Under The Microscope – Eruption by Stratus Games
The volcano explodes in fire and pyroclastic flows. Lava inches closer and closer to your village! What will you do? Fortunately you can direct the flows away from your village. Using ingenuity, walls, and good luck, you can choose to shunt the lava safely away or toward your rivals’ villages.
Stratus Games’ Eruption is a fun tile laying game of ‘take that’ that will please gamers as well as families.
Materials & Methods
The production of Eruption is fantastic. The game board is divided in a hex grid and depicts an island with the volcano in the center, lava flowing out from it, and jungle all around it. There are six villages evenly spaced around the edge of the island, on the beaches. Each village has a different colored border and icon as well as several huts, trees, and canoes. Scattered around the
island are icons for the various wall types. The ‘score track’ encircles the island and divided into ‘degrees spaces’. The track is a thermometer to marks the increasing temperature of each village. And it has zones that give the player in that zone special actions. There are about 40 lava tiles that depict lava flowing to several of the tile edges. Walls are small wooden sticks in yellow (straw), brown (wood), and grey (stone). There are 36 action cards that give the player either a special action, such as ‘Volcanic Bomb – discard any wall on the board’. Or the card can be turned in for a wall section. There are two dice – an orange lava die and a white wall die and 6 player tokens. The graphics are beautiful and clear. The rules pamphlet is colorful and attractive. Overall the graphic design is exemplary.
Players are villagers trying to save their village from the lava flowing from the exploding volcano. At the beginning of his turn, a player evaluates the condition of his village. If there are any lava flows touching the village, that player’s token is moved forward on the temperature track. If the lava is not blocked or removed the temperature of the village will rise each turn and eventually burn up. Players direct lava by placing tiles that have flows in different directions on the board. Flows must connect to an existing flow.
Action cards are another way to direct flows. The cards enable players to rotate tiles, replace tiles, and/or remove tiles completely.
Players can build walls to block a lava flow. Walls can be made of straw, wood, or stone. Walls are obtained either by exchanging a card for one or by placing a tile on one of the wall icons on the board. When lava reaches a wall, players roll the two dice. The orange die is the lava die and the white die represents the wall. If the orange die is higher, the wall is removed. If the white is higher, the flow does not enter remove it. If the wall in question is wood or stone, a bonus is added to the white die – +1 for wood, +2 for stone.
Game play continues until either a village burns up or when all the tiles have been placed. The player whose village has the lowest temperature is the winner.
I like Eruption a lot. It is a fine blend of a family game and a strategy game. It is seeped in its theme and the game play reinforces that volcano/village in danger theme. There is real tension as your village’s temperature rises. And relief when you are able to play that card that removes that flow that is burning up your village. We have not had a game where there was not at least one ‘HA! Got ya!’ moment when someone placed a tile that caused a flow to enter a village.
I really am impressed with the graphics of this game. Even the print and play version I received is beautiful. The final game is a gorgeous produced game. Kudos to the graphics team.
Chris James has done a fine job on the design. The game is balanced and play is fluid. It has depth, particularly as the game board fills up with tiles. The choices of where to place your tile each turn gets more and more difficult as the game progresses. I like that.
The game is easy to learn, making it open to younger players. It is fast to play. I’d call it a super filler in this respect. And as I mentioned, it has a strategic and tactical aspect that will please gamers. This is a fun game and I highly recommend it.
Microscope Scale: 4.5 of 5 Microscopes
I would like to thank Stratus Games for providing a print and play copy of Eruption for this review.
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