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Fractured Sky

With Fractured Sky, IV Studio have outdone themselves with the quality of production - at least for the fabulous super-deluxe edition with beautiful painted ship and building minis, magnetic markers and lenticular cards. And these aren't just table bling: the way the magnetic markers lock onto the base of the ships is integral to the game...

In Fractured Sky, the 3-5 players are competing for area control in the 10 regions on the board. Each region generates two different resources (various combinations of wood, stone or gold) and, most important, fragments of stars (the 'fractured sky'), which are the game's victory points. Players place out their airships to compete for area control and each ship has a numerical value (0-10) magnetically attached to it so that other players don't know the value brought to the region by other players. Players will be placing out three airships each round and their total strength cannot exceed 10 (so, for example, if you allocate your value 10 magnetic token to a ship, you'll have to use zeros on the other two). Cue then scope for bluff and deception, which are central to this intoxicating game.

One of the regions with a star fragment is public knowledge but in each of the game's five rounds there will be star fragments in other regions, but exactly which region is determined by placing out face-down cards that aren't publicly revealed until the end of the round. The first player to place one of their airships in a region gets to look at one of the location cards that hasn't been used, so they will know one region that is not among that round's secret locations. On your turn, as an alternative to placing out an airship, you can use your action to pay 2 gold to look at one of the secret location cards. You must then indicate one of the two resources that that region produces, so other players will be able to work out what regions it cannot be... Likewise, you can spend any two resources to scout out a secret objective card. The objective cards for a round aren't otherwise revealed until the end of the round, awarding a star fragment to the player who has met the objective's requirement.

Players only have three airships available for deployment each round but they can also spend resources to place out a skimmer, which has a strength of 1 towards area control. The other option players have on their turn is to use resources to build and place out a fortress, which gives a permanent addition of 1 strength to any of your airships in any connected region, or a market, which increases the resources produced by all connected regions.

Designed by Max Anderson, Zac Dixon and Austin Harrison, this is an easy-to-play highly interactive but good-natured game that combines area control with deduction, along with ample scope for bluffing and misdirection. There's no heavy rules overload and turns are quick. There are solo and two-player rules that utilise an 'AI' bot but we much prefer Fractured Sky at higher player counts, and even with five players you can expect to complete a game in less than 90 minutes.

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