By Terence Wong and Akhil Patel
My reviews will not focus on the rules of the game. There are better reviewers on that format than I could ever contribute. The purpose behind my reviews is to highlight one, and only one, overriding aspect of any game: fun. That’s it. As a big kid at heart, I play games in order to have a good time. In the end, all I really care about is if I’m going to want to play the thing again, and will anyone else. Hence, I’ve chosen five areas to highlight that are all aspects of the game’s funness. Examined from this paradigm, these are all aspects that I believe should be enjoyed during the whole experience of playing board games.
1. Out of the Box:
Terakh is a semi-abstract, light, tactical war-ish game about…well, about something I’ve never quite heard of before. Seriously, the game gets props for creating it’ own universe/back story, but more on that later.
The components are pretty good for a small publisher. The box itself is basically the size of a personal pan pizza. But inside, the bits are very well made. The boards (there are 6, which are used to scale to the number of players; 1 board per player) are very sturdy. But the really luxurious part of is on the backside. Velvet! The backs of the boards are velvet, which is just gratuitous, but in a good way. The player’s armies are nice, hard plastic. The mods (little rubber bands) are functional, but I’m always afraid they’re going to lose their elasticity.
The cards are cool, but they are an odd, square shape and the corners are quite sharp. On the other hand, the spec cards are very good and seem pretty balanced. The D4 dice are an interesting substitution for playing pieces, but I’ll go along with it. And then there are an odd assortment of miscellaneous pieces that really just try to add “bling” to the game, such as the “directional coin” – which dictates which way play order will go in any given turn; The Mana Stones – which limit the number of actions each player can take on their turn; the Victory Pendant – which is awarded to the winner of the game to be used for the next game (assuming you’ll play twice in a row…not that you wouldn’t necessarily, it’s just a bit presumptuous, isn’t it? Never mind.)
The only thing that I thought was lacking was the chart of player actions and attack chart, found in the back of the rules booklet. I color photocopied it, and laminated it, one per player and have found them to be indispensable.
- Quirky, good components
(For a lack of player aids)
The rules are pretty clear. The illustrations are fine. They get the job done; nothing spectacular, nothing lacking, really. There was, however, one ambiguity concerning the center spaces on the boards: the rules state that they are adjacent to each other. This means a unit can “teleport” from one center of one board to another center of another board. Likewise, it cold also “attack” an opponents unit on another board as long as it was located on the center space. This was never explicitly stated in the rules and it took me a couple of games of playing it wrong to really realize that.
When I explain the different actions and how attacking works, the self-made player aids work wonders and pretty much explain themselves. There’s even a glossary of terms in the back of the rules, which is kind of necessary because the game introduces its own lingo and terminology. There is also a brief FAQ in the back, clarifying a few thoughts on the game play.
- Simple enough rules
3. Ease of Play:
The game is an interesting combination of a tactical wargame mixed with elements of Magic, with light dice rolling, all with the flavor of an abstract. Basically, each player controls a small army of primitive, stick figures in a world (the boards) of “futuristic” design, and the object is to eliminate all other players’ Elders, which is nothing more than the D4 dice piece. Weird, I know. Each action cost a certain number of “action points” and once a player defeats an opponent’s Idol (that would be the super-powerful unit), they can control that players armies to a greater or lesser extent. You can do other neat stuff, like “rotate” a battle plane.
While the game seems fairly straightforward, it took me a few games to play entirely correctly, without missing any rules. It’s not complicated, it’s just…different. That’s really all I can say about that. I suggest reading the rules prior if you can, to see if it’s something that sounds interesting to you, as it did (and still does) to me.
- Game play is intuitive enough, but a little esoteric
4. Weight/Length Ratio:
The strategy might seem a bit moot, but it’s there. Obviously, trying to kill an opponents Idol is ideal, as it helps your position on the board by giving you moderate control over your opponent’s army. Things like that and killing the elders all help move the game towards an inevitable conclusion, trying to make it so that the game doesn’t linger on past its welcome. The games I’ve played at first had lasted a bit on the long side, but that was before we realized that we weren’t playing with the right rules – especially the ones that help move the length of the game along…go figure.
There will be card drawing and dice rolling. If you are okay with either of these things then keep reading. There will be dice rolling to determine battle outcomes. Yes, there are “modifiers” and such, but it will still ultimately be decided by dice. Playing the right cards at the right time is nice. But sometimes you feel as though the cards just aren’t that powerful. Some cards are very nice and really do affect game play, but a couple of them are merely, meh…
- Strategy is a little opaque, yet also not terribly deep
5. The “F” Factor:
All right, the short of it: It’s fun, I’ll give it that. But it’s a wired, different sort of fun. Since the game is really something of an abstract, the theme really isn’t there, though there is a back-story to the game and its funky components. Down time is pretty short; if it’s not your turn, somebody is most likely battling you. This is a very quirky, little game. It takes a while to warm up to this game; I suspect this is one of those love-it-or-not-so-love-it type of game. While I can understand that this might not be to everyone’s liking, I think the game is just unique enough to keep it around and continue playing it.
- Ranks as one of the most “unique” games in my personal collection
Overall: Recommended, if you like downright odd games