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There are 6 people in your group stranded in the hot desert without supplies. Forage for the little food you can find, fight others to get their food, or -- in the worst case -- kill and eat them to survive. Keep your most valuable group members alive to win the game. Always keep this slogan in mind: Eat or die!
Another Essen, another 2F game surrounded by F's. This time the game theme involves cannibalism. Not a subject that has much immediate game appeal or I trust an area where the inventor can call upon experience, but it is at least different. (The inventor claims that ``the English seem to like my sense of humour'' -- implying perhaps that the Germans either don't or are more cautious?).
The game is played on a board that varies in size with the number of players and features an irregular grid of areas. Each player has a set of pieces (people) and there are also markers representing food, treasure and roads. The number of markers in use is again linked to the number of players.
The game is played in 4 rounds, each of which has three phases -- placement of pieces and markers, eating food or other players' people, then scoring. Each person starts with 6 people and a dummy marker in the form of a monkey (presumably monkey meat has less taste to it). Two of the people are small (1 food value, require one food counter to live, and strength one in fights), two are medium, (twice as big as the small people) and two are large (three times as large as the small people). During the placement phase players put their people face down on the board and then each empty space is filled with markers. These could be either food counters (valued 1 to 4), treasure counters (which only serve to block an area) or roads.
The players then use their people markers to swap places with a marker or another face down person. Doing this results in the markers being turned face up. If the marker is a food, then the player will have an opportunity to eat this food in a later phase; if it is a treasure, then this is no value to the player as you are only after food. The road markers permit another go and the people marker is not revealed. The roads also allow swapping to take place through the areas connected to the roads. Eventually, all people markers are revealed and the game goes into the final phase.
Each player receives 2 food markers if there is a person adjacent to an oasis. After that the players need to find enough food for each person. The start player probably takes the most valuable food marker, which goes out of the game. This process continues until a player has either satisfied the food demand for their people or finds that their people are still in need of food and there is no food adjacent to the people on the board. If this is the case, then they must start a fight with another adjacent person from another faction.
Fights consist of comparing the strengths of the two people involved to which each player secretly adds a number of fight tokens in the fist, with the attacker winning ties. The losing person is eliminated (eaten) by the victor who receives the food value of the loser. This may satisfy the food requirements of that faction. If not, further fighting will be required. Both players lose the fight tokens, but the loser takes two tokens from the pool.
In the scoring round, each live person scores a point in the first three rounds and a much higher value in the final round. The smallest players score the highest points and so need to be protected by being kept away from larger, predator people.
In subsequent turns roads and treasures become more predominant as the food is not replenished. Inevitably, this causes the players to fight one another more often and increases the losses, but it probably also increases the scope for good play. I say `probably' because the game is not going to be given much time with game groups I play with, which is a pity as the game systems, like most from the 2F range, do work. The components are good and colourful (though not to all tastes) and the game does produce what was clearly intended by the designer. Perhaps it is the subject matter, or the lack of link to everyday life, but we didn't find the game exciting and it felt more processional than fun. Buy the game to admire the systems, but perhaps not the game. If I were to offer Herr Friese any advice, it would be to change his name and move onto another letter.