Review: Cerebria The Inside World –light against darkness, a duel of emotions

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First, there was nothing. Then came the first emotion. No one will know whether it was joy, happiness, anger or sadness. For many millions of years, they had just flown through the universe and searched for the meaning of their existence in vain. But then Cerebria came into being and a creatures evolved on its surface over time. Physical world started to enjoy all different emotions, and so began the eternal struggle.

And to such a world full of emotions, we are invited by designers and . Under the auspices of Mindclash Games (Anachrony), a new unique game called was created. Illustrations were made by four illustrators , , Jamie Sichel and . Their joint work had success with more than 6000 players on Kickstarter, where the game was very successful. And now it’s flying to Europe on the wings of Esdevium Games.

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Box is really big and on its lid, we see both sides – dark Gloom and positive Bliss. Bottom line is, that Cerebria is duel of two teams and just according to that the players will be divided into two groups, each one chearing for one side of emotions – good or bad. The individual players then choose each their own particular characters and spirit, whose board they receive together with the cardboard figurine (in the plastic stand). Together, each side will also get their team board. On it, partners in fight place a set of aspiration cards and also a triple of ambition tokens. Everyone then unlocks his character actions, they want to use from the beginning of the game. Teams also get big plastic fragments.

Then everyone’s attention turns to a large common board, that is divided into five areas, but above all, there are several routes for the movement of spirit figures. In the middle of the board, there is an opening, that players use to connect a rotating area known as Origin. Each of the five circles there must receive starting seven willpower tokens. On the positions in the map areas, both teams place their starting emotions with intensity of one (marked with a clear stone of essence and, according to their position, they create control of the frontiers and realms).

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All that remains is to determine order, in which all participants will alternate. Each player then gets their own emotion deck, shuffles the cards and draws two of them in his hand. The rest is placed as a draw pile in the corner of the board, that is closest to the player. And while each team can look at their secret aspiration card, a line of random seven common aspirations are created above the plan, of which only the leftmost one is active (teams comepte for it) at the time.

In his turn, player always has three action points, which he can arbitrarily divide between team skills or abilities of his spirit. In addition to the range of these options available, player has a chance to absorb willpower energy from the Origin once at any time during his turn. For this purpose, the position of the figure on the plan must be taken into account and player can always draw strength only from the nearest circle.

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It is these valuable stones of willpower, that are needed for most other actions. With their help, spirits can move around the map, add new emotion cards to realms (emotion invocation), move them elsewhere, strengthen them (their own) or decrease their intensity (opponent’s). Most of these influences are made by the player directly on the map with his figure and he can do so again only for his surroundings (adjacent spaces). In addition, players with their spirits can also make simpler actions – get points of willpower, change them into essence or get new cards from their own deck. It is these essence stones, that are important, because they give emotions their intensity and players put them on emotional cards on the board.

Activities on the player’s spirit board are at first only available in their basic version. They are very simple and weak. If everyone wants to make the most of their choices, they must improve them. Of course, there are other actions, that can be used to place new cardboard square and unlock more expensive variants. They do not have to use them every time, but at a higher price, they provide also more choices – for example, the chance to stop in a space with enemy spirit, to place their fortress or to get fourth action in turn.

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As a result, players are fighting for victory points. The most striking way to go for them is to fulfill ambition cards, that are scored during the game. As soon as the supply of willpower stone is empty in one circle of the Origin, the time comes for a Revelation. And here the ambition cards always count with the direct comparison of both teams and their successes. If the team is better in the compared element, then it gets the chance to place its fragment in the center of the board.

Fragments will only be evaluated at the end of the game. Meanwhile, players can gather points progressively for the intentions, they have printed on their board. And once a team is out of a supply of these fragments, or last common aspiration is evaluated, it is time for the final scoring. The points already scored by the two teams are increased for their part of the joint construction (rewards for fulfilled aspirations) and the team with a higher point gain is celebrating the victory.

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Cerebria: The Inside World is a tremendously interesting game. And its true not only because of a wonderful graphic design but, above all, an absolutely unique theme. The story of spirits and emotions creates simply great and fantastic world of mechanisms, that surrounds them. And its all interlocked and works together as a whole.

Everything is inconspicuously turning around the majority element. But its not static at all. On the contrary, everything is constantly changing, as players can not only boost individual emotions, but also move them or weaken their opponents. All this doing is still just a jigsaw in a puzzle, that leads to victory. While players need to control areas and frontiers, they must do, what ambition cards call for.

Their fulfillment is the main route to team success. Here, players have to work together (and practically without words) to go for the same goals. The game is itself referred by authors as team-oriented, and these four players matches are the main way you should play Cerebria. And yet, there are also variants in the rules for lower numbers, but they work quite differently and lack the important element of opaque cooperation. Still its fun even with two, because of the whole complexity.

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The game offers a huge number of actions, that still have their variants, when they are improved. Everything is facilitated by the well chosen iconography. On the back of the rules is an overview of all the images used, but most of them are well chosen and selfexplanatory after few uses. Thanks to them, the game does not require any lyrics and is, after learning the rules, beautifully linguistically independent.

But the rules are really complex. They stretch across a total of 36 pages and most of them are really honestly used to explain game principles and ideas to make players understand all the connections. Still, players in the early stages will only hardly find optimal the right paths to victory. These are clearly given, but they multiple steps on the way. That’s why the matches are tough at first and not easy to learn even to another newcomers.

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Still, there’s a set of flaws in the game. The most striking is the complexity of the game, which given its looks and theme can successfully attract less experienced players. And then they get completely lost in the complex tree of the options. On the other hand, this feature can be perceived also as a positive, if you are an experienced player. It is a matter of approach.

The difficulty of the game is logically followed by another consequence, and that is the game time. Although the box indicates a value beginning at sixty minutes, most of your games will end up after the upper limit of two hours and sometimes even exceed this time. Game can also be a relatively rich and that means longer turn of individual participants. So if there are four in the game, then you must count with long waiting for your next turn. And the worst thing about it is, that you do not enjoy planning in advance during that period, because too much things change on the map, so you can make decisions only after you get your turn.

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The course of learning is similar to that in Anachrony. After a few games, you will begin to see all these logical connections clearly and you can only concentrate on your tactics and enjoy the overall experience. This is really great, because the game is very competitive and thanks to this, its replayability is high. Even though it does not change so much across the individual matches.

Processing of this box is simply great. From the illustrations, through the gorgeous design of the game board and the plastic fragments, all the way to the meaningful icons. All of this can be even improved with miniatures, that you can buy separately.

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Cerebria: The Inside World is a game for demanding gamers, who can adapt to the ever-changing world of emotions. The combination of theme and gameplay is absolutely great, and it all fits together. Cerebria: The Inside World is a guaranteed experience in a world of emotions and a good thematic delicacy, while remaining a strict euro.

DesignerRichard Amann, Viktor Peter
ArtistPedro A. Alberto, Toby Allen, Villő Farkas, Jamie Sichel
PublisherMindclash Games, Intrafin Games
Year Published
# of Players1 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4+ players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(77 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages14 and up
User Suggested Ages16 and up
(17 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(2 voters)
CategoryFantasy
MechanicAction Points, Area Majority / Influence, Deck Construction, Hand Management, Point to Point Movement, Team-Based Game, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionCerebria: The Inside World – Forces of Balance
FamilyCrowdfunding: Kickstarter, Game: Cerebria, Players: Games with Solitaire Rules, Theme: Psychology
Primary NameCerebria: The Inside World
Alternate NamesCerebria: Le monde intérieur

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Cerebria The Inside World –light against darkness, a duel of emotions
Final word
Cerebria: The Inside World raises a lot of emotions and most of the time, they’re only positive. And we have sincere pleasure in it, because it's really great. Although learning the rules and the length of the turns are a little bit over the top, but it all gives you plenty of options, meaningful mechanisms going hand in hand with the theme and gorgeous graphics. Cerebria: The Inside World is an advanced game and offers a very interesting team tactical experience.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
great theme
amount of options in turn
beautifully sophisticated game
looks great
great team element
very conflicting
excellent iconography
Cons
game deceives with looks (you might think it will be easier)
long waiting for the turn
long match
not easy to learn
5
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