Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review of Himaya from Imperial Seal Studios, Reviewed by PaladinElliott Productions


Game Design: Jackson Portnoff

Game Artistry: Alessio Alonne, Felip Cekic, Carlos Pozo Jardon, Roman Jircik, George Patsouras, and Ash Rivenai

Published by: Imperial Seal Studios

Reviewed by: Jason Elliott

Edited by: Stephanie Elliott

Number of players: 2 to 6

Time of Play: 30 to 40 minutes

Age recommended: 10 and up

Year of Release: 2016

The story so far: You enter this game as one who can drift through the sands of time, using the most famous and brightest Scientists, Explorers, Generals, Builders, Artists, Historians, Rebels, Spies, and Merchants to create and hold the best Theatres, Paintings, famous Buildings, Museums, famous Ceilings, Literary works, Songs, and Plays. You will need to control well known cities to hold many of these things that will be important to your nation as you strive to make it the most valuable (highest amount of victory points) amongst your fellow players.

Our final thoughts on the game: So this was surprising fun for what some expect as a heavy Historically based game. The game played in about 45 minutes due to teaching new players, and came across as a build up your nation, while trying every so often to use some "take that" to the other players. We had a lot of moments going "I didn't know this person" and "I just learned" along with looking online afterwards to read and learn more about some of the people and works that are represented in this game.

The Historical accuracy and artistic depictions in the game are very high, so if you were looking for a way to teach players some history, whether it would be historical figures, locations, or famous creations, this game would serve as a great teacher, especially to young adults who might be learning such things from in school.

We found one ambiguity in the rules, that we needed to make a house rule on, but otherwise we have not had any other issues in our play sessions. One of our good friends (looking at you Lorenz!) made the comparison that this game has some Fluxx-like moments, and we would completely agree. You will be assigning cards, sometimes removing cards by choice or by random, and you will also have battles between Generals that are settled with dice rolls while adding modifiers (a simple battle mechanic similar to Risk).

Everyone has come away saying they want to play it again, with games where first place to second place is only a matter of 1 or 2 points. You will need to balance whether or not to assign certain cards to certain locations, or use cards to dump out your entire hand for a new hand. The game has strategy in the cards you choose, and how you play some of them, and has luck in what is drawn, and how the dice rolls go.

While the game says 10 and up, I think this would be best with kids that age who have some interest in the theme of the game.  With kids my rating on the Board Game Geek scale is 9 out of 10, as I would want to play this with kids 90% of the time it is mentioned, if for no other reason, it is a good way to teach them about some of the mentioned people, places, and things of history. With just adults I will give this a 7 out of 10, because the game is fun and engaging and I know I can play an entire game in 30 to 45 minutes.

Mechanics and concepts found in this game: You will have decision making throughout the game. You have some card drafting depending on the cards you play, such as dumping your hand and drawing 5 new cards. There are some moments where you can mess with your fellow players with cards like the Spy which allows you to look at another player's hand and then play a second card. If you couple that with the Assassin you will be able to remove a card of your choice from an opponent (if you do this without the Spy it would be random). You can have alliances and betrayal in this game, but it is all casually done and you are not bound to any of this, and could break it upon a whim. You will need to take card placement into account as you can use Generals to attack other player's cities, and then to decide whether to loot the city or destroy it if you are victorious. All in all there are several things at work in this game when you play giving it a nice amount of complexity while still keeping it quick.

The game components: What is listed and what I received varied, but this is also a review copy, so please keep that in mind.

-150 playing cards comprised of 114 Time cards (Normal backed cards with no picture), 18 Artwork cards (back side has a picture of the Statue of David), and 18 Building cards (back side has a building with a rotunda). This deviates from the 152 cards listed in the rules.

-Game box

-I needed to print the rules, and then later reprinted a second version of the rules

-4 six sided dice, different from the rules listing of 2 six sided dice

Winning conditions of the game: Highest score at the end of the game wins. You must follow the agreed upon conditions for when the endgame goes into effect, and pay attention to each and every card, as some will only score points if they have been assigned to the proper type of card, and others will be worth victory points on their own.

Game setup: Separate the three decks (Time, Artwork, and Buildings), shuffle each deck, leave room for a Ruins pile (discard pile) and deal out 5 Time cards to each player. Each player needs to lay out one City card simultaneously to start, if a player does not have a City in their first 5 cards then they need to declare a mulligan, show the cards to the players, and draw 5 new Time cards. Keep doing this as necessary until every player has a City on the board in front of them. Now you are ready to play Himaya!

How to play: On each turn you will draw 1 card. You will then choose to play 1 card or pass. You can assign floating cards as a free action. Depending on the card played many things could happen. Let's highlight each card's role by type:

Cities- 1 victory point each, and are essential to the game. Cities hold Prophets, Buildings, Museums, and Theaters. If you ever lose your last City (by being destroyed from an attacking General, on your next turn you keep drawing from the Time Pile (Normal Deck) until a City comes up, you immediately play it and end your turn. Everything drawn that is not a City is placed in the Discard pile (Ruins Pile). If you lose your last City, you must discard all of your Literature, Songs, and Scientists.

Generals- When played on your turn, you choose an opponent's City to attack, follow the text on the card. Any defending player must use a General card out of their hand to defend that City or Cities, or automatically surrender any City that is undefended by a General. If a City is surrendered in this way, the attack can choose to loot or destroy the City. Any attacking or defending General must add all attacking/defending modifiers (from Buildings, Generals, and Scientists) to a d6 roll. If the attacker wins, then the attacker can either loot the City and take everything in it for their own, or destroy the City and everything that is in that City along with the City card are destroyed. If the defender wins the attack is stopped and the turn is over. In a tie, nothing happens, both attacking and defending Generals go back to their players hands and the turn is over. Otherwise, attacking and defending Generals are always discarded at the end of a battle, regardless of who won and who lost.

Scientists- Gives you 1 Technology point. A Technology point is a +1 modifier to attacking and defending with Generals. Each Scientist is worth 1 victory point. Example, if you have two Scientists, every General can attack or defend with a +2 modifier to their roll. Scientists float, and can't be taken by another player. Scientists have to be discarded if player loses their last City.

Merchants- Once played, you are allowed to draw two cards from the the Time Pile (Normal Deck). You can't play cards this turn that have been drawn by the Merchant.

Explorers- Choose any one card from the Time Pile (Normal Deck). Shuffle the deck afterwards.

Historians- Choose any one card from the Discard Pile (Ruins Deck).

Spies- Choose one opponent and look at their hand. You then may play another card on your turn.

Assassins- Choose one opponent's card at random and discard it. The exception is if you play an Assassin after you play a Spy card, you are allowed to choose which opponent's card is discarded. The Spy and Assassin must be played on the same opponent for this effect to take place.

Rebels- Once played you get to discard your entire hand (except Artwork cards), and draw 5 new cards.

Prophets- Must be played in a City. That city now has a Religion. It is 6 victory points. It gives you a +1 Defense modifier when defending that City. A City can have more than one Prophet, more than one religion, and Modifiers stack to defend the City.

Builders- Allows you to draw the top card from the Buildings deck. If you can't build the Building card drawn for any reason, then you must immediately discard it. This is a play immediately or lose it card.

Buildings- Must be played in a City unless card says otherwise (Great Wall and The Pyramids are considered floating and can't be taken). Once played, effects on the card are immediate. Must meet requirements if listed. Can be taken by a General who captures a City, unless stated otherwise.

Artists- Allows you to draw the top card from Artwork deck. If the card can't be immediately played then hold it until it can. When it is able to be played, it is a free action to do so (doesn't count as your 1 card played).

Literature- Gives you 5 victory points. Only played as floating, can't be taken. Has to be discarded if player loses their last City.

Songs- Gives you 4 victory points. Only played as floating, can't be taken, allows an additional card to be played that turn. Has to be discarded if player loses their last City.

Paintings- Gives you 6 victory points. Can be played floating but isn't worth any points until assigned to a Museum. Can be taken by a General who captures a City if assigned.

Museums- Must be played in a City. Can hold any number of Paintings. Can be taken by a General who captures a City.

Ceiling- Gives you 6 victory points. Can be played floating but isn't worth any points until assigned to a Theater. Can be taken by a General who captures a City if assigned.

Plays- Gives you 10 victory points. Can be played floating but isn't worth any points until assigned to a Theater. Can be taken by a General who captures a City if assigned.

Theaters- Must be played in a City. It can hold one Play. Can be taken by a General who captures a City.

Endgame: You will need to choose with your fellow players and agree upon a final endgame condition. It could be when the Time deck runs out, it could be the first person to a set number of victory points, it could be a time limit (in actual time or a number of rounds), or something else entirely that everyone agrees to. This game allows for that type of flexibility. In our games we have always played until the Time deck runs out.

Thank you so much for reading my review of Himaya by Imperial Seal Studios!

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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)

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