Actual Length: 60 to 120 minutes
Atlantis Rising – It sucks to be an Atlantean!
I recently had the grueling but oddly somewhat pleasurable experience of playing Atlantis Rising.
Since it is a brand new release that will be presented at GenCon this weekend! And will be available for sale online on the ZMAN website this and upcoming Monday… I suppose I should give you a brief overview of how it’s played first. We’ll get all you lucky GenConner’s prepped and ready to go!
In Atlantis Rising the object of the game is build 10 components needed to create a cosmic gate that will save the Atlantean people from the inevitable sinking island (if you are currently thinking Forbidden Island? I can assure you it’s very, very different.) It is a cooperative game and each player takes on the role of one of the six councilors each having a special attribute (Still thinking Forbidden Island? Well stop already! I told you it’s totally different, sheesh! Just go with me here.). Without getting too specific, the councilors are as follows:
- Scholar : gains added bonus in regards to Knowledge cards
– Priest : gains extra mystic energy
– Artificier : has building component bonuses
– Champion : gains extra courage
– Astrologer : special meeple placement ability
– Explorer : enhanced dice roll ability
The Game turn phases are :
- Place Atlanteans
– Draw Misfortunes
– Productive Actions
- Athenians Attack
– Build components
So you begin by placing your meeples, a.k.a. as Atlantean’s, on the board clockwise starting with the rotating first player marker (exception: the scholar can choose to play his meeples after the misfortune cards are drawn, which is VERY valuable). The board consists of 5 points to the island.
- Mountains : produce ore (needed to build component cards)
- Hills : produce gold (needed to build component cards)
- Forest : produce crystal (needed to build component cards)
- libraries : produce knowledge cards (which consist of mixture of really great and so-so game enhancements)
- Cities : produce additional Atlanteans to be used on future turns
- Forges : convert ore to Atlantium (needed to build component cards)
And then there is a center area that produces mystic energy which is can be used to modify a dice roll, transmute resources into other resources, keep island tiles from flooding, and lastly, for a huge amount of mystic energy, un-flood already flooded tiles.
There is one more spot you can place Atlanteans but we’ll get to that later.
So once your Atlantean’s are in place, the flooding occurs! Each player has to draw a flood misfortune card from the Misfortune deck. This part really sucks because most of the cards flood some area of the map. There are a few “calm sea” cards in the deck but they occur so infrequently, they are almost negligible. And then there are a few “special” misfortunes that are really crappy that literally make you feel that there is no hope left for Atlantis and that you are surely going down with this damn island. For instance, a “controlled flood” card that lets you flood 2 tiles of your choice… really? I get to choose? gee, thanks. Or the “panic” card that makes all the Atlantean’s move inward on the island which is rather unpleasant because the inner parts of the island are less valuable. So beside that fact that Atlantis is sinking which is already bad enough as an Atlantean, whats really terrible is that if the tile that your Atlatean is on, floods, you then take back your Atlantean and loose that particular action and don’t get to place it again until next turn.
Then comes the production phase using dice rolls. If any of you are fans of the game StoneAge out there, don’t get too excited, because it’s nothing thing like that. Three of the islands points are resource production spots. If you place your Atlantean on that tile (and you’re lucky enough it didn’t flood in the previous turn phase) then you get to take that action. Similar to StoneAge you roll a dice, and if it meets the requirements of the necessary die roll, then you get that resource. Unlike StoneAge, there is no addition of dice. So if you place three Atlanean’s in the forest trying to gather crystal, you may end up empty handed. And of course it gets harder and harder as the game progress and the island becomes even more submerged. This is because the island floods from the outside, in. And of course the dice requirements get harder and harder as you move inward on the island.
Okay, so now we are onto the “Athenians attack” phase! During the game the Athenian fleets relentlessly attacks Atlantis every turn, with further flooding of the island as a result. You can place Atlanteans in the Atlantean Navy to fend them off, but only enough to keep further parts of the island from flooding. This is calculated by the number of Atlanteans in the Atlantean Navy that turn against a dice roll plus modifier. The difference is the NUMBER of tiles that get flooded. This one is a real bugger.
THEN…. after you’ve made it though all those phases, Atlantean’s can build components for the cosmic gate if they have enough resources to do so. This usually takes multiple turns just to get enough to build a component. And if all of the above doesn’t seem difficult enough, apparently Atlanteans are stingy when it comes to resources, because there are only scarce opportunities to transfer resources amongst your fellow Atlantean’s.
Like I said before, it sucks to be an Atlantean.
Surprisingly as brutal as the game sounds, and it is brutal, it was still pretty fun to play. Even Board of Playing team member Scott Linde, who isn’t really a fan of cooperative games had moments of “that was pretty cool!” throughout the game (although… I did get the title of this article “it sucks to be an Atlantean” from him too…)
Atlantis Rising is far from a cake walk. If you play on Normal to Hard, then you’re probably going to loose most of the time, but I think this game is more about the experience. It wouldn’t be any fun if you won every cooperative game that you played, because it makes it that much sweeter when you win one. Which I think the designer really took this one to heart, because it feels impossible to win sometimes, probably because you find yourself sinking to the bottom of the ocean as a commonplace occurrence.
I’ve only had the chance to play in smaller groups thus far, but i’d be interested to see how it plays with the max number of six people. There were some complaints regarding the ‘champion’ in these smaller groups because he felt all he could do was fight the Athenians the whole game, which was a very valid statement. I feel that might change with higher player numbers allowing more people to place their Atlantean’s in the Navy, but that is yet to be determined. During discussion of the game, some of the commentary was in regards to the potential addition of some in-house rules in regards to the Athenians attacking, dice rolling, and uses of mystic energy, but maybe that will be a future post after we have some additional go’s at saving us some Atlantean’s!