Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
Tile Building with Airlock
Building Race in Space!
Sneak Attack Press has created a tile drafting game that is great for gamers of any age and is a perfectly portable game for parties, events and family gatherings. Those who love tile and building games like Carcassone or Castellan are sure to enjoy Airlock.
Airlock came to us a couple weeks before its release on Kickstarter. The pictures included in the article are of pieces from their prototype and are printed on thick cardstock. Their Kickstarter campaign is sure to bring about changes and upgrades in quality and the tiles show in this review do not reflect the actual quality of the finished product. The game is composed of a rule book and 72 double-sided tiles. The designers spared no expense with their tile artwork as each tile shows a top-down view of different rooms on a space station. The rooms feel like they were pulled right out of a science fiction movie: there are mess halls, calibration stations, engine rooms, science labs and greenhouse rooms that could potentially be in your space ship.
Airlock is a tile building game where players are competing to build the best, most efficient space station. The only issue is that their stations must be created using leftover parts. There are three rounds in all and players take turns drafting from a face-up pool in the middle of the table. The game can fit from 2-6 players and is perfect for any age group. The first round begins by setting up the pool. The first round’s pool always contains 6 tiles for each player; the second round’s pool contains 4 per player and the third round is 2 per player. The starting player takes one tile and drafting continues counter clockwise. Once a player picks up a tile, it is placed in front of them and marks the start of their space station. Once everyone has chosen their first tile, the end player starts by drafting his second tile and drafting continues clockwise back to the first player. Each time a player drafts a tile, the player MUST add the tile on to their existing chained space station, discard it from play or discard the rest of their space station to start a station anew. This horseshoe draft continues until all the tiles are drafted. Players then proceed to round two and then round three following the same instructions. After all the elaborate stations are built, players count up their points as listed on the tiles to calculate their efficiency in connecting their rooms together. The player with the highest score wins and has a pretty cool space station to show for their efforts!
What I found most pleasing about Airlock was its nostalgic value. As a child I played a lot of tile games which were memory and builder-based games that were less competitive and were more about fulfilling the need to have a completed, optimized puzzle. The game I played was Ravensburger Rivers, Roads and Rails tile game and could be a competitive placement game like dominoes or double as a free-form jigsaw puzzle for one or more players. Airlock falls a bit short on more complex strategy like the beloved Carcassone tile game, which makes Airlock a great game for children and families who aren’t ready to graduate to more complex gameplay. I am very happy however to see a building game that is set in space rather than another tile game about building castles.
Airlock shined in its simplicity because like many games in my childhood, it allowed for different interpretations and house rules. Luke and I tested some variations on Airlock’s gameplay and found a new favorite way to play we like to call the ‘timed build’. We kept the game at three rounds and drafted one tile at a time just like the original game but didn’t build until after all the tiles were drafted. We made a race out of the game and similar to Lightspeed and Robo Rally the first player to place their space station tiles announces their stations completion and the other players have three seconds to finish building their respective stations. This instantly made this game even more fun and expanded its potential as a party game. Airlock has many different ways to entertain making it a valuable Kickstarter investment.
Airlock is set to release on Kickstarter February 15th (EDIT: Here is the Kickstarter page link). For updates about the Airlock or if you are interested in future projects from this team, please visit Sneak Attack’s website and like their Facebook page.