Space Explorers: Tableau-Building in Space

Space Explorers: Tableau-Building in Space

March 31, 2020 0 By Ryan Sanders

Ryan looks at 25th Century’s Game Space Explorers

Space Explorers

2-4 Players | Ages 12+ | 20-30

Published by 25th Century Games | Designed by Tableau-Building

Only recently have I become aware of 25th Century Games, being able to preview two of their upcoming titles Winner Winner Chicken Dinner and Jurassic Parts. Both of which were huge hits with the family. Recently, I was given a chance to review a copy of Space Explorers, an earlier release from them (2019 for their English edition). The question is, do I like it as much, like I do the upcoming 2020 releases?  Let’s find out…

Space Explorers is a tableau building card game where players are the head of their own Research and Development Hub in a Space Research Center.  On a turn, a player either takes a card or purchases a card. To take a card, you simply use one of the 6 (or more) face-up cards in the center of the table or a facedown card from top of the deck. To purchase cards, which are specialists you are recruiting for your center, you buy from the face up cards in the center of the table or use a card from your hand. Players pay the costs with resources (these can be from chips you’ve collected, from powers on cards or by discarding a card in hand for 2 resources).  Cards go into the tableau section they belong to (green, yellow, red, etc) and have a certain ability such as giving discounts on other specialists, resources, special abilities and allow you to buy project cards. The game ends when either someone has 12 specialists in their tableau or all the project tiles are gone (number of tiles out change depending on player count). Project tiles can be gotten for free (1 per turn) if you have the requirements, for example 4 purple symbol cards and 4 red symbol cards, etc. To further see the details of the game, you can read the rules by clicking here. It should be noted that many of the specialists have their own special power, and as long as they are on top card showing in its column in your tableau, you can use it each turn (if applicable). At the end of the game everyone adds up victory points from cards in tableau and project tiles and the winner is the one with the highest victory points. 

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For those familiar with more modern board games, Space Explorers feels like it’s an amalgam of Splendor and Tom Lehaman’s The City, where you try to build an engine to collect projects or points or discounts on more powerful cards. In fact, if you are a fan of either of those games or Century: Spice Road, I would recommend this game to you. Even if you own some or all of those games, this one still is different enough that it can still be worth owning. For those that are not familiar with those games, no worry, read on…

My thoughts on Space Explorers are extremely positive. At first I was a little worried after reading the rules if I would be able to teach this one to our 5th grader, who I play a lot of games with, but by the end of our first game he caught on.There is also some nice balancing players have to do in the game: Do I go for high victory point specialists? For ones that have 0 but let me build my tableau fast and get discounts faster? Do I go for as many projects as I can get? The game itself has a very nice depth to it for the weight it is, this comes from the different specialist powers, and there are a lot for a game this weight. In fact the game comes with a double sided cheat sheet (and more info in rulebook) for each player so you can keep up with all the powers/abilities. If you enjoy pulling off combo moves in games (and I do) – this is one for you. It is a great feeling to take a simple turn and be able to do quite a bit on it due to multiple specialist abilities (sometimes including getting a new specialist for free). I enjoyed my plays thus far for Space Explorers, it’s a good game, and glad to have it in my collection.


I wouldn’t recommend it though for children under 10, as there is quite a bit going on in the game, and it may be a tad too complicated for them to grasp. Great game to introduce to middle or highschoolers. 

Space Explorers features 20 historical spacecrafts/stations/satellites, including Sputnik and Apollo 11. This game could be a good one to use while teaching the history of space travel or ‘Space Race’ era unit. Teachers could have students look up one of these historical space projects and share what they learned. 

The projects (based off real-life projects) are:

Apollo 11Sputnik 1Sputnik 3Lunar Orbiter 3
Vostok 1Pioneer Venus 2Telstar 1 Luna 9
Proton 1 Venera 7SkylabMars 3
Tiros 1Lunokhod 1Soyuz 19Voyage 1
Explorer 1Mariner 2Voskhod 2Gemini IV

25th Century Games has once again impressed me with another quality game, they are quickly becoming my favorite publisher. I will say Space Explorers doesn’t stand out as much as the previous games from 25th Century Games that I’ve previewed. This due to be just a tableau building game and yet another space themed game, compared to dividing up a physical board in Jurassic Parts or colorful art (and clucking like a chicken) in Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, which make these game stand out more in the board game market. That said is it is still a very good game, and Space Explorers is definitely worth a look if you are interested in tableau building games or looking for a family style game (light euro) that has a good depth to it.  

Space Explorers is out now.

Thanks to 25th Century Games for sending a copy of the game for an honest review. 

Ryan Sanders is the founder, owner, and editor-at-large of Adventures in Gameschooling. He’s also the guy behind its social media accounts. God has blessed Ryan and his wife Mary, with five children, which he homeschools. As a Christian, he believes that he should not only look out for your own interests but other peoples too (Philippians 2:4) and this is one of his guiding principles for Adventures in Gameschooling. Ryan’s expertise is informed by almost two decades of experience as a stay-at-home father and from the running The Inquisitive Meeple where he performed over 300 written and podcast interviews within the board game industry.