Game name: Gheos
Author/s: René Wiersma
Playing time: 40 min
Spatial skills, logic skills, math skills.
This is a strange game in that it plays quickly, is quite simple, and yet is deep and involving.
In Gheos players build up continents (or divide them up), each continent piece may have different symbols on it – representing various attributes: food supply, military might, and wealth. Players try and build up civilisations that are strong in one or more of these characteristics, but no civilisation belongs to one or other player, all players may have a ‘share’ in the civilisation.
On a players turn they place a tile (neat and well-produced triangular tiles), seeking to build up and advance civilisations in which they have a share. They may also on thier turn either begin a new civilisation (of which there are a limited amount), or take a ‘follower’ from one civilisation already on the board.
Players may also initiate ‘migrations’ (by dividing continents and forcing civilisations to move to one of the divided parts, or ‘wars’ (by connecting two or more civilisations). Either of these may be utilised to limit civilisations you have little interest in, or to benefit civilisations you have a large share in.
The ways in which players may end up in semi-alliances or ‘in each others pockets’ is a fascinating aspect of this intelligent game. Many considerations must be taken into account when planning a move and playing the game, should I build up the food tokens on 'unsettled' continents, should i build up the military might of my continent to either defend or attack (neat 'cold war' situations can eventuate here), should I add more points knowing this could attract the undesired attention of other players who don't have a share in this civilisation. One key aspect to the game - which is accentuated in the three or four player game is that all of those choices are also being made about many of the same civilisations, but by other players who have a share in them (or don't). All this means that the interplay between players is a fascinating and deep aspect of game play.
Gheos sounds like it has a lot of elements, and indeed it does – but it manages to fit these many elements into a neat package that seems simple – even when it offers depth. It really is a big game in a small package!
By: Giles Pritchard