Jonathan Franklin: Review of Enclave: Zakon Krańca Świata

Enclave: Zakon Krańca Świata

Designer: Łukasz Woźniak

Publisher: G3/RedImp/ST Games

Players: 2-4

Time: 90-120 minutes

Ages: 12+ (The game is not that complex, but it is dark)

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Franklin

Times Played: 2 (with review copy provided by G3 Games)

 

Theme then mechanisms vs.mechanisms then theme.

Enclave is a true Euro-style worker placement game based on a dystopian Polish book. The players are stuck with the 99% while the Masters of Brilliance and their followers are off in another dimension. We play the role of snatchers (aka Robin Hoods) who plan and execute missions to steal items from the Masters.

Enclave has a thick theme. When I first taught the game, I explained all the back story and what was going on. It did not go over that well, so I’d say that if you have read the books, the theme will make more sense. If you have not read the book, take the paragraph above to explain the theme and move along. Underneath the skin, it is an interesting Euro that has some variability, but a strong thematic core that leads to similarities across plays.

scan by jnorris

The goal is to score the most victory points after six rounds or be the first to gain four tree tokens. You gain victory points by visiting the Enclave and the Cosmic Tree.

Your characters have four attributes, stamina, sanity, sesame (extra money for stolen items), and sarcophagus (how many buffs you can take when going to the Enclave). Each of these have little cube sliders on your character’s card, so tracking them is easy.

Photo by Kai Mölleken

Each turn, you have four workers per turn and they can go to four of six possible locations. You may not place two workers at the same location in one turn.

The game is not complicated, but putting it in text is, so this will gloss over much of the detail in the rulebook and on BGG. The basic idea is that the players will put out tokens numbered 1-5 on five of the six possible locations. They will then place their workers one each in turn order, until all four are placed. No location is ever skipped, so the numbers 1-5 are the order in which the locations are resolved. The Tree is always resolved last (more on that later).

Going to Shepherd gets you money. Oracle gets you a look at facedown cards and a bump in turn order. Knives Square and Maggot’s Outlet get you cards. These four locations make up the dystopian part of the world where you get money to buy cards, You buy the cards to buff yourself, either permanently or one time, and prepare for your adventure. If this were a fantasy game, these would be the alchemist, the seer, the weaponsmith, and the tavern.

Image by redimp

The Tree is the right part of the board and Boarding Into the Enclave is in the lower left, just above the two stacks of cards. These final two locations are the heart of the game.

Boarding Into the Enclave is travelling to where the Masters are to steal stuff. You can take as many items as your Sarcophagus value. The tricky thing about Boarding is that there is a row of cards and once someone has taken a card, that is no longer available to the other players. These cards have costs and rewards. For example, if I visit the Laboratory, it will cost me 4 stamina and I will also encounter 2 traps. If I succeed, I will gain 2 pryzes (yes, pryzes) and 3 knowledge tokens. Pryzes have dual value, either they buff your character, providing stamina, sanity, knowledge tokens, sarcophagus, or sesame, or they provide cash (value + your sesame). Knowledge tokens are kept. Some Enclave locations also provide tree tokens. They are kept and used for the instant victory of having four tree tokens.

Sounds great, right? Lose some sanity or stamina and get some pryzes. Well, there is one important word in that last paragraph we have not discussed, ‘traps’. When you travel to Enclave, not all goes as expected. If a Boarding card has 2 traps, you will be slammed with two really bad events. These can crush your stamina, sanity, or both. If you are in critical condition (low stamina or low sanity), you don’t get the goodies from your Boarding and go home with a consolation prize of one knowledge token.

Determining the success or failure of a boarding is math. Take your current strength (most often 0), add your anti-trap buffs, subtract the damage on the boarding card plus traps and determine if your strength is in the critical range. Do the same with sanity. There are no dice. You either success or fail and the traps are what add variability.

After you resolve the workers in the first five locations, you resolve any workers who visited Towards the Tree. The tree has five levels that connect the universe a la Yggdrasil. Each level has a special ability which can vary from game to game, depending on which of the three cards for that level is chosen.

If you visit the tree, you normally visit the level of the round you are in. In the sixth round, you can visit any level. A benefit of the tree tokens is that they let you visit any level up to N away from that round where N is the number of tree tokens you have. If you have one tree token before starting round 3, you could place your worker on levels 2 (-1), 3, or 4 (+1) of the tree to gain that ability. In addition, at the tree, you can cash in your knowledge tokens for victory points. Some levels can run out faster than others, so the tree token flexibility can also help you gain VPs. If the VPs for a level of the tree run out on your turn, you get the tree marker itself, which is not a tree token.

Photo by Götz Gunther

At the end of the game, if no one has received four tree tokens, there are majority bonuses for tree markers, tree tokens, money, and pryze cards. The player with the most point wins.

Opinion

I like quest games and novel themes. I like playing a character who has stats and plays a role. I like Euros that are not dice chucking fests. I really should have liked this game more than I did and therein lies the puzzle. In the end, the word that comes to mind is baroque – ornate detail. The game works and works well. You gain money to gain cards to gain knowledge to gain VPs. Or you can choose to use your cards to gain pryzes to gain attributes to gain tree tokens or more pryzes. I think that underneath it all, it feels tactical and somewhat processional for a more thematic game and yet pretty fiddly for a standard Euro.

I think it is certainly worth playing, especially if you know and like the theme, but I am not sure I see getting many more plays from it.

Other Opinionated Gamers Opinions:

Opinionated Gamers Ratings:

I love it –

I like it –

Neutral – Jonathan Franklin

Not for me –

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