Board Game Review – Thunderbird’s 50th Anniversary

 

I’ve got to be honest Thunderbird’s doesn’t really appeal to me at all anymore. Once upon a time I had an awesome Tracey Island with the vehicles for it. I think It’s still in my parents loft. But that was some years ago and I’ve not gone back to watch any Thunderbird’s at all like I have some other childhood TV Shows. So when we were sent Thunderbird’s board game to review I have to say I was appreciative to be given the chance, but wasn’t entirely keen on playing it. Now I’ve got that awkwardness out of the way I can tell you how I feel about it… I absolutely loved it.

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  • Players: 1 – 4
  • Age: 8+
  • Game Length: 45 – 60 Minutes
  • Price: £45
  • Available from Amazon and other online retailers

Thunderbird’s is a cooperative game, in which you and your friends take the role of members from International Rescue to aid in disasters that are occurring on earth and even in space. While helping out in these disasters you must also prevent The Hood from completing his evil schemes. Should you fail to prevent the hood from reaching his goal or should the work load of aiding disaster after disaster become to much for the International Rescue then it’s game over.

Much like first opening Star Wars X-Wing it can be a little off putting at first seeing the different cards and bits and pieces, but again it’s pretty simple to pick up as you play the game.

Each player is assigned a member from the International Rescue Team, and each of these characters pilots a vehicle specifically. Although they can also pilot other vehicles they can activate a special ability when in their own vehicle. They can also aid in certain disasters by decreasing the number required to aid the disaster on the dice roll. So for example Alan Tracey is a specialist in space. So should a disaster occur in space, if you have Alan in the area the disaster takes place, instead of rolling a 9 across 2 dice to prevent the disaster it’d be 7 to prevent it.

Each player has 3 moves per turn. One move can consist of moving the vehicle you’re piloting it’s maximum movement (ranges from 1 to 3 spaces), you can then change vehicle if you land in part of the world where another vehicle is, load and unload equipment and of course roll to prevent a disaster if you’re in the right location.

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Early into our 2nd game

At the end of each players turn the disasters all shift up one place on the event board and a new disaster is added to the line. Should a disaster make it’s way the whole way down the event board then it’s game over. The way to prevent disasters is all determined on each card.

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Disaster Cards

In the picture above, the red bar at the side provides vital information needed to attempt to prevent that disaster. The number 9 refers to the figure you need to roll or higher with 2 dice, South America being the location you need a member of International Rescue to on be to attempt the dice roll and land giving you an indication that if you have a pilot that is better at land rescue missions you should be getting him there to lower the total figure you need to roll (reverting back to the character cards explained above each one having a specialty that can decrease the figure needed preventing a disaster). The other parts on the card naming the mobile crane and Lady Penelope, these are additional bonus criteria you can try to aim for to decrease the 9 figure roll by 6 (3 for mobile crane being built and delivered to South America where the disaster is occurring and 3 for having Penelope in Europe). So if those bonus parts are applied and you happen to have a land specialist in South America instead of rolling 9 to prevent the disaster you only need 1 (9 minus 3 for mobile crane, minus 3 for Penelope in Europe, minus 2 for land specialist in the location = 1).

You can of course try to roll it without the bonus things like the mobile crane, but it can be tough to roll a 9. If your successful you then get a prize for successfully averting the disaster. The prize on this example card is one blue and yellow token. These tokens are required for different things throughout the game like building more tech, adding an additional 4th go to your round, swapping tokens out for something more relevant.

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The relevance of tokens

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Scheme cards, not to be confused with event, disaster or F.A.B cards

On the dice there is an unusual shadowy figure rather than number 6. If you happen to roll and this appears, then “The Hood” figure moves 1 step closer to hatching one of his three evil schemes. If he reaches his 3rd evil scheme it’s the end of the game. To prevent him reaching his schemes you need to foil them by hitting the criteria on the scheme card.

In the scheme card above, this is one of the hardest schemes to stop. A level 4 scheme. To prevent this you would need to stop him hatching 2 other schemes and a number of Hood Events. To stop schemes it’s similar to the disaster cards in that you need to match the criteria on the card to stop it. So for this example one there is a lot that is needed to stop it happening.

You need to pilot any of the International Rescue team that have a logistics token to Africa. These tokens cannot be dropped off, the pilot has to stay there. So it’d be handy if only one squad member collected 4 logistics tokens as that’d save the other 3 players to try and get other parts of the requirements complete. You’d need to have a pilot use Thunderbird 3 and fly it to space and hope that pilot has 2 Teamwork tokens and get him to the moon with them. And finally you’d need to pilot Thunderbird 2 to carry 2 bits of technology (Mobile Crane and Firefly) to North America. Once all these stipulations are met you have stopped this evil scheme from happening. Once all 3 evil schemes on the board are wiped out you’ve won.

But what if you haven’t got the tech required? Then you’d better complete some more disasters earning reward tokens to start building the things you’re after.

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You’ll have to work hard to get all this.

So our first round of the game was a slow one as we were coming to terms with how we moved, and trying to think our best approach to foil “The Hood”. We ended up not clearing out all the disasters in time and lost our first round. It was great fun and had us determined to bring “The Hood” down.

We started a new game up straight away selecting new characters. We were on point from the start building tech for future proofing our rescue attempts. Collecting other tokens and not spending them to foil the schemes quicker. We had 2 schemes foiled and the disaster board was looking healthy. But then something happened. My character got injured from a Hood Event card. I could move, but not carry out any further actions like transporting vehicles or spending tokens. Unfortunately I was pilot of Thunderbird 3 so my space bonus points were felt. We felt his loss greatly as the next few turns would see the disaster line fill up too far and we couldn’t prevent the final disaster happening. We were sat around the table all incredibly angry at what had happened. We were smashing it, The Hood had no chance at one point, but in a few turns we were out powered by all the disasters taking place.

We had an amazing time playing those 2 rounds and I personally really enjoyed the collaboration of us all working together to stop The Hood. One comedic moment came just before actually starting when on of the guys playing it with me asked “but who do I shout I WON at when I win?” I pointed to the figure of “The Hood”. “That purple headed ‘Expletive’ Is who you shout at!”. We laughed alot, maybe you had to be there.

Each move we were asking each other are we sure we’re happy with that, we were trying to plan 3 moves ahead each round, we made sacrifices with regards to our tokens or movements but all for the greater good. Leaving one member of the team floating in Thunderbird 5 in space for the first few rounds of the game. It was a brave sacrifice that needed to be made as this prevented the disaster line from going up so fast. It was a team effort and it showed, we thought we were a good team.

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How things looked when we lost our 2nd game

Considering what I said about about Thunderbird’s the show or film not really being my cup of tea anymore, I couldn’t wait to play this game again and have been pestering the guys I played it with the first 2 times to come over for more games. Damn active social lives and work lives preventing us enjoying this game again so soon.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable co-op game which will have you thinking and working in harmony with one another. It also creates some unbelievably tense moments as you go to roll the dice and hopefully clear a disaster you’ve worked so hard in the rounds previous to prevent. Should that fail and it’s panic stations and you all feel the panic.

If your a Thunderbird’s fan anyway you’ll love the detail of the game. From the images used on the cards to the figures you move across the board. If you’re not a fan, don’t dismiss the game without trying it. I found it one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in a long time and genuinely anticipate playing it again and again at future gaming gatherings.

– Murr

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