Final Thoughts by Rahdo/Shea (13 mins)

Shea gives his final thoughts (on the Rahdo channel) … see my highlights and notes from the video under the video window:


  1. 0:15 – Shea previewed/reviewed ISS Vanguard back in December with the first prototype, and now was happy to preview it again with the 2nd prototype because there have been a number of significant changes that were made to the game.
  2. 0:25 – He liked it using the 1st prototype and likes it even more now with the 2nd prototype.
  3. 0:45 – The game has been improved at every step, honestly!
  4. 0:55 – The story and the setting of the game are great and the game mechanics are fascinating.
  5. 1:05 –  The planetary exploration is fun with some intense moments. Even though there is a lot of dice rolling, you still are making a lot of choices such as with your cards, your crew, what you bring along with you on the mission, etc. There is a lot of attention to detail in the game.
  6. 1:30 – While he likes the planetary exploration a lot… he loves the Ship Phase…. managing the ship… everyone having their own section and how it affect the planetary exploration portion of the game (and vice versa … they are intertwined with both being integral to the game)

  1. 2:05 – The story reminds him of Mass Effect (and he loves Mass Effect … he just finished playing 100 hours of Mass Effect Legendary Edition). ISS Vanguard is the closest board game experience to it that he has felt.
  2. 2:45 – What has been changed? The dice mechanics for planetary exploration are much more interesting now. The locations that you go to have a little bit more variety in what you experience. It’s a lot about which dice you are using, how you are using them and what the consequences are.
  3. 3:40 – They have added success tracks.
  4. 4:00 – Threats were in the prior prototype, kind of… but they were just another “point of interest”. Threats now have their own dedicated cards and their own “behavior”. Each type of threat acts in it’s own way and you have different ways to interact with it.
  5. 4:35 – The way discoveries work has been improved. They got rid of the lead deck of cards and now leads are various tokens in a bag. It’s a simplified system that works better and makes the system a lot more balanced.
  6. 6:05 – The way they handle the “tutorial” of the game is improved. It now introduces things step by step, and rather than one tutorial, there are actually five. You start with a planetary exploration mission that introduces a few parts of the game. Then on the following Ship Phase, you get about half of the Ship Book. The next planetary exploration mission gives most of the rest of the rules and concepts (but not all). The following Ship Phase explains the whole Ship Book. And the final Planetary Exploration mission give you the full game.
  7. 7:20 – The tutorial system has been done very well. It is balanced and timed out in a very smart manner. There never was an overwhelmed feeling. It also makes it a lot easier to “teach” the game to someone, because you only have to learn a little bit at a time. It lets you dip your toes in the water before you dive all the way in. This was good for the ship book as well as the planetary exploration since there is a lot included in the ship book.
  8. 8:05 – Some of his favorite things were things that were added to the ship book.
  9. 8:25 – One of those things is “crew assignments” done in the ship phase. There was a slight crew assignment system at the end of the ship book in the first prototype, but now it is part of the entire ship book. Now you are allowed to send your crew on assignments to improve the likelihood that you will succeed in “that” particular page of the ship book. But (as always) there is a cost! If you use a crewmember for an assignment during the ship book phase they won’t be available for the next mission. And you won’t know if that specific crew member might be a good choice for the next mission.
  10. 9:30 – Almost every section of the ship book now has a little bit more that you can strategize with. Most sections that allow you to slot in cards also have some kind of combo with something else that you’re doing. You might even select your dice to help more in the ship phase than the planetary exploration phase!
  11. 11:00 – Now you have a reason to hold onto your success tokens since they can be used to help you get additional dice. Thus you not only can level up your crew members but you can level up your whole section with additional dice of your choice. So the success tokens are now extremely valuable unlike in the original version of the game.
  12. 11:30 – There are many other minor things that have been updated, such as converting the large planet cards into a book of them. That small book is really convenient. The ship dials have also been adjusted and are now their own convenient thing whereas before they were along the inside front cover of the ship book.
  13. 12:05 – He already thought it was a really good game with prototype 1. But now it is improved even more!

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