Simurgh is a worker placement game by NSKN. It was released at Essen Spiel 2015.
The components are gorgeous and of outstanding quality. They look really nice.
You have two kinds of workers (or ‘vassals’ as they are officially called in this game): spearman and dragon riders. Seriously, who didn’t want to become a dragon rider when growing up? Instead of your ordinary wooden meeple, you get plastic spearman and a dragon-like looking creation.
The resource tokes represent vegetables, meat, wood, iron, etc. Instead of just using colored cubes, the designers made meat and vegetables meeples that look like a steak and a leek. How cool is that? But then, why are the wood and stone just wooden cubes and not shaped like a log and a brick? There are also cardboard tokes for knowledge (scroll tokens) and weapons (spearpoint tokens). I don’t know why they mix wooden and cardboard tokens, I think I would have preferred to get them all in either cardboard or wood. Oh well, no biggy.
Board and tiles
The board and tiles are made from really thick cardboard, so I expect them to last a loooong time. And the board is big! Make sure you have a large table before cracking this one open! The board represents a city in the forest. The art is beautiful. The image of the city gave me a Rivendell vibe (The Lord of the Rings).
How to play
Disclaimer: this part is not intended to give a full overview of the rules.
Being a worker placement game, in Simurgh you place your vassals in different locations in the city or on tiles in the wilds to perform the action linked to that location or tile.
In a turn, you have to do one of two: either place a vassal on the board, or either retreat any number of your vassals. You also have some free (optional) actions each turn, for instance activating one or more of your dragon abilities.
There are multiple locations where players can place vassals. Some locations can only be chosen by dragon riders. And some locations in the city, albeit a minority, only have room for one vassal. Some actions give you resources, while others require you pay some (or a lot of) resources in order to do another action (for instance: getting an extra vassal or a dragon rider). The part of the board outside of the city walls, called the wilds, has room for 6 action tiles (6 with 5 players, 5 with 4 players, 4 with 3 players and 3 with two players), that offer additional spots to put vassals and perform actions. A number of these tiles are distributed to players to form their starting hand. The remaining tiles are linked to actions on the board: if you place a vassal there, you can either draw a blind tile or choose one of the four open tiles. The action tiles offer numerous additional options for your workers.
There are also objective tiles that can be bought and placed on the board. Those tiles give you points at the end of the game in case you best match the represented objectives.
But what about the dragons? The game comes with a large stack of dragon tiles that are placed face down next to the board. Each player starts the game with one dragon tile. Each dragon has three unique abilities, for instance providing you with extra resources when activated. You can ‘buy’ an extra dragon tile in the city.
Dragons can give you a lot of victory points at the end of the game if your dragons match the dragons depicted on objective tiles. But given that there are two copies of each dragon in the game, being in the lead on the objective track can change drastically when another player suddenly gets the doppelganger of one of your dragons!
As the game progresses, there are moments when you have to choose between putting your vassal somewhere that will give you an advantage, or blocking an opponent, or even removing an action tile to prevent other players from having access to lucrative other options on that particular tile.
I have played the game with 2 players and with 5 players, and it scales very well. So that's definitely a plus in my book.
It's a very interesting worker placement, and I don't have many of those in my collection, so I am very happy with it! I don't know if it stands out from other worker placement games...
Player interaction however is limited, in my opinion. Only a few places in the city are limited to one vassal. I would have wished there was more of a struggle to get the best places on the board. On the action tiles the competition can become more fierce.
If you want more limited spaces you can block some spaces.
Up to you how to balance the game.