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After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Valhalla or Helheim:- Nine Worlds

GameNine Worlds


Publisher: Medusa Games

DesignerRichard Denning
 
Year20
16


Nine Worlds is a 2-6 player area control game in which you control the armies of one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology and attempt to conquer all of creation. You do this by rallying your forces around your leader, moving troops around the worlds and performing rituals to cast each world’s unique magic. Nine Worlds is a completely luck-free game, with even the most complicated battles being predictable if you know the forces involved.

The game takes place on a large board with the nine worlds represented by circles joined by routes. You start with a small army on your home world and each turn you’ll be given an amount of action points to manipulate the game board. The action points can be spent on a wealth of different options, from moving and reinforcing troops, to sending your enemies troops directly to Helheim! The more powerful of these abilities tend to have a variable cost; cheaper if your leader is present, but more expensive should your opponent’s be there. Once all players have finished actions then there are battles in any world with more than 5 armies. Death of troops follows the player order, so there is a penalty for being first (in addition to your actions be entirely countered by the players going after you), but since player order is dictated by how many troops you have alive the player order is very fluid.

After battles any world which has enough armies (a full 5) can cast a ritual, these vary in power, which may seem like a useful thing, making some worlds more important to hold than others. But as there is a strong incentive to keep your homeworld, you do feel a bit short changed when your home power is simply weaker than others. For example one power is to move 2 stones, this is great in theory, but as its cast early (worlds cast spells in a fixed order) it’s very easy for other spells to undo it. To add extra salt a later spell gives 2 action points, which could be used for 2 movement, or for any other of a number of options. The majority of scoring only occurs on rounds 3, 6,  and 9. Which gives you a chance get your forces sorted for the first scoring, and then have some proper fights for control for the next two.

A two-player game part way through, points are scored based on worlds you control, share control over or just have an army in.

Nine Worlds does have it’s flaws, firstly it has no place calling itself a two player game. Area control is a tricky beast to do two player and Nine Worlds didn’t really try. Playing with one army each results in a near empty board for a good chunk of the game, there’s simply not enough going on. The other suggestion is to take two armies each. Let’s be frank, if your two player game mode is “each player acts as two players” then you don’t have a two player game, you have a four player game!

Another major concern is the presentation, to take the epic worlds of Norse mythos and create a game that is so devoid of theme is thoroughly disappointing! The theme only exists on the board, armies are represented by glass beads and leaders by a generic wooden totem. At the very least I would have liked meeples that are actually the shape of the diverse cast of characters. Give me a raging ice giant meeple standing tall next to a stoic dwarf meeple! To add insult to injury the glass beads aren’t only themeless, but due to the limited selection of coloured glass (and the need to get 9 colours into the game) some of the armies look incredibly similar. Do not play with red and pink or orange and yellow at the same time if you want to know what is going on!

Nine worlds comes with the most comprehensive player aid you could ever need.

I feel for a good area control game you need some way to make a sweeping advance and abuse a weakened flank. Nine Worlds comes across as too slow paced for that, any sweeping advance is limited by your low action count and spells being able to counter any minor victories you may have had. There is merit in the slow pace creating a “thinking man’s game”, especially when you can calculate the results of every battle ahead of time, but Nine Worlds is, unfortunately, an average game at best. If you want to create a game that is pure strategy then you need to have some asymmetry in forces, for me Nine Worlds feels like playing chess with nothing but pawns.

5/10

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