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Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > CORE SPACE


Rogue traders


Rogue traders

Core Space is a game best described as a hybrid of a miniatures skirmish game and dungeoncrawling RPG. Players control a crew of traders as they attempt to gather loot, complete various objectives and avoid the deadly Purge, either in a standalone scenario or as part of a larger campaign.

The action takes place on a decent quality playmat divided by modular 3D scenery, with each mission having its own unique layout. The game certainly looks impressive when it’s all set up, though the game’s generic sci-fi setting feels like a missed opportunity in terms of art direction. Whilst the board is gridded, traders and NPCs – the civilians and Purge miniatures – all move by ruler in inches and shoot using line of sight, making the moment-to-moment gameplay more akin to something you’d find in a skirmishlevel wargame than a traditional board game. The grids are instead primarily used for as a reference point for laying out the scenery for each mission, though in practice they’re also quite useful for quickly eyeballing distance as well. The need to clip together walls and fill crates with items means that setting up will definitely take a good 20 minutes to half an hour or so, particularly for the first few games. Your attitude to this fact will probably be indicative of whether you’ll like Core Space or not. The game is really best played as a running campaign, and it’s the sort of title that’s meant to be played over the course of a few evenings with the same group. (The core box has enough for two players, with expansions allowing for more.)

In essence, the action is divided between exploring and combat on the one hand, and resource and crew management on the other. The progression system has a very strong RPG element; each member of your crew not only comes with an innate skill, but a choice of different skill trees containing half a dozen or so different abilities apiece. On top of this, each ability often has a number of upgradable levels that have a different effect on your crewmember. Some items also confer their own abilities. It’s certainly an indepth system, but its sheer size means it can often be a little overwhelming, and there’ll almost definitely be times you forget that one of your characters had a specific ability at their disposal. All the different variables also means that the box comes with a lot of tokens and such, which can be a bit finicky at times. The only other major bugbear comes down to a few hiccups in the rulebook. Some of this is just a matter of slightly unintuitive layout, though there are a few outright omissions as well. For example, it’s difficult to find the rules that specify what order civilians should act in if there’s more than one, as well as how many health points each Purge unit or civilian has. Minor complications like these don’t derail the experience too much, however, as once you get started you find the game sequence to be fairly intuitive.

On that note, the gameplay has a nicely balanced level of risk and reward that helps create a sense of urgency. You often need to try and complete secondary objectives and gain valuable items to upgrade your crew or trade for cash. This is vital in a campaign, since as well as outfitting your characters to deal with greater challenges, you’ll also have to keep your ship maintained and have enough funds to deal with unexpected developments. However, the Purge are an omnipresent threat whose numbers increase as the game progresses, and things can go south very quickly if you’re not careful.



If you’re prepared to invest the time required to properly get into the meat of Core Space, you’ll find an entertaining romp w ith mostly intuitive mechanics whose gameplay clips along at a solid pace.


► Eight trader miniatures

► Nine purge miniatures

► Three civilian miniatures

► 11 character boards

► Eight class boards

► Purge board

► Two ship boards

► Eight plastic crew dashboards

► Plastic hostility tracker

► Seven dice

► 20 event cards

► 42 counters

► 189 plastic pegs

► Token pouch

► 100+ equipment tokens

► 2ft/60cm square gaming mat

► 90+ 3D cardboard terrain pieces


Sharing the same developer as Core Space, Star Saga is a more linear, streamlined game that tones down the RPG elements in favour of a greater emphasis on combat.

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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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