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Subject: Review: A really good game rss

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Christian Becker
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I am so impressed by this game that I have to write my first review.
But girst: This game is very different to Carcassonne and it is not Civ-lite!

So: What's going on in Gheos?
Citation from the rule book: The players are gods at the dawn of time, creating earth's landscape and inhabiting it with people. Over the course of the game, players will command the creation and destruction of continents, and the rise and fall of civilizations!

Players try to gain followers among the several civilizations and to score points by offering those followers luxuries and by building temples and pyramids on their components. The player who accumulates the most points over the course of the game is the winner!


There are 52 triangular landscape tiles, each with sea, shores (small stripes of land along the edge of a tile) and landmasses (a larger chunk of land, connecting more than one edge of the tile) on it (they look similar to the tiles from Carcassonne). In the game players combine those tiles to create continents and oceans.
Continents are (when finished) surrounded by sea and contain at least one landmass. Continents without a landmass are called islands and are not very useful in the game. In Gheos, the sea does not work as an area, here it is just a border between continents.

Components
The components are very good. The tiles are similar to the Carcassonne tiles (triangles instead of squares) with nice looking land and water parts. There are some symbols printed on the tiles, they are easy to recognice (different symbols and colors). Also included are some cardboard squares you get as victory points. There are some other cardboard parts in it, all out of the same thick cardboard as the tiles. Moreover there are thirty small wooden, colored cubes and six disks, which are nice and have nice colors. The manual is very good with a lot of pictures and examples. There are seperated manuals in english, german and french included.

Conclusion: Very, very good components.

Setup
Each player draws two tiles from the stack of shuffled tiles and hides them. Moreover, each player gets three Scoring token.
The starting tile (three shores, marked with a star) is the beginning of the world and is put on the table.

Game play

During a players turn he performs the following actions in this order:

1. Place a tile into play
or
Replace a tile that is already in place

Tiles always fit, as edges always connect land parts. What differs is how the sea splits the land on each tile. It's not really replacing, you just put the new tile on top of the old one.
By replacing an existing tile, the created landscape can be altered by just everybody! More about this later.

2. Start a new civilization on an unoccupied continent
or
Take a follower of an existing civilization.

A civilization is represented by a wooden colored disk the player places on the continent. There are six civilizations possible.
On each continent there can exist only one civilization (for more on this aspect see also Highlander: The Card Game ), but a new civilization can be started on any free continent. It does not have to be the continent the player just added a tile to.

For each civilization, five followers are represented as small wooden cubes. When you start a new civilization, that civilization does not belong to you. Just the followers you get are yours! When you start a new civilization you get some initial followers, depending on the number of wheat symbols printed on some of the land pieces belonging to the continent. Later it's only possible to gain one new follower each turn (by the or part of this rule). If all five followers of a civilization belong to some gods, it's not possible to get another follower of this civilization. All followers stay in the possession of their gods until the whole civilization is wiped out or a god decides to pay one for some special continent changing (both will be explained soon).

3. (optional) Play a scoring token.

In Carcassonne a scoring occurs when the road or a city is completed. This is not the case here. In Gheos, a scoring occurs when you play one of your three scoring tokens. Every scoring the whole world is taken into account. A continent has not to be completed and over the game the same continent might be counted twice or even thrice. The player keeps all of his followers after a scoring is triggered.

For scoring, some land parts have a cup token on them. So continents can show several cups. When scoring, for each follower (eg. cube) the player gets so many points as there are cups on the continent belonging to the civilization of the follower. Only the player playing one of his scoring tokens gets points.

4. Draw a new tile from the stack.
So in the next round there are again two tiles to play.


The real fun starts when replacing an existing tile in step 1. Thus, a continent can be divided or two (or three) continents can be merged. This can have huge consequences for the civilizations, dwelling on those continent(s).

When civilizations are affected, the player replacing the tile has to pay one of his followers (the special continent changing that has been mentioned earlier).
To decide what's happening with the civilizations (there can only be one), there are additional symbols drawn on the tiles (sword symbols and the already mentioned wheat symbols).

When dividing a continent the civilization migrates to the new continent with the majority of wheat symbols on it. In case of a tie the player decides. The other new continent stays empty.

When merging two (or three) continents the civilizations fight against each other. The civilization with the majority of sword symbols wipes out the other civilization(s) of the now unified continent. All players loose their followers of the wiped out civilizations. The civilization can come back into play again later. In case of a tie, again the player decides.

The order of players is clock wise. The game ends when all tiles are placed (that's not totally correct but for the sake of simplification let's say that's it) or all scoring tokens are played.

There are a few more details and some more scoring mechanisms, but that are the main rules.

What really is going on

Dividing and merging is the source for a lot of player interaction and fun. On the one hand, it is possible to build up a powerful civilization (that's good if you have a lot of followers of this civilization) by adding tiles with sword symbols or by joining continents. Then you can wipe out other civilizations to hurt your opponents. On the other hand, by dividing continents it is possible to ban a civilization to a part of the continent where there are just a few cups symbols so that there wouldn't be many points to get in a scoring. After that, just create a new civilization on the other (now empty but quite rich) continent to earn some money on your next scoring.
Or divide a continent to ban a mighty civilization to a part with just a few sword symbols to let the next player wipe out this now peaceful civilization.
Due to the rule that a player (eg god) owns followers and instead of whole civilizations, you are forced to work together with other players (when they have the same kind of followers). The decision when to play a scoring token is also a very tough one. Too early, and you might have spent all your tokens before this huge and rich continent with a lot of your followers on it arises out of the sea cry. Too late, and this continent has been split in two again or, even worse, some god merged "your" continent with the nearby continent, the one with the brutal tribe (a lot of swords there) on it arrrh.

To put it in a nutshell:

This game offers a lot of player interaction. There are some "take that" elements when wiping out whole civilizations another player might be very interested in, but it's not possible to eliminate a player (remember: the players are gods) and it's possible to come back into play.
Surely, it is no Caylus but although it is quite easy to comprehend, there is a reasonable amount of depth in it, i.e. when optimizing a continent towards occurrence and distribution of swords, wheat and cups or the distribution of followers, or when to play a scoring token, or....
There is some luck involved in the game when drawing tiles (and which tiles the others players are drawing). You can choose which one of your tiles you want to use, though. Symbols on the new tile are not taken into account when dividing and merging continents, so the previously existing continent really decides what is happening. Moreover, a scoring can be triggered any turn, so the player decides what to risk.

I did not try the game with two or three players yet, I will do that soon. For 4 players it works really well. 45 to 60 minutes seems accurate.

I enjoy this game very much and I am looking forward to play it again.
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Christian Becker
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silk wrote:

I did not try the game with two or three players yet, I will do that soon. For 4 players it works really well.


I now tried the game with three players. It was just one game, but after this game I think it works best with four players. Some may say that it is more chaotic with four players, but I think that way it is more important to recognize the best time to score points.



 
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leftfield
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Well done for your first review! And thanks, you're helping me decide whether to buy the game or not. I'm leaning towards buying it at the moment.

What do you think of the comparison people are making to Tigris and Euphrates? It seems the merging/splitting of continents could have a similar feel to the external/internal conflicts in T&E.

Do you have any sense of the strategic/tactical depth of the game as it relates to T&E (or Carc for that matter)?

 
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Seth Jaffee
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gtatters wrote:
What do you think of the comparison people are making to Tigris and Euphrates? It seems the merging/splitting of continents could have a similar feel to the external/internal conflicts in T&E.

Do you have any sense of the strategic/tactical depth of the game as it relates to T&E (or Carc for that matter)?

Well, I didn't write that review, but here's what I think of your question...

Merging continents ("Creating War") is very reminiscent of External conflict from T&E. Outside of that, and a little bit of similar theming, there's not much similarity to T&E. Outside of playing tiles to create the board and sometimes placing dudes on the tiles, there's no similarity to Carc at all. Something that isn't often mentioned (everyone compares to Carc and T&E) is similarities to Acquire. I suppose if you took something like 3 parts Acquire, 1 part T&E, 1 part Carc, and a healthy dose of originality then you might approximate a recipe for Gheos.

Gheos has strategic and tactical depth - mostly tactical, but you have to think about your current position relative to your future position, so it's got strategic depth too I think. I guess comparisons to T&E are appropriate mostly due to the games being on about the same level as far as depth - which is probably accurate.

- Seth
 
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Christian Becker
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leftfield,

I'm sorry, I can't answer your question. I don't know T&E..

 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Gheos is easier to explain and understand than Tigris. It's also lighter in weight. By comparison, I'd weigh Tigris as a 9 and Gheos as an 8. You may not agree with these exact numbers, but I'm just trying to show relative weights.

I really enjoyed our four player game, but wouldn't want to play it with less than four. Unlike others, we ended up with 4 tiles left and three of them were Epochs. This worked out pretty well because our pyramids didn't come out until later anway.

Jennifer
 
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leftfield
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I actually ordered the game from my FLGS shortly after first posting to this thread. It was waiting for me when I went there for Thursday night gaming last week. We had 4 gamers quickly aggregate to run through the rules and play, and we ended up playing two games back to back.

We enjoyed the game. The one complaint I heard repeatedly is that distribution of the epoch tiles can be bunched up and front-loaded in a game as it was in our first one. In our second, the final epoch tile was the next-to-last tile to be drawn.

To me, the Carcassonne comparison is tenuous. During your turn, like in Carc, you are drawing a tile and laying a tile, though not in that order, and you may put a little wooden thingie down on a tile too. That's it for the similarities to me.

In a comparison with T&E, the merging and splitting of continents creates similar behaviors that external conflicts do in T&E, though the mechanics by which you arrive at these behaviors are different and they don't quite 'match up.' in the two games. Also I think the resulting behaviors are a little more complex in T&E making it more thinky.

While, I can see the similarities, Gheos really does feel unique and distinct from T&E. I also agree with Jennifer that it feels lighter.

There are some interesting player dynamics with a 4 player game. Temporary alliances form to gang up on someone who has too much influence on a valuable continent. These dynamics would be similar with 3 players and non-existent in a 2 player game. It probably plays differently with 2, but think it could still be fun.

There is a bit of volatility in the game with 4. The landscape can change a lot on the board between any given player's turns. With fewer players, some of this volatility would go away which could be a good thing.

So, I'd still like to try it with both 2 and 3 players.

Thanks for the discussion. I'm happy with my purchase. meeple

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