Game Designer: Michael Eskue
Artwork: Naomi Robinson
Players: 2 – 4 Players
Playing Time: 30 – 45 Minutes
Game Mechanics: Area Control, Area Influence, Dice Rolling, Pick-Up and Deliver, Variable Player Powers
Contents: 1 Board, 5 Player Cards, 3 Power Dice, 15 Rig Dice, 25 Crew Tokens, 5 Scoring Tokens, 30 Resource Tokens, 6 Neutronium Tokens, 5 Cargo Hold “Lock” Tokens, 1 Leader Card, 13 Therion Marauder Cards
Suggested Retail Price: N/A Currently on Kickstarter
Parental Advisory: Safe for Kids
Darkrock Ventures is the first game from Magic Meeple Games and is currently on Kickstarter. Magic Meeple Games is working in association with Gamely Games on Darkrock Ventures and Gamely Games has launched 4 successful titles on Kickstarter.
Darkrock Ventures is a short worker placement game that highlights some of the best of worker placement mechanics in my opinion. Players vie for mining rights and try to mine the most valuable of the minerals on an asteroid. The minerals consist of Neutronium (the least valuable,) Energy, Iron, Cobalt and Platinum (the most valuable.) Once a player mines minerals, they may sell the minerals for credits (vp’s) to either purchase upgrades like a Captain or just amass enough credits to win the game.
Players may have to deal with attacking Therion Marauders which can be fairly easily dealt with in advance or risk the consequences although not usually dire, they can certainly mess up a players turn. But the real issue that players have to deal with is the dice. Dice determine everything in this game. Players have to match their Rig die to the Power dice previously rolled. However, the catch is, players place their miners on the mining spots before the Rig dice are rolled, so players are not sure if they will get anything on their turn. There are technologies and equipment players can place their minors on to help affect the dice roll, but there is no guarantee you will hit it.
Players have to hedge their bets and place their miners strategically hoping for the best outcome. You only get three to start and have to by your one extra minor and Captain. Players get their miners back after every round except for the miners placed on gathering Solar Energy. Here the player leave the miner and advance to gather up to three Solar Energy to sell them later, but it does possibly tie up your miner, hence limiting your placement options for other workers on the board.
Players have only enough Cargo Space available as their ship provides, however, this can be expanded to allow for the storage of more minerals. You may not be able to ship as much as you store unless you use your Captain to double the effect of the export space.
My only real caveat is that to me it seems that some of the spaces are not used as much and even don’t get used at all towards the end of the game. I am not sure if this bothers me as they are just filler spaces with less usefulness or increases the need for greater strategy and placing your workers in the proper order to gain benefits before other players.
As far as components go, I received a prototype so I can’t speak to the quality although the initial artwork and graphic design are attractive and solid work.
Here is what Darkrock Ventures does do well. The game itself is very straight forward and easy to learn and play. Making it a good choice for newer gamers and lighter gaming affairs. The choices depending on the number of players do provide for that great worker placement feel and tension in fighting for spots so as to not have a bad round. The more players, the more this really comes into play obviously. As a two-player game, it still plays well and smoothly, but it definitely shines more as a three or four player game. The game immersion is light, but the theme does come through and I actually like this game quite a bit for what it is. It’s hard to find good worker placement games at 30 – 45 minutes and I feel that Darkrock Ventures succeeds here very well. Darkrock Ventures feels like a lighter version of Alien Frontiers but I actually enjoy it more.
Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):
Rules Book: 7
Component Quality: n/a
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 7
I am giving Darkrock Ventures 7.0 out 10 stars because it delivers in a play time that is great for most game nights and for lighter game affairs. While not the deepest game, it does provide plenty of strategy, theme and fun in only 30 – 45 minutes. For me personally, Darkrock Ventures will find a permanent place in my game library and fill a very important hole in short worker placement games.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
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Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.
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