When comparing Space Alert vs Descent: Journeys in the Dark, the Slant community recommends Space Alert for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Space Alert is ranked 24th while Descent: Journeys in the Dark is ranked 46th. The most important reason people chose Space Alert is:
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](https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boarbeard&hl=en_US) to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
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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 Blends competitive and co-operative game play in one game
The premise is pretty unique in that one player takes on the role of an overlord while all other players act as the heroes who attempt to clear the dungeon. The overlord and the heroes play against each other in a turn-based setup.
The overlord is the one responsible for controlling the monsters and other pitfalls that the heroes will face. The overlord also has access to many powerful spell cards which can be played during their turn. The heroes work together to clear the dungeon of monsters and work towards the victory condition for their quest.
Since the main evil force is player controlled, it creates some really interesting situations not often seen in other boardgames such as monsters being able to play strategically and dealing with spell effects that aren't random.
Pro Accessible and easy to learn game systems
While the actual rule book may not be the most organized manual in the world, the gameplay systems themselves are very simple to grasp, even for new players. Thanks to being both intuitive and easy to follow, anyone can join in on the fun.
Descent uses basic dice rolls for most actions, and how many actions you can take per turn are clearly defined based on your hero class. Movement along the board is handled in a grid like fashion with each tile denoting a certain distance. There is never any second guessing of whether or not you're in range to help a friend or attack an enemy. If you can roll dice, follow a tile based board, and understand a few simple rules, you can easily play this game.
Pro Engaging and replayable full campaign mode
Each 60 to 90 minute game consists of a single quest, however there is a campaign mode where heroes can take on a series of story quests while also learning new skills along the way. This is a great mode for that true epic adventure feeling. If you find a hero you enjoy, you can grow and develop this character over time similar to a standard RPG game. Additionally, no two campaigns will ever be the same. There are 8 different classes to select from, and you can pick and choose the quests you do, which adds a lot of replayability.
Pro Appealing, clean presentation
Everything is laid out cleanly on the board so it's easy to keep track of the action. Each player has their own cards with all usable actions and skills neatly presented. All heroes and monsters have game pieces that can be moved around the board, so it's easy to be aware of your surroundings and plan your next attack. The health system uses special token pieces that are used to keep track of your health. Being able to see your health physically raise and lower to keep track of your damage taken is a nice touch.
Pro Can play solo with the mobile app
There's a mobile app called "Road to Legend" that lets you play this game solo. The app works by taking over the overlord role. It even has multiple difficulty settings so you can get as much of a challenge as you crave. It's a great way to play when you have no friends available for a gaming session.
Pro Bitesized quests for quick fun
Each short gaming session consists of one quest with its own victory condition and two encounters. They are quick to play when you're looking for something fun to do for an hour or so.
Pro Lots of expansion packs to keep the fun going
The makers of this board game have added over ten expansion packs which feature new monsters, quests, campaigns, heroes, and re-balanced mechanics. Even after you've extensively played the vanilla game, there's plenty of ways to extend the fun and keep playing a game you enjoy.
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 Physical quality isn't the best
The game cards and board are flimsy and wear down rather easily. After only a few games, the wear and tear will be noticeable.
Con Disorganized rulebook
It's usually easier to find the information you need with an internet search since the rulebook itself is tough to navigate. It's arranged alphabetically by rule rather than organized in a manner that would align with the game flow.
Con Rules can be confusing
While the game systems themselves are rather easy to pick up and learn, some phrasing on the cards and within the rulebook is a bit cryptic, which may result in confusion when first starting out.
Con One player will always have to be the "bad guy"
Unless using the mobile app, which may very well ruin immersion for some, there is an evil overlord role that needs to be filled by a player. This is the player that makes decisions and takes actions for all the monsters. As such, this can be the source of many arguments. It can get especially bad when someone feels like they are being constantly targeted or singled out by the overlord.