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In GMT’s Galaxy: The Dark Ages, Reiner Knizia and Don Greenwood conspire to present a design that is true Knizia with a rulebook that is true Greenwood resulting in true fun.
Knizia’s design has players building and manipulating a simple spreadsheet, cleverly disguised (by Greenwood) as a space conquest game. Play begins with the 8 home-worlds represented as a row of cards on the table. Beneath that row, players play ship cards that carry values from 0-10. When all of the spaces (cells) in the current row are filled, the round is over and the race (column) containing the lowest value ship in the current row is eliminated (removed) from play. Each round, the spreadsheet adds a row and loses a column.
While the row-building affects which columns are removed, the game is actually won by the position of the chips played between the rows. Really, these are the true cells for scoring purposes.
A chip (representing a starbase) can be played above the current row and subsequently promoted up the column or demoted down the column (always resting between rows of cards, never higher than above the home row or lower than below the current row). Players move chips by card play or attacks on the bases, permissible whenever there are no ships in the column's current cell. Chips are essentially “bets” that a column will survive. After making these investments, players work to ensure column survival, and to promote their bases higher in the column.
Thus, Knizia’s genius: a simple mechanic where players build a spreadsheet and manipulate chips between the lines, player with the highest value of remaining chips (chips higher in the column score more points) wins. This mechanic has already seen life in a pre-Hasbro Avalon Hill game titled Titan: the Arena and before that as a horse-track game. I would like to see this mechanic recycled as a stock-market game.
Greenwood’s skills shine in the unambiguous rulebook. After working through the rules once, the game made sense in that "of course!" kind of way. The rules are also so painstakingly thorough that the game looks harder than it is (also trademark Greenwood). But then, that gives us "rules-explainers" a job
For a fuller review of the game play, see Greg Schlosser’s review. For a detailed comparison of G:TDA with its predecessor, Titan: The Arena, see BGGAdmin’s review.
Gamers who like a space-themed game and who are not easily scared off by complex-looking rules will find G:TDA presents an hour of tense fun. Game theorists MUST try this title (or one of its siblings) for its unique mechanic.
Vince Londini wrote:
Greenwood’s skills shine in the unambiguous rulebook.
I assume sarcasm here. These rules were, from what I understand, reworked by Andy Lewis from GMT. One only has to compare them with the original Titan:The Arean rules to see the difference.
Or the Colossal Arena rules, for that matter.
This game was actually the second game I purchased in my life (about 10 years ago).
After reading the rules (English and German versions) I scratched my head and put it back on the shelf, having no idea how the game was played .
Then years later I found a rulebook with an attached example of 4 turns. That explained the game for me, and we are having a blast every time we play!
An excellent game with a really crappy rulebook! I hope the game now comes with the example attached to the rules!
- Last edited Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:37 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:37 am