When comparing Space Alert vs Heroscape, the Slant community recommends Heroscape for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Heroscape is ranked 17th while Space Alert is ranked 27th. The most important reason people chose Heroscape is:
The game includes all kinds of well-designed figures, a various terrain tiles, and a bunch of different terrain accessories that make up the big 3D landscape. The characters are a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, history, mythology and all kinds of other genres. Terrain tiles can range from grass to swamp, to lava, to snow and other types. What’s more, they can be stacked on top of one another to create hills.
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Pro Each game is unique
The combination of several CD tracks along with variant card combos and action options ensures that no two games will be the same, making the game widely replayable. If you run out of the official CD tracks, then you can also download the Space Alert Mission Generator to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
Space Alert is a cooperative based game, something that is not always the case for board games and can be a refreshing change.
Pro Varying difficulty
Various options can be selected to alter the difficulty level of the game, such as the power of internal and external common threats and serious threats. This makes, for example, the monsters you encounter much stronger, adding a whole new level of required teamwork.
Pro Strong theme
Space Alert has a sci-fi theme to it, and the game executes it perfectly. From the aesthetic look of the game to the actions you take, there’s plenty of science fiction – aliens, spaceships, robots, etc. The soundtrack playing in the background during the planning phase also adds a lot to the immersion. For those that are into more of a science fiction game, Space Alert could easily fit that bill.
Pro Good humor
While slightly morbid, the humor contained in the game and gameplay is quite amusing. The resolution phase is also full of humorous moments as the players watch their actions unfold or fall apart. For example, the tutorial book states that the captain must remember to do the “C” action that represents pressing the spacebar on the ship’s computer to keep the lights on.
Pro 1 - 5 players
Can be played as a single player game, or with up to 4 friends, dividing roles accordingly. If you don’t have a full group of 5 players, then the missing characters are androids, which can be controlled by any player.
Pro Simple rules
The very basics of the game are quite simple. Every player has a role assigned to them – the captain, the communications officer, and the security officer. The players take 12 turns in 10 minutes pre-planning actions while listening to a soundtrack that explains all incoming threats. The action phase is divided into three further parts, each of which has a separate deck of action cards. The soundtrack calls out the threats, the endings of phases, data transfers, and communication disruptions, and you must act accordingly.
After the 10-minute soundtrack is over, all the actions the players planned and coordinated are resolved. If the ship is still alive after that, then the game is won.
Pro Fast gameplay
The game takes around 30 minutes to play through, 10 minutes of which is the intense planning phase with the soundtrack blasting in the background.
Pro No analysis paralysis
Turn speed is dictated by the CD, avoiding some players procrastinating on their turns / keeping the gameplay flowing.
Pro Ranked highly on board game geek
With an average score of 7.5 out of 10 and a rank of 155, Space Alert is a positively reviewed board game.
Pro No alpha-gamer issue
Space Alert effectively evades the popular quarterbacking issue of cooperative board games. There’s simply no way to communicate enough useful information to other players in the 10-minute timeframe, so nobody can control absolutely everything. Everyone must efficiently work together and say what they’ll be doing to take care of the looming threats.
Pro Good components
The components of the game should hold up to multiple plays and regular wear and tear. There are a lot of good quality wooden tokens, and the cards are made of durable cardstock. The gameboard and the tracking boards are also quite thick and should endure well.
Pro Good design
The game includes all kinds of well-designed figures, a various terrain tiles, and a bunch of different terrain accessories that make up the big 3D landscape.
The characters are a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, history, mythology and all kinds of other genres. Terrain tiles can range from grass to swamp, to lava, to snow and other types. What’s more, they can be stacked on top of one another to create hills.
Pro Play time decided by the players
The play time highly depends on the scenario chosen and the size of the playing surface, but since the game encourages customization, players are free to choose a scenario that's easy and quick to play through and construct a smaller battlefield to accommodate it, for example, "last team standing " on a small surface.
Pro Can be built to fit any group
Heroscape can make both a decent 1v1 or 2v2 tournament and a massive party attraction. Although the game is best balanced to be a game for 2-4 players, if you have more sets you can create a map that can potentially scale up to any group.
Moreover, all ages are welcome, so it can be a great family game as well.
Pro Simple rules
This is one of the games that fits the description of “Easy to learn, hard to master” quite well.
The basic gist is quite simple - in their turn the player chooses an army card, moves the pictured figures and attacks with the figures. Movement is done based on the “Move number” on the card and attacking is done by rolling the attack dice based on the “Attack number” on the card. Players alternate turns until the game is over. The win condition is chosen by the players
There are a few more detailed mechanics, but they are very easy to understand, because they link to the physical aspect of the game. For example, an enemy is in line of sight if the figure is "able to see it" from its position - if there's a huge dragon figure behind a mountain and its head is poking out, then the soldier further back on the hill has line of sight. Another example - if a figure physically can't fit somewhere, then it can't move to that tile - a dinosaur figurine won't fit under a small bridge over a river, so it can't go there.
The basics of the game are not hard at all, the rules are simple enough even for children, it’s suited for ages 8+.
Pro Great customization possibilities
The game offers a lot of customizability both in terms of playing surface and the game itself.
Since the playing surface is fully customizable, you can either create it from instructions (found in the game guide or online) or arrange the construction pieces however you want. Because of this every game can be different in some way – you can, for example, relocate a hill, place a river and do much more.
Though the game offers a scenario booklet with some basic scenarios, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and make up your own objectives, manipulate some of the rules or add house rules.
Pro Well-made materials
The game materials have a relatively high production quality.
There’s no need to worry about game components not being able to sustain normal wear and tear or an accidental drop here or there - the hexagonal pieces and the painted character figurines are made out of durable plastic. The character figures are also quite flexible - bending swords, legs and hands of figures doesn't leave a lasting problem.
The paint job of the pieces is also well done and paint won't wear off even when rigorously scraped.
Pro Active community
Despite the printing of the game being discontinued in 2010, there’s still a very active community at https://www.heroscapers.com/ that are keeping the game alive. There are forums for custom units, local gaming events, online Heroscape games and more.
Since sets and accessories tend to cost a lot of money, some dedicated fans even banded together to create https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/, offering a selection of, as the name suggests, all things related to Heroscape – figures, terrain sets, expansions, etc.
Pro Can be visually impressive
Some fans of the game have even gone out of their way to design huge and beautiful battlefields, spanning many tables. A lot of great creations can be found on the internet - some examples.
Pro Fun to set up
The setting up of the game is another game itself and it makes for a good family / friend activity. It could be compared to LEGO construction – you attach the hexagonal pieces together to create whatever playing surface you want or just follow an instruction.
The pieces smoothly link together and don’t accidentally come apart, so there's no need to worry about a small accident ruining your hard work.
Since the playfield is quite big, everyone can join in creating the landscape. Some people could even get more excited to play while seeing the battlefield grow and imagining how fun the nearing game could be.
Con Steep learning curve
Space Alert is not very beginner friendly, and if you don’t properly understand how the game works when you start it up, then you’ll have visible difficulty keeping up with what’s happening in the frantic 10-minute action phase. You’ll also be dragging down the other players because there really isn’t enough time to explain rules when the game is already in progress.
It’s worth reserving an hour to play through the well-designed tutorial book that slowly introduces the complex aspects, so you’ll be ready for the real deal.
Con Requires CD player with speakers
Space Alert is only playable with the included audio CD or downloadable MP3's, without them the game is impossible to play.
Every action you take highly impacts what happens to the rest of the crew, and one tiny misstep can make the whole plan fall apart, which can be frustrating to some. Teamwork and good communication is completely necessary to win.
Con A lot of setup
Space Alert has a lot of pieces to sort through, cards and decks to shuffle and place on the gameboard. It’s not so bad if you decide to play more than one game, but the actual games are very quick in comparison to the amount of setup/takedown time.
Con Can’t be stopped once in progress
Once you press “play” on the 10-minute soundtrack, there’s no interrupting it – no pauses, no rewinds, etc. It’s important to stay focused, not engage in casual banter, and make sure there are no distractions in the background, which can be difficult to manage sometimes.
Con Takes up a lot of room
The landscapes tend to get quite big and, unfortunately, there is no convenient way to store the tiles and character figures unless you spend some extra cash on boxes or other forms of storage.
Con Long set up and take down times
Depending on the scenario, the setup might take as long as the scenario itself. A basic setup could take anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes. This is because of how big the playing surface can be and how many pieces and accessories it consists of.
The sets, expansions and accessories tend to cost a lot of money mostly due to the game being out of print since 2010.
Con Out of print
The game has been out of print since 2010.
Con Inconsistent theme
The terrain is customizable enough to create a running theme, but units are more difficult. Some people might enjoy the idea of heroes from all kinds of genres clashing in one big game, others might be thrown off by historical characters like samurai and cowboys battling alongside werewolves, robots or vampires.