The whole world is dependent on oil. We all have it on a plate, whether we want it or not. What if our plates are empty and all the known deposits will get dry? Are we turning to electricity, hydrogen or other sources? No way! We will look elsewhere, deeper and with greater effort, until we have exhausted all the supplies our planet provides!
New Antarctica board game, which Charles Chevallier has prepared for us, invites us to such hunt for black gold. His work was entrusted to the production of the experienced Argentum Verlag company, which have published great strategy games such as Hansa Teutonica. Antarctica, however, is a new game for 2015 and with illustrations of an experienced Dennis Lohausen.
On the lid we can see the base ready, but it’s only a vision. The players themselves will begin their efforts on an empty map comprised of eight sections that are full of silhouettes. To begin with, players place camp sites, research centers, but also a wooden crane, turbine and tower. And also token of the sun on its starting segment. Next to the map, players will stock up cards into five packages – three types of buildings, then resources and shipyards. Players then choose their colors and gradually place their ships (only a few) on the board, while others, along with dice of the same color are placed a green box on the future reinforcements. Then he just marks zero on the scale of the victory points for his color.
During the game, the Sun token will rotate around the board to determine which ships to move. Each vessel can swim any other sector where a player can immediately take one of the possible actions. There are four to choose from (and the option to skip turn and do nothing). At the camp, player can recruit scientist, move on the scale of the research (according to the station’s focus), but after paying the costs, he also has a chance to build a building or ship in the shipyard.
With new boat, all other rivals receive a shipyard card. As a result of the ship’s motion, active player can also play a shipyard or resource card and gain some new advantage. They also come from a research scale where players‘ cubes move forward and their owners receive certain rewards (symbols shown).
Only first ship on the stop will get to do the action, while the next ones will only move more to the edge, bringing them closer to action in next rounds. An exception is when the ship owner plays icebreaker card. This will allow to make action no matter which position his ship is on.
But back to the construction of the building, for which the conditions must be met. Not only does the player needs to have free structures of the required type but he also needs a scientist. Only then is it possible to place the building and fight with it for domination of the area. This is just the first element to be evaluated, when the end of the game ends.
The game ends when one of the participants places the last building or scientist on the plan. There is time for the final scoring, which is about the dominance of eight territories. However, also majority of scientists is scored, while the number of buildings adds only points in case of success. Other chances to move towards victory also bring research scales, resources discarded (can be done in a round completely for free) and some buildings also bring points by themselves. The winner becomes the player with the highest total.
Antarctica is actually a classic euro game where you fight for domination over the territory. Its original in way of changing turns. They do not go in a circle and alternate between the players. Instead, it all depends on the ships, that are placed in each segment and move back and forth. Thanks to the positioning, it can easily happen, that one of the opponents even gets a double chance to influence the situation on the board.
It is precisely the layering of the scientists‘ figures that is the main way to gain the predominance of the area and thus a good ranch of victory points. But it is not enough to win. The resulting score for the segment is determined not only by scientists but also by the buildings present. Players have to cleverly plan their envoys so that the overall impression is very pleasantly under their control and strictly tactical.
The course is not breathtaking, rather slow and thoughtful. So players need to be patient. It is best to think when waiting for your turn, but you need to keep your mind also on the final evaluation itself. The boat spaces are given, but goals are enough and actions the player take decide about many things. Apart from influencing the sector itself, it is also necessary to think of the ship coming back to action soon. The more to the edge it is, the better for the players.
Overall, it is quite a prose in the Euro-mechanic games. But it does not necessarily have to be seen negatively, it depends only on the opinion of a particular player. So, if you like racing duels for area control and do not mind the absence of conflict, then make sure to name the Antarctica among your secret Santa wishes. It can become one of your new hot tabletops. Just make sure you do not need anything unique or original besides the theme. Processing is still solid.
Matches are better with more players when the board is much more tight. Boats do not have enough space to move, and it’s also hard to get a significant lead. The game is definitely not going to be short and you’d better count on sacrificing more than hour to complete the fight.
Antarctica is a solid Euro, in which it is all just about the points. This time you will get them by laying down figures and gaining domination. In addition, other elements offer paths to the points. Overall, Antarctica is above-average, high-quality, but could be boring and dry game for someone.
Antarctica offers eight parts of a frozen continent, that you can control. However, you need many scientists under your control and it is not easy to achieve. But there is also a point reward that again requires some player intervention. Overall, the way to the points is tangled and slow, but this still highlights the slow pace of the game. Antarctica does not offer anything new in the world of strategic euro games, but it definitely works.