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After the Flood
limited, numbered edition of 1500
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After the Flood is set in Sumer, with players using resources native to the area -- wool and grain -- to trade for goods created or found outside the region while also building short-lived empires for long-lasting victory points.
This game is the first in a series of three-player-only games from Treefrog, and while After the Flood could possibly be played with two, designer Martin Wallace says that he hasn't tested it with that number. "Certain mechanisms were created with three players in mind," says Wallace. "You score an empire, then remove it, so you can try to maximize points on your turn without leaving yourself in a position to get hit on following turns." This design sidesteps the problem of a third player winning a game due to fights to the death by players 1 and 2, but that bug becomes a feature in another part of the game. Competition among the players for goods and army strength is relative rather than linear: first, second and third place receive 6, 4 and 3 goods, for example. Since having twice as many dudes collecting resources won't net you twice the number of goods, getting into an arms race with one opponent might hurt the two of you together and advantage the third player who can spend resources on better things.
After the Flood is played over five turns, and in the manner of previous Wallace games, the turns consist of a few front- and back-end activities sandwiching a thick core of player actions. Sumer had no abstracted monatery system during this time period, so players "pay" for their actions with workers and resources, sometimes earning items that can fuel additional actions in the same turn. The actions let you build cities, place workers on resource or special action areas, trade in regions where you have workers for items available from those regions, start an empire, or expand an empire. Controlling a city gives you a bonus, with the details of it based on the history of the city itself: Sippar lets you trade more, Babylon counts for additional armies, and so forth.
Only three empires are available each turn, one per player, and their size and starting locations are fixed. Their strength, on the other hand, is determined by the resources that the players expend to equip their forces; these expenditures determine how three armies are ranked, and outranking another player's army gives you an edge in combat, which is dice-based. Once an empire is established, you can expand it by invading another area, reinforcing an existing location, or destroying another player's city. By spending an army troop, you can take an additional empire expanding action, a valuable option since the cost of every action rises once one player passes for the round.
Special decline phases in rounds two and four represent the changing paths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and workers are removed from the board in multiple regions, putting players on a more even footing. In addition to points for empires you create, additional points are available in certain areas for workers on the board at the end of the game.
Description written by W. Eric Martin and used with permission of BoardgameNews.com