New year, new game, that’s the rule, isn’t it? Well, maybe not, but we’re going to tempt you anyway with the sci-fi stunner that is Core Space: First Born from Battle Systems. And, with it being us, we’re also giving you the chance win it along with an expansion pack, allowing you to play all the different modes of the game from the get-go! But before we get to that, let’s see what the game is all about, shall we?
The Core Space universe established itself in 2017 as neat twist on the dungeon-delve miniature-board game hybrid of which we’re so fond. It’s set around 1500 years in the future, where you live by the Trader credo: Salvage-Trade-Adapt-Survive.
It’s a grubby universe that lives around the seediest edges of sci-fi, with knowing nods to 2000AD’s galactic thrills, the aimin’ to be misbehavin’ of Firefly, the villainous scum of Star Wars’ Outer Rim, the latinum underbelly of Star Trek and the something good, something bad and somewhere in-between of Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a rich, believable setting, one of humans and aliens just trying to make a score and keep flying…
This is a big beautiful box of game, with frankly fetishistic levels of cardboard, including all the scenery, scatter terrain, tokens, and cards that you could wish for.
The game is designed for both solo or co-op play, although can also be played semi-competitively with the addition of another Crew box (as each player needs a Captain to run the crew in versus mode). However, to get to grips you’re best to play through the intro scenario for Core Space First Born, following the step-by-step guide.
The guide takes you logically through the system, with references into the rulebook at every step of the way. Also, the rulebook is laid out sensibly so everything’s easy to find – which is a bit of a novelty when a game has this much crunch. In particular, whilst the skill trees are initially baffling, they’re actually fairly easy to get grips with, and allow for massive amounts of character customisation. Want to give a crew member a background as a Marine, with an emphasis on stealth and shooting? No problem. More interested in survival and trading, as a regular Trader Crewman? Easy as swapping over the token on the board.
I am vaguely reminded of the game Mastermind when I see all the pegs, but it’s an easy way to track health, skill points and ammo – yes, every bullet counts and is counted in this game. Managing ammo is key – and so even in the space-future, thrown weapons are a valuable resource, and if they don’t break, can be recovered from unfortunate targets.
One of the most entertaining, intuitive and frankly terrifying aspects of the game is the Hostility tracker, where the danger increases not only every turn but the first time a shot is fired also (amongst other things), so there’s a giddy tension. The antagonists, the First Born, are an ancient alien race that have gone insane through millennia of isolation: as you raid their long-dead civilisation’s ruins, they awaken from their slumber enraged. But if you can be quiet and stealthy, avoiding their patrol drones and shutting down stasis pods, you can steal priceless alien technology and artefacts – and make the score of a lifetime.
You can actually, if you’re incredibly unlucky, get KO’d in the walkthrough, although the game has an entire system for not only dragging downed crew members to safety but going back to do rescue mission if you’ve had to abandon people. Anyway, amazingly, we survived – even at its most basic, the game feels genuinely threatening and thrilling. The tip you get at the end of the walkthrough is Don’t Be a Hero and this is excellent advice – in the end, this is a game of finding stuff and running away like buggery.
Yes, it’s is undeniably fiddly in places but it’s a rich setting with enormous amounts of content: as well as the 10-game campaign and all the downtime actions of trading, hiring new crew and tinkering with your ship, there’s plenty of side missions and extra adventures available for download, along with campaign design and generators – and that’s before you even get into purchasing expansions. The first crew expansion for CSFB, In the Line of Fire, also includes a Media Team that can show up as NPCs and generally be a nuisance, trying to film your exploits. Trading Post 5, meanwhile, adds in an entire side-campaign built around a spaceport that you can visit time and again (as well, also, as adding more crew options). The game has huge array of add-ons, allowing you to tailor the game to your wants and needs, becoming a full narrative experience: build a customised shuttlecraft or buy a better tricked-out ship, do some risky business and run into the Galactic Agents, or even mix and match with the original Core Space and face off against the terrifying android menace of the Purge.
It’s a big universe out there ;)
Now, onto the giveaway, where you can not only win a copy of Core Space: First Born but also the In the Line of Fire expansion!
It’s a really simple one this time: to enter, all you need to do comment below with your favourite grubby sci-fi comic, film or TV show!
Don’t forget to do the social tango too though – as always, bonus entries are awarded for liking the posts on our many social channels – and if you share on your Instagram story, please don’t forget to tag @bigcomicpage and @insta.graven so we see the entries!
Good luck, and until next time… keep Geeking Out!