The “Choose Your Own Murder Mystery Adventure” has landed and as well as crossing two game genres,(choose your own adventure & murder mystery) it also crosses two gaming mediums (board game, app game). It’s called Chronicles of Crime, and rightly so. There is a crime that has been committed and the clock is ticking. You’ll be investigating crime scenes, interrogate suspects and drawing your conclusions as quick as you can. Do this well and your team will get a high score. Failing slightly or terribly means that you can replay to see if you can do better. Or just look at the solution.
As you can tell, this is a team game or a solo affair if you wish. Both experiences make a little difference. Play on your own and you’ll be 100% engaged, but may miss certain clues or not be able to think out of the box. Playing in a team, your engagement level is as high as you want it to be. The more you participate, the more you get out of it. Being timid may leave you on the sideline, wishing you said “yes” to TI4 instead. And the more minds there are, the better the chance of succeeding at this puzzle. As this is what the game is. A tangled puzzle of what he said, she said, this clue, that clue and “I think it was…”
At the start of the game, after choosing a scenario, you’ll be given very limited information about a crime. Either a murder, theft or a disappearance. And away you go. If you have ever been on a Murder Mystery Weekend, this game will be very familiar. Instead of going away with some friends, to a hotel and dressing up in period costumes, you’ll be sat around a table, trying to decide what to do and where to go. And instead of bumping into character actors in the dining room or hallway, to get their accounts of what they saw and heard, you’ll have a deck of beautifully drawn character cards, with QR codes to scan. Scanning a card will be like talking to these actors.
But as I said, you will start with just one location or one character. By interacting, you will open up new locations and other characters. The game comes mainly from a very smart app that you will have to download to play. It holds a selection of stories for you to play and there are more in the works. Where as the table will hold a board, that houses locations, clues and characters. Everything has a QR code that you’ll scan into your smart device. A very intuitive system, where if you want to go to a location, you scan it and voila, your there. To talk to someone, scan them and they are now talking to you. But they need to be in the location that you are in. Ask someone about something, scan that person then that item. Scan, scan, scan. There is a lot of scanning in the game. More so at the beginning of the game, as you are collecting evidence and clues to a story you know not much about. There’s so much scanning, you may forget that this is a board game.
Talking of scanning...
If you have an older device to run your game on, you may like I, have trouble running the app. Or find that it freezes while searching for clues. Or it may struggle to scan codes, sending frustration through the group as you wait for a response from your number one suspect. Where if you have a brand spanking device, the game will run seamlessly. And fun will be had.
I’d say that around 70% of the game is on the device, the other 30% is at the table or in the imagination of players, trying to piece together this mystery. The game tries to get everyone at the table involved in the form of a light virtual reality, search the crime scene segment. One investigator will be given the app and using it, look around the location, calling out thing of note to the rest of the team. While the team will be flicking through a deck of clue cards, trying to find cards that correspond to what the investigator is seeing. The cards are vague in substance. Stating “bags” or “decorations.” The vagueness works well as player can discuss and debate whether it was a clue or not. It also leaves this items open for use in another scenario, as they could be shopping bags, hand bags or luggage bags.
The virtual reality that the game uses is like a 360 degree image that the investigator can either scroll through with a finger and zoom. Or if you have purchased the Kickstarter addon of the 3D glasses, you can slip these onto you screen and look around the interior of a bubble image. A very nice use of technology in a board game, as it inserts the player right into the world they are playing in. A time limit is added as well, meaning you will frantically be shouting out all kinds of things, in vain hope that your team can find the right clue cards. This adds some of the tension to the game, because as the titles states, you are up against the chronometer.
Every action you perform with the app, costs “in game” time. Your case may be on a time limit, were every minute count. As a team, you’ll be talking back and forth about what to do and what questions to ask. Every question, location change and search of a crime scene costs a different amount of in game time. Before you know it, it’s the evening, in game that is. And each character has a real life in this virtual world. Bob may be found in his Camden Town office during the day, but at night, he is at a little bar in Soho. And because of the way the game is written, Bob may be happy talking to you, up to a point. But asking him about one particular thing may result in him taking a dislike to you or maybe not wanting to see you at all. He may disappear entirely from the game. And that’s a hat tipping moment of the game, to the writers and programmers. You feel this world is alive.
The scenarios and dialogue are top notch. Nothing overwhelmingly complicated but still intriguing deep and perplexing. When characters speak, it’s not pages of exposition. It’s short, sweet, to the point and laced with clues. The language is not overly elegant like in Doyle’s Sherlock, but more in the realm of a TV sitcom, meaning everyone will understand what is being said. And everything that is said will make you go, “oooh!” In the scenarios I have played, there always seems to be a myriad of possible suspects or interwinding connections between the cast. The more you learn from the world, the more the path becomes clear. And before you know it, you are debating with your fellow detectives, that your account of the story is the correct one. Once you’ve persuaded them to take you to the station, to file your report to the chief, your in end game mode. You’ll answer a collection of question about the scenario, scanning the appropriate responses. Finally, you’ll get to see if your deduction skills have paid off, with a final score. This score will be made up from the correct answers plus the time that is took you to complete the story.
Each story will, after a time of discovery, get conversations started at the table. You’ll be recounting the events, drawing lines and connections between all the suspects. Laughing, arguing and brainstorming all the possible events that have come to pass, that have lead you to your conclusion. A real team game, where you may be making notes, taking names and placing bets on the outcome. You’ll soon forget that you are sat around a table will a smart device in your hand. You’ll actually feel that you are in New Scotland Yard, with Inspector Morse, Columbo and Jessica Fletcher.
Once you have completed a scenario successfully, it’s gone. You can replay it if you wish, but you’ll not be surprised by anything. Even if you play with a different group, months later. Something will trigger a memory and the answers will come flooding back. You could hold your tongue and let the others discovery the wonders of the game, but there’ll be nothing in it for you. Making replayability null and void. Although, replaying a scenario you failed at miserably, is a little more rewarding. But like the Choose Your Own Adventure book, when you die and restart, you’ll be zooming through the starting pages of text because you already know it. Until you get to that branching point in the story were you find something you didn’t see before or get a different response from a character. It is still satisfying when you finally get the correct conclusion. But again, unplayable after. A nice touch is that if you do fail, there is no obligation to replay, as there is an option to see the solution. Clicking on this option and you’ll get the who did it and why. So if your friends can’t come back next week, they have some closure to the story.
One other bug from playing a set in stone story is that, sometime you may miss a clue, not shown the right clue to the right person and feel that you have walked into a dead end. Not sure of where to go and what to scan, you do this frantically until something falls into your lap. Or not. The game does try to help you in the form of, if you pass a certain amount of in game time, you’ll receive a text from the chief of police. This will inform you that maybe someone else has been killed, and you need to get your ass to a location to interview someone. This puts pressure on you, but also help the story move forward. But if you are prudent about your scanning and not wanting to waste time, you may pass a lot of real game time, look blankly over the table, retracing your actions. What did you miss? Luckily, there are four, on hand experts that you can call on, who deal with forensics, medicine, data information and phycology. Always a phone call away. Another nice feature in the app is the ability to go back through the history of your scenario, reading everything that was said and done. A great feature if you have to stop playing for lunch, to recap “previously on…” And useful if you are all clued out.
Technical score 9.5/10
The presentation of the game is extremely well put together. From the wonderful (slightly to big) box insert to the simplistic rule set. And the artistic palette used in the locations and characters is pleasing to the eye. Cartoonie, but relatable. The fact that everything can be reused in another story and be something different. Like the characters, who are like actors. In one story, character 52 is a gardener and in another story, the politician. There are even linked stories that continue off from the previous ones. With the same roles designated to characters and seeing the repercussions of you solving a case. There is infinite stories that can be told with just this base box, as long as there are more available for download later on. And the app handles really well. Any bugs that crop up are cleaned up quickly, thanks to the quick response from the team at Luck Duck. Although the app lacks one small thing that will help immerce the players into the game further. Sound effect. The music is good (yes, I’m kissing my own ass as it was me that did it) but very repetitive. Many will just switch it off. Shame!
My BGG score 8/10
This is why we get around a table. To debate, discuss and have fun. And that’s what this games does. Although there is a long period at the start of every game of silence and scanning. Are real detective game that feels like a detective game. Just needs either a random element or a bucket load of scenarios to play...right now! =)
This game is my cup of tea
Driving at breakneck speeds
Cutting off other drivers and spinning out of control. It’s all here. It’s regular Rallyman, but with multiplayer. But you can also indulge yourself by playing solo, in a time trial mode just like in the original version. GT has it all in one box.
This new version of thel Rallyman from Jean-Christophe Bouvier, is being brought back to life, after it’s first sellout tour, and now on Kickstarter. Holy Grail Games, who are no stranger to this platform, have been closely working with the original designer to bring this game to the masses, with a slightly refined mechanism. And when I say slightly refined, I mean it. In fact, to my recollection, the only thing that is gone are the cards, that would keep count of your time around the track.
Now admittedly, I have never played the original Rallyman from nearly 10 years ago. And having only played a few games of this prototype, I must admit that I am tempted to play solo. Against my previous times. Just like in a rally. But the real fun will come from playing against other players. As this is a real battle of strategy and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. With just the aid of the dice, your be plotting your trajectory and seeing if you can hold that course.
The game holds a very simple rule set, that makes getting into the game very speedy. Although there are a few speed bump along the way to slow the game down, it runs very smoothly. Let me light your route.
NOTE: all photos are of a prototype
First thing that players do is verify the turn order. This is a simple case of whichever car is driving at the fastest speed, becomes that player. If there are multiple players at the same speed, it is the one who is furthest along the track. If there is still a draw, it is the player who hugs the inside lane.
Players, then in turn order, will perform two actions. First, plot the route they wish to take along the track. This is done with six sided dice. There are six speed dice, numbered 1 to 6, plus three break dice and two coast dice. You’ll place these on the track, in front of your car, in sequential order. Either making your car go faster or slower. The coast dice act like jokers, sustaining the speed value of the dice place before it. And the break dice are used to jump the order of sequence by one extra. So, to break from speed 5 to 3 would require one break die and the speed 3 die.
This is the tactical part of the game, as you only have a limited amount of dice. This limit will change depending on your tyre set up, the weather and if you have taken any damage. Plotting your course, around bends and other cars can get tricky. To pass an opponent's car, you need to be going at least the same speed as them. And some corners will need to be taken at a certain speed. Leaving you to play out several scenarios in your head.
Already you have this finite resource. Speed. Once you go up to speed 3 and beyond, you can’t not come back down to speed 3 this turn, as you have already allocated the die to a space on the track. Even if you use the break dice, as they require the speed die that you are breaking to. The head scratching will commence. As you try to figure out the most secure and easiest trajectory to take. And while you are taking your turn, the other players are scrutinizing your every decision. You may hear a gasp from another at the table. But was that because you blocked them in? Or will be making them go the long way around? Or because you used your dice unwisely? There is a little tension here, while this takes place. Sometime another player will point out another way to use your dice, which is nice. And that makes this game an easy game to teach, as you do it while you play. The only thing you can’t teach is self restraint and how to handle luck.
Because the second part of your turn is luck, to a degree. If you’re someone who like to throw chance to the wind, you will either win easily or lose drastically. As each six sided dice has one or more sides marked with a Hazard sign. Roll too many of these and your car will spin out, slid off the course and possibly take some damage. All of this is calculated, from the weather conditions, your tyre set up and the speed of the last dice that showed a Hazard sign. The tension that besets the table is always a breathless moment. The anticipation of getting to the last space of your trajected route is thrilling. But sliding off, unable to pull off your fantastic feat, can be inraging. Especially, as I encountered, it happens three times in a row. Every time I rejoined the track. Grrrr!
Whenever you roll too many Hazard signs, you will reference your dashboard, that has your tyre type. There is a table, that you cross reference with the terrain in your location and the speed you were driving at. This will indicate the severity of the accident that has taken place. You may have just spun out on the track or came flying off completely. Meaning that you will miss a turn, as you roll back onto the track. As long as no one is occupying that space. Making you lose another turn, until that space is available again. The fast you come off the track, the more chance there is of you damaging your car. Damage comes from drawing a number of tokens out of a bag.
These tokens can be green flag, which do nothing. Yellow flags stop players overtaking the crashed car. Weather tokens changes the driving conditions from clear and sunny to slippery with rain, and vice versa. Which can be funny if the player after the one that’s accident causes this change, has planned to break hard on a bend. No longer will they be able to if the rain sets in. Sending them also, off the track. Finally, there are the dice tokens. For each one of these you have, you’ll be restricted on using that coloured dice. Drawing two black dice tokens will penalise you on the amount of speed dice you can use on your turn. Pitstoping will cost you a turn but allow you to remove all this damage and maybe change your tyre set up. These dice tokens, I find are fitting in the realm of theme. As you will find your car hobbling along the track after taking massive damage. The weather token, not so fitting.
But you’ll be happy to know that there is dice mitigation. As you can roll the dice, one of two way. First is “Flatout.” All the dice that you used on your trajectory are picked up and rolled at the same time. Yes, this is dangerous, luck driven part of the game, as you have no control over the results and could easily roll many hazards. But it has benefits. If you roll successfully, you are rewarded with Focus Tokens. One for each die used in going Flatout, except break dice. This is great for those who like to take great risks in game, but not so fun for unlucky players who roll four dice and get three Hazard results. Sending you into the barrier...Then do exactly the same on the next turn. Frustrating. But as I said, it’s up to the player to use restrian when rolling dice.
The other way to go about it, is to take your time. Roll each die, one by one and stop when you feel there is a chance of too many Hazard signs showing up. This is a steady and sure way to get around the course without danger of crashing. The sole risk comes from breaking. If you have used a break die to reduce the speed die, these dice get rolled at the same time. So, there is a chance of spinning out of control, even more so if you are hard breaking from from speed 6 to 2. This is where the Focus Tokens come into play. These can be spent, so you can remove dice before you roll them, making them natural success. Meaning no chance of a Hazard sign. The value of each die you remove in this fashion augment by a value of one. Removing the first die costs 1 Token, the second 2 Tokens, so on and so on. This is a great way to get around the circuit, as long as you have them. And to get them, you need to go Flatout from time to time.
After a few turn, the game becomes fluid and before you know it, someone is approaching the finishing line. The pressure is on to get there before them or the same time as them, but with a little more gusto, as you simultaneously cross the checkered flag. And the winner is decided, much like the starting player. Fastest. Furthest. Inside lane. All exciting fun, unless you have walked under a ladder with a black cat.
All in all, an enjoyable and sometime frustrating racing game with solid dice driving mechanic, that is otherwise a realist simulator. The art on the tiles is wonderful and sets the setting nicely, although in prototype form, the cars are nice too. With the hexagonal tiles, there is infinite coursed to make and with the promise of more cars, tiles, dice being unlocked in the the Kickstarter, the more I can’t wait to play again.
Hello Chaps & Chapettes,
It's not every day that you get offered a game and get excited by it instantly. Now, I don't get bucket loads sent to me, like Rahdo or Vasel, but those that I do get are unknown to me. Hence there is a little mystery in discovering a game. Not having any expectations. And never sure of where the game wants to go, leaving me with mixed feelings. For example, a dungeon crawl is a dungeon crawl, which is a sensation I know well and can appreciate it. And a good one will make me feel that I am crawling in a dungeon. Where as game where cubes are moving about, card are being bought, but the game is about concurring the world, can give me the feeling of farming. Not concurring the world at all.
Last year, I had a game shoved under my nose, that was a war game...of movie star clones. And it didn't give me a war feeling, but was immense fun. Plus there was combat. Mental and physical. That game was called Badass Force and in one week, starting on Kickstarter.
The game has an air of Coup. Choosing an A-list action movie star, like Arnold, Sly or Bruce, in front of yourself. Then, either telling everyone that who it really is or blatantly lying about who you have, just to use another power from another character. That way, in no one calls your bluff, you can take down some of the other players at the table. Interesting stuff...
...But it's not all about bluffing. Which is good for those that have a dislike to these type of games. You can play honestly. Because there is more to this game than meets the eye. You can change out the character you have choose. On top of that, there are weapons that need to be loaded, before firing. There is a choice with the weapons. And the biggest bonus is, there is no player elimination. If all your stars have been wiped out, you get to collect them and reuse them...But in a Revenge mode. A mode where their powers are enhanced. So if you are bad at lying or just have bad luck OR are always picked on. You become a tad more powerful, striking a little fear in your opponents.
The game comes alive, very quickly after a moment of uncertainty that players get in the first round. Not only as they adapt to the rules and strategy's, but as they start quoting...
"I heard you were dead!"
“Go ahead, make my day.”
"That's not a knife, that's a knife."
"This is my BOOM STICK!"
"Hasta la vista, baby."
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… And I’m all out of bubblegum.”
"Say hello to my little friend."
Man, I could go on and on...
This game is an enjoyable party style game. And I'm not just saying that because I am now the community manager for the KS. But because I do enjoy this game. The player interaction is high and made higher when one liners come out of other players mouths. Of course there is a bit of luck involved in the game. Calling bluff on a player you've never encountered before. But there is always the rematch, as you figure out their style of play. And there is a surprising amount of strategy hidden in the game. Should you bluff? Should you use your loaded weapon? Should you choose this character? Should you make their grenade, blow up in their face? Lots of choice and plans to formulate. But I won't ramble about it too much. I'll let you look for yourself. Below are some links to the rules, character powers and tips. Check them out and I will see you soon, with some videos.
Link to HOW TO YIPPEE-KI-PLAY (part 1)
Link to HOW TO YIPPEE-KI-PLAY (part 2)
Link to CHARACTER POWAA!
Link to WEAPONS TRAINING
Link to Facebook page
For those of you who are waiting for the next big Monolith project, there is not long to go until it hits Kickstarter. And it is called Claustrophobia 1643.
I was asked by the team at Monolith to demo the prototype at a special event at the Philibert game store in Strasbourg, to which I said "no problem." As Philibert is one of the biggest stores in Europe that deals with delivery, not only games from it's website but also Kickstarters to your door. And it's been 40 years that this company has been in operations. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHILIBERT.
Into my possession came a prototype of the game, which I held onto for a short time. The same proto that I demoed at Gen Con this year. So I thought I would create a little video for you, so those that did not see it at these two events can marvel over the look of the game.
Remember, that in this video, it is a proto and does not have all of the components. Have a look to see if it could be your cup of tea, then watch out for the Kickstarter, as it drops in October
All images used in the article are of a prototype and may differ from the final product
live long and prosper
Civilization games have many things in common. You play as a race of homo-sapiens with different starting stills. You start with small buildings and then make bigger and better ones. You spread out like a virus on your table top. And then you attack your neighbours with sticks then swords. All to make yourself triumphant.
The latest game from Holy Grail Games is very much like that. Apart from the latter. Dominations: Road To Civilization, is more about getting your civilization to where it needs to be, without war and aggression. In fact, most of the time, everyone is helping everybody else, in some fashion. You place a domino to gain knowledge, adjacent another domino that contains another players city, and they gain knowledge as well. Another player starts construction on a Wonder next to your city, you gain victory points instantly. A player generate a lot of one type of resource, you gain one, grace of them. The player who's house your playing in, turns on their Michel Bolton greatest hits and all players experience the same pleasure...
There is a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” feel to it although you are not deliberately trying to scratch anyone's back. And all of this is the fault of the domino's.
steppingstones to civilisation
Another difference to other games is that fact that it is an abstract game. There are no hillocks to build a fortress on, no forests to collect wood from and no units of workers to move around. The world that the players will construct will be of some Tron style universe. Coloured, triangular domino's that generate resources. Each is composed of three of six different colours in each corner and one central colour, called the “Camp.” In the Expansion Phase of your turn, you'll add a domino to the “Cradle Of Civilization,” connecting two faces. The adjacent touching colours and the “Camp” of your domino, then generate resources that you add to you player board. A bonus can be scored in many ways. If the colours adjacent are the same, they produce one extra. Playing next to a domino with a city already build upon it will allow the owner of the Provence to gain a resource based on the “Camp” colour.
As the game goes on, you'll have more and more choices on where to place you domino, as the Cradle grows and expands. Each turn will take a little longer as you search for that optimal place that will help in the next two phases of your turn. But as your hand size reduces, your options are a little more clear to see. As every tile you place, you are trying not to help the others. Or even set them up for a big scoop resource ice cream.
Building A Domino Rally
After placing a domino, you then have the chance to build in the (you guested it) Build Phase. You won't need bricks, wood or sheep (however the help, I'll never know) to create cities and monuments. This will all be done with the power of know-how. The resources in this game are knowledge, Commerce, Craftsmanship, Art, Science, Government and Religion. Players will be racing to gain as much as they can so they can create a civilization that resembles their own, as indicated in their secret objective card. Spending three of the same knowledge will allow you to create a level 1 city on the corresponding coloured “Camp.” If no such colour is available, you can't build a new city. These cities are important at the beginning of the game as they help collect bonus resources. They'll increase the size of your reserves of knowledge, meaning you can hold more information about how Government works. Also giving you access you more expensive items to purchase. You'll also gain influence points that are scored and used to make you extra intelligent. Having the most at the end of an age, grants to the chance to learn something from the other players.
As the game unfolds and you unlock vaster holds for your resource, Wonders can then be constructed. These are multi layered buildings that have conditions on how they are constructed. Each layer has a different resource as a requirement and gives out very different rewards. Some big points here and there or maybe a power that may come into effect later in the game. Most importantly, they give you a card that can be integrated into your technology tree, that helps with end of game scoring and your secret objective. All players can contribute to it's construction and maybe you'll be the one that claims it as your own, by constructing the most segments of this wonder.
There is always this dilemma of “what to build?” As building a city opens up your reserves and may gain you a bonus if someone builds next door. But maybe that Wonder will help boost your score, help in your technology tree or give a unique power. Or should you not build at all! Saving the resources to master a Mastery. And a powerful one at that.
House Of cards
After the Build Phase has terminated, you move into the Mastery Phase, to master a skill or ability from a large selection of Mastery cards. Each knowledge has three levels of these cards and within each level there are around three or four different types of card to add to your tech tree. This tree relies on connecting coloured nodes or Nodus as they are called in game, together to form a complete circle. Each side of the card has different colours in the Nodus and luckily, each Mastery card has multiple versions with the colours shifted to a different edge.
Building your technology tree is a puzzle in it's own. “What Mastery cards do I need to complete my objective? What cards have the best powers? Which have the coloured Nodus I need to gain extra points? And what position should I lay them out?” This mini game is a nice little addition to a what seems to be a dry euro game. As playing multiple times will give you the upper hand, having foresight in some of the card and how they interact in the game. Everyone will start their trees with the basic level one cards that are all identical for each knowledge. Swap 1 colour x with 1 colour y. If another player collect 3 of a colour, you gain one too. And these are easy to keep tabs on.
But as your tree grows, you capacity of powers grow and the time between turns does to. As each time a tile is played, you are franticly looking at your tree, like someone looking for their lottery ticket, trying to find that card that tells you that you have inherited something as well. But not all cards have powers. Some have straight up victory points. And each card can be upgraded to a more powerful side that may offer both. But which do you choose? So many decision and options that will leave you thinking, “next time, I'll try that.”
And that is a great aspect about the game. It's leaves you with this replay feeling. As your first games will be part of a learning curve. How and when and where to build your cities. And how should I develop my tree.
the end of time
Player will preform these three phases, five times before this signals the end of an age. This is a chance for you to regroup your thoughts and collect more domino's. You'll gain points for your cities and the player with the most has a little power over the others. They have proved their dominance in this universe and require to absorb a Mastery from another player. Not taken directly from the play, but from the pool of cards, this player adds it to their tree...if possible.
Experts are then assigned to each player. For each knowledge as play has the most remaining resources, they get to collect a role card that gives VP's and has a power that can be use in the next turn. Some are weak powers, but contain lots of VP's, while other are the reverse. So, is it best to save your penny's for that rainy day or go all out? Or maybe, like me, you ride the waves as they came. Another dilemma that the game gives you. As after role are assigned, all knowledge is lost. Yes, you may have ten points in Art and seven in Crafting, but they are now gone. Be happy you have the roles.
Three ages will be played in the game, meaning you'll have placed 15 tiles and built 15 times as well as mastered 15 things, it's time to count the points and see who has domination.
living up to your dominations
Dominations is a game that is for those euro players that like a deep and reflective experience. You will be constantly interacting and reacting to the other players as each action will have an effect in game, on you or on others. With it's vast array of options, pre-planning is hard to narrow down. Unless you are strictly abiding to your objectives, sticking to your guns and blinkering yourself. But doing so could loose you lots of points or worse, resources.
The mechanism's are very simple as they are the basics of most tile laying games. Therefore, anyone could pick this up and play it. Although it is quite a profound game with lots of layers, as it is wrapped in real history. Eric Dubus, one of the designers is a professor of history and has added real elements from our past into the game. From the technology's, to the race based objective cards. Maybe due to the art or the mechanism's, this does not stand out. You will be constantly saying “I collect five red,” and “I'll spend three green...” Which I suppose helps simplify the games entry level.
Every decision is an important one as you'll need to balance your resources, watch your opponents, build the right buildings and make sure that you remember where you are taking your race. There are a myriad of details that you need to check and remember. It can be quite easy to forget that you are trying to have eight cities completed while you opponents take the majority of a wonder away from you. Forcing you to preform an action that you did not want do this turn.
This is a very interactive, yet non aggressive, abstract, strategic civilisation game. Deep in decision making, that will take a while to unfold. Although lacking a little in theme, this is a very thought provoking puzzle of a game with a thousand different possibility's. One that will bring you back to the table again and again, just to try a different approach to constructing your glorious civilisation.
This is a preview of a Kickstarter.
come together, right now
Worker placement games are one of my favorite mechanisms in our world of fun. When done right, you feel like a real farmer that struggle to by successful in the 1800's (Agicola), lead your neiadathel buddy's through the trials (Stone Age) and tribulations of evolution or that you have lived an alternative life, collecting vinyl records and working as a comic book artist (The Pursuit Of Happiness).
Nētā-Tanka gives me the same sensation, only that it also makes you feel good because you've helped out the fellow players. No, this isn't a co-op game. You are competing. But you are preform tasks to help your fellow man around your nomad village. Feeding them, clothing them, housing them, all for generousness point. All these thing will make your people see that you are "The One" to become the next Nētā-Tanka. This is a game, that if you are really good to you friends and family, you will win the game.
Every building actions and job that you send your meeple out to do will generate generosity points. These are either in a spendable token form or just solid final score form. In the game, you'll be placing out you clan of meeples, one at a time onto spaces that give them a task. Then on your turn, activating the tasks that you sent them to do, before the cleanup and preparation of the next round. A fairly straight forward game of this genera, yes?
... Read on ...
you scratch my back...
The players small clan of helpers live within the same tribe as the other players. Each will be given a specific task to preform. Gather resources and building thing are the nature of most games of this ilk but this has a little twist. You may send someone off to hunt for buffalo, but are purely trapping the animal for the whole tribe. Another player may kill the beast, cutting up the meat and tanning it's skin while taking some of those skins. Yet another play may take the action of smocking the meat to take for themselves. Like chain-reactions, one thing will occur that will allow other things to happen. And what will you get?
Unlike the village idiot, you won't get suckered in to preforming that same old task from round to round, that helps all everyone get resources, apart from yourself. So your day in the sun will come if a player takes the "Elder of the hunt" or "Elder of the forest" action space. Those are powerful actions giving you a choice in what you do, either taking a resorce or preforming a build action. Choosing this space will commit that meeple on that space to going hunting for buffalo of collecting wood in the forest the next round. Therefore setting up more resources that now you can pick from.
what's the point?
You'll be collecting wood and mushrooms, building tepee's, smoking meats and building the tallest totem pole anyone has ever seen, if you wish. Or you could follow the instructions handed to you on your non-obligatory secret objective card. Yes, I said "non-obligatory."
You don't have to do what the card says, so you can go your own route. Make your own objective, without bonus points. As other players may get in the way of the actions you want to preform. Or because you miscalculated an action. For example, you have a meeple on the "Smoke Meat" space and player one just captured a buffalo, but player three is going to skin it and cut up the meat...
And your player two...
And there's no meat for you to smoke...
Better fine a pipe...
But this secret objective card is not a loss, as you can trade it in for a point of generosity that can be either spent on the "Offering" space or kept as a scoring point at the final. Making an "Offering" is one way to get resources that you want, plans to make Handicrafts. And also use a powerful tool..."Links."
join the chain gang
"Links" are scattered around the board, in between each action space. They function on your turn, if you have deployed your clan members on two spaces joined buy this "Link." A sort of area control. If you place the whole clan of your meeples in one area of the board, you will be able to activate multiple "Links" that give you bonus resources and actions. These links are important as they not only make your actions from the adjacent spaces more powerful, but also give you access to things that can be difficult to preform. Like collecting the rare animal skull to decorate your totem pole with.
That's not to say that you will have a hard time doing the things you planed to do each turn. Even though a large majority of spaces that can only hold one meeple, the game does not feel restrictive. There will always be a space or action that you want to do, open for one of you meeples. In fact, there will be rounds where every player gets the spaces that they want and some where they don't. One way around this is, as mentioned before, using the "Offering" space to pay to use the "Links." Another is by unlocking a special ability, which allows you to copy. Basically allowing you to place one of your clan in a space already occupied by one other meeple. Yours or another players. And BAM! your doing the action you wanted to do and maybe activating a "Link" too.
Lots of possibility's for ways to get them chores done. And when their done, it's off to the next. As there are may ways to get those points of generosity to come your way. Not only do you get scored on the height of your totem pole but a bonus for each skull and two parts wood constructed. Object give the marked points but creating sets will give additional. Point city, or should I say point village!
more than just a pretty skin
The strange sensation that you are left with at the end of the game is one of "I could have done more," even though you did get to do almost everything you'd set out to do. And the next time you play, you will do more. The game is of a family lite build with a little bit of conflict for the actions spaces. Lightly twisted around the Maypole with the area control style links and friend hugging, working together (but not really working together) theme.
Of course, there are a lot more things to talk about. Like how timing is important and how becoming first player gives you a helping hand and how to actually build a tepee!!! But those are questions that will be answered in the video below
Now watch "how to play"
Barry Doublet &