Archive for the ‘Board games’ Category


Board Game Review: Copycat

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Last of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: Friedemann Friese
Publisher: 2F-Spiele
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 95 minutes
Age range: 12+

(Image courtesy of trenttsd@BoardGameGeek)

It’s common among beginning designers to lift mechanics from their favorite games (guilty as charged). It’s less common to see experienced designers do this; more often they want to break new ground. Copycat is the exception to this. It proudly states its goals in its name: directly copy mechanics from some of the most popular board games and combine them to create a new game.

In theory, Copycat is a game about building political influence, though honestly while playing I couldn’t tell if you were supposed to be a businessman or a politician (more on that later). Everyone starts with the same deck of cards — some give you money, some give you influence, i.e., victory points. You also start with some meeples (shaped like little “V for victory” symbols) that act as workers. Your goal is to use your cards and your workers to build up enough influence and become the next president.

The first familiar mechanic comes from Dominion: each turn you draw a hand of cards from your deck, and throughout the game you’ll buy new cards to build up your deck (deck-building). The second familiar mechanic comes from Through the Ages: the cards you buy from are laid out in a line, which slides over at the end of the turn and filled in with new cards — cards become better and better (but also more and more expensive) as the game goes on. The third comes from Agricola: there is a certain set of fixed actions on the board you can activate with your meeples, and a set that’s laid out in a semi-random order via cards. A fourth comes from many a Wolfgang Kramer game: there is a score track that encircles the board and tracks influence.

There are some new elements to the game. First, you don’t build up your worker pool over time, a la Agricola or Stone Age. Instead, you have cards you can play or actions that you can place a worker on that allow you to add new workers just for this round. If you buy cards further along in the track, you may have to pick up some empty filler cards (you can see them in the image above as red cards with toilet paper on them) that just act to do nothing in your deck. You can get rid of those cards if you need to, though — there are some slightly different ways to remove cards from your deck, some of which will allow you to perform other actions.

However, for me, this game feels very generic. The theme did not grab me at all — like I said, it was hard to tell whether it was about politics or business. The mechanics are so familiar that I felt myself wishing I were playing one of those other games. I also didn’t feel like there was a lot of strategy: I came in second simply by buying a lot of cards that produce a lot of influence, and doing the same with the actions on the board. And finally, for a good part of the game I was regretting that this was the last game I’d be playing at That Board Gaming Thing. In the end, it feels like an interesting experiment that didn’t quite pan out.

Verdict: Avoid.


Review: Riff Raff

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: Christoph Cantzler
Publisher: Zoch Verlag
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Age range: 8+

(Image courtesy of duchamp@BoardGameGeek)

It feels a bit like I’ve already reviewed Riff Raff, as like Animal Upon Animal, this is a dexterity game where you’re trying to get rid of all your objects by stacking them and hoping they don’t fall off. However, there are a few differences that make this game distinct, and possibly why it was on the Recommended list for the 2013 Spiel des Jahres.

Rather than stacking on the back of a crocodile, you are stacking objects on the deck and spars of a ship, set up so it can rock in all directions. Instead of rolling a die to determine how many objects you can place, each player has ten cards, numbered 1-10. At the beginning of each turn, all players pick a card and reveal it simultaneously. The highest number becomes the Captain and goes first, the next highest number goes second, and so on in descending order. Any ties are broken by the Captain (if there’s a tie for the highest number, the previous turn’s Captain breaks the tie).

The wrinkle is that the higher your number, the higher on the ship you must place your object, so the more likely it is to fall off. Any objects that do fall off you must take back into your pile. However, any objects that you catch before they hit the table are removed from the game.

Riff Raff is certainly a cute little game, and the ship and the cargo are very cool bits. However, it takes a bit too much time to set up and play for a filler, and at $50 it’s a little pricey for a kids game (or, for that matter, a filler). I consider this more of a novelty collectible, and nothing I’d be picking up any time soon.

Verdict: Borrow.


Review: Spyrium

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: William Attia
Publisher: Ystari
Players: 2-5
Playing time: 75 minutes
Age range: 12+

(Image courtesy of duchamp@BoardGameGeek)

The worker-placement game has become a staple of the Eurogame these days, starting with Caylus and morphing into such diverse games as Agricola, Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep. In my mind, the mechanic is getting a little bit tired. The latest entry is
Spyrium, which takes the basic worker placement mechanic and puts a slightly new twist to it.

Spyrium is set in a steampunk universe, where a new energy source called Spyrium has been found. You use your mines and spare workers to mine Spyrium, and then can use the Spyrium and other workers in a workshop or factory to generate victory points. You can also get points by buying buildings, or from training workers in universities, or from fulfilling event cards.

The game is played in three phases made up of two rounds, the main difference between the phases being what cards are available. The cards are laid out in a 3×3 tableau, and dictate the new actions available for that round. Unlike other games where you place your workers on the cards, and you use it exclusively, you instead place your workers between two cards, indicating you want to use one card or the other. You may place multiple workers between the same two cards.

Halfway within the round, at a time of your choosing, you then switch over from placing workers between cards to activating the workers as well as generating resources from your tableau. Activating a worker can allow you to use the card it’s next to; the cost of the card depends on the number of workers around it, from all the players. If the card is a building you take it into your tableau. Alternatively, you can forgo the card and collect money, again dependent on the number of workers around it. In both cases, you remove your worker.

What each card does depends on its type. Mines, once placed in your tableau and activated with an additional worker, give Spyrium. Workshops, factories and laboratories allow you to exchange Spyrium for points. Residences give you money or points. Neighborhoods give you workers. Techniques improve your efficiency. Unlike the other cards, Characters remain in the 3×3 grid and allow conversions or bonuses.

So in general, the game goes as described above: you want to generate more and more Spyrium as the game goes on, collect more workers and more money so you can perform more actions and buy more cards, and in general improve the efficiency of your economic engine to get as many points as possible.

Spyrium does have some nice things in it. One mechanic that I believe is new for worker placement is when you place the workers between cards, rather than on them. This has a couple of effects. First it makes more popular cards more expensive, and may force some players to choose the card on the other side of their worker. Alternatively you can use this to your advantage and cash in on the money, rather than buying the card. The other effect it has is if someone’s worker is between two cards that are bought by two other players, that worker can be left high and dry. So placement and timing when you buy cards is very important.

The other new mechanic I thought was interesting is that rather than having a fixed time when you switch from placement to activation (e.g. usually when everyone has placed all their workers), each player decides for themselves when to make that switch. Any additional workers are then used to drive their mines and factories on their personal tableau.

The one downside that I ran into is that the decisions you make early dictate the rest of the game. In my case, I was unfamiliar with the rules and got stuck with a low-performing engine. By the time I figured out what was going on, I couldn’t recover. I’m not sure that’s a terrible knock against it, but it does make it more difficult to bring new players in.

In the end, I’m on the fence about Spyrium. I think it has some nice new ideas, and lots of interesting choices, but I’m still not sure that it overcomes my weariness with new worker placement games. Perhaps I’d change my mind if I played it more, but until then…

Final Verdict: Borrow


Recent Vintage Review: Seasons

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: Régis Bonnessée
Publisher: Asmodee
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes
Age range: 12+

(Image courtesy of duchamp@BoardGameGeek)

One of the more recent trends is to combine game mechanics together from a variety of games. Seasons is an example of such, combining role selection and resource management with a simple Magic the Gathering-like card game. As a further wrinkle, the role selection is done via dice rolls, and you build your initial deck via card drafting. While described this way it sounds like a mish-mash of mechanics, it combines quite well to create a pleasant and fresh-feeling game.

The theme is that you are participating in a three-year contest to see who is the best wizard in the kingdom of Xidit. As you pass through the seasons of each year, certain energy resources (earth, air, water, fire) will become more available, and others less available. These can be spent to play cards, or converted into crystals (the rarer the energy type during that season, the better the conversion rate), which can be used as points, or can also be used to bring cards into the game or perform other effects.

The game begins by drafting your starting deck. Nine cards are dealt out to each player. Everyone simultaneously chooses one card from their set and passes the remainder to the player on their left. This continues until each player has chosen nine cards. This is further divided into three subdecks of cards, each of which becomes available during the three “years” of the game.

Each round begins with the start player rolling the seasons dice (which are huge, colorful and gorgeous) — there is a different set of dice for each season, which control which type of energy is available. Each face of the die has a different set of actions: you can collect a particular kind of energy, transmute energy into crystals, score points directly, increase the number of cards you can have in your tableau or draw new cards. So each player in turn chooses one die which will give the actions they can perform on their turn. There will always be one die remaining — that will control how far the seasons marker progresses at the end of the round.

After that, each player in turn takes the actions available on their die. After that they can play any cards they like in front of them, as long as they can pay the cost in energy or crystals and it doesn’t exceed their current tableau size. Once all players are done, the season marker moves forward by the amount indicated by the remaining die. If the season marker passes the year marker, you can take the next deck you set aside and add it to your hand. The game ends after the marker crosses into the fourth year.

The end goal is to become the player with the largest number of crystals at the end of the game. There are a variety of ways to achieve this — you can try to transmute more energy than other players. Or you can play cards that allow you to steal energy from other players when they perform certain actions. Or you can play cards with a high point value. Usually you’re going to go for a variety of these, though in the game I played at That Board Gaming Thing the woman who won was behind in crystal count for most of the game, and shot ahead at the end by playing a large number of high value cards.

I have mixed feeling about Seasons. It’s suggested that for your first play that you use a subset of the cards and honestly when we did that I found that game rather dull. But when I played at That Board Gaming Thing, we used nearly the full set and it was far far better. That said, it still has the problem that players who are familiar with the cards will have a huge advantage over players who don’t (common to many games that can chain card effects). If you don’t set up your initial three hands well, you can find yourself stuck and trying desperately to catch up in years two or three — which is not fun. So I can see why it’s suggested you start with a simpler set of cards for new players, but again, I found that dull. Still, I’d certainly play it again, and recommend it for those who like games such as Dominion or Magic, and are looking for something in the same vein but with a different twist.

Final Verdict: Borrow


Recent Vintage Review: King of Tokyo

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Designer: Richard Garfield
Publisher: IELLO (among others)
Players: 2-6
Playing time: 30 minutes

(Image courtesy of trenttsd@BoardGameGeek)

It is many a person’s dream to dress up in a rubber suit, and fight a massive battle with their friends over a scale model of Tokyo. Or perhaps that’s only my dream. In any case, King of Tokyo allows you to do just that, in a less stifling fashion.

Each player takes on the role of a daikaiju (giant strange creature, or as the rules say: Monster). Your goal is to keep your Monster in Tokyo (or Tokyo Bay, if playing with 5-6 players) as long as possible and rack up victory points — the first player to reach 20 points wins the game. Of course, everyone else will be attacking you and trying to drive you out of Tokyo so they can take your place. If you stay in too long and the other players manage to whittle your life points down to nothing, you are eliminated (no friendly Euro rules here!).

The turn sequence is simple. If you’re in Tokyo, collect 2 victory points. You then roll the dice and resolve the results. If you’re outside Tokyo and end up attacking the player there, and they choose to retreat (alternatively, if there’s no one there already), then you will take their place and receive a victory point. Finally you may buy cards if you choose to.

You get six dice to roll, and may re-roll any or all of them twice to reach your desired result. Three sides are numbered 1, 2, and 3 respectively. These will give you additional victory points equal to the value on the die if you roll a triplet, and one additional victory point for any matching die beyond that. For example, if you were to roll four 2s, you would get 2 victory points for the triplet, plus 1 additional point for the extra 2, for a total of 3 victory points.

For the remaining sides, one allows you to collect an energy cube, which you can save up turn to turn to buy cards. One side has a heart on it, which can restore one point of health if you’re not currently in Tokyo. And the remaining side has a claw on it, which will do damage to whoever is where you’re not: i.e. if you’re outside of Tokyo you can attack a daikaiju inside of Tokyo or Tokyo Bay, and vice versa.

The final and optional step is to buy cards, which can give you points, give you health, give you special abilities (such as a death ray, or fire breath), or combinations of the three. Three cards are revealed face up to start, and as players buy them they are replaced. They come in a variety of costs — the more powerful the card, the more it is. So you have a choice of buying the cheap card that can help you now, or saving up for the more powerful card — assuming you last that long.

I had heard about King of Tokyo when it first came out, and I have to admit I was a little skeptical. But the game quickly won me over. As I said on Twitter recently, there’s nothing like the visceral feel of rolling a big pile of dice. And that’s combined with three different push-your-luck mechanics — first whether to continue to roll and improve your results; second, if you’re Tokyo, whether to try to remain there and capture the 2 points on your next turn, or escape while you can before you get eliminated; third, whether to jump on the cheap card or wait for the energy to buy the better one. All of this combines to make a fun and tense little game. We’ll definitely be picking this one up soon.

Final verdict: Buy.


Recent Vintage Review: Mord im Arosa

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

(image courtesy of duchamp@BoardGameGeek)

Most mystery games use cards as the clues, and you solve the mystery by elimination. The classic example is Clue (or Cluedo) — a set of cards are removed, and by tracking down all or most of the remaining cards, you can deduce the suspect, room and weapon. Games like Sleuth and Mystery of the Abbey are just variations on this.

Mord im Arosa is different. In this case, the clues are cubes in a tower with eight levels, representing different floors of the Hotel Arosa. As you drop cubes in the top, they will fall through the tower until they stop on one of the levels (and possibly knocking other cubes off). By guessing correctly where the cubes have fallen (ostensibly by listening), you collect clues, draw attention away from yourself and eventually determine which one of the players is the murderer.

To start the game, you drop in the two victim cubes, then each player in turn drops in two cubes of their color. Then there are two stages to the game: finding the victims and then determining the suspects.

To find the victims, you guess which floor those cubes might be on and lift the upper sections of the tower to reveal that floor. If you’re right, you place the victim cube on that floor on the investigation board, and a new cube of that color for each cube found near the victim (except yours). If you’re wrong, you must throw an extra cube of your own into the tower. In either case you return all the cubes found (except the victims) into the tower.

To determine the suspects, you accuse one or more players and then reveal a floor to see if their cubes are there. If they are there, then you add a new cube of that color to the investigation board for that floor for each cube found. If they are not, then you must throw in a cube of your own. In either case, you again close the tower and throw in all the cubes found back into the tower.

You can also try to cover your tracks — name a floor, and if your cubes are on there you may remove them before throwing the remainder back in the tower. But if they’re not… again you must add an extra cube of your color in addition to those found, back into the tower.

The game ends when one player runs out of cubes, or has ten cubes on the investigation board. Then players are scored depending on how close their cubes are, by floor, to the two victims on the investigation board. The player with the lower score is the winner, and the player with the highest is the murderer…

I thought the use of a cube tower for a mystery game was very interesting — the only other use of that mechanic I’ve seen is for games like Wallenstein and Shogun (probably because Queen Games has a patent on that particular cube tower). However, beyond that this one didn’t really light me on fire. I think the main issue I had is that the cube placement is random. So while you can try to cover your tracks and remove your cubes, if your cubes are placed on the investigation sheet near the victims, you’re stuck with that high score. You could try to guess the floors near the victims just to incriminate other people, but there’s no guarantee any cubes will be there. So while I certainly enjoyed playing it, I can’t see myself picking this one up.

Final verdict: Borrow

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

Image courtesy of trenttsd@BoardGameGeek
(Image courtesy of trenttsd@BoardGameGeek)

A party of intrepid adventurers, working together and trying against all odds to find their way out before time expires…. no, I’m not describing yesterday’s game Forbidden Desert. While the overall theme of cooperation, exploration and escape is the same, Escape: The Curse of the Temple is not quite so contemplative. Instead, it’s a mad dice-fest that only takes (exactly) ten minutes to play.

The idea is simple. You are explorers, trapped in an ancient temple. You have ten minutes to search the temple, find the exit, and get everyone out before they are entombed forever. The temple is represented by tiles laid out on the table, and as you explore, you reveal new tiles. Each player has a marker representing them, and dice which you will continuously roll for the entirety of the game. It’s a real-time game: there are no turns, you just keep rolling and shouting at other players what you’re up to, hoping that they get to you and help out.

The dice are used for exploring and moving through the temple, activating gems (more on that in a bit) and avoiding curses. You start with five dice, each with various symbols on them: two adventurers, one torch, one key, one gold mask and one black mask. To move into a new room, you need to roll the two symbols on that tile. To explore and reveal a new tile, you need to roll two adventurers. If you roll a black mask, then that die is cursed and you can’t re-roll it — the only way to clear it is to roll a gold mask, which allows you to clear up to two black masks. In some cases you can end up with all five dice as black masks, in which case your only hope is that someone else can get to your room and “loan” you a gold mask to free up two of your dice.

Finding the exit is not enough. To leave, you also have to activate gems in the chambers that you’ll uncover throughout the game, again by rolling symbols on your dice. The more players that help out, the more gems you’ll be able to activate at one time. For every gem that is unactivated, each person will have to roll that many keys on their dice to escape. As you start with five dice, and the number of unactivated gems you start with is always larger than that (for example, with five players you start with fourteen gems), it’s clear that you’ll have to dedicate some time to activation.

And if that isn’t enough… as I mentioned, you start with five dice. But every three minutes or so, you have to return to the starting tile. If you don’t make it in time, you lose a die. And if you don’t have enough dice to unlock the exit, you may be trapped forever. Now, those who make it out can give a single die to those who remain — but do you really want to depend on that?

As you might expect, the tension gets rather high: you’re trying to find the exit, activating enough gems so you can unlock it, but still trying to get back to the center periodically so you don’t lose any dice. And all of this is driven along by a ten minute soundtrack — a CD comes with the game, or you can download the MP3s off of the website. Alternatively, there’s an egg timer you can use — but what’s the fun in that?

The main box also comes with two expansions: one which adds treasures than can help you out, and one that adds curses… which don’t. We haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but I’m sure we will at some point.

We had a great time playing Escape at That Board Game Thing, and have subsequently purchased it. It does have two downsides. The first is that at 10 minutes it’s too short for a full cooperative game — but it does make for a nice filler, or for one game in a night of short games. The second is that it is very frenetic, which may turn some people off. But for those who love that sort of time pressure, and who love rolling a lot of dice, it’s great fun.

Final verdict: Buy.


Recent Vintage Review: Forbidden Desert

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

(Image courtesy PurpleHeather@BoardGameGeek)

Forbidden Desert is the latest cooperative game from the brain of Matt Leacock, creator of Pandemic and Forbidden Island. The concept is that you have crashed in the desert near the ruins of an ancient civilization. You need to explore the city, collect the parts of a mysterious flying machine, assemble them and escape before any of you die of thirst. The sun and the blowing sands are your enemy, but with luck and cooperation you might all make it.

The board consists of 24 tiles with a desert theme on one side, placed in a 5×5 grid. As you proceed through the game, you can explore the tiles and flip them over to reveal either part of the city (which allows you to pick up gear, or move around via tunnels), directional markers indicating where the parts of the flying machine are, or oases (one of which is dried up), which give water to whoever was there when it was explored.

However, the placement of the tiles is not static. At the end of your turn, you must turn over sand storm cards which can reveal either a wind event, a sun event, or the storm picks up (this mechanic should seem familiar to Pandemic players — think of the infection cards). If the wind blows, then the “hole” in the board (remember, there are only 24 tiles) will move with the wind, and sand markers will be placed on tiles. More than one sand marker, and you must dig the tile out before you can excavate it. If you run out of sand tiles, then the game is over and you lose.

If the sun beats down, then you must use up some water, or hide in a tunnel, or use an artifact. If any character is out of water when the sun beats down, then he or she dies and the game is over. Finally, if the storm picks up, then the storm marker ticks up, which as the game progresses will lead you to draw more and more sand storm cards, thereby ratcheting up the tension as the game goes on. If the storm picks up too much, then again the game is over.

To help you combat the sand and sun, each person gets a role card, which give you special abilities, and as mentioned, you can also can collect gear such as jet packs and (if I recall correctly) water rations. In our game, we didn’t use our gear or our abilities enough and we ended up losing. But if you are cleverer than us, manage to collect all the parts of the flying machine, bring them to the launch point and get everyone there in time, then you can take off and return to civilization and win the game!

I played Forbidden Island when it first came out, and while I thought it did a good job of taking the gameplay mechanics of Pandemic in a different direction, my memories of the game are that I also felt it was a little too light for me. Forbidden Desert, on the other hand, hit the spot just right. This time I thought there was enough going on, with the desert exploration, the shifting tiles and sand, and of course the collection of the bits of the flying machine. There’s a lot of nice stuff going on here, and I highly recommend it.

Final verdict: Buy.

Oh, and as a side note, if you have an iPad, Pandemic is now available on the App Store — check it out, it looks pretty good.

(Part of a series, reviewing games I played in September 2013 at That Board Gaming Thing.)

The first game we tried to play Saturday morning was Dungeon Lords, by Vlaata Chvátil. Needless to say, a game that has a set of tutorials for combat, followed by an “easy play” first game, is not the sort of thing to start up first thing in the morning. So we skipped that and moved on to a much simpler game to warm up the old noggins.

Animal Upon Animal (courtesy dr.mrow@BoardGameGeek)
(image courtesy of dr.mrow@BoardGameGeek)

Animal Upon Animal (or if you prefer, Tier Auf Tier) is a stacking and dexterity game. Each player is given a collection of animals in various shapes and sizes, and then takes turns trying to stack them up on the back of a very patient crocodile.

However, before you start stacking, you must roll a die. If you roll a one or a two, then you must place that many animals on the stack. If you roll a question mark, then another player gets to choose which animal you must place. Contrarywise, if you roll a hand, you get to give an animal to another player to place. And finally, if you roll the crocodile, you place an animal up to its nose or tail, to create a new base to build on.

Of course, with stacking games, the fun is what happens when the stack collapses. If one or two pieces fall off (not likely) then the person who just placed keeps them. If more fall off (more likely), then that person keeps two and the rest go back in the box. The winner of the game is the person who gets rid of all of their pieces.

The strategy of the game is rather minimal: Try to place pieces so that it screws the next person in line. And it was clearly designed for little kids (the box says ages 4-99). But the game is fast enough (about 15 minutes) and the pieces are charming enough, that it’s just a fun little filler — good to play with your kids, or just while you’re waiting for the next big game to start.

Final verdict: Buy It.


Recent Vintage Review: Liberté

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Reviews

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in That Board Gaming Thing, an invitational board game convention that takes place right here in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. While I didn’t manage to play any (except one) of the hot games, I did play a number of fairly recent games, many of which were new to me. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some short reviews of these games, and perhaps some others throughout October. The ranking system I’ll be using is based on the Sound Opinions system of Buy It/Burn It/Trash It, but instead: Buy It/Borrow It/Trash It.

(Image courtesy of moonblogger@BoardGameGeek)

The first game I played at the con was Liberté. It’s an older game (2001) by Martin Wallace, and recently republished by Valley Games. It covers the period from the start of the French Revolution to Napoleon’s rise to power. At its heart it’s an election game, played over four rounds. You collect cards which either allow you to place markers in regions on the board and hence build influence in one of three factions, or allow you to perform special actions, such as remove other players’ markers from the board. You may also reserve some of the cards, which allow you to push more influence to break ties.

At the end of each round, you determine which player has the most influence in each space (if possible, breaking ties by using the cards mentioned above). The faction that wins that space gets one vote in the election, and that player gets a marker indicating their influence in that faction. Note that factions are not tied to an individual players. So you, as a player, could be pushing for the royalist faction (white) in one space, while pushing for the moderates (blue) in another space, or the extremists (red) in a third.

Your main goal is to score points by having the most influence in the faction that wins the election (i.e. has the most overall influence) each round. There are also subgoals that score points such as having majority control of the minority party, or majority control of the army, or majority control in certain regions. In general, the player with the most points wins.

I could see the draw of the game, and maybe with a few more plays I might be able to grok it. But in general it felt like there was too much going on — too many spaces to keep track of, and in a way, too many options to consider. So while I suspect once I get to know it a little better I might enjoy it more, for a pick-up game it didn’t work for me. On the other hand, Stefan Feld fans would probably enjoy it a lot.

Final verdict: Borrow It.

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