Saturday, August 27, 2016

Historia by Marco Pranzo, Published by GoldenEggGames, Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

Historia by Marco Pranzo, Published by GoldenEggGames, 

Reviewed by Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions

What are the recommendations for this game?

Number of players: 1-6 (this is due to having a great CivBot system in place with 3 difficulties (Chieftain, Noble, and King...Easiest to Hardest)
Time of game: 120 minutes, could be longer in teaching new players
Age recommendation: 12 and up

The back story: This is an opportunity through a board game to replay the last 12,000 years of history. As each player builds, nurtures, and develops their own Civilization from the time of Neanderthals to the future with hitting The Singularity. You will develop your Military and Technology, through the use of Trade, Raids, Warfare, Revolutions and more. You will need to work as your Leader wants, you will need to build Wonders, and eventually have the greatest civilization to win!

What comes in the game? (Retail Copy)
One Rules Sheet
One Game Board
54 Power Cubes
48 Wonder Cards
12 Event Cards
18 Leader Cards
16 Territory Tiles
60 Action Cards
35 Advisor Cards
7 Civbot Cards
2 Time Markers
6 Matrix Markers
6 Player Reference Sheets
12 Point/Turn Markers

What is the end game objective? What am I striving for?

You want to have raised your Military and Technology in accordance with your game options and Leader cards to have the highest amount of points at the end of the game.

Special Note: Other ways to score include Wonders Cards along with bonuses that can be achieved by reaching the 16th level of Military and/or Technology advancement. You can then keep scoring for every time you would go over those levels.

How do I set the game up? Where is that leading me to?

You want to get the board set up, so you place the Timeline markers in place, both for the four turn outer ring, and the 3 era inner ring. So each era has 4 turns, which means this game will end at the close of the 12th turn. The Wonder cards come in 3 decks. One for each of the eras. You will draw one each player plus two additional cards These cards will be available to obtain. Once players have a starting civilization they should have their action cards, advisor cards, and power cubes. The action cards need to have War and Tourism taken out at the beginning as they are only available later on. You will have 5 advisor cards, 4 will be face down, and one will be in your hand. You will need 4 power cubes, where 1 goes to the used cube pool. Everyone needs to decide initial turn order. Once you have marked your turn order, then mark your score at zero, and mark the bottom left corner of the development matrix (which is really cool by the way!). Place territory markers out on the regions of the map randomly (you will find this map on the bottom right of the board). You will then separate the Leaders cards into the 3 eras, and going in reverse turn order choose a number of leaders cards for the first age equal to the number of players plus one, pick one and then pass the rest. Extra will be removed from the game after everyone has one. Make sure this card is face up in your area. Finally, in turn order, each player places a cube on a territory  they will start from on the world map. This will cost one of your three cubes, so you will be down to two for now.

Now to play:  

When you are playing your turn, there will be some things to consider. What actions cards do I have available to me? In what order I should I play them? How many cubes do I have/will have along the way? Power cubes will be critical as they represent all of the hours of work and resources accumulated into a very streamlined system of progress acquisition. You will start with these action cards:

Military Upgrade (cannon icon) lets you move up one spot on the development matrix, could gain additional benefit depending on level you reach.

Technology Upgrade (test tubes icon) let you move one spot to the right on the development matrix, could gain additional benefit depending on the level you reach.

Special Note: If there isn't a space to move to, then the move is lost. You can move to a space that has other player(s).

Art -Acquire a Wonder (Mona Lisa icon) lets you choose one Wonder card and put it into your area, immediately in play. If there are no Wonders to draw from, then play with no effect.

Exploit (a person cracking a whip icon) lets you recover up to 2 of your Power cubes. You will recover the cubes from the used cube area, and if you don't have 2 there, then you take 1 or zero.

Expansion (one flag area pointing to another flag area icon) lets you use of your cubes to choose a new area on the map to expand to. You must follow rules for travel (if you don't have the navigation icon in your Technology level, or have passed it, then you must place adjacent to your area(s). If you don't have the cube to spend then the action has no effect.

Trade (bag of coins icon), this is where you can trade with another player you can reach, and they must have a higher Technology level than you. You get to go up one Technology level, and they receive Victory Points.

Raid (mounted knight charging icon), where you attack another player you can reach by being in the same territory or adjacent. You must have a Military level higher than the person you raid to be successful.

War (crossed swords icon) you don't start with this as you have to reach Technology level 2 or higher to add this card to your options. You must have a higher Military level than the opponent to win. You can only declare on another opponent in a shared territory.

Tourism (Eiffel Tower icon), this is where you attract tourists to your Wonders for victory points. You will gain this card once you reach or exceed Technology level 12.

Revolution (the female who holds the French flag, Liberte icon) this is where you mark the last action of a round you are currently in. You can't play this until this action would be at least the fourth one. The Resolution action must be played last, if multiple cards have been played. You will take the Revolution card back after being played, along with one other card of your choice. This will push the game along, and be an effective strategy to block people from doing more on a given turn.

Special Note: many of the cards have an advanced action below the basic one, you must meet the requirements to use this option. While the advanced actions are more powerful, they are also more costly.

Things that happen at turn's end (remember there are four turns in an Era):

Depending where you are in the outer circle, you will find that there are actions to taken that affect all the players. The icons could be the following:

A  +1 cube icon - so everyone will add 1 cube from the reserve (not in play) to the used pile section.

A trophy by a planted flag - this is the territory bonus so you score points for any territory that you hold that is not occupied by any other cubes.

A recycling sign by a black card with the number 2 - the recycling symbol indicates bring back, and the black card indicates the oldest and the number tells how many.  So, in this case, bring back the oldest two cards.

A recycling sign with a columned arch - you will get to reactivate your used Wonders.

A recycling sing with a 1 cube per planted flag icon - you will bring back 1 cube per territory that you hold or occupy.

An assembly (think of it how a senate might be seated looking from the top down - or a hand fan) icon - each player will gain a bonus based on their position in the development matrix. It is both marked in the book on page 7, and on the game board on the top left hand corner.

The two pawns icon - this is determining the new turn order. The lowest Victory points player will go first, and the next highest second, and so on. If there is a tie, then whoever went later in the previous turn is given priority.

The gear and columned archway icon - this is where you bring out additional Wonders after removing any that are still sitting out. The number of these will be the number of players + 2. Make sure to draw from the correct Era.

The leader pointing icon - This is where you check to see if you have met either or both conditions of your Leader card. For every condition you have met, score the appropriate amount of points marked on the card. The Leader card will then be removed from the game.

The gear and the leader pointing icon - This is where you bring out new leaders for the players to choose from. The total number brought out will be the number of players +1. The first player in the new turn order will choose 1 and then pass the rest to the player next in the turn order, and so on.

If there is any issue in seeing how this works out, a great turn example is covered on page 6 of the book!

Are there any variations for this game?

There are many things you can do for this game. First, the Civbots, which are Artificial Intelligence robots, that come in three difficulties (easy-Chieftain, medium-Noble, and hard-King) allow for a single player game. You could have these Civbots in a game by yourself, or add some to a game of human players.

Second, there are the Event cards, and they represent major things that have happened during the history of humanity that had major impacts on the world at large. In using these, you would draw one to take effect at the beginning of the game, and then at the beginning of each additional turn. Sometimes a specific action will cause the Event that was drawn to take place. These events can affect things like your Development levels, Wonders, Victory Points, and more. They can truly alter any players plans during the game!

Some game results:

Our games so far have been just amazing. The Civbot on the easiest mode (Chieftain) hung in during most of the game. It wasn't until the late game where it started falling behind. With our human games, it has been tit for tat with every decision being important. Everyone has felt that they don't want to be the one caught by the Revolution card, and have some of their actions and plans stopped. Another example is the game where I ended up behind the King Civbot (was playing against all 3 difficulty levels) and lost by less than 20 points! Players, including myself, feel the game is really well balanced to the aspects of risk versus reward. You could be playing it safe, and you will move at a decent, steady clip, while someone starts taking risks could be well rewarded, or leave themselves open with having cards tied up, or giving opportunities for other players to strike, such as raiding and war.

I like the fact that not only I had many options each turn, but that I was always considering the order to approach them, as, at any point, an opponent could stop the future of that turn outright by playing the revolution card. It seemed like everyone has to consider that each turn, and always try to figure out alternatives if that is played earlier than a player was ready for.

It was also nice to have mechanisms easily recognizable, such as having the cards tap, or be turned when used (referring to using a Wonder power). You have many different fronts to worry about, your Military level, your Technology level, someone else moving into one of your territories, trying to have first in a given category, or trying to meet Leader adjectives for bonus Victory points. Your game will be rewarding, and not dull!

Final Thoughts:

I would say first that this game stands alone in the Civilization building games for two reasons. One is the notion that all of your Civilization's resources have been accumulated into these Power Cubes, and I really liked that. Don't get me wrong, I love tracking all kinds of things in a game, in building my Empire up to be the very best in the game, but this was refreshing, and made it feel like I learned the game a little faster. Two is the Development Matrix, where not only were you worried about the X-axis (Technology Level, but moving along the Y-Axis (Military Level). So when one player went one way, you could go the other, and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing!

These aspects lend to a unique game experience where you are always considering the aspect of a race. A race to get to a certain level to allow yourself to use advanced powers on your cards. A race to meet the requirements on your Leader card to get bonus points. A race to perform all of your plans before another player calls the revolution, or will you do it to throw others off? Maybe you performed everything on your turn and then call the revolution, being very satisfied at a turn of well executed orders?

This is a game where timing matters, where strategy matters, where every turn matters, to stay in the race! With that knowledge I can say those who enjoy building Civilizations, who love streamlined empire building, who love playing cards (whether or not you get to follow through with the action), and who love a game where options are everywhere, but which one is the right one, will enjoy this game!

Thank you so much for reading this report on Historia by Marco Pranzo, published by GoldenEggGames!

I hope you will check out my PaladinElliott Blog at:

check out some of my videos at:

and check out my Ready To Game Podcast at Soundcloud and/or Itunes:

and remember I am always....READY TO GAME!!!

RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

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