Star Hop

Star Hop, 1981, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up. In Star Hop, players explore the universe in an attempt to amass 25 "GNC's" (Galactic Navigation Credits). To accomplish this, a player first draws a Mission Card which will have a picture and description of some astronomical object (EG, "Go to one of the extremely energetic galaxies, which appears to us in a young and violent stage, and which emits more light than a hundred normal galaxies combined"). If you think you know what/where it is, you head for it. Otherwise, you look it up on the decoder wheel which will tell you exactly what/where it is (EG, "Quasar", sector 7). Using the decoder wheel will cost you an extra turn, so there is insentive to learn/know what these things are.

The board is divided up into "normal" space and "hyper" space. Players start out on the hyperspace grid and roll dice to move around between the 8 hyperspace "portals" (which in turn lead into the 8 sectors of normal space). Once you've figured out which object you need to visit, you first move through hyperspace to the corresponding portal, and then move through the portal to the object on your mission card. If you've guessed correctly (or looked it up), you are awarded with a card from the GNC deck. And if you guessed wrong, you get nothing and have to turn around and head back to the correct location. Each location in normal space has an "escape" value which you must now beat on two dice in order to get back into hyperspace, so you may wind up getting stuck in normal space for a while (which gets pretty danged boring). If you ever roll doubles, you get to draw from the "Hop" deck, cards which instruct you to jump to a particular space in hyper or normal space (sometimes nice for escaping from a location with a particularly high "escape" value, but usually annoying).

This game is very easy to learn and get started playing (the rules "leaflet" takes about two minutes to read through). But, like most educational games, it's pretty boring. In fact, it's really boring. My ten year-old son got so antsy playing this game with me, you'd think I'd forced him to sit through a lecture on "symbolism in 19th century feminine literature". If you want to learn these scientific facts, sit down and read through all of the mission cards and then get on with your life. You'll save yourself the hours of rolling dice and moving lame little spacecraft around on a board, neither of which is going to make you any smarter any faster.

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