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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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Dial N for:- Noria

Game: Noria

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Sophia Wagner

Year: 2017

Noria is a 2-4 player economic game in which you take control of a faction seeking to become wealthy and politically powerful in the floating city in the sky. To do this you will collect resources, construct factories and influence politicians to weasel your way to the top of the food chain. All of these actions are controlled by a player wheel that each player can personalize and upgrade to ensure their victory.

Noria has 7 action tiles which you may buy during the game to add to your player wheel. The wheel has 3 levels, with 2/4/6 spaces respectively, each turn these wheels will each rotate 1 space. On your turn you can activate action tiles that you have inserted into your wheel, but only from the spaces that are on the half of your wheel facing you. These tiles are activated like a decision tree, so picking some options may limit your ability to choose others. Good management of your wheel is important to success in the game, in addition to being able to buy new tiles, you can spend knowledge tokens to rotate your wheel additional times or swap the places of tiles to help your turns be effective.

A players action wheel at the start of the game, featuring the 3 basic resource tiles, along with a city action, an exploration action and production action.

The 3 simplest actions are resource actions, these let you generate 1 resource per ship you have gathering that resource. Ships are gained by using the exploration action to discover new floating islands, when you do you may claim 1 new resource ship, or build a factory. Factories are used with the production action to turn resources into advanced goods, alternatively you can use a production action to upgrade an action tile to activate twice when used (though you are limited to 4 actions a turn). On a similar note the bonus action tile allows you to activate one of your other tiles an additional time, potentially allowing 1 action tile to be activated 3 times. Finally the city tile allows you to purchase new action tiles for your wheel (the advanced ones cost resources to buy) or to spend resources to move yourself up one of the 4 resource tracks.

After choosing your actions you may spend knowledge to bribe politicians,  this is a critical part of the game as the points for each resource track is not set in stone. Every time you bribe one resource track gets a cube moved down, increasing the score multiplier for that resource, at the same time another track will lose a (unbribed) cube, permanently reducing it's potential. At the end of the game your score points equal to the level of each resource track, multiplied by it's final multiplier. In addition there are 2 bonus tracks, one for your highest position, and a second for the lowest, both of these can be bribed in the same way. 

Exploring new islands allows you to increase your resource generation and set up factories to gain further knowledge and produce advanced goods
Noria is a game with a fixed turn limit, as turns pass by the amount of knowledge required to bribe politicians increases, which contrasts nicely with your newly increased resource gains. Committing to tracks to bribe early can result in huge gains, though your opponents may see this as a chance to change strategy and jump on your bandwagon. Trying to bribe multiply times in one turn will cost an exponential amount of knowledge, but can be well worth it to pull off a surprise change in the value of a resource before your opponents can respond.

Overall Noria is a good game, but not a fantastic one. The action wheel is certainly a very interesting concept, though at times it can be a touch fiddly, tokens occasionally fall out of place and it can be all too easy to forget to rotate them or rotate them incorrectly. The gameplay can also feel a little unstructured, as the only action that in any way is affected by turn order is the exploration one, otherwise you can all take your turns at once, which leads to not paying full attention to what your opponents are doing. This is a shame because at it's core Noria has a decent strategic base to it, deciding how to customise your dial, when to bribe, when to upgrade tokens and when to commit to producing advanced goods all give you a good amount of depth to the game.


Noria was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £50.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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