Airlock Preview

 Airlock kickstarter board game review
The colonisation of space is one of humanity’s loftier aims and when we do we’re going to need somewhere to live. Many engineers agree that when we do start living out in the stark cosmos of space all buildings will be made from pre-fabricated modular components, kind of like Lego with vacuum seals. Which brings us to Airlock, a tile laying game currently doing the rounds on Kickstarter, where the aim is to build the best space station from a collection of modular components.

The aim of Airlock is to build your space station from the limited pieces available. Each space station component is made up of a number of ports, or airlocks, each colour coded. The colours not only dictate how you build your space station but also act as a visual guide to how common those ports are. The further towards the purple end of the spectrum the rarer the port and the more points it will give you for connecting up correctly. Red and yellow ports are more plentiful and therefore give you fewer points.

Points are awarded based not only on the rarity of the port but also on the number of ports you can connect. These points also stack, so if you manage to connect a single module to two or three existing modules you’ll be scoring some serious points. It’s difficult to do and takes a lot of planning and even more luck (or some seriously unobservant opponents) but it’s very rewarding when you finish of a beautifully constructed high scoring station.

Airlock kickstarter board game review

You select your components from a central pool and this is where Airlock’s main game takes place. Since you can see which pieces are available to all players you get the chance to plan your strategy for the round. You can choose to take parts that aid in your building endeavours or deny your opponent the important high scoring pieces. You also have the opportunity to plan ahead knowing the relative availability of modules means you have a greater chance of building your space station into a sprawling metropolis and less of a space bound tin shed.

This brings us onto another neat design feature of the game. There’s always going to come a point where you might not be able to add any of the available modules to your space station. When this happens you are given the choice of either discarding a single component that can’t be fitted or, more drastically, scrap your existing station discarding the entire construction. You don’t loose any points for this but it does mean you lose the opportunity to expand on your existing structure and win the big points. It gives you a get out clause in case you’ve built yourself into a corner but punishes you for poor planning.

Every round starts with another pool of components but the number of parts decreases each round making it more and more difficult to get the parts you really want. This helps build up tension as your options get smaller and smaller.

Airlock kickstarter board game review

Airlock has a lot of features in common with the great games. Its quick to play, easy to pick up and you get the satisfaction of building up a structure turn by turn. It’s a pretty light game and although there’s the opportunity for strategy and tactics this isn’t a huge brain burner which makes Airlock a game that neatly fits into your family game or filler game collection.

Of course this is a Kickstarter game so things could change but this does feel like a well developed and well tested game.

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