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Spiel 2015 Preview: Antarctica, or A Shipping Rondel on Ice

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Antarctica
You know what gamers love? Rondels. Since the debut of Mac Gerdts' Antike in 2005, a certain type of gamer has been enamored with the concept of going around in circles choosing actions, and while that might sound strange to those not familiar with such games, for those in the know the design of the rondel can create great tension, with everyone seeing what everyone else can possibly do and trying to stay one step ahead with their plans.

Charles Chevallier's Antarctica, which debuts from German publisher Argentum Verlag at Spiel 2015, puts the rondel into a natural context: the continent of Antarctica itself, with the action trigger for the spaces around this land being the sun. As you can see in the image below, the sun occupies one of eight action spaces (with only six spaces being used in the two-player game), and the warmth of the sun melts the ice around the ship closest to it, allowing the owner of that ship to move it to any other space and take one action available there. What about the other ships on the same space? They'll move up in line to wait for the sun's next pass over the horizon, although the owner of the second ship has the option of playing an "Icebreaker" card to free that ship and take an action sooner.

Board Game: Antarctica

What you're doing in these spaces depends on the buildings and research centers available in them and on the building cards present on top of three decks of varying difficulty. In broad terms, you can:

• Move your ship to a camp, then welcome new scientists from your reserve to your supply
• Move to a shipyard, then receive a new ship (while all other players receive a one-shot shipyard action card)
• Move to a space with empty plots of land, then construct a building there, placing your scientists in the space as a record of your efforts
• Move to a research center, then advance along one of 3-5 research tracks based on the number of your ships and scientists in that area

As you advance on the research tracks, you might trigger a one-time bonus for yourself or an action that all players can perform.

Constructing new buildings is tricky as you need to move to a space where that building doesn't already exist, while also having ships in spaces where the required structures are located. Constructing a headquarters, for example, might require you to have one ship in a space with derricks and another in a space with a wind turbine (or one ship in a space with both), and you'll also need a scientist to man this new building.

The game of Antarctica ends when one player has placed all of their scientists on the board or all of the buildings have been constructed. Players then score points based on their scientists on the board, their placement on the research tracks, the buildings they've constructed, and the resources and ships that they've discarded. Scoring is done along the lines of Web of Power/China, with the player in the lead in an area scoring based on the strength of everyone in that area, then the second-place person in that area scoring based on the strength of the leader, and so on.

Update, Sept. 2, 2015: Passport Game Studios has confirmed that it will distribute Antarctica in North America.

Board Game: Antarctica
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