With the cancellation of Origins Online, many designers lost an opportunity to demo or playtest their up-and-coming games. Luckily, a few of them decided to forge forward anyway, hosting virtual demonstrations on their own.
The first of these games we were privileged to enjoy was Mission to Planet Hexx.
Mission is a map-based game that uses hex cards and dice to move around an ever-expanding galaxy (or universe). Each player’s goal is to be the first to upload the necessary Data for their Mission File.
Will you be the first to traverse space and alien planets to complete your goal? Or will you end up trapped on the dreaded Planet Hexx?
Each game begins with a player drawing a random Mission File, which explains the player’s goals. A Mission File will have six Hexes that you need to upload from the five types of cards: Alien, Dilemma, Object, Planet, and Space.
The map starts with the same two base hexes for each game. Players start at the Space Base, and the adjacent Delta Colony is loaded with Data cubes.
Every player draws six hex cards, the first player is randomly chosen through dice roll, and then the game begins.
Every turn, a player may take up to three actions: Map, Move, Upload, Refresh, or Event. You may perform them in any order and may repeat (if able).
Map actions allow you to play a Planet or Space hex on the map (and add any starting Data to the new Planet). The only restrictions are that Planets may not be placed adjacent to other Planets.
Move actions determine your maximum move with two six-sided dice, and you may move up to the total rolled. You may move freely through most Space locations, but moving onto a Planet requires you to stop.
A secondary aspect of moving is that, if you land on a Planet, you collect Data. Data is necessary because it’s what allows you to perform the Upload action required to complete parts of your Mission File.
Upload actions may only occur while stopped in Space (where you’re clear of a Planet’s atmosphere). You spend Data to add a card from your hand to your Mission File (of the appropriate type), therefore moving one step closer to your goal.
The Refresh action allows you to be rid of useless cards. You discard a card from your hand and draw a new one.
Event actions occur when you spend an Event card (Alien, Dilemma, or Object) from your hand for a one-time effect. Although usually performed on your turn, there are Surprise Event cards that are played in response to your opponent’s actions.
Once a player has taken three actions, they draw up to (or discard down to) six cards, and play continues to the next clockwise player. The first player to Upload all six cards to their Mission File wins!
Mission to Planet Hexx is deceptively simple in its gameplay yet produces some sophisticated strategies.
Although the core rules mentioned seem easy, each card often provides a variety of special rules, including exceptions, limitations, or other effects. This variety leads not only to strategy in building the map but also in using cards to create unique chains of actions.
In this way, Mission reminds us of Looney Labs’ games, especially Fluxx, where randomness can lead to winning strategies (and chaos). Unlike Fluxx, however, there is less randomness, and players often have more control over the board and the cards in their hands.
To combat some of the complexities of the board, Mission is designed with numerous icons to help understand the effects of each card. Whether a Planet or Space hex or Events in your hand, visual indicators provide guidance and reminders on how a card might affect gameplay.
These icons work wonderfully, not only for general gamers but also for accessibility with those who might face obstacles with reading or small text.
Mission to Planet Hexx is a silly game with bright artwork and a fun retro atmosphere to its artwork. Even if you take your strategy seriously, you can’t help but appreciate the over-the-top Douglas Adams feel to this “space game.”
The culmination of the game is itself comedic, as each Mission File works as an “ad-lib” of sorts. Once you’ve uploaded all your cards and won, you proceed to read the Mission File, substituting the words for the cards you added.
Given that people often Upload random cards, as long as they match the type, the final reading often results in hilarity.
Mission to Planet Hexx has not begun its most recent edition (and printing). The Kickstarter for the project starts July 29, 2020, and you can sign up for alerts at their page.
We highly recommend keeping track of the project, and backing it, as this game proved the perfect mix of light fun and complex strategy. Playable under an hour, with fun artwork and a silly theme, this game is great for casual play, family nights, or board game meetups.
Don’t be fooled by the veneer, however, as even novice players can pull off amazing combos, and anyone can pull off a win.
Mission to Planet Hexx (2.0) will begin crowdfunding soon. 2-4 players, 30-90 minutes, Ages 10+.
We give Mission a zany 5 reckless space revelers out of 5.