Pew Pew! is a game by Nathan Hansen, published by Victory Point Games. It is for 1 player. This solo game emulates an old school arcade game. The player will try to protect their space ship while destroying alien ships. The player that is able to keep their ship from taking too many hits while accumulating 10 or more point markers will be declared a winner.
To begin, all of the screen cards are shuffled and placed facedown on the table. All of the different markers and tokens should be placed within easy reach. The alien ships should be placed in a draw cup. 4 screen cards are drawn and placed face up in front of you in a vertical row. The player ship is placed in the center of the screen card closest to you. The side with 3 hearts should be turned so it is facing you. Play now begins.
The game is played in a series of rounds divided into 8 phases which are carried out in order. The phases are spawn ships phase, player actions phase, aliens move phase, spawn missiles phase, move pews phase, move missiles phase, move player forward phase and check victory phase. The first phase is the spawn ships phase. In this phase, the player draws an alien ship from the cup for each > icon on the furthest away screen card. They will place the alien ship on the space, placing it so that the icon on the side of the ship matches the icon on the card. For instance, if a player is drawing a ship for a >> space, they will turn the ship so that the >> side is facing them.
The second phase is the player actions phase. In this phase the player will perform a number of depending on the number of uncovered > icons on the screen card their ship is on and adding their AP modifier. This number is how many actions the player can take. With those action points they can fire a pew!, move either up, down, left or right one space. They can move diagonally, drop a mine or spawn a heart. Each action costs the player between 1 and 3 action points.
The third phase is the aliens move phase. In this phase, the player starts with the closest screen card. They will then take the alien ship with the least amount of > icons on it and move it to a position that corresponds to the lowest numbered free space available that is displayed on the actual counter. The alien ship is then rotated to the next number of > icons. For instance if it is on > it progresses to >>. If it is on >>> it moves to the > side. This sets up the ship for the next phase.
The next phase is the spawn missiles phase. In this phase, the alien ship that has the least > icons on the closest screen card goes first. Just like when moving, the alien ship will spawn a missile in the lowest numbered free space shown on the display. A missile token is placed on that spot.
The fifth phase is the move pews phase. In this phase, the player moves all pew tokens 2 screen cards away beginning with the furthest card and moving back to the player’s ship.
The sixth phase is the move missiles phase. This phase is a lot like the previous phase except that missiles move 1 screen card toward the player, beginning with the closest card to them.
The seventh phase is the move the player forward phase. This phase has several steps. First the player moves their ship 1 card away from them. Next, the screen card that the player just moved from is removed from the game and any tokens or counters are placed back in the general supply. If alien ships are returned to the pool, the player gains a death marker. This is not a good thing as it means that a portion of the player’s home world was destroyed. All screen cards are then moved toward the player and a new card is drawn. It is then placed in the row farthest away from the player.
A few notes about damage and moving should be discussed. If at any time an alien ship or missile moves into a space with a pew, they are removed from the card. Alien ships removed this way award the player 1 point marker. If the player moves into a heart token, they heal 1 level on their ship. Missile tokens damage the ship. Both of these cause the player’s ship to be rotated either positively for more hearts or negatively for less. If a space containing a mine is moved into, either by an alien ship or the player’s ship, it is removed. The player loses if their ship is removed in this way.
The final phase is the check victory phase. In this phase, the player checks to see if any of the end game conditions have been met. If the player takes 3 or more hits to their ship or they have accumulated 10 or more death markers they lose. If the player accumulates 10 or more point markers they win.
This game has a very unique look and feel to it. The artwork has a lot of that old school retro arcade game style to it, much like Galaga or Galaxian. The tokens and markers are all really thick pieces and look really cool. Here’s where I have a problem. The player ship and alien ships all have to be put together. There are 3 side to each one and they have these little slots that have to be punched out. From there you have this little triangular piece for each side that has to be inserted into these slots. These are SO annoying. They are very difficult to get slid into place without tearing up the panel. Needless to say, I wasn’t always so lucky. While the artwork and idea is kinda cool, the practical application of these pieces is not. Very unhappy with these. As for the screen cards, they are on some pretty thin cardboard cards with some pretty bland graphics of empty space. While I get the idea behind them, I don’t understand the less than average graphics. To me these all could have been made a lot better. To me the pieces are pretty much average at best.
5 out of 10
The rulebook is a different story. It is well made and designed. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout. Each phase and step is detailed, usually with pictures and examples. Everything is really easy to read and it looks really nice. There is absolutely nothing difficult about it in any way. There are a couple of extra pages highlighting other games from Victory Point. The actual rules only take up about 7 pages. This could have been condensed down to only a couple of pages if not for all of the pictures. However, I’d rather have a bigger book with pictures than without so I’m not complaining. All in all, the book looks nice and can be read in a very short amount of time. That’s a win for me.
8 out of 10
The game has a lot of that old school feel to it. It’s relatively simple and easy. Most of the game is merely placing tokens, markers and alien ships. I know that sounds rather boring and in some ways it is. Video games have evolved from games like Pong and Galaga into these massive technological feats of wonder. Instead of moving in a more modern direction like most games, this one dives head first into the past in an attempt to illicit a feeling of nostalgia. In some ways it works. I did have the feeling of playing one of my most favorite old school arcade game, Galaga. The problem is that like the video game, it doesn’t take too long before I get tired of doing the same thing over and over. There aren’t really any choices other than to shoot at the alien ships and hope that you hit them, much like Galaga. Of course, there is a little skill involved but it doesn’t take much. It’s more luck and timing than anything. Look I wanted to really enjoy this game. I really did but I just couldn’t. Fortunately, the game doesn’t last more than about 15-20 minutes. That’s about the length of time that you might get through a game of Galaga. Honestly though, I’d rather play Galaga. This game has the look but it just doesn’t illicit the same emotions for me that the video game does. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t thrill me.
5 out of 10
Pew Pew! is a light weight game with a retro video game feel to it. The game is not that long with most games lasting around 15-20 minutes. The artwork is nice on the tokens and markers but the alien and player ships are quite a pain to assemble. The screen cards are quite bland and are rather thin. Unfortunately the look that the game was trying to go for, just did not transition all that well. A lot of the game is rather repetitious and can become kinda boring. The game mechanics tend to be really simple which is nice but make for a rather bland game. For a solo game, there are better options available out there. I’m not really sure who this game would be suited for. As for me, it just didn’t work. I really wanted to like it and I tried but couldn’t find enough to elicit a recommendation from me. I’m sure there are some people that might like the game. Unfortunately I’m not one of them.
5 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Victory Point Games at their site.