Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Minecraft - Builders & Biomes

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Author:
Ulrich Blum

Publisher:
Ravensburger
2019

No. of Players:
2 - 4

EVALUATION

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G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time. It's a game about exploring and building new worlds with a lot of freedom for the players. The game is well-known for its rough three-dimensional objects, be it animals, people or buildings. And now, there is the boardgame called Minecraft Builders & Biomes by RAVENSBURGER. Does the publisher want to participate in the huge success of the video game? Is the boardgame perhaps just the result of some merchandise process? Let's find out in this review:

To be honest, when my two sons heard that a Minecraft boardgame would be released at Essen 2019, they went nearly insane. Minecraft was indeed the first game I allowed my older son to play on his mobile device. And soon after my younger son joined in. Now, they regularly build houses, cattle runs and fortifications together in their own digital world.

[Nemesis]

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And not only my sons were keen about the announcement of Minecraft Builders & Biomes. There was a lot of buzz for the game, but at SPIEL 2019 you could see that the game really attracts a lot of Minecraft fans, especially children. And my sons and I also think that Minecraft Builders & Biomes has more to offer than just the similarities to the video game. I think there are several reasons for that:

First of all, the boardgame uses the same rough 3-dimensional graphics as the digital game. We find this artwork on all cards, on the player boards and the on the building tiles. But much better, the resources of the game come in form of 64 coloured wooden blocks that are arranged with help of a support structure in form of a huge block at set-up. These blocks further contribute to the 3-D graphic atmosphere of Minecraft.

As in the original game the players build new structures and mine for resources, fight enemies and move around the country. A pattern of a 4 x 4 grid with all the 64 building and enemy tiles formed into 16 face-down stacks is build up for that purpose at the beginning of each new game. The spaces between the rows and columns of this grid are the paths where the players can move their game pieces.

[Nemesis]

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Each player also gets his or her own player board where new buildings acquired from the general building grid - are placed. We already start with 9 different landscapes and buildings on our player board. These 9 areas are called Biomes. New building tiles are placed on top of these Biomes, replacing them. It's our aim to find buildings that best fit to the next scoring conditions, and for that it is necessary to build group of connected spaces that share one of the postulated characteristics of the next scoring.

In a turn a players has always two actions. The first possible action is to collect two resources from the big resources cube, called mining. But you can only take a block, if it at least two sides are exposed (of course the top of the block must be exposed too). As a result, the big resources cube decreases, and bit by bit the layers of the block vanish. And whenever a layer of this huge block is completely mined (a player has taken the last resource of this layer) it comes to a scoring.

The second action is to move your game piece through the spaces of the grid of building and enemy tiles. We always stop at a junction, and when we do so, all unrevealed cards next to our game piece are flipped.

Then we can interact with all neighboured cards. This means that we either can take a new building by paying the matching resources of a card next to our character. This new building tile then can immediately be played in any biome of our own player board.

[Nemesis]

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But not all of the tiles around our character will be buildings, there are also enemies, called mobs, that must be fought. For this you need weapons that you can also collect at the sides of the general grid. In the fightings the players draw three of their weapon tokens and count the number of hits on this card. Not all of the cards are really good weapons, and there are even three poisoned potatoes that have no effect at all. Anyway if you have inflicted enough wounds on a mob, you get the card as a reward, if not, nothing happens (you really cannot die in the game).

[Nemesis]

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In my opinion Minecraft Builders & Biomes is an entertaining game for the whole family, especially for the children. After the first playtest at the SPIEL convention, my sons unpacked the gamebox at home at once and began playing the game again. And they even forgot their mobile devices for some time, which is a very good sign. However the game mechanics are quite simple and there are only limited possibilities to interact and play strategically. So I wouldn't recommend it for true gamers (if not only for the Minecraft theme). But the children (and the one or other casual player) will be gently introduced in collection building and different scoring mechanisms. Most important: the game has a lot of the original feeling of Minecraft. I love to play it with my sons!


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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany