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Bézier Games Founds New Colony in the Future

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Colony
It might be early to start cranking out the Spiel 2016 announcements, but Ted Alspach at Bézier Games apparently feels the time is right as he's dropped word of his big release for October 2016: Colony, co-designed with Toryo Hojo and Yoshisa Nakatsu.

Let's start with an overview of the gameplay:

In Colony, each player constructs and upgrades buildings, while managing resources to grow their fledgling colony.

In a clever twist, dice are used as resources, with each side/number representing a different resource. Some resources are stable, allowing them to be stored between turns, while others must be used right away. Buildings provide new capabilities, such as increased production, resource manipulation, and additional victory points. Using dice-as-resources facilitates a dynamic, ever-changing resources management mini-game while players work to earn victory points by adding building to their tableau on their way to victory.

Colony includes 28 different building card types, of which only seven are used each game in addition to the fixed buildings that are used each time that you play.
Colony appears to have its origins in Hojo's Age of Craft, which was released in 2014 from Japanese publisher Chicken Dice Games, and this game has been in development with Bézier for at least a year because Alspach teased me at BGG.CON 2014 about having a game that would be right up my alley but would say no more than that.

Thanks to Bézier demoer Steve Samson, however, I was able to try out a prototype of Colony at NY Toy Fair 2016, and I can report that Colony feels like a Bézier title through and through. Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Suburbia, and Colony all have a similar feel, with a player adapting to changing local conditions each turn while jigsawing together something grand (ideally) bit by bit from the best of whatever's available to you.

One big difference, though, is that in Castles and Suburbia, you're facing a changing market on each turn; different rooms or different city tiles are available to you, and you need to decide each turn whether to put up money for the current offerings or do something else, rolling with the opportunities and disappointments, while also adapting your building strategy based on what everyone else is doing.

You'll still be doing this latter bit in Colony, but the market is fixed for the entire game. You always use the same set of building cards each game, and to those you add seven from the 28 available, either randomly or based on a suggested set-up à la Dominion. Those buildings remain available throughout the game unless a particular type is bought out, which can happen. The turn-by-turn change instead comes in your resources as each turn the active player rolls dice, then drafts one, then each other player drafts one in clockwise order. (I played with only two players, so I'm not sure exactly who drafts how many dice in each of the 1-4 player situations.) The dice are the resources that you need to purchase buildings, so you'll adapt what you can buy based on those changing resources instead of a changing market.

As you acquire building cards, you gain new powers, such as increased storage capacity to hold more dice from one turn to the next turn, unstable dice with particular values that you must use or lose each turn, manipulation powers to affect your dice resources, and more efficient upgrading abilities. This latter element is another key to the game as all of the building cards are double-sided, and upgrading them affects the abilities you have available or the points that they give you — and since one goal of the game is to be the first to have twenty points, you need to keep focused on that resource-to-VP ratio as you build an engine and rebuild society. (Yes, the game's theme appears to one of rebuilding following some disaster to the world around you. I'm not sure what the 20 VP represent in game terms, but I'll let others worry about such things.)

Board Game: Colony
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