Core Space: First Born Review

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Core Space Review Contents All Battle SYstems Photo (2)

Last updated on September 27th, 2022 at 08:40 pm

Plunge into a brand-new science fiction universe with Core Space: First Born. Take on the role of an intrepid band of Traders as you and your friends make your way across the galaxy, scavenging, exploring, and fighting for your survival.

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Core Space: First Born – Summary

Core Space: First Born is something of a journey. This vast box, creaking under the weight of all the stuff that comes with it, may seem intimidating at first. There’s so much stuff in it, so much to learn, and so much to do.

But push past it and persist, because it isn’t anywhere near as difficult as it may first seem. With the aide of a well-written How to Play Booklet and a comprehensive Rulebook, getting your head around Core Space: First Born’s mechanics is not as hard as you may first think.

Whatever you do, don’t be put off. If you are, you risk missing out on a truly spectacular game.

Core Space: First Born – Introduction

Sci-fi miniatures games fans rejoice! Boy, have we got a treat for you today!

We ran into UK-based Battle Systems at UKGE a few months back. You can see their segment in our round-up video here.

You can see the full video here. During the course of their interview with us, they turned us on to their flagship game: Core Space.

Here’s how Battle Systems themselves describe it:

Core Space: First Born is a solo/co-operative sci-fi miniatures game in which your band of Traders venture into the temples of the First Born, a fanatical alien species that do not welcome intruders!

Source: Battle Systems

Awash with alien villains, scruffy-looking heroes, and a host of other exciting charatcers, Core Space: First Born is the mash-up of Space Hulk and Dungeons and Dragons. As part RPG and part tabletop skirmish experience, for us here at FauxHammer.com, this ticks a lot of boxes.

So, Battle Systems were kind enough to send us a copy of their game (as well as some additional terrain to have a look at), we were made up. Keep scrolling for our up-close look at all the parts of this awesome boxed game.

Core Space: First Born – Unboxing

Core Space: First Born comes in a big and heavy box. The weight of the thing alone promises a vast amount of goodies inside.

Core Space Review Unboxing 1

The artwork depicts a few of the titular characters. The crew of the Eidolon space ship – which we’ll learn more of later – being stalked by the First Born.

Underneath the lid, first of all we have the gaming mat.

Core Space Review Unboxing 2

Setting this aside, we have – well, what don’t we have?

Core Space Review Unboxing 3

On the left we have the token pouch and range rules. Visible below is the How to Play Booklet. On the right, in their own container, are some the plastic Crew Dashboards and Hostility Tracker.

Core Space Review Unboxing 4

Removing the pouch and range rulers, we have the books proper.

Core Space Review Unboxing 5

The are two books in the set: the How to Play Booklet and the Core Space: First Born Rulebook. We’ll take a closer look at each of these in their own section shortly.

Core Space Review Unboxing 6

Setting the books aside, we have another box – we’ll return to this momentarily.

Core Space Review Unboxing 7

Beneath that box, we have a wedge of token and scenery boards.

Now, that smaller box…

Core Space Review Unboxing 8

…contains the miniatures, pegs, and dice that you need to play Core Space: First Born.

Core Space Review Unboxing 9

What a lot of stuff!

Core Space: First Born – Contents

There is an unbelievable amount of stuff in the Core Space: First Born box. Here’s a photo of it all (well, most of it!), courtesy of Battle Systems’ website.

Core Space Review Contents All Battle SYstems Photo (2)
Source: Battle Systems

In all, this is no less than:

  • 20 x Miniatures:
    • 4 x Trader Miniatures
    • 12 x First Born Miniatures
    • 2 x Game Hunter Miniatures
    • 2 x Rock Worm Miniatures
  • 8 x Character Boards
  • 6 x Class Boards
  • 1 x Ship Airlock Board
  • 4 x Plastic Crew Dashboards
  • 1 x Plastic Hostility Tracker
  • 150 x Plastic Pegs
  • 1 x Token Pouch
  • 192 x Equipment Tokens
  • 65 x Assorted Counters
  • 7 x Dice
  • 2 x Range Rulers
  • 27 x Cards:
    • 24 x Event Cards
    • 3 x Reference Cards
  • 1 x Rulebook
  • 1 x Learn to Play Booklet
  • 1 x Complete Alien Catacombs Terrain Set
    • 1 x Printed 60cm x 60cm Neoprene Gaming Mat
    • 36 x Assorted Walls
    • Over 120 Assorted Scatter Components and Accessories

This is quite possibly the biggest, most complete boxed game we’ve ever looked at here at FauxHammer.com. Grab yourself a drink and make sure you’re sitting comfortably: this is going to be a long one!

Literature

There are two bits of reading in the Core Space: First Born box. One is the Rulebook, which we’ll get to in the moment. First, we have the How to Play book.

How to Play Book

The How to Play book is every beginner’s crash-course in Core Space. Core Space is a big and original gaming system, so chucking players in face-first without a newbie’s guide would be a bit mean.

The how to Play guide is only 16 pages long, so it’s neither large nor imposing. The scenario outlined in the book are designed to be played by 1-2 players, so grab a friend (or, if you’re like us here at FauxHammer.com and don’t have any friends, lure a fellow geek to your favourite gaming venue under the pretence of needing their help for playtesting).

Core Space Review Learn to Play 1

The How to Play guide takes you through everything in the box, with plenty of clear pictures labelling what everything is. This is extremely useful as the sheer amount of stuff may be a bit overwhelming.

The guide takes you through all the steps of playing a game of Core Space. It shows you how to set up your gaming space, as per the image below, before talking you through a few key concepts.

Core Space Review Learn to Play 2

Then, the guide gently introduces you to playing the game. It walks you through the key Phases for each Round: the Hostility Phase, the Trader Phase, the First Born Phase, the NPC Phase, and finally the Assessment Phase. We’ll cover these in more detail in our How to Play article.

Core Space Review Learn to Play 3

The How to Play booklet is exactly as it should be. Well formatted and with plenty of clear pictures and diagrams, it introduces the key concepts that you need in order to get stuck in to a game of Core Space succinctly and easily. It’s a great resource for beginners and makes Core Space an accessible and non-intimidating game to get playing.

We’ll have a really good look at this book in our How to Play article.

Rulebook

The rulebook shares the How to Play manual’s characteristics of being well written, well formatted, and easy to read.

Clocking in at 109 pages, it’s not quite as wieldy as the How to Play booklet (but still nowhere near as beefy as some of the rulebooks that pass through FauxHammer Towers).

Core Space Review Rulebook 1

To a large extent, it’s more or less the How to Play guide turned up to 11. Formatted in a similar order to the How to Play guide, with steps and phases laid out in a chronological order. However, there is, as one would expect, considerably more detail stored away within the glossy pages of this manual.

That said, it’s not a difficult book to handle. With clear contents pages, plenty of large headings, and heaps of pictures and diagrams, it’s a very easy book to get around. This is exactly how you want a rulebook to be: you don’t want to be leafing through pages after pages of information looking for that one little rule at a critical point in the game. Nothing ruins the immersion of your encounter more than having to spent ten minutes frantically looking up that one specific rule.

Core Space Review Rulebook 3
Core Space Review Rulebook 4

The second half of the rulebook is dedicated to setting up the narrative campaign that has been cooked up by the guys at Battle Systems. Designed to enable you to take your squad of intrepid Traders on a games-long adventure across the galaxy in a quest for riches, it contains all the details you need to build your characters and undertake various missions of increasing complexity.

Core Space Review Rulebook 5

There are a host of new rules to make the experience all the more immersive and personalised: crafting, bartering, crew hire and upkeep, and more. All this helps you ensure you’re ready to dive into even more dangerous ruins, face off against much tougher foes, and grab even greater loot.

Core Space Review Rulebook 7
Core Space Review Rulebook 6

Finally, the book ends with a number of reference tables. Whilst these may not necessarily make a huge amount of sense to brand-new players, they will prove a boon to those who just need a quick glance to refresh their memories.

As far as rulebooks go, it’s a good ‘un. Easy to read and navigate, it’s a great resource that will help dedicated players get the most out of their games of Core Space: First Born.

Miniatures

There are no fewer than 20 sci-fi-themed miniatures in the core Space: First Born box. We’ll have a closer look at all of them now.

Crew of the Eidolon

First and foremost, we have our heroes. The crew of the Eidolon space ship are who players will take charge of during their games of Core Spce: First Born.

From left to right in the image below, we have Wade and Cassie, a pair of humans, a robot named Hopper, and an alien called Balcor. These are the guys you can see on the cover of the box.

Core Space Review Miniatures 1

Now, whilst there are some lovely details on these delightful little miniatures, there are a couple of issues. You can spot them in the image above.

The plastic that the miniatures are made from is quite soft. Because they are all packed in their box quite tightly, this means that they’ve been slightly bent. Wade on the left is leaning a little further back than he should be, and Cassie’s pistol looks a little, um, flaccid.

Core Space Review Miniatures Wade and Cassie Damage

Balcor’s model is beefy enough so as not to have these issues, whilst Hopper, being quite narrow, fits very well into his slot in the packaging. But these are issues that could be fixed by submerging these miniatures in warm water and gently bending these parts back into shape, so it’s no biggie.

You also get a great sense of character and role from each of these miniatures. Each is very distinct from the other, and you get a real feel for the person you’re playing.

Game Hunters and Rock Worms

The next two miniatures we have are Keats and Caaligorn. Happily, these two arrived with no kind of damage to them whatsoever.

Core Space Review Miniatures 5

There are a couple of mould lines on these two – Keats in particular. You can see the large seam running up his left leg and across his base. However, for miniature painters and modelers, getting rid of this line won’t be an issue.

As with the crew of the Eidolon above, you get a great sense of both action and character with these models. They’re clear and distinct from the others in their set, dressed in higher-spec equipment. These guys know what they’re on about.

Also printed in the same colour plastic as Keats and Caaligorn are a part of Rock Worms. I’m a big fan of these two miniatures.

Core Space Review Miniatures 6

These two horrible monsters look great. There’s a huge amount of poise and menace in their sculpts, both giving the impression they’ve just surfaced and are ready to pouch on an unwary explorer.

The First Born

The First Born, as we’ve learned from Battle Systems, are an ancient race of aliens none-too-happy that people are poking around in their old ruins.

The First Born in the Core Space: First Born box come in four flavours. First up, we have a trio of Lieges.

Core Space Review Miniatures 3

These models make for impressive figures. Proud and imposing, the Lieges are clearly the ones in charge.

Next, we have a pair of Iconoclasts.

Core Space Review Miniatures 2

These two assassin-like miniatures are wonderfully sculpted. There’s a great deal of movement and dexterity in their poses. Again, their battlefield role and the kind of theat they pose is captured in dramatic fashion.

Then, two True Born miniatures. The one on the left is ‘somnambulent’, the one on the right ‘awake’.

Core Space Review Miniatures 4

Somewhere between the Lieges and Iconoclasts, the True Born possess that BBEG menace. Apparently unarmed yet lightly armoured and moving with purpose, there’s something about these models that’s rather menacing.

Finally, we also have 5 Drones. There’s not much difference in the pose of these little chaps. They do have a few different tools and attachments at their fronts, but that’s all.

Core Space Review Miniatures 7

But that’s the point, isn’t it? They’re robot servants. It wouldn’t make sense if they all looked wildly different.

The First Born miniatures all look great. There’s a great deal of depth and diversity across the selection, and you alway get a really strong sense of character in each miniature.

Wargear

As we’ve both seen in the Unboxing and Contents sections, there’s a vast amount of stuff in the Core Space: First Born box. Most of it is what we’ve taken to calling “Wargear” – accessories designed to facilitate the playing of the game itself.

We’ll go through it all now. Time to refill that drink and get comfortable again!

Cards

Surprisingly, there aren’t actually all that many cards in Core Space: First Born. There are, in fact, only 27.

Core Space Review Cards

There are three Reference Cards, which you can see on the left. The purple-backed cards with “Event” written on them are, you guessed it, Event Cards.

Whilst the reference cards speak for themselves, the Event Cards are designed to generate new challenges for the players. We’ll look at these in more detail in our accompanying How to Play article!

The cards themselves are well-made and clear. The text is well-written, if sometimes a little small, and the cards themselves are well-designed. It’s obvious what’s what, and what needs to happen.

Tokens and Boards

Good grief, look at all these.

Core Space Review Tokens 1

There are something like 272 tokens and boards in the Core Space: First Born set. Going from top to bottom and left to right, we have:

  • Top row:
    • 1 x Hostility Board insert
    • 1 x Target Marker
    • 2 x Career Point Counters
    • 20 x Energy Counters
  • Second row:
    • 6 x Trader/NPC Boards
    • 6 x Class Boards
    • 170 x Assorted Equipment Tokens
    • 6 x Wormholes
  • Third row:
    • 12 x Lock Markers
    • 8 x Activation/Assistance Counters
    • 22 x Search/Mined Counters
    • 6 x Patrol Point Markers
    • 22 x Mining Reward Tokens
    • 6 x Entry Point Markers
  • Bottom row:
    • 1 x Ship Airlock Board
    • 1 x First Born Board
    • 1 x True Born Board
    • 3 x True Born Board Inserts

There are so many tokens and boards that you need for a game of Core Space: First Born that along with a couple of plastic baggies, Battle Systems also provide you with a nice, printed drawstring bag for all your tokens.

Core Space Review Token Pouch

On the whole, the majority of the tokens leave their push-out boards easily enough. I had a handful of snags and tears, but when you’re dealing with over 200 tokens, probability is stacked against you. It’s just going to happen.

The tokens themselves, though, are really nice. Covered in high-quality print with clear icons, text, and numerals, even the smallest ones are easy to read.

We aren’t quite done with the tokens, yet, and will be returning to them in a minute.

Dashboards and Trackers

Core Space: First Born is a character-driven game. As such, you’ll need a way of tracking your character’s progress, as well as that of their enemies.

Core Space Review Hostility Tracker No Cards
Core Space Review Crew Dashboards No Cards

On the left, we have the Plastic Hostility Tracker, used by the First Born. On the right, we have one of the four Plastic Crew Dashboards.

As you may suspect, there’s more to these plastic shapes than first meets the eye. First off, we’ll need these packets of coloured pegs:

Core Space Review Pegs

Second off, we’ll need those tokens and boards we just looked at. Remember we said we weren’t quite done with them? Well, this is why:

Core Space Review Hostility Tracker and Crew Dashboards Cards

Using the plastic dashboards, players can insert the relevant character boards and equipped item tokens into the appropriate slots on their dashboards. These work like character sheets, displaying your stats and gear for easy reference.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say these weren’t a super cool touch. These are really satisfying to hold and set up, as the boards, tokens, and pegs are all really tactile.

Range Rulers

Next up, we have the the range rulers. There are two in the set: the longer one is 13″, the other 5″. They’re printed to look like gunfire, with a point or origin flare and an impact on either end.

Core Space Review Range Rulers 1

However – and this is a fairly big however – they’re made from very hard, brittle plastic which means there’s absolutely no yield in them.

As such, they do break.

Core Space Review Range Rulers 2a

My longer range ruler arrived with the end snapped off. Whilst this can be fixed with a careful bit of superglue, it’s a real shame. Range rulers in games are usually fairly cheap and not special, so it’s nice that Battle Systems made the effort with theirs. The material they’re made from just isn’t the best.

However, Battle Systems will replace any components that arrive broken or damaged, so all it took was a quick email and a few days later, this arrived.

Chatting with the guys from Battle Systems, they humbly revealed that they receive a lot of praise for their customer service. However, they consider it unwarranted, stating they simply treat others how they’d expect to be treated with any product they purchased from any retailer.

The fact of the matter is, however, most places don’t go the extra mile. That Battle Systems do sets them apart from their competitors – and wins them some FauxHammer points in this review!

Dice

Themed dice!

Core Space Review Dice

It’s so easy for designers to just sling some plain dice in with their boxes. As such, it’s nice when creators make an effort with the dice in their boxes. Even if they’re made of fairly standard plastic, seeing different colours and some unique icons just helps make the set feel that much more complete.

So, here we have a purple Knowledge Dice, a green First Born dice, and red and blue Attack and Damage dice. We’ll have a closer look at all these in our How to Play article.

Gaming Mat

Previously, I’ve considered well-made and nicely-printed cardboard boards (such as the one in the Age of Sigmar Extermis Starter Set) to be worthy of reasonable praise. However, Core Space: First Born has re-written what a good battle mat or gaming board is.

Feast your eyes on this.

Core Space Review Mat 1

This is a high-quality printed neoprene gaming mat. It’s flexible, foldable, and thanks to its textured underside, doesn’t slip when laid out on a smooth surface.

Core Space Review Mat 2

The print quality is awesome. It’s super detailed and covered in the image of a First Born ruin’s floor. Half buried under rock and rubble, but with alien technologies peeking through the filth, the picture looks really great.

This right here is how you make a gaming mat. Flawless.

Scenery and Terrain

Core Space: First Born has a nifty little terrain system to help make your games all the more immersive.

Included in the set are a wedge of push-out boards, just like the ones you remove the tokens from. These, however, are covered with scenery components.

Core Space Review Terrain Boards

Once pushed out, you’ll have all this (plus the two pillars you can see I’ve assembled on the left).

Core Space Review Terrain Boards 2

These bits of terrain are modular, and are put together to create walls and corridors. These are then put on the map to create your playspace.

Core Space Review Terrain Boards 3

They’re held together by the packets of little brown brackets you can see in the middle of the pile of stuff. As each mission has a different map layout, these are designed to be put together and taken apart with ease.

However, that’s not all. In order to make the environment all the more realistic, there are also a number of terrain features to help make your map all the more exciting.

Core Space Review Terrain 2

Unlike the terrain, which is assembled by slotting the walls and arches together using plastic brackets, these terrain features are assembled by being folded or slotted together.

Some of them are surprisingly complex to do, but Battle Systems have clear guides on how to put all the scenery together available on their website.

Core Space Review Terrain 1
Core Space Review Terrain 3

Here’s an example of what a set up battle space looks like, with walls, additional terrain features, and the battle mat.

Core Space Review Terrain Boards 4

It’s a really nice, and quite clever, set up. It’s easy enough to do. However, the constant removing and re-assembling of terrain pieces does cause some of the edges of the terrain pieces to get worn. By the time I had pushed everything off its boards, put it all together, and taken the wall arrangement apart again, some of the edges were looking a little frayed.

Core Space Review Terrain Boards 5

This has to be expected, though, as it is made of card. Should your terrain get worn out beyond use, you can buy replacements for not-too-expensive a price.

Core Space: First Born – Playtesting

Core Space: First Born is a massive game, and the mechanics will be new to most people. In order to give you the most thorough and comprehensive look at this product that we can, we’ll do an entire playtest in our accompanying How to Play article.

We’ll get stuck in to all the details and take you through how to play the game so you can get the most objective look at the game.

Core Space Review Playtesting 2

You can check the entire playtest and the accompanying How to Play article here.

The TL;DR of the playtest is that, in spite of the enormous number of components that go into Core Space: First Born, the game is surprisingly straightforward. It’s easy to pick up, and a lot of fun – especially when played with a friend.

The Start Here book really shines through. It provides you with just enough info to ease you into a game before leaving you to your own devices. When you feel more confident, putting some of the extra rules from the main Rulebook into your game is also very straightforward.

In all, the game is a hell of a lot of fun, and extremely versatile. Play a single mission by yourself or with friends, or link them together into a larger narrative campaign. The galaxy becomes your playground in Core Space: First Born.

Core Space: First Born – Price and Availability

So, how much do you think this all costs?

Between 20 miniatures, a stack of build-your-own scenery, a landslide of tokens, cards, plastic holders, pegs, and goodness knows what else, you’re probably thinking “Damn, this is gonna be well beyond my price range.”

Well, Corse Space: First Born costs £79.99.

Yes, that’s seventy-nine pounds and ninety-nine pence. It’s not £7,999 with a dot in the wrong place (though that’s the kind of price some companies would charge for this big of a box). Yes, it’s only £80.

Here are the prices for some of our international friends:

GBPUSDEURAUD
Core Space: First Born£79.99$109.99€99.99$140.20

Considering both the quality and quantity of stuff in the Core Space box, this price is an unbelievable steal.

Core Space: First Born – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Characterful miniatures
High-quality print on boards and tokens
Clever character-management system
Brilliant gaming mat
Comprehensive rulebook
Easy-to-understand guide
Foldable terrain is a clever feature
Phenomenally good value
Genuinely really fun game
Minis can get bent (but can also be corrected)
Range rulers are very brittle and break easily
Edges of foldable terrain can get worn and frayed easily

Core Space: First Born is something quite special. Bursting at the seams with enough miniatures, scenery, books, tokens, cards and heaps more, it’s one of the most thorough releases we’ve ever seen here at FauxHammer.com.

It feels like everything has been thought of. The care that has gone into creating this extremely enjoyable and visually striking game is plain to see in every aspect of it. From the wealth of tokens and the inspired scenery, to the various methods of play and the interesting overarching narrative, Core Space: First Born is an experience unlike nay other.

The fact that the game’s price is also so reasonable is a huge feather in its already well-plumed cap. You’d expect a box this big and heavy to be setting you back well over £100 – heck, maybe closer to £200. Yet at £80, it feels like I’m ripping off Battle Systems.

There’s very little to not like in this box. Sure, the minis got a bit bent in transit (but were easily corrected) and the fact one of the range rulers had snapped was a shame, but again this was something that was easily corrected (thanks, Stuart!). The cardboard scenery is an inspired idea, and something that Warhammer 40,000 players might be able to utilise for their own games.

And, sure, it may not an easy-to-pick-up and quick-to-put-down game, but there’s no waste here. It’s one of those expansive tabletop operas that will devour the hours of your day setting it up and packing it away again. However, that time in between opening the box and closing it again, spent rolling dice, invading ancient ruins, building your character and crew, and exploring the corners of the galaxy, are some of the best you will have whilst playing any tabletop game currently on the market.

We love it and can’t wait to play more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our How to Play Core Space: First Born article for information on both how to play the game.

Click this link & buy your hobby stuff from Element Games for the UK & Europe to support FauxHammer.com – Use Code “FAUX2768” at the checkout for double reward points.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

About VoltorRWH 114 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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