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Spiel 2015 Preview: Sapiens, or Dominoes at the Dawn of Time

W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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One way to ease a player into a particular game is to give them something familiar, while pairing it with something new. Sometimes the effect works wonderfully, putting a twist on a game that you never would have imagined previously — say, Stefan Feld's Trajan, with the mancala-like movement of stones turning into a method of managing possible actions in a larger game — and sometimes it's forgettable, as with so many Chess variants that simply add a new piece or move play onto a hexagonal board.

I don't know whether that marrying of the familiar with the new was the intent of designer/publisher Cyrille Leroy of Catch Up Games with his debut title Sapiens, but that's the effect during play. To claim space in the valley for your prehistoric tribe, you place domino-style tiles on the board to gather food and occupy shelter, and as in dominoes tiles that touch must match. Easy peasy lemon squeezy — until you start contemplating the eight different special actions and how to best make use of them to squeeze out extra points and mess with your fellow tribe leaders...




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