designed by Seth Jaffee, published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Players: 2-4; Playing Time: 45 min.; Good for: Deckbuilder AND engine building fans, future galactic overlords.
Become the pre-eminent force in the galaxy in this space-themed deckbuilding game. Survey new planets, peacefully colonize them or attack by through force of arms, build resources on those planets, and then sell those resources to gain influence in the galaxy. Most influence at the end of the game wins. You begin each round by choosing to play one card for its action that only you can do. Then you choose a Role from the common stacks: Survey, Colonize, Warfare, Research, or Produce/Trade. You get to perform this action with a bonus, while other players will have the option to perform the same action, which players can boost by playing additional cards from their hand. The chosen card is then added to your discard pile, thus building your deck for later rounds. As your survey and settle planets, you will not only get the chance to generate resources, you can also Research more powerful cards to add to your deck. Once the influence points are distributed or one or two of the common stacks are used up, the game ends and the person with the highest influence from points previously earned, settled planets, and researched tech cards, wins the game and rules the galaxy in peace and prosperity. Unless you chose Warfare. Then you can pretend to rule the galaxy with an iron fist.
Clever combination of deckbuilding, action selection, and tableau/engine building. Depending on what you focus on, you can find numerous paths of victory: build up your armada to invade planets? Sure. Research new technologies to earn points? Okay. Generate resources and trade them in for points? You got it!
One Line Verdict: With numerous paths to victory and an elegant combination of various mechanics, definitely sign up to explore this distant star.
designed by Jacob Fryxelius, published by Intrafin Games/Stronghold Games
The Quick Summary: You are in charge of a corporation who wishes terraform Mars and dominate it in the process. By building up your corporation, you will have to implement projects, plant forests, create oceans, and increase the planet’s temperature to make it hospitable to future colonists. A strong mix of tile-laying and engine building mechanics.
- Very fast. A solo game can be setup, played, and stored in 45 minutes. Time increases with more players, but set up and take down is still very fast.
- Very good theme: you get the feeling that you are actually terraforming Mars.
- Multiplayer is very fun. A nice mix of strategy and planning with a little take-that.
- Can be played solo. The solo option makes for a very tense and tight game. It’s NOT easy.
- Not many tokens to deal with. Resources cubes are used to represent many different things, depending on where they are placed.
- Easy to understand. Rulebook is well-designed.
- Projects cards are so numerous they can be hard to shuffle. It’s a THICK deck.
- Component quality is below average. Cards are thin, many resource cubes are chipped, and the player mat only needs a slight bump to mess up your current production levels.
Keep it or leave it? Totally keep it. The engine building aspect of the game is very entertaining and the theme fits very well with the mechanics. I can play this with my wife, a casual gamer, and with more hardcore gamers.
designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek, published by Portal Games
Play as one of four ancient races: barbarians, Romans, Japanese, or Egyptians. Each race gets their own personal deck of specialized buildings, as well as having a common draw pool of more standard cards. Begin the round by drafting cards from a common pool. Using your resources, build buildings in your civilization, or use those cards to make “deals” and produce more resources for your burgeoning civilization. Or, simply raze the card in your hand for an instant hit of resources. But be careful, any resources that aren’t spent are lost at the end of the round. Production is key to this game: get stuff, buy stuff, get even more stuff, and earn enough points to win the game! Or lose, because you just got a lot of dudes and not enough stuff.
Deeply satisfying game as you ponder all your different strategies: do I build this building, or do I use it to make a deal? Which buildings should I raze in order to build this other, more powerful building? Or do I just raze this card and take the quick resources? So many choices, so many paths to victory. Not for those prone to analysis paralysis.
One Line Verdict: Make a deal and settle into this game!
designed by William Attia, published by Ystari Games
Become a steampunk industrialist using the newly discovered element spyrium. Locations providing special powers and actions are placed in a grid on the table with space between them. Place workers between two different locations you need: build buildings, hire workers, patent techniques. The trick is, the more demand for that thing (that is, as more people place workers around a location), the price goes up. Build up your mines and factories to earn you spyrium and then transform that spyrium and workers into victory points.
Putting the workers between two locations really opens up the possibilities and makes it so that when someone takes an action you also want not so bad. Worker placement and engine building fun. As with other worker placement games, awards careful planning and long-range thinking.