Nige wasn't able to make it this week and I thought we would be down to three players but John turned up unexpectedly so the four of us tried out this new Queen game by Wolfgang Panning. It has had some fairly negative reviews but the theme seemed interesting enough so we gave it a go.
The idea of the game is to explore the ruins of the valley of Indus and to stake a claim to the best sites for discovering treasure. Each player has a set of 16 pieces, representing workers, assistants and professors (in ascending value for staking claims). The game board is made up of a mixture of tiles, allowing a different set-up each time you play. Once constructed, the board is divided into a 6x6 grid with 24 starting spots at the perimeter of the map. A player's turn consists of placing a piece on an empty starting spot, rolling the die and moving one of your pieces from a starting spot onto the board. Movement is in a straight line and exactly the number of spaces determined by the die roll. If you are unhappy with the number rolled, you can re-roll twice but on a first re-roll only assistants and professors can then be moved and on a second re-roll you are restricted to just moving a professor. Placement of pieces is key, to keep your options open and give you decent moves depending on the fortunes of the die roll. Once a piece has been placed, it cannot move again and can be covered by a subsequent opposing piece landing there. The only protection is having two pieces of your colour on the one space, in which case, the pieces cannot then be covered and any opponent's piece on that space is captured. Captured pieces yield up to 3 VPs and once all the pieces have been moved onto the board, the treasure is allocated to the players with the most and second-most pieces in the area of that treasure. Most VPs wins.
Indus works reasonably well and the variable set-up gives scope for replayability. However, there is nothing terribly innovative about the game and the decision-making is very light. Placement takes a bit of thought and you need to decide how to balance getting lots of pieces scattered about the board with protecting your pieces in areas you want to concentrate on and if you can capture opposing pieces in the process, that's a nice bonus. In our game, Mark K successfully grabbed some useful spots and ended up in more locations than anyone else, giving him a comfortable win.
Players Result Ratings
Mark K 37 6
Mark G 20 6
Garry 16 6
John 16 6