What is it?
Stealth is a science fiction tactical game from a
company that has previously only made educational games. It's an
impressive first foray into the two-player wargaming field. To be
honest, the science fiction flavor is very light - there is no
background, and no real science, and it's only a step away from
being simply an abstract game. Nonetheless, it's a very good
The components are adequately attractive, though I really want to
complain about the box being four times as large as it needs to
be. When you own as many games as I do, storage becomes a problem,
and I appreciate compact boxes that do their job with a minimum of
leftover space. But the board is a quality map nicely mounted,
and the pieces are three-dimensional plastic rather than cardboard.
Even the movable "destroyed" markers are static-cling vinyl.
Each side has six Stealth Attack Modules - grey and black
plastic covers that vaguely resemble space ships of some sort - or
maybe igloos, come to think of it. What makes the game interesting,
however, are the Power Pieces that fit inside the Stealth
Modules. Each side has one red Power Piece, and two each of Blue,
Green, Yellow, and White Power Pieces. Five of your Stealth Modules
contain one each of the different colors; the sixth Stealth Module
contains your choice of the duplicated colors.
The Power Pieces fit inside the Stealth Modules, and snap out
easily. When placed on the board, the color of the Power Piece is
only visible from the back of the unit. Since facing doesn't
otherwise matter in this game, the backs of the units are always
kept toward the owning player. Your opponent's pieces all look
identical to you - and yours to him, a bit like the old
Stratego game, except there are far fewer pieces.
You don't even know the exact composition of his fleet, since his
sixth Stealth Module contains an unknown color.
Each of the five different colors of Power Pieces has a different
property, all of which are clearly stated on each side of the board
for convenience. Red Power Pieces are the Lasers - they may fire
up to seven spaces away on the hex-grid map. Yellows are Ringers
- they may fire only one space away, but shoot into all adjacent
spaces. When a red or yellow Power Piece is fired, the Stealth
Module cover is removed, and the Power Piece must make its way back
to headquarters to "recharge" - have the Stealth Module snapped
back in place so it can fire again.
The blue Power Pieces are Blasters - they destroy all pieces in a
two-hex range. Green Power Pieces are Starbursts - they have a
three-hex range in all six directions at once, but only in straight
lines. Both blue and green Power Pieces are destroyed themselves
when they detonate - no recharging for them. The ability to take
out multiple pieces, however, is their forte. When a blue or green
Power Piece is destroyed by an enemy shot, by the way, they also
explode. If you're not careful in your placement of your ships,
your enemy's Laser can set off a chain reaction that can wipe out
your fleet in one shot!
The white Power Pieces are Decoys - they can't hurt anything. They
can win the game, though, if you can get one into the enemy HQ.
There is no reason to take the second white Power Piece as your
sixth unit, except as a handicap if you are an experienced player
teaching the game to someone new.
The board has some interesting features: amber hexes and green
hexes are identical in function except you may only start your
Blocker on amber hexes on your half of the board. The
blocker is a seven-hex piece of vinyl that becomes unplayable space.
There are a few black spaces near the borderline between the two
sides which are also unplayable. Then there are the Portals: four
sets of spaces numbered 1 to 6. If you move onto one Portal space,
you may move on your next turn to any other Portal with the same
number. Portals can be destroyed, just as ships can. Destroyed
ships stay on the board as obstacles, by the way.
The object of the game is to destroy all enemy ships, or enter
their HQ, or block off their HQ with destroyed ships, or even make
it so a ship cannot move its full two spaces. There are point
rules provided (so many points for surviving ships, blocking an
HQ, etc.) and you are supposed to play what I estimate is three
games-worth of points. Or you could just play best of three and
skip the points ... or simply just play a single round if that's
more to your taste.
Why Wouldn't You Like This Game?
Some people don't like hidden value games. If this is you, don't
try this one.
Some people prefer their science fiction games to have a better
adapted theme. This is pretty thinly pasted on - it really is just
an abstract game and can be a bit dry - and you may not like abstract
The portals can bother some people - they prefer a more straightforward
deployment without having to worry about invasions from the rear.
Well, you could just play without the portals.
The game plays well, due to the hidden nature of the enemy's pieces.
All pieces move two spaces, so there is no clue as to what is coming
toward you until either you shoot it, or it shoots you. Will it
zap you from seven spaces away, or dash into the midst of your
fleet, taking out three ships at once as it detonates itself? Or
is it a decoy, sent to lure you away from guarding this portal
entry? Only your opponent knows for certain ...
Recommended if you like hidden value games of tactical movement.
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