W. Eric MartinUnited States
Frogriders and Ghost Catchers (preview videos here and here), German publisher eggertspiele has a number of titles in various stages of development, including a new Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling title for SPIEL 2017 that's all about terraforming a non-Martian planet for fun and profit.
In Reworld, 2-4 players each attempt to terraform a newly discovered planet on their own, and to do that they need to use terrabots to establish new cities and shuttles to deliver materials that will populate those locations. I've played the prototype once — entirely bungling my terraforming efforts in the process, mind you — so let me give you a rundown of this typically tactical eggertspiele design that will challenge you to think from front to back in a new way.
Over five rounds, players fill the five levels of their spaceship with tiles featuring terrabots, shuttles, material vessels, and satellites. Each round, twenty of these tiles are placed at random around the perimeter of a large mother ship, and each player receives a hand of 7-13 cards depending on the number of players. On a turn, a player can play one or more cards to claim a tile following these rules:
• If neither tile adjacent to the desired tile has been claimed, the player can lay down any card next to this tile, claim it, then place it in the leftmost space of the level of their spaceship that matches the number of the card played. If you play a 4, for example, then you must place that tile in the leftmost position of your spaceship's fourth level.
• If one tile adjacent to the desired tile has been claimed, then you must lay down a card of the same number used to claim that previous tile or any two cards of your choice (with those two cards thus serving as a joker). Whatever number is topmost on the card(s) played indicates the level of your spaceship on which you must place this tile.
• If both tiles adjacent to the desired tile have been claimed and the cards used to claim them show the same number, then you do the same as described above. If the cards have different numbers, however — e.g., 1 and 3 — then you must lay down the same two numbers (1 and 3), one matching number and any other two cards, or any four cards. You then place this tile on your spaceship in the same manner previously desired.While she stares at her hand, I stare at mine (artwork and components not final)
Once everyone has no cards in hand or cannot play further, the round ends. Any remaining tiles are thrown away, then you reset the board and deal out a new hand of cards. After five rounds, players now deploy these tiles onto the new planet, taking turns to deploy 1-3 of the leftmost tiles from the spaceship level of their choice to create their personal terraformed world. If you deploy a terrabot, which are labeled A-E, you start a new city with this letter or extend an existing city of yours. Material vessels, which come in five colors, can be delivered to the planet's surface only if attached to shuttles, and each city can have vessels of only a single color. Satellites provide bonus scoring when added to a city. Shuttles and satellites can also be used for shields to protect your newborn planet.
Players earn points during the first half of the game for picking up terrabots and having cards left in hand. (You'd rather acquire tiles, of course, but at least you receive a compensatory point for each card wasted.) During the second half, players score for deploying satellites and for meeting targets set at the start of the game, e.g. being the first to have a city with eight tiles in it, have a city of each letter, empty a level on your spaceship, have a certain number of shields, score a certain number of points, etc.
Once all the spaceships are empty, players score their final points for how well they've developed each city and their shields in comparison with their fellow terraformers. Whoever scores the most points wins!A poor layout of tiles; don't try this at home — or in space! (artwork and components not final)
At first blush, Reworld might remind you of programming games such as RoboRally, Space Alert, Colt Express, but the game challenge is more along the lines of you loading a handful of moving trucks. Whatever you place into the truck first is likely going to come out last, so if you start a level with an E terrabot, you need to keep in mind that (a) you won't reach that terrabot until you deploy everything to its left first and (b) you can't place anything to the left of this terrabot into your E city unless you have another E terrabot somewhere else on your spaceship that will be deployed first.
As everyone knows, you want to load the bedframes, mattresses and sheets last, but sometimes you can't help it. In Reworld, Kramer and Kiesling have baited the hook with more points for loading terrabots in the early rounds — and sometimes you just don't have the cards for anything else — so you take a terrabot anyway and leave worries about planting it until later.
Everyone cursed their hand of cards at one point or another during our demo game, partly because others occupied spaces that would require you to pay cards you didn't have (thus upping your costs) and partly because you didn't want to place tile X on level Y. You squirmed and screwed up your nose, sometimes grabbing a second-best tile and sometimes just plopping a tile on the level anyway and letting that worry meter ratchet up a little higher.
Satellites push players in different directions — I want a lot of red materials; she wants a long city; he wants shields — which then has us valuing tiles in different ways, but they're all jumbled together anyway, so we're often going to have to step on toes or overpay to get what we want. The goal tokens counter this push toward diversity as we're all competing for these bonus points, while simultaneously knowing that we can't grab them all, so we just need to make sure that we do certain things one turn faster than everyone else in order to take more bonuses than others.
While getting the rules rundown, I missed the line about shuttles being required to move materials to the planet. I thought shuttles just let you bring down more materials in one go, with you deploying slower without them, but no, your materials will just be jettisoned into space if you can't dock them shuttleside. Don't make this same mistake; fight for shuttles early and often, while still keeping in mind that if you have nothing good to shutt, then they're not worth that much in the long run unless you want to end up with a bazillion shields protecting a terramalformed planet...