I've just picked up Space Alert, and read through handbook (as yet un-played), the thing that I can't understand is the reason for placing your action cards face down during the planning phase.

The only reason I can think of is that it adds to the chaotic-ness of the planning phase, being unable to instantly see what another player is planning.

I just wanted to check there's not a mechanic somewhere that I've missed. (Was thinking along the lines of BSG game, where any cylon players are trying to undermine the success of the mission but negatively contributing towards the goals)

1 Answer 1


It is to promote communication between players.

If you and I (try to) use the same lift/elevator in the same turn, one of us will be delayed - and this send all of that player's subsequent plans back a turn!

Likewise for shooting guns, firing missiles, certain energy transfer actions... you can get really messed up if two players "do" the same thing in a single turn.

So what does that have to do with why it is required?
The crux of Space Alert is solving a puzzle in a short amount of time. One aspect of the puzzle is the face-down action cards.
It is common for new players/teams to play with cards face-up. This is, obviously, a "house rule". If you feel that the missions are too challenging, or just want an easier pass at things, then go for it!

Playing with cards face-up allows you to avoid duplication, and make it easier for someone to verify that the mouse is going to be wiggled this phase!

  • Also, when you put the cards face down, you won't remember what YOU did...
    – Ramiro
    May 6, 2014 at 18:14
  • @Ramiro: Sure, but you can quickly check. For others to check, they have to communicate to you what they would like checked! May 6, 2014 at 18:59
  • 1
    One addition: Space Alert seems designed to counteract "quarterbacking", one player taking over. The time pressure does a lot for this issue, but as your comment hints the face-down cards are a big part too. Even an experienced player can't tell a novice exactly what to do next because they can't determine at a glance where the novice is at any particular time! Which all comes back to your main point: communication. May 6, 2014 at 19:04
  • not to forget: when a disruption in communication occurs, it really means that - you cannot just look at other player's boards to see what they have done in order to get information important to you, you need to wait until communication is re-established and then ask them Aug 21, 2018 at 17:16

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