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Voidfall Game Review

Focus on the Focus

Justin’s five-part Voidfall series wraps up with his review. Find out if you should drop a little coin on the latest Mindclash production!

I knew it by the end of my single Cycle demo play of Voidfall during SPIEL 2022: Voidfall was going to be great.

The only question I needed to answer, after backing the Galactic Box deluxe edition of the game and playing it 14 times—once for each of the included factions—was whether this was going to be my favorite game of 2023 or not.

I’ve already written 9,840 words about Voidfall, so if you have specific questions about individual parts of my experience, check out the links at the bottom. In this review, I’ll quickly summarize my thoughts on my Voidfall experience.

  1. Voidfall is the best design Mindclash has ever produced. Although I enjoy two of their other designs quite a bit, Trickerion: Legends of Illusion and Anachrony, Voidfall feels incredibly well balanced, deeper than their other games, and is tied to a core that still excites me so many plays into the experience.
  2. In terms of the marriage of gameplay to production, Voidfall is the hands-down winner in this category for 2023. If this were a metric tracked by BGG, it would get a perfect score. As a value proposition, Voidfall has no peer. You could play it 100 times and still not see every combination of map setup, technology tableau, and House abilities. All of this comes with a production and storage solution that puts almost every other supposedly “deluxe” tabletop experience to shame. Voidfall is tied together by three fantastic rulebooks and an iconography guide that are also the best in class for a tabletop production this year. Sliding the House mats into the triple-layer player boards is the haptic highlight of 2023, and as a throw-in to everything else here, “Artwork by Ian O’Toole” adorns the outside of the box. Voidfall is the new gold standard for an all-in crowdfunding campaign production.
  3. The reasons Voidfall doesn’t have a perfect score:
    1. It’s so difficult to teach that I categorically refused to teach it to other players, relying on a dedicated player (thanks, Alec!) to watch a 63-minute rules video and to read all three rulebooks on his own. In this way, Voidfall is the polar opposite of “accessible” and the main reason why I will never just whip out Voidfall with new players. It requires real research before players sit down at the table.
    2. It takes so long to set up that on two separate occasions while building these articles, I looked at the box and decided I didn’t have the emotional strength (and an hour) to get it set up. Despite the Game Trayz included in the Galactic Box, you are still looking at a massive setup time, one that has already become a deterrent for other gamers in my network.
    3. I wish the Voidborn—the AI opponent that behaves the same way every time you attack them—were a little more interesting. Unpredictable, even. But the Voidborn’s corvette ships are just sitting there, all game long. If Voidfall was a movie, the Voidborn would eventually attack the good guys, right? The Voidborn might get smarter, right? The Voidborn might build better ships, or deploy more devastating weapons, right? The end-of-Cycle Skirmish is usually not interesting, especially in competitive mode when players know exactly how to prepare for this. If I had to guess, this is the area that designers Nigel Buckle and David Turczi are probably working on with expansion content, so I expect this to be fixed over time.

2023 has been a great year for hand management games, and Voidfall is near the top of the list in terms of this core mechanic. It’s amazing that this entire experience boils down to the decision space on when and how to play one of the nine Focus cards a player has in each game. I can’t imagine how many hundreds of times the design was tested to ensure this would always be fun, but here we are, and it is an absolute blast.

The Focus cards become more interesting when the game is shorter, thanks to the decision to make Voidfall a variable number of rounds per game. A “short” game of Voidfall might only last 13 turns, with a long version going for 16 turns.

When you only have 13 turns for the entire game, staring at the Focus cards forces tough decisions. How do I get my production engine going? In a game this short, can I afford to attack the galaxy when my actions are so limited? Will the end-of-Cycle rewards pay off if I can align the stars to play into the current Cycle goals?

Player count considerations are massive with Voidfall. In my view, Voidfall is a one- or two-player game. Four players, with such tough choices and the potential for analysis paralysis to derail everything? After watching/reading the rules, I knew I would never want to play this game with four players. I’m sure many readers will share in the comments how they have Voidfall down to a two-hour experience at four players, but…sorry, I doubt that is common.

One hour per player was consistent across my competitive and co-op plays, and that’s with two players who make relatively quick decisions in lots of other “heavy” tabletop games. I wouldn’t enjoy Voidfall as a four-hour game with four players.

The Focus cards are great, the technology cards are interesting, and the way tech combines with the House powers and their Civilization tracks makes for an exceptional, thinky time at the table. Combined with production that is truly out of this world, Voidfall is a winner, especially if you can find a small group of superfans willing to play this regularly, ideally at a house where someone can keep the game out on a table full-time.

Kudos to the entire Mindclash team for the design, development, and distribution of this game. Voidfall feels like the magnum opus of the Mindclash catalog. Even if I never play it again, Voidfall was a special experience, one that I will cherish for quite some time.

Into the Voidfall Series:

  • Excellent - Always want to play.

Voidfall details

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

1 Comment

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  • It gives me no end of joy to know how much you have enjoyed your time with this game so far, and how it appears to hold on for the long haul.

    I hope you have many more plays of this in the future.

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