When comparing Space Alert vs Puerto Rico, the Slant community recommends Space Alert for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Space Alert is ranked 25th while Puerto Rico is ranked 28th. 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 Simple to learn, but plenty of strategy
The basic game flow of choosing Governor roles each round is easy to grasp, but in its simplicity, it offers much depth. Sometimes choosing between a role which will benefit you at the moment versus a role with the bonus money can make you pause and plan ahead. Perhaps you might even consider taking a role that you know your opponent wants, just to prevent them from getting ahead. This constant analyzing allows for plenty of strategy to take hold even if the game play itself is rather simplistic.
Pro Offers exciting possibilties during game play
Building new buildings, trading goods, and taking control of the shipping market can offer some intense gameplay. Deciding what role to take each turn for maximum benefit can be exciting - there is a limited supply of everything. Goods take time to produce and there is only limited ships for use in exporting them. If someone else takes the role you wanted that turn and ruins your shipping or trading plans, you'll have to adjust your strategy on the fly. This can result in some pretty exciting gameplay where you're always thinking of multiple paths to victory.
Pro Each round you'll get to try something new
On each round, players go around the table and choose among seven Governor roles such as builder, captain, trader, and more.
Each role has its own special ability and benefit - for example, builders can erect buildings with money and captains can ship goods. At the end of each round, there will always be three or more roles which were not chosen. These roles are given bonus money for the next round in order to encourage players to choose them on the next round. It's a simple mechanic, but being able to try a new role every round ensures you'll have plenty of ways to play out each round.
Additionally, there is a Governor token that is passed to a new player every turn. This token allows you to choose all roles on the round you're in possession of the token. This has to the potential to be a very fun and lucrative turn.
Pro Smooth game flow thanks to balance
There are several aspects of balance that make the game play out incredibly smooth.
First of all, each role can only be selected by one player per round. No two players can choose Captain on the same round, for example. This means no one player can ever dominate a role since it's likely they won't get to choose that role during the next round. The addition of the tempting bonus money to unused roles from the previous round pretty much means all roles will get used eventually.
Secondly, when you go to ship your goods if you choose the trader role, each ship can only hold one type of good. So if you are focusing on sugar exportation, you won't have to worry about your opponent who is farming something else hogging all the ships.
Lastly, while players go around the table and roles are executed in order, their benefits do not take place until after the round is over. This means even if someone acted before you that round, he or she will not necessarily have the advantage.
Pro Easy to teach your friends to play
While there are intricacies and strategies that are learned over time, the basic premise and simple rules are very easy to teach. Getting your friends into the game is quick and easy, even if they've never played before.
Pro Tense thanks to a hidden scoring system
Score chips are placed face down on the table and are worth 1 or 5 points. Only you will know your own score. Even if you know how many chips your opponent has, you won't be able to tell their point total since the chips are worth variable points. This keeps things tense from start to finish.
Pro Everyone can participate
Time wise, the game never feels dominated by a single player. Everyone gets to choose a role for their turn and there's never any scenario or situation where a player is left out or forced to sit out a round. This makes it a great game for any group or get together.
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 a long time to set up
It takes longer than the average board game to set up. This is compounded by the fact that each player has their own board. When playing with multiple new players, helping each one set up their board for the first time can be quite a time sink.
Con Not a lot of visual appeal
The board colors are washed out and very bland. Buildings and other resources are simply cards with text. It's definitely not an exciting game to look at, and that may make some people hesitant to want to play.
Con Requires a minimum of three players
You will need a minimum of three people to play, however even with this number, the game might feel slower than intended due to all the unused roles every round. The game is played best with 4-5 players so that more roles are filled and the game can speed along.
Con It's hard to catch up if you fall behind
It's very easy for more experienced players to quickly take the lead with proven strategies. New or inexperienced players that are trailing behind may never be able to catch up. Since everyone can play all the roles, there's not really any random luck that will allow you to take the lead out of nowhere.