Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Michele Quondam


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Do you know Rio de la Plata, Michele Quondam's highly tactical game which was published by GIOCHIX.IT in 2010? This games posed a real challenge for the experienced gamers, and it was a mental overload for the occasional gamer. But on the other hand it is a masterpiece of tactical games. So, when I heard about the author's new game, I thought that he had come up with something of similar complexity. But after reading the rules of the new game, I was surprised because the new game - called The Forgotten Planet - seemed to be much more simple. And indeed, the rules are explained quickly and new players understand the game after only two or three turns. Still, it is once again a very tactical game.

In The Forgotten Planet the players take the role of space miners and try to earn the favours of a mighty intergalactic mining company. However, the players are troubled by the fact that they have been engaged for a mining operation on a very hostile planet, and there the ground is so unstable that they have to place metal floors, called land tiles, onto the ground before a workforce of robots can be sent to establish new bases and to build mines. Additionally, there is a big competition for the best places on the planet, because the space and the number of mining tiles are limited. Other players try to mark out their area, so that each player has to protect his or her mining fields with robots, bases and walls against the expansions of the other players, while on the other hand they players have to try to expand, too.


In regards to the artwork chosen in earlier publications coming from GIOCHIX.IT you might be tempted to expect multi-coloured game material with worked out graphical design to the last detail of the science fiction theme, but if you should hope for such things there will be a big surprise after opening the game box. What you find is some very functional game material, reduced to the basics. Wooden robots in the basic player colours, square grey cardboard tiles for exploring the planet with symbols on them for mining, resources and area markers again in the basic player colours and some wooden wall tiles are all you can find in the box. No board, only some grid angle markers and grid spacers for indicating the outline of the game area. This down-to-earth approach is somehow unusual for a modern age game, especially since even the smallest publishers produce multi-coloured cards and game boards with extraordinary graphical artworks nowadays. However, in the practical case of The Forgotten Planet, this functional playing material seems to be well in place, since it fits to the strong tactical orientation of the game.

As there is no game board, the choosing of a game scenario starts out at the beginning of every game. There are two possible ways to play: In an open game only the table surface restricts the area in which the players can place the land tiles. The other possibility is to choose a fixed game in which you take angle markers to visualize the game area. In the latter case the game tiles must all be placed in this limited area. Grid spacers can help to determine the correct distance between the tiles if they are not placed adjacent to each other.

The game starts with only one base tile for every player and some special mine tiles that are placed on the table at a definite distance to the bases. In a turn a player performs four different phases one after the other, and then the following players will be allowed to perform their turns. In the first phase, a player gets new energy, dependent on his or her controlled area. The basic energy "income" of three units is increased by one for every seven land tiles a player controls. Additionally, in this phase all of the player's robots inside his or her controlled area are switched on, whereas other robots which are standing in an area controlled by an opponent remain inactive in this round. The land they stand on must be recaptured before these robots can be used again.

The main part of the game takes place in the second phase in which the players perform different actions. These are distinguished in robot and base actions. With the robot actions, the players can move their robots, build new bases, land or mine tiles, build walls and push existing walls one step further. All of these actions - with the exception of the robot movement - can only take place on or adjacent to the place a robot stands on. So, for example, new bases, land or mine tiles must be placed on empty spaces orthogonally adjacent to an active robot of the player. So, a good positioning of the robots is quite important in the game. If a mine tile is placed, the sort of mine cannot be chosen freely, but it is randomly determined by rolling a D6. There is also a chance of getting no new mine but a normal land tile when the roll shows a 1 or 2. Additionally there must be a distance of one space between mine tiles and between mine tiles and bases. Last but not least a player can choose to self-destruct a robot to destroy it and all other robots and wall elements on this space.


The base actions make it is possible to produce new robots and to conserve energy for later rounds. Besides, players can remove land tiles from the general supply that are still available. This can be useful if a leading player wants to end the game quickly, because the game finishes after the last land tile was taken by a player. Selling resource cubes is another available action, and it is very important in the end phase of the game, because it is the only way to receive victory points during the game. For this action a player must sell resource cubes of the three different colours.

All actions are paid by energy and some also by resource cubes. This leads us to the last two phases of a player's turn. In phase three, the player checks the ownership off all landscape and mining tiles. A tile always belongs to the player with the nearest base, so by building a new base near the opponents it is possible to occupy foreign land. Walls block the direct connection and thus can be used to move the frontiers. This results in a lot of interesting and tactical moves. Additionally, you must remember that robots on foreign lands remain switched-off as long as their owner is not able to recapture it. And so, if a player is able to occupy the land of an opponent with a robot on it, this robot is switched-off and cannot be used in the opponent's turn. Finally in phase four all mine tiles in the area controlled by the player produce new resource cubes.

The game can end in two different ways. Either a player has taken the last available land tile or the chosen game area is completely filled with tiles. At the end victory points are awarded to the players for various conditions. Apart from VPs for land and mine tiles owned by the players there are VPs for players with most robots, mines and bases.

The Forgotten Planet is really an atypical science fiction game. With its functional design and the high degree of abstraction it is more related to traditional games like Go or Chess than to any science fiction game. But yet I somehow felt dragged into the story of the game. Thus, it is definitely no ordinary family game. Quite the opposite, you should like to muse and to puzzle over your own moves and your opponent's next turns in order to be to be taken to the game. And, of course, you cannot expect to have a chance against an experienced player without training, because luck only plays a very small role.

In my tests there was always a slight chance that one player was shoved to a side when all of his robots were switched-off. Such a situation only can be turned with a reserve of enough resource cubes, and even then a player who does not posses any mine tiles will have to face a long way to find back into the game, because he must concentrate the energy for converting it into resource cubes and then produce a robot before he can do something useful again. But apart from this risk, the game is really perfectly balanced. Some say that rolling the die to determine the type of a new mine is too much luck in the game, but I must say that I liked it. At any rate it encourages the players to interact by attacking other players with better or missing mine tiles.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany