Monthly Archives: October 2017

Fallen Land. A Post Apocalyptic Board Game

FALLEN LAND

by

Fallen Dominion

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 1hr+ per player
  • 14+ Age

Enter the wasteland

Hello. I am transmitting from my remote outpost in the mountains. A long time ago, there was a great civilization. Long tendrils of tarmac snaked From the western seas all the way across to the eastern coast. Vast centres of population called cities at each end. Millions of people lived in these cities and if our ancestors are to be believed they lived in peace and luxury. That was until the great fires raged from the skies. A war, no THE war. Nuclear and biological missiles rained down on the earth. Destroying these cities and wiping out populations. Death and destruction everywhere. Afterwards when the powers of the world were no more and the missiles all used up. The land was left scorched and almost totally uninhabitable to mankind. Survivors emerged. Not many at first, but enough. At first the radiation and poison in the air killed many. Over time though they persevered and they grew. Coming together for safety and survival. Scavenging what they could, taking by force if they had to. The most successful grew into settlements. Then came the gathering. The ten most powerful started to work together to help each other and to rebuild. As in the past. Power corrupts and each faction seeks to rule all others. Are we doomed to repeat our past or will there prove to be one faction that can unite and heal this broken land?…….

After the Apocalypse.

Fallen Land is set in just this environment. A ruinous post apocalyptic America. You are the leader of one of the 10 great factions. Assemble your party. Equip them for battle. Then send them out to explore the wastes. They will search for resources and equipment. Encounter mutants and cannibals. Take on missions for the great council. You will need to use what they find to help you defend and fortify your town. You will make and break treaties with other factions as you strive to dominate the wastelands.

Salvage.

Inside your copy of Fallen Land you will find quite a haul of useable parts.

  • 1 Game board.
  • 10 Town play mats (1 per faction).
  • 10 Plastic party markers.
  • 80 Character cards.
  • 140 Spoils cards.
  • 135 Action cards.
  • 60 Plains encounter cards.
  • 40 Mountain cards.
  • 40 City/rad encounter cards.
  • 40 Mission cards.
  • 5 Turn order cards.
  • 1 First player reference sheet.
  • 100 faction tokens (10 per faction).
  • 45 Town technology tokens.
  • 80 Salvage coins (in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10).
  • 25 Town defence tokens.
  • 140 Damage tokens.
  • 10 Mission location tokens.
  • 10 Points of interest tokens.
  • 1 Turn marker token.
  • 7 NPCM mercenary tokens.
  • 5 Week penalty tokens.
  • 4 D6.
  • 6 Colour coded D10.

Phew, Quite the haul i think you will agree.

Out on the town.

Each faction leader will have their player mat. They will also have their factions tokens, Party marker, some money and according to which faction they are some starting bonus. This could be extra spoils, actions, money. They will also start with some town technologies as well. Once all of this is allocated they are dealt six characters. Five of which will form their initial party and one will go under the player board into a “Town roster” think of it as a reserves bank. You will then receive a stack of spoils cards (equipment or vehicles) which you can equip to your party members. Some of these characters will be more proficient in different areas so it is a good idea to try to get a good balance of skills. You will also discover that some characters will gain bonuses when using certain items e.g. ranged weapons, shotguns, melee weapons or medical equipment to name a few. Almost every piece of equipment has a weight value. Your character can only carry up to their weight limit. So again planning is required. If your lucky you will also gain a vehicle, this can increase your movement, gain you skill bonus or other benefits. Do not be tempted to rush this stage and just equip randomly because it will come back to bite you. Fallen Land is not a fast paced game it strategic and as such needs careful thought. It is only when you have done all this are you ready to venture forth.

Out of the town.

OK so you have your party already and you have taken care of the first part of the turn which involves town business. It is time to venture out into the wastelands. You will roll for movement and add on any bonus movement. Then off you go. Be careful though as different terrain requires different amount of movement. You also have the option of facing encounters, player v player combat, resource claiming or destroying, healing or attempting a mission for the council of 10. Each of these options takes a different amount of time. The passage of time in Fallen Land is measured in weeks. Your movement phase is worth one week. While attempting a mission takes three weeks. During your party phase each round you only have four weeks worth of actions. If you ever find yourself desperate to take another action (healing for example) but you do not have the weeks left. You can take a one or two week penalty. This will allow you to carry out the action but at the cost of losing those weeks from the next round. You will need to carefully weigh up the need to do something against the loss of weeks from the following round.

I got the skills.

Right. You have gone running into the wastes and you want to get some spoils for your town and yourself? You need to attempt an encounter or try to claim a resource. First draw the card from the correct terrain you are in, plains, mountains or city/rad. The cards will have some nice flavour text to set the scene followed by your skill requirements. Select the correct number of die based on your party and roll away. Word of warning here. All the die are colour coded to the position a character is in so no trying to allocate the die to your benefit here. You compare your roll against your skill level. If your Dice roll is lower than the skill level it is a pass. Get enough passes and you succeed. Often there will be more than one skill check needed to complete an encounter. If your successful you will gain some rewards and read the “good text”. Fail however and be prepared to get some serious damage. This is no one or two points of damage softly softly approach. You can find yourself having to allocate 25-30 points of damage to your party. When each party member might only have 6 or 7 hit points. This is no laughing matter. There are ways to modify dice rolls but I am not going to spoil all your fun now.

Loads of spoils.

You have survived your encounters. You have collected resources and you have loads of money. Time to improve your town. You can buy town technology, upgrade existing town technology both of which will grant you extra success’ in skill checks. Or you might decide to upgrade the defences. Either way you want your towns health to rise. If you can get your towns health to 80 or your prestige to 20 before anyone else you have proved your the best suited to lead the council of 10.

Town defence?

Oh yes. Increasing your towns defence is definitely going to be needed in Fallen Land. No friendly co-op here. All players are free to cajole, beg, befriend or even bribe each other, Alliances will be formed and then broken again when it suits a player. If your leading do not be surprised if a couple of other factions decide to pay you a visit (were not talking tea and crumpets either). This is the post apocalypse world, you do what you need to survive. Resources are precious. Weapons are brutal and wasteland justice is swift. In two player it is possible to complete a whole game with no player v player combat. With five players however, expect carnage.

On the home stretch.

Fallen Land is a brutal and violent look at the post apocalypse survival world in the remains of America. It is also a sandbox adventure. This is a game that will not tell you what to do. You decide. You choose. Your factions fate is in your hands. Fallen Land does all of this very well. A group of players buying into the theme and ready to tell adventure stories while stabbing each other in the back. Will find this to be a fantastic experience which they will talk about long afterwards. This is not for players who want to be told a story. You can play it without weaving a story into the game. But you will miss out on a lot of the atmosphere. Yes Fallen Land is absolutely dripping with atmosphere. The whole world is designed and built with atmosphere coming out of its seams.

Fallen Land is however a long game. For your first game the rulebook suggest you only play three player and I agree. Allow at least 4 to 4 ½ hours for the first game with three players. A five player game will easily take the estimated 5 hours and more depending on the story you weave.

Nothing is perfect though. I found that I would have liked more “World effect” cards. I say this because they can have a huge impact on the game for everyone. At the lower player counts you do not actually see them. While the encounters were really difficult to start with. After the midway point of the game. I did experience a couple of occasions where rolling for kill checks was almost irrelevant due to my equipment (you still have to roll because there are auto fail conditions). Set up time is quite long unless you are super organised and you are all familiar with the game. You also need to be aware that Fallen Land eats up table space. Each players tableau around their town mat will just grow massively. I also found keeping track of the skill stats to be a bit of a chore. Even with these negatives I really enjoyed my time in the wastelands and look forward to returning. Especially once I started to discover the Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. Some of these are so clever you almost want to sit and look through the decks just to find them. The “Enigma Machine” vehicle resplendent in 60’s psychedelia anyone?? This is a game to be embraced because of its flaws not in spite of them. Upcoming games set in this post apocalypse era have a high bar to aim at. This review only scratches the surface of this game. I could easily write double the length of this review. Just giving you more detail of the depth. But I won’t. I will let you discover the joys of that for yourself.

Let the dust settle.

Fallen Land is very good fun. Long playtime but dripping with theme. Worth the investment of time and setting a high bar for those that will follow.

Pros

  • Cards lots of cards.
  • Dripping theme and atmosphere.
  • Play surprisingly simple but nuanced.
  • Clever artwork.
  • Easter Eggs throughout.

Cons

  • Not perfect.
  • Better for interaction the higher player counts.
  • No hand holding.

I was provided with a review copy of Fallen Land. This in no way affects my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Viral

VIRAL

by

Mesa boardgames & Arcane Wonders

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 60-90 minutes
  • 12+ Age

You make me sick!

Viral is one of those delightful games that turns conformity on its head. Instead of the usual your fighting to save the world/town/person tropes you might expect. Viral moves in the other direction. Not all the way into “Kill everything” territory that would be no fun either. Instead Viral is much more about you being the Virus overlord of your particular species of bug. You need to steer your little cherubs (OK I know that is stretching the definition a bit) into a human body’s vital organs. You need to ensure they get a good foothold to be able to control parts of the body’s system. They also need to be strong enough to oust the other bugs that seem intent on finding a home inside the body that you have made home.

Stomach Churning.

Viral has a nice mix of components to use throughout your playtime.

  • 1 Rule book
  • 1 Game board.
  • 5 Player boards (1 in each players colour).
  • 40 Virus tokens (8 in each players colour).
  • 4 Numbered Crisis tokens.
  • 1 First player marker.
  • 1 Step / turn marker.
  • 15 Tie / research / score tokens (3 per player colour).
  • 30 Zone cards (6 per player).
  • 25 Basic infection cards (5 per player)
  • 13 Event cards.
  • 22 Virus mutation cards.

Itchy Skin.

Now you know what your getting how nice does this illness look? The artwork in Viral is bright and colourful to say the very least. It appears as if the designers have looked at a colour board and just gone “Yep we will have one of each colour please”. With purples, yellows, greens and blues all over the place throw in some blacks, whites and greys for good measure. The thing is it works. Everything is easy to find and well laid out. All the icons are easy to make sense of and the players boards have inbuilt handy reference sections. The main game board itself is laid out with a persons main organs, veins and arteries connecting them in the centre. While on the right hand side is the “Virus Points” tracker (score track) While on the left is the round order / counter with large clear icons to remind you what order everything is resolved.

Hacking Cough.

So on the surface all is well. Scratch a little and you discover some little aches and pains. Nothing terminal just more of a cough than pneumonia. First is the cards used in a game of Viral. Considering the amount of handling that these cards are going to receive, the quality is well below what you would expect from a modern game. At least with the white borders the marks to the edges will not show straight away. This is one of those time when I would suggest. If you buy this game? Buy some card sleeves to go with it. Now onto the board. There are several comments around the internet regarding game board construction issues. I did not encounter these apart from one 2cm round mark on the board which did not affect the gameplay but was slightly annoying none the less. My issue is with the size of the board. The central part with the main play area was nicely laid out. Around that however there was so much emptiness. While the creators have tried to carry the theme across the whole of the board they have ended up making it at least 1/3rd as big again as it needed to be. You find yourself time and again reaching much further than you need to. Do not get me wrong I do like the board it is just much bigger than needed.

Viral Variety.

So just how do you do illness then?

In a game of Viral each player will have virus tokens, some basic virus mutation cards and six zone cards. Players will then take it in turns to “infect” the body’s organs (place virus tokens).

All players will then simultaneously select a zone card and a mutation card from their hand and place them face down to keep them secret. In turn order they will use those two cards to take their action. This is where the nice simple iconography really comes into its own. You will have no trouble remembering the actions available. Initially they will be simple basic actions, Infect, Move, Shield, Attack. As you increase your virus point score you will gain access to more cards with different abilities.

At this point I want to point out a clever little nod to accuracy in that the veins and arteries will, like in a real body. Only allow flow (movement) in one direction.

Once all players have taken their actions. The cards are put to one side and you repeat the process with your remaining cards. These four cards will become unavailable for the following round (They will however be available in later rounds). This is to stop anyone just using a “this is a good card I will use it all the time” strategy.

Players will then look at who has control of the zones and score accordingly while at the same time causing research into the viruses to increase (not a good thing). Followed by event card resolution. Zones are then checked for “crisis” which is effectively when a certain number of viruses are present in a region. It triggers the body’s immune system to attack the viruses in that region wiping them out. If you succeed in surviving all this. You will then check the current research levels. Have the scientists discovered a treatment? If they have all the viruses of a particular strain are wiped out. Leaving the player to start infecting all over again. Repeat this process for six rounds and the player with the highest score wins. 

Bowels of Despair.

Viral is a bit of a strange candidate to review. On the one hand are the bright colourful cartoonish graphics which give the impression of a simple, kids game. But the actual gameplay which is focussed well into the “area control” category is a lot more involved than the artwork suggests. The options available as actions are just a basic four (up to two more depending on bonus cards). While this gives the initial impression of a simplicity of actions. It is the utilization of combining moves and the order you execute them that makes the depth start to shine through. But in many situations the circulatory system rules which govern movement. Will quickly mean you are only going to take one or two of those actions in a turn. The efforts taken to increase variety and replay-ability while initially appealing for me personally lost their sheen following repeated plays. I quickly found myself taking the same starting actions each turn and based on what the various points per zone were (there is a variable point system meaning each game zones were worth differing point values). Then I would be focusing on just two or three zones. I genuinely believe Viral is the beating heart of an exceptional area control game. It does however suffer from trying to be all things to all people. It could have been slimmed down to a lighter game and made much more “gateway” family suitable or beefed up and gone for a much more medium heavyweight approach. Instead it is caught in the middle. In the doctors waiting for a prescription or a referral

Felling Better.

A game I will play from time to time. Not a regular table feature. Nice to look at simple to learn and teach.

Pros

  • Simple to learn.
  • Easy to teach.
  • Bright colour scheme.
  • Interesting theme.

Cons

  • Component quality.
  • Replay-ability.
  • Long term appeal.
  • Not as gateway as it first appears.

I was provided with a copy of Viral for review purposes. This in no way affects my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Klondike Rush

KLONDIKE RUSH

by

Ryan Laukat & Red Raven Games

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 60-120 minutes
  • 13+ Age

GOLD!!

No not the song, Geez. Klondike Rush is all about gold. That glorious gorgeous yellow stuff from out of the ground. Nuggets as big as your hand I tell ya. OK I am getting carried away sorry. Klondike Rush is set in the snow covered peaks of Mount Titan during the great gold rush. Four mining companies are rushing to grab as much cash as possible. But wait reports are coming in of some sort of snow monster. An Abominable snow-beast rampaging through the wilds. As a major investor your fortune is at stake here. Will you hunt down the snow-beast and claim the fat reward? Will you invest in the right companies at the right prices to make the biggest profits? Or will you face bankruptcy and ruin as a pauper.

First Investment.

When You first get your box you will immediately notice the beautiful cover art. It immediately tells you this is a Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Game before you even see the name or logo. The characters on the cover have that unmistakable style, everything has that soft almost ethereal quality we have come to expect from games like Above & Below or Near & Far. Open up and your first surprise is unlike the aforementioned games this box is not creaking at the seams. In-fact you get the following,

  • 52 Order cards.
  • 5 Last Bid cards.
  • 60 Money cards (in 1,5,10,20,50 denominations).
  • 1 Snow-beast card.
  • 5 Profit cards.
  • 36 Mining company cards.
  • 1 Town token.
  • 35 Hunt tokens.
  • 48 Mine miniatures (12 each in four colours).
  • 1 Snow-beast figure (player turn marker).

Panning for gold.

Unusually in Klondike Rush, you are not an individual colour much like you would expect in most games. Players are in fact investing in all four of the companies throughout the game. Trying to maximise your returns.

At the start of a game. One of each colour mine is placed on the investment track and also on the town token, which has already been placed on a random spot on the board. Unfortunately the town token is a little small so the four starting mines do not sit nicely onto it. This is a shame as a little bit larger token would have made a huge difference in the aesthetic look. Hunt tokens are spread randomly onto the remaining spaces. Each player is allocated some cash a couple of hunt order cards and a profit card (last bid cards are also used in 4-5 player games). Mining cards, remaining order cards, money cards are placed nearby ready for use. Whoever is allocated to be first player is given the Snow-beast (this figure will move around each turn and it is a good idea to help keep track of whose turn it was). First player reveals the top mining company card and decides how much he is willing to pay for it. The next player is then allowed to increase the value by a minimum of $1, then the next and so on. Players may pass if they feel the price is too high. BUT (this is the important bit), You are only allowed to bid once! (last bid cards allow extra one use bid in higher player number games). Thus if A bids 3, B bids 4, c passes and D bids 5. Then player D would get the card and pay the bank 5. So careful consideration of how much you think a card is worth is important. Once a player has bought the card then place any relevant coloured mines onto the card. Play then reverts back to the first player.

Checking the pan.

After the initial auction phase a player then has the option to place any mine currently on cards that they have bought. Mines in Klondike Rush can be placed anywhere on the board that there is a space, at a cost. You choose the spot you want to build on. Then you locate the nearest built mine of the same colour (in the town at the start). In-between each pair of spaces on the board is an amount. You just total the cost up between the two mines and that is how much it will cost. However if on the spaces in-between the two mines there are other coloured mines adjacent then the cost between the two adjacent mines is reduced to 1 allowing for some big savings to be made. Once you build a mine you immediately take the hunt token from that space and move the relevant coloured mine up one on the investment track. When the last mining company card is purchased then the final round begins all players have one more turn to try to maximise their money.

Hunting the hunter.

During a game of Klondike Rush you will start to collect hunt tokens and you will be able to complete orders. When completing your order you can immediately cash in (even out of turn). Alternatively if you feel the need you can cash in three mismatched hunt tokens for $5. At the end of the game the player with the most Snow-beast tokens collects the reward ($25).

Profit.

At the end of a players turn if they feel the need they can cash in their Profit card. This is a one time only deal so needs to be weighed up carefully. When cashing it in remove it from the game. Then total up the value of all red, blue, green and yellow mine cards that the player holds and this is their profit. You will all do this again at the end of the game as well a little bit like the mid and end of year dividends from stocks and shares.

Assay Office.

OK I am going to come right out with it and say I really enjoy Red Raven’s games. Not in a fan-boyish way, more in appreciation of the play style and story being told throughout the game.

Klondike Rush however is a huge step away from the normal style fans of Ryan and Red Raven have come to expect. If you go into a game of Klondike Rush expecting more of the same you will be disappointed.

What we have here is a brutal game hiding under the gentle art. There is no catch-up mechanism in this game. Make some bad decisions or overpay for mine cards and tough luck. Just like the miners from this time, you will be frozen to death on the mountainside. There is strategy here in surprising amounts. Do you skip a space to get the hunt token you want to complete an order for $7 or do you build a camp on the previous space to allow you to claim another token and then next turn get the token you want but end up spending $1-$2 more and have an extra token towards the next order. In two games the answer could be very different. You have to bring your “A” game at all times or you will get crushed either by your opponents or by the game. Some players might find the game length feels a little long but I found it to be a decent time scale barring AP prone players. If however you manage to bankrupt yourself you will end up as a bystander for the remainder of the game. This is an easy game to lose but a hard one to win. I found myself wanting to play again straight away. Literally a glutton for punishment. I do think this is fun to play but it is not really a cosy cuddly game for newbies and this is despite the very short and easy to explain rules. If you and your fellow players go into a game of Klondike Rush with the right mindset. You will really enjoy the hard thinking. Is that mine card worth $3 or $4? When should I cash in my profit card? I do see a lot of people being disappointed that this is not like Near & Far. This is different and deserves to be looked at differently. Is it a game that will have a long term home on my shelves? Honestly I am not sure. It is however a perfect choice to take along to games night meet-ups.

Short stuff.

Tough and Unforgiving game with great art. Easy to learn and teach. Hard to master. Good for occasional play.

Pros

  • Snow-beast mini.
  • Ryan Laukat artwork.
  • Simple to learn.
  • Easy to teach.
  • Surprisingly thinky.

Cons

  • No player catch up.
  • One or two bad choices can destroy your game.
  • Not Near & Far.
  • No story.
  • Questions over longevity.

Red Raven Games kindly provided me with a copy of Klondike Rush for review purposes. This in no way affects my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Dragonsgate College

DRAGONSGATE COLLEGE

From

NSKN Games

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-4 Players
  • 60-90 Minutes
  • 12+ Age

College?

Have you ever wondered how your warrior, mage or rogue, reached the point where they were ready for you to use as a hero in the latest RPG game? What do you mean no? You thought they woke up one morning and went “Oh I know I am going to be a wizard”? Then all of a sudden they knew magic. OH no, they had to attend adventurers college and learn how to be a hero. The most famous of these is Dragonsgate College. Only the brightest and best can earn the honour of graduating and being admitted to the halls of fame. You are taking on the role of the Head of House each of which has tradition oozing from its very pores. Will you go on to prove your House is the most prestigious of the year?

Give me the house cup.

Inside a copy of Dragonsgate College you will find a plethora of game pieces.

  • 1 Game board.
  • 4 Player Boards.
  • 50 Wizard Cards.
  • 4 turn Summary Reference Cards.
  • 21 (yes twenty one) 6 sided Dice.
  • 16 Wooden Marker Cubes (4 per player colour).
  • 16 Wooden Marker Discs (4 per player colour).
  • 1 Wooden 1st Player Marker.
  • 1 Wooden Turn Marker.
  • 12 Level Tiles.
  • 12 Mastery Tiles.*
  • 30 Career Tiles.
  • 44 Apprentice Tiles.
  • 30 Professor Tiles.
  • 36 Building Tiles.
  • 16 Imp Tokens.*
  • 36 Coin Tokens (in values of 1 and 5).

*the pre-production copy I received only has 6 mastery and 12 Imp tokens

Learning with style.

From the start you can see a lot of love has gone into the look and feel of Dragonsgate College. Pastel shades abound. The entire aesthetic is evocative of Oriental temples of lore and there also is a definite nod towards other famous hero schools (Hogwa*cough cough*). The board and rule book while being very busy in their structure are well laid out and I found them quite easy to follow.

Is it draughty in here?

A game of Dragonsgate College is primarily focused on dice drafting and utilization. The first round starts with as many as 8 dice and by the end game you are using as many as thirteen.

All too often in dice drafting style games you are very luck dependant on the rolls. Not so here. Not only do you have dice manipulation thanks to mischievous little imps who can help you magically flip the die over. You can utilize your houses ability to train wizards to gain even greater control over the force of gravity and how it affects dice. Of the starting Dice there will be one of each players colour and a number of neutral dice.

Once these are all rolled the fun can really begin. On your turn you can choose a die of your colour then perform an action based on the number rolled (If you have any imps at your disposal you can adjust the total). If none of your dice rolls appeal then why not draft one of your opponents colours? With no penalty why would you not? Well when using an opponents die they get to take a free action based on the number rolled effectively giving them a free turn that round.

Giving a free turn to an opponent is not as bad as it might seem at first. This is because your dice are still in the pool and when someone inevitably takes your die you get an extra go in return. Huh what? Your still not happy? OK in that case take a neutral die and use that instead, there happier now?

So getting more of your dice into the pool forcing opposing houses to give you free turns! Does that sound like a good idea? It does? Well then you are in luck. when a neutral die is put into the used dice section on the board. You can by using an unused die with a roll of 1 exchange a neutral dice for one from your reserve. This means on the next round there is more chance of gaining free turns. Your opponents might have the same idea though so watch out.

Getting an A grade.

So the dice are rolled you can see the results but what can you do with them? Well this is where Dragonsgate College gets more interesting. As already mentioned you can swap out a neutral die with on of your colour from the reserve. Your options are not limited there however you can,

  • Collect coins based on number rolled. Certain rolls allow you to collect coins when using this option.
  • Buy Prestige (victory points). Expensive way to move up the VP track (3 coins = 1 VP, 7 coins = 3 VP).
  • Recruit more apprentice adventurers. You only have space for 3 apprentices so choose wisely.
  • Recruit more professors. Old Chumley from potions getting a bit doddery? Replace him with young blood.
  • Build various buildings to gain more bonus’. There are three different building sizes each requiring a different cost. But providing several different bonus’.
  • Work your way through the Training Dungeon. No students were harmed in the attempt to claim the trophy for being first (and gaining VP)
  • Gain first player marker / turn order bonus. Going first gives you more choice, Simples.
  • Graduate an apprentice into the world by gaining them a career. Little Ron got offered a job? Excellent claim your rewards and enter his career badge onto your hall of fame. Never to be heard from again (dead probably due to bander-snatch poison bites).

You will play all of this out over five rounds at the end of which the house with the most prestige (player with most Victory Points) will win the title of the most prestigious of this long and illustrious history that is Dragonsgate College.

In front of the Headmaster.

So it is the end of the school year. All of the reports are in. Just how well did NSKN perform is it A+ or a could try harder? After several plays of Dragonsgate college I can honestly say I have enjoyed my stay in the school. I am not usually a big fan of the luck surrounding dice drafting. I am perfectly capable of messing up by myself I do not need bad luck to help me on the way. That being said the possibilities for mitigating bad rolls are handled well. I also liked the fact that using an opponents die had a balanced consequence (they get extra go. But so will you later). This is very much a non interactive playing game but at the same time it did not feel like multiplayer solitaire either. They play quickly felt intuitive and easy to follow. This is even with a game board that is seriously busy in its appearance. The only real problem on the board for me was the location of the dice requirement icons in the apprentice career section. They just felt a little distant and disconnected almost as if they were part of a different section. A couple of other minor niggles were. In the rulebook some of the sections were a little less clear than they possibly might have been (still understandable just possibly in need of some more clarification). The other main niggle was on the player board itself. When placing buildings it was not made clear if placing them over the student or professor icons stopped you from using them as such? This is something I hope the devs will clarify in the rulebook before final release. I also found set-up a little time consuming (better storage option would reduce this). Finally if your eyesight is not as sharp as it used to be you may also find that the imp tokens and the information on the apprentice and professor tokens is a little on the small side. This is something that could easily be rectified if the tokens were 10-15% larger. Nothing game-breaking just a little niggle for me personally. Enough of a reason to not buy? No definitely not. NSKN have produced a game that is enjoyable to play, which is engaging and interesting. But is just stopped short of being brilliant.

Summary.

PRO.

  • Lots of Dice.
  • Clever theme.
  • Lots of options for play.
  • Good luck mitigation.
  • Great artwork.
  • No sense of “Take That”

CON.

  • Tokens and information a bit on the small side.
  • Set-up a little fiddly.
  • Rulebook clarity in some areas.
  • Lack of player interaction might put off something

NSKN with Dragonsgate College end of term report final grade → B

Good progress made throughout the year. Shows lots of promise for the future. With a little more application could easily achieve an A grade”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Dragonsgate College in order to write my preview. This in no way affected the review above.

By Order of the Queen

 

By Order of the Queen

From

Junk Spirit Games

A Review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-4 Players
  • 90-120 Minutes
  • 10+ Age (younger with some assistance with reading)

Queens Orders.

By Order of the Queen, from Junk Spirit Games. Is a story about the land of Tessandor. The kingdom is under threat from rampaging monsters, you and up to three friends will take on the roles of Guilds. You will recruit heroes to fight Monsters, Complete Quests, Fight Nemesis’ (Nemesises? Nemesii?) and complete Queens Orders. Do you have what it takes to save the kingdom from falling?

Prince-ly Pieces.

By Order of the Queen is not short of components. In fact there is plenty in the box to keep you going for some time.

  • 1 Game Board.
  • 1 Rule Book.
  • 1 Graveyard Sideboard.
  • 8 Nemesis Cards.
  • 8 Guild Cards.
  • 12 Queens Order Cards.
  • 21 Event Cards.
  • 24 Quest Cards.
  • 100 Location Cards (25 each of four locations).
  • 64 Hero Cards.
  • 44 Monster Cards
  • 8 Nemesis Monster Prompt Cards.
  • 8 Starting Guild Item Cards.
  • 40 Item Cards.
  • 1 Colouring Book.
  • 4 Player Reference Aides.

Knight to see you, Knight!

The artwork throughout By Order of the Queen is exceptional. Just from looking at the cover of the box you know straight away the target audience for this game. It is squarely aimed as a gateway family game with younger players in mind. The monsters art is no scarier than you find within the pages of fairy tales. Heroes are over the top illustrated to make them appear slightly more comical than threatening. There is nothing to cause offence here and the colours are bright and cartoonish in appearance.

Jack of all trades.

The gameplay in By Order of the Queen is deceptively simple. The Rules make sense and by the time you have executed your first “Event Phase” you will probably not need the Rulebook. After setting up the board and Cards into their correct spaces (which trust me is easy due to the iconography used). Each player is dealt a random Guild Card along with the relevant permanent Item Card. The first Queens Order is revealed, The Kings Funeral (the first event card) is turned over which places the first monsters and threat tokens into play. Players are dealt a hand of seven heroes each from what starts as a hefty pile of heroes. And you are ready to begin.

Princess.

Your options in By Order of the Queen, are chosen from an initial selection. Fight Monsters, go on a Quest or Try to fulfil the Queens Order (note. Only one player may attempt the Queens Order per play round). You will attempt each of these options by choosing four heroes from your hand, using the relevant icons to help you pick your “strongest” party. After each turn you will discard your active heroes and draw back up to seven. Lets look at these actions.

  • Fight Monsters → Using combat Icons from your heroes you will roll the correct number of dice with the aim of rolling the same or higher number/s as indicated on the monster cards. Each success covers up a dice symbol on a monster. Cover all the icons on a monster and it is removed. Any monsters left means you lose heroes from the game one per monster.
  • Go on a Quest → Chose a quest card from the deck and attempt to complete a quest in the correct location Using Questing Icons from your heroes. You will roll the correct number of dice indicated by the icon on the location roll a five or a six on any of the dice and you succeed. Fail and there will be a penalty (usually add a threat, remove a villager or location token or even a hero card. Based on success or failure you will then attempt one of the remaining challenges on the card and either get a benefit from success or a penalty from failure. Either way you keep the location card towards your quest.
  • Queens Order → To attempt a Queens Order, the player will attempt a location card in the same way as a quest but instead of rewards you will gain success tokens towards the queens quest. You still suffer the penalties though for failure. Following this you make one final roll based on the Queens Quest symbol shown on the card.
  • Essentially in each case number of symbols = number of dice to roll.

Squire.

Once all players have taken a turn then there will be an “Event Phase” this is when villagers and regions are lost. Heroes are retired (removed from the game). Monsters are released and you check to see if you have completed the Queens Quest (8 success tokens). If you complete three Queens Quests you win the game. Lose all the villagers, regions or heroes however and it is game over, you lose, the monster horde has won.

My Thoughts.

By Order of the Queen is a tricky game to judge. On the one hand it is trying to be a little RPG-esque with flavour text, Icons and dice rolls. On the other it is trying to be a light family friendly gateway game. It nearly manages to pull it off as well.

Gameplay is simple to learn and for the younger player there is little to no need to read the text as you can play just by looking at the Icons. So while this will appeal. The game itself is long (and I do mean long despite the time on the box allow 2hrs to play at least). So maintaining continued interest of younger players may well be an issue. Unfortunately this accessibility to younger players comes at a price. There could well be not enough “meat on the bones” of this game to keep older players interested either. Roll dice = succeed or fail (there is a very little dice roll mitigation available with queens favours allowing re-rolls). This is the way every players turn is played out. This is touted as a Co-op game, but I struggled to find the co-op element. You cannot help another player out when they are taking their turn other than to discuss the heroes they are choosing. The simplicity of this game stands out more with each play. While one or two plays will be enjoyable I would struggle to get it to the table more than that. The random luck of the roll aspect is going to be another turn off for many players. Especially as the dice mitigation is just re-rolls. All of this is such a shame because the artwork in By Order of the Queen is really beautiful. For this reviewer however that beauty is only skin-deep.

In Short.

PRO.

  • Great artwork.
  • Simple play style.
  • Accessible.
  • Attractive to younger players.
  • Family friendly.

CON.

  • Far too much luck.
  • No gameplay variation.
  • Not really co-op.
  • Very little depth.
  • Long play time.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of “By Order of the Queen” in order to review the game. This in no way affected the review above.

 

Samurai Gardener

SAMURAI GARDENER

From

Osprey Games

A review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 15 Minutes
  • 6+ Age

Samurai what?

Samurai Gardener is an interesting concept. You are a Samuraia member of a powerful military caste in feudal Japan”. Your Lord has built a grand home near the capital Edo, where they spend most of their time. So you do the only thing any self respecting warrior can do. You decide to make an impressive garden to bring honour to your master.

Hako ni?
Inside your copy of Samurai Gardener you will find.
64 Garden cards.
20 Feature cards (4 per player).
5 Score markers.
Score board.
5 Scoring reference aides.
Asobikata?

To play a game of Samurai Gardener. Each player will place in front of them their set of Feature cards. These consist of Garden, Tatami, Path and Pond. The deck of Garden cards are shuffled and placed face down. One card is then turned up in front of each player. This is the start of your garden. A number of cards are turned over equal to the number of players. Players simultaneously call out “Ei, Ei, Oh” and on “Oh” they slap their hand down onto the card they want. Whoever gets their hand onto a card gets that card (only 1 card per player). They can then be Zen like and add it to their tableau trying to create their ultimate garden.

Sukoa ringu?

While placing your Garden tiles in samurai Gardener. It is most important to consider the aesthetic pattern that will most please the forefathers. Otherwise know as “You need to make a row of 3, 4, 5 or 6” for which you will score points. You will get bonus points for multiple scoring rows. The kicker is that when you score a particular design (Garden, Tatami, Path or Pond) you turn over your feature card. This means you cannot score again while it remains flipped. When all four feature cards are flipped then you will unflip them to allow you to score them again. This leads to tactical planning over how you place your tiles to maximise your score. The first player to reach 25 points wins.

Tēma?

The theme in Samurai gardener is spot on for what your trying to achieve. It feels very authentic to what is commonly culturally considered to be feudal Japan. You could easily have just had patterns or some other symbols but the idea of Japanese gardens just feels right. The artwork is very pleasing as well.

Watashi no kangae.

I really wanted to like Samurai gardener. The problem I had was that it felt at odds with itself. The whole fastest hand gets the card. Was very much at odds with the Zen like placing your card. Very much “hurry up and wait” I also struggled with the idea of a Samurai being a gardener. This is probably due to being fed a westernised view of samurai. After a little research I discovered that originally it meant “those who serve in close attendance to the nobility”. This makes the theme much more authentic. I question how many will look into it and how many will dismiss it as just a bit odd.

Thankfully there was included an optional rule set which allows for drafting of the garden tiles instead of the hand slap method. This makes the whole game a much nicer and gentler feel. I really think this should have been the other way round. In the end though while I enjoyed samurai gardener in the short term I cannot see it having long term appeal and think it might start to feel a little “samey” I will let you be the judge as It is not a bad game and it is definitely worth a few plays.

Yōsuruni?

PRO.

  • Artwork.
  • 2-5 players.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Easy to teach.
  • Short play time.
  • Alternate rule-set.

CON.

  • Can become a little samey.
  • questionable long term appeal.
  • Too light for some.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Samurai Gardener in order to write my review. This in no way affected the review above.

Zoomaka

Zoomaka

From

Worldshapers

A preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-5 Players
  • 25 Minutes
  • 9+ Age

Zoo?

In Zoomaka you and your fellow players are competing to open a new zoo. Do you have what it takes to create the best new zoo around?

Who?

Zoomaka is the first project created by Worldshapers. New game developers from Linkoping, Sweden. And it is immediately obvious they care about the games they create.

What.

Zoomaka is a small form game. Inside your box you will discover

  • 1 Rules booklet
  • 9 Response Cards
  • 3 Settings Cards
  • 4 Add on Cards
  • 16 Entrance Cards
  • 19 Direct Cards
  • 10 Multicoloured Animals
  • 38 Animals

How.

A game of Zoomaka is played over a series of turns. With each player trying to fill their zoo’s four enclosures, with the best animals. All the animals belong to at least one of the sections of the zoo. This is indicated by the colour borders and symbols on the cards. The number of animals needed to fill a Zoo section is based on the number of that particular symbol.

You start by drawing 2 or 8 cards depending on your current hand size. You may then take up to three actions “Labors” these can be

Putting an animal into your zoo.

Sell a card placing it into your bank.

Playing an action card.

Move a multicoloured animal between sections of your zoo.

When.

When playing an animal card, if you already have an enclosure of that type you must group them together. When an enclosure is full you cannot add to it so plan carefully. Because you need four different sections you need to plan carefully. Multicoloured animals do as you would expect them to which is be suitable for more than one enclosure. Action cards add a huge dose of take that to the game of Zoomaka. They come in 4 flavours. Direct, Response, Add-on and Setting. These will allow you to steal animals, draw extra cards, take extra actions, charge fees or even stop something from happening.

Why.

When you sell a card by banking it. You are trying to build a cash reserve to protect yourself from some of the take that action cards. Each animal card has its own value which is indicated on the card. If you don’t have enough cash “Zoomas” you will need to use animals in your zoo to settle the debt. The twist is If you pay with the banked money it goes to the opponents bank BUT if you have to use animals from your zoo they go straight into the opponents zoo. This can easily lead to them winning the game if your not careful.

My Thoughts.

Zoomaka is an interesting little game that does not take long to play. The art style is very simple but effective with most of the animals easily recognizable from their silhouettes. I can see this being played as a nice family bit of fun. Unfortunately I do have some issues with Zoomaka which I feel need expressing. First is the symbols due to small card size the leaf and hoof icons do look incredibly similar especially if you are just glancing at them quickly. I do believe that the creators are addressing this by making the cards larger therefore making the symbols easier to recognise. EDIT- Following discussion with the designer they have confirmed that they will be using poker sized cards and not mini sized making everything clearer. They are also going to be looking into making the game more colourblind friendly.  My second issue is one which is endemic not only to Zoomaka but also a lot of games in our industry. That is one of colour use. The colour scheme used throughout Zoomaka is mostly pastel shades. This in turn will make playing extremely difficult for most people with some form of colour-blindness. This is a shame as It is an issue that is very easily solved. I would hope that the developers will address this when they go into production.

Disclaimer: I was sent a P&P file in order to write my review. This in no way affected the review above.

AOX not An ox, abstractly

 AOX

From

Half Wing Games

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2 Players
  • 10-30 Minutes
  • 14+ Age

AOX?

AOX is an abstract strategy game for two players. The main aim of AOX is to capture three of your opponents tiles. Or move one of your triangle tiles onto a highlighted square in your opponents end of the board. Trust me this is not as easy as you think. Imagine the love child of Chess, Noughts and Crosses (tic tac toe) and Draughts (checkers). Each turn your possible moves are restricted to tiles drawn or swapped. You will need patience to play this game well.

What do I get?

AOX comes in a very portable drawstring bag and is designed to be easily carried in a pocket or a bag.

  • 1 Four piece interlocking game board.
  • 12 Player tiles (6 per player).
  • 18 Move tokens (9 per player).
  • 2 Drawstring bags.
  • 1 Initiative coin.

The pre-production copy I received for review also contained the Square, Spiral, Star Expansion which consisted of.

  • 6 Square/triangle move tokens (3 per player).
  • 2 Square player tiles (1 each).
  • 2 Spiral player tiles (1 each).
  • 2 Star player tiles (1 each).

More on the expansion later.

Playing AOX.

You begin a game of AOX by placing your tiles on your end of the board. You need to play one of your triangle tiles last into a highlighted square. Players place their move tokens into their respective bags and draw three. This will set out the possible move each player can make. Their are 3 distinct options

  • 3 Different symbols allows you to move one tile.
  • 2 The same (1 different) allows you to move 2 tiles once  i.e. X,X,O    would allow you to move 1 X tile and 1 O tile.
  • 3 The same lets you move the two matching tiles once each

                                   OR

  • one tile twice

                                  OR

  • place one of your captured pieces back onto the board in one of your highlighted spaces.

There is a little wrinkle that really starts to ramp up the strategic part of the game. The player who is designated first player has a choice of two options before they move.

  • Keep the move tokens they have drawn. Take the first move and pass first player token to opponent.

                                    OR

  • Exchange one of their drawn move tokens with one of the opponents (must be different). Opponent moves first but retains first player marker for the next turn.*

*you do not swap these back at the end of the turn leading to a real mixed bag (quite literally).

Move me.

OK so that is all well and good. But just how the heck do I move? Is it all the same? No that would be boring. Each of the three symbols move differently

  • Cross Move one space diagonally, OR may switch place with one of your adjacent O (circle) tiles. Can capture and be captured.
  • Circle Move one space orthogonally (up, down, left, right), OR may switch place with one of your adjacent X (cross) tiles. Can capture and be captured.
  • Triangle Move one space in any direction, OR my jump over any one tile (yours or opponents) thus moving 2 spaces. Cannot capture but can be captured.

Capture?

One of the ways to win a game of AOX is to capture 3 of your opponents pieces. This is not as easy as it sounds. Or should I say capturing them is easy enough but holding onto them is harder. Having three captured at one time counts. Any that the opponent replaces onto the board do not count towards the three. How do you capture? That’s easy if as you move your tile you place it on top of an opponents piece you immediately capture it. Remember triangle cannot capture.

Highlighted.

If during a game of AOX you manage to place one of your triangle tiles onto your opponents highlighted sections. You can win the game. Your opponent does have the chance during their turn to capture your tile if possible in retaliation to stop the win. Think of it as a bit like the difference between “Check” and “Checkmate” in chess.

Expansions?

You might remember I mentioned AOX also having expansions. Well in fact it actually has three (yes 3). Each expansion adds extra tiles and movement options. The expansion pack contains all three and consists of,

  • 2 Spiral player tiles (1 each).
  • 2 Square player tiles (1 each).
  • 2 Star player tiles (1 each).
  • 6 Square/triangle combination move tokens.

You can use each of these expansions individually or all together to really start to melt your brain.

*N.B I am unsure how the expansions will be offered in the final Kickstarter. I would assume they are going to be an extra pledge level, Add-on or Stretch goal.

Even more moving

  • Square, allows for blocking. Cannot be captured and can push other tiles around.
  • Spiral, Can use the movement tokens of adjacent tiles, can capture or be captured BUT does not count towards the three tile capture win condition.
  • Star, Use movement of other tiles. Cannot capture but can be captured. Can mount other tiles freezing them in place so they cannot move or be captured. Does not count towards three capture win condition.

My Thoughts.

AOX is a very nice looking portable strategy game. The components of the preview copy were nice quality and I can only assume the production copy would improve on this even further. As for gameplay AOX is most definitely a deep strategy game hiding in a game with a random draw component. There is a very small amount of luck in the three movement tokens you draw that is where it ends though. How you use those movement tokens is very important as well as the decision of “Do I need to go first or do I swap a token so I can go first next round but have extra of a particular symbol”. You will not be rushing through a game of AOX it is designed to be a slower paced thought fest. So no hurry up tactics are going to work here.

In Short.

PRO.

  • Abstract.
  • Playable by all ages.
  • Slower play style.
  • Portable.
  • 2 Player.
  • Minimum luck.
  • Higher Strategy.

CON.

  • Abstract can be off-putting for some.
  • Only 2 player.
  • Slower play style.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a pre-production copy of AOX in order to review the game. This in no way affected the review above.

OX The Game

OX

THE GAME

From

OX The Game

A Preview by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2 Players
  • 10-15 minutes

OX?

Ox is game for two players. The aim of OX is to move your 8 pieces along the track and move them off at the far end. You need to try to do this before your opponent manages to get all of their markers off the other end of the track.

What do I get?

OX comes in a very portable drawstring bag and is designed to be esaily carried in a pocket or a bag.

  • 1 OX Wood and Leather Board.
  • 8 Light Wood Player Discs.
  • 8 Dark Wood Player Discs.
  • 2 Dice.
  • 1 Rules Booklet.

Yes that is all you need honest.

Playing OX.

In a game of OX you follow some very simple steps that will initially hide some of the strategy involved.

Roll the two dice:- You will then move either one of your discs first one die then the other (this is important as you cannot just move the total). Or you can move two of your discs, one for each die. Rolls of a double allow you to have an extra roll after you have moved. If you are able to move a disc off the far end of the board you do not need an exact roll. Simple as that really.

IS THAT IT?!

Ha ha. Don’t be silly of course not. While the essential mechanic is “roll dice then move”. The real game starts with the fact you can capture opponents discs “knock them off the board so they have to start again”. You can also block spaces by having discs adjacent. This makes them safe from capture. You also have to move if you can. You are not allowed to pass just because it would leave a disc unprotected. There is also the ability to stack upto two discs. This does not protect them however unless they are next to a second stack.

Theme?

There is no theme in OX. It genuinely does not need one. In fact if you tried to add one it would take away from the game itself. Here we have an abstract game that blends strategy with luck of the roll in a very nice sustainable portable fashion.

Strategy?

There is in actual fact a surprising amount of strategy in a game of OX. I found myself very much reminded of the game “Backgammon” in respect of the strategy involved with moving your discs and making safe spots. In the many (10+) games we played, strategy beat luck most of the time. What was nice though was even when you were quite a bit behind a couple of lucky double rolls could get you right back into the game. Even if that did not happen a game of OX is over so quickly that you will be setting up to play again before the winner has finished their “Happy Dance”. I did however lose one game to an absolute outrageous lucky roll of 3 consecutive double sixes (geez). Which showed me that the creators have worked hard to create a balance that can allow even the less tactical player to get the occasional win.

Sustainable?

Yes you did read that right. The designers of OX have worked hard to make their game as sustainable as possible. They have selected the materials from sustainable resources and all manufactured by hand. The boards central space is made from Mahogany with players discs being made from Oak and Walnut all with FSC / PEFC certification. The leather of the board is offered in a choice of four colours.

Extras?

Through the Kickstarter the designers are also offering extra personalised player discs for that truly competitive pairing. They will also be offering a companion app to allow for the occasions when you are not in a position to be able to roll dice (fancy playing this on the side of a mountain?)

My Thoughts.

I like OX it is very simple to play and even easier to teach. OX can be played by most age groups. With a good balance of strategy versus luck in evidence. The portability is in my mind another plus. I played a game sat at a bar waiting to be served and also in the back of a car on a journey. Very quick playtime allows for repeated playing. This is definitly designed to be a portable experience and I do not see it being played at local game meet-ups on a frequent basis. It will howver be in the pocket for those times when you are waiting for a longer game to finish. Another huge plus for me personally is the sustainability of OX. This is not a game that you throw away after a few months. Being wood and leather it will survive all sorts of abuse. The player discs fit into the board when not playing so your unlikely to lose them. The roll to move might put off those strategy purists. I say that is their loss.

In Short.

PRO.

  • Sustainable.
  • Abstract.
  • Playable by all ages.
  • Fast play.
  • Portable.
  • 2 Player.
  • Mix of strategy and luck.

CON.

  • Luck will put off some.
  • Only 2 player.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of OX in order to review the game. This in no way affected the review above.

 

Euphoria: Build a better Dystopia

EUPHORIA

:Build a Better Dystopia

From

Stonemaier Games

A Review by

MAWIHTEC

  • 2-6 Players
  • 60 minutes
  • 13+ Age

Euphoria?

Control. Euphoria is all about control. Control Workers, Control Information, Control Knowledge, Control your Opponents. After all, YOU and only you know what the tattered remains of civilization require going forward to build a better tomorrow, today. Building for the future is not easy. There are others who misguidedly think that their foolish ideas are superior to your vision for a utopian future. As for the common people they need to understand. You know what is best for them and their families. If they learn too much they will be doomed to repeat history. And if there is one thing history has shown is “Too much information is a dangerous thing”. Their brains are not equipped to deal with the knowledge and they might start to think they have a different way. You need to save them from themselves. You will be the leader of the future.

What is in Euphoria?

Beauty. Not the fools amorous idea of beauty. But rather the states controlled and safe for all, beauty. When you open your Container you will find.

  • 1 Game Board.
  • 24 Dice.
  • 48 Recruit Cards.
  • 36 Artifact Cards.
  • 18 Market Tiles.
  • 6 Ethical Dilemma cards.
  • 45 Wood Resource Tokens.
  • 72 Wood Commodity Tokens.
  • 3 Wood Miners.
  • 4 Wood Progress Tokens.
  • 6 Wood Moral Tokens (1 in each player colour).
  • 6 Wood Knowledge Tokens (1 in each player colour).
  • 60 Wood Authority Stars (10 in each player colour).
  • 6 Multiplier Markers.
  • 6 Allegiance Tokens.
  • Rulebook.

Euphoric Dystopia

In Euphoria you will lead your workers (represented as Dice) and your trusted Recruits (represented as Cards), in a bid to claim this dystopian future for yourself. You will generate commodities, Build Markets, Form allegiances, Collect pre-apocalyptic artefacts, dig tunnels in attempts to infiltrate the opposition and fulfil secret agendas. All of this in an effort to pave your way to authority and victory.

How do you Dystopia?

Euphoria, Is achieved via the use of a small group of workers, two trusty recruits and your own vision and foresight. You start with just two workers represented by those cubes of knowledge that the ancients called “Dyce?” The markings on these cubes represent the amount of knowledge each worker has. If they gain too much knowledge they will question what you have told them as being the truth and may even flee from your protective embraces. Your recruits will allow you access to bonuses and define your initial allegiance to one of the four factions. Initially only one of these recruits is loyal and gives you a bonus. The second will activate during the game either through your guile or the mistaken actions of others (how foolish they are to even think of questioning you).

Use these workers to construct markets allowing you to impose restrictions of freedom on those that would oppose your claim to authority. Make sure you confiscate artefacts from the old world that your workers might find. These artefacts can only sow the seeds of dissent in those of a lesser mind. Besides the stronger willed dystopian elite will reward you handsomely with large areas of land just to posses even one pair of these ancient objects of leisure. Only by the deft use of your authority will you claim victory over those that would oppose you.

WOW!

So what does this all mean to you as a player? Each player starts the game with 10 authority tokens. First player to play their tenth token wins game over end of the story. There are four factions in Euphoria,

  • The Icarites who dwell in the clouds.
  • The Subterrans whose life exists underground.
  • The Wastelanders scraping their living out in the ruins of the past.
  • The Euphorians existing in comfort in the great city.

Each of these factions has a commodity associated with it which is used a little like “in-game currency” and a corresponding resource* which you use to build markets.*Icarites are exceptions as they do not need to construct markets*. By the use of resources and commodities you will construct markets to allow you to place authority tokens and also to claim territory with authority tokens.

Normally in worker placement games, placing a worker is an acceptable and common way of not only taking an action. But also denying an opponent the chance to take that action for themselves. Euphoria is very different, there is no blocking in that respect. Instead there is “bumping”. This is a very clever twist on the worker placement mechanism because whenever a worker is bumped or returned to its owner it is re-rolled for its knowledge level. If this new number when added to existing unplaced workers exceeds a preset amount. Then the worker with the highest numerical value “runs away” (is returned to the general supply). This is a big twist on conventional worker placement thinking and requires a different strategical approach. Effectively you can “hurt players by giving them their workers back”.

Knowledge and Moral.

Within a game of Euphoria you will face a constant struggle. You will be trying to gain moral as this will allow you to hold more cards thus giving you a chance to purchase land with artefact cards and place authority tokens. But going hand in hand with this is the use of knowledge too much knowledge and you might find yourself losing workers.

Tense?

Yes in a word. Every game of Euphoria feels tight and well balanced. It is in essence a worker placement race game unrelenting. It starts off slowly with you struggling to get an authority token out here or there. However as the game progresses these tokens start to appear much more quickly. Markets, allegiance tracks, territories all of them suddenly seeming to fill with stars. I myself have said several times “If I had one more turn I would have won” and I am not alone in saying it.

Theme?

This is more than just a board game. How often do you hear that claim? Well not from me today, well OK maybe a little. Euphoria is dripping with theme. If you have the right group you will find yourself telling the story. All of the actions help to paint a backdrop that feels full of dystopian menace. It is such a refreshing change to be faced with a game that is not about a market rush or farm battle. This feeling is enhanced by the sumptuous artwork and component quality. No card punch tokens here it is wooden shaped pieces that help even further with that thematic immersion.

My Thoughts.

Euphoria is a good game. I would even go so far as to say it is a very good game indeed. The rules are not overly complicated and should be picked up quite quickly. The subtleties of play are what encourage you to come back and play again. Initially the number of choices will feel daunting but yet again this trepidation over too much choice will quickly pass. But any game if you look hard enough will have some flaws and it is only right and proper to share my thoughts of these with you. First “Luck” Euphoria does have some elements of luck involved. Now this is something that worker placement purists frown on, I disagree. Yes as you re-roll your dice a lucky or unlucky roll might help or hinder your progress. But you will get a chance to recover because you will get to roll again later and your opponents will also be facing those similar rolls. Even so it can sometimes feel frustrating. Next thing for me is the Dilemma cards. There is not enough variety in them. They all feel very similar. I would really have liked to see more variation in the dilemmas you faced. Oddly enough this would have potentially increased the luck element in a different direction. (some people are never pleased hey). Finally for me are the recruit cards. Some of the bonuses they provide can seem incredibly powerful. NOT unbalanced just very strong compared to others (the way you play them is important it can make a huge difference). None of these are game breaking in any shape or form. But are definitely worth mentioning.

In Short.

PRO.

  • Artwork is truly gorgeous.
  • Board is very nicely laid out and iconography is easy to understand.
  • Lots of variability of powers and choices.
  • Fast play.
  • Very little AP potential due to “bumping”.
  • Plays up to 6 players.
  • Strategy and Theme, by the bucketload.
  • Bumping, novel twist on worker placement.

CON.

  • Luck element of dice will be off putting to some.
  • Lack of variety to dilemmas.
  • Recruits, some seem very powerful while others seem weaker.

Overall.

Euphoria is a very good worker placement game with some nice wrinkles. It deserves a place on your shelf and rightly deserves its high ranking on Board Game Geeks website. It has a nice pace of play and scales very well from 2 to 6.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a full copy of Euphoria in order to review the game. This in no way affected the review above