Introducing Lander (UKGE Preview)
The UKGE is here. Myself and Beth have just been at the Show Preview and have spent the evening looking at a whole series of games that I’m hoping we can share with you over the next few days/hours/seconds (probably not seconds…I’m not that fast at writing).
The first game that we want to share is actually one that is getting us both really excited – Lander by Intrepid Games. Lander is a game of science fiction strategy and development in which you (yes you!) are looking to make the most out of crash landing on a planet far from Earth.
Ultimately, at its core, Lander is a resource management game that was originally designed due to a frustration with Catan only being three or more players. During the game, players must manage their crews, mine resources, and generally strengthen their position in order to best their opponents.
What makes Lander really interesting though isn’t just the plot. Instead, what really makes it is the care in design and presentation, the specific mechanics of play, and the marketing ingenuity of Intrepid as a company.
We are yet to play the game – hopefully we can so over this weekend – but Lander has got us so excited I had to write down a few thoughts this evening.
First thing to comment about is the theme of Lander. Lander is a well thought through game, and one with a strong theme that runs throughout. You have landed on a planet, and one where your resources are limited. You must gather your resources, build your colony, and explore in order to do better than your opponents.
Lander’s theme comes across in its playing pieces. Your crew come out of stasis. Your goal is to mine as much resource as you can to thrive on the planet you have landed on.
Lander has a twist on the theme of space exploration. You are trying to survive, not within the vastness of space, but on this planet that you now need to mine in order to live. This is reflected in the components that we will come onto in a bit.
Theme aside, there are a few amazing mechanics that need talking about that Dan (the lead designer) and his team have ensured take the game to the next level.
One thing of note is that the game board is completely modular with triangular tiles that click together. These can then be expanded upon as you choose to explore. The board starts off with around 18 tiles, and these get built upon as the game progresses.
The game has a fairly simple premise that can be broken down into three basic steps. Firstly, you need to collect resources, and this is done by developing production levels on certain tiles. The three resources of the game are food, energy, and titanium.
Next, you get to build up each crew member individually to make them unique and good at specific things. Crew can be trained and given items, and what gets attached to who becomes a puzzle in its own right.
Finally, the game is ultimately about completing missions. Missions require resource; however, they may also require specific crew members or types.
There is also a take-that element with additional cards that can be played on opponents. Although the game is relatively serious, there is some humour in those.
There are a couple of other things to note about Lander and that includes how it utilises different playing times depending on the game length you want to play. There is a version that if 50 minutes per player, but there is also a game that is 20 minutes per player. All in all though, the mechanics are impressive and warrant further inspection.
Just in case you hadn’t guessed already – Lander looks ace. Every card in the game has different and unique artwork. Every crew member and every action card has its own artwork. It’s really impressive.
Even though the game is yet to be Kickstarted (October 1st 2019 it’ll be on Kickstarter for those who are interested), the prototype looks amazing. It is simply a beautiful game, with awesome art.
Play Before You Pledge
We have to admire Dan and his team. They are doing something I have never heard of before in board gaming and that is a kind of “Play Before You Pledge”.
What Intrepid Games have done is send copies of Lander out to board game cafes all over the world for players to try before they part with their hard earned money for the game.
It is, quite frankly, a stroke of genius and something we hope will catch on.
The Next Big Strategy Game
Lander looks and feels incredible. In my opinion, as someone who has been writing about games now for around 2 years, I have to admit I am absolutely taken aback by the concept of Lander. We are yet to play, but if it is as good as we predict then is well on its way to becoming one of the next big strategy games. Kudos to Intrepid for creating such an intriguing game.