Published by: Mayday Games
# of Players: 1 to 6
Designed by: Mike Young
Ages 13 & Up
Game Time: 6 Minutes
No pressure – its just the fate of the world.
In Meteor, you are trying to destroy a field of meteors that are heading to earth. The meteors are represented by face down Meteor cards. Although you do not know exactly how powerful the meteors are, the back of the cards shows you roughly how powerful each one is. (They typically range in power from 1 to 5) Hitting a card with a rocket will flip it and reveal its exact traits. (some have special effects) If the rocket is not as powerful as the meteor, it has no effect. If it is too powerful, the meteor is destroyed but all the remaining ones are propelled faster towards Earth. (The round ends, immediately.) The only really good outcome is to hit the meteor with the exactly correct amount of force. Yes, in most cases, this means launching a weak, preliminary rocket at the meteor.
Meteor is played in 5 real-time one minute rounds. There are no individual player turns. Many aspects of the game depend on the number of players. The number of meteors, number of starting cards and number of cards drawn during the game all rely on how many are playing. More players receive less cards each, less players get more. Players can either build rockets to launch at the meteors or build new techs to give you helpful abilities. This is done by simply placing the desired rocket or tech card in front of you. Each rocket or tech has a build cost and if, at any time, the required cards are played on it, it's done! The resource by which everything is built is energy cards. There are 4 types of energy; chemical, fuel, atomic and electric. Any player can play one of their own energy cards on someone else's building project. Yes, if you have an awesome card to play and totally don't have the resources to build it, you can put it out there and hope others can finish it.
There are many special effect meteors, techs, random power cards (to make the game easier) and challenge cards. (to make the game harder) I am not going to get into the specifics here. There are even different rule variations you may choose to play by.
One additional action that is available to players is the “retrofit”. If you can lay in front of you 4 matching or sequential rockets or 4 matching or non-matching energies, everyone gets to draw some cards. Again, like rockets and techs, anyone can contribute to building a set of this kind. This mechanic clearly exists as a means of getting rid of useless cards and moving forward.
If you can blow up the last meteor before round 5 ends, you win. Between each round players get to draw more cards. The rounds are timed by your own timing device. I'm not going to lie, I don't like that. I know we all have smartphones; But still, how much does a plastic hourglass cost. Especially considering that timing is a central element of the game.
Meteor has a funny learning curve. Its not that complicated, but in the first few plays, its seems impossible and people don't tend to have fun. I found that, among more casual gamers, roughly half decided they didn't really like the game by the time they were getting any good at it. This is a problem because the game ostensibly is geared towards more casual gamers. Veteran gamers will pick the game up quickly. But they are less likely to be playing in the first place.
The difficulty is all over the place. Sometimes, things go so well that winning is practically automatic. Other times, you get crushed. Those games inevitably involve a table of mopey people, staring at someone's cell phone waiting for the next round (and ultimately the game) to end. Still, once everyone “gets it” the game plays like it is supposed to: Fast games that allow many plays in one sitting. The fact that you can play again right away makes it not so bad when you lose. Indeed, for some, this makes them want to take another stab at it.
Meteor is best geared towards gamers looking for something easy and fast to play when they don't want to get sucked into a more serious game. For obvious reasons, I didn't have time to mix up any really good cocktails. I just took swigs of “Henry's Hard Ginger Ale” when I could and that worked out fine.
+Excellent replay value
+Fast, short unpredictable games
-Some get turned off early