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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > SCORPIUS FREIGHTER


Rogues’ galaxy


Rogues’ galaxy

From Han Solo and Chewbacca to Mal Reynolds and the crew of Serenity, deep-space smugglers are among the most beloved characters in science fiction. It seems that wherever human civilisation spreads across the stars, there are roguish entrepreneurs ready to make a few bucks with a spot of less-than-legal trading.

Scorpius Freighter gives players the chance to hop into the cockpit for themselves and attempt to forge their fortunes as daring cargo ship captains operating on the wrong side of the law and the far side of the galaxy. Its action unfolds in the Scorpius Sector, governed by a despotic regime that controls all commerce between its three inhabited worlds. You and your opponents are ostensibly wellbehaved agents of the repressive rulers, shuttling supplies between planets. In reality, though, you’re not averse to doing a little unofficial business on the side, and you’ll aim to complete lucrative missions to become the most prosperous smuggler in the system.

On each turn you’ll choose one of a selection of available actions by moving a government spaceship around one of the planets on the central board. It’s a setup that will feel familiar to anyone who’s played rondel-based games like Mac Gerdts’ Antike, but it’s never felt more thematically appropriate than here, where it represents spacecraft dropping out of orbit to perform different tasks. You’ll take on cargo contracts, arrange under-the-table missions, train your crew and add a variety of new upgrades and gizmos to your freighter.

It’s these last few actions that give the game its depth and sense of progression. You’ll begin with a four-member crew, each with different abilities letting them take more powerful actions, or granting you new ways to score points. But you’ll only be able to take advantage of their skills if you unlock them during the game, and it means you’ll need to think carefully about the potential strategic edges they oTher.

For your first few games, you’ll command pre-assembled crews with a collection of skills designed to broadly complement one another. Once you’ve gained a little experience, you and your opponents will draft crew members before you play. If means that even before you take your first turn, you’re spotting synergies and potential tactical approaches in a way that feels almost akin to drafting a deck in a collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering.

Just as your crew has a powerful effect on the way you play, you’ll incrementally improve your ship to open up new options and opportunities over the course of the game. Adding more storage space for different types of goods makes it easier to complete different haulage gigs. Building new engine drives, docking bays and fanciful sci-fi gadgets grants you a host of useful advantages.

It means that your ship gradually takes on its own character, and with some advanced game options that subtly ramp up the level of challenge for veteran space-dogs, there’s plenty about Scorpius Freighter to keep you coming back for further adventures.



Scorpius Freighter strikes a brilliant balance between thoughtful strategic planning and the story that unfolds as ships become more powerful and crews gain valuable experience. Its interlocking elements may seem complicated at first, but the game’s iconography and player aids mean it doesn’t take long to master its rules and focus on becoming the galaxy’s most notorious smuggler. Add a respectable dose of replayability, and this is a universe that’s well worth getting into trouble in.


► Game board

► Three motherships

► Four dreighter boards

► 38 crew cards

► Four cards each in seven different factions

► Starting player tile

► Four standard credits tiles

► Four standard goods tiles

► 13 cockpit tiles

► 12 contract tiles

► 32 equipment tiles

► 36 side deal tiles

► 30 storage tiles

► 25 gray data cubes

► 25 pink meds cubes

► 25 green goods cubes

► 25 orange credits cubes


It’s a million light years removed from Teotihuacan’s Mesoamerican theme, but both games use a rondel-based core and come with plenty of intriguing tactical options.

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About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

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