GTM #207 - Burke's Gambit
Reviewed by Rebecca Kaufeld

~ The Backstory ~

The mission wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Everything was going so well. Spending three years in space finally paid off when you found the alien tech on that last planet, and you’re pretty sure this is going to earn a handsome reward when you get home. Now, Earth’s the next and final stop on your journey… well, it was...until someone got infected and the ship decided to fly itself! The captain says someone turned traitor, but that depends which side you’re on. They could be an ally. They’re probably an enemy. Either way, they’re not going to make it back alive.

~ The Goal ~

The Captain says there’s one solution: locate the infected crewmember that’s carrying an alien parasite, and eject them out of the airlock. It’s the only way to make sure both the crew – and the Earth, for that matter – stay safe from alien invasion.

The Deep Space Salvage Crew is on his side. They never wanted an alien invasion and would really like to go home. Their goal: eject the infected person into space and keep everyone else safe. The Acquisition Support Specialists (who have been specially planted for a crisis like this) have their own solutions: let the infected player get to earth, force a tied vote so no one gets ejected from the ship, or kill all other crew members as a last resort. The specimen deserves to be studied, and they’re going to give it that chance.

It also doesn’t help that the ship itself is gaining speed. If the engines accelerate to one less than the number of players, it will arrive home before the crewmembers make a decision, and someone will be forced off the ship in pure desperation.

Time is running out. Whose side are you on?

~ Welcome to the Ship ~

Each crewmember has three main cards: their Crew or Specialist ID card, their job title (or Role) on ship, and a diagnostic report. Role cards allow the player to use a special action once during the game: take an extra turn, look at another player’s ID card, and more. Diagnostic reports identify only whether a character has been infected by the alien parasite.

Players can look at their own Specialist/Crew ID and Role cards at any time, but they’ll never see their own Diagnosis. Only other players can check that. And given the amount of suspicion on the ship -- as well as personal motivations -- can anyone be trusted to tell the truth about what they find?

Each player also receives two health tokens. Once they’re gone, that character is dead. Living in space is dangerous, especially with a space parasite and a growing sense of paranoia on the ship. Someone will start shooting. Hopefully you’re not the target.

~ Don’t Kill Your Friends… Yet ~

Each turn, a crewmember selects one die from the bag and rolls to find out what happened this turn. There are 10 different actions and events that can occur, ranging from “DAMAGE OR HEAL ANOTHER CREWMEMBER” and “PARASITE SCAN” (check another player’s diagnosis card) to “INSTA-KILL ANOTHER PLAYER”, causing their character to die and become a spectator for the rest of the game.

Thankfully, players don’t always have to use the dice. If it’s too early in the game to kill someone, they can always choose to reroll the die and use the second result, simply return the die to the bag, or reserve the die for a future turn.

Of course, the more actions used, the more frantic the game becomes. Using special abilities to steal reserved dice, rolling to get new actions, and attacking other players will cause chaos on the ship. Maybe you like chaos. Maybe you don’t. Either way, it’ll be a memorable trip.

Oh, and don’t forget: the goal is to win. Identify the infected person, and either get them home or jettison them into space. Fight for your team! Earn your victory! Try to survive!

Good Luck! We’re all counting on you!

Fast Facts:

  • Plays: 4-8 paranoid crewmembers
  • Ages: 14 and up
  • Time: 20-minutes
When a whirlwind of whimsical words beckoned from worlds away, Rebecca knew she had to follow. She fell into a rabbit hole of metaphors and cliches, mixed with more similes than water drops in a storm. Somewhere along the way, she picked up a love of games that would use her words to create beautiful reviews, and that's where she is today.