My best friend now lives far away, so she buys our Christmas presents on Amazon and ships them to us. She always specifies mine is a present, so it will be in a bag, and then I wrap the rest of the presents. This particular year, the wrong present was put in the bag. So I opened it up and said, “The Captain is Dead, this look interesting,” and then as I looked at it I thought, “I bet this was supposed to be the present in the bag.” Sure enough, I called Tara and she said, “Oh yeah, we played it at Gen Con, and knew you would love it. Pretend you didn’t see it, and put it in the bag.” And that is how I knew what my Christmas present was on Christmas Day. All that to say, she was right, I love the Captain is Dead, it’s a blast to play, and it’s been a great addition to gameschooling and family game nights.
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What is the Captain is Dead?
The Captain is Dead is a Star Trek spoof. It’s like the time when the Enterprise comes flying in at the last minute to save the ship with the dead captain and all of the aliens trying their best to destroy the ship.
Except there is no Enterprise to fly in and save you. You have to figure out how to fix it before your ship gets destroyed.
You are all working together to repair the ship, get rid of the aliens, and then fly out of there, but bad things keep happening and messing up your ship.
For people who know gaming terms: The Captain is Dead is a cooperative resource management game.
How do you play The Captain is Dead?
To start, you randomly get a color, that will determine what type of character you are playing. Then you draw the three characters in that color and choose which one appeals to you.
Each character has benefits to the group, and they have different play styles, so you are almost guaranteed to like one of your choices.
Here are three examples. Red, obviously is security, you get an option of Tactical Officer, Crewman, or Telepath.
The Security player acts third in the turn rotation, has 4 actions, and can hold 6 cards. Both the tactical and Crewman have built-in tactical abilities. That can be very important for completing tasks
Yes, you complete tasks, but not like Among Us, no one on this crew is secretly a traitor trying to kill you.
Each of these characters has a special ability. The Tactical Officer can perform some security tasks in fewer actions. The Crewman always respawns, he’s like the stereotypical red shirt. The telepath can see what cards other players have and use them.
I personally like the Tactical Officer or Crewman, they both are fun to play.
On your turn, you can perform any of the actions on the card. In addition, you can interact with the space you occupy on the board. Each space has special abilities you need to repair the ship and fly off.
At the end of your turn, you draw an alert card. Yellow alerts are mildly bad, orange alerts are bad, and red alerts mean your ship is going to die pretty soon.
If you get to red alert, you better have a plan to win within the next person’s turn or two, because your ship is going to die.
How do you win the Captain is Dead?
You win by successfully fixing the engine and flying out.
>>>> Depending on the difficulty level you set your game to, you have to repair the engines several times, which takes multiple actions and lots of engineering cards.
How do you lose?
When your ship is destroyed. The whole time the aliens are shooting your ship and slowly knocking your shield down. Once your shields are down, they will destroy you.
>>>> The tactical officer is great at repairing the shields, you need to keep an eye on the shield levels and occasionally repair them.
If you’re told more aliens are beaming on board, and there are no more aliens to put on the ship.
>>> The tactical officer and a few others are great at killing aliens. There are also some tools that let you kill multiple aliens at once.
Our strategy for the Captain is Dead
Every role adds to your ability to win. We haven’t found one that you HAVE to have to win, but the engineer and tactical officer really are helpful.
- Transporters are key. I have yet to win a game with the transporter down for most of the game.
- The Communications are pretty important, and while you can still win with them down, it’s pretty hard to do.
- The Central Computer is where you get more skills, and when that goes down, you’re limited in what you can do.
- Alien management is key. You can win with aliens still there, so it’s a resource management skill, when do you need to kill them, or maybe use a special card to get rid of them.
- Pick the times when you stop the bad stuff from happening at the end of your turn.
There are expansions!
After we had so much fun playing The Captain is Dead, Jeff started learning about the game and thinking, “I now have an easy present I can give Ticia.”
So, next year for Christmas I opened.
The Captain is Dead: Dangerous Planet– You’ve beamed down and these weird bug aliens came in and killed your captain, now you’re just trying to survive long enough to get the heck out of dodge. Officially, this is the second expansion, but we got it first. Dangerous Planet is a slightly different game because it’s an area control game, you are defending the shuttlecraft and trying to find the missing pieces. We didn’t like this expansion quite as much and haven’t really played it beyond the first time or two.
The Captain is Dead: Lockdown!– The following year I got this game. I like to think of this one as you lost the original game, and you’re all prisoners of the aliens. Now you have to escape from their prison. The publishers say, “You successfully jumped away from the aliens attacking you and ended up from the frying pan into the fire, and are now in lockdown with more aliens.” I like this as an addition to the game, it adds in some fun changes but isn’t just a reskin of the same game.
All in all, it’s a fun game series, and unlike most game expansions, each of these expansions stands completely alone from the other games.
More gameschooling fun
I was going to only feature cooperative games, but apparently, I need to work on organizing those posts better…
And finish writing about some of our Cooperative Games.