By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on January 15, 2020
In the early ages of civilization, during the Bronze Age, around 1500 before Christ, there were people living off the land, hunting and farming in what is now known as Northern Italy. They were also known as good traders and therefore often travelled between the Alp mountains and the river Po. The houses in the villages they lived in, were built on stilts. These typical villages were named: Terramara.
Terramara is a Medium-heavy Worker-Placement Eurogame, but a Euro with a theme that fits very well the mechanics of the game. Players act as the Chieftains of these primitive settlements on sticks and their main goal is to kick some serious ass when it comes to dealing with other clans. You, as chieftain, can do this by exploring the lands, expanding your clan and, along the way, discover new technologies and create useful artefacts.
In the box, you will find the Rule Book and a Modular Board, fifty-two artefact cards, twelve Resources cards and seven Character cards. Apart from all of this, the box also contains a number of tiles, which com in various types, like victory points, resources, workers and bonus tiles. There is also a moon shaped token which serves as the Round Marker and a First Player card. To keep score, the developers also added a scoring pad to the game. Every player receives one Chieftain, six Explorers, four Flags, one Military token, one Canoe and two Caravans in the colour of their choice; red, yellow, green or blue. Plus, they receive a Hut card for each and every one of them.
Terramara is played in five rounds. A round starts by placing one by one the members of your tribe (Chieftain and Explorers) on the board and receive the perks belonging to that space, like resources or an action to perform. At the end of the round you will get your tribe members back and the tiles belonging to that round will be flipped. Nice catch is that you can decide to take the perks of a future space belonging to a future round, but until that round ends, you won't be getting back your tribe member.
Let me explain what the board looks like. The Modular Board is divided in some areas and two trackers. In the middle is the modular part with the Homeland and Territory tiles and here is where you place your tribe members. On the left side of the board there is the Road for the Caravans to travel and on the down side there is the River to sail with your Canoe. On the upper side, there is a Military track and on the right side the Rounds track, with each their designated tokens.
Like in any good Euro game, there are many ways to claim Victory Points. Gather resources to acquire useful Artefacts, move up the Road or the River, obtain bonus tiles from the board, meet with the requirements of an outpost you left your flag or ending up highest at the military track. Almost every action has something to do with another and is worth a certain amount of Victory Points at the end. The player with the best clan, have most probable obtained the most Victory Points as well and become leader of the whole of Terramara.
The Final Verdict
Good things about Terramara; Theme and artwork are great and also the quality of the production is perfect. There is a good amount of player interaction and little downtime. With the modular board and the Character cards, there is a high replay ability. What I really like during the game is that it really feels like you are exploring the area and you work to an end with winter coming in. Then after the last round, it doesn't feel like more rounds could or should be played.
Not so good things about the game; It can take up quite some time to play a complete game (Note: two hours is stated and that is about correct but personally, for me, this is a bit on the long side). This game also has to be set up differently, with different player counts. This is to keep the game balanced, I know. But this does mean I always have to check the Rules Booklet to see how the game is setup.
I am happy with the final product that's in front of me. I tried the game as a prototype and, taking into account the track record of its designers, I got excited about it. When it was released during Spiel Essen, this was my most anticipated game for the event and I'm glad to see that it doesn't disappoint. Although this is a medium to heavy game, due to the clear iconography, it is quite accessible. Especially for people like me, who love some good straight forward Worker-Placement action, combined with a strong theme. Plus, I really love the game's art and the big and beautiful game board.
Year of release: 2019
Designer: Acchittocca, Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, Stefano Luperto, Antonio Tinto
Artist: Michael Menzel
Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 12 & up
Playtime: approx. 120 minutes