- Designer: Veli-Matti Saarinen
- Publisher: Roll D6 Games / Game Salute
- Players: 2-3
- Ages: 8+
- Time: 45 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Game Salute
Troll Hunt is a game from Finland that is being distributed in this country by Game Salute. In this game, players compete to save their modular landscape from trolls – by shining a light from one of their lanterns directly into the eyes of a troll.
Before the game starts, players must assemble the 18 identically shaped terrain tiles to form a very large hexagon. There are a few different landscapes on the map (fields, sand, mountains, lakes) as well as 18 letters (A-R) which show the areas where trolls will appear on the map.
Around the outside of this hexagon are 6 towers, each with a die face between 1 and 6 on the top of it. Each player gets two lanterns which are placed around the periphery of the landscape (on the brown spaces). These lanterns are placed Settlers-style. These lanterns will not move for the rest of the game, so players should take time to make sure they like the positioning of their lanterns . Each of these lantern tiles will emit a ray of light in the direction shown on the tile’s artwork.
There is also a deck of troll cards, lettered A to R. The board needs to be seeded with 2 trolls per player . In turn order, players draw a troll card which directs them to which map feature that the troll needs to be adjacent to. The player also rolls a d6 which tells him which of the six hex faces that the troll needs to face – it must look towards the external watchtower with the matching die face on it. The player can choose which allowable hex he wishes to place the troll in – though it must be a spot where it is at least theoretically possible to shine light into the troll’s eyes.
OK – that’s all it takes to set the game up – now it’s time to play. Play goes clockwise, and on each player’s turn, there are three phases to be done
You can either place a mirror onto the board (if you still have any left) or you can move one of your already placed mirrors.
If you want to place a mirror, you simply place it on the board. Note that each mirror has two sides (wide reflection and acute reflection), and you can choose which one you want to use when you place the tile. If you place your prism, that distributes light in all directions, not just a single reflection. You cannot place mirrors on mountains or lakes nor adjacent to an opponent’s lantern. Furthermore, you cannot break another player’s link – that would be along the imaginary ray of light that starts at any opponent’s lantern and continues through only that player’s mirrors.
If you want to move a mirror, you use your movement points to manipulate your mirrors. If you have placed all of your mirrors on the board already, you get 4 movement points. Otherwise, you only have 2 movement points to use. You can split your movement points amongst any or all of your mirrors. The points can be spent on:
1 point to move any mirror to a neighboring hex. After moving it, you can freely change its orientation – i.e. that mirror can face any of the six sides of the hex
1 point to rotate a mirror in a space without moving it
4 points to flip a stationary mirror to its other side (to switch from an acute reflection to wide reflection or vice versa)
When you move, you cannot move over mountains or lakes. You can move through other mirrors or trolls, but you cannot end your movement on either. You can also cross through an opponent’s link – again, this is the ray of light from a lantern and all reflections from that lantern that go through only that player’s mirrors – but you cannot break the link when you stop.
2) Try to catch Trolls
In this phase, both of your lanterns become active and they now beam out light. This light travels out of each lantern in the direction depicted on the tile. If that light runs into a mirror, it is bent according to the art on the mirror tile. In this phase, you can use any mirrors/prisms that the light hits – NOT just your own mirrors/prisms. Light, however, does not reflect off of the backs of mirrors, trolls, lanterns or mountains. If you are able to shine light directly into the eyes of a troll – you petrify that troll, and you pick up the troll token and place it beside you. It is possible to capture multiple trolls on a turn. You have two lanterns, so you have two beams of light. Additionally, after you remove a petrified troll from the board, if there are other trolls that would now have light right in their eyes, you would also capture those.
Your lanterns are only on for this phase on YOUR turn. Thus, it is only possible for you to capture trolls during this phase of your turn.
3) Clean up
Your lanterns are considered inactive now. If you had been able to capture any troll tiles, you replace that same number of trolls to the board – by drawing a card and rolling the d6 for each. Again, trolls need to be placed in a way that it is at least theoretically possible to shine light in its eyes. Also, trolls are able to placed in such a way to break a player’s link.
The game ends immediately when a player collects his sixth troll (3p game) or ninth troll (2p game).
My Thoughts on the Game
I’ve enjoyed playing this game with my boys this winter. It has been a nice way to get in a quick game and maybe teach them a bit about angle reflection and advance planning. One thing that we occasionally missed in our first game was keeping each player’s links protected. It’s easy enough to figure out how far a link goes, but we still occasionally allowed opponents to place their mirrors across someone else’s link. After playing a few games, we are all pretty aware of it, and it hasn’t been a problem since. You should always remember that you can use a newly placed troll to break a link and then this can seriously disrupt someone’s plan.
There is still a lot of random luck involved with the placement of the trolls – the combination of the die roll and the card draw ends up limiting you to only a few possible placements – but there is a lot of advantage to be the player who gets to choose where to place that troll. It is definitely possible to capture a troll earlier in the turn and then get lucky enough to draw/roll a troll that puts the newly placed troll directly in your light.
Of course, you can’t collect that troll until your next turn, as you can only capture trolls in that phase of your turn – but there are plenty of times when it’s not easy to disrupt a lucky placement. Once all of your mirrors are on the board, you can only move them using 4 points a turn. This limits the overall movement capability of your mirrors which means that you often can’t maneuver a mirror into a position to disrupt someone’s plans.
Our games have tended to have many quick captures early in the game as you tend to place new mirrors/prisms in places to allow you to catch a troll with only a few reflections from your lantern. However, once that phase is complete, the game tends to bog down a bit because it just takes you a really long time to move your mirrors into the right place to get the later-placed trolls. Additionally, it is much easier for your plans to be disrupted because the likelihood that you can keep a link alive over multiple reflections is pretty slim. Further, you’d like to be able to use the mirrors of your opponents to spread light all over the board; however, you can’t count on them remaining in the same location each turn, and since you can’t really manipulate your own mirrors that much on any given turn, it’s tough to get a good plan in place sometimes.
The graphics are adequate. You can identify all of the needed features easily, though the art isn’t particularly pleasing to the eye either. In my copy of the game, the terrain pieces are not well cut, and it took a bit of trimming with an X-Acto knife to get the board to fit together within the frame. On the plus side, the game does include a few extra pieces in case you lose some. I’d recommend placing them in a separate Ziploc bag during your initial punching session so that you don’t get confused playing a game with extra pieces.
As I said, I have played this with my kids and it has gone over fairly well with that audience. However, I think the plodding second half of the game is something that needs to be watched. I haven’t gotten this on the table yet with my adult group – partly because I am worried about the slowdown potential issue but also because this game maxes out at 3, and we rarely have just 3 these days…
Initial Rating: between neutral and I like it. Pending more plays.