Review: Ophiuchus – search for missing thirteenth sign

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Twelve is a bad number. Even number could never be right and finite number of star signs. Odd would be much much better. But the last, thirteenth sign was lost thousands of years ago in the haze of our galaxy. Now, we finally got the technique, that will be able to detect it.

And we will not be alone to look up inside the black box called . Its author is and simple stellar graphics was created by . Game was released in late by production company Apokalypse inc.

From cover of completely dark box lurks only a few outlined constellations and colored emblem indicating the game itself. Under cover of darkness, we also enter into the interior of the box, which is not very high. Yet, at its core are components, that occupy only half of available space and are all covered by folded rules of A3 size. One side of the sheet is enough to make you play, with rich examples to explain, how this astrological fun to play.

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In box can also be found thirteen large tiles of constellation with the desired shape and a grade. Smaller pieces are divided in half like domino pieces and each part is wearing a different number of vari-coloured dots. Overall picture of the sky in this game is completed by twelve round tokens of rewards.

At the beginning of the game, players spread all thirteen signs, so everyone could see them easily. Then, everyone gets hidden three domino tiles, which he does not show to anyone. Remaining construction tiles for starry skies are laid face down aside – players will draw from there. One of them is placed in the middle and serves as starting condition for the start of the game.

Each round, players take turns and lay out one tile. They must attach it, so that one side of new constellation shares side with any one already played stone. Total size of the whole gameplay area must never exceed width and height of nine squares. But there is yet another limitation – all dots, rings and circles, that are on tiles, must always be counted together. Their sum can never exceed (in row or column) number thirteen. This is true only for neighboring pieces, so it is possible to create a dividing line in  form of an empty square.

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Classic attachments will not do anything and player only draws a new piece to finish his turn. However, it is also possible, that he succeeded to create the exact sum of 13 in a row or column of directly adjacent tiles. For this, he can draw two new tilse and then throw away any of his tiles back into stocks. Or, instead of this, player may get a small round token, which is worth one victory point at the end of the game.

Victory of one of the players gets closer every time someone manages to produce one of the constellations, as is required by large tiles. Sequence of colors and shapes is the only guide for obtaining the plates into player’s property. He receives it together with all the points, which are printed in the upper right corner. Game ends, when no player can place any of his remaining pieces. The winner is the one, who gathered the most points.

Ophiuchus is a universe game, but that does not offer anything new or breathtaking. It allows us to again and again combine pieces of the constellation by connecting tiles. There is a lot of goal shapes to choose from at the beginning and it is up to the players, which of them will they try to accomplish. Individual constellations are of different levels of difficulty and also differ in reward points.

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Player has during his turn choice of several tiles to add and connect to those already places. Luck still has influence and decides, how he can be successful, but player usually has a chance to make a difference. It is a fact, that on individual domino tiles are always several dots, so he can always somehow try to incorporate each stone into his plans. But its still only a tile-laying game.

Which would not be a bad thing, but unfortunately for the simplicity of the game, it becomes uncomfortably long. Half-hour is the absolute minimum to complete it and you usually fail to achieve even this timeframe. Due to limited gaming content, laying and connecting pieces sooner or later ceases to entertain. The only excitement is battle for task cards, where players can go for the same goal. Another conflict is not present in this game.

Everything is then just about the ability to search for the best place to place a tile. Connecting the dots in a row could be learned by smaller kids, but oddly enough, all is recommended from age of fourteen up. We would dare and mark it as appropriate for the audience of ten years. Only the ability to find the right location can separate players of different ages.

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Most interesting is the game in two, where players have more control over the development. Little planning is also possible here, but you need to be just a bit unlucky and one of your opponents will destroy the ready position easily.

Ophiuchus comes nowhere near any exceptional game and offers space dominoes with a greater degree of tactics. Game is interesting in its concept and common tasks, that rivals try to meet. Attaching tiles is so common mechanic, that there are certainly much better options, than Ophiuchus on the market and that is a shame given its theme.

DesignerEmilio Zampa
ArtistMaurizio Faleschini
PublisherApokalypse Inc
Year Published2015
# of Players1 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 2 players
Recommended with players
(1 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(1 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(1 voters)
CategoryAbstract Strategy, Science Fiction
MechanicSet Collection, Tile Placement
FamilyTheme: Astronomy
Primary NameOphiuchus: The Thirteenth Constellation

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Ophiuchus – search for missing thirteenth sign
Final word
Ophiuchus is a place, where the thirteenth, hitherto unknown, zodiac sign resides. Players compete to find it, but they have to also connect other constellation by placing tiles and connecting them. Pieces have always more dots and their merging is intuitive, but players have to watch out for some limitation in their placement. This makes the game quite interesting. But as you get near the end of match, game becomes too long and brings nothing extra to the genre. Ophiuchus thus remains only an average game, although it is not bad in any way.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
theme
common goals visible from beginning (and their number)
each tile has more uses
you need good orientation
limitations in placement
Cons
longer playing time
lack of originality
2.5
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