Richard A. Edwards
Innovation. Iello, 2nd edition, 2014. $28. Designed by Carl Chudyk. 105 Innovation cards, 5 Domain cards, 4 game aid boards, 8 page rule book. 2-4 players. Ages 14+. 45-90 minutes.
Players develop their civilizations through time across ten periods of history, attempting to dominate time periods as well as specific Domains, such as the Military or Science. The first player to dominate a certain number of periods and Domains, depending on the number of players, wins.
Each player may take two actions during their turn. Actions include: Draw (one card), Play (one card), Activate (one card’s Dogmas), or Dominate (one period). Cards are played to your “zone” in one of five piles, each pile based on the color of the cards so you end up with five piles one of each color. The top card of each pile is the “active” card and by activating that card you resolve its Dogmas.
There are two types of Dogmas on cards: Supremacy and Cooperative. All Dogmas on the activated card are resolved, top to bottom. The aggressive Supremacy dogmas allow you to Demand something from another player if you have more of the required icons than they do. Cooperative Dogmas allow other players, if they have as many or more of the required icons as you do, to also benefit from the effects. Various effects can “score” Influence points which are then used to Dominate time periods which is the road to victory.
Each card contributes its visible icons to this calculation. Cards may be stacked so that only the top card’s icons are visible or the piles may be “splayed” so that the cards beneath display some of their icons along one of their edges.
The game is very thematic, with each era unfolding with entirely new effects. For example, the 9th period, “Space Conquest” adds Computers, Composites, and Fission, all with appropriate effects including Fission possibly leading to all players having to reset to the 1st period!
While the rules are brief and clear, the concepts of splaying icons and the different colored piles and how they provide icons and how Dogmas’ effects work are very novel and we had to experience a confusing learning game mechanically in order to grasp the concepts. There’s a bit of an immediate steep learning curve before it clicks.
The game is very engaging! During any one player’s turn, most players are involved in calculating icons and applying Dogma effects. Turns are very quick with only two brief actions. Strategies are deep as you calculate which card to play, which icons it will add or cover or reveal and how they will affect future Dogmas. Highly recommended!