On the table tonight was one of the games I purchased at Essen this year, Ur, published by What's Your Game? and designed by Paolo Mori. Basically this game consists of 40 double sided tiles and number of cubes for each player. On each side of the tiles is depicted an action, Agriculture, Trade, Politics, Culture and finally War. . The tiles are laid out in a 6 x 6 grid with no tile the same as an adjacent one, and each player starts with a tile in hand. In your turn you are allowed to perform none, one or both of the actions depicted on the tile. If you only perform one action you can put an extra block on a tile you control, if perform none of the actions you can put 2 blocks on tiles you own or 1 block on any free tile. Finally at the end of your turn you exchange your tile for a free tile on the board, this tile cannot have the same pair of actions as the one you hold. Each action allows you to manipulate your blocks in some way or another. The objective is to control as many tiles as you can by the end of the game, you then put all the tiles you control into sets and score points according to the sets you can make up. You can only have a maximum of 5 blocks on a tile, you can also choose to build a ziggurat, there are 5 ziggurats in the game and when the fifth one is built that is one of the ways to end the game. To build a ziggurat you take replace the 5 blocks on a tile you control with the ziggurat and mark it with a block, this takes that tile effectively out of the game and cannot be affected by actions any more. You can only build a maximum of 2 ziggurats per turn. The other way to end the game is if you cannot exchange your tile with a different one from the board.
The Tile Grid
We managed to get in two plays of this game and as with most games the way to play the game becomes a lot clearer second time around. Steve and Richard homed in on the Agriculture tiles in the second game to get a lot of blocks onto the board quickly. The war action is very powerful as you can attack many times using one war action, a fact that Steve and I think Garry didn't realise until halfway through the first game. As the tile each player has is in view you know in advance what actions they are likely to take next turn which can be helpful. You also have to keep an eye on the ziggurats as they can get built quickly and the game is finished before you are ready.
A close up of the tile grid
I enjoyed this game although from my score you can see I did a lot better when I didn't really know what I was doing!!! There are many options available on your turn and as you have only 20 blocks available to you war and ziggurats are necessary to get some blocks back. All in all a game with a bit of meat on it that plays in an hour.
Final Scores - game 1
Richard 30, Steve 27, Colin 27, Garry 17
Steve 36, Garry 32, Richard 31, Colin 13