English language edition
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The Triassic age began 250 million years ago with the greatest global catastrophe ever. 95% of all species were eliminated and those remaining moved quickly to fill the voids on the habitable lands. The remaining species seek to find places for themselves on the newly-forming islands that are forming as the pre-continent Pangea slowly breaks up into the smaller continents of the future. By reproduction and migration the species attempt to establish majorities on the new continents. Each player will create the history of one specie, working to co-exist with the other species while trying to establish secure majorities on the new continents.
This has to be one of my favorite games ever. The tile drifting mechanic is one of the most unique mechanisms I've seen in a game for quite some time! It takes a play or two to grasp the game, and how exactly the tile drifting rules work, but once you have it down, the game is very simple.
The ever changing board makes for agonizing tactical decisions on every turn as you try and claim the largest islands for yourself while drowning your opponents' dinos.
This is one of the best games in my collection of over 100 games, and it will get a lot of play for a long time to come!
In this game, you control a species of dinosaur, just before they're about to be wiped out by a meteor. Of course, your dinosaurs don't know about the meteor, not that they could do anything about it anyway, so they just wander around, breeding more dinosaurs when they can.
Trias has an interesting mechanic, in that the single land mass of Pangea is breaking up into smaller islands or continents. The battle is for majority control of these broken-up islands. You try to gain majority control by breeding, migrating, and -- this is fun -- sinking parts of the islands that your opponents' dinosaurs are standing on.
This is a very fun game! It's interesting to see the continent break up and the islands wander off into the ocean. The mechanisms for breeding and migrating your dinosaurs are very clever.
I think the game plays best for three players. I'd definitely recommend it.
In concept and general execution (especially the neat wooden pieces that come with the latest edition) this is a nice, though not particularly unique light tactical abstract game with a neat theme. But rules problems will probably keep this on the shelf. For one thing, this is one of those games that has almost completely different rules for 2 players. Others may not have a problem with this, but for many, I know, this means much rules re-reading (which is more than a light game like this is worth). This wouldn't be such an issue if the rules, especially the scoring for more than 2 players, were clear. But they are not.
Overall, a decent game that (at least until the rules are cleaned up) is more work than its worth, though I expect it to get occassional 2-player play.
While perusing the new game offerings after the press conference at the Essen game exhibit, several games caught my eye. One of these was Trias, a game from new designer Ralf Lehmkuhl and his own company, Gecko Games. The game's artwork had a familiar look to it, so it came as no surprise when I learned that Ralf was demonstrating and selling the game from the same booth as Doris & Frank. Of course, Doris Matthus was the artist for Trias!
Later that afternoon, I had the opportunity to play the game, courtesy of Frank Nestel, who taught it to James Miller, Mik Svellov and myself. I enjoyed the game so much that I immediately purchased a copy and subsequently played it two more times during the course of the convention.
The game is themed after the break-up of the super-continent of Pangaea during the Triassic period (thus, the name 'Trias'). Players each have pieces (wooden cubes, of course!) representing their dinosaur herds, with the object being to survive the continent's division and become the dominant species on the newly forming continents. Of course, like Evo, the victory will by bitter-sweet as the game ends when a meteor crashes into the earth, ending all life as the dinos know it.
The board is comprised of 38 randomly distributed hexes, not unlike the hexes used in Settlers of Catan. The hexes come in four terrain types: mountains, steppes, woods and water. The tiles are laid out in a circular fashion around the center 'south pole', with the two water hexes being removed once the land is formed.
The components are completed by a deck of cards depicting the various types of terrain. Most of the deck is part of the 1st epoch, while 9 cards comprise the 2nd and final epoch. The dreaded meteor card is included somewhere in the 2nd epoch and signals the final round when drawn. Each player is dealt one card from the 1st epoch to begin the game.
A player's turn consists of 4, relatively quick phases:
Phase 1: Mandatory Drift. The player chooses to either play the card in his hand, or draw the top card from the deck and play that one. The card played dictates the type of terrain that must drift from its current location.
The rules for drifting are fairly simple. Basically, a piece must move from its present location to a new location on the same continent and must be further away from the South Pole than when it began. If when moving the piece it causes a new island to be formed, the piece may be placed either on the new island or the current continent. Further, if any herds are located on that piece, they drop into the ocean, but don't drown -- yet.
Phase 2: Optional Actions. Each player has 4 action points per turn, which can be used to:
Players should use care in reproducing, however, as it is often wiser to hold back some of your herds until later in the game.
Phase 3: Swimmers/Overpopulation. Any herds that had been dumped into the ocean and not rescued drown and are returned to the player's supply. As horrible as these deaths are, sometimes it is advantageous as it does replenish your supply of herds, which can be brought back onto the board at more beneficial locations.
A tile can be overpopulated if it has been moved to an ocean space that contains swimmers. Players must move their excess herds out of the space or they will starve. Not a pretty sight.
Phase 4: Hand Card. If the player played his hand card when performing the mandatory drift at the beginning of his turn, he draws a new card to replace it at the conclusion of his turn.
Scoring can occur during the course of the game whenever a new island is formed and the piece that was moved which caused this new island to be formed is placed onto the newly formed island. Scoring in this instance is relatively simple:
The player who possesses the most herds on the island scores 2 points, while the player with the second-most herds scores 1 points. If players tie, they all score the appropriate number of points.
As mentioned, the game enters its final round whenever the card depicting the meteor is drawn. From that point, each player gets two more action points, which is why it is wise to save a few herds for this final round. At this point, a final scoring is held and the winner determined.
During the final scoring, each land mass is analyzed. The players with the majority of herds on each land mass receives a number of points equal to the number of tiles comprising that continent. The player with the second-most herds receives 1/2 the number of points, rounded up, as the first place player received. After all land masses are scored, the player with the greatest total of victory points becomes the dominant species -- at least until the fallout from the meteor explosion takes its deadly toll!
There is no question that the game has a decidedly abstract feel -- but so does El Grande, my favorite game. This certainly doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the game. The entire game is rich in tough choices and decisions. There are so many choices to be made on a turn and rarely are these choices obvious. There always seems to be numerous options to consider and I am constantly left with nagging doubts as to whether I performed the most optimum actions or not.
Further, the game provides ample opportunity for clever moves. Numerous times during the game players have commented on how clever a move was, or how a particular set of moves was brilliant. One derives a certain sense of satisfaction after completing such a sequence of moves, especially when it improves your position to the detriment of your opponents!
Although there have been several very good games to emanate from Essen, so far, Trias has been the hit of the show for me. Yes, I do have many more games from the show to play, but Trias seems bound to be at the top of the list. It is always tense, exciting and filled with tough choices and clever moves -- all in about 45-60 minutes of play time. That's a winner in my book.