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Cody K. Carlson
Set up for a three-player game of Impulse, from Asmadi Games, consists of face-down action cards and and revealed home world cards.

Asmadi Games' Impulse comes in a small box containing over a hundred cards, a few dozen plastic spaceships of assorted colors and several larger cards that detail one of the galaxy's unique races.

Two to six players select a race to play and gain a hand of cards. Then, several cards are laid face down in a pattern upon the table. Each card has “gate” upon it, connecting it to the other cards on the table. Players reveal their home card on one corner of the card pattern and place two spaceships sitting upright that represent transports and one lying on its side near one of the gates, a cruiser.

On a player's turn he or she must lay down a card face up beside the board and take that action. As each player goes more cards are added, creating the impulse. Soon everybody will have to take four actions on their turn that corresponds with the cards in the impulse. Actions may include moving their cruisers and transports through space, mining cards for resources (located on the sides of the cards), trading cards into the deck for victory points or sabotaging another player's spaceship.

In addition to trading, players gain points by destroying opponents ships in combat, refining mineral cards and activating the sector core, which is essentially occupying the center card with a transport and patrolling the gates with cruisers. Players can also create their own personal impulse — known as the plan — that they can activate suddenly, taking multiple actions at a time. At the end of a player's turn he or she must remove the top card from the impulse and slide the others up. The first player to 20 points wins the game.

While Impulse has a science-fiction theme, it really plays much more like an abstract game. Indeed, if it had another theme on it, it wouldn't affect game play at all. With that in mind, Impulse presents players quite a challenge regardless of its theme. The various cards and multiple ways that players can use them make for a fun and engaging game that is not too complex, but can be very intense.

Impulse in recommended for ages 13 and up, and plays in about an hour.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's in history from the University of Utah and teaches at Salt Lake Community College. An avid player of board games, he blogs at thediscriminatinggamer.com. Email: ckcarlson76@gmail.com