Inuit: The Snow Folk
This is a tableau-building card game where the cards you draft affect the number and range of cards you'll be able to draft on subsequent turns.
The 2-4 players each start with a board that lists the seven roles within your Inuit tribe. You notionally always have one tribe member in each role (the initially confusing zeroes on the board refer to the value), which means you will always be able to take one card of any one type from the pool of displayed cards. Seal, whale and polar bear cards will all give you end-game points. Recruiting another adult or child seal hunter will increase the number of seal cards you can pick up on your turn, and so on with the other prey. It is your Elder that lets you add tribe members. These bear one (or two, in the case of children) of the four player colours and they score end-game points for the player with that colour regardless of which player has them in their tableau. If you have a tribe member of a non-matching colour in your tableau when the game ends, it will lose you points, so, once you've made use of them, you may want to apply one of the Shaman's rites to kill off that tribe member and have it flipped face down to be counted instead as a weapon. If you allocate a tribe member as an Elder, then on subsequent turns you'll be able to recruit two new tribe members rather than one. You always turn over a card and add it to the display but you can use a Scout action to add more cards to the pool.
The mechanics of Inuit are intuitively straightforward; making this a game that's exceptionally easy to learn. The joy of the game is in the way in which the various cards interact with each other for the purpose of scoring, so your drafting effectively becomes an engine. There are a few cards that have a negative impact on another player but the 'take that' element of Inuit is minimal. Interaction between players is mostly in denying rivals cards that will particularly benefit them. You'll find you are doing that on occasion, especially in a two-player game, but you'll mostly be focused on doing your own thing and developing your own village tableau. So much so that it's surprising that the publishers, Board&Dice, haven't included solo rules. You can play solo, however, just by setting yourself a target to beat.
There's a strong push-your-luck element to Inuit. We've seen that adding tribe members with other colours will give you a scoring penalty but there are other cards too that give you a chance to score a bonus but at the cost that the card will deduct points if you don't meet its objective. These cards, and others that up the competition between players, can be added as expansion modules - so you choose whether or not to include them. This open option of making a game more or less interactive according to taste is especially welcome. Even in its core mechanics, tho', there are push-your-luck decisions to make. If you Scout, you increase the size of the pool of cards. Obviously you hope that will benefit you, but it may very be a greater boon to the player that follows you.
The design team of Alexey Konnov, Alexey Paltsev, Anatoliy Shklyarov and Trehgrannik have done an excellent job in creating such an easy to play and enjoyable game yet one that still has enough depth to hold the interest of hardened gamers. The artwork by Paulina Wach is engaging and this is a game you can comfortably complete in no more than 30 minutes. Inuit caters for up to 4 players but lower player counts allow for greater tactical play: the more players that are taking cards before your next turn, the less control you have. It makes Inuit especially effective as a two player game.
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