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Subject: A Fun Family Game rss

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Josh Gaudreau
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A while back I received Jeju Island from Game Box Monthly (a terrible company), and while my wife and I played it, neither of us cared for it. I kept it for times we had to entertain visiting kids. Having said that, I enjoyed the mancala-like mechanic of it, which is similar to Five Tribes. So, when I read that a re-themed and re-tooled version was coming out I was actually quite looking forward to trying it.

First off, the quality of the components and the art are both top-notch. The map on the back of the player board, the story booklet connecting it with the first game in the Legend of Luma series, and the dual-sided character cards are all fantastic touches. You can tell that a lot of care and love went into this game.

Built on the same mechanic as Jeju Island, Nomads is a 2-5 player game. Each turn, a player moves a stack of disks which includes one of his or her disks around the "campfire," and each player whose disk is on top of their respective piles at the end of the movement takes the tile in front of their pile (see pics of the board to make sense of this).

Alternatively, a player can use their collected tiles to buy legend or song cards, which count as victory points during intermittent scoring and at the end of the game.

As mentioned, the game is up to 5 players, and there are 5 characters to choose from in the game. Each character has a different ability (for example, one lets you hop spaces, another gives you 3 disks instead of 2 like everyone else, another lets you move one of your buried disks to the top of a pile, and so on). This is probably the biggest difference from Jeju Island, though not the only one, and it's a huge improvement. Another improvement is that in a less-than five player game, all the characters are still used to collect tiles, which keeps the game length relatively consistent, and makes it more fun (I always regretted when a 'sleeping' character took a tile I really wanted).

Scoring happens intermittently throughout the game after a certain trigger, with a final scoring at the end. Players are penalized for having unspent tiles, which means mid-game it's not uncommon to have a negative score while you save up for higher-valued legend cards.

There's more to the game than that, but that's the basic of it. It's a fun, easy to learn family game with a unique enough mechanic that I'd recommend Nomads to every game collection. There's enough meaningful decisions to make each turn, and, with two players especially, the ability to plan ahead. My wife is a non-gamer and she enjoyed it, whereas she wouldn't consider a game like Five Tribes at all.

It's disappointing that this game hasn't gotten more attention on BGG, although a lot of really great games came out this year.


Some thoughts after 3 two-player games:

- Nostromo's power of having three disks is too powerful for 2player games - my wife played him twice and I once, and whoever played him won by a minimum of 20 points, regardless of the other characters we played (different each time).

- In a two player game, the runaway lead is a huge issue (not sure about higher levels), so I'll house-rule it in the future that during the moon-phase scoring the lower-scoring player gets the 3 moon tiles instead of 1.

- Having the acrylic Lys promo token from the BGG store was a lot nicer than the included cardboard (and flat) token. If you like this game I would highly recommend getting it. We also used the promo gift tiles from the Brettspiel Adventskalender 2017, and it was a neat addition to the game. I just wish the tiles were the same glossy finish as the game's tiles.
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