In late 2015, HABA stepped out from their famous yellow-boxed line of games for young children and rolled out a new line of board games that were more suited for families to play along side their famous yellow boxes. These games were the next step in developing thinking skills for kids, but also enough depth that adults can enjoy them as well. That first lineup included the 2016 Spiel des Jahres nominee Karuba. The next game in this family series is Meduris – The Call of the Gods from designers Stefan Dorra and Ralf zur Linde.
Meduris is a strategy game for 2 to 4 players, ages 10+ and plays in a bit over an hour. The game is illustrated by award-winner Miguel Coimbra, who also did the artwork for the 2011 Kennerspiel des Jahres award-winning game 7 Wonders.
In Meduris, following the call of the gods, your people strike out to settle at the foot of Mount Meduris. The mountain is dedicated to the most important of the Celtic gods and has fertile soil and plenty of raw material awaiting brave settlers. The fields are full of juicy grass for your sheep, and there are quarries, mines, and dense forests. The area at the foot of the mountain is divided into nine districts, whose rune stones indicate the worship of various gods. As the four chosen ones, it is your task to develop the settlements and delight the gods. Your workers obtain the materials for constructing huts and temples on the high plains of the mountain. Only a player who obtains enough materials, cleverly selects the site of their huts and temples, and gains the mercy of the gods by making offerings to the druid will be selected as leader of the tribe.
OVERVIEW OF GAMEPLAY
Depending on the number of players, choose the appropriate side of the board as marked on a stone in the corner of the game board. At the beginning of the game, the various resource chips are placed in the appropriate spaces on the high-plain areas that surround the mountain in the center of the board. Players will take their components and place them in front of their player screens. In the picture above, notice the huts and temples in front of the blue player’s screen. Players then take one of each resource chip and place them hidden behind their player screens. Players, alternating in turn order, will place their workers in the different regions of the high plains. This is how resources will be gathered. In a 3 or 4 player game, players have 2 workers; in a 2 player game, 3 workers will be used by each player. Workers can be stacked on top of each other, with a limit of 3 workers.
The druid is placed on his temple in the corner of the board.
Play commences in a clockwise direction. A player’s turn always consists of two parts. The first part of the turn is called the small yield. This is done by rolling the die.
The six-sided die has four of the faces that show +1s on them in colors that match up with the four resources in the game: wool (white), copper (metallic), stone (gray), and wood (green). If one of these faces is the result, players will take obtain 1 resource chip of that type for each worker they have in that region and place into their supply behind their screen. The other 2 faces of the die will result in either each player taking a resource chip of their choice, or returning a resource chip from their supply back to its corresponding region of the high plains.
The second part of a player’s turn offers 3 options. The first option is called a Big Yield. This is a way to obtain more resources. Move a worker from one region to another. The worker can be taken out of a stack to be moved. In the new location the worker is placed on top of the stack. Depending on where the worker is in the stack determines the number of resources gathered.
In the picture above, the red player moves their worker onto the wool region. Since there is one worker below the one just placed, the red player will receive 2 resource chips. If the red worker was alone, only 1 chip would be obtained, and if the red worker had 2 workers below it, the red player would take 3 resource chips.
Another option is to build a hut. Each player has a number of huts that must be built during the game. In a 3-4 player game 8 huts; a 2 player game requires each player to build 12 huts. If you want to build a hut, you must choose an undeveloped field in the area of the board that surrounds the high plains regions. Each field has 2 resource icons. These are the resources that must be used to build a hut on this field.
Players return the required resources from behind their screen to the high plains areas and place a hut on that field.
Some spaces have bonus chips on them. If you build on these spaces, you will gain the benefit offered: gaining extra victory points, building for free, or even making a free offering to the druid (more about him later).
Sometimes, building a hut results in a settlement, which is two or more huts standing directly next to each other. They are divided by temples and undeveloped fields. When building a hut in a settlement, the resource requirements increase. For example, the second hut in a settlement will require 2 of each resource to be used, if it was the third hut, 3 of each and so on. Expanding settlements is costly, but…..rewards are greater too. More about that in a bit.
Once a hut has been built, the player takes the rune stone that matches the field the hut was placed on. These rune stones can be taken from other players if necessary. The rune stones are used for scoring points during the game.
Once the hut is placed, the druid moves. The first 3 moves the druid makes will be on the stone fields coming from his temple. After that, the druid moves around the board in a clockwise directions to occupied fields that have either huts or temples on them. I will talk more about the druid later.
A player can also choose to build a temple. A temple must be built on an undeveloped field that does not have a bonus chip on it. A temple is built similarly to how huts are built with the exception that required resources do not multiply like they do in settlements. So each temple requires 2 resources as noted on the undeveloped field. Each player has 2 temples that have to be built during the game. Temples create a border for settlements and offer players opportunities to score victory points based on the size of the settlement(s) directly to the left or right on them.
When placing a temple, a player does not receive a rune stone. After placing a temple, move the druid.
So let’s talk about the druid, since he has been mentioned several times now. The druid will visit huts and settlements where he will perform offering rituals. Think of the druid sort of as a door-to-door salesman. He visits a single hut, or he visits each hut in a settlement.
When the druid moves to a hut in a settlement, the owner of that hut has an opportunity to make an offering , where the druid performs an offering ritual that invokes the favor of the gods, which results in victory points being awarded. What the druid requests for an offering is the 2 icons on that field that were required to build the hut. Players can offer one or both of the requested resources in order to score victory points. Returning 1 of the requested resources earns 1 victory point, but returning both requested resources gives as many victory points as there are huts in the settlement. For example, if there are 6 huts in the settlement, 6 victory points are rewarded. So it may be worth the investment to build into a big settlement in order to gain a lot of victory points.
If the druid visits a single hut, only 1 resource is necessary to offer since only 1 point can be rewarded.
If a player chooses to not make an offering, then 1 victory point is lost, and that player’s marker is moved back one space on the score track.
One more thing we need to discuss about the game play is some interim scoring throughout the game. There is a section of the board that has the Great River on it. Whenever the druid’s movement causes him to cross the Great River, the game pauses and there is an interim rune scoring phase.
During the interim rune scoring, players receive 1 victory point for each rune stone currently in their possession. Then play resumes as normal.
The end of the game is triggered as soon as a player has placed all of their huts and temples. All other players take one more turn and then a final round begins. During the final round, use the die to mark the druid’s position and he does a final complete lap around the board for players to make offerings for scoring victory points. There is no interim rune scoring during the final lap.
At the end of the game, the player with the most victory points is the winner. There are several layers to break ties, but there is a chance for more than one winner.
- Great component quality
- Engaging game play that appeals to a wide audience
- Emphasis on resource management
- Play time can feel a bit long at times
- 2 player game is not so good
- Druid’s final circuit can be unfair
I have been impressed with HABA’s offerings in this family series of games so far. And Meduris – The Call of the Gods does impress me. Stefan Dorra has designed many games, with one of them being a favorite of mine, For Sale. HABA does a great job with production quality for all of their games. This game offers nice, bright wooden pieces, that are chunky. Also, the artwork for the both the box and the game board is awesome. I also find the MSRP of $49.99 quite fair for what you get, because there are a lot of wooden pieces in the game. In addition, the game is very approachable for families to play together as well as an evening of adults getting together to play.
The game uses mechanics that are similar to other games. For example, the resource gathering is very similar to Catan with the rolling of the die. It is very easy to get into and start playing the game because the rulebook is well written with plenty of illustrated examples. There is also a rule summary page as well. I found the gameplay overall to be engaging and turns do move rather quickly. It does a great job of challenging players to manage their resources, especially when it comes to building huts in settlements, with the multiplied resource requirements as the settlements expand. This is a great aspect of the game because it really helps younger players to develop skills to manage resources. Challenges arise for players as to timing for building huts or temples, both for possessing rune stones and erecting temples to border settlements. Players have to be aware of both what they themselves are doing as well as what their opponents are up to as well. Do you take multiple turns doing big yields to build up a large amount of resources and then build? But then you may miss out on getting in a large settlement with one of your huts before it is bordered by your opponents’ temples. Do you try to stop the expansion of a large settlement by placing a temple, only to deprive yourself of more victory points if you had placed your temple next to it when it was larger? Do you anticipate the druid’s movement and build in an area to grab a rune stone so you have it when the Great River is crossed? These are just some of the questions that you will ask yourself as you play Meduris.
The game also has some points that can be of concern. Because as settlements get larger, the resource requirements increase, and as a result it takes longer to build huts. This can sometimes make the game feel like it is dragging because there may be multiple turns that will be nothing but big yields. This is most noticeable in a 4-player game, where in some cases the game can feel a little long. Not a big concern but just something I noticed. I also feel that as a 2-player game, the experience is not so good. It is just a back and forth race and it just seems dull without additional players to compete with for points. I prefer the game with 3 or 4 players. I do like that the game will scale with players with the 2-sided game board. I think my biggest complaint has to do with the final round. The druid makes a final lap around the board to each settlement for offering rituals. If a player has all 8 (or 12 in a 2-player game) huts out on the board, that means a player has to be pretty stacked with resources in order to make offerings without losing victory points. This goes hand in hand with the game feeling a bit long; to really score, you need to prepare for the last round with a large amount of resources to make offerings.
Overall, I found Meduris – The Call of the Gods an enjoyable game. I found it challenging in the management of resources and also the timing of building. I like the amount of tension the game offers as players work to gain victory points while trying to get all of their buildings onto the board. I think the age recommendations are appropriate for Meduris, but some 10 year olds may be challenged by the game. I think this is a fine representation of a resource management game where having what you need, when you need it is of vital importance. I really like the quality of the components, artwork and overall presentation of the game, as it looks great on the table. I am a bit disappointed in the way the final round carries out, but I guess moving forward in future plays it will go into planning of the resources. I can say if you are planning on playing this game primarily with 2 players, you may want to try it before you buy it, as I do not recommend Meduris at 2 players. I prefer it with 3 or 4 players, even if it can feel a bit long at times at 4 players. I prefer the 4 player game because of the competition with 3 different opponents, but the 3 player game is played on a smaller board and it does offer some tight competition as well. Despite my feelings about the final round, I think the game is fine and is definitely worth taking a look at if you are planning on playing with at least 3 players.
For more information about Meduris – The Call of the Gods, here is a link for your convenience —> http://www.habausa.com/meduris-the-call-of-the-gods.html
*Disclaimer* The copy of Meduris – The Call of the Gods used in this review was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.