English language edition
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Players try to build their cities so they can control the most islands in the archipelago. Taller cities must be build to the north and the shorter cities to the south. There are different maps for three and four players and lots of choices for the strategist.
This is a game that requires both resource management and strategic placement. Some interesting constraints (pieces are placed along vertical lines, but scored horizontally) and twists (your pieces can be displaced by opponents) make it for a very interesting game, that will challenge you to find better and better strategies since these are not obvious. I only played it as a 2 people game, and it worked beautifully.
An underrated game, this one! Its a bit dry and compares to both Torres (3D-towers) and Kardinal & Knig (the cards and placement)but it is fresh and well-balanced. It has agonizing choices, lots of clever interaction, its quick (20 minutes!) with easily explained rules and everybody in my group wants to play it again direcly after a session - which usally means its a good game!
It beats both Torres and Kardinal & Knig in my book! 5 stars!
Sir Elton John's song fits perfectly into the theme of Meridian. Queen Wu Wei has decided to open up her islands to European trading companies. They must jockey for control of these islands along the North/South Meridian lines vying for a simple majority of control per each island.
Players represent the European trading companies, each with an identical set of thirteen cards and twenty stackable towers. The decks are shuffled, and each player takes two cards. A player's turn simply consists of playing a card and building a tower somewhere in the corresponding meridian with a few restrictions, 1: if you're the first to build in a meridian, it must be two towers or higher, 2: you may only have one tower (any size) of your color in a meridian, 3: No two towers in a meridian may be the same size, 4: Taller towers to the North, shorter to the South. It sounds so simple...but.
Like Cartegena and Carolus Magnus, the theme is admittedly weak, but the play is excellent. After finishing our first game, one of the players in our group commented.' one mistake, you're finished!' A slight exaggeration, but close to the truth. What really challenges the player is having to build vertically along the meridians, while the islands run horizontally across the board. The ability to 'displace' an opponent up or down the meridians proves to be tantamount throughout the game as you struggle to maintain control of any island you can. One house rule I used is hidden cards. Leo Colovini has the players cards exposed ( a rule I hate in ANY game, as it turns it into a mathematical equation of deduction), whereas the pace and play becomes much better with your cards kept secret. Decide for yourself.
Easy to play, but with layers of complexity, I highly recommend Meridian. Nice cards, gameboard and towers, Meridian is another Colovini classic.
I played this at GenCon. The first time I was kind of learning the mechanics and strategy, so the second time was the 'real game'. The board and pieces were very simple, yet not boring. The game has several players fighting for domination of islands, each one being worth varying points. The trick is the placement of your 'castles'. Based on their height, they can only be placed on certain spaces, and you can bump other players' castles if you have the right castle. This leads to some agonizing strategy decisions. The castles were plastic, but wood really wouldn't have worked as well for this game. Definitely fun, and more challenging once you get the hang of it. One of my favorites from GenCon.
I've only played Meridian with a full compliment of four players, so I don't know how it fares with less. As with most games, I suspect fewer players will reduce the chaos factor and increase the strategic component.
Basically, players are battling for control over a group of islands by placing garrisons on the islands. The board is divided into vertical strips, or meridians, which cut across the islands, and at the end of the game, control of each island is awarded to the player with the most garrisons on that island.
Each player has a limited supply of garrison pieces, which can be stacked to create taller garrisons at the expense of using up your resources more quickly. The placement of garrisons is goverened by four simple rules, the most significant of which is that within a single meridian, taller garrisons must be placed to the north of shorter garrisons, and vice-versa.
Each player has their own deck of cards, which correspond to the meridian strips on the board - most cards refer to one meridian, but some indicate multiple meridians. You always have two cards face up in front of you. On your turn, you may place a garrison in a single meridian that corresponds to one of the two cards. The target card is then discarded. The game ends when all players have exhausted their decks.
At first, it seems like there are so many options and possibilities that it can be quite overwhelming trying to decide on the best move. Not only must you choose where to place a garrison, but you also must decide how tall it will be. This determines where in the meridian it can be placed, and what placement options remain for your opponents.
You must also be aware of which cards are used up, and which are still available, not only for yourself, but also your opponents. The same is true for the garrison resource pieces.
Finally, the positions of garrisons are not always stable. Certain moves can cause all the garrisons in a meridian to shift up or down one position to different islands, completely changing the complexion of a region.
There is indeed a lot of information to juggle and consider every turn, and there are often sneaky little moves which aren't immediately obvious that can have a significant effect on the game. With four players you definitely don't feel like you are in complete control of your destiny. Good initial placement of garrisons can easily be undermined by subsequent opponent moves.
The game actually becomes much more interesting towards the end, when its pretty much known which cards are left in each player's deck and the board positions are more stable. At this point, even with four players, every move tends to have more significant strategic value.
There is definitely a healthy dose of 'analysis paralysis' as each player tries to sift through all the many variables to determine the best move. You can always invoke a timer to address this. Players in my group dealt with it by jumping in and analyzing the game situation out loud when someone took too long. This often resulted in some hilarious efforts to lobby the target player into making a move that would 'inadvertently' benefit one of the lobbyers.
Meridian is a good game with some unique and interesting mechanics. There's nothing particularly outstanding about it, and at the same time, there's nothing terrible either. If you like thought-provoking abstract strategy games, Meridian will provide a very enjoyable experience.
Ten North-South strips numbered 1 to 10 divide the archipelago. Islands, with cities awaiting towers, cross several strips. Drawing from a personal deck of 13 numbered cards determines the strip on which you build a tower. Each strip's towers must differ in height and align from smallest to largest. Within these constraints, displacing a tower upward or downward by occupying its city is permissible--and enjoyable. You're allowed only one tower per strip. Dismantle a strip's tower for later use if you draw its number again. When all the cards are used, whoever has the most towers on an island gains its points, and the highest point total wins. Meridian starts at Greenwich Mean Time, but you'll have a fine time with this lovely game.
The latest game from the mind of Leo Colovini is another abstract design, again featuring the control of islands. The board shows a map of 5 islands in the middle of the board and 3 land masses at the top and bottom. Both the islands and land masses go left to right across the board. Each of the land areas has 3 cities, while the islands have 3 cities and a Capital.
Running vertically down the board are the meridian lines that evenly divide the board into 10 sections. The map is created in such a way that each of the vertical strips contains 4 cities or capitals.
The object of the game is to score points by controlling the islands and land masses by placing more garrisons than your opponents. Each player receives the same number of garrison pieces, which look like small garden pots, and are placed with the open side face down, so that they can be stacked. Garrisons in cities are worth 1 point; those in capitals are worth 2.
Each player receives a set of cards numbered 1 to 10 and three further cards 1-2-3, 4-5-6-7 and 8-9-10 as well as 20 garrison pieces.
Players play a card, which shows the number of the strip (meridian) where you play your garrisons. There are only four rules that relate to garrison placement. 1. Garrison towers are played on the city points of height 1 or more, but the first placement on a meridian must be of 2 height or more. 2. All towers on a meridian must be of a different height. 3. Towers must be placed in such a way that they run lowest to highest, the lowest being at the bottom of the board and the highest at the top of the board. 4. A player can only have one tower on each meridian.
If you have 13 cards and only 10 areas to play, what do you do with the other cards? The answer is you can remove a tower and save the recovered tiers for a future move or place a new tower of a different height and/or in a different location.
In addition, you can displace towers by placing a higher tower at the top of the board or a lower tower at the bottom of the board. This moves towers if there are sufficient spaces to move the displaced towers.
The game ends when all the cards are played and each land area is then assessed. Each island is separately considered and an island is taken over by the player who established the most garrisons (regardless of height) with cities counting 2 points. The winner of this scores 1 point for each city with a garrison on it. The player with the most points wins.
The brown colouration of the board and pieces may make the mapboard look like an ancient map, but I found it more dull than inspiring. The gameplay is chess-like, but with fewer options of course. The planning only becomes apparent after several turns, by which time you may not have the right cards to play. This naturally makes the multi-option cards more valuable.
I liked the previous games by Leo Colovini better. This one is probably only for people who either like abstract games or have miniature gardens where they can use the garrison markers for their plants.