Carl Chudyk is absolutely one of my favorite designers. Despite a relatively low output, two of his games (Innovation and Glory to Rome) are solidly in my top eleven favorite games. Also, just recently played Red – love it too (a review will be coming soon). For now, I want to take a look at one of his most recent games, called
Impulse is a new Chudyk design recently published by Asmadi Games (publishers of Innovation). It’s a 2-6 player card game that takes about 30 minutes to play. The idea is that it’s a quick-playing 4X game set in space, and you are trying to convince native populations of an unexplored sector to join your interstellar federation.
The game comes with 108 action cards, a sector core card, 78 ships, 6 command centers, a prestige board, an impulse marker, and an invisible space fiend. Each player begins with a command center and the 13 space ships of its color. One of these ships goes on the prestige board at 0. The action cards are shuffled and dealt face down into a hexagonal map, with the sector core in the middle. Each player is dealt five cards and claims a card from a corner of the map where their home will be based. From these six cards, choose one to place in your home spot face up. Three ships are placed on your home, with two standing up and one on its side facing the sector core.
The first thing you do on your turn is add a card from your hand to the end of the Impulse line. Then, you can use one of your two techs. There are two basic techs printed on your command center, one common to all, and one specific to you. As the game goes on, you’ll be able to upgrade these, i.e. get new techs to replace old ones. Then, you can use each of the action cards in the Impulse, from left to right (or top to bottom, if that’s how you have them). The tech is basically an action that you alone can use, while the Impulse contains up to four cards that everyone will be able to use. Here are the available action types:
- Command: This allows you to move your ships around the map. You have transports and cruisers, and these will help you explore and occupy various spaces. Transports allow you to use the action of the card you have landed on, while cruisers allow you to patrol cards (block enemy transports) and start fights. If you move onto a face down card, you explore it by taking it into your hand, and replacing it face up with a card from your hand. This could be the same card you picked up.
- Research: This allows you to upgrade your techs.
- Execute: Perform an action card’s text, then discard it. This means that no one else gets to do it.
- Build: Construct new ships. You are limited to 12, since that’s all you have.
- Sabotage: Destroy enemy ships without fighting them head on.
- Plan: Add cards to the end of your Plan line, located on the right side of your board. You’ll get to use these later.
- Draw: Draw cards from the deck. You have a hand limit of 10 cards.
- Trade: Discard cards from your hand or the deck to score points.
- Mine: Add cards to the minerals section on the left side of your board. These allow you to boost later actions.
- Refine: Convert minerals into points.
After using the Impulse, you may choose to use your Plan. If the Plan has four cards, you must use it – otherwise, you can choose to wait. Once used, the entire Plan is discarded. You’ll then score one point per fleet you control that patrols the sector core. After this, you will draw two cards and trim the Impulse to three cards. This means that you take off the oldest card (furthest left or closest to the top), and discard it.
As you play, you’ll be scoring points. Every time you destroy a ship, you score a point. For each ship fleet you have patrolling the sector core, you get a point. You also score for trading and refining. When one player scores 20 points, the game is over and they win.
This game has ALL the hallmarks of a Chudyk game to me. Lots of actions that can be shared by multiple people, a mat used to organize your stuff, and lots of variety in the things you can do. And yet, it seems completely different than Glory to Rome or Innovation. It looks and feels very unique, and that’s something I think Chudyk shines at. I’m really looking forward to seeing how all the actions work together, and trying out the different combinations I know I’ll find. The rulebook is frankly kind of a mess, but I think there’s enough helpful information online that it shouldn’t be too tough to figure things out. The game is getting some very good buzz from those who have their own copies, and so I’m very excited to get to play it sometime – it looks like another winner from a great designer. Thanks for reading!