Since the dawn of time, man has looked up at the sky in awe and wonder. People have studied and tracked the sun, moon, stars, and planets, always reaching for them and dreaming of travelling to them. This fascination with space has led to great breakthroughs in science, with many believing the biggest breakthroughs are yet to come.
Today, I am looking at a board game based in the future, where man has transformed Europa, the frozen moon of Jupiter, into a new world that can support human life … barely. The game is called The Artemis Project. It plays 2 to 4 players, ages 12+. It takes about 60 minutes to play, and it can be yours for a Kickstarter pledge of $55. It is up to you to explore the moon, harvest resources, and build the best colony on this icy tundra. Let’s learn how to set up and play the game!
1. Place the game board in the middle of the table, with the Phase Marker near Event Spot A.
2. Make 4 piles for Minerals, Energy, Tools, and Expedition Badges near the game board.
3. Place 4 of each Engineers, Marines, and Stewards near the Academy.
4. Put the rest of the Colonists into the draw bag, keeping one Pioneer for each player. Mix the bag well!
5. Shuffle the Building Tiles into face-down stacks of Surface and Ocean tiles near the Gantry.
6. Shuffle the Event Cards and draw six face-down to from the event deck, placing the Event Marker near this deck.
7. Shuffle the Expeditions Deck and place it face-down near the Hangars.
8. Place Resource Dice (one per player) near the Vents/Quarry.
9. Give each player (in their color) a Player Mat, both Markers, five Dice, three Minerals, and three Energy.
Game Play – The game is played over six rounds. Within each round, there will be a Placement Phase, Resolution Phase, and Upkeep Phase.
1. In the Placement Phase, all players will roll their five dice. Beginning with the starting player and going clockwise, each player will select one die and place it in one of the seven regions. (Note: If you have any tools, you may adjust the pip value of your dice up and down.) There are seven places to place dice, and they will get you materials, colonists, tools, badges, and victory points.
2. In the Resolution Phase, you will go in numerical order of the seven locations and receive your rewards (if there are any leftover for you). When the Phase Marker reaches the Event Marker, you resolve the Event Card. If any of your dice don’t earn a reward or an expedition fails, those dice are considered exposed and you move up on the Relief Track. Moving up on this track will net your rewards like minerals, energy, tools, etc.
3. In the Upkeep Phase, you may move/swap one of your colonists. The fully-staffed buildings are activated and players may also activate their buildings for rewards. Players must then pay energy for colonists in their shelters, and the game board is refreshed. A new start player is chosen and play moves on to the next round.
Score is based on energy, minerals, fully-staffed surface buildings, number of buildings, sets of colonists, leftover colonists, and having the most badges and tools. Most victory points is the winner.
The Artemis Project is a very clever game of dice rolling and placement with some engine building and set collection elements too. I received a prototype copy of the game, and was blown away by the art, graphic design, and overall game play presented to me. The amount of strategy, interaction, and decision-making involved made for a great experience the handful of times I got to play it before I had to sadly ship it off to the next reviewer.
What I love most about this game is the dice and tough decisions you have to make with them. Do I send my dice to this expedition, knowing it might not be completed or knowing I might have to try and entice someone else to help me complete it? Do I send a high valued dice to gather resources, knowing that a bunch of low dice in front of me might take all the resources before I get any? Or do I just play it safe and get some more tools or colonists? I know a lot of people don’t like games with dice in them, because they feel it adds a random factor to the game. However, there are ways to mitigate the dice you roll and you are never without options on what you can do in the game, as you will want low value dice and high value dice in this game.
Another thing I enjoyed about this game were the Event Cards. These cards are not only a timer for the game, but also provide a great deal of variability to the game. With more than six event cards available, you never know what combination you will get nor what order they will show up in. The cards are also a mix of good and bad. Some will let you acquire resources if you have the most of colonists. Others make you pay resources if your buildings aren’t fully staffed.
The game scales well at all player counts, and I didn’t have any issues with balance playing at the different player counts. Yes, at a lower player count, you’ll have a little less competition when placing your dice and bidding on buildings, but resources will be equally scarce and you’ll have fewer dice available to help you complete those expeditions. This game felt like a brilliant puzzle to solve each round, figuring out how to best allocate your dice and build your engine. It also had the hallmark of every great game in that I wanted one more round to accomplish more and immediately wanted to play it again after the game ended. This is a stellar game with great design and beautiful art. I highly recommend backing it on Kickstarter!
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Copyright 2018 Stuart Dunn