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Subject: “ Behold my creation of a world made of ….tiles!?” A Gaïa Review rss

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Stephan Cloutier
Canada
saint-georges
Quebec
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“ Behold my creation of a world made of ….tiles!?” A Gaïa Review

Gaïa is a 30 minutes 2 to 5 players abstract game that uses the mechanics of card drafting, set collection and tile placement. A first game for the designer Olivier Rolko and the publisher TiKi Editions.

Theme

In Gaïa you sort of play God by creating and molding pieces of a world in order to build cities and populate them with your meeples thus wining the game by putting your last meeple in play. Let me remind you that in most abstract games theme doesn’t matter much and this game makes no exception. I did not at any time felt like I was playing cards and placing tiles with a goal other then making terrain combinations to get rid of my meeples….very abstract.

Art/components


The box artwork is what attracted me in first place. It’s so colorful and pretty. The box size (think of Race for the Galaxy) is very appropriate for it’s content. The in game components are also good looking. The terrain tiles are from nice thick cardboard, the wooden meeples come in 5 different colors and cards have the same nice artwork on them than the box. I must say they are a little small for handling but my 6 years old daughter seems to like them considering she can hold them all in her hand.

Rules/Rule book

Very easy to understand and to teach. I taught the game in about 10 minutes to non familiar gamers and a 6 years old. The book is just a couple pages long and very straight forward. There are 2 sets of rules. I play the normal rules with my daughter and the advanced rules with my gaming partners. The main differences lays in the addition of the special power cards and rules slightly modified to mess with your opponent’s meeples and tile placements. But there’s a rule in that book that I really don’t get. When tied for the win, the player declared winner is the one closest to the player who just ended the game. What? That’s just lame!

Game play

In turn order, each player will have to carry out 2 actions whether to draft a card from one of the face-up “natural” or “life” cards in the pool or play a card from their hand to place a terrain tile in play; to put animals on a already existing terrain; to build a city on a tile if requirements are met or to create a natural disaster that will most likely change the tiles setting to some player’s advantage and others suffering. Players can choose to do the same action twice if wanted. If the cards face-up aren’t what the player needs, he can push is luck and draw from the face down decks. The goal of the game is like I said earlier, to put in play your last meeple using the tiles in play. The world of Gaïa been constructed tile by tile on the table is used by every players. So, you put your meeple in play by drafting and playing “nature” cards that will let you place different terrain tiles on the table. Those terrain tiles will make it possible eventually to fulfill the requirements needed on a “life” city card to play and populate it by placing one of your meeple on it. If all 4 requirements are met when placing the city card or right after a player puts a terrain tile beside an already played city card that requires that specific terrain, then the player responsible for it’s fulfillment gets to put 2 meeples on the city instead of 1 and remove the opponents meeple if there was one, returning it to his owner. The spacial disaster cards can be very powerful to change the face of Gaïa making players looses their city requirements thus having most likely to take back their meeple or meeples.

Beside assigning meeples to cities, a player can also place them on one of the objective cards randomly drawed at the beginning of the game. Those objectives can be achieved from cards played in front of the player. If a player for example, has 2 forest cards and 2 mountain cards in front of him (cards played in earlier turns to put tiles in play) he can put a meeple on the corresponding objective, if available this game, making it unusable for his opponents.

So this is basically it. The game stop abruptly when a player puts is last meeple in play making him the winner.

My final thoughts

Gaïa is kind of a filler that mixes strategy and luck and can drag if played with the max player count. I like it best at 3 players. Forget the theme, it is basically an abstract game of linking tiles together the way your cards tell you to do so. What i like is the “take that” interaction possible between players especially with the special power cards. Turns are not long and players are not prone to AP. I think it’s great that there’s basic and advanced rules making it easier for kids or non gamers to play and enjoy it. Having choice, I wouldn’t never play the basic rules. Without the advanced rules the game is really not interesting. With them the game reaches the status of a good abstract tile placement game, nothing more. Being is first published design, Olivier Rolko has made a good first step in the industry but also an almost unnoticed one. I fell it didn’t get a big buzz when released in 2014 and it’s suffering from it. I’m wishing him better luck and cover next game.

Rating : 7.5 (I feel generous)

Ticlou
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Olivier Rolko
Canada
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Thanks for the review and your kind words!
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Gab Pal
Australia
Brisbane
QLD
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The best games ingeniously blend Euro and Ameritrash styles
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THE CAKE IS A LIE !!!
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Could get more recognition with a Kickstarter campaign.

Too late for first release but maybe Kickstart an updated rules or more components edition with some expansions included.
 
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Rich S.
United States
Seymour
Connecticut
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I'm considering this game. It might be a good lighter offering for my game group, in between heavy euros and long ameritrash games.
 
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