Welcome to The Game Shelf!

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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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Nine Worlds

GameNine Worlds

Publisher: Medusa Games

DesignerRichard Denning

Richard Denning is the man behind the UK Games Expo, Britain's largest tabletop gaming convention. He has also turned his hand to designing, under the company name Medusa Games and Nine Worlds is a big box release that, naturally, had been exhibited at the UK Games Expo for the last couple of years. We've never managed to demo this at the expo, but with a new expansion likely to be released at Essen 2017, we're taking a look at this area control game based on the nine worlds of Norse and Anglo-Germanic mythology.

At its heart, Nine Worlds is an area control game, but it also relies heavily on action point allocation mechanisms. Your glass beads represent armies and each turn you'll use your action points to recruit them, deploy them or move them around the 9 interconnected circular worlds on the board. Different actions costs different points, most are just 1 point per action but others, such as deploying troops far away from your leader, take more action points.

There are 9 rounds in a game. At the end of every round you assess who has control over regions with 5 or more armies in them. There will be a battle if there are more than 5 armies in the region, no matter whether they're on conflicting sides or not. The player with control gets to take that region's special ability. Every third round is a scoring round where there are points available for the number of tokens you have on the board, how many regions they're in and how many regions you control.

The game in play with two players each playing two factions
In writing the above description, I've tried hard to use the thematic terms like armies, but really this is a very pure, abstract area control game of moving tokens around the different zones of the board. I'm sure that playing Nine Worlds can be a very intense thinking experience with a lot of tactical play, but without any theme I just find this to be a boring experience of pushing glass beads around a board and then going through the process of counting action points, counting tokens and moving them to different areas of the board as a result.
Four different factions, with the option to play with or without a special power.
To be clear, area control is not a mechanism I typically enjoy and playing very tactical abstract games with Amy is not an experience I enjoy either because she is just able to visualise moves much better in that kind of game. The colour scheme, art and pasted on theme in the game do nothing to make it more enticing - the board is very brown and the glass beads, although really nicely multicoloured, are often in very similar colours to each other so cannot be distinguished, as well as being camouflaged when placed on the board.

All of my plays of Nine Worlds have been with two players, which is not ever going to be how this game shines, but if it doesn't work then it shouldn't be written on the box! When playing one faction each we had very little interaction until the last 3 rounds and when playing with the suggested two armies each, there didn't seem to be much thought given to how you would cooperate with yourself to make a large combined score at the end of the game. I can imagine that maximum player count is also not where the game shines - the pace seems very slow already and I'm not sure I'd want to wait round for many other players to take their turns.

Nine Worlds will not be remaining in our collection. It does not work with two players and it does not suit our playing styles as a couple. Unfortunately it is a game that I find boring to play and after playing I needed a sure fire palette cleanser t restore my faith in board gaming. This mixture of theme and mechanics was never going to a hit with me, but Nine Worlds only gets a 3/10 from the Yellow Meeple.

Nine Worlds was a review copy provided by Richard Denning at Medusa Games. It is available for an RRP of £39.99.

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