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Space Hoppers: Singko Academy - Review

Space Hoppers: Singko Academy box shows aliens of different sizes and genders who look like they might be in a school setting

This is a review of the game Space Hoppers: Singko Academy.* The game is designed for 3 to 6 players and plays in about 20-30 minutes. We found it easy to learn and didn't have to do many rules references once we got into it.

To set up the game, you first sort out the cards into Hop, Crew, Souvenir, Encounter, and Monkey Wrench piles. Each of these piles should be well shuffled and then put into the play area. The copy of the game we received also came with a game board which unfortunately does not fit into the box we received. I'm hoping future editions fit into the box for those who would want to play the game as any advantage to the small form factor is lost with the convenience of the board not fitting. It was originally an add-on to the Kickstarter, and it is totally unnecessary to play the game. However, the board makes it easier to stay organized. I hope the game does well enough to merit a printing that can fit the board in a slightly bigger box in the future. Or a playmat; playmats are fun too.

Space Hoppers board and tokens with spaces for all of the cards including the direction of play card. It also has a reminder of the types of cards and icons outlined on each side of the board.

Each player will be dealt 4 crew cards. These cards form the start of each player's tableau. Here's where the game lore starts getting silly. Essentially, you are the crew of a corporate academy in space. The corporation that owns everything (Singko Intergalactic Corporation) has been around for at least 800 years and they have schools and universities for their children. Despite the bright colors and interesting aliens, this is a game set in a corporate dystopian universe. The capitalists own all our lives and there is very little we can do about it. But, let's get back to gameplay.

One Hop card will be played per game. This card establishes the goal of the game.

Sky City (Hop Card) says that you and your crew get to go to the beautiful, ancient Sky City on Hima. +2 S.T.E.A.M. and History skills for an archeaology teacher or any students in your crew. Science souvenirs are worth double.

Each player will also receive two Monkey Wrench cards to their hand. Hands are kept secret from other players until played. There are two different ways you could choose to incorporate Monkey Wrench's in your game. Currently, the rules state they can be played by any player, in any order after an Encounter card is played (we will get to that in a moment). Each player can only play a maximum of one Monkey Wrench and you will always have 2 in hand. This is definitely the more chaotic way to play. The slightly more reserved way to play is that you play Monkey Wrenches in turn order for only the 2 players after the current player.

This isn't a strategic game though. This is a game of high school-level shenanigans and chaos is ok.

Each player also receives one souvenir. This is also added to their faceup tableau. The game is ready to begin.

Shark Tooth Necklace (Souvenir) - this necklace is made from the baby teeth of the Valo shark. Free-divers on the planet Bathymetro wait in the dangerous waters for the exact moment when baby Valos drop all their teeth at once. - This is an art souvenir.

Each player, on their turn, will draw and resolve an Encounter card. These cards will allow the player to do things like draw more cards, add more Crew to their tableau, etc. The game will be over when one player has accumulated 5 souvenirs in a 3-5 player game, or 4 souvenirs in a 6-player game. There are some souvenirs that count twice for this race too. There are other souvenirs worth half.

Monkey Wrenches are the bread and butter of gameplay alongside textual synergies and combos.

2 Monkey Wrench cards - the front one, Student Recall is a Wild card and it says " Singko Academy needs all students and faculty back on campus! All players must return any student, teacher, and coach cards back to the pile. Pick new cards to replace them. If you pick a student, teacher, or coach you keep the new ones."

The game is essentially a grab this, take that sort of game where you are messing with other people while trying to gain points.

There are alternative ways to play the game, but they don't change the essential identity of Space Hoppers. In one, you draft your crew cards. In another, each player has their own Hop card, essentially creating an asymmetric game. I personally found this last play mode the most interesting as the take that part of the game became less the focus and it became even more of a race for each player.

The bright lurid world of the future is no more hopeful than our own, but at least it has aliens and lots of distractions. This isn't a strategy game, and it isn't trying to be one. Rarely, did the game drag on longer than we wanted although there were a few times when one of us thought we had victory within our reach, only to be snatched away by a Monkey Wrench. That's what a game like this should do though, allow players to feel as if their agency is somehow directing the randomness of the entire draw-a-card and fulfill the text narrative of the game. Is it actually what's happening, maybe not, but it's a nice illusion in this case.

Avoid this game if you don't want a lot of randomness or take that.

The publisher did an excellent job of making everything readable and clear. Additionally, I do not foresee any color-blind issues with the game as there are many and frequent symbols alongside color.

Icon reminder on the board for Language, S.T.E.A.M. History, Navigation, Empathy, and Bravery

If you want a light, easy-to-learn card game that can accommodate up to 6 players then this may be for you. This game will appeal to those seeking a rules-light game with a competitive element. The art and flavor text provide appropriate distractions filled with the lore of this future. Space Hoppers is a better alternative in the genre for people looking to replace or bolster their collection of light take-that-card games.

Space Hoppers: Singko Academy

Designed by Zach & Zella Mortensen.

Published by Orbiter & Rover

Aesthetics 7.5/10

Strategy 5/10

Gameplay 7.5/10

*I was recently contacted by Zach Mortensen, one of the creators of Space Hoppers: Singko Academy to review his card game. After briefly examining the game, I decided to play and review it. He sent me a free review copy, but my opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any other way.


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