Review: Galactic Keep Solitaire Warrior
Somewhere far out in the galaxy aliens from all over have come together, for reasons unknown to us, to engage in combat to see who will be the last alien standing! This is honestly where the excitement ends with this title. The concept of battling aliens, coupled with the fantastic art drew me in, but the gameplay left me feeling a bit empty.
In Galactic Keep you have a small deck of 35 cards and 1 instruction card. You shuffle up the deck and then form a 3×3 grid of face-down cards. Remaining cards are placed to the side to form a draw pile. You then choose a card from the grid and reveal it. This is your starting alien.
Next you pick, at random, any other adjacent face-down card. Before revealing you must now decide if you think the card you have can beat the unknown card or if you think the unknown card will destroy your alien. Every alien has a life value ranging from 1-8 and an attack that ranges from 1-5. Once you decide, you reveal the unknown card card and see which alien won. Each alien damages the other for their attack value. Repeat this if both aliens survive the first attack with life remaining. If you chose correctly, and the alien you picked wins, then you discard the defeated alien into your score pile. If you fail, the alien goes a separate discard that scores you no points at the games end. The winning alien advances into the losers space on the grid.
Sometimes the aliens will defeat each-other. In this case, it is my understanding, that you score the alien you picked to lose and the other does not score. You then must simply reveal a new card to be your alien and continue on. This is where things bog down. You essentially continue this process over and over again. If you ever find your alien in the space on the grid where there are no adjacent cards, you reseed the grid with cards from the draw deck.
My issue is that you are really making one choice over and over again for about 30 turns. After making this choice, you are doing a few basic subtraction problems to resolve the conflict and then you repeat this again and again. The game comes with 4 dice to track health. It might have been more interesting to use those dice to resolve the conflicts in a single roll so you wouldn’t have to track health at all. This would have moved the game forward much quicker.
The art in this game is quite stellar in my opinion and it was what drew me in to make the purchase. On the table it looks great and I was honestly more interested in seeing what the next alien looks like then the gameplay itself. The setting of battling aliens is quite fun, but the connection to the mechanics was just a bit of a let down.
I would have really liked to see each alien have a unique power or something that made each one more distinct from the next outside of the illustrations.
Galactic Keep contains just 36 cards. They did up the component quality with the addition of UV protection and a linen finish. This will certainly add to the lifespan of the game. Sadly the entertainment level is not really there for me, so this game will likely not get the plays required to utilize these welcome additions. At $12.99 this game is priced to sell and a good bargain had I only enjoyed it a little bit more.
I know this review may come off as harsh. I really went into this one with high hopes. It is far from a terrible design, but it was just too repetitive for me. I truly think some people will enjoy this one, but it was not for me. Had the combat been more fleshed out and more engaging it would have bumped the score up a bit. Had aliens had unique powers like the ability to look at face down cards that would have helped. Maybe if some of the grid was left face up so that the player could plan a head and make some choices based on some known information and not relied solely on playing the odds and guessing if the next card was stronger of weaker then the card you controlled was. This really is the heart of the issue for me. It relied vastly too much on guessing.
Again, I think there is a game here, but it needs to be developed a bit more to remove the randomness. It plays fairly quickly, but time seems to drag when actually playing the game. The addition of the Full Health and Plague cards were nice and did add some excitement to the mix. It just failed to make up for the repetitive combat.
The artwork alone is worth the asking price, so I do feel like I got something out of this. I may have to attach some house rules to this one. In the end this game is just below average. Some will enjoy it as a quick filler that looks great on the table and others will pass on it for the reasons mentioned.