Exploring the deepest reaches of space can sometimes be a lonely job, and when a fraudulent distress signal leads your ship into an ambush, you’ll have to survive by yourself until backup arrives! As the captain, you’ll need to tactfully assign your crew to deal with both internal and external threats, maintain the shields and hull, and take care of crew members that have been put out of commission. Can you survive all of the threats that will be constantly plaguing your ship?
Deep Space D-6 is a solo-only game of dice assignment. To win, you have to defeat all of the external threats in the threat deck, without losing all of your ship’s hull or running out of available crew. Each round a you roll your dice and use them to combat threats or repair your ship before a new threat comes out and all active threats attack. The survival of your ship is in your control!
To begin the game, first select one of the four ship boards — this will be the ship you command throughout the game. All of the ships have their own strengths and weaknesses, as described on the back of each board, as well as different special actions and some different rules as to how they use the crew dice. For your first game, it’s recommended that you use the Halcyon, which is a good all around ship. Place the gray hull and green shield cubes at the topmost space of their respective columns. Keep the six white crew dice and one black threat die handy. Place out the infirmary card, noting that there are two sides: one just contains the infirmary and a space for returned dice, while the other side lets you use medical crew to change the faces of other dice. The latter option adds a bit of versatility to your crew and a way to mitigate bad dice rolls, so you may want to use it if you find the game difficult.
Next you build the threat deck. There are six “Don’t Panic” cards that you can include some or all of to make the game harder or easier, respectively. Next, you can make the game shorter by removing up to six cards randomly from the threat deck, or keep the whole deck intact for the full game. Finally, decide how you want to face the game’s boss, the Ouroboros, which is made up of six different threat cards. The game suggests that you can either set these six cards aside and face the boss ship once you’ve defeated all other threats, or shuffle the six cards into the deck and fight the Ouroboros only when its sixth card is drawn. I typically do the latter, but you can choose whichever method suits your playstyle. Once the threat deck is assembled, shuffle it and draw two threats to start out with. You’re now ready to begin the game!
Deep Space D-6 is played over a series of rounds, each consisting of a few different phases. First, roll your available crew dice. Note that some crew dice may be unavailable due to being assigned to an area on the ship, in the infirmary, or in the threat area, so you won’t always be able to roll all six dice. If any of the crew dice show the Threat symbol, you must immediately place them in the next open space in the Threat Area. Once all of these spaces are full (3 for the Halcyon), draw a new threat card and move the dice from the Threat Area to the Returned dice pool. You’ll be able to use these dice on your next turn.
Besides the Threat symbol, there are five different faces on each crew die: Commander, Tactical, Science, Medical, and Engineering. Each of these corresponds to a different action based on the ship you’re using, but generally Commanders will let you change other crew or duplicate actions, Tactical is for dealing damage, Science repairs the shields, Engineering repairs the hull, and Medical let you return dice being used for threats or in the infirmary. After rolling all of the dice, you will assign them to various areas of the ship to perform actions.
After performing all of the actions you can or want to on your turn, you draw a new threat card from the threat deck. Threats come in two main varieties, internal and external. Internal threats are placed to the left of your ship and can do things like not allow you to use certain crew or put your crew dice in the infirmary. You don’t have to defeat all internal threats to win the game, but if you have too many it may be hard to progress very far. External threats make up the majority of the deck, and all must be defeated in order to succeed. External threats all have a starting health (1-4) and are placed next to the corresponding number on the right side of the ship board, moving down when they take damage and getting discarded once they’re at or below zero. Most threats, both internal and external, show one or more die faces, from 1 to 6. After drawing a new card each round, you roll the black threat die. Then, working from top to bottom and left to right, you check all of your threat cards. If the number on the threat die matches a threat card, that threat activates this round. Many threats deal damage to your hull, which is first applied to the shield until that’s depleted. If you ever run out of hull points, your ship is destroyed and you lose. Other threat cards have a variety of effects, from healing external threats to moving crew dice to the infirmary, to making you roll the threat die another time. After resolving the threat die roll, you gather up your available crew dice and get ready for another round.
You win the game if you can get through the threat deck and defeat all external threats. You lose if you run out of hull points, or if you have no available crew dice at the end of a turn, due to all dice being in the infirmary or in the threat detection area. With careful planning and a bit of luck, hopefully you can survive Deep Space D-6!
I’ve played Deep Space D-6 about a dozen times now, and have only won twice. I’d say that’s a pretty good ratio for a solo game — you don’t want it to be impossible to win, but you also don’t want it to be so easy that you win every time. The gameplay is pretty solid and easy to pick up. The one major drawback I can think of is that there’s a lot based on luck of the draw for threat cards and luck of what you roll on crew dice. There are some ways to mitigate the latter, and with four ships with a variety of actions, you should be able to find one to match your playstyle, but the unfortunate fact is that sometimes there are turns where you can’t use any of your crew dice and just have to hope that the threats plaguing your ship don’t activate for that round. I really like the components and artwork — the game strives for a minimalistic style, and I’d say it executes it very well. Deep Space D-6 began its life as a print and play game, and I’d say that it maintains that charm even with its professionally produced boards and dice. Plus, because the game has relatively few components, it’s really easy to set up and get playing. I don’t play a lot of solo games, but when I do, I don’t care for a lot of set up time and components to mess with. For me, that level of effort isn’t as satisfying unless you’re playing with other people. Speaking of solo play, I really appreciate that this game was designed just for solo play — I like that better than games that are designed multiplayer but can be played solo. So if you ever find yourself alone but still wanting to break out a game, Deep Space D-6 is fun and quick to learn and get playing!
- Challenging but not impossible
- Easy to learn and quick to set up and start playing
- Cool minimalistic art while still containing high quality components
- Solo only (con if you aren’t a fan of solo games)
- Very heavily luck based, sometimes you can’t do anything about bad rolls