A Nice Calm Review by Board Of It

Here is a nice review of the game in just 16 minutes … “chapters” provided by Board Of It and MY Highlights from the review are under the video window:

Board Of It gave these “chapters”:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 1:36 – Brief Overview
  • 4:22 – Awaken Realms Magnum Opus
  • 5:56 – Dicey Core
  • 7:10 – The Story
  • 7:39 – Exploration
  • 8:42 – Recruits
  • 10:30 – The Ship Book
  • 11:42 – The Issues
  • 15:12 – Final Thoughts & Doggos


Note: the timestamps are actually links to that specific point in the video!

  1. Starts with a good overview of the game in a few sentences
  2. 0:50 – Awaken Realms sent them a free copy of the game even though they were not that interested in it (so keep that in mind during the review)
  3. 1:25 – Takes 8 minutes to set up … 2-4 hours for a game session.
  4. 1:45 – They suggest playing to experience the game.
  5. 2:20 – Note that they have the sundrop version of crew miniatures which are color coded to match the four Sections in the game. With the sundrop minis, the four color rings that go under each mini are not needed. In their video they did put the rings under their minis and the ring colors do not match up with the sundrop color. Perhaps this can be seen as an example of how you can use a predefined Recon Mini for your Engineering crewmember?
  6. 2:50 – Quick note – they have a large game table and have a significant area on the table that is “empty” to roll their dice … my experience with the game is that my table (regardless of which table I used) did NOT have so much unused table space. So, be prepared for the game to fill up your game table! PLUS, I (Len) HIGHLY recommend using a dice tray to roll your dice! Too many reviews and playthroughs show dice going all over the board and knocking things over! See articles:
    => Triangle Dice Tray System just for ISS Vanguard
    => Two Player Dice Tower
    => Dice Trays
  7. 3:15 – It is cute that they rolled all the yellow Injury Dice, but note that a crewmember would NEVER have more than 3 injury dice to roll on their turn! Awaken Realms just provides enough of the Injury Dice so that EVERY crewmember can have the maximum amount of injuries at the same time in a game (and good luck getting out of that alive)!
  8. 4:45 – They consider ISS Vanguard to be Awaken Realms’ Magnum Opus
  9. 5:05 – The minute you unbox the game you can feel the care and consideration that went into developing and producing it.
  10. 5:25 – There’s a lot to learn, but it never feels like a chore due to the way that the game flows.
  11. 5:35 – Everything is Top Notch! The storytelling, the art, the components and a piece of advice… definitely use the Companion App – the voice acting makes the story line much more engaging.

  1. 6:05 – One thing that was quite good is that during your dice rolls, if you get a bad roll, there are lots of ways to mitigate the dice rolled! Plus, a fine and engaging mechanism lets players build their dice pools, adjusting the kinds of dice they have and use
  2. 6:45 – They really liked how it is up to the players, which dice they roll and how many. Different players can approach the same special action in various ways.
  3. 7:10 – The story is excellent and most importantly it is engaging. This was a major factor in why they wanted to keep coming back to the game and will even after they are done reviewing it. Due to how the story branches, a second or third playthrough can be rather different.
  4. 9:05 Len’s Note: When a crewmember is assigned to a specific Section, they are inserted into the rank sleeve for that Section. There are two icons/symbols on the rank sleeve. The first one shows the rank (1, 2, 3) – just count the stripes to get the rank number. Also note that there is a thin color strip on the left of the rank symbol – that color matches the color for the Section they have been assigned to. That Section also is designated by the Section logo under it. Here, they said they were looking at Security as an example, but the card they held up was assigned to Science (purple with the circles logo below it).
  5. 9:15 – You build up a collection of crewmembers who work in each Section. You can send them on missions. But they can die! And what’s fascinating is that it increases the tension in the game. You come to know your crew as you send them on multiple missions. You actually get to care about them and don’t want them to die. You might even begin to play the game differently so that they can avoid danger! Len’s Corollary: also fascinating is how this differs from a typical role playing game where you play as one character. If that character dies, that’s it… that was your one character. ISS Vanguard gives you a team a characters and the game goes on even if one or more of them die.
  6. 10:00 – There actually is a Memorial Wall inside the Ship Book where you slot in crewmembers that die. You also get some kind of reward each time a crewmember dies (the game is trying to give you a leg up, a little boost after losing a crewmember). They thought it odd that the ships morale would increase (from the “boost”) after so many of the Security Section died.
  7. 10:30 – The Ship Book is a tremendously engaging aspect of ISS Vanguard. As you explore and play the game, you gain discoveries and make ship upgrades… these cards all go into the card holder pages. The way this process works is tremendously fulfilling. The Ship Book provides a lot of interesting decisions. You WANT to see and do everything, but you can’t … so this gives you incentive for getting through the next mission to be able to do the things you just couldn’t get to the previous time.
  8. 11:45 – ISS Vanguard is an excellent game, but it is not a perfect game. There are a couple of minor nibbles that you should be aware of. Get the game because you want to experience the story or you want a campaign style game and experience all that it has to offer. Don’t get it if you are looking for a tight cooperative game. There is not a crunchy working together aspect to overcome the games puzzles. Also, there is setup and administration in the game. But to be fair to the game, much of the admin is very engaging. One other thing was the success tracks on POI cards that became tedious after doing that type of thing so many times.
  9. 15:15 – At about 20 – 30 hours into the game, the game actually seems to be expanding and opening up. It has been an excellent experience. If this is something that is of interest to you it probably is worth your time. The story thus far is superb. The scenarios are varied and different. Everything is held together by a rock solid core of game play. They are eager to get the added content and expansions, which is a pretty big turn-around from not having any initial interest in ISS Vanguard. When they complete the campaign they may do a second review to see if anything changes.

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