Review: Urknall The Big Bang – stars and constellations in creation
Big Bang. Unimaginable moment, which lasted only a little while, but its consequences accompany us to this day. And one of those outcomes is ourselves. But we do not care about now, instead we go back to the moment, when the matter flew in space in its various forms. We stop into that fleeting moment, and as a good time traveler, we attempt to make the best out of it for ourselves.
Somehow the idea is basic of Urknall, a tactical game by Axel Hennig. His game was liked and published by Mücke Spiele, which operates a popular Spielematerial.de. And as it comes from those around 13.7 billion years ago, this game takes place in, making it probably unsurpassed record for the time difference between now and board game world.
There is not too much components inside. But even crazy illustration on the cover showing a big bang probably suffice to get you there in your imagination. Everything is left to the game principle, but it still remain a mystery for you readers. And for a while it will stay that way. Instead, we return to the scene and found twelve pages of rules littered with sparse text full of examples.
Just below easy to understand text lie things, that are common with the last game we reviewed from this publishing house – Exposaurus (review). We are talking about transparent stones of celestial bodies present in three colors – red, blue and green. Unfortunately, like gems in this dinosaur game, they also break and brittle, which is really bad news for everyone.
But back to Urknall, that hides in its heart four pieces of astronauts and in their matching colors also some of those dice and tokens needed. And everything is made of wood. When naming six-sided dice, we found we actually have enumerated all the components the game is made of.
Start of the game remains the same through all matches. First, you choose a color and take all its components – an astronaut, a round comet and ten property blocks. Then you have to make those two seemingly difficult things: big bang and stopping time. Any player picks up all the colored stones of celestial bodies and throws them in the air above the table. When they fall back down (and you can be pretty sure they will), you merge this chaos into groups and bring a little order to all bang stuff. Their constitution is strict: four groups of three, six groups of two and rest of planets remains on the table alone for now.
Each player chooses one small constellation of just one body as his starting position. He puts there not only his astronaut, but also a token representing his ownership. Each wooden cube on the table belongs to one celestial body – colored stone. The first constellations and their size is now clear, but since the big bang is unpredictable doing, various constellations can merge and split again. It is therefore necessary to follow the rule, that your ownership cube is always directly below the asteroid and remains there no matter what shifts occur.
Game is now continue with moves of the players, who take turns in marking their ownership. At the beginning of everything, you must roll the dice to determine results – decide, whether the bodies will be merged into larger groups or divided back into smaller ones.
Before change in the distribution of celestial bodies, player has first chance to move his astronaut from one constellation to a neighboring one. Movement is somehow limited. You can only move to places, that have at least one piece of the same color, as a group, where is your spaceman located. At the same time, you must also be able to place new cube in the target group – there must be one free celestial body. As a result of your visit, your man immediately claims one celestial body and allows you to place cube there.
Now you need to look after the smallest clusters in the whole universe. The player finds two smallest constellation and count number of their bodies. He must compare this number with the result of dice roll. If the number is greater, than the sum, the player will merge constellation. Otherwise, he will split them.
He does not necessarily need to combine only two smallest groups. Must always use at least one of them and merge it with any other neighbor. But they should never together exceed the sum of the resulting number on the dice. Thanks to this, you can never have a constellation containing more than six stars.
During the game players alternate in rolling dice, splitting and merging, but also in travel with their astronaut and allocating their ownership cubes. Indeed, all is just about them. Once in the game you can improve your position by using the comet, which allows you to temporarily break the rules – such ability allows you to claim one more element in the current system without moving or travel to a constellation, which has no common element.
Game ends, when players have placed their last cube. Now it’s time to sum accumulated victory points for your pieces of property. Every element, that is in your possession, will bring you something. Exceptions are groups containing only one celestial body. These have no value and it does not matter.
In constellations everything depends on the color of asteroids. It determines amount of received victory points. If there is only one planet of particular color in constellation, it has a value equal to the number of other distinct stars. Some celestial bodies are present in pairs. Any such body will bring its owner exactly two points. Larger groups of one color will reward only its majority owner and a value corresponds to the number of planets of this color. Players add up all the points collected, thus a master of the big bang becoming the one, who has most of them.
Urknall game is quite unique. You definitely did not play nothing like it before. You can not find any game board in here, just stones randomly scattered on the table. Yet there is absolutely fixed order in this chaos, which you will learn to understand very quickly.
The game is also very tactical. Beyond the initial distribution of celestial bodies, you will find only one significant influence of luck, as you have to follow result of the dice roll. This often narrows horizons and possibilities you have, and makes it difficult to achieve your goals. The presence of a random element forces you to constantly adapt, which is ultimately good result for gameplay.
Game board and constellations of the stars are constantly changing as the celestial bodies move, rearrange, reduce and increase again. Similar chaos was really in that time during the Big Bang, the universe rules and you’ll feel so in the game too.
Skillful spliting and merging groups and final counting of victory points requires some training at the beginning and consultation with rules. There are so specific conditions, that you initially have from time to time consult the manual. It certainly would not hurt, if there was a help card with a summary.The actual counting of points at the end of the game is quite complex and can take uncomfortably lot of time.
Game of Urknall is designed for two to four players, as indicated by color. But even for two rivals, you you must include all four colors. We actually do not like playing for these dummy players, which are used to balance game, because players cannot concentrate so well. We therefore recommend to play the game especially in multiplayer, where you constantly drag for ownership of asteroids.
Will also find a variant in rulebook, where you can create a small black hole right on your table. With it you can not do anything and cubes of these bodies do not reward you any points. However, emergence of such phenomenon may affect game in an interesting way, because you can use it to attack and harm your rivals.
Processing of the game is not exceptional. Word enough is nearest to reality. It had a potential to look extremely impressive on the game table. Instead, the casual passerbies might get impression, you have just randomly scattered stones before you..
The game is still very unique, and the more you play it, the better you learn to recognize the advantageous combinations shown on the table. As a result, beginners have little chance of winning against experienced players.
Urknall offers interesting concept of abstract game, where winner status is awarded according to victory points. Astronauts are moving their way to victory, but the game revolves primarily around constantly rearranging constellations as their point value depends on their constitution. The universe is evolving and you have to adapt. Or perish. Go out into the vacuum and you will see, the choice is clear..
Review: Urknall The Big Bang – stars and constellations in creation
Urknall: The Big Bang lets you walk over the stars. And as you visit them in your spacesuit, you claim them as your property. But because the universe is still in its creation, you cannot be sure, what will happen in the next moment. Constellations shift and change, which is simulated using dice in the game. You will split and join groups of stars based on its results and with it will also shift dominance in each of them, influencing your final point income. Whole game has interesting idea and its implementation i salso nice, but particularly the final scoring is chaotic and maybe too complicated. Moreover, there are issues with processing, because glass tokens break and crumble. Urknall remained original, but missed its chance to write into category of unique games. And becomes just average..
Reader Rating0 Votes
gets better with more matches
interesting concept of travelling
likely (by theme) the oldest game in the world
surprisingly tactical use of dice
constantly regrouping board
glass tokens are breaking (one degree in our final verdict about the game)