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 2 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Inuit: The Snow Folk

Game: Inuit: The Snow Folk

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer: Alexey Konnov, Alexey Paltsev, Anatoliy Shklyarov, Trehgrannik

Year: 2019

Inuit: The Snow Folk is the latest release from Board & Dice, since they recently acquired NSKN Games. These two publishers had a great 2018 with hue hits like Escape Tales: The Awakening and Teotihuacan, so they’re one I’m eagerly keeping my eye on in 2019. Inuit strikes you with a beautiful cover and the designers note in the rulebook, as well as widespread interaction with the gaming community are very reassuring in how the game deals with its theme in a way that I hope is sensitive to the culture it represents.

The official release of Inuit is at the UK Games Expo at the end of May, although it did hit store shelves in the UK during the last couple of weeks.

Inuit is a card drafting and tableau building game for 2-4 players. Each player has a slim personal player board which defines 5 actions; Elders, Shaman, Warriors, Hunters and Scouts. Each action represents a type of card that you can draft from the central supply if you select that action on your turn. If you take the Elder action, you can take one Inuit card at the start of the game, but Inuit cards are what you need to assign to the different actions in order to take more cards. If you assign 2 Inuits to whaling then you can take three (2 Inuits, plus the base allowance of 1) orca cards on your turn, if there are 3 available. The assignment of Inuits is pretty permanent, so you need to build a strategy about where to place them.

At the end of the game points are scored based upon your tableau. The Inuit cards themselves belong to four villages and children are the children of two villages, so represent both colours. Inuits matching your villages score you 2 points, whilst children score you 1, but you get negative points for Inuit cards in your tableau that don’t match your village. All of your game – orcas, seals and polar bears have different point values and Weapons score you one point each. Additional end game scoring is available from the spirit cards, which often combine with other cards you’ve collected eg. One point per seal.

Inuit uses very simple mechanisms, but does it really well. The need to invest in different actions by assigning Inuits makes you carefully consider the opportunities on the table as well as future strategies that synergise with the spirit cards. The fact that you have to take account of the villages is a twist that steps up the complexity of the game a notch to give more experienced gamers interesting decisions about whether to take their opponents cards as weapons or to take some none aligned Inuits that they might later be able to convert to weapons using rite cards.

The game with two players has a couple of elements that I think could work better at higher player counts. Since there are four villages, that means that two do not belong to anyone and those Inuits form a big chunk of the deck. Whilst they can be taken as weapons, this is a pretty low point action without the added bonus of denying a player their Inuits. In addition, being the player who gets the chance to take all of the spirit cards for end game points is a huge advantage and can just be a result of luck of the draw from the top of the deck. Besides the concern at two players, the game is also a huge table hog for a card game. It’s somewhat important for all players’ tableaus to be visible so that some hate drafting is possible, which is the only real player interaction in the game, however stacking your cards so they can be seen can look a little ludicrous!

Whilst the theme certainly lends itself to a beautiful game, it does not create a game that I could describe in any thematic way as ‘fun’. It’s quite easy to get lost in the cute artwork and think of yourself as collecting polar bears and seals or gathering weapons, while you’re actually hunting those animals and attacking other Inuits to steal their weapons. The theme is based in reality, but it’s not one that is actually that appealing in what could otherwise be a nice family weight game.

Inuit is a card drafting game that I found to be a pretty relaxing game. It’s pleasant and turns pass quickly, but it gives me the satisfaction of creating a tableau that’s visible. I really like some of the decision making and aspects that scratch my engine building itch, but ultimately it just isn’t stimulating enough which combines with a stack of cards that is just a little too tall, making the game outstay its welcome. I’d happily play Inuit again, but it’s not one I need to keep in the collection. For the Yellow Meeple it’s a 6.5/10.

Inuit: The Snow Folk was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £39.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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