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 19 October 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Nomads

Game: Nomads

Publisher: Ludonaute

Designer: Gary Kim

Year: 2017

Nomads is the second game in the Legends of Luma universe from Ludonaute. Their first game, Oh Captain, is highly regarded by our gaming group who have said that it replaces Sheriff of Nottingham, but I have not actually played it. The next game in the line is Nomads - a reworking of a Korean title - Jeju Island. The characters have been changed and the game has been tweaked so that it is apprently more tactical and less random. Overall it's an impressive presentation, so how does it play?

In Nomads, each player takes two circular tokens in their player colour. Each player also gets a special ability and for the green character, this means they have three circular tokens. The board has a circular track with 8 spots which are initially filled with blank nomad tokens, then the coloured tokens that are non-player tokens (in a game with fewer than five players) are placed. Finally each player can place their two tokens onto the stacks in one or two of the eight stacks. During the game you have to move a full stack, dropping off one token into each spot, in a mancala style mechanism. Then every coloured player token that is on top of a stack is able to take a cardboard quare token from the corresponding stack.

The game then becomes about set collection, trying to collect the carboard tokens with the right symbols to buy the story cards and then start to upgrade them as you collect more symbols. The art is in manipulating the situation of your coloured tokens, as well as your opponents so that you get the right symbols and they don't. It can often be a race to but the first card in a story and then a question of timing about when you upgrade, because you'll be giving back the opportunity to buy the lower numbered cards.
There's no doubt that the game is beautiful, with  lovely board, a 3-dimensional campfire and whimsical artwork on the story cards.
We've now played the game with all of the different player powers, and it's not until I had played a few that I stopped complaining that some felt overpowered. Each has a great way to manipulate the game and at times you need to be aware of both your power and the power of players around you. For me, these powers really elevate the game and give it a little more replayability and make it more challenging for experienced players.

The box stores the components really neatly, but the vertical sleeve design means that the components can easily fall out of the box when you open it.
Our first game of Nomads was a two-player game which worked out really well. There were some really tactical decisions to make and it felt like there was a lot of control, being able to affect the other player by locking them as well as trying to ensure your own safety. However, we played a four player game and I found that there was a lot less control. Some of the player powers lend themselves more to attacking other players, especially the red player, and in a four player game it's a long time to wait until your next turn when you've been attacked. Having returned to the game as a two-player game, I'm much happier at this player count, but it has slightly lost the shine of the first play.

Nomads is beautiful looking game, but it is quite themeless, really playing like an abstract game. It continues the story from Oh Captain, but this story is included in a completely separate story book, not even interweaved into the manual, so I admit that I didn't even read it, because story in games just isn't my bag. If you like abstract games or perhaps if you've tried Five Tribes or Yamatai and found them too complex for certain groups of players, then Nomads is definitely worth a look. As a two-player game, the Yellow Meeple rate Nomads a 7/10, but this wouldn't be true at higher player counts.

Nomads was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It will be available for an RRP of £21.99 at your friendly local game store or to be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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