Papua review

It is the latter part of the 19th Century. The mysterious territory of Papua has long held interest within the scientific community. The prospect of new discoveries to be found among the landscape’s lush vegetation, wildlife and the local indigenous people promises to bestow much prestige on a successful expedition team. With that in mind, you assemble your intrepid band of explorers and set sail for Indonesia. But setting foot on the shore, you find that you are not alone…

Papua is a dice controlled worker placement game. Each player is the leader of their own expedition team and the aim of the game is to use your resources to best advantage; exploring as much of the area as possible, making allies of the tribespeople and earning the most prestige points before your team is exhausted and must return home.

During set up each player receives seven explorer meeples, 3 food tokens, 3 coins and a privacy screen in their colour. Any leftover explorers form a communal pool to the side of the board. Each player then places their prestige marker on space zero of the scoreboard, their energy marker on space 50 of the energy track going around the right half of the playing area and their corresponding colour hut above the track on the upper left section of the player board. Each player also receives a science card which gives that player a “one-time only” special power. This is placed face up so that the other players can see it. The logistics counters are shuffled and stacked on the central circular space on the board. Five random cards from the exploration deck are returned without looking to the box, the remaining cards are then shuffled and placed on the lower right corner of the board. The field notebook cards are split into the I and II piles, shuffled separately and placed to the right of the board near the top right corner. Lastly the zone counters are placed above the board so that all players can easily reach. True to theme, the most energetic expedition team starts their day earlier than the other teams so turn order is determined by energy level. If this is tied, the player with their energy marker on top of one or more other markers will go ahead of the others.

The game board itself consists of six different zones which provide different benefits. Huts give the player additional explorers, additional dice and allow the player to lock a certain number of die results before (s)he rolls the remaining dice. Logistics provide the benefits shown on the logistics counters e.g. prestige, energy, food, coins. The field notebook gives benefits as listed on the card. The card itself is also worth prestige points at the end of the game. The funding zone earns assigned explorers coins. The hunting zone earns food tokens. The expedition zone is where discoveries are made by gaining exploration cards through a blind bidding system employing the use of the privacy screens. There are 7 types of exploration cards: 6 with images of plants/animals and 1 tribespeople card. Prestige points are awarded at the end of the game for the largest set of different cards and for sets of the same type of card. Tribespeople cards can also be discarded at the beginning of the round to gain one of the benefits listed on the card.

Each round consists of start phase, player turns and resolution phase. Much like any worker placement game, start phase resets the board for the next round to begin and resolution phase pays out benefits according the place “workers” or in this case, explorers. Start phase deals exploration cards to each of the expedition locations, deals new logistics counters depending on the number of players and a new field notebook card to it’s corresponding space on the board. As a last step to the start phase, the player with the least energy places the “X” zone marker. This is now the forbidden zone ans cannot be player during this round.

Players then take turns as per determined player order i.e. most energy. Players start with five dice and start their turn by rolling all at once. if a catastrophe die result is rolled, this is dealt with first. This means an explorer has succumbed to an accident or life-threatening illness. The player then can either sacrifice the explorer to the communal pool or pay a coin to save them. Coins can also be spent to increase/decrease die results by one per coin, or re-roll a die completely.

The player then spends the remaining dice to assign their explorers to different zones. The first time a zone is assigned explorers, the zone marker for the matching spent die result is placed there. This means that later players in the round must roll that number to be able to assign explorers there. When the player has finished assigning explorers, they spend energy equal to the number of explorers placed or spend food tokens to reduce the energy spent by one per token. If they pass a threshold, they must pay the cost in food or sacrifice one explorer for each food not spent. Then the next player takes their turn.

During resolution phase, each zone is dealt with in zone marker order. The forbidden zone marker is left on it’s zone for now, but all other zone markers are removed from the board as each area is dealt with. Any unclaimed logistics counters, exploration cards or field notebook cards are discarded. Turn order is then re-established and start phase begins again. The player with the least energy this round moves the forbidden zone marker as it cannot spend two rounds in the same location.

The game ends either when there are not enough exploration card to replenish the three locations, or one player’s energy drops to zero, in which case the current round is played to the end. Points are then totaled for sets of collected cards, number of explorers, remaining food and energy and for the player with the greatest number of coins. The player with the highest points wins.

Designers: Javier Garcia, Diego Ibañez

Artist: Pedro Soto

Publisher: Devir Games

Players: 2-4 (3 ideally according to BoardGameGeek)

Length: 75 minutes

Weight: Medium – 3.09 out of 5 (BoardGameGeek)

Thoughts

The box was eye catching and the theme appealed to me. You can player the game as a straight-forward worker placement, but with a bit of imagination the them works well. Personally, I think there is room for more theme there, e.g. trouble with the indigenous peoples but I could see how it would slow up the game considerably. The artwork is good especially the exploration cards and the components themselves seem well made. The privacy screens are made of a strong quality card-stock so there isn’t a problem to stand them up.

The game play itself is a nice balance of luck and strategy; managing your resources until the right moment and trying to strategically block the other players from beating you to a bonus, all the while hoping the dice rolls in your favour really creates an unpredictability where sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

Initially there are quite a few little rules to take on board but after a few rounds of game play, they make more sense and the game starts to flow. The two-player game introduces a dummy third player mechanic which i feel doesn’t work as well as the 3/4 player variants although it is still enjoyable. Our first full game was two-player but is helped massively to “mock-play” a few rounds as 3 players to gain an understanding of the game.

Overall I really enjoyed the game. Initially the rulebook was daunting but I put it down to tiredness on my part; giving it a second chance when I was more receptive helped with the smaller, more intricate rules. If you’re introducing the game to new players, you can start with a basic overview of each zone and point scoring and then introduce the mechanics once the game has started. I’d agree this is a medium weight game which would work well with experienced players and those who are beginning to branch further into the hobby.

Meeples People’s Rating: 7.5/8 out of 10

Nemesis board game review

pic3756288.jpgGame overview
Nemesis is a 1-5 player semi-cooperative survival horror sci-fi game by Awaken Realms. Players are woken from hibernation as the crew of a spaceship. The emergency procedure states there is a critical system failure and the spaceship cannot continue its cruise. The crew’s aim is to find the cause of this failure,fix the situation and safely return back to Earth. To the crew’s dismay they find that one crew member is dead. Someone (or something) tore apart his hibernation chamber and dragged his lifeless body out. In addition, if you listen closely, some additional noises and sounds can be heard. New ones, strange ones, ones that were never heard before…

Board setup

When setting up the board for the first time, make sure you use the basic side shown in picture above. There are two types of room tiles; room one tiles are always used and provide the essential ship functions whereas room two tiles add flavour to the game and only five are used in a game. Shuffle all room one and room two tiles face down in their respective piles and place them on the board on their indicated spaces. Place the leftover room two tiles back in the box without looking, then shuffle and place the exploration tokens onto the room tiles face down.  Again you will have some left over and these are returned to the box.

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Take the coordinates cards, shuffle them and place one face down on the indicated space on the board then place a status marker on the “B” space on the destination track. Then place escape pods tokens on the board according to the players; 1/2 players get two escape pods, 3/4 players get three escape pods and 5 players get 4 escape pods.

Take the engine tokens (one working and one damaged for each of the three engines), shuffle the tokens face down and place each of the stacks on their locations on the board. Then place the intruder board next to the main board, and add five eggs to it and 3 random intruder weakness cards face down on it.

You then place 1 Blank token, 4 Larvae, 1 Creeper, 1 Queen, 3 Adults and then 1 additional adult per player in the game into the intruder bag. Then shuffle the four decks of item cards, put them close the the board for easy access during gameplay and put a status marker on the green space on the time track.

Crew setup

To determine player order, take help cards (starting with number one) equivalent to the number of players, shuffle them and give one to each player. Take the matching number card holder and remove any objective cards that don’t apply to your player count. Shuffle the remaining objective cards, deal each player one corporate and one personal objective and keep these hidden from all other players. You will have to pick one when you have your first encounter.

Shuffle the character draft cards and deal two to the starting player. They pick a character and return the other to the deck. Repeat in player order until everyone has a character. Each player should then claim the corresponding player board, miniature, action deck and starting weapon and item cards. Player one then gets first player token (space cat!) and place the blue character corpse token in the Hibernatorium. You are then ready to start your adventure on-board the Nemesis.

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Gameplay

The basic gameplay of nemesis is very simple but the additional side rules add a level of complication. You start with a deck of ten action cards, drawing five per round. You can either spend them for basic actions or use for the action written on the card. Every time you move into a room without anyone in it, you roll to determine which direction your character hears noise from and add a marker to that location. If at any point you have to add a second noise marker, remove all other noise tokens at the location, draw a intruder token out of the bag and place the miniature into your location (unless it’s a blank token which causes you to add a noise marker in all corridors connected to the room you are in. As you move around the board, you discover room tiles and uncover exploration tiles. Exploration tiles can cause special effects like covering you in slime, causing a fire to break out, creating a malfunction in the room, making you have to roll for noise or close a door behind you.

The main objective of the game is to fix the engines and make sure the ship is heading to earth but there’s a lot of things trying to stop you; even your other teammates could be trying to blow up the ship or even send it to Mars. When you are in one of the engine rooms you can to take an action to check the status of the engine (keep it hidden from other players – your objectives may be different). If the engine is broken (or working if you want it broken) you have to take a repair action. The same applies for checking coordinates but when you check them you can set the destination.

Seems simple so far right? The whole time you’re moving around the ship noise is being added and once intruders start coming onto the board, the fun really begins. You only have limited ammo and intruders aren’t the easiest to kill. When you are attacked, you can get contaminated. An infection card is added to your deck of action cards, clogging up your hand and can even cause a creeper to burst out of your chest! You can check the contamination cards in 3 of the rooms to see if you are infected by taking the rooms action. If you are infected, you must place a larva on your card and I suggest head to the surgery room as soon as you can!

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The game ends after 15 rounds. You can win by deciding to return to cryosleep and leave the intruders to face the dangers of hyperspace or you can abandon ship via the handy escape pods.  These are either unlocked manually at given locations or automatically when another crew member dies. The game can end quicker if someone sets the ship to self-destruct, then you have 6 rounds to make it to an escape pod.

There is a lot more to the game but this is just a basic overview.  There are some parts I feel you should find out for yourself during your first game

Designer: Adam Kwapiński

Artist: Piotr FoksowiczEwa LabakPatryk JędraszekPaweł Samborsk

Publisher: Awaken Realms

1 – 5 players

Weight (according to Boardgamegeek) : 3.35 / 5 (Medium)

My thoughts

This game is a very intense game, you never know if the other players are trying to kill you or help you. The developers definitely used lots of ideas from the movie Alien and I’m glad they did. This game is dripping with theme, all the components are of great quality and the detail on the miniatures is mostly great except for two exceptions; the soldier miniature lacked detail due to a manufacturing fault which seemed to be an issue for many Kickstarter backers.  Also my scientist figure wasn’t glued together properly, leaving massive gaps where his arms were meant to be touching. However I contacted the publisher, Awaken Realms and they sent out replacements that are perfect.

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I really like this game and would definitely put it in my top 5 games. With more plays I think this could become my number one game.

Meeples People’s Circus rating 9 out of 10

Spirits of the forest review

Basic Overview

Spirits of the forest is a very beautiful set collection game. In the game, you represent one of the four elements that nourish the the forces of nature. You are trying to collect the nine spirits that are represented in the tiles.

You start the game by shuffling, then laying out the 48 tiles face up in a grid of four high by twelve across. You then shuffle the fourteen favour tokens face down and place eight of them onto the tiles (as shown in picture below). Any unused tokens are returned to the box without looking at them.

Each player is then given gem stones; three in a two player game or two in a three/four player game. The gem stones are used to reserve a tile that you want. If a player takes a tile with your gemstone on it, it will cost them one of their gemstones and it is removed from the game.

The game is played over multiple rounds; on your turn you choose to take either one or two tiles of the same colour, so long as your tiles do not have more than two spirit icons. Tiles are only taken from either end of the grid. When you receive a favour token look at it but keep it hidden, it might be used for final scoring or it may have a special power that you can use during a later turn.

When all the tiles are collected, it is time for final scoring. Each player counts how many of each spirit type they have (including favor tokens); the player with the most of a spirit type is the only one to score, they receive points for how many they have. If players draw, no one scores. If a player has none of a spirit type, they pay a five points penalty.

Across all the tiles there are scattered power sources (sun, moon and fire). These are scored in the same way but the penalty is only three points for players that don’t have any. The winner is the person with the most points. If there is a tie, the player with the least tiles wins the game.

Designer: Michael Schacht

Artist: Natalie Dombois

Publisher: ThunderGryph Games

1 – 4 players

20 mins

Weight (according to Boardgame geek) : 1.29 / 5 (light)

My thoughts

For a very basic game, this has definitely a lot to like about it. I personally got the kickstarter edition of the game, so it has tonnes of extras and I’ve not even tried half of them yet. My version didn’t come with gems, it came with element stones and my tiles and tokens are printed on wood instead of card. Not only are they nice to look at but they also have a good tactile quality to them.

I’d agree with the BoardgameGeek weight analysis. This is a light game. The favour tokens do add a level of the unknown but the bulk of any strategy lies in offsetting the risk that your opponent(s) will take any tiles you have your eye on before you can claim it yourself.

I have to say I really enjoy the game. I’ve only played it as a two player but I have enjoyed every game. In my eyes, it’s a perfect filler game; if you have ten minutes to spare in-between longer games it’s perfect.

The artwork of the game is stunning. From the box to all the tiles, it looks like you would expect of a Studio Ghibli movie. It definitely makes people notice when it’s all set up on the table; a real eye pleaser.

Meeples People’s Circus rating 7 out of 10