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Players strategically place wooden Aboriginal ceremonial objects (tjurungas) to gain majorities in meetings. Each section of the board holds an identical stack of cards, shuffled, and 5 or 10 wooden objects. Through card play, players vie for score by gaining majorities in various types of wooden pieces. Mik says this game has "a lot of player interaction, strategy and tactical decisions with a limited amount of luck".
Average Rating: 4.4 in 5 reviews
My family buys and plays a lot of games. I give Wongar my 'Best Game of 2002' rating (I bought it in 2002). It is exactly the type of game I like. I find the graphics soothing and atmospheric. The game has multiple layers of complexity and strategy. The more often I play, the more I discover new ways to try to score or advance my position. This gives the game great replay value.
The game has a very different feel when you play with two players vs. more. There are enough pieces so that five players can play at a time.
I am a big fan of German games, which seem to have a certain style to them. This is one of those games in which you have to plan ahead and make difficult choices about what to do--only to have your best laid plans destroyed by your opponent!
The rules are complex at first, especially since the English translation supplied with the game is less than perfect. I am thinking that this is why the game hasn't received more notice. The first few times we played the game we interpreted a few rules incorrectly. We've got it straightened out now and the game keeps getting better.
If you like abstract strategy games, want something different with a new atmosphere and great replay value, you'll like Wongar.
'Wrong' is the answer. I blame Randall (next review) for that, needing a clever title and all. And I agree with him on all of his points except one: Mr. Howe did not 'seem' to get the rule wrong, he absolutely did and as a result he did not play Wongar. This game was one of the most innovative board games to come out of Germany in the year 2000. It is a superbly designed game combining strategic dynamics with a high level of interaction.
Yes, forget the aboriginal theme that Mr. Howe so readily dismisses, but not the game. This is combat: mean, tense and nasty. At all times you must try to maintain a balance between your presence on the board and the power of cards in your hand. At the same time you must be aware of the position and potential power of your opponents. Temporary alliances must be struck to keep parity on the board, while at the same time seeking to create positions of advantage for yourself.
Bargaining and bluffing are an integral part of the game. This aspect has much of the flavor of the classic Sid Sackson game, Kohle, Kies & Knete. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to win this game on your own. You need to be able to create partners or allies. If you push out ahead on your own too strongly too soon, you force your opponents into alliances against you.
It is regretable that Wongar did not get the Samurai theme envisioned by Mr. Moon. It might have more readily drawn players into this game. But do not let this game slip by because the German market requires non-military themes. Let the Ancient be the Samurai and the Elder be the General. The discs, cubes and cylinders are spearman, archers and swordsman. The area cards are strategic opportunities on the battle field, the rituals are combat and the ritual cards are tactical choices.
Are you tired yet of gaming in Venice? Does archeology make your temple throb? Has city building put you in the dumps? Do you want a true test of 5 spielers' grit and gall? Seriously, this game has been grossly under-rated. If you have been living on Wolfgang Kramer (Kramer/Ulrich, Kramer/Kiesling, etc.,) games--and I love these games too--you want this game. It's on par with El Grande, more intense than Tikal, more interactive than The Princes of Florence (I know, so is solitaire on your computer), and Java... I need to play that one a few more times. This game fits in there yet is different, that strong KK flavor. Wongar belongs in your collection.
Okay, this game does take some getting used to. It's really a bit like El Grande, but with more conflicts. It looks great, nice colours and graphics. This is a game you can play again and again. Just try it!
And one thing about the review below... if you turn a scorpion card, you move the scorpion forward and draw a new card... forget about the losing points stuff.
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A board and cards featuring Australian aboriginal art, not to mention the piles of "tjurungas" (tokens of three different shapes in players' colors), should clue you in to this detailed game's off-the-wall theme. Each area of the board is randomly assigned a fraction of each player's tjurungas, and 12 cards, with one turned faceup each round. Players in turn select a card and follow its instructions--for example, adding the tokens it depicts to the board or initiating a ceremonial contest in which points are awarded to players with a majority of each type of token. Players keep the cards they select throughout the game. Scorpion cards hasten the game's end and cause all but the player in last place to lose points. At the end, after bonuses are calculated for collecting certain sets of cards, the player with highest score wins. Plan to play Wongar a few times to get the hang of this picturesque strategy game; we especially like it because it allows players who fall behind early to jump back like kangaroos.
This is from the duo of Alan Moon and Richard Borg, a double-teaming of SdJ winners. The game is essentially an abstract one with an aboriginal setting. While the theme might be set this way, I defy any player to live with all of the themed words--Elder, Boomerang, Scorpion, Tjurungas, so I will describe the game without these terms. The game is decided by scoring points, which are recorded on a track on the outermost portion of the board. Points are earned by having tokens in one of the ten areas of the board where the action is taking place that turn. The points increase in value later in the game as players move from phase one to phase two to phase three.
To begin the game each player receives a set of tokens, which includes discs, cubes and cylinders in their colour. These are set out in the different areas to obtain a starting position. On your turn, you have the chance to earn points in an area by having the majority of a type--discs, cubes or cylinders. Which type of token will decide the outcome is decided by cards played from your hand, cards which you then replenish by drawing from one of several piles. Playing a card can also increase the number of tokens in an area.
The best aspect of the game is the ceremony, which takes place when one of the main game pieces is moved into an area. Players then play Rite cards which allow you to move in more pieces of your own colour or to remove (from the game board) pieces belonging to other players. Removed pieces go back to their owner's stock. When players have finished playing these cards, the majority token holder receives points from a table on the board. The value of these awards increases as the game proceeds.
A timing device, in the form of scorpion cards, is incorporated into the drawing of cards and this allows the scoring marker to move up a chart. These cards also have a negative effect, with the player losing as many points as there are players behind him. So the player who is last suffers no negative effect but the leader gets hit significantly. Unfortunately, the cards can't always be avoided as the piles that contain them can quickly reach the point where only scorpions are revealed, at which point someone has to take one.
By taking a scorpion, a player does not get one of the more helpful other cards, so in the games I have played so far, no-one takes scorpion cards unless they have to. I'm not sure this is what was intended in the design, but the effect is to stifle options and slow the game down. The game ends when the last part of the scoring track is reached or when the last card is drawn from an area.
I'm not a fan of abstract games, and when you have a theme as far removed from one's experience as you have here, an abstract game is effectively what you have. The production values are good--nearly 200 cards, over 200 tokens and a solid board--but I do not like the colour scheme. They are colours that are appropriate to the theme--the sort that you associate with drawings on caves from man's distant past--but to my eyes they are dull and that detracts even more from the game. Of course, others may like them and find the colour scheme adds greatly to their enjoyment.
Overall, the game works, but it is not very exciting and will suit only the abstract fans amongst you. And preferably those with a taste for primitive art.