We like space games here at Nights Around a Table. From Race to the Galaxy to Roll for the Galaxy to Tiny Epic Galaxies and its expansion, if it’s set in space, we dig it. Black Angel is also set in space, and it’s a dice worker placement game to boot! Me gusta. Here’s how to play both the multiplayer and solo versions.

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is Black Angel, a sci fi dice worker placement game for 1-4 players. Let me show you how to play!

Humankind has done goofed again, and is on the brink of extinction. The last humans are in cryosleep aboard the titular Black Angel, a space frigate bound for a habitable planet called Spes – presumably named for the Roman goddess of hope – where the humans can start a new life. The ship is captained entirely by artificially intelligent robots, but the humans couldn’t trust one group to program the AI to work in everyone’s best interest, so there are different factions of robots running the show. You and your friends each control one of those robot factions.

You’ll interface with three different alien species as the Black Angel hurtles through space, while attracting the attention of an angry fourth alien group that just wants to mess the ship up. You’ll have to fight them off and clear out the damage they cause, or risk never reaching the planet Spes. The actions you take are all done by choosing a die – your own or someone else’s, for a fee – and placing it on either a section of the ship, or on an outer space depot that you founded or flew to. Your player board plays host to various alien technologies that you can use to out-perform the other robots, and some of those technologies can earn you big points if you literally play your cards right. The end of the game is triggered when either the Black Angel reaches Spes, or the deck of evil Ravagers runs out. Then, you play one more full round before counting up the points to see who’s won.

Since this is a sci fi game, a big part of learning it is wrapping your head around what all these abstract shapes and symbols mean, which can be tricky because there aren’t a lot of real-world analogies to map onto.

Here’s the Black Angel, flying through outer space.

This board represents the inside of that ship. This central area is the break room where the robots hang out and play Parcheesi. You’ve got some robots there, and so does everyone else. Depending on where you’re sitting at the table, you claim the closest quadrant outside the break room – so this is your compartment, and the other compartments belong to the other players.

The available dice go in these three depots, which the game calls “workstations” – yellow here, blue here, green here. The game calls this colour “orange” and this colour “grey,” but the game needs to go back to kindergarten if you want my honest opinion. I’ll be calling them yellow and blue from here on out.

Everyone gets a single robot in each of these three dice depots. Each robot in each depot entitles you to one die from that depot – so off the top of the game, you get 1 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 green die. Roll them, and place them in your compartment. Everyone else does likewise.

There’s some other stuff that happens during setup, but it can be a little much all at once. If you want a full setup guide, just skip ahead to the Setup section towards the end of this episode.

On your player board, you get one of each type of goody: one of these diamond-looking things, which are just called “resources,” a red debris cube, and a little spaceship that one of your robots can ride around in. How cute is that?

You also get three starting technology tiles dealt randomly to your board in a diagonal line. Everyone gets the same three tiles, but maybe they get dealt out in a slightly different order since it’s random.

On your turn, you’re going to run a series of steps – either Sequence A or Sequence B. Sequence A is where you get to do all the cool stuff, and Sequence B is sort of a recuperation turn that you generally only choose when you’re out of dice or your board’s gummed up and you can’t do anything cool.

Generally, in Sequence A, you can play a card to activate some of your technology tiles, put a die on a section of the ship or an outpost in space to do something cool, and then draw a card to end your turn.

In Sequence B, you collect and roll any dice you’re entitled to, clear up the cards and cubes you’ve played to your board, and advance the Black Angel closer to the planet Spes, taking a piece from the back of the line and flipping it to the front… which may mean that certain robots and ships and mission cards pop off the board, which can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the circumstances.

Let’s take a closer look at Sequence A!

SEQUENCE A

You start the game with four mission cards – one in each of the three colours, and a special red Ravager card. The first thing you can do if you choose Sequence A is to play one of your cards to a spot along the left edge or the bottom of your board to activate the goodies and powers on your technology tiles. It doesn’t matter what’s on the front of your card – you’re just playing it for its colour. So you can put this yellow card here, here, here, here, here, or here. The card will let you activate any technology tile in its row or column that matches its colour. So putting the yellow card here is a bad move – you’ve got no yellow tech tiles in that row to activate. But if you put it here, or here, you can fire off the thing on that yellow technology tile in the middle of your board. Of course, same deal if you put a blue card here or here, or a green card here or here. And you’ll probably be building more of these tiles as the game goes on, so you can imagine that if you had a row of blue tiles here, and you played a blue card to that row, you could fire off all three of those tiles in a single shot – and in any order you like.

The red Ravager cards are special, because they’ll fire off everything in a row or column, regardless of its colour. So if your board looks like this, and you play a Ravager card here, you get to activate all three of these tech tiles. Don’t worry about all the symbols on the tech tiles for now – we’ll talk about what they actually do a little later.

The slots can only hold one card each, so after you take a number of turns, you’ll eventually gum up your board with cards, which is when you might want to choose Sequence B on your turn to clear things out.

Keep in mind that playing a card to your board in this step is optional.

Some of the tiles you can build to your board are these advanced black tech tiles. They get you meta points way later, at the end of the game, so you can’t actually activate them no matter what colour of card you play.

The next thing you can do in Sequence A is to grab a die and put it somewhere to perform an action. There are 6 actions on the ship itself, and there may be actions you can take in outer space once you and the other robots fly around shaking hands with the various aliens you’ll encounter. We’ll look the actions in depth in a sec, but here’s how the flow goes:

Step one: you choose a die. It could be one of the dice in your little compartment, but if you need a die in a certain colour or with a certain number on it, you can just take someone else’s die. You have to pay that player one diamond-like resource for that privilege.

The dice have two 1’s, two 3’s, and a zero and a 2 on them. If you want to use one of your own dice to take an action but you don’t like the number on it, you can pay one of your red debris cubes to flip the die to its opposite face. The opposite face always has a 2-pip difference, so the opposite side of a 1 is a 3, and the opposite side of a zero is a 2.

The interesting thing is that if you buy someone else’s die by paying that player a resource, you can’t then pay a red debris cube to flip it – you’re stuck with whatever number it’s on. That’s why it’s not the end of the world if you roll zeroes and ones: it’ll discourage other people from grabbing your dice, and you can always sweeten your own numbers by paying a red debris cube to make your dice better.

So you’ve chosen a die – whether your own, or someone else’s, and maybe you paid a red cube to buff its number. You can place that die on an action that matches its colour – so if you chose a yellow die, you can do either of these two things. A blue die lets you pick either of these two, and a green die lets you do one of these two actions.

If there’s a card out in space and you have a robot on it – either sitting on the card, or parked there in a spaceship – and we’ll see how that happens shortly – and it’s a certain type of card that does something when you activate it, AND the die you chose is the same colour as the card, then you can put the die on the card and do the thing. So throughout the game, you and the other players will effectively be building additional worker placement spots up here in outer space.

Wherever your die ends up, the number on it determines how many times you can do the thing. If it’s a zero, you can do the thing zero times. If you were lucky enough to snag a 3, you can do the thing up to three times.

Then, you return the die to the common depot where it originally came from – nobody owns it now. You draw a card of the same colour as the die you used. Used a yellow die? Draw a yellow card. You can hold as many red Ravager cards as you want, but you have a hand limit of 6 coloured mission cards. That means if you already have 6 missions and you draw a 7th, you just need to discard back down to 6 from whatever’s in your hand.

After you draw a card, your turn is over. And that’s Sequence A! (jazz hands)

RAVAGERS

This all sounds very pleasant, but as we know from all the sci fi movies we’ve seen, space is horrifying. There’s a species of alien called the Ravagers who just want to F with the Black Angel’s S, and they’ll put a wrench in any plans you try to lay by attacking the ship and messing with the worker placement spots you wanna use.

The game begins with two red Ravagers already on board, and two damage cubes. If you try to put a die on an action that has a Ravager on it, you have to do the thing on the Ravager card, which is generally something bad. If there’s a damage cube on the action, that’s a warning that something more serious could occur there later. If there are two damage cubes on the space, then whatever die you place there becomes less effective by one pip – so your 3 die acts like a 2, which means you only get to do the thing twice.

Whenever one of the robots flies into outer space and greets the friendly aliens by yelling “HI GUYS!”, it attracts more Ravagers to the Black Angel. Each action space can play host to up to 3 Ravagers. If you place a die there, you activate the penalty on the topmost card, not all three cards. If the Ravagers do more than 2 cubes of damage to a space, they actually start to damage the unrolled dice!

Thankfully, there’s a way to battle the Ravagers and clear off the damage cubes from the ship. Let’s take a closer look at what the Black Angel’s action spaces do.

ACTION SPACES

Putting a green die in this green space lets you fight the Ravagers. You get to fight as many Ravagers as you have pips. So 2 pips lets you repel 2 Ravagers, and you get to take those Ravager cards into your hand. You’ll recall that red Ravagers act as wild cards when you play them to activate tech tiles on your player board, so they’re handy to have. The one catch is that it’s all or nothing – you have to clear out all of the Ravagers from a space, or you can’t touch that space. So if you placed a green 2, you could clear out these two Ravagers, or you could grab this one and this one, but you couldn’t grab 2 out of these three – because you need to clear them out completely.

We’ll look at what these spaces collectively do in just a sec.

If you put a blue die on this space, you get to repair the Black Angel by removing damage cubes from the ship. Again, the number on the die is the number of times you get to do the thing, so place a 1, and you get to clear out one damage cube. That cube could either be one of the cubes on an action space, or one of the cubes on a damaged die in a depot. If you nab one from an action space, you have to grab the more serious action-damaging cube first, and leave the more innocuous one there.

The damage cubes you collect now turn into useful debris cubes for you. You can either put them up here in your storage area, or you can put any number of the ones you collected on your tech tiles for a free activation. Each tile can only hold one cube – so you can picture your board filling up with cards along the edges, and debris cubes cramming up your tiles. If you perform the Sequence B recuperation step on a later turn, you get to clear out the cards and the cubes. The cards get discarded, but the cubes go up here where you can spend them on stuff later, so by activating your tiles with them, you’ve effectively squeezed extra utility out of them. Remember that you can spend a debris cube to flip one of your dice to its opposite face before you use it – but you can’t spend debris cubes that are locked up on tech tiles like this. That’s another reason why clearing your board in Sequence B is handy.

On this action space, you can buy new tech tiles. The prices are listed next to each tile, in pips. So the die you place gets you a certain amount of “money” to spend on tiles – place a die with 3 pips on it, and you can buy 3 tiles that cost 1 pip, or a 2 and a 1. Or just a 2, or just a 1 – on any of these action spaces. You don’t have to use all of the pips you’re entitled to.

If you grab a tech tile in one of the three colours, it doesn’t get replaced – you just leave holes in the lineup. The available tiles will change as more locations get placed in outer space.

If you grab a black advanced tech tile, it does get replaced.

Once you take the tiles you want and can afford, in any order, you get to “inject” them into your player board. So the non-black ones can slide in from here, here, here, here, here, or here. They push the existing tiles on your board like a conveyor belt, potentially popping a tile off the end. If one pops off, you just place it next to your board. You can’t activate it with damage cubes you remove from the Black Angel or by placing cards down any more, but it could come in handy in other ways, so keep it close.

If you bought a black advanced tech tile, you can only slide it in on this bottom left corner – so either this way, or this way. The black tech tiles don’t do anything for you during the game, but they give you the opportunity to score big points at the end of the game. And the way they do that is the most confusing part of Black Angel, so let’s take a really close look.

SCORING BLACK TECH TILES

The way that black tech tiles score can be hard to wrap your mind around.

You can think of one of these tiles as a promise of future points. This one, for example, says it will give you 2 points for every red debris cube you have at the end of the game. What the tile is not telling you is that it can only ever give you a maximum of 4 points, no matter how many debris cubes you have. Any black tile on your player board maxes out at 4 points.

So if you ended the game like this, with zero debris cubes, then the black tile gets you zero points. i think that’s easy to understand. But if you ended the game with a whole boatload of debris cubes, that’s 2 points, 4 points…. aaaaaand we’re done. The rest of the cubes don’t count for anything, because you can’t earn more than 4 points from this tile. It’s capped.

Now, you can raise that points cap if you do 2 things: first, you need to keep buying tech tiles until you push your black tile off the board. When that happens, you choose to put it in one of these three special slots – there’s one for each colour. Now, at the end of the game, the cap is still 4 points. But for each card you’re able to tuck next to that slot, you can raise the ceiling by another 2 points. You get a 2 point potential increase for every card you tuck.

So here we are at the end of the game. You’ve got 3 debris cubes. You bought a bunch of tech tiles and squeezed the black tile off, placing it on this spot. 4 is still the most points you can earn. But if you had a card tucked here, now the max is 6 points. 2, 4, 6. If you had another card tucked here, now the max is 8 points – but you don’t earn all 8 points, because you still only have 3 debris cubes. If you managed to collect 4 more debris cubes, you would earn 2, 4, 6, 8, still 8, still 8, still 8 points – because you’re capped to 8 points maximum for this tile.

And by the way, if you pop off a black tech tile and all three of your slots are full, that tile just goes next to your board, where it still has a 4-point cap.

“Ryan,” you say, “It sounds like tucking those cards is really important to getting big scores in Black Angel!” And you, my friend, are absolutely correct. So let’s look at how you can actually get those tucked cards, by exploring in outer spaaaaace!

COMMANDING YOUR SHIPS

The last three action spaces on the Black Angel that i glossed over are these ones – the only real difference between them is their colour, so you have to use a yellow die here, a blue die here, and a green die here.These spaces let you put your robots in their little spaceships and explore the galaxy, meeting the different friendly alien species that are sympathetic to the plight of the humans: the yellow Melurians, the blue Xhavits, and the green Tsoths.

When you place a die on one of these action spaces, you can either take one of your robots from the break room and put it in a ship from your supply to send it into outer space, or move one of the robots you already have in outer space. The number of pips on the die you use determines how many spaces your robot can move. A newly-launched robot always starts at the Black Angel. You can move wherever you like, including through spaces with other robots and/or cards on them, but you just can’t move through, or stop in, a hex with an asteroid field. The one exception is if the Black Angel itself is in an asteroid field – in that case, the ships’ shields protect your little recon ship.

Many of the hexes in outer space have either a yellow Melurian planet, a blue Xhavit ship or a green Tsoth ship on them. If you placed a blue die on the blue Command your Ships action space, and you used up to that many pips to optionally travel, and then ended your movement on an empty hex with a blue ship on it, you can place a blue mission card from your hand on that space to create a new outpost.

A bunch of stuff happens at this point. First, you become the owner of that outpost. Take one of your robots from the break room and put it on this little circle on the card. That always confers you some sort of reward. Usually it’s a certain number of points, but it can be a ship or other stuff.

Meanwhile, the robot in your ship is like “LOOK AT ME, ERRYBODY! I MADE A OUTPOST!” drawing the attention of the evil Ravagers. Count up the number of visible Ravager icons on the adjacent hexes, and draw that many Ravager cards from the deck. Each card tells you which Black Angel action space it should screw up. Stick the Ravager card there, and add a damage cube to the action space – always starting with damage space 1, and then damage space 2 if 1 is full. If there are already 2 cubes there, then you damage one of the dice in the depot of that colour. If there are already 3 Ravager cards on that action space and you draw a card that’s supposed to go there, you discard that Ravager and draw another one. That’s dicey… remember that if that Ravager deck runs out, it triggers the end of the game!

The last thing that happens is the little icons in the top left of the card you played prompt new tech tiles to come out. Resolve them from the top down. The tiles pop in here, and slide any tiles that are already there up the board. If any tech tiles get pushed off, they just go into a discard pile.

It’s important to understand that when you build an outpost in outer space, you don’t actually get to do the thing on the card. That happens later, on a future turn, where instead of placing a die on one of the 6 action spaces on the Black Angel, you can place a die on a card in outer space, as long as the colour matches, and you have a robot on that card – either as the card’s owner, or sidled up in a ship in one of these two docking ports. Any given hex tile in outer space can only accommodate two robots in ships. The robot standing on the card doesn’t count towards that limit. And if you try to found a new outpost, but you don’t have enough spare robots in the break room to either pilot the ship and/or own the card, you can’t found an outpost.

Alternatively, you can use one of these spaces to move one of your ships that’s already in outer space. Maybe you’re trying to reach a specific spot deep in outer space to lay a card down? Or maybe your robot flies away from an outpost and sidles up to someone else’s so that you’ll be able to use that card as an action space on a future turn? You’re just not allowed to be a little piggy and hog up both docking ports on a card.

These action spaces are generally the only place where a zero-pip die is useful: if you already have a ship on a space with an alien planet or ship matching the colour of the zero-pip die you chose, you can activate a Command Your Ships action space to plunk down a card where your ship already sits, without moving.

If, on a later turn, you place a die on a card matching its colour, and you either own that card or you have a ship docked there, and it’s one of these cards, with a little 1/2/3 pip icon on it, then you get to do the thing for up to as many pips as the die you placed. So! This one says that you get a resource and a point. If you placed a 3-pip blue die here, you could take up to three resources, and three points.

And if you activate a card with a die of the same colour but you don’t own the card – you just have a ship docked there – then the owner of the card gets to do the thing once, as if he or she had just placed a 1-pip die there.

As we’ll soon see, whenever someone performs Sequence B, the Black Angel moves forward through space, and a whole strip of the board pops off. That strip might have cards, robots, and ships on it. If it does, the ships and robots get returned to the supply next to the board. The cards that pop off get returned to their owners, and those owners get to tuck those cards at the sides of their player boards, which can increase the points cap of the black tech tiles in those slots! Haha! We did it! It took a whole huge section, but we figured how you get tucked cards!

But it can’t be that easy, can it? Not all cards are created equal. Some of them have that little 1/2/3 icon on them, which means they’re Activation cards, and they work the way i just described. But some of them have these little red chevrons on them. Those are called “neutralization Missions,” but that’s too many syllables and sounds like it’s for nerds, so i’m gonna call them “pop-off cards.”

Pop-off cards don’t do anything until the Black Angel advances and they pop off the board. You can’t put dice on them, because they can’t be activated. But when they pop off, they can do all kinds of things, from giving you points for every tucked card of a certain colour, to giving you points for every outpost of a certain colour you own or are docked at, to giving you different prizes whether you’re the card’s owner or you’re just visiting, in the case of these multi-effect cards. The multi-effect cards give this reward to their owner, and this reward to everyone who’s docked there. So yes, you could be one of the robots docked there, so you’d get this reward for owning the card when it pops off, and then this robot would get this reward, and you would too, because you have a ship there.

Yes, you can place a card on a hex where there’s already a ship, and yes, you can place a card on the hex with the Black Angel on it. You can only place 1 card, no matter how many pips are on the die that you used on the Command Your Ships action space. And the action itself is a little misleadingly named: it’s called “Command Your ShipS,” but you can really only use it to command a single ship that you own. And you can’t move one ship, and then place a card where one of your other ships is parked. The ship that moves has to be the one that establishes the outpost.

That’s all the stuff that you get to do in Sequence A. Now let’s look at Sequence B, the reset step.

SEQUENCE B

First, if you decide to run Sequence B and you still have dice remaining in your compartment, you suffer a points penalty: one point per pip on the dice you haven’t used. Got 2 pips left over? Lose 2 points. Lose the dice, too – they go back to their respective coloured depots.

Then, you get to take and roll one die from each depot for every robot that you have there. So it’d be 1 die from here for your 1 robot, and 2 from each of these depots, since you have 2 robots in those ones. We’ll see how you can move robots in and out of the depots shortly.

Roll those dice, and put them in your compartment. You have the option at this point to pay a resource to stuff one of your dice into your locker, so that your opponents can’t get at it by buying it from you.

You have to take and roll all of the dice that you’re entitled to. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? Well, it’s possible that you could be forced to take a damaged die – if you do, the damage cube goes back to the supply and you lose 1 victory point. It’s also possible that you’re entitled to take a big whack of dice, but there aren’t any dice left. In that case, uh… tough nuts. In space, no one can hear you whine.

Then, reset your player board. Discard all of the cards around the edges of your board, and transfer any debris cubes off your tech tiles into your storage area. Tucked cards stay where they are.

Next, move the Black Angel forward one tile through space. Take off the tile at the back end of space, flip it, and put it at the front. There’s an odd number of space strips, and the Black Angel should always be in the middle one. Doing this will slowly bring the planet Spes into view. If you pop off the tile that has the planet token on it, you put the actual planet Spes hex in the middle of the space tile when it goes to the front of the line. When the Black Angel reaches Spes, that triggers the end of the game.

As we’ve seen, if there are any cards, robots on cards, or robots in ships on a space tile when it pops off, they get removed. The robots and ships go to the supply next to the board, and the cards go back to their owners, where they get tucked next to their boards, and potentially increase the points cap of any black tech tiles that are in, or wind up in, the corresponding slots. And if the cards that get removed are single or multi-phase pop-off cards, you deal out their rewards to the cards’ owners, and whoever else is docked there.

And that’s all there is to Sequence B!

ENDGAME

When someone performs Sequence B and the Black Angel moves onto the tile with planet Spes on it – or someone empties out the Ravager deck – that triggers the end of the game.

You finish out the round until you get back to the starting player, and then you do one more final round where everyone gets a turn. But from then on, if you choose Sequence B, the Black Angel doesn’t move forward at the end of your turn. And if it’s your final turn and you’re stuck doing Sequence B, you can skip your turn instead, so you don’t supply fresh tasty dice that your opponents can buy. If game end was triggered by exhausting the Ravager deck, shuffle up the Ravager discards to form a new deck in case you need it.

At the end of the game, all your debris cubes move into your supply. Now, if the Black Angel reached the plan et Spes, you get to count up all your robots left in the break room, your resources, and your ships, divide by 2 and round down for some bonus points for saving the humans on board. If the Ravagers took down the Black Angel before you reached Spes, then – bad robots! You annihilated the human race! No bonus points for you!

Do the scoring thing we talked about with your black tiles. If you have two identical black tiles, like these two that give you points for all the Ravager cards in your hand, you don’t get double the points for each card – but you could score points up to this tile’s cap of 4, and then apply your remaining Ravager cards until you max out the points cap on this tile.

Add all those points to th e points you’ve been accruing around the edge of the board, and whoever has the most points, wins! If there’s a tie, all tied players share in the victory.

ICONS

Black Angel is one of those games with a million little symbols all over everything, and you have to understand what they all mean in order to play well. i won’t bore you by talking about each one – they’re all covered in this 2-page guide that comes with the game. But i will mention a few particular symbols so you get an idea of the kinds of things you can do and strive for.

A bunch of cards have you exchanging one thing for another – usually points. So sell technology tiles for points, sell your ships, sell your robots from the break room, sell your Ravager cards, and so on. And other cards and tiles get you stuff – ships, resources, robots, et cetera.

This symbol, with a certain colour card on a hex, refers to cards that you own or are parked on in outer space. So here, the red chevrons mean that when the card pops off the board as the Black Angel moves forward when a player chooses Sequence B, the card’s owner gets 3 points for every yellow card he owns or is parked at in outer space – excluding the yellow cards that pop off at the same time as this card does. So if you were parked here and this chunk of space was about to disappear, you’d get credit for this card and this card, but not this card, because it’s popping off at the same time as the points-giving card.

This symbol means you get to take one of your robots from the supply and put it in the break room. And this one means you can either move a robot in the break room into one of the dice depots, or vice-versa. Remember that you need robots in the break room if you want to fly ships into outer space, sell your robots to the Xhavits for points, or move robots into the dice depots so you can roll more of those dice during Sequence B.

This symbol refers to tucked cards – so when this card pops off, you get 3 points for every green card you’ve tucked at the side of your board. That means these cards were formerly outposts in outer space that you owned that have already popped off as the Black Angel travelled forward.

A slash always means “or”, so you pick one thing. This tile lets you either get a ship into your reserve, or move one of your ships up to 2 tiles… and that includes launching a ship into outer space, starting from the Black Angel hex.

The Ravager cards all do their own terrible thing – remember, you have to activate them when you use an action space that they’re parked on. This one means you gotta place a damage cube on the next Black Angel action space going clockwise. This one makes you put a damage cube on a die of a certain colour. Here, you have to discard a mission card from your hand, while this one makes you discard a Ravager card from your hand. And this one imprisons one of your robots from the break room. But if this Ravager gets defeated, any robots on the card go back to the break room.

The designers looked at their game, and they thought “Maybe it’s not quite complicated enough,” so they added an advanced variant.

ADVANCED MODE

In the advanced variant, all of the technology tiles start boost-side-up. The boost sides of the tech tiles do different things, like:

Set a die of a certain colour to a 3. Doesn’t even have to be your die – you can set an opponent’s die to 3, and then buy it.
Change a die of the indicated colour to any colour you want. Again, could be your die, but doesn’t have to be.
Gain 2 points when taking a certain action on the ship.
And store a die of a certain colour inside your locker for free during Sequence B, instead of paying a resource.

The cards that you play around the edge of your board do not activate these tiles! You also can’t activate them with debris cubes. Instead, you can flip the tiles over to their non-boost side during your turn, when you feel the time is right, to use their powers. If you get into a situation where you really want to use the non-boost side, but you haven’t flipped the tile over yet, you can always just flip the tiles over and forfeit their benefit, but that kinda stinks.

The “draw a card” step in Sequence A changes a little bit too. Instead of drawing one card matching the colour of the die you just used, you draw 2 cards matching its colour, pick one, and discard the other. If you used one of these boosted tiles to change the colour of the die you used, you need to draw 2 cards that match the original colour of the die, before you changed it.

SETUP

To set up the game, put the Black Angel board at one end of the table, and then lay down the seven outer space strips randomly. i hope you have a big table. The strips can go on either side and in any order – and the numbers on the strips don’t matter. If you’re playing a 2-player game, just use 5 strips instead of 7. Put the Black Angel mini in the central hex of the central strip. Put the planet Spes token on the corner of the strip farthest away from the Black Angel.

Everyone picks a colour, and five of their correspondingly coloured robots go into the Break Room, while one more goes in each coloured dice depot. The rest of the robots go into the supply. Put the dice in their respective depots. In a 3 player game, you only put in 5 dice per colour, and only 4 dice per colour for 2 players.

Shuffle up all the mission and Ravager cards and have them at the ready. If you’re playing with 3 players, get rid of 6 Ravager cards, and in a 2 player game, get rid of 12. Then, you draw two Ravager cards and place them on their starting actions, along with one damage cube each. If both Ravagers affect the same action space, double them up and lay down 2 damage cubes.

Everyone gets a player board and three starting tiles, which you randomly place here, here, and here. You start with one resource, one debris cube, and one ship. The rest of the resources, debris cubes, and ships, go into the supply. Draw one card of each colour, including a red Ravager, for your starting hand.

Shuffle the three different colours of technology tiles standard-side-up, then draw three of them and randomly place them in the first three slots along the track. If you’re playing the advanced variant, these tiles go boost-side-up instead. Shuffle up the black advanced tech tiles and deal four out at random down here.

Put one of your discs on the 5-point mark on the scoring track, and the other in one of the four compartments to claim it – probably the one closest to where you’re sitting, and you’ll all be clustered around one end of the table, because ♪ outer space takes up a lot of room. ♫

The starting player is the first person who can coherently gargle Asimov’s three laws of robotics with orange soda. (Gargling: A robot shall not harm…) That person gets the start player token, a paper towel for clean-up, and the player guide marked “1”. Everyone else gets the higher numbered player guides going clockwise around one end of the table, because ♪ outer space is a table hog. ♫ If you’re not the starting player, your player guide has some sort of starting benefit on it that you can take now.

Everyone grabs 1 die from each depot, rolls those dice, and puts them in their respective compartments.c

If you’ve set up for a 2 player game, you take a non-player robot colour and put 1 robot in each depot to represent a dummy player. Roll one of each die for the dummy player, just to give you and your opponent more options – you can both buy dice from the dummy, like you would a real player. Whenever you or you opponent choose Sequence B, the dummy player’s non-zero dice stay in the compartment, but dice with zeroes on them go back to the depot. Then, for each robot the dummy has in a depot, if the dummy has no dice left in its compartment matching that colour, roll one of those dice and give it to the dummy. So here, the white dummy has a blue star and a yellow 1. A human player has decided to run Sequence B, so the blue star goes back to the depot. The dummy has one robot in all three depots, so you roll a die for the dummy from every depot except yellow, since the dummy already has a yellow die before the player takes and rolls his or her own dice.

During gameplay, any time a player moves a robot into a dice depot, you bump out a dummy robot, so the dummy may end up rolling fewer, or no, dice by the end of the game.

You can also play Black Angel by yourself! Check out my How to Play Black Angel Solo video to learn more.

And now, you’re ready to play Black Angel!

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[Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton]

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and i’d like to teach you how to play Black Angel solo. If you don’t know how to play Black Angel at all, be sure to check out my How to Play Black Angel video first, or else absolutely none of this will make sense. Let’s go!

SOLO MODE

You can play Black Angel by yourself by squaring off against an artificial intelligence called Hal, named of course for the… dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Who also cooks meth.

Set up the game as usual, with 4 dice per colour in the depots, 5 strips in outer space, and 12 fewer Ravager cards. Pick a colour for Hal, and place one of Hal’s robots in each of the dice depots, and the rest of them in the break room. All of Hal’s robots always end up in the Break Room – there’s no robot supply for Hal, and he never runs out of robots.

Hal doesn’t get any starting resources, debris cubes, or ships… or starting tech tiles, or a starting hand, or a player board, or a player guide or the benefit that potentially comes with it. All Hal gets is this little robot deck.vv Start by rolling Hal’s dice, and then your dice. You get to go first.

Hal is a total victory points pig. Any time Hal gets something of value, it converts immediately into points, using the chart on the back of his cards.

After you play your turn, look at how many dice Hal has. If he’s got no dice left, you advance the Black Angel like you would in Sequence B, and if any of Hal’s cards pop off, he gets 3 victory points – even if they weren’t pop-off cards, with those red chevrons on them.

If Hal still has dice when it’s his turn, then instead, you flip over Hal’s next card. If you did Sequence A on your turn, you look at the Sequence A half of Hal’s card. If you did Sequence B, look at the other half of Hal’s card. If there is a die matching the colour on the half of the card you’re looking at – whether it’s your die or it’s Hal’s – you perform an action for Hal using a die in that colour. Hal always goes for the die with the most pips on it, so in this situation, he’d use your yellow 3-pip die instead of his own yellow 1-pip die, and you’d get a resource as compensation. Hal can’t touch your die if it’s in your locker. If instead neither you nor Hal have any dice in that colour, you try to perform Hal’s action with the die matching the colour on the other half of the c ard. And if nobody has dice in either of those colours, you return a die of the remaining colour, and give Hal 3 points. Note that the die you return to its depot at this point could be your die!

If Hal doesn’t have any dice of his own, you perform Sequence B on his behalf. Roll Hal’s dice, and advance the Black Angel as usual. Any time one of Hal’s cards pops off, regardless of whether it’s an activation card with a 1-2-3 on it, or a neutralization mission with red chevrons, Hal gets 3 points. His popped-off robots go back to the Break Room and the cards go to their respective discard piles.

The cards will send Hal to different action spaces with the die he chose. If Hal takes a spot with a Ravager on it, he doesn’t activate the Ravager penalty, unless it’s one of these two styles of Ravager cards that add damage cubes to the ship. The pips on Hal’s dice do get ground down if there are two cubes on the space he’s trying to use, though. So if Hal places a 2-pip die here, he only gets tvo do the thing once.

If Hal’s action looks like this, you use all the pips on his die to buy tech tiles. If he can afford it, he’ll buy a black advanced tech tile first. If the card shows this symbol, he only gets to buy regular tech tiles. Hal always shops for the tiles closest to the end of the line. If he gets a black tech tile, close the gap and fill up the row as usual. Any regular tech tile Hal buys gets him 2 points, and any black tech tile he buys gets him 4 points. If Hal doesn’t have enough pips to buy one or more tech tiles, he just gets 3 points instead by default. Because that’s fair.

If Hal wants to remove damage cubes, you place Hal’s die and remove as many cubes as he has pips, going either clockwise from space 1 to space 6, or counter-clockwise from space 6 to space 1 around the ship as the card indicates. Remember, the back of the card says that Hal gets 2 points per cube he gobbles up. He won’t remove any damage cubes from dice unless the whole ship is damage-free. Again, if Hal’s die is a zero… or his pip count gets knocked down to zero by damage cubes on the space… or there aren’t any cubes for him to remove… Hal just gets 3 points.

If Hal wants to destroy some Ravagers, it works the same as repairing damage – going clockwise from space 1 or counterclockwise from space 6, Hal uses his pips to remove Ravager cards from the board. He’ll always destroy as many Ravagers as he possibly can, so if he has a 3-pip die, he’ll skip over the spaces with 1 or 2 Ravagers on them, and spend his pips on this space with 3 Ravagers. Each Ravager Hal murders gets him 2 points.

If Hal wants to command a ship, you ignore the pips on Hal’s chosen die entirely. Hal doesn’t actually use robots in ships to put cards on hexes: instead, just draw a mission card in the matching colour.vv If it’s a pop-off card with the red chevrons, put the card on a hex matching its colour on the rearmost strip of outer space. If there’s no room there, put it on a matching hex on the next strip up, and so on.

If instead it’s an activation mission, work from the frontmost strip on back until you find the right place to stick it.

If there are multiple choices of where to put the card on a single strip, put it on the hex with the little comet symbol on it. If Hal’s card goes on a hex with a comet, he gets 3 bonus points – so make sure you cover those comet hexes before he does! Once Hal’s card goes up, put one of his robots on the card and give him the reward. Count up the adjacent Ravager icons and add Ravagers to the ship and technology tiles to the shopping track as usual.

If you cruise over to one of Hal’s 1-2-3 Activation cards, and use a die to activate it on a later turn, Hal always does the thing on the card once. So here, he’d just straight-up get 3 points.

You can buy one of Hal’s dice, but you have to pay him a resource, which he immediately juices for 1 point.

Endgame is triggered in the usual way, either by exhausting the Ravager deck or reaching Spes. If you manage to score enough points at endgame to beat Hal, then – hooray! Celebrate by…. doing some meth. I dunno.

The rulebook suggests trying to beat Hal on harder and harder difficulty modes, by having him start with 10 victory points for standard difficulty, 15 points for hard mode, and 20 points for an extremely challenging solo game. Holy crap!

And now, you’re ready to play Black Angel solo! But are you ever really ready…?

Did you just watch that whole thing? Oh – hey! To 100% this video, click the badge to subscribe, then click the bell to get notifications when i’ve got new stuff!
[Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton]

 

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