I recently received my copy of Deep Space D-6, which was Kickstarted back in July of 2017. As may be apparent from the boardgames I write about, solo sci-fi games are a category that I’m always interested in.
Deep Space D-6 is a solitaire dice game about surviving the cruel depths of space. Each turn you’ll roll Crew dice and assign them to stations. You must plan carefully to take care of internal and external threats to your ship. Survive to win.
This release of Deep Space D-6 is a reissue, though the changes are minimal. They’re described in more detail in one of the Kickstarter posts but the summary is that there are a few rule clarifications and the Ouroboros (essentially the final boss) cards have been rebalanced. Of greater note is that the release is accompanied by a new expansion named The Endless. This expansion adds new threats along with a ship upgrade mechanic that the base game does not have.
I’d say there are similarities between Deep Space D-6 and the videogame Tharsis in terms of moving crew between areas of the ship to repair damaged systems and prevent destruction of the ship. Crew allocation plus the presence of external threats such as enemy ships may also remind you of FTL.
The game comes in a nicely solid box with a magnetic flap, making it the easiest to open of the games I’ve looked at recently. A drawback is that the design of the box means that the two ends are recessed slightly and therefore impacts at either end may crush or bend the overhanging part. The inside cover of the box contains additional rules and it’s not entirely clear why they couldn’t be in the rulebook.
The rulebook is staple bound and printed on slightly glossy paper. It’s quite plain design-wise, though I’d suggest that this is an advantage because it makes it easy to read. It has detailed rules in between the “Setup” and “Playing the Game” sections, which I find odd personally. There are also additional rules printed on the inside of the box and the backs of the ship boards, which is something to be aware of.
The ship boards are quite thick and solid. All the content is clear, with large fonts and plenty of space to place dice and markers. There are additional rules and clarifications on the backs of the boards (I’ve shown the back of one of the board in the image above), which seems an odd place as you can’t easily check during a game. I can’t think of a better place for them though given that the intention is clearly to keep ship-specific rules with the ship in question.
They do have the problem that they have a fold in order to fit into the box, which means they have a big crease line across the middle and they’re not too happy about laying flat. Bending them in the other direction may solve this, but I’m reluctant to as I suspect the fold will eventually become damaged when being packed and unpacked anyway. Folding more often and in other directions will only accelerate that.
The cards are all the same thickness. The threat cards (the smaller ones) feel sturdy enough at this thickness. The infirmary card doesn’t feel flimsy either, though it obviously flexes much more easily in the longer direction.
As with the ship boards, the content on the cards is clear and easy to read. Nothing feels cramped or too small. The finish is smooth and slightly glossy. While linen cards provide a nice texture and appear more “premium”, the texture can impact the content printed on the card, especially for smaller details. I feel that the smooth finish on these cards aids in their clarity.
Dice and cubes
The single regular dice is a standard white-on-black affair. The quality of the paint work in some of the pips is variable, but each pip is still clearly coloured so this won’t affect its function.
The custom crew dice are painted well and I don’t see any issues there. Each side has the symbol and colour coding to match their in-game function, leaving no room for confusion. The inclusion of custom dice where appropriate is always something I’m happy to see and can really round off the experience of playing the game.
The hull and shield cubes are translucent but the selected colours, pale green and dark grey, don’t really “pop”. It’d be nice to see some brighter colours. One corner of my grey cube is discoloured, but it’s a minor detail.
Expansion: The Endless
The box is a simpler affair than the one for the base game, opening with a flap at the top. The front indicates that the base game is needed, while the back spells out what is included.
The rules are printed on the same paper as those for the main game, though at a different size due to the different size of the box. Otherwise they are laid out in a very similar fashion.
The expansion also comes with a set of stickers that can be used to modify a 1st printing rulebook to bring it up to date with the modifications in the reissue. As I have the reissued version of the game I don’t need these stickers. An additional set of stickers isn’t directly for use with the game as it stands, but can be used to create nice ship markers for the RPG supplement The Long Way Home.
Cards and markers
The cards included with the expansion are of the same thickness and style as the ones in the base game, so there’s not a lot to say about them.
The expansion includes a new upgrade mechanic, which requires some additional marker cubes. I’m happy to see that a bright blue was used for these cubes, avoiding the niggle I had about the colour of the cubes in the base game.
Deep Space D-6 comes with a good set of components overall. In particular I appreciate the custom dice and that the threat cards are clear and easily readable. Using a box with a magnetic flap also makes it stand out compared to other games in my collection and makes it much easier to open up.
If I were to point to areas that could have been improved it would be the folds in the ship boards and the strange choice to include some rules on the inside cover of the box instead of in the rulebook. The colours of the hull and shield marker cubes could also have been brighter to show off their translucence and stand out more. The upgrade cubes from The Endless use a nice bright blue.