Review: Bioshock Infinite – Siege of Columbia – Booker Dewitt strikes back on the table
/ * Before starting actual review, please note, that none of the reviewers has played original and this review will not in any way refer to PC game. * /
Whenever I look at the sky, I can not believe my eyes. Only blue skies, clouds and sun. People, who live on the earth beneath, have a different view. They can see tremendous Columbia, hovering above their heads. I once belong there, too, but now I live in a high tower, where I can see the whole world. I heard, that Booker Dewitt makes buzz in the streets again. Today is a good day to start a war. Floating city will be mine!
It has been written a lot on the subject of transfer of computer games to other media. We also dealt with it in for example Sid Meier’s Civilization. We can not help our feeling, that many concepts can not be converted into a board game. We did not believe it even with action game Bioshock. But everything is different, as Bioshock: Siege of Columbia has convinces us. The game was published under auspices of Plaid Hat Games company at the end of 2013 Its author is Isaac Vega and illustrations were prepared by John Ariosa, Pavel Guzenko a Peter Wocken.
The square box is in front of us now and build scene of a revolution within city, dominated by a railway track in the air. Inside you will find a big fold game board in the first place. This map includes six territories and those are further divided into smaller or larger locations. This time, miniature lovers will definitely feel impoverished, because there is a lot of figures for both opposing side of this conflict. Each party has unit leader, fighters and then ordinary soldiers. You simply differentiate them according to their bases. Among the characters see can be found also two familiars – Booker and Elizabeth.
The game is large, when it comes to amount of cardboard tokens represented not only by silver eagles (game currency) and red crosses for destroyed locations, but also colored tokens of buildings: defense towers and alarms for each player. There are also militia tokens in sufficient quantity to defend all locations on a map and valuable victory points.
Along with a dozen combat dice and three dice for a ride on heavenly paths, a pile of cards is waiting for players. Main ones are showing a portrait of the leader for both sides of conflict (these are called Vox Populi and Founders), together with their special abilities. There is a total of eight of them in the game. Another big card is for Elizabeth and is used to measure time and player boards, where is not only overview of a turn, but is also a place to place unit improvements.
Among the cards are random events, which will players activate at the beginning of each round by vote. Below them, you will find also victory point cards and of course particularly special action cards, that are unique for each side of the conflict.
Thus we arrive at the end of components list and we can finally get down to preparing the game, which is excellently explained in the rulebook. You place a board in the middle of the table and randomly selec one militia token for each of the locations. Each player draws one leader, takes big card in its color, deck of action cards, building tokens and units. Some of them are immediately sent to a certain starting locations on the map. Do not forget Elizabeth card, starting on the first frame, measuring your time for the war. Next to the board will be placed shuffled decks of event cards and victory points. First one will be revealed from each of them at the beginning of the game, which at this very moment occurred.
Before starting turn, first player in each round has to reveal new event. Both rivals then vote together, whether they want this card to be activated or not. All such events have shown, which party elects for and which one against it and player can choose, how strongly he will support it. According to his wishes, he needs to play one or more cards face down in front of him. Sum of their values is then evaluated, roll of the dice is added, and if result is positive, event will take place. Voting at the same time also decides about starting player for the next round.
Only then players have reached their turns. Player gradually gain money for played cards and can use these funds to construct buildings or recruit new units and send them to the city. But they can only enter city on space, where player has some building of his color. Such a location is under his control thanks to this building.
Up to four units can then be moved from their current position to the neighboring floating parts of the city. In addition to the slower motion, there is still one great option – to use dangerous, but fast sky trails. With their help, player can move any number of steps between islands and jump down, when he is ready to. However each crossing, which his unit in the air meets raises risk of falling. For each such crossroad must player roll a trio of special dice and he needs to find at least one thumb up. At that moment, he can decide, if he wants to continue moving forward or stop at that particular location. However, if no thumb at all is present on the dice, unit fell down and is irretrievably lost.
After moving, player can attack his opponent or may be forced to fight with the militia in a place, where no army was before him. During the fight, cards will play some role, but players will finally use those battle dice. And yet it all begins again by playing cards, that allow to perform some relevant actions and their strength is added to the result of dice rolling (their number depends on number of units in combat). Loser must at this moment destroy his building and one of his unit got mortally wounded. All others run away to place with player’s fortress.
Players may improve one of their units not only as reward for battle won, but also in other situations (becoming first player or acquiring victory points cards). He can puts a token on his reference card to a unit, which marks its improvement until end of the game. At any time during his turn, player can meet conditions of available victory point cards. If this happens, he reports it to his enemy and puts one of his victory points tokens on it. Victory points can be also acquired by control of the territories, which consist of a number of locations. Once a player has all of them under his domination, he plays victory point token to game board.
At the end of the round, player may discard any number of cards from his hand and draw back to five. Once one of the players empties drawing deck, he shuffles discarded cards and creates a new one. But as a result of this situation, he also reveals a new victory points card. Game continues with new events until the moment, when one of the opposing factions had accumulated ten victory points on their side. This side of the conflict can be instantly declared the winner.
Bioshock: Siege of Columbia is a skirmish game, that contains a number of surprising elements. Yet within its body breathes simple fight for territory, its can be percieved as similar to Risk first. And simplicity is the main place, where it is truly the same. Everything remains beautifully easy to learn and play, but is occasionally enriched with new enhancements, that push the game to a completely different level.
Right at the beginning of each round, very important thing happens – a referendum of citizens for new law, that should come to pass. And because players represent their people, they vote using their cards. Each party of conflict has opinion given its ruling position, which corresponds to the world. Therefore, player can always affect outcome of this voting by how many plays cards will he play. It is good, that your opponent sees number of cards, you have played, because it can tell him a little about tactics you are going for.
Actual combat is very simple. With the support of cards, players compete either with each other or with the militia by rolling dice. Game even contains a conflict with Booker, who is trying to save Elizabeth. You can suffer some loss even thanks to his skill. But being in battle always means, that two entities are in the same position and victory must be decided in battle.
Largest resource for atmosphere is the possibility of taking a risk and try to penetrate enemy territory and attack him from the back. This is an amazing opportunity, that tremendously expands the tactical potential of the game. You suddenly stop to perceive, that battle is dice driven, because it’s all just about managing your units and buildings and fighting for control.
But while both sides are fighting for control, they are at the same time trying to fulfill tasks given to them by victory point cards. These are added gradually and ensure, that the game has a reasonable length. It always runs around an hour, which is very good news for such a skirmish game. Actually, its a lot below the classical Risk match.
Game can be enjoyed usually only by two players. There is also an option for team play of four, but the main and principal point of the game is a battle of two opposing sides on floating islands of Columbia. And this works great, creating a tough and tense battle, which is different every time you play.
Processing is absolutely excellent, from detailed game board, through the beautiful pieces to the brilliantly illustrated cards. Everything only supports final gaming experience. In doing so, rules are really detailed, full of examples and explain whole game surprisingly quickly. At the same time, thanks to its many details, its really long and it may unnecessarily deter some players, although its pretty simple in the end.
Bioshock: Siege of Columbia carries a heavy stone in the form of luck along with it. Players can affect most activities by playing their cards. Voting is done only by card, but there are also parts, highly depending on luck. Mostly battles. Overall, however, game breathes great atmosphere and offers immersive fun for two players. For all fans of Bioshock is this game an obligation. But is serves as great fun even for players unfamiliar with the original, because its such a blast to play and breathe in this floating islands world.
Review: Bioshock Infinite – Siege of Columbia – Booker Dewitt strikes back on the table
Bioshock Infinite: Siege of Columbia gives all excited players a chance to return back to world hanging in clouds. And not only these, but also novice are most welcome, although they do not know Booker Dewitt and never stood on Vox Populi side. Game brings two rivals agains each other (or cooperating teams of two), which are fighting for control over different locations. This land is composed of flying islands defended by civilians, who needs to be persuaded by force first. Players also can build their defense constructions there, control them and gain victory points. There are laws, which can get into their way, but their effect is voted for by both enemies at start of each turn. Battles are quick and they are only means to fulfilling task cards next to game board and collect victory points goal as first. Game literally overflows with theme, atmosphere and tension, which is based mostly on dice rolls. Not only fights, but also chance to attack enemy from the back relies on them. But while riding these skytrails, your units can easily fall into oblivion. Both rivals have to tacticize and use their options properly, upgrade their units and even some errors might then be forgiven. Game includes many small ideas, which differ this game from basic Risk mechanism, its based on. And this is also the main reason, why Bioshock Infinite: Siege of Columbia is extraordinary game, which will inspire all duel lovers.