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



Andreas Katelanos

Vesuvius Media

No. of Players:
2 -4



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Either you are the first player who destroyed a specific number of cities of your opponents or you manage to return a Sacred Relic to your capital. These are the two victory conditions of Zoar, in the fast, but strategic area movement game from VESUVIUS MEDIA. Players start at four corners of a randomly build desert map, consisting of 12 land tiles with four square areas. Most of the land is desert where you can only find sand and sun. Nothing interesting for our tribe leaders and their clan.

But there are also areas of rock, grasslands and lakes. The first two landscape are resource areas for metal and food (animals) respectively, the lakes are just barriers we cannot cross. All players start with only their leaders in their capital in one of the four corners of the board. The Sacred Relics that has to be returned start their journey in the opposite corner, so it is a long way to get it back. Finally all rock and grassland areas are equipped with one of the respectively resources each. Then the game can already start.

Players take their turns clockwise. Each turn consists of four phases. At the start of the game, the first phase, moving is the most important one. Each leader has a basic move of 2 steps. Whenever a leader or another unit steps on an area with a resource, it automatically collects it up to the resource limits (3 of each kind for every player). But a leader can do more: It is necessary to build a new city in phase 3. After a metal is spent the player can place one of his two available cities on the current area of his or her leader. Additionally the player gains an army on the same field. In later turns the players can also build new armies for one food in an area occupied by a city.

And these armies can move (basic movement of 1 step per turn) and collect resources to. Morover these units can transport the relic once they reach it. But armies are also required to attack your opponents in phase 2, the combat phase. Who would just watch the other players collect building cities, collecting resources and transporting relics? Combat is the key to win the game. On the one hand to interfere the transport ways of the relic, on the other hand the destruction of enemy cities is also a way to win the game.

The combat itself is pretty much straightforward: You always attack from an adjacent area. Each army unit and city has a strength of 1. Additionally the opponents can secretly choose from their metal supply. The chosen number of metal counts as reinforcement with a strength of 1 for every resource. Each reinforcement, army unit and city destroys one of the opponent's units. Damage is applied starting with the reinforcement, then armies and then the cities. If this really results in a destruction of a city, the opponent gets a damaged city token to count against the victory conditions.

A turn ends with divine intervention: A 12sided die is rolled. The result determines the board tile where the god touches earth. As a result, all enemy armies and cities on all of the four areas of the board tile are destroyed and all resource areas produce a new resource that is automatically collected if a player has units on this area.

Apart from a unique ability for all tribes, that are the rules. You see it is not difficult to teach Zoar and it also plays quite fluently. I played the game now with different number of players and all combinations worked well. Maybe it is a little bit too crowded in the four player variant and the two player game is a little bit to spacious. But in the end there are mostly only two steps to reach an opponent and be able to attack.

In the end I am not quite sure whether Zoar is just a fast-paced movement game or a strategic game for players with a propensity for chess. I mean you can calculate most of the possible combat outcomes and can block your opponent's moves. But on the other hand, there is this huge luck factor in phase 4, when even cities can be destroyed and victory can be reached easily. But maybe it is exactly this what Zoar was designed for: a strategic game that doesn't seduce the players to think too long about the consequences of their moves, because luck always ends the turn of a player...

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