Check out this review for a FREE CHANCE TO WIN A COPY compliments of Opinionated Gamers and Genius Games!
Designer: John J. Coveyou
Publisher: Genius Games
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes
Review copy and giveaway copy provided by Genius Games
I never considered myself a science nerd. I have a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation, used to be a rock climbing, motorcycle riding, outdoor adventure, “Hey, let’s go do this crazy, fun activity!” type of guy. Never a science nerd.
Around 5 years ago, my wife and I moved from working in Europe to Ohio so I could start working towards a Master’s Degree of Science for Nursing and becoming a diabetic educator. (I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since forever.) To get into a nursing program, you need to take some sciences. A lot of sciences. So I did. Chemistry, Biology, Microbio, Anatomy and Physiology, Pathophysiology. You know, things science nerds take. And I did well in them.
So, when I was perusing the booths at Origins in 2017 and saw Cytosis, I was super excited by it. Because, you know, I’m obviously a science nerd.
In Cytosis, science nerds, I mean, players, place flasks (their workers) in different spots on the board like the Smooth or Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum, the Golgi Apparatus, Cytoplasm, Plasma Membrane spaces to collect or modify cellular components such as lipids, mRNA, ATP, amino acids and more in order to complete Cellular Component Cards which give players Health Points. Players with the most Health Points at the End of the game win! Does reading that make your brain hurt? Do not fret! The game is a straight forward worker placement game that runs smoothly whether or not you know the scientific jargon or not.
The game is broken down into 2 phases:
Phase 1: Play an Event card and Place your workers on the board and get the resources, cards, or take the action of the spot chosen. Event cards give the game some variety and add bonuses to the board each round.
Phase 2: Once all workers have been placed, gather workers and reset the board.
There are a variety of ways a player can get points during the game. The main way is by completing Enzyme, Alcohol Detoxification or Hormone/ Hormone Receptor cards. Other ways to earn points, players can earn additional points for collecting sets of Enzyme cards, for example. The player with the most Alcohol Detox cards gets additional end game points. At the set up of each game a certain number of Goal Cards are drawn that give players end game points if they place their goal markers on those cards. This allows for a bit of additional variety in the game. A Goal Card example might be that a player could get 2 additional points for each Enzyme card completed during the game.
COMPONENTS: Genius Games doesn’t skimp on their components. The wooden pieces (blocks that represent mRNA, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids) are brightly colored, good weight and high quality, as are the cardboard pieces (ATP, Transport Vesicle Disks) and the multipliers (x5 pieces of any of the different cellular components.) The Cellular Component, Goal and Event cards are of a high quality, with “cellular artwork” that looks great and works well with the game. They are easy to read and follow. The designer has a 3-4 player board which you can flip over and play 2 player on the opposite side, which is fantastic.
MECHANICS: The main mechanics are a mix of worker placement and set collection. These work very well with the game, and the game runs smoothly without too much downtime between players. As you can probably tell from reading, there is a lot of scientific jargon that goes along with a game about building healthy cells in the body. I mean, what the heck is a Golgi Apparatus and why do I need to know? Don’t let this dissuade you from trying the game out. You don’t need to know the scientific jargon to enjoy or learn to play the game. Plus you might develop your vocabulary!
TIME, AGES & PLAYER COUNT: The time of 60-90 minutes seems about right and will fluctuate slightly depending on the number of players. The game works well with 2, 3 or 4 players. The ages 10+ seems about appropriate, though I have only to date played with adults. I would probably err on the side of recommending this for any age that’s started studying biology and has talked a bit about cells, perhaps middle school or high school..
ARTWORK: The artwork is stunning, bright and attractive, adding to the science theme. The board is set up like a cell (ya think?) and while pleasant to look at, doesn’t overwhelm the players with too much information or stimuli, which I always find helpful when playing a boardgame. Sometimes there’s way too much going on visually, that the game can get lost in the artwork. Tomasz Bogusz (with designer John Coveyou) hit the mark with the artwork in this production.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I was talking with some other Opinionated Gamers about Cytosis and they referred to it as Cytosis of Waterdeep or Lords of Cytosis, comparing Cytosis to the worker placement game to Lords of Waterdeep. Cytosis doesn’t offer anything strikingly new to the worker placement genre, however, the melding of scientific learning in with solid worker placement/ set collection game play works really, really well.
And this is where it really shines. The game is fun, easy to teach and can be a great tool as an educational supplement. As with several other Genius Games, it comes with a “The Science Behind Cytosis” booklet comparing the game mechanics with actual cellular production.
Initially when getting it out of the box and reading the rules, my brain started hurting, but once I set it up on the table, I realized that it was pretty straight forward and easy to learn and teach.
This is a game I’m keeping in my collection.
THOUGHTS FROM OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS:
Mark Jackson (3 plays): I’m one of those folks who called it Lords of Biology… and I’m not a particularly big science nerd. But it’s a good game and easier to read across the table than Waterdeep, so I’m happy to play it.
Fraser: I have only played this once, first edition at a games convention back when they were a thing. Played with somebody else who was more into biological science than I am. It seemed like a good worker placement game with a decent science background/theme. I’d certainly play it again.
I Love it!
I Like It. RJ Garrison, Mark Jackson, Fraser
Not for me.
WIN A FREE COPY OF CYTOSIS!
If you would like to win a NIS copy of Cytosis, sign up for the Opinionatedgamers.com mailing list or Twitter AND leave a comment below! Comment the following:
“The 3 things I learned in High School were:
3. The Mitochondria is the Powerhouse of the Cell”
Feel free to put your own 2 things you’ve learned in high school. If you haven’t seen the Mitochondria meme, google it.
A random drawing will be held on 18 November, 2020 from the comments left on the OPG review page. 1 comment per person, will ship for free in the U.S. including Alaska/ Hawaii/ APO/ FPO or the first 10 Euro to Europe (product may be shipped from Europe, and there may be a delay in shipping.) Outside of Europe or the U.S. I will pay the first $15.00 of shipping, the winner is responsible for any additional shipping.