Bernd Eisenstein


No. of Players:
2 - 5



Author and publisher Bernd Eisenstein has brought his new optimization game Peloponnes with him to the SPIEL 09, and on first sight Peloponnes presents itself as a more or less typical optimization game, with the players trying to acquire buildings and landscapes (expansion tiles) in order to generate income and population. At the beginning of a round, a total of five expansion tiles is revealed, and following the always changing player order each player now has the chance to place a bid on of the tiles. However, unlike other auction mechanisms, each player only can place one bid which cannot be increased, and if a later player displaces an earlier bid with a higher bid the earlier player either may immediately shift his bid to another available expansion tile or he may take it back, receiving one additional coin but no expansion tile in this round.

When all bids have been placed, the result of the auction is resolved with the players simultaneously taking the tiles they have acquired. If a player has taken a building he now either has to pay the buildings costs in form of resources (grain, wood, stone), or he has to place a coin on the new building to indicate that the resources still need to be paid. The building then is placed left of the player's own civilization tile, whereas all landscape tiles are placed right of the players' civilization tiles. Landscape tiles do not require any building costs to be paid, but here the placement of a new tile is only possible if the new tile produces at least one resource of a kind which also is produced on the last landscape tile which the player had acquired.

Provided a valid placement of a new tile can be made, the players now have to resolve the immediate one-time effects caused by the new tile. In most cases the effects are an increase of a player's population and/or some additional coins or resources, but sometimes a new building (like a Fortress or Barracks) also can cause a decrease of a player's population.

A round ends with the phases for income and disasters, and now the players first get the income which is generated every round by their buildings and landscapes before two random Disaster-chips are revealed. Five different disasters exist in the game, and the chips are placed on the corresponding disaster. The placement of a third chip triggers the disaster, and now all players will have to face the consequences. As might be guessed, an outbreak of Black Death diminishes the players' population, a Drought decreases the stockpiles of grain, Earthquake and Thunderstorm destroy buildings and landscapes if no resources can be spent for repairs, and a Decline of culture causes the loss of Luxury Goods. However, certain types of buildings provide a protection against these kinds of mishaps, and so the players will strive to possibly acquire fitting buildings if they can see that a certain disaster is imminent. However, such a protection cannot be planned because fife random expansion tiles will be revealed each round, and so the players mainly will resort to the stockpiling of an emergency reserve of resources.

Apart from preventing the negative effects of a disaster the stocking of resources also is necessary for the Provisioning phase which is triggered upon the revealing of certain expansion tiles at the beginning of a round. Such a discovery temporarily stops the further proceedings and requires the players to pay one grain for each of a player's population, and in addition the player's now have to pay the resources for buildings which they could not pay when they acquired them. If the matching resources cannot be paid, population and/or building(s) are lost.

However, stockpiling resources also may lead to overproduction, and when a scale on a player's overview sheet cannot take any more of a specific type of resources any production exceeding this scale leads to the production of Luxury Goods which now will be recorded. These Luxury Goods can be traded back into any type of resources on a two-for-one base, and they even can be used to gain coins if the player runs out of money. However, other than you might expect, Luxury Goods only have a minor impact in the final evaluation, since they only are used as a third rank tiebreak if two other scores both are equal.

The game ends when the third and final pile of expansion tiles is exhausted, and now each of the players calculates two scores. One score is the cumulative value of the player's expansion tiles plus one for every three coins in his possession, whereas the other score is the player's population multiplied by three. The players then compare their lower scores, and here the player with the highest score wins.

Recording stockpiles of resources on a playing sheet with scales and splitting the game into three phases by resorting to different piles of expansion tiles might bring up some first hand resemblance to Through the Ages. However, the similarities do not carry on with the main playing mechanism, as Peloponnes turns out to be of a much lower complexity. Although the players depend on the availability of expansion tiles which are randomly determined each round, there are some strategic options because the acquisition of a new tile must match a player's general orientation and his available resources. Furthermore, some of the buildings offer minor special powers, and here the players can try to get a leading edge by using these powers wisely.

However, Peloponnes is no exception to many other building games when it comes to player interaction, since the only point where the players get into contact is during the auction of expansion tiles when a player possibly may be ousted by another. Constructed on a solid but limited resource management mechanism, Peloponnes offers no other form of interaction like military manoeuvres or other types of action cards, and while this gives the game some increased attractiveness for solitaire play (interesting rules with a level system included), competition in group play only can be felt in a quite rudimentary way. Still, this is quite similar in other building-type games, and in such a comparison Peloponnes can score with its rather fast gameplay. The game unusually quick for a building game, but I did not have the feeling that the ending was premature or rushed.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany