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Store:  Family Games
Theme:  Archaeology / Paleontology
Genre:  Set Collection
Format:  Board Games


English language edition

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Product Awards:  
Games Magazine Awards
Game of the Year, 1999

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 20-40 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Klaus Palesch

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Goldsieber

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Product Description

When you see people walking about with eyes fixed downward, it usually signifies some form of collector. When a prime location becomes known, it often creates an atmosphere of gold fever, with everyone trying to search the finest ground.

Each of the 9 different Fossils which have been broken into 9 fragments lies scattered on a board of 9x9 squares. To make the pieces easier to collect, matching fragments have the same symbol. This is shown once on 6 pieces, twice on 2 pieces, and three times on the most valuable piece. Each player begins the game with 30 points on the scoreboard. Two semi-precious stones serve as playing pieces. A player may move any one of these two stones vertically or horizontally to any fragment in a corresponding line. You pay one point for every square you move, so when you have used all your points, you cannot move any more in that round.

When the last part of a Fossil is collected, it is evaluated. The player who triggered the scoring may first exchange one of his fragments with a piece of similar value (number of symbols) from any other player. Each player multiplies his fragments by their number of symbols and scores accordingly. Any collector who has failed to find any of the fragments within the round has to give the most successful collector a point. When it is no longer possible to find another fragment with any of the two semi-precious stones, the game comes to an end. After a final evaluation of the players remaining pieces, a winner is declared.

Fossil is a captivating racing and gathering game. All players have an overall view of all the possible moves and of the other players' desires, since all pieces lie openly on the board and all scoring is done on public display. You must continually make judgements whether to take a valuable piece for yourself, snatch one away from under a rival's nose, or move a stone to a square so that your neighbor cannot score. In a similar vein, a player collecting the last piece could create a problem for another player when he exchanges that player's most valuable fragment for a piece of "trash."

Fossil often takes surprising turns, even into the final scoring round. The leading player can never feel completely secure from unwanted and potentially damaging acts.

The theme is splendidly set with artwork by Franz Vohwinkel.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Game of the Year, 1999

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.2 in 9 reviews

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Better the more you play, BUT...
March 23, 2001

...once you solve it, you solve it.

This is not to say it isn't an enjoyable game, without an element of chance except for the variable layout of the board. Or even that it doesn't have a high replay value.

But once you figure out the strategies involved for a successful fossil-hunt, the game deteriorates into table-talking one's way into one's only truly sound choice in movement.

It's just that it takes a little bit of practice playing the game to learn how to predict what that only true sound choice in movement is.

Good for very casual, entry gaming. Very simple rules. Nice design.

But with a little more effort directed at the rules, a prospective player might be more satisfied with a slightly more ambitious title.

I don't regret having Fossil around for entertainment purposes, but only in the same sense that I don't regret having a wine cooler in the refrigerator for when company comes over and wants something light.

Better the more you play it, but it does plateau fairly early.

Decent game that may be played again, maybe not
January 15, 2001

This game has everything a good game should have--nice elegant rules, nice pieces, strategic choices. But when they all come together, the game falls short.

I played this with a gaming group and never once has anyone asked to play it again. That speaks fairly well about how great a game it is.

The strategies are really reduced to affecting the player who goes next, rather than being able to influence anyone on the board. This is a major problem in my book (it is almost like a joint solitaire game in that regard).

Player interaction is limited to setting up, or not setting up other players. Table talk is reduced to pointing out how moves may help other players; everyone sits around watching waiting. There is no long term strategic planning to do until it is your own turn, because everyone is playing off the same piece(s) on the board.

Ok, the game may be better than dismal, but still if you are going to invest time into playing a game it better rock the boat or else it will be thrown overboard.

Colorful, elegant... and dry
January 14, 2001

Some games elicit a certain amount of excitement when I think of them. I look forward to playing them, and there is a tiny thrill in opening the box and setting up the game in anticipation of the match. I have played Fossil a number of times now, and I just don't get that feeling. As nice a game as it is, something is missing for me.

The design is simplicity itself, and the game looks great when set up. This is one of those games that looks great on the coffee table. When I play it, though, I find myself only minorly involved. The game is in a strange middle ground between totally abstract and themed. The mechanics of the game have nothing at all to do with the purported subject matter.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I don't like Fossil, its just that I don't love it. When I play a game I want to be deeply involved in the experience, and this game just doesn't give me that feeling. While I can admire its elegance, it is admiration from a certain distance.

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