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Tabletop Game / The Captain Is Dead

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Survive the Alien Onslaught, or Become Space Dust!
The Captain Is Dead is a cooperative Adventure Board Game where the players assume the role of the crew of your favorite Science Fiction TV shownote  trying to survive an attack from hostile aliens. The game was funded on Kickstarter and has been published both by The Game Crafter and by Alderac Entertainment Group.

Thunderbox Entertainment released a Video Game Adaptation in 2021.

Tropes found in the game include:

  • Aliens Are Bastards: The hostile aliens are not at all friendly (by definition).
  • Almighty Janitor: The Janitor can fix the jump core single-handedly in a very short time as long as the other players can keep feeding him Engineering cards, thanks to his ability to trade actions for skill discounts (and the fact that he gains an additional action while carrying a tool). It's even more effective if you can manage to get the Epinephrine Ventilation upgrade, which gives everyone an additional action. (Discussed here and here.)
  • Auto-Doc: One of the ship upgrades that the characters can research is an Auto Surgeon, which can heal an injured character automatically, without requiring an action to do so.
  • Beyond the Impossible: It is possible to have two Anomalies in effect simultaneously, one of which prevents characters from using ship systems when they are alone, and the other of which prevents characters from using ship systems when they are not alone.
  • Boarding Party: Some of the Alerts cause hostile aliens to appear somewhere on the ship.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: One of the ship upgrades that the characters can research is Epinephrine Ventilation, which gives every character another action.
  • The Captain: He's dead. But he did leave behind Battle Plans that can be accessed by anyone with Command skills.
  • Captain's Log: The Captain's Journal is a ship system that provides Battle Plans, which are cards that have various beneficial effects when played.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Locations on the ship are color coded, and the ship systems are color coded based on where they are located:
      • Blue (War Room): Captain's Journal
      • Orange (Engineering): Jump Core, Teleporter
      • Red (Bridge): Shields, Comm System, External Scanners
      • Yellow (Armory): Torpedo Tube, Security Station
      • Green (Science Lab): Upgrades, Research Station
      • Purple (Infirmary): Trauma Station
      • White (CPU Core): Computers, Internal Sensors
      • Black (Cargo Hold): Cargo Pod
    • Character cards are color coded, with matching character tokens of the same colors. The colors correspond to each character's rank, starting location, and general field of expertise.
    • The Alert deck that drives the game is color coded. The players start off drawing the less severe Yellow Alerts, then progress to the more severe Orange Alerts, and finally end with the most severe Red Alerts.
  • Cool Starship: The gameboard represents the ship and its systems.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: You lose pretty fast if you don't coordinate your actions with others.
  • Damage Reduction: One of the ship upgrades that the characters can research reduces the damage inflicted by any future Alert cards that damage the shields.
  • Dark Is Evil: The tokens for the hostile aliens are black. The tokens for the crewmembers are brighter colors.
  • Deflector Shields: One of the ways to lose the game is to take more damage than your shields can deflect.
  • Difficulty Levels: Depending on the player experience, you can play different difficulty levels ranging from Coward (repair the Jump Core 3 times to win) to Insane (start with 2 fewer torpedoes than normal, and repair the Jump Core 9 times to win).
  • Easier Than Easy: The lowest difficulty level, called Coward.
  • Equipment Upgrade: One of the ship upgrades that the characters can research converts the Trauma Station into a more effective Auto Surgeon. Another extends the range of both the External Scanners and the Internal Sensors.
  • Escape Battle Technique: When in the presence of hostile aliens, you can do very little other than kill them. You cannot even walk/run away. But if the Teleporter is online, then you can use it to teleport somewhere else.
  • Everyone Has a Special Move: The 18 characters come with different abilities and different skill discounts, and in some cases, different numbers of actions per turn and/or different hand sizes.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Some of the Alerts take ship systems offline, and injure any character who happens to be in the same location.
  • Extra Turn: A few characters start with an additional action. Also, one of the ship upgrades that the characters can research grants all characters an additional action. Inverted by an Anomaly that reduces the number of actions everyone has by one.
  • The Face: The Diplomat can negotiate with aliens on behalf of others, overriding Alerts when it is someone else's turn.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The players win by repairing the Jump Core, allowing them to escape from the hostile aliens that are attacking them.
  • Force-Field Door: One of the Anomalies causes strange energies to block the door to Engineering.
  • The Great Repair: When the game starts, the Jump Core is damaged and must be repaired so the surviving crew can escape the hostile aliens. Alert cards cause additional damage, which must be repaired before the players can use the affected systems.
  • Harder Than Hard: The highest difficulty level, called Insane.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Crewman can protect other characters at his location from being injured by dying himself.
  • The Immune: The Cyborg is unaffected by Anomalies.
  • Informed Ability: As long as there are 12 or fewer hostile aliens on your ship, they won't move or attack, and will merely prevent you from using most ship systems until you kill them. But as soon as there are 13 or more hostile aliens on board, they supposedly take over the ship and you lose.
  • Intangibility: The Hologram is not a physical being, and therefore cannot use tools, cannot be injured, cannot attack aliens (except by activating ship systems), etc.
  • Item Crafting: There are 5 ship upgrades that can be researched in the Science Lab.
  • MacGyvering: The Janitor can repair or reinstall systems even without the necessary Skill cards, by spending extra actions instead.
  • Mooks: The hostile aliens that board your ship prevent you from using ship systems in their presence, but otherwise just stand around waiting for you to kill them.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Several of the Alert cards are Anomalies, which cause various effects until someone on the crew researches them in the science lab.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Characters can be injured, which limits their ability to act until they are healed, but they cannot be killed. (The exception is The Crewman, who can protect other characters at his location from being injured by dying himself, only to reappear on the Bridge at the beginning of his next turn.)
  • Numerical Hard: The difficulty level of the game controls the number of times the Jump Core must be repaired to win, and in the case of the Insane level, the initial number of torpedoes.
  • One-Man Army: While other characters can kill only one hostile alien per action, The Soldier can kill every hostile alien in the same location for a single action.
  • Party Scattering: One of the Anomalies prevents the characters from using ship systems in the presence of other characters, forcing them to split up to get anything done.
  • The Power of Friendship: The Counselor gets an extra action if she starts the turn at the same location as another crewmember.
  • Race Against the Clock: When you run of out Alert cards, you lose. Of course, that's assuming that you somehow survive all 6 of the Red Alerts at the bottom of the Alert deck.
  • Random Events Plot: The game is driven by the Alerts deck, which throws a random event at the players every turn.
  • Red Alert: The Alert deck drives the game, and starts with Yellow Alerts, then progresses to the more severe Orange Alerts, and finally ends with the most severe Red Alerts.
  • Red Shirt: The Crewman can protect other characters at his location from being injured by dying himself, only to reappear on the Bridge at the beginning of his next turn.
  • Respawn Point: After The Crewman dies, he respawns on the Bridge at the beginning of his next turn.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: One of the Red Alerts (which are the last 6 cards in the Alert deck) destroys the ship, resulting in immediate defeat.
  • Sequel: The Game Crafter published Adrift, Lockdown, and Dangerous Planet as episodes 2, 3, and 4. Alderac Entertainment Group published Lockdown and Dangerous Planet as episodes 2 and 3.
  • Sci-Fi Name Buzzwords: Played straight in a few cases (like the Epinephrine Ventilation upgrade), but largely averted. Torpedoes are not photoprotoneutron torpedoes. The Jump Core is not a quantum flux drive. The Rifle and Pistol are not a laser rifle or a phaser pistol.
  • Sliding Scale of Cooperation vs. Competition: The game is an example of "Enforced Cooperation", as there are no competitive elements and the players are required to coordinate their moves closely, especially on higher difficulties.
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: Pretty much the premise of the game, though overall it's pretty much Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off.
  • Subsystem Damage: In addition to the Jump Core (which starts out damaged, and must be repaired to win the game) and the Shields (which are damaged and repaired in increments of 10%), there are 6 ship systems that can be taken offline (or destroyed). Players cannot use offline (or destroyed) systems until they repair (or reinstall) those systems.
  • Teleportation: One of the ship systems is a Teleporter, which allows crewmembers to travel easily to anywhere on the ship.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Every time The Crewman dies, he reappears on the Bridge at the beginning of his next turn.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Specifically, the Captain died before the game begins.
  • Turn-Based Combat: Players takes turns spending their action points.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: With the expansion The Problem with Priggles, you can defeat an Alien Ship by teleporting three Priggles onto it.