In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there is one place, that is both beautiful and scary at the same time. These are the slums called favelas. A place, that is stricken with poverty, yet with its appearance and colorfulness attracts visitors. Not every tourist dares to go there, but as starting artists, you have been give a unique opportunity – a project of renovation and beautification of this area!
Unfortunately, everything will only happen virtually on our table. But perhaps the emergence of this board game will raise interest in this sad area. Author of the Favelas title is Chris Bryan and his creation was prepared by Wizkids company in 2017. The colorful suit was delivered by illustrator Kwanchai Moriya. Distribution for European market is done by Esdevium Games.
Although the game box has a pale blue color, we see a small planet made of colorful houses on the lid. Players will need to do plenty of punching out of components, because the core of the game are cardboard hexagons. Some of them are coupled into blocks by two pieces. But players each place a much larger area in the form of a starting board of nine such hexagonal houses in front of them. This is part of the favelas, that player is renovating. Each one is a little different, so every opponent gets random one.
Player creates a pool of tiles in the middle in the form of three piles (only those made of two hexagons). Near the bottom of each one, there will be also a tile end of the round shuffled. The first three randomly drawn pieces create an start offer. A stack of single building tiles and a scoreboard are needed just above these drawing piles. Each participant places one point marker on zero space and togeter roll a set of five dice. Then, by color, they place these dice on a common board showing number, that was rolled and by doing this, they set first assignment from city council.
Whole beautification of the city takes place over three years, one corresponding to each pile. Every year closes after revealing the end of the year tile. In his turn, player first takes a new piece into his hand. He can always choose either from an open offer of three building tiles or draw blindly from the pile for the current year.
Newly obtained tile should be placed immediately. It is possible to overlap any area on player’s board, but he may always place piece only to lie in one level and it should never exceed base dimensions of the plan. In this case, all players are trying to overlap space with the same color. This allows them to affect the value on a dice, that lies in apropriate color area on common board. It is up to the player, whether he wants to increase or decrease its value. Here everyone will follow their tactics based on scoring plans.
If the player does not want to do any of these two options, he may decide to take a single tile. This decision at the same time means, that he must obligatorily adjust value of the transparent dice. Changing a value is always mandatory, so even if the dice reaches its maximum, and it’s not good for that player to reduce it, he must do it.
Players draw one piece in turn and use it immediately. Once the end of the year label appears, the given time phase ends. Players all score their colorful creation. However, only the one, who has the most houses of each color in his area is rewarded with points. But that’s not all, because value of this majority only means as many points as is digit shown at the end of the year on die for that color. Transparent dice value will then be rewarded to all players, who have used all five colors at the end of the year.
Players then continue in the second and third year, but their constructions remains and must grow with them. Gradually they overlap houses with other colors, adjust dice and try to reverse everything in their own favor. At the end of the third year, all opponents compare their score points on the scale, and the one, who has earned the most of them, becomes the winner.
Favelas is thus a very casual game of color collecting and trying to get superiority in their placement. At the same time, players are also influenced by changing value of bonuses for individual colors, so they can help themselves or harm their opponents.
And yet, the players do not decide about everything. In each round, they have to choose from a selection of pieces and sometimes they will just will be lucky and unlucky. At the same time, however, this part of the game will show, how player can handle unwanted tiles. Usually, most colors can be cleverly used even if unwanted and adjust the dice values for example to hurt rivals. This can always be done only when player overlays the house by another building of the same color. Otherwise, the dots on dice do not change, no matter how well placed the die was!
With really clear and basic rules, game is a great magnet for families and less experienced players. And here it will definitely be celebrating success, because overlapping of colors, change in values on the dice, and after all the scoring based on the majority, is a guarantee of an interesting course.
End of the game is never clearly given beforehand and can take place within the last few tiles. This makes the end of each year exciting, as the situation can change even before the year ends and without you getting a chance to react. Fortunately, there are three years, so players can fix mistakes from previous years.
To have fun with changing dice, higher number of participants is of course ideal. This means specifically four opponents, who then can very well fight for the majority of individual colors. But its playable even with two, altough its somewhat lacking. Game is fast and whole color battle is a matter of forty minutes.
Processing is excellent. Beautiful colorful illustrations really decorate the whole game and the spread cities look really beautiful. All this is supported by amazing huge dice. Overall, the experience is spoiled perhaps slightly by debatable replayability, because gameplay will not change much between the parts.
Favelas is a bit of an abstract game, that comes as an interesting family fun. It is decorated with simple rules and a pleasant processing. Everything looks beautiful, so the game (especially with regard to the target audience) will be forgiven the moderate reserves in replayability. But otherwise, Favelas also should make its colorful presence on every beginner shelf.
Favelas is a game, where it's all about right tactics and usage. The theme is here, but it's more about abstract entertainment. With simple rules, the game becomes an important member of beginner board games. They will certainly appreciate its content, because game offers an interesting combination of several elements. And this makes it really interesting for non experienced players. All this is packed into a beautiful robe, so Favelas remains a very solid family game.