As the leader of one of the five great home islands, you know it is your responsibility to guide your people to prosperity! There is so much to explore beyond your home island, and so many goods to collect to to expand your island’s wealth. Adventure, mystery, and perhaps even conflict is waiting for you. It’s time to set sail!
What Is It?
Asymmetric / Variable Player Powers – Players each have their own unique decks cards, each with unique abilities that players may be able to activate throughout the game for various benefits. Each home island also has distinct customs, which provide in-game bonuses, or end-game scoring opportunities.
Multi-Use Cards – Cards can be spent to do various basic actions (add populace, temples, or ships; sail ships; create goods; create or activate islands), used as vary assets (ships, temples, goods, populace) through splaying, used for special abilities, or saved as quests (to reuse their basic actions again later)
Hand Management – Players have limited hands and it takes a whole turn to draw new cards. Actions often “cost” 2 cards (1 for the basic action and another to splay in most cases) and you need a certain preference on cards to do certain actions, so players need to be careful about what they play, and when, to keep their options open turn to turn
Who Is It For?
- 2 to 5 Players – It’s quicker/shorter with less players, and much more chaotic with more. At only 2 there’s, of course, only 1 player to target, so it can feel very one-sided if someone gets an early lead. I think it’s fine at any count, but with lower counts, perhaps certain factions should be used over others to keep some balance
- Ages 16 & Up / Those Familiar with Gaming – Decent level of strategy, so it’s not great for younger gamers or a less experienced audience
- Players who like playing the same game often in order to get a good feel of the different decks/powers
- Fans of Chudyk games
- Fans of asymmetry, splaying cards, take-that
- Artwork – There isn’t a lot of art, but the box cover and the art on the back of the cards is really nice
- Graphic Design – There’s a lot of text on cards, so I appreciate that the font isn’t super tiny. I also thought the 4 icons for what cards can be when splayed were clear
- Insert – Everything fits in it well
- Most turns are fairly snappy despite often having big decisions to make
- Keywords defined nicely in the rulebook
- I like that if you can’t use a card’s special ability (which feels pretty often) you can keep it as a quest to use it for it’s basic action again later. It can be really helpful since you are trying to manage what’s available in your hand
- Players remain invested on every turn because of how much player interaction there is
- The lid for the insert is too tight in the box and nearly impossible to get off each time
- I wish there had been suggested “1st play” combos for which factions to play. I wouldn’t say the Homes are unbalanced necessarily, but some seem harder to play than others, especially when you aren’t as familiar with the game
- Some turns feel unfulfilling. You might put out 1 card, but it often costs you 2 from your hand of only 4, so it doesn’t feel like you accomplished much – especially if you can’t then do the special ability. It becomes even more disappointing if a conflict or card effect causes your cards to be removed, effectually undoing an entire turn for you
- You can’t do a special effect unless you can fully execute it. Some cards are hyper specific (often requiring you to have a large hand available), so it feels like you read a ton of cards only to execute a handful throughout the whole game
- Home islands are double sided reference cards, which is annoying because you really need both sides during early plays, so I wish the basic actions were separate reference cards
The game definitely feels like it benefits from many (many) plays because of how detailed the different decks are. So the question just becomes – is it worth it?
If you’re a fan of other Chudyk games, the answer is yeah, probably. It has the very familiar melding and splaying, as well as lots of text-heavy cards with abilities you may or may not get to trigger. What this has more of than the 4 other Chudyk games I’ve played is that-that / chaos, especially when playing with Crete. There’s heavy player interaction and players will actively be trying to take control of islands, swipe goods out from others, or just take others’ cards off the board when possible, so if you don’t like that, you might want to steer clear. Even if you do enjoy that, I would recommend not playing with Crete for your first few games and/or when playing with only 2 players, because I think they seemed to be able to mess with things a lot, so it’s easier to combat with more players in the game, and once you’re more familiar with the game.
It’s a time investment for sure, but if you’re interested in these mechanisms, and learning the best way to play your unique deck, then you should definitely give it a go!
Designer – Carl Chudyk
Artist – T.L. Simons
Publisher – Asmadi Games
MSRP – $36.00
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
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