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Board Game Spotlight

 

Rise of Tribes: A Kickstarter Preview

“Just a little further! We’re nearly there, I promise!” someone calls out, uncertain if anyone is listening. You sigh and think to yourself, “Yeah, sure. They said the same thing days ago” as you continue to make your way through thick foliage, dense mountainous terrain and finally through a large river that opens into a lake. You can hear birds calling high above and off in the distance, you swear you saw a large hairy creature. You throw your belongings on the ground and fall over, exhausted. All around you, men, women, and children do the same. You’re not sure where you are, but you’re calling this home and here you will raise your tribe.
 

Publisher: Breaking Games
Designer: Brad Brooks
Players: 2-4
Time: 30-60 min

Introduction to Rise of Tribes

In Rise of Tribes, players control a tribal faction in prehistoric times that's looking to grow, move, gather, and lead their people. The board is modular, composed of hexes in various terrain types. Each turn you roll two dice, and may select from four actions…victory is possible in a couple ways: gathering resources to build villages and/or completing development and achievement goals for your civilization. – Official Game Description

Rise of Tribes is a 2-4 player area influence, resource management game. Each player seeks to gain victory points through tribal achievements, discoveries, and villages. The first player to 15 points is declared the winner and best tribe leader in the land.

4th Wall Break: I was given a very professional prototype and I was very impressed with the quality of the components and artwork. The rules and artwork may vary from this prototype to the finished product, so keep that in mind.

Overall Gameplay

In Rise of Tribes, players compete for resources across a modular board that is randomized at the beginning of each game, depending on player count. Each player will begin with a randomly drawn tribe board. Each tribe board will require various numbers of resources that will help players determine which resources are more important to their tribe.  Each player is also given an identical 15 card Goal deck. This deck holds your tribe’s achievements and discoveries/upgrades. These may be built or accomplished at the end of your turn. During your turn, you will take 2 of the 4 available actions: Grow, Move, Gather, and Lead. These actions have 3 levels of power depending on the dice currently placed on the action board.

Action Board

At the beginning of the game, each action will begin with 1 Sun, 1 Moon and 1 Blank die. At the beginning of your turn, you will roll the available 2 dice. These dice will allow you to take your 2 actions for your turn. When choosing an action, simply place the die on the left of the row and push the furthest right die down to the bottom of the action. Depending on what you’ve rolled and which face of the die is present on each action, you will gain 1 of 3 desired outcomes. 2 Sun faces will reward you with the strongest ability, 1 Sun, 1 Moon and 1 Blank will reward you with the standard ability and 2 Moons will reward you with the weakest ability. Regardless of what you’ve rolled, there is usually a way to take advantage of each action. This is a deeply satisfying strategic element in the game and cleverly designed.
 

Actions

Grow: When a player takes the grow action, they add the number of tribe members indicated by the Action Board from your supply to one or more hexes that already contain your tribe members.

Move: When a player takes the move action, they move up to the number of tribe members indicated by the Action Board from one hex to another.

Gather: When a player takes the gather action, they obtain resources from the hexes you occupy as specified on the Action Board.

Lead: When a player takes the lead action, they draw the indicated number of Goal Cards from the top of the player’s deck and put into the “in progress” on the left side of the player board, face-up.

4th Wall Break: Upgrades to your tribe will allow you to take advantage of the 4 actions, allowing you to gather from more hexes, more resources, and even move up to 2 hexes away!

Conflict

What’s a prehistoric area influence game without fighting?! Conflict can play a significant role in the outcome of the game and can be the determining factor in winning. At the same time, a strong defense can often times deter your opponents from attacking you, unless they really want a particular resource. Conflict occurs in any hex or hexes that have more than 5 tribe members of any color. That’s right, even your own people squabble amongst themselves, so you better plan accordingly! The active player determines which hexes to resolve first. Acting simultaneously, each player removes 1 of their tribe members from the hex. This repeats until no more than 1 of a player’s tribe member is present in the conflicting hex. In layman’s terms, conflict comes down to hex majority. If I attack you with 5 tribe members and you’re defending with 3, I will have 2 left on the hex after resolving conflict. The only change in conflict resolution is if a player owns the bow tribe development card. This allows the offensive player to remove one meeple of an opposing player from the hex before resolving conflict. It’s an incredibly powerful card that nearly every player actively sought to draw.

4th Wall Break: It’s important to note that after conflict, if there remains a village with none of its tribe members present, the village is looted, pillaged and destroyed. (Ok, not ACTUALLY looted and pillaged. Just remove it from the hex...)

Goal Cards

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What good is a tribe without a leader and what good is a leader without goals? When a player takes the lead action, they obtain goal cards for their tribe. These are achievements and developments that will help your tribe advance throughout the game. 
 

Event Cards

Events occur when a player rolls doubles and only if there is an available event space or an active event allows a player to discard it. They range anywhere from plentiful resources, to allowing a player to make human sacrifices and even hunting or taming a Wooly Mammoth! The event cards add an extra layer of fun to the game and everyone enjoyed them.

4th Wall Break: The event cards are fun! I can only imagine what other zany ideas they have for Stretch Goal Events! Give me a dinosaur, more Invader events (those are REALLY fun), and maybe a birthday party! I mean, even our ancestors liked to party, right?
 

Winning the Game

The first tribe to score 15 points, wins! It’s that simple but I wouldn’t say it’s easy. There are a lot of cutthroat decisions to make and if you have a bloodthirsty tribe among you, good luck!

What I loved!

I’m a huge fan of Euro games, especially when they incorporate dice in creative ways. Lady luck rarely smiles upon me, so any way to mitigate that is a win in my eyes. I love the overall look of the game; the tribe boards, goal cards and hexes are beautifully illustrated. The laser cut wooden village tokens are a nice touch.

As mentioned above, the action board mechanic is incredibly clever and I found myself thinking harder than I thought I would about which action to take. The game rewards various paths to victory and they aren’t always obvious. While the game is simple to learn, there are meaty strategic decisions that must be made.

What I think this game does really well is thematic immersion. You honestly feel like you’re leading a prehistoric, nomadic tribe to survive in a kill or be killed world. In addition, many of the event cards made our group laugh out loud and were cleverly created. Sometimes taming a Wooly Mammoth or making human sacrifices is the price a tribe has to pay to win!

What I want to see!

It would be neat to see a 2v2 match or even global objectives players can achieve, outside of events, for points. I’d love to see an additional variant where players don’t know where the 3 types of hexes are on the map until you’ve moved onto it; like a fog of war system. Of course, I’m always down for more event cards and knowing Breaking Games, I’m sure they have clever ideas up their sleeves.

As far as gameplay goes, there were very few issues with the game and nothing that kept anyone from enjoying it. The one, SMALL, complaint I have is that the development/upgrade cards seem to be a bit too powerful and when you add in random draws, some players can take over a game faster than the others. This isn’t a problem per se, more of an observation, as all players have the same deck of cards and equal opportunity to draw from their deck.

Conclusion

Rise of Tribes is a fantastic modular, area influence/resource management game. The beautiful artwork, combined with clever mechanics and immersive theme, make this a game you won’t want to miss out on.

Rise of Tribes wanders its way onto Kickstarter June 6th, 2017!