50 clues (2019) review
50 clues is a game of investigation by Jeppe Norsker, using as a model the great mode of the moment: the escape game. The name of this collection, 50 clues, poses the genre since Clue in English relates to Cluedo (remember this game of inquiry that rocked your childhood and Colonel Mustard). In order to reveal the different events occurring in 50 clues, the players use an application. Not really an application, but a website ( https://50clues.com/index.php/en ) on which to connect the scenario to be able to investigate. It’s essential, but that does not take precedence over the game.
The rules of 50 clues are simple and is played on two playing cards. We begin an investigation with a card indicating the objective of the current plot. Each scenario box contains 54 numbered cards on their backs. Different interactions can be found in the deck of cards to reveal them. There are three ways to reveal new cards based on the progress of the scenario.
1. Some cards indicate a number (sometimes a bit difficult to see); you can then look for the corresponding card in the deck to put it into play.
2. Otherwise numbers may appear on a black or red background. The figures on a black background must be entered in the game application. It will then announce what happens in terms of game, an upheaval in the narrative arc, making the most often cases to bring new cards into play.
3. The numbers on a red background must be associated with another number on a red background. This combination of numbers will also trigger a progression of the investigation and the referral to a new card, and thus a new puzzle.
The game is structured in a succession of riddles to solve, with variable difficulties. While some seem really obvious, many others are really complicated and will require a lot of thought to overcome. Compared to other games enigma games of the genre, 50 clues brings a narrative side not uninteresting, in the sense that it tells a story, with the meeting of certain characters and sometimes provides slight interaction with them. An interaction that feels cold and is usually limited to associating a person with an object just to draw a new card with a few bits of dialogues on it.
On the level of difficulty, in case of really hard puzzles or being stuck, a help button is available in the application. Using it will give a simple clue at first. If you are still stuck, you can use it for a second and third last time, each time recovering a clue of more and more importance. Using this hint button will lower your rating. By interacting with the application, each resolute puzzle will give you a rating, in the form of a percentage, as soon as it is resolved. The use of the clues will simply decrease this rating; the resolution time will be the second factor of this score.
Rest assured, this system is not penalizing, it is quite possible to solve a complete investigation by taking all your time and abusing clues. The result will be the same, but in a fashion less glorious.
I will not go into the story itself, just tell you about the starting plot of the trilogy. You are Maria, a mother locked in a psychiatric hospital, who must find her son before Leopold. This former Tsar goes from body to body in order to survive through time, while plotting black plans of the destruction of the world. Well, as much to say it, the starting scenario is not very original and can sometimes even touch simplistic.
Let's go to the illustrations, from the author of the game. They are of a rather sober style. The tones are very greyish with few colors. Only red appears from time to time, giving everything a very dark, adult and sometimes even violent feel. The game not for those younger than 16 as some scenes can really be disturbing
The game comes in a trilogy of three boxes, telling the difficult start for our heroine Maria, and going to preparation for the final confrontation. Each scenario consists of a pack of 54 cards, and has a very variable life span depending on the players; it is easy to spend a good hour and a half for the shortest scenario. It is easy to " save " a game, since it is enough to put aside the cards in your possession and pick them up as soon as you want to continue the story. On the other hand, it is necessary to keep your session of game open game on the game site, under penalty of having to identify your game box again because each box has a game code, usable 30 times. So even if you can finish the game after several plays, pass it to friends, it is better not to have fun “burning” through these connections because I feel that the game then becomes obsolete.
Technical note 7/10
A game with a very uniform graphic style, sober, almost dull, lending the game a dark and adult atmosphere. The enigmas are linked with levels of difficulty that alternate, not giving the feeling of blockage that can sometimes be felt on other escape game. The rules are very simple and the cards are large for good readability. Scenically, everything is held with a mix of detective story, fantasy at the limit of horror.
My score BGG 7/10
(Good surprise for a type of game that I do not usually play)
I was surprised and taken by the game and want to go further in the adventure. By cons, the game aid is double-edged (especially for me); you can sometimes abuse it to go too fast and finish the game faster than you should. Its use may not have enough consequences. The limit of use of the application really annoys me, I do not like the idea that a game can become unusable.
Combined rating of 7/10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Arnaul's Video review in french
Thunder Alley (2014) review
Thunder Alley, as the illustration of the box tells you, is a racing game. NASCAR race more precisely. The game exists only in English from GMT and is available as an import in some French shops. But nothing really discouraging, the French version of the rule book can be downloaded from the publisher's website, and a little help in the language of Molière is available on the Tric Trac website. This should not put off the driver in you, as Thunder Alley is a game that racing fans should not miss.
Taking the box in hand, the first good impression comes from the weight of it. There are two game boards, double-sided, folded in eight parts. Trays really big, and graphics very eye catching. So for, I guess, licensing concerns, the circuits do not carry the names of those of NASCAR. But this detail is quickly forgotten, we will fight well on the legendary rings of the American championship of car races.
As for the rest of the material, it's less glorious. Cars are represented by cardboard chips. Both sides are used because they show that a car has already been activated this turn. Other tokens materialize the damage and wear of vehicles, as well as the rewards earned by the runners at the end of the game.
At the bottom of the box, we only have cards left, the engine of the game. But we will come back to it a little later.
One of the peculiarities of Thunder Alley is that it's not just a racing game. The game does not stop as soon as a competitor crosses the finish line. No, each player is the manager of a NASCAR team. Their goal is not going to be to win the race (although it is still more glorious), but to rank as best as possible all the cars in their team. At the beginning of the game, depending on the number of players, each manager will play a number of cars. These are placed on the starting grid, the hostesses then leave the track, and then it’s on with the race!
A game is a succession of rounds during which each player will activate each of their cars once. For that, they will play a card and apply the different information indicated on it. The operation is simple, the largest number at the top left of the card indicates the number of movement spaces allowed. The second digit is to be used only at the exit the track.
The move is special since it tries to simulate as much as possible a NASCAR race. That is to say a group race of vehicles. Movements usually do not involve the movement of one, but of a line of vehicles. For this, cards are composed of 4 types of movement:
During the turn of the game, each player will have a card hand equal to the number of cars in their team, plus one. You will therefore optimize as much as possible all your movements, using the various movements to promote the advance of your vehicles while avoiding over-benefitting your opponents. This system forces to always have to adapt according to the position of all the other vehicles, to juggle between the cards at its disposal, the placement of the vehicles and the order of activation.
The majority of these cards have a wear icon on the top right. The car receives this token and will accumulate them as the race progresses knowing that the more chips collected, the more that vehicle will have technical problems. The first consequence is the reduction of the speed of the vehicle. To get rid of these bulky tokens, only one choice is necessary: the pit stop.
There are possible types of pit stop.
The normal stop, at the end of the lap, where the cars will stop on the side, go back five squares, then start again in the next turn with the smallest value indicated on the movement cards.
But there is also the pit stop following a stoppage of the race. At the end of each turn, an event card is drawn, and some trigger a yellow or red flag. A pit stop is then possible for all vehicles, the car squad is then reformed behind the Pace Car, the cars having made a stop placing in the order behind all those who did not stop.
And here too the choice is paramount: is it better to go up the rankings by keeping a car close to breaking, or change the tires, refuel, and start again at the back of the race.
The management of damage, wear, adapt to the vicissitudes of the race, try not to be outdistanced, these are all elements of the game to take in hand to win the victory.
Thunder Alley may seem random, grumbling on drawing cards that are not fair to everyone. Yet a balance is made by tokens of wear or damage. The most powerful cards give permanent damage to the vehicle, which even a pit stop does not fix. And of course the less powerful cards bring no penalty.
The players compete until the finish of the event. In the order of finish, the participants win a token indicating the number of victory points won. It may happen that a car is destroyed during the race, or that it is so far behind that it is removed from the game. Their Manager then gains the victory point token with the lowest value. The game continues until the arrival of all vehicles. Each Manager then counts all the trophies won by their team, then the big winner is proclaimed, raises the trophy and showering the other players with champagne.
So why is Thunder Alley, for me one of the best racing games in the world. Because it perfectly simulates a car race. The tension of the race is present. This famous card system that activates a whole group of vehicles makes it possible to create real racing situations. Escapes are created, and the mutual assistance to join the head of the race depends enormously on the cars composing it. If, on the other hand, cars go off without the help of other cars, they will have a hard time joining the pack. The order of activation of the vehicles is essential in this game where the cars are always on the brink of rupture, between the wear of the vehicle, and the will to push it a little further. A pleasant tension!
[small inset: the photos were taken with a customized version of the game. The cars were printed with the downloadable files on Thingiverse at a scale of 90%.
The rules, in French, are available on BGG or the website of GMT.
Finally, a game help very well done, with the translation of all cards containing text, is available on the card TricTrac.]
Technical note 7/10
The game boards are sumptuous, the rest of the material is more than light. Player boards are hyper thin, tokens microscopic sizes. 3D printing of vehicles is almost essential for better visualization of vehicles.
My score BGG 9/10
Excellent - very much enjoy playing.
A must-have racing game: a little fun, a zest of slipstreaming, a cloud of stress and a good laugh on the final sprint. Do not have a racing game in your collection? Thunder Alley will not disappoint you!
Combined rating of 8/10
And now, it's up to you to play ...
Thunder Alley is a true playful wonder. Disturbing during your first game, it offers more than just a racing game.
The game perfectly combines luck, risk-taking, hand management, tactics, team management and ingenuity.
Mechanically very faithful to the theme and the operation of NASCAR, Thunder Alley offers a very interesting gameplay and very fun to play.
The winner is not the one who arrives first, it will be necessary to manage your team the best you can to hope to prevail. Every turn there's a management decision to be made in a game where a situation can happen at any time.
Far from being random, the game is a perfect combination of incredible playful and jubilant feelings. Playing it in season or championship mode is even more enjoyable.
The game material is very good. The trays are superb. A small regression for the individual trays which are a tad too thin and have a few errors of the first version. But nothing very disturbing once you’re in the game. Apart from that, you’ll find the usual cardboard pawns and cards well done. Note that the cars (solid cardboard) front and back make the game perfectly legible for all players. A nice GMT production, as they know how to do it.
Thunder Alley is a game that I can only advise to you. Playable from 2 to 7 players, it's a real pleasure every time. Beware of accidents or surprises that can occur, as in the real NASCAR. Nobody is immune... even your champion.
The game has two extensions: Thunder Alley: Expansion Tracks that adds new circuits and Thunder Alley: Crew Chief Expansion that adds even more strategies. Also note that the game is compatible with Grand Prix circuits from the same publisher.
Newton (2018) review
Newton was available in VO at the Essen 2018 show. It is edited by Cranio Creations, an Italian publisher, to whom we already owed the excellent Lorenzo il Magnifico. The game was sold out after a day and a half, usually a good guarantee of quality. Cranio has taken over Lorenzo's graphic charter. I like the idea that a publisher standardizes its material from one game to another to facilitate the understanding of iconography.
For the love of discovery
In Newton, oh surprise, we play scientists in the age of Enlightenment, eager for knowledge. To win the game, you have to get as much knowledge as possible. Various places are available for that, represented by 3 different board. And yes, just that, Newton is not a game for apprentice gamers, but for the big lovers of games that sting the neurons.
A plateau to discover
One of the boards represents the map of Europe. Scientists will travel there to visit many cultural sites. Travel that maintains youth, but is expensive. Some routes ask to pay a toll, you should never venture without having a few tickets in reserve, otherwise you will get stuck. These trips allow you to visit universities, old cities and even ancient wonders. In passing, you’ll place cubes in your color, less poetic than postcards, but visible traces of your passage.
A platform to search
While your scientist is walking all over Europe, he has left behind some homework to his students. These poor souls will have to do research on the technology platform: a tree, formed one-way paths. At the beginning of the game, a single sidekick is at your disposal, but you’ll quickly hire others because the task is huge. By exploring the different branches of this tree, bonuses are recovered and especially the top of each branch is a real well of science: a box with access restriction (knowledge in the form of color books) to win points at the end of the game. Many points.
A plateau to read
Finally, all this knowledge must be archived. For this 12 books are available to store on the shelves of your library board, an individual board that also allows to play the action cards of the game. Each shelf indicates a prerequisite to place a book. These restrictions are linked either to the different places visited on the map of Europe, or to the colored books available on the action maps. The books are stored in 4 piles of 3 tokens, and emptying a stack brings an instant bonus, more and more powerful.
And cards too!
Each round consists of playing 5 cards, then slipping one permanently under your individual board. These cards have icons corresponding to the action of the game. The power of the actions will grow according to the number of identical icons on the cards played by a player. This twist is really well discovered since as the game advances more and more, there will be more and more cards under the board. And therefore more and more powerful actions.
Actions that correspond to the tracks of the different game boards. You will therefore be able to advance respectively your scholar or your apprentices a number of spaces, corresponding to the number of compasses icons or notched wheels visible. On the same principle, there is a monetary track, punctuated with bonuses, on which you advance with the icon of a square. Money, as in almost any management game, is a rare commodity and lacking it can block your character's travels on the map of Europe. Another symbol, the book, allows to put tiles on the shelves of your player board. It takes one to store on the top shelf, two on the second and three on the last.
Finally, the last action, with the icon of a students hat, allows to recover new cards to diversify the way of playing. There are three card powers, which can be recovered according to the number of symbols visible on its line of action. The cards are all the more interesting than the starting ones. Their choice is therefore essential because they will quickly replace your initial cards that you will sacrifice step by step at the end of each round.
And then crush their scores
I saw in Newton only two possible paths of victories. They both use maximising the technology board.
One of the strategies is the total exploitation of your library. You must then create a Victory Point Revenue Engine. The start is sluggish, but the end-game count is really important, and usually allows you to go to the target tiles.
The second axis passes through a maximum of movement on the plateau of Europe, and the purchase of cards whose actions generate victory points. This starts fast, it's a strategy that creates a big difference in score, but that pays almost no points at the end of the game.
One can worry about seeing only two strategies (I could miss), but that nay. The game has a crazy replayability since all the tiles of the game boards are randomly placed, and not all are used. Newton is a game where observation and optimization are paramount. For the cards to collect and those that should not be left to the opponents. But also for the position of the bonuses on the different boards and the easiest way to get them.
Newton was my best surprise at the Essen 2018 show. It has some negative point, the illustrations are far from original, they are ultra classic and unglamorous. The game boards are not good (no flap on the side, just the cardboard) and some players had some that were very curled. When the theme, as most often, is completely absent from the game.
But the game is excellent. It is one of those games that may seem dense, but it has a simplicity and a rare fluidity. Simply five game actions, without micro rules that come to complicate things. A quarter of an hour of explanations, a little round of gameplay, and the players are conquered.
A game that I almost missed on the show in Essen. The game was pre-booked until Friday 1pm. Something I had forgotten. My wife kept telling me "We have to get Newton! ". And I answer her nonchalantly "We have time! ". Then I look at my sheet, which tells me that I only have five minutes left to get it. Then follows a frantic race in which I pass in front of the queue of the players who waited for the fateful hour. Buy the game, there remained only 74. The 75th purchaser of the tail had to curse me. I just remember that I did well to hurry, this game is a pearl.
Technical Score 8/10
Newton is remarkable for its simplicity. Few actions, all operating on a similar principle. The rounds are fast and you do not see the time pass. A beautiful mechanism for a great success.Congratulations to Cranio, a publisher who, during the last shows in Essen, published some very good games. I unfortunately withdraw 2 points for the quality of the material and the lack of graphic modernity.
My BGG Score 8/10
(very good - enjoy playing and would suggest)
A game that does not disappoint me. It rubs for me pearls like Puerto Rico, Terra Mystica or Great Western Trail. It deserves my Cup of Tea, it was the game that excited me the most parts for more than 6 months.
Combined Score 8/10
Amateurs of games a little capillotracted, go for it!
Gentes (2017) Review
Gentes is the new sensation for optimization. This is a game from author Stefan Risthaus, known for his highly calculating Arkwright. Gentes was born in 2016 at Spielworxx but has recently benefited from an update and a small tidying up by Tasty Minstrel Games and Game Brewer. There are two versions of the game: a normal one (which I'll talk about here) and a Deluxe.
Gentes is a game sold as a civilization game. Immersed 1000 years before Jesus Christ, near the Mediterranean, you will take in hand the destiny of a population and advance them in History through three eras. The goal is to leave a trace and prosper for future generations. Well, that's on paper. Concretely, we quickly realize that the theme is only there to justify the game or to sell. Yes, civilization games are very popular. And it is not the presence of an aged map of the Mediterranean on the board, that will save the situation. You are not in front of a game of civilization. Gentes could very well have talked about something else, it would have worked just as well. This is purely a German style game. This fact, you will be able to immerse yourselves in what makes the real interest of the game: its mechanisms.
Gentes shares a very simple mechanism. At first glance, this is a worker game. With the difference that to perform an action, the players do not place pawns but take pawns off the board. Each action corresponds to a specific area of the board. Each zone contains associated pions that will specify the action allowed and especially the cost to achieve it. In Gentes, there are two indispensable resources: money and time.
Money is indispensable for a large number of actions. In the majority of cases, the more one pays dearly, the more one has choices and especially the less time to spend. But finding money is not necessarily easy. You will have to develop accordingly and find a good income driver if you want to escape unscathed.
Time is the main mechanism of the game and especially what makes it original. Each action is linked to a cost in time. It is represented by small hourglass tokens. Each player has an individual board. On this plateau, there is a track on the top. This track is going to be used to put the hourglass tokens when taken. This temporal space is not trivial. Each player can continue to play as long as they have room available. If they can not add an hourglass then their turn is over.
You start to see the subtlety? It will be necessary to choose to optimize your actions in order to gain the right number of hourglass and not to be trapped in the fact of not having enough time to continue to develop. Fortunately, the author thought of us poor players. In order to torture us a little more, it gives us the opportunity to gain some time. How? When an action asks you to take and therefore to put two hourglasses, you have the choice to do it on two boxes or to put both on one box. Which means that, yes, you may be able to glean some future actions as well. Sorry ? Where is the trap ? At the end of a turn, players remove from their track all the unique hourglasses. In other words, if there are two hourglasses in one box, only one is removed. So there is still one left. And since it is only possible to add an hourglass to an empty box ... Yes, putting two hourglasses on a box will benefit you on the current round, but you will feel it in the next. Not that easy. You will have to choose between playing more now and then depriving yourself or playing less to play normally after. Knowing that there are very few turns ... Yes it will be hard to choose. The hourglass system is really cunning but at the same time very ingenious and gives a real interest to the game.
The game also has another originality: the citizens. What would a civilization be without its inhabitants? Or rather, its citizens. Your population is divided into six occupational categories (a healthy population must be occupied): religious, noble, blacksmith, trader, warrior and scholar. Your population is represented on your individual board. Each trade is grouped in pairs. In this blossoming society, you can only have up to seven members for each pair. In other words, if you have three of one type, you can only have four of the other. But if you want more? You will simply have to decrease the other side. Citizen markers will often have to move from left to right on your track according to your desires and your needs. Each decision is quite tense and if you get lost in too frequent changes, it can cost you time and therefore valuable actions. It is advisable to stick to a strategy even if sometimes changing it can save you the game. The management of the type of its population is a thing very well found and quite devious at times. It will be necessary to think beyond the current turn. Of course, fluctuating population is not free and each place is limited. You will have to be careful and act quickly.
The game is also based on a third mechanism directly nested within the citizens. During the game, you will need to recover civilization cards. These cards change according to the current era. They will be more and more powerful and you will offer bonus games or victory points. To recover a card, you must not only do the action (pay attention to your money and your time) but also have the prerequisites of each card. These prerequisites depend very much on a specific type and number of citizens. But what are they for? Each card can give you a bonus of victory points as well as a bonus for specific actions. Although you can choose to play without them during the game, they are essential for better optimization and better chances for victory.
Of course, that's not all. The map of the Mediterranean is not just there to make it "pretty". It also has a mechanical interest. You can build cities and gain specific resources from each. Or position these cities a space "foyer" which allows to benefit from permanent effects or a possible action in addition. Again, each action of this type is limited in spaces but also in number the number of cities available. And they can be expensive ...
The vast majority of actions are limited in their availability. So there is a kind of race between the players if you really have the optics to achieve the same. This offers a bit of interaction in a game that ultimately just a little. Many may blame Gentes cold side, calculating and where players plays in their own corner. Because the interaction is only indirect, it can, depending on the game, go from a little to zero. It is still rare that players do not bother for a position or for taking an action. But unlike the announced theme, no war, no interference in the others. You’ll stay at home.
To support a certain race aspect, there is also the presence of objectives which will bring back more important points to the first who realize them. These goals are based on three things: to have eight civilization cards in play, to have eight cities in play, to have eighteen artisans. The first to fulfill each of these goals will gain eight points and the other players four. There are thus twenty four possible points to win ... Even if it is not negligible, it is rare that it is the ultimate goal of a player.
The game is played in six rounds, divided into three eras. Each turn is divided into two phases: the climax and the decline. The climax is the phase where you will realize your actions. Decline is a faster phase. This is close to a maintenance phase. You’ll clean your individual trays, gain resources according to your cities and cards, and change the cards (in the case of a change in era). At the end of the sixth round, the points are counted. Whoever has the most wins the game. Be careful though, some things can be penalizing, like having still unplayed civilization cards.
Gentes has a solo mode too. There is not really any difference with a two-player mode for example. Here, no bot to beat, you just have to play to beat your scores from one game to another. An interesting way to learn to play, this mode is quickly anecdotal.
Gentes is a pure representative of german games. A theme quickly forgotten, absent of luck, a very strong dose of optimization, errors that cost dearly, and relatively absent interaction. So yes, you’ll watch each other, sometimes have to change focus, but it's still rather superficial. Some will also blame it for it’s third era is very focused on the points of victory. Indeed, it is essential to prepare for this phase. Not only can the points gained be huge, but not being prepared can cost you a lot. In terms of components, the rendering has a little old air that is nice, but the bits in general, with the simple version, is not a dream.
Still, the game offers interesting mechanisms. Time management and the citizen system are things that work very well. Having to take tiles to do the actions instead of pawns also changes a bit of what is traditionally done. With two players the game remains pleasant even if it really takes off at the three or four player count.
What marks especially at the end of Gentes, is its ease of access. The rules are clear and in the game, apart from some icons, the actions are fluid and easy to handle. There are no complicated things to understand or convoluted actions. It can serve as an entry point for players unaccustomed to the expert game. But be careful, behind an accessible aspect hides a game devious enough and having a certain depth.
Gentes is not the game of the century. However, it can largely satisfy players eager for optimization. The playing times are more than correct for this type of game. In terms of replayability, unless you are a fan of optimization and absolutely want to search for the perfect score, the game may suffer from some repetitiveness and run out of steam with time.
Gentes is a good German (or Euro) style game. Not without defects, it will still warm up your brain and offer you good moments of optimization. However, if you were looking for a civilization game, walkaway. The game offers pure mechanics without unnecessary complexity, uncomplicatedly mixing time management with the action race and card management. Mistakes can be expensive. Gentes can serve as a springboard for novice players who want to discover the expert german game. Without being complicated in its rules, the game holds in reserve a lot of surprises and reflection.
Technical Score 7/10
We feel that there has been a de facto effort in dusting the game to make it more attractive. The material has been reviewed and it is not unpleasant. But against a Deluxe version, expensive but beautiful, the normal version is pale in comparison. Visually, this is still close to the games of the 80s. In terms of iconography, it will take at least a game or two to understand.
My BGG Score 6/10
(Ok game, like to play from time to time)
Even if it has ingenious and well adapted mechanisms, Gentes suffer from an absent theme and a lack of real interaction. Because of the absence of luck and a relatively fixed board, in time, the game may also run out of steam against players looking for a bit of new challenge between games.
Combined Score 6.5 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play …
First Impressions of Arnauld:
Gentes is a fake civilization game. It is cataloged as such, but it is simply a management game. You do not see your civilization evolve, just your population is growing. But it is still an excellent game I did not play it until after the second Kickstarter. I expected a lot and I was not disappointed. The Deluxe version saving grace has a “Folded Space” insert and upgraded component.
The game itself can be defined as a reverse worker placement game. Action tokens are chosen on the main board until each player's line of action is full. Actions that usually waste time depending on the power or choice remaining. The objectives are many, but go through the construction of buildings that are a big vector of victory points.
Gentes offers original, unusual rules that give a fresh twist in this type of game. Served by illustrations that are simple but stick perfectly to the antiquity theme of the game, it is one of my most beautiful discoveries of early 2019. Adepts management games, this one is a very good choice!
Coimbra (2018) review
Eggertspiele was one of the editors to watch at the last Essen show. Shortly after, the German publisher, freshly absorbed by Asmodée, released two games that aroused the curiosity of the players: Blackout Hong Kong (soon on our shelves) and Coimbra. The latter has been available since the end of 2018 and it is only recently that I found myself on the ramparts of the old Portuguese city, transforming myself into a patron wanting to give the town all the splendor it deserves.
Coimbra is a typical German management game. It stands out for its own, very colorful graphic style, which contrasts with the usual brown productions. Its authors are not the first ones since they collaborated for one to Lorenzo Il Magnifico and for the second to Grand Austria Hotel. With Coimbra, they’ve signed here, one of the best management games of the year.
The principle of the game will be to score the most victory points after 4 rounds. The player boards are remarkably well done since they allow to follow the order of the different phases of the round. They also manage the different elements of the game: the resource tokens (gold and guards), the dice bases and the citizen cards recovered during the game.
The main board is composed on its left side of 4 dice positioning zones. There are 4 colors of dice in Coimbra, corresponding to the 4 influence tracks in the game. After having rolled all the dice, in turn order, the players will choose a dice of color that they wish, placing into one of their 3 bases, to then place it in an area of the city.
The upper part represents the Citadelle, an area where the dice are placed in the order of arrival and increasing value. The other 3 zones represent the districts of the city, the dice are placed there also in the order of arrival, but decreasing values this time.
After placing them on the board, each player will pick them up, in the order they are positioned. For the Citadel, each player will collect one of the bonus tiles and earn the bonus listed on it. For the rest of the city, this is where the value of the dice becomes important. Because it represents the cost to recruit a citizen. Each is endowed with a gold symbol or guards. These are the two commercial representations of the game (wealth and influence) and the salt of Coimbra itself is there: to best place your dice, giving you the power to buy citizens without it costing too much. And the other players will not be happy with that!
And would it be a surprise to say that citizens strengthen your power over the city? At the acquisition, each citizen earns you a few points on one of the four influence tracks of the game. They also allow you to trigger immediate gains to earn extra points at the end of the game or use their special action during income.
This is one of the last actions of the turn, by returning the dice, it activates the tracks of influence to earn income: gold, guards, and victory points. The fourth influence is more specific. It earns travel points for your pilgrim, traveling from monastery to monastery on the map of Portugal. By reaching the places of pilgrimage, discs of your color are placed on the monasteries, to signify your passage. The majority makes immediate point, while the others earn permanent bonuses.
After 4 rounds, the game is over and the final count is done.
And that's all?
Not really, you must add the basic game elements such as, points on the tracks of influence, points based navigation maps, monasteries triggering phases of counting. Classic elements for a management game.
Coimbra is absolutely a game to test. Because for a game of this type, it brings really new and interesting mechanisms to your table.
The use of the dice is really important since they will be played for their value, then for their color. The roll at the beginning of turn is essential since it will guide the choice of the players. Is it better to take a color before there is no more, knowing that its value is not interesting? Choose another color? Each choice is essential because in all and for all, each player will choose only 12 dice throughout the game!
Coimbra brings a real freshness in the style. Already a graphically colorful game and with well thought out materials. The bases are in a soft plastic that fits perfectly dice. The game board is divided into 4 distinct areas with excellent readability. The illustrations are successful and stick perfectly to the colorful side of the rest of the game.
The game is really different from one game to another and offers crazy replayability. The setting up makes that the area of pilgrimage completely different from one part to the other. Even if all the citizen cards will be played, their positioning will also be totally different from one game to the other. And most importantly, the turns of play vary completely because even if it is always the same colors of dice which are launched with each turn, their values will greatly influence the choices at each turn.
Coimbra is one of those games that you dread to present too much, as it can seem complicated. And finally at the end of the first round, everything seems so fluid, clear and logical. You must not lock yourselves into a single strategy, but scrounge all the possible points according to the possibilities that are always open. The final count is really crazy because it allows great returns, thanks to majorities on the tracks of influences and the points on the travel cards. Go on this adventure, you will not regret it!
Technical Note 8.5 / 10
Quality material, a very successful thermoforming and a good homogeneity to the graphics. The rules are easy to read and understand. Unfortunately once again, the storage is not suitable for card protectors and the same illustrations are used for different cards.
My BGG Score 8/10
(to be reserved for expert gaming players)
One of the best management game of 2018. By creating a clever use of dice, Coimbra offers a new and refreshing gaming experience. The game is tense until the final count that can reserve a turnaround.
Combined score 8.25 / 10
Expert players, to test eyes closed, except for the reading of the rules.