TL;DR– An amazing game with slight execution problems 85%
Basics– It’s time for some steampunk worker placement/terrain control. A recently discovered element called Spyrium has been found to have amazing properties to power steam machines. You take the role of a merchant in this steampunk setting vying for control of a Victorian empire. Each turn you set out building/cards in a 3×3 grid. Players take turns placing your workers between the available buildings, using that rounds special power, or moving to the second phase where you pick up your workers, use your own buildings, or use that rounds special power. When you pick up a worker you can either get one money for each worker next to that card or buy that card paying extra money for each other work next to that card. All cards have a point value for the end game. The buildings you control allow you to get money, get extra workers, get more money at the start of each round, get Spyrium, change Spyrium to points, or get game changing effects like extra money or ignore a number of workers near a buildings for paying the buildings cost. The special round powers give you options to get more workers, free money/points/Spyrium, or get an extra worker placement after you enter the worker pick up phase. The game ends after the sixth round and then points are counted. Person with the highest points has control of the empire and is the winner.
Mechanics-This is an excellent worker placement/terrain control game. It’s not terrain control as Carcassonne is, but reading other players and the board can really influence if you buy a property, only use it to gain money, or use your workers to bleed your opponents dry! The choice of when to move from worker placement to worker retrieval is an underused mechanic that really gives more choice to the players. I really love what I saw when I played this game. 5/5
Theme- I wouldn’t say this is the best game for theme, as I didn’t feel like a Spyrium baron in this game. But, I did feel like I was in this steampunk world. I love the little components. The little Spyrium random shapes are awesome. The cards/boards have consistent art that is great. A good effort when you look at it all together. 4.5/5
Instructions- I liked these instructions. The mechanics are not simple, but the instructions do an excellent job of explaining the rules. I did have some questions, but was able to find the rules on Board Game Geek. Our question focused on if you build over a building that gave an effect like getting more workers, do you still get to keep those workers. The answer is yes, but I felt the rules should have covered that. 4.5/5
Execution- Here is where things fall apart a bit. I love the components like the rules and the cards, but I found it hard to keep the active workers separate from the inactive workers. The other workers did too. I felt these should have been a spot on the placer place cards that was set up to separate active vs. used workers. Also, the main board has a spot to list the amount of money you get at the start of each round. I wanted there to be a similar spot to list the number of workers you have at the start of each round. In general, great parts in this game, but it needed a bit more. 3/5
Summary- I loved this game. It’s a phenomenal game with intricate strategy. The parts that are in the game are amazing and draw you into the game. I want a bit more, but the game is playable out of the box. If you love steampunk and worker placement games, then this buy is a no brainer. Even if you don’t like steampunk, this game is definitely worth playing if it comes to the table. 85%