Hylaria Board Game made by FableSmith, and reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions
SPECIAL NOTE: This is all based off of a prototype copy with prototype rules!!!
About this game: The Game Design, Illustrations, and Graphic Design all performed by Joost Das. Joost was kind enough to provide me with the files to build a print and play prototype copy.
The Goal: In this game, players form up into teams of two, and using a secret code they develop right before the game starts, try to communicate to their team members on whether or not the team member should pick up a tile that the player has in front of them. Each tile is one point, and the first team to 22 points wins. There is a story line going in the center area, which starts as two placed tiles, and players take turns adding 1 tile each to the story. When a 3rd tile of the same picture is laid down, then the tile just placed is taken along with the second matching tile (going backwards) along with any tiles in between.
There are expansions that have you count how many human tiles vs monster tiles there are in play, along with the total count of tiles being odd or even, or the feast or famine where what happens depends on their being 6 or less tiles versus 7 or more tiles. All of this gets played out to determine which team will reach the 22 point goal first and win.
Setup: You will have everyone sit down at the table, and members of teams should alternate in their seats (you don’t play right after one of your teammates). You take the base tiles (and expansion tiles if you have agreed upon using them) and shuffle them up into face down piles. Deal out 2 tiles to each player, and you are able to look at only the two tiles you have been dealt. You then deal out 2 tiles and flip them to the face up position in the center to start the storyline(this is where players will play their tiles to). To figure out who will start, the players agree upon who most looks like the character in the first tile.
Play the game: You have your teams set up, and you have your secret code set up. Then you have your 2 tiles in front of you, so you need to communicate (and continue to do so through the game) whether or not your teammate should pick up one of your tiles or grab from the other team. This is an ongoing process; because another player may draw from the 2 you have in front of you, and once played (and checked for scoring) you will replace the missing tile and communicate once more to your teammate information concerning the new tile. SPECIAL NOTE: You can only communicate about your tiles during your turn. When playing with our children, we modified this rule due to their ages (7 and 5). Once a tile is placed, check for scoring (is it the third copy of a picture), if it isn’t then go on in the turn order. If it is then take from the 3rd copy to the 2nd copy and all tiles in between (if there are any) and count them. Pull them from the story line and add that number of tiles as points to your score. In the expansions, tiles can add an additional point, or automatically be worth 3 points. If the draw pile runs out, then allow everyone one final round, and the highest point value team wins! In the event of a tie (very unlikely) then the tie stands, and you should play again to see who would truly win!
Final Thoughts: This is a game that makes for a great stress relief filler game. Young ones can get into the game as it promotes memory development along with improving communication skills. Like all games there is a degree of patience, and decision making that must be demonstrated (referring to younger players), but the very fact that you are forced into these things makes for a great team bonding exercise. I would recommend this game for parties, for teaching little ones, and getting them around the table. I would also recommend this game as a warm up to heavier games, or if someone is taking a break or bowing out, then this is a great game to play in between other games. Please feel free to look at the session reports below.
Origins Game Fair Session 1:
John and Nancy (team one) versus Nathan and Jason (team two). A very close game 22 to 20, and John and Nancy (married couple) sneaked out a victory. I would say their time together gave them the slight edge, and there was some frustration for team two, as one miscommunication looked to cost them the game. Comments from players included that this game was very different from others they had played. They felt the game would be a great party game, possibly with drinks, and that could change the dynamic of effective communication, and that they all felt it was a game they could play again.
Origins Game Fair Session 2:
Shawn and Danielle (brother and sister) decided to be a team against Sharon and Scott (mother and son). The brother and sister team had a solid 24 to 16 victory, where they seemed to have both gaming experience and that their ages seemed to be both in the early 20’s. The mother I will not speculate on, but the son was 12 years old. Lots of laughing during this game, and several moments where the mother and son team felt they could have made a better code.
My family Session 1:
I am 38 years old, my wife Stephanie is 42, our son Arnold is 7, and daughter Talia is 5. In this game I was teamed with Arnold, Stephanie with Talia. Arnold and I won 22 to 12. Arnold had some initial problems with the code, but straightened it out, and we were lucky with every expansion tile going our way. Most of the difference in points was based off the expansions.
My family Session 2:
This time I was teamed with Talia, and Stephanie with Arnold. They won 22 to 14, where all except one expansion tile went for them. They also had a string of turns that things lined up for them nicely, and in this game they were able to make the most of it, as they felt at a certain point the game was going their way. In this session, and the previous one, we felt this is a great family game that we can go back to and play easily as it was about 25 minutes a game.
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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)