(First Impression written by Ted Cheatham)
Publisher: Stratus Games
Spewing forth to a game distributor near you in September 2011 is the latest game from Stratus Games: Eruption. Much like Krakatoa and Pompeii, you find yourself responsible for the inhabitants of a small village on the coast of a little island. In the center of the island, a small plume of steam graces the peaceful surroundings of this idyllic world generating nice puffy clouds to intermittently provide shade as the winds push them along. Your trust that life will stay peaceful is greatly misplaced when you hear that dreaded sound …..KABOOM….and the lava begins to flow.
Stratus games sent me a print and play version of the game as a preview before its official release in October. They do have a preorder program on their web site if you cannot wait.
This is an in your face, tile laying game. Similar to the game of Pompeii, if you have a problem pouring lava into your opponents villages while their citizens run screaming into the ocean, stay away. In any given turn, the following events occur.
- Check for damage – as lava reaches your village it starts to heat up. You take damage in 10 or 20 degree increments per lava flow.
- Draw a lava tile and place it – standard tile laying rules apply here about matching sides, etc. The goal is to route the lava to run into your opponents villages and route it away from your village.
- Play action cards – These let you add extra walls, rotate tiles, remove tiles, move walls, etc. The cards are always good for the player that owns them and a player can acquire extra cards by putting a lava flow onto someone else’s villages. So, if you didn’t get enough pleasure in hosing your opponent, they game gives you an added incentive of a free card to mess with somebody.
- Build a wall – Building a wall is an attempt to slow or stop the lava flow. There are straw, wood, and stone walls available. Walls are tested by a comparison die roll of a 6 sided lava die against a 6 sided wall die. Stone walls add a +2 to a die roll, wood adds a +1, and straw is an even up die roll. If the wall is destroyed it is removed and the lava continues to flow. If you are lucky, you can keep lava out of your village with many walls that withstand the lava and take no damage.
The game ends when the volcano spends itself out and goes dormant again (when the lava tiles run out) or when a village heats up so much it spontaneously combusts (one village reaches the end of the heat track around 300 degrees).
The game is very straight forward, in your face, and quick playing. The game is designed for fast fun and the ability to expand to six players. Understand there is plenty of luck in the game with the die rolls, random tile draws, and random card draws. Like games of this style, there are some issues that are unavoidable. First, if everyone one wants to gang up on one player, so be it. Second, the game is much more tactical with only three players and is much more random with six players. This does not mean it is not enjoyable, it just means that five people are going to mess with things before you can react. More players just means more chaos but, isn’t that what a volcanic eruption is all about?
(Editor’s note: the version of the game played is not yet a full production version, so a full review is pending at this point. DY)