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William Liévin's Nimalia is a card/tile drafting and laying game with appealing art from Pauline Détraz that's both easy to play and challenging to play well: the mark of a good game!

The game adopts an animal theme so that players are building their individual tableaus as animal reserves. In each of the five rounds, players are dealt three large-format cards, each of which shows four quadrants containing various animals and terrains. You take and play one to your tableau and pass the other two cards to your left or right, depending on the round. When playing a card to your tableau, other than the first, it has to overlap by at least one quadrant a card already there. The only other limitation is that over the five rounds your tableau cannot exceed 6 x 6 quadrants.

At the start of each game, players will have set out four objectives: one of each of four colours. You tuck them under the corresponding colour corners of the round tracker card and that will then show how each round will score: blue and green objectives in round 1; green and yellow in round 2; blue and red in round 3; green, yellow and red in round 4; blue, red and yellow in round 5. The 2-4 players will obviously want to place their cards in such a way that they maximise their scores but the challenge in this game is to take appropriate account of what objectives score when... Younger players will probably just focus on the objectives for the current round but those who enjoy a puzzler will also be weighing up the scoring potential of their tile lays in subsequent rounds.

A major strength of Nimalia is the variety of objectives: there are 11 double-sided objective cards so you've ample scope for variation from one play to the next. We appreciated too the fact that the objectives are graded in three levels of difficulty. There's some iconography to decode, so it's important to check that the players all understand what scores and what doesn't. In the game shown in our Board's Eye View 360, for example, the green objective scores three points for each identical pair of animals that are horizontally adjacent but not for those that are vertically adjacent or for horizontally adjacent groups of three. The limitations may seem counterintuitive to players, which is why we'd always recommend checking players' comprehension at the start of each game. Happily, the rules sheet gives an explanation of all of the 22 possible objectives (you don't need to go through all of them - just the four you're playing with in that game).

Nimalia is published by Lucky Duck, La Boîte de Jeu and Blackrock Games, and it comes packaged in a box that's only a little larger than the cards within - so commendably good use of space.

#Nimalia #LuckyDuck #LuckyDuckGames #LaBoitedeJeu #BlackrockGames #carddrafting #tileplacement #tableaubuilding #puzzlegame

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