Author: Wolfgang Panning

Publisher: Queen Games

Awards: none



Indus by Wolfgang Panning is a new game by QUEEN GAMES which - after Tadsch Mahal - once again leads the players to the area of the indian sub-continent. However, unlike its predecessor, this game is set in our present time, and it is focused on the exploration of ancient city ruins.

In this game, each player takes the role of an expedition leader who leads a number of explorers to a newly discovered ruined city. The gameboard shows the city ruins, but it can be set up in many different ways since it is composed of several smaller parts which can be combined differently for each game. The final board always forms a square area of 6 times 6 spaces. Each of these spaces shows one or more of the six different kinds of ruins: buildings, tombs, canals, paths, roads and city walls. Some of these ruins run over several spaces, whereas others are limited to just one space. To hold the parts of the gameboard together an outer frame is added, and this frame also serves as the starting point for each player's playing pieces.

Depending on the number of players, each player now receives his stockpile of playing pieces. Most of these playing pieces are "Workers", less are "Assistants" and only very few of them are "Professors". As might be guessed, these pieces have been quoted in increasing order of value, since an "Assistance" is of higher worth than a "Worker" but still not as useful as a "Professor". To finish the set-up of the game, each player now places one of his "Workers" and one of his "Assistants" on the outer frame of the gameboard in a way so that teach of the playing pieces is aligned to one row of spaces on the board.

Now the game starts, and during his turn each player now has to perform two different actions: First the player takes one of his playing pieces which he has not yet placed on the gameboard and puts it on a free space of the outer frame, and after he has done so he must move one of his playing pieces. As a fixed rule, only playing pieces which still are located at the outer frame of the gameboard may be moved - any playing piece which already occupies a space on the gameboard cannot be moved anymore. For movement, the player now rolls a dice and then decides which of his playing pieces he wants to move. He then takes one of his playing pieces and moves it, along the row of spaces to which it was aligned, onto the gameboard.

However, if a player does not like the number he has rolled, then he is allowed to take a re-roll and check again which figure he might want to move. However, taking a re-roll also has its cost: a "Worker" may only be moved with the first roll, whereas "Assistants" and "Professors" may also move with the second roll. If the player does not like the result of the second roll either, then he is allowed to take a third roll, but as a result of this he is required to move a "Professor" since only a "Professor" may be moved on the third roll.

Once a player has succeeded in placing two of his playing pieces on the same space that space is considered to be "blocked" and no other player may place any playing pieces there. However, if at the time of the blocking other players also have a playing piece on that spaces, these playing pieces will be given to the blocking player who will receive victory points for them at the end of the game.

The game ends once all players have all their figures on the gameboard. Now each of the ruins on the board will be evaluated separately. First the players will look at the buildings, and each of the buildings has a higher and a lower victory point value. The higher value will go to the player who has most playing pieces on the spaces which belong to that building, whereas the lower value with go to the player with second-most pieces in that building. After the buildings have been counted, each of the other ruins will be evaluated. Depending on the alignment of the gameboard, each of the ruins may be worth one or more victory points, and here the points will go to the play who has most playing pieces on top of the stacks of playing pieces which may have been formed on the different spaces of that ruin. The game - of course - will be won by the player with most victory points.

Although the starting phase of the game seems to be a bit unorganised, the players quickly discover that there is a high element of strategy in the game. A clever positioning and movement of the playing pieces is essential, since there are several spaces on the gameboard the occupation of which might prove valuable for a player several times because these spaces belong to several kinds of ruins. A player has to decide careful whether to take a second or even a third roll, since this will more and more limit the group of playing pieces which he may actually move during this particular turn. Also, the players will need to watch each others moves in order to try to outguess the other player's strategy. A player always has to adapt his own way of playing to the strategy of the others, since otherwise a player who simply concentrates on collecting points from less valuable ruins might still have won against other player who tried and failed to win a majority in the bigger ruins.

The game offers a refreshing new playing mechanism, and despite its rather strategic orientation quite a lot of fun arises when the players moan due to the fact that another player successfully "blocks" a space and possibly captures other playing pieces. This overall good impression is rounded by a very nice design of the gameboard and the playing pieces. The ruins look nice and colourful, but the real stars are the illustrations on the playing pieces. Each expedition team features different faces for "Assistants" and "Professors", and while one player may set up an elderly Lady-Professor with a young and well-muscled Assistant, an other player may enter the game with two Adventure-Archaeologists who look surprisingly similar to Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. A nice and funny detail in a well-designed game...

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany