Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. The future of
Pulsar 2849 is the latest game from Czech Games Edition and Vladamír Suchý. It’s a 2-4 player game that takes 60-90 minutes. The year is 2849, exactly one thousand years after the California Gold Rush, and a new sort of treasure hunt has begun. Players represent corporations poised on the edge of a star cluster, looking to mine the pulsars for energy.
The game comes with a double-sided star cluster board, a double-sided dice board, 6 double-sided technology boards, 4 double-sided HQ boards, 1 die modifiers board, 1 gyrodyne board, 24 transmitter tiles, one time marker, 6 double-sided goal tiles, 17 planetary system tiles, 24 pulsar claim rings, 30 gyrodyne tiles, 12 four-cube tokens, 12 exploration bonus tiles, 3 four-point contraction award tiles, 3 seven-point construction award tiles, 12 +/- die modifier tokens, 9 +2 die modifier tokens, 12 rocket ships, 120 plastic discs, 1 median marker, 1 red die, 9 silver dice, and 25+ engineering cubes.
The star cluster board is circular, and the dice board, gyrodyne board, and die modifiers board all get placed around its edge. You’ll pull out 7 silver dice with 2-3 players (9 with 4), and place them with the red die in the center of the star cluster. Planetary system tiles are randomly dealt face down to each of the planetary systems on the board, with the extra one discarded from the game. Tiles and tokens are distributed to their various spots on the boards. You’ll randomly choose three goal tiles and three technology boards (there are recommendations for your first game). A pile of transmitters is created with A tiles on top and C tiles on the bottom. Draw three to form a supply. Each player gets three rockets, 6 pulsar claim rings, one 100-point tile, one +/- die modifier token, an HQ board, and the player tokens of their color. Each player puts one rocket randomly on the turn order track, and one marker on the initiative and engineering tracks (in reverse turn order). You’ll also use a marker for score, with player one beginning with five points and each successive player beginning with one more. In reverse order, each player chooses an entry gate, and you’re ready to play.
Pulsar 2849 is a round-based game, and each round begins by rolling all of the silver dice. These dice are then placed on the dice board, on the spaces that correspond to their number. You’ll then determine the median die. This is the die that has the same number of dice on either side of it. In other words, if you rolled 1-3-3-4-4-5-5-5-6, the last four would be the median die since there are four dice on either side. The median marker is placed on the space containing the median die. You then use your hand to cover up all of the dice on that space. If there are more dice to the left, move the median marker one space to the left. If there are more on the right, go right. If it’s equal, don’t move the median marker. In our example above, there would be three dice on the left and four on the right once the 4s are covered, so move the median marker one space to the right. As seen here:
The next thing that happens is each player will take a die. Depending on where the median marker is, you’ll move either your initiative or engineering marker to the left or right. In the example above, if you were to take a 5, you would move one of your markers one space to the right because the 5s are one space to the right of the median marker. If you were to take the 1, you would move a marker four spaces to the left. If the median marker had ended up on a die space, you wouldn’t move a marker for taking from that die space. Each player takes a die in this fashion, then takes another in reverse order.
You then move into the action phase. Each player gets one turn to use both of their dice to do actions. Each action you can take has a die value associated with it, and you can only use the indicated dice to do them (though you can use the +/- tokens to change the numbers). You’re welcome to do the same action twice. Here are your options:
- Fly your survey ship. This can be done using a die of any value, but the die value determines how many spaces you must move. That’s right, this is nothing but a roll-and-move game. OK, well, not really, but there it is. If you’re the first one to go through one of those facedown planetary systems (or land on it), flip it over. You can place a station (counter) on one of the lifeless planets if you just pass through, or a blue planet if you land on the system. Landing also gets you an exploration bonus. If you land on a pulsar, put a claim ring on it.
- Take a gyrodyne tile. Use a 1 for a small gyrodyne, 2 for a medium one, or 4 for a large one. Once you have a gyrodyne tile and a pulsar, you can start construction by putting the tile in the ring. That part is not an action.
- Complete construction. A 3 will complete a small gyrodyne, a 5 will complete a medium one, and a 6 will complete a large one.
- Take a transmitter. There will be three transmitters available, each one requiring a different die to claim. Transmitters can be linked once you get multiples, but you can also start new arrays. You may have to pay an additional die to get the transmitter online, which gives you an immediate benefit and you flip the transmitter. If you have two flipped linked transmitters, you gain a bonus red die which must be used that turn.
- HQ Actions. Everyone has an HQ board, and this shows a project pyramid. Everyone will have the bottom row available, and as players complete projects by spending dice, the next rows will become available.
- Patent technologies. There are three technology boards in each game, and you can spend a die to patent an available technology. These can give you immediate bonuses or effects that last the rest of the game. Two people can patent each technology.
- Buy a die modifier. Spend a 1 or 2 to get a +/- 1 modifier, or a 2 to get a +2 modifier.
Once each player has had a turn, the round ends. Determine the new player order by who is furthest left on the initiative track. Engineering cubes are handed out based on who is furthest left on the engineering track. If you’re too far to the right on either track, you’ll lose points. Online transmitters also may produce points or engineering cubes at this time. In addition, spinning gyrodynes and green technologies score points.
To set up for the next round, discard any transmitters that weren’t taken and deal out three new ones. If a technology was patented for the first time during a round, make it available for a second person. The next row of technologies becomes available, and you’re ready to move on. The game ends after the eighth round, and after a final scoring, the player with the most points wins.
Vlaada Chvátil gets most of the credit for Czech Games Edition’s success over the years, but you can’t ignore Vladamír Suchý’s contributions – Last Will, Shipyard, The Prodigals Club, 20th Century, League of Six, and so on are all pretty respected games. This one is getting some pretty good buzz so far, and looks like it has some cool things going on with it. The dice draft in the beginning of a round seems a bit convoluted, but I do like that there’s some strategy to go along with it for the end of the round – taking low numbers might not get you as much, but does get you closer to bonuses at the end of the round. So this looks good, and it’s one I would like to try out when I get an opportunity.
That’s all I’ve got for today. Thanks for reading!