Myrmes - Board Game Box Shot

Myrmes

| Published: 2013
43 14

In the kingdom of Myrmes, the ant colonies have been fighting for centuries to dominate their neighbors. To put an end to this war, the council of the queens has decreed that a final battle will decide the issue of the final victory. Send your soldiers and your workers to assault of the kingdom. Fill up your larder, hunt down insects and wisely place your pheromones to conquer the territory. But most importantly, don’t forget to prepare for winter!

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“An impression from first time play - a flavorful puzzler”

FYI – As I stated in the title, this review is based upon a single, first-time play.

Back in November, I was battling an incessant ant population in my kitchen for about the fifth time of the year. Even professional extermination had only held back the tide for a period of time. As I was both cursing and admiring their simplistic complexity, I thought to myself, “This could make an interesting game…” I then began trying to figure out a design that could really make someone feel that they are trying to support an ant colony. Imagine my astonishment when about a month later I heard a description of Myrmes – it was exactly what I was wanting to design. So when the opportunity came up at a local game convention this weekend, I jumped on the chance to see what was in the box.

The components of this game are simply beautiful. The board looks like a forest floor and your player mats definitely give the feel of an ant colony. It reminded me a lot of Dungeon Lords in the layout. The cardboard is of good quality and nothing feels extraneous or left out. And did I mention that you get plastic ants? No dour-faced merchants here.

As for game play, this one definitely takes some getting used to. There’s a lot going on to support your colony and you only have three seasons to do so before winter hits. It’s a careful balancing act and if you don’t plan well, you’ll pay for it quickly.

Initial play involves setting up your colony’s nurses to dictate what gets created that round. And as in so many Euro’s, there’s never enough to do what you want. Do you create larvae? Or perhaps some soldiers? Then again, you need workers. Lots and lots of workers. Of course, you’ll never get as many as you want, but no one said being an ant was easy.

Once your turn is set up, you’ll have various actions you can do with the workers available. Some of those actions will keep the worker in the colony and thus retain them for the next turn. However other actions involve exploration outside of the colony laying pheromone trails (more on that below) in order to gather resources as well as gathering bugs for food. Once a worker leaves the nest, it’s gone and you’ll have fewer to work with the next turn.

Soldiers can be sacrificed to gather the bugs up above for food and victory points or retained to help stave off starvation in the winter (each soldier left in the nest reduces the food cost by 1). And since you can only store a meager four resources total (six with an upgrade), that can be a real life saver.

Lastly, nurses that weren’t used to create larvae, workers, or soldiers can be used to “upgrade”, which can include such things as create more nurses, improve the hill to allow more options, open a new hole in the hill, and various point bonuses.

The pheromone trails are interesting. As your worker moves across the forest floor, it can lay down little puzzle pieces. At first you are limited to smaller “trails”, but as you upgrade the nest, you can lay down larger trails. Larger trails also have some different shapes, so once things get crowded above, you end up trying to make it fit. Larger trails can also earn bonus victory points. When a trail is laid, resources become available matching the type of terrain that they cover. Of course, to make matters more difficult, there are mushrooms all over the place and those terrains yield nothing.

There are other rules covering how to earn bonus victory points, how to clean up pheromones, and what to do if you want to cross another colony’s path and likely a few other points I forget at the moment, but I think you get the basic idea of the game.

Overall, I enjoyed Myrmes, but it’s definitely for those who like to think and plan. Also, it will likely take several plays to really develop a strong feel for all of the rules and ideas for strategy. Expect to put some time in at the table and don’t play when you’re tired. But if this is your bread and butter, put a slice down and watch the ants march home.

 

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