Andreas Seyfarth


No. of Players:
2 - 4




Welcome to the golden age of dirigibles!

Long before the time of modern airplanes and mass transit, there was time when scientists believed that the future of transportation could be seen in giant dirigibles which could be used to air transport a good amount of people or goods. Thus, the players in Giganten der Lüfte go back in time for about 100 years and take the roles of investors who want to establish their own fleet of these formidable airships.

The game's author Andreas Seyfarth is well known not last because of his masterful economic simulation Puerto Rico, but in this new title which is produced by QUEEN GAMES he actually challenges the players to a dice-rolling-match in which all participants compete for the best shipyards, equipment and the most prestigious airships. Thus, the game is set up by handing each player his own overview sheet on which his Investor card is placed. There are six empty spaces on each sheet in which the players may place components and personnel which they may acquire during the game, and there is also a space on which built airships are collected.

The six kinds of cards which a player may acquire are: Funds, Scientists, Helmsmen, Hangars, Building materials and Motors. Boxes for each of these six kinds of cards also can be found on the central gameboard. Thus, up to three cards of each kind may be placed on different rows of the central board, and the central board also features four spaces on which different Dirigible-cards are placed. Finally, the top part of the central board is made up the image of the "Hindenburg", the biggest airship which may be built during the game.

For preparation, the Dirigible cards are separated into three decks containing cards of comparable value, and then one card from each of these decks is placed on each of the four boxes on the gameboard. Here the most valuable cards are placed at the bottom, whereas the less prestigious dirigibles are placed on top and must be acquired first. In a way, this resembles technical development, since the airships got more and more technically sophisticated. Likewise, all personnel and component cards are separated into three decks, with just a few cards forming a start deck from which each player receives a random card, whereas the other two decks (varying in card value and usefulness) are placed at hand as a drawing pile with the more useful cards forming the lower level of the stack. This way, the drawing pile is effectively divided into two epochs. The remaining cards from the start deck are openly placed at their corresponding rows on the gameboard, and then the game may start.

Three sets of three six-sided dice may be used by the players during the game. The white dice feature results from "1" to "3", the red dice from "2" to "5" and the black dice from "4" to "8". At the beginning, the Investor card allows a player to roll one white dice, and the allowance of an additional white dice is printed on the equipment card the player has received. To acquire new equipment cards which are on display at the central board, a player has to check on the card he desires which dice he may roll when trying to acquire the card and which total result he must get.

During his turn, a player first turns over an additional card from the drawing pile which he then places on the central board (possibly removing an older card if the new card would be the fourth card in the same category). After revealing the new card, the player then may chose one of the equipment cards on display for which he is allowed to roll the required dice and which he then may try to obtain. He then rolls the required dice, and if successful he takes the card and adds it to his own overview sheet. Each new card brings an additional benefit for the player who has acquired it, so that he may receive additional dice to roll or other technical advantages like a fixed result for a dice-roll, a bonus for rolling a specific coloured diced or even an exchange possibility for rolling a more valuable dice instead of several lower dice. If, on the other hand, the player has failed to roll the required total, he may not take the chosen card but instead receives a "+1" bonus token.

Bonus tokens an some equipment pieces give the players a bonus which they may add to their dice-rolls, and an additional "+1" bonus also may be gained by possession of an Airship figure. Possession of the airship figure changes between the players, and it is always in the possession of the player who has last built an airship. To built an airship, a player choses one of the Dirigible cards which are on display on the central board, and following the same process as when acquiring equipment the player tries to roll a specific result with the dice indicated on the Dirigible card. If successful, the player receives the Dirigible card and places it on the stockpile space of built airships on his overview sheet, and the player also receives the airship figure as an additional bonus.

All Dirigible cards have a value in Victory points, and among with a few rare equipment cards which also have a Victory point value the players will try to collect the most valuable Dirigible cards in order to win the game. However, there is also the possibility that one of the stacks of Dirigible cards gets depleted, and in this case the players also may start building parts of the "Hindenburg". This giant dirigible consists of four parts which each need to be built following the normal dice-rolling procedure, and the game comes to its end when either the "Hindenburg" is finished or a certain amount of Dirigible cards has been built by the players. The players then add up their Victory points total from Dirigible cards, "Hindenburg"-parts and equipment, and the player with most victory points will have won the game.

Owners of Puerto Rico will quickly discover the rather different angle which Andreas Seyfarth has chosen to develop the driving playing mechanism for Giganten der Lüfte. As could be expected, the rather high amount of necessary dice rolling induces a very high degree of luck to the game, but even though the strategic element is reduced I still felt quite well entertained while trying to built the biggest airships. As a matter of fact, the competition between the players creates a good playing atmosphere full of tension, and especially good equipment cards or valuable Dirigibles attract a good degree of grudgers when one players makes a successful roll for such a card.

Gameplay proceeds rather quick between the players, and due to the fact that a player's turn consists just of one roll of the required dice nobody has to wait too long for his next turn. To my mind, this is a basic necessity for a luck-orientated game, since it keeps the game fast enough so that all participating player do not lose interest. Bad luck when rolling the dice may delay the end for a turn or two when rolling for high-priced Dirigibles or "Hindenburg"-parts, but usually even this final quarter of the game passes rather fast.

In the end, I think Giganten der Lüfte falls into a category of light family games or intermediary games which may be played before or after playing something more "meaty", but the inventive topic and the unusual dice-rolling mechanism give the game an interesting flair which should make it a worthwhile pastime.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2007 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany