, especially when adding it all to the initial game set-up (which can take a little while in all honesty). But the more you play the game, the easier it becomes to participate in each playthrough. So don’t let this put you off. It’s not rocket science after all.
Apollo may be a game that appeals most to the starry-eyed space enthusiasts out there. However, you certainly don’t need to have any sort of knowledge regarding engineering or the cosmos in order to play and have fun with it. I am a space nerd as I call myself, but I have also enjoyed playing alongside those who are not. We all enjoyed the playthrough equally.
The stickers on some of the game’s components can often peel off over time. Not an issue to affect gameplay as such, but it can be a tad irritating. And once the game is opened or played with it can be a bit of a struggle to fit it all back inside the box. The insert could be a little better in regards to its design.
But otherwise, the attention to detail in Apollo is so well thought out. The images depicted on the Mission Control screen include a coffee/tea mug, manuscripts, and notepads containing important data – even dials and stationary. The Gemini & Apollo missions come in foiled bags that represent freeze-dried food that you would expect to find onboard a real-life space capsule. It’s the perfect chance to role-play some of history’s most infamous events. Be creative with it, add sound effects, gestures or more! And there’s a free poster! Who doesn’t love a freebie?
A similar game to Apollo would be Tiny Epic Galaxies – a game by Gamelyn Games that is also based on space exploration. Although, instead of just exploring the moon, players are encouraged to travel the universe in search of new planets beyond their knowledge and claim them in order to gain points to become the winner. This is also another dice placement style game. Forbidden Sky is also great if you love space-themed games. In this cooperative tabletop game, the aim is to add a variety of components to your board in order to save your players from being stranded. You must place wires, circuit boards, and conductors in order to power up the spaceship in order to survive.