The excellent folks at Mödiphiüs did a Kickstart for this game a while back. My daughter has stumbled onto the new CGI version of the show, and I remember the original Gerry Anderson Supermarionation version — even had all the Dinky toys when I was a boy — so buying the game was a no-brainer. Everyone starts their review the same way, so I’ll not break with convention…

5…4…3…2…1…Thunderbirds are go!

Designed by Matt Leacock, Thunderbirds is a cooperative board where the players work together as members of the International Rescue, stopping disasters in space, and around the globe, as well as stopping the evil machinations of the Hood, with their cool-ass Jet Age craft, the signature of any Gerry Anderson show (Fireball XL-5, Supercar, UFO, Space: 1999, and others.) I’m told it’s similar to his famed Pandemic, which I’ve yet to play.

Each player has a character from the show and their signature vehicle under their command, and during your turn you can take three actions: move to a location, stage a rescue, plan by pulling F.A.B. cards, or scan for issues using Thunderbird 5, in geo-synchronous orbit. there are other operations which don’t cost one of your actions. Each disaster has certain requirements, or gear/vehicle/character benefits if you have those units present. You roll dice, and if you get a Hood silhouette, his piece moves along a track toward victory (unless you thwart the three “schemes” he has going.) The other way to lose is if you get overwhelmed by disasters and they reach the end of their track, which they progress along on each player’s turn.

The disasters stack up pretty quickly, and the trick is to plan out how you’ll get what gear where so that you can knock out the disasters as fast as possible, while ending the Hood’s machinations. It’s tough. I played this solo and did pretty well, then with the family (including said five year-old girl) and we won with a half-full disaster track.

Substance: 5 out of 5. There’s a lot of meat to the game — you have to work together, plan carefully, and decide how to use the various bonuses you get from tokens. I suspect this is a game that will be a lot of fun to play repeatedly.

Style: 5 out of 5. The entire set is high quality, from the linen finish on the cards, and the box, to the board map, to the wee plastic Thunderbirds pieces. The pictures on the cards are screencaps from the old show, and the characters stick very well to the functions they played in the show. For instance, I got stuck with Alan, Thunderbird 3‘s pilot, and this turned out a great thing, as it allowed me to nab the various space-rescues that came up. It really evokes that Space Age flavor that sci-fi had at the time, where we were going to be in space; rich people weren’t the devil, but millionaire inventor philanthropists saving the world with their unique inventions; and gear looked fab!

Is it worth it? The set runs about $70 most places you look, (I found it for much cheaper online…) but the quality of the manufacture and the good game mechanics lead me to say yes. If you are a Thunderbirds fan, abso-friggin’-lutely!

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