Essen Preview: Realm of Sand

  • Realm of Sand 
  • Publisher: EmperorS4
  • Designer: Ji Hua Wei
  • Artist: Maisherly Chan
  • Age:10+
  • No. of Players 1-4
  • 30-60 min


Realm of Sand is a new game from EmperorS4. It features Maisherly’s wonderful fantasy art on the cards.

Gameplay involves placing polyominoes called Rune Tiles on your player board to match patterns on the building cards. First players choose one of two tiles from the Circle of Rune Tiles to a hand of 3 tiles. The polyominoes consist of squares called Rune Pieces of 3 different colors/symbols. Players position the tiles on their player boards then placing matching single pieces on their board and return the tiles to the circle of runes. This part of the game may seem slightly fiddly but it is important as when you place new tiles if the overlap previously placed spots you replace the squares with the new one. This makes future planning a bit more interesting. The player boards have a lighter area that you must play with in. If you earn levels you may use one darker area space for each level you have

When you have a pattern of Rune Pieces that match a Building card you may claim it. Building cards consist of 3 levels. The first level cards require fewer pieces and reward you with Spirit disks. Spirit disks may be placed on your board instead of pieces and used to complete patterns. Spirit disks are limited during the game. Second level cards provide higher level Spirit disks and levels for extra spaces and third level cards provide high point values. Cards are also the game clock. Some cards have hour glasses which provide time units. When a player has reached 10 hour glasses the game end is signaled.

The player boards are double sided with one side being identical to the others and the other side each having different special powers that can be activated during the game.

Realm of Sand is a nice family weight game. If you enjoy polyomino games Realm of Sand will fit right in!  I like the way the game timer fits in with the rewards of the cards. You can potentially affect the game length. Being able to remove some of the Rune pieces allowed nice flexibility if another player takes the card you wanted. I’m interested in seeing how efficient you can be with tile placement to set oneself up for rapid scoring. Not much new to the mechanisms but they all fit together nicely and provide a nice lighter game or filler.

*Preview copy provided by EmperorS4


Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers:

Dan Blum (2 plays): This is a kind of game I tend to like, and I like this. Placing the tiles is interesting in a puzzle-y way and you also have to think about which discs you want to try to earn for later use – having several of a basic color is often better than having a mix, and you also want at least one higher color.

It’s hard to say after one play each of the basic and advanced games but I am not sure the advanced game is better. It gives everyone a different special power and also shrinks the initially available board space. The powers seem fine but I am not sure they add a lot, and the smaller board arguably forces you to think more about placement but has the potential to just be frustrating. However, I’d certainly try the advanced game again, and even if I end up not liking it as much as the basic game, the basic game is still well worth playing.

About lornadune

Board game enthusiast
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2 Responses to Essen Preview: Realm of Sand

  1. Oliver Kinne says:

    I liked the look of this one, so thank you for the preview. I’ll have to look at this a little closer.

  2. Trent Ellingsen says:

    It seems like another cool pattern building game that I’d be up to check out. Thanks for the review! I saw it wasn’t on the 5CC game page so I added it for you ;)

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