I picked this one up because it looked a little like an abstract puzzle game mixed with elements of Carcassonne. The pieces were quite fun, being geomorphic triangular tiles that depicted either shorelines or land masses. Putting a bunch of them together randomly would give you a very nice looking, if convoluted, organic tapestry of islands and continents.
The game reminded us of Carcassone in a way, except the tiles were truly geomorphic and there was no question about ‘matching’ them (they always fit in anyway you put them). As with Carcassone, after placing a new tile you could also place a civilization on one of the existent, unoccupied continents (you couldn’t deliberately a civilization on a continent already containing one), the key difference being that in Gheos you could place on any continent, not just on your newly placed tile. This is pretty much where any semblence of similarity came to a screeching halt.
In Gheos, the players are Gods and, if you remember the old computer game Populous, have the ability not only create new lands (placing tiles) but to raise and lower mountains, basically by replacing a tile already in play with one in their hand. This can have the effect of shearing continents in half or joining two of more suddenly together.
Players don’t have set a color; there are 6 civilizations with 5 followers each. Any player can place any civilization into play and take followers from existing civilization. The trick here is in the scoring. Every land piece can have a number of symbols on it representing wheat, weapons, cups, temples and/or pyramids. Let’s use cups as an example. When cups are scored every follower of a civilization that is on a continent containing cup symbols gets victory points; one point per cup per follower. So for instance, if the red civilization is on a continent with 2 cups when cups are scored, every player that has a red follower gets 2 victory points per follower (likewise for other symbols when scored).
War and Migration. These are the fun after-effects of ripping continents apart and joining them together. If you divide a civilization’s continent you force that civilization to migrate to one of the new areas, usually the one with the more wheat symbols. This can be a good way to minimize another player possible scoring a lot of points when they have a lot of followers from a civilization on a big continent with, say, lots of cup symbols. War happens when two continents with civilizations are thrown together, the winner being the civilization that originally had the most sword symbols. The loser is forced to remove his defeated followers from the map.
Overall, the wife and I both really liked this game. Because you can not only add land but alter the existing land, play was very fluid and it would take several tries to get a better idea of all the various tactics for building up you scoring possibilities while protecting yourself from other players. Scoring itself is a little odd and will take a bit to get used to as well, but overall fairly straightforward.