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!