Project Elite is a game I backed on Kickstarter promising “an innovative real-time board game full of intense moments” with “highly detailed miniatures.” While they came nowhere near fulfilling the latter part, the minis are at least identifiable and fine to play with. As for the former statement, now that PE is finally in my hands I think in that respect they were quite successful.
There is a non-trivial learning curve to start, as the players need to understand how everything works before even attempting the two minute real time sections that comprise the heart of the game. But it all meshes well once you start playing and the framework is really well designed so that players are concentrating on PLAYING while the clock is running, not rule clarifications.
Having those previously mentioned rounds of real time play separated by untimed planning and alien upkeep periods is a great structure that balances all the needed elements of gameplay well. The players get a breather between rounds and all the things that take just a bit more time to set up properly and shouldn’t be rushed because of the clock aren’t.
Project Elite almost feels like a video game, in a good way. There’s a frantic pace and sense of urgency that only a few board games achieve, while retaining some elements unique to tabletop gaming.
My friend and I played a two player extermination game on easy difficulty. Our goal was to destroy three target tokens on the board and get back to base within eight rounds without ever letting any aliens get into our base. We managed to win by skin of our teeth, which is about right for a first attempt played by regular gamers on easy difficulty level.
The items and weapons are interesting and definitely have some effect on the strategy players will employ in pursuit of they’re objectives. Some of them seemed a little underpowered, but it could have just been beginner’s impression and/or poor luck rolling.
Likewise the player powers all seem interesting. We made frequent use of the powers of the two characters we chose, and I imagine the game plays quite differently with different combinations.
So far Project Elite seems like a great addition to my co-op collection. I’m definitely excited to play more in the future and in checking out how if feels at the various objectives, difficulties, and player counts.