Dale Yu: Review of Precognition


  • Designer: Julien Prothiere
  • Publisher: Ludonaute
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 12+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

“In a post-apocalyptic world, play a Prescient, an Ymune gifted with the power of precognition. Going down the Great River, explore the banks to rescue contaminated Humans, to hire Ymune Doctors to treat them, or Ymune Protectors to protect the boat from the banes to come. Try also to collect Batteries to activate the Machine rooms of your boat, or Food to feed the new healthy Humans…In Precognition, you must truly see the future to win the game. That comes from understanding a new card mechanism: the Dual Select System. In addition to being innovative, the Dual Select System fits perfectly with the theme because, among the two cards that you will let pass, one of them will come back to you on the next turn. You have 12 turns to make the right choices. Your goal is to have the most Healthy Humans at the end of the game. To keep the Humans you take in while working your way downstream, you will need Food, Doctors to treat them and Protectors to fight the Banes you’ll encounter.”

Precognition was a game I read about on my flight over to Germany, and once I learned about it, I was pretty excited to learn more about the game due to its novel card selection system…  As I become more and more experienced – which leads to sometimes being more and more jaded – I am definitely drawn to games that offer new ideas to me.  (This has been one of the joys of having a gamer in my group who is scouting out new Japanese games – man there have been some wild ideas in those games!)  In the eurogame world, new ideas don’t come along that often any more… so my interest was high on this from the start.

Each player gets their own Boat board with 2 Machine Room zones attached to the end.  Players choose their Prescient and take the deck of cards corresponding to that being.   Each player starts with their 2 Choice cards in their hand; they then draw the top two cards from their deck and place them in the Decision Zone of the player on their right (underneath their boat).

The River is formed in the middle – using 3 of the River tiles for the season, followed by the Season 1 Island.  Do the same for the second and third seasons until you end up with a 12 tile river (3 River and 1 Island per 3 seasons).  The boat is placed at the start of the line.

The game is played over 12 rounds. A round consists of 3 distinct phases. Each phase must be done by all the players at the same time.

I – Decision phase (secret): draw and choose cards according to the Dual Select System.

  • You start with 2 cards in your Decision area (given to you from your LHO)
  • Draw 2 cards from your deck, adding them to the Keep and Give reminder cards.
  • From the 4 cards you have, make 3 pairs.  1) Give, with one of the 2 face up cards in your Decision Zone, 2) Keep, with any card, 3) The last two expedition cards
  • The Give card goes to your LHO, in their receive slot of the Action Zone (top of boat on right)
  • The Keep card goes to your boat, in the keep slot of the Action Zone (top of boat on left)
  • The 2 Leftover cards go face up in your RHO’s Decision Zone.  You will be sure to get one of these two cards in your Action Zone on the next round.
  • Take your 2 choice cards back in your hand so that you don’t screw things up next round

II – Action phase: Activate your cards to earn resources. You have two options here.  Either power both cards or only one.  If any of your powered machines can be used, benefit from their effects as well – a machine has to have all battery slots filled in order to produce something if you match the criteria for the machine.  Each card has a cost in Healthy Humans at the bottom left.  At the top left you see the main reward of the card, and underneath that is a bonus.  Some cards also come with a Bane value in purple beneath that.  If you power both cards, take the sum of cost in Healthy Humans from the cabin of your ship and put them in the Contaminated area.  If you only power one card, you pay no Human cost, but you only get to use one card.  Also, if both cards are of the same type, you get the bonus resources listed on the activated card(s) as well.

The types of cards:

  • Yellow (Food) – move the cube up your yellow Food track
  • Blue (Humans) – add Humans from the supply to your Contaminated area
  • Red (Battery) – add Batteries to Machines on your boat; once placed, they can never move
  • Green (Ymune) – place either in the Infirmary where it becomes a doctor to treat Contaminated Humans OR place in the Bow of the boat where it will fight the Banes.  Once placed, an Ymune can never be moved. 

III – Maintenance phase – In seasons 2 and 3, advance your Banes marker for what is on the two cards in your Action zone.  You can lower the Bane marker by discarding Ymune protectors; each lowers your Bane level by 2.  If your Bane level is >0, lose Humans equal to your Bane level. Then, heal all possible contaminated Humans (as many as you have Doctors).  Finally, move forward on the Great River from which you reveal and apply the event of the River tile.  If you wish, you can discard an Ymune protector to avoid having to enact the event.

Every three rounds, it is the end of a season and it is when you feed the Humans. Make sure you have enough food for everyone.  Each human eats one food, if you are short, each Human which could not eat starves and you lose them.

At the end of the third season, after feeding the Healthy Humans you have saved, count them. The player with the most Healthy Humans wins the game. If tied, the player with the most Healthy Humans and Contaminated Humans wins the game. If players are still tied, they share the victory.

My thoughts on the game

Precognition was one of those games that grew on me.  My first game was a little slow, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But after each game played thus far, my excitement for the game has grown, and it is now firmly one of my favorites from SPIEL 2022.   At its heart, it’s a resource management game – you need to collect humans, ymune, food and batteries.  Each of them have their uses, and you’ll have to figure out how to get the cards to get the things you want at the times that you want it.

The name, Precognition, alludes to the fact that you’ll always have a bit of knowledge of what is to come.  The cards that you pass back each round to your RHO will possibly come back to you; well specifically one of them MUST come back to you.  You can try to plan ahead having some knowledge of what you might get next turn.  

If you have enough skill, you might be able to figure out what your opponent really wants – and include a card that he wants with the card that you want to get back.  You can then use this advanced knowledge to try to set up pairs in your own area to get the super valuable bonus resources that end up being like an extra half a turn.

Each of the resources has its function, and you try to balance out the needs for all of the different things as you go.  Humans are important to power cards and as victory points at the end of the game.  Ymunes help you keep your humans alive.  Batteries power the things in your engine room, and while it takes a few turns to get the batteries, the benefits of the powered machines can be quite nice.  However, be sure to remember that the batteries are only useful if you don’t match up your cards – you won’t get to use the things in your engine room if you’re already getting bonuses for pairs of matched cards…  This is a decent catch up mechanism to help keep things closer; though the bonus for matched pairs is automatic while you have to have the correct machine activated in order to take advantage of a mismatched set.  And, of course, every three turns you need to feed your peeps, so you have to always be thinking about gathering food.

The Dual Select system did feel new to me.  I have no idea if some other game did it first, but as far I can remember, this was the first game that I have played that used it.  It is so central to the game that it is explained twice in the rules – on the very first two pages – there is a nice illustrated spread to first explain it and then it can be used as a reference for your first game.  The system itself is simple, and once you’ve played a few turns, you won’t need any reminding of how it works.

I really like the challenge of the feeling of drafting the cards at the start of each hand.  Yeah, I know, that I’m the only person choosing what to do with the cards – but it’s an interesting challenge trying to decide what to give away, what to keep and what to hope to get back next time.

The game is also interesting in that it has three different modes.  We’ve mostly played the competitive mode, but there is also a cooperative mode which challenges the group to manage their resources to meet the demands of the river tiles.  These restrictions certainly change how you play as the team has to work together to get the cards in the places that help the most.  The team also has to decide if they want to spend Humans to see the tiles in advance.  If you ever fail an resource objective, the team automatically loses.  If you make it to the end, your team is judged by how many humans they were able to save.  

The final mode is a team mode, which has the teams sitting next to each other so that there is always an exchange of cards between team members each round. Each teammate has a job; the front one always needs to try to pass cards to hinder their opponents while the back one has to pass the most useful cards up to their front partner.  The scores of the teammates are summed at the end, and the team with the most saved humans wins. 

Between the novel card passing mechanism and the multitude of ways to play the game, Precognition has hit the table frequently this spring, and I foresee it continuing to be played in the future.  It is one of the definite keepers of the SPIEL 2022 list for me.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y
  • I like it.
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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