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That's my perp! Futsie, all right - crazy as a coot! He's got to be stopped!
From Africa, the cradle of mankind, your tribes will expand, diversify and advance across the whole planet.
When first opening the box you will be struck by the gorgeous wooden primitive art style wooden playing pieces that nestle snuggly in the custom designed insert. The pieces have different characteristics, coming in three colours, three heights and three thicknesses. One of the smallest, skinniest pieces of any colour will begin the game in the heart of Africa. These pieces really are wonderful, being extremely tactile and atmospheric which gives the game a tangible feel of primitive times.
Each turn a player can add a new tribe to the board. This newly evolved tribe must be placed adjacent to any other previously placed piece and must also share at least two characteristics with a neighbouring piece. Something else to bear in mind is that you cannot devolve a piece into a thinner or shorter piece and that pieces can only evolve one step at a time. For instance you could place a tall, thin, brown piece next to a medium height, thin, brown piece, thus evolving a taller tribe. You place a village token under the newly placed tribe to signify ownership. Although this mechanism is simple enough it can take a while for it to become second nature, especially before you become familiar with the differing dimensions of the pieces. The pieces do contrast significantly and there are some helpful notches on the pieces to help judge height to aid judgement but I have found that it can still take some players a while to get to grips with.
There are a couple of other ways to move across the board, you can migrate a tribe to an empty region. Tribes can move up to three spaces depending on their height. You can also take over a region controlled by another player by swapping position with them as long as the attacking tribe is thicker- in terms of size rather than intelligence.
Once you have taken over a new territory you gain a reward based upon its colour. These rewards come in the form of cards and technology tiles that are located on a separate technology board. Yellow areas reward you with a one-off use card, some of these are quite nasty allowing players to steal from each other. Orange cards provide a permanent power such as increased movement or easing the evolution requirements. Violet regions give you scoring objective cards, such as requiring a presence in specified coloured regions or being spread across numerous continents. The green regions do not have associated cards but allow you to go hunting and grab a token earning victory points. Whilst the brown spaces reward extra technology tiles.
When earning a card reward you can either take a technology tile and the top facedown card or you can draw three cards and keep one. For a brown region, you either draw two technology tiles from the brown section of the technology board or draw one tile from anywhere else. The technology tiles themselves must be acquired from low to high but you can develop multiple stacks always starting with value one. Technology tiles reward points at the end of the game, and in addition you must meet a certain technology threshold in order to play permanent power orange cards.
Origin is one of those games when after you have finished playing you take a moment to survey the final board with a real sense of satisfaction. It really does look wonderful on the table, the artwork which is somewhat overshadowed by the pieces is also terrific. The only fault is that the yellow regions look very similar to the green ones. Although the central mechanism feels like it belongs in an abstract game Origin still seems very thematic. The way that the tribes interact and spread across the globe really adds to the atmosphere, with your agile slender tribes exploring far off lands whilst you strong chunky tribes muscle in on opposing players’ territories.
As befitting a game set during these far off times there can be a fair amount of conflict, muscling opponents out of territories and using cards to nick their stuff is all part and parcel Origin. You have to take great care when placing a tribe not just to ensure that you are earning points but to prevent opening up regions to other players. So interaction is quite high, but so is the luck of the card draws. This can be mitigated somewhat by electing to draw three cards at the expense of advancing your technology
The game plays equally well with just two, with still plenty of opportunities to interact on the board. There is even a simplified junior version of the game with its own separate rulebook, where the cards powers are ignored and players are just collecting matching colour sets. Overall, I was really impressed with Origin it is not just a looker but plays quickly and smoothly and offers a challenge to players of all skill levels.
Here is a list of all my reviews, some with puns that I really should be ashamed of.
Origin is one of those games when after you have finished playing you take a moment to survey the final board with a real sense of satisfaction.
THIS is exactly why we decided to publish it in the first place.