“Play Time: 8×15 Minutes”
That note appeared in the upper left-hand corner on the back of the box of the latest KOSMOS game to hit my table, Noobs in Space. It’s mysterious; maybe even a little off-putting. Eight minutes, 15 times? 15 minutes, eight times? The description calls out that this is going to be a cooperative experience. The box only has cards—120 of them—and a rulebook.
Is this even a game?
Turns out there is a game in the box. Turns out there are eight distinct 15-minute missions. Turns out that you might need a plunger, per the plunger card pictured on the back of the box.
All of the signs here pointed towards “this game is really gonna suck.” And even during the game’s tutorial mission (so, technically, you get nine missions), I was a little worried that none of the players at the table would want to play this game past the first mission.
Boy, was I wrong.
It’s Got That KOSMOS Magic
Noobs in Space is cooperative, supports 3-5 players, and has a rulebook that looks a LOT like another game published by KOSMOS. In these ways, Noobs in Space has a vibe of The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine right out of the gate.
But then, Noobs in Space begins. I won’t spoil anything here, but even the back of the rulebook hints that each mission is timed to last about 15 minutes. There will be about 30 cards used in each scenario, and you’ve got to work with your team to solve the puzzles the game throws at you. Like many other scenario-based games I’ve tried this year, Noobs in Space is fully resettable—no shredded cards, no adhesives covering spaces on a board, no dry-erase markers to show status on a given mission.
It’s just a card game. But KOSMOS really gets this one, making Noobs in Space something of a novelty—it’s a great game with zero replayability, a fair price, and real-time puzzle solving.
It is so good!!
You’ve Got 15 Minutes
So, here’s what I can tell you without spoiling anything:
- The puzzles in this game are pretty crafty. I love the way the 120-card deck is used across multiple scenarios.
- There is a LOT of table talk. Most of it is frantic. I laughed a bunch. The writing is silly, and it works for me…but I could also see the writing being for some and not for others.
- The scoring system—earned by trying to complete challenges as quickly as possible—seemed to be a bit too easy for the first three rounds, but then ramped up nicely on the fourth mission and made things really tough in the final round. (My review group got through round four with relative ease, then went right to the end to try and beat that last mission.)
- The story is worthless. I was hoping for CGE’s pass at Starship Captains—very nostalgic, for those of us who remember the good ol’ days of Star Trek mixed with a fun puzzle game. The story does just enough to make it feel like you might be doing things with a starship…but, not really.
- The game’s system of playing cards to the table felt fantastic. Each round starts fast—deal out all of that missions cards as equally as possible, start a timer, get to work. Yelling starts immediately. Players go looking for certain cards, and when players have them, they feel a jolt of excitement because that player is now on stage. But that doesn’t last long, since it’s such a short game. If you play the wrong card, the team suffers a penalty of a certain number of minutes, so you want to run fast but also tread carefully. It’s a great mix.
For the Money, Buy It
Noobs in Space is $11 on many online retailer sites. For $11, I’ll try anything, and I’m sure you will find something of value in this box.
That’s because the game has literally no teach, plays with any kind of person over the age of maybe eight, and can be played in one long night, or multiple 15-minute affairs. I was impressed with the quality of some of these puzzles (particularly in the back half of the game), and you can gift this to a neighbor. Heck, you could charge that neighbor $5, and then you’ve done even better on the value proposition.
I don’t know if KOSMOS intends to turn this into a series, but if so, count me in. The worst thing about Noobs in Space is the title. The rest is solid!