You’ve devoted yourself to Valeria for a long time. War, crops, visions… you’ve seen it all. But you won’t be around forever. So, it’s time to educate the next generation of students and have them carry on your legacy. You’ll need to get the right classrooms and professors to help your students, and influence certain ministers in order to have their support when your academy is judged. Let’s get cracking!
What Is It?
Worker Placement / Drafting /- Each round, players will place 3 workers out to draft different student dice. The die they choose will allow them to access a certain action, depending on where they select from. They might purchase tiles, move their banners (for abilities or end-game scoring), or draft professors. The cost of the action is correlated to the value of the die they take – lower value dice allow players to do actions for less gold, but it will take more knowledge to have those students learn enough to graduate.
Dice Manipulation – Players will use the various classroom tiles they buy to place their professors and students and give those students knowledge to raise their level. Once a die goes above 6, the student graduates can can go on quests.
Tile Placement – Players will be placing tiles they buy in their academy throughout the game. They do not score based on placement inherently, but multiple Ministers and prestige tiles will let them score for certain tile groupings. Additionally, placing tiles to complete pedestals will earn players monument tiles which can earn them one-time in-game abilities, or additional end-game benefits for scoring.
Contracts – As players have their student dice graduate, they will be able to complete quests (contracts) in order to collect rewards (magic, gold, more dice, points, et cetera).
Who Is It For?
- 1 to 4 Players – The solo game is fine, but a little too much upkeep for me, but I think the game works well at any count. The available components (dice, professors, tiles) scales for player count, which is nice
- Ages 14 & Up / Mid-Weight Gamers – The rules feel very streamlined, but there’s definitely a lot of room for strategy, so I definitely wouldn’t use it as a “welcoming game” myself
- Fans of worker placement, drafting, tile placement, and dice manipulation
- Players who like having a few different options in how to get their points throughout the game
Solo – The solo plays pretty similarly to the 2-player game, but the Rival player doesn’t gain many benefits (i.e. favors, monuments), and does not collect or spend gold or magic. The Rival does get points, however, for collecting tiles and completing pedestals. There are also ways to adjust difficulty settings if you want more or less of a challenge.
The Rival is definitely worth competing against if you’re looking to try the game out and get a feel for it, or you’re an avid solo player. For me, I didn’t think it was worth the upkeep of always sliding in more tiles and such, just to play by myself.
- Aesthetics – Great artwork, vibrant colors
- Components – Really good quality across the board, and I like that it comes with a few extra player pieces, just as spares
- Iconography – Most of it works well and is very intuitive to gameplay
- Rules – Well written overall, pretty easy to learn from. I also like that the solo rules are a separate little foldout
- The education phase (placing students and professors on your classrooms) can be played simultaneously, which is great and helps the game not feel too long
- Lost of options turn to turn and many paths to victory
- Mechanisms all work well together
- I like that multiple players can complete the same quests in a single round so you don’t miss out just because you went later in turn order
- I appreciate the balancing between taking low versus high number dice and how you can use that in your strategy
- Turns are pretty snappy
- Iconography – Some of the icons are incredibly small; in particular, the dice requirements on some classrooms. Some show that certain values of dice need to go to certain classrooms, and it is very difficult to see, especially if you’re not looking closely
- No Insert – I’m not a big fan of trying to determine the best way to shove everything in an empty box, so I do wish there was an insert
- Theme is a bit tacked on; I don’t really feel like I’m building a school or having students learn
- There’s a few typos/errors in the rules and on solo cards. It’s manageable and not too bad to figure out, but can be confusing before a first play
I liked it! I thought that the various mechanisms fit really well together and made for a very smooth gameplay experience. I thought you had enough options each turn to feel like you needed to weigh one action against another and choose what was better for your strategy, but it wasn’t so much that it caused a lot of AP or long turns.
I did have some minor qualms with the game, but I thought ultimately, they didn’t really hurt the experience much. The worst is definitely those tiny numbers on some of the icons, but now knowing to look for them in plays makes that a lot easier too.
While I have enjoyed my plays so far, I do wonder how much replay value the game has. You can try different tiles out each game, if they’re available on your turn, but ultimately, the flow is very similar game to game. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth mentioning.
If you like a bit of worker placement, dice manipulation, and tile placement, you’ll need to check this one out!
My Final Rating – 7/10
Designer – Stan Kordonskiy
Artist – Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Publisher – Daily Magic Games
MSRP – $60.00
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
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