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



Pierluca Zizzi


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

In Simurgh by NSKN GAMES we find ourselves in a fantasy world in which humans and dragons live and fight together. Each player takes the role of the head of a family of dragon riders who breed and train their dragons to preparefor war. The game's objective is (surprise, surprise) to become the most powerful family within the time frame of the game.

The story unfolds with the preparing of a big and colourful gameboard. The main part of the board consists of a huge city with armouries, libraries, markets and different training areas. All of these places can be visited by our vassals later in the game. Next to the capital we find the wilderness area where new locations for our vassals can be discovered. Depending on the player number, up to six of these additional areas can be discovered in this way. In addition, we find spaces for different supplies and the power track where we mark our victory points.


Our vassals are the mighty dragonriders and minor spearmen. Both basically have the same function, but some places can only be visited by dragonriders. We begin the game with just one vassal of each type, so this will need to be changed. But we still need something else to start: we need resources, because Simurgh is a resource management game, and so we get 2 vegetables, 2 wisdom, a meat, a wood a stone and a weapon token as starting inventories. Finally, we receive four different actions tiles that can be used to discover the new areas in the wilderness and a dragon tile that gives us three special abilities. Then finally we can start...

As you can see there are a lot of different resources in the game. In our turn we always have to do one of the main actions (only one is allowed) and we can additionally perform as many free actions as we like. Let us focus on the main actions first. There are two different options: either you place one of your vassals (either a spearman or a dragonrider) on a free action space on one of the available places in the city or in the wilderness. The other option is to take back as many vassals from the board to your supply as you wish. This is of course a frequently used action in the early stage of the game, but with progressing time you will be able to get more vassals, and so you will lose less time to regroup your vassals.

But what do you get as a reward for the placing of your vassals? The choices are manifold. Basically you can say that nearly everything has to do with the resources. Some places let you just take the indicated resources (e.g. 4 vegetables), others - like the market - let you exchange resources for other ones. Still others - and most importantly for winning the game - will give you power points (=victory points) in exchange for resources.


As mentioned, all of the different free actions can be performed once per turn, but it is up to the players to use them. As a free action a player can place one of his action tiles on a free place in the wilderness. After this action he is forced to use his main action for placing one vassal on the just placed action tile. In my first game I played this wrong, so I was placing the vassal as part of the free action and still used the main action for placing another vassal, which resulted in a very fast game. But in reality this action can only be used before the main action and so placing the vassal will take the main action.

A free action can also be used for removing one marker on a dragon tile to resolve the corresponding dragon ability. Again, this ability lets you take or exchange resources, but since it is a free action it can be used in addition to the main action.

Last but not least there is a free action for moving a dragonrider one step further onto an exploration tile. To understand this, you must know that there are five different types of action tiles. Four of these tiles only differ in the kinds of resources you can earn and the exchange abilities. The exploration tile however works a little bit different. This action tile can only be entered by dragonriders and gives rewards over time. A dragonrider always enters the tile on the topmost space. Then, by paying the tile's movement costs in resources, the dragonrider each turn can move one level further, if there is a free space for him on the next level. The benefits for each step are increasing, and once a dragonrider has entered the bottom action space and received his reward the action tile is removed from the game.

Some attention also should be paid on the objective tiles that can be obtained at the dragonlord statue in the capital. These objectives determine how many additional victory points are rewarded to the player who best fulfills the requirements. Most requirements concern the amount of ability markers on depicted dragon tiles, but because these objective tiles are chosen and placed hidden from the other players it is a huge advantage to pick the objective by yourself. So, for the rest of the game you can plan to be the player with the most ability markers on objectives you have chosen while other players can only guess.


As always the NSKN GAMES crew has spent Simurgh quite a few nicely designed game components, so that - once the game has been set-up - the game looks quite impressing even from further afar. The colours of all components are held in green and purple hues which give the game a fairy-telling atmosphere that pretty much fits to the dragon theme. At first glimpse I thought that it looks like a children's game, but if you come closer you see that there is really a lot going on. So, there are many different places you can go to (12 in the town and six more spaces in the wilderness), and all of them give the players different rewards. Also the 99 different cardboard tiles and the 120 resources are another indication that the game is not designed for smaller children.

In summary, Simurgh is a medium worker placement / resource management game. Compared to a Stefan Feld game it is less complex, but there are still a lot of things to keep in mind if you want to win the game. Is it better to exchange resources or to go for victory points, if you have the choice? Is it good to block an action space for preventing other players from placing a vassal there, even if you do not need the reward at the very moment? When is the right time to look for objective tiles? All these questions must be answered if you want to win the game. But nicely enough, Simurgh also forgives minor mistakes. In my testing rounds there was never a situation in which a player did not find a good alternative.

So what is my final opinion? I must confess that I have mixed feelings. On the one hand the game is very attractive. It looks great, and with the easy rules, the short game duration (about one hour in the short variant) and the good range of available actions it is suitable for casual gamers and serious hobbyists alike. On the other hand I personally am missing a little bit the certain special. Maybe that is the curse of every game reviewer who has played more and more worker placement games over the years. So don't get me wrong: Simurgh plays very smoothly and with the huge amount of different action tiles, no game will look like the one before. So, if you are not fed up with worker placement and want to try a good fantasy variant of this playing mechanism, you cannot go wrong with it. And if you are still not sure if there is enough variety, you can expand the core game by buying the first expansion that only recently was funded on Kickstarter.

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Copyright © 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany