With Orichalkum, a new tile-laying game penned by the successful French author Bruno Cathala in collaboration with Johannes Goupy was launched on the German market. Here, too, Pegasus takes over the German distribution. After being very excited about Kingdomino Origins, we were of course very excited to see how well orichalcum would perform. Find out how we found the game, which is advertised as a fast 4X game, in this review.
The oracle predicted it and now the time has come. The storm rages, the earth trembles and Atlantis threatens to sink. The king therefore sends out his best people to look for a new home for the inhabitants of Atlantis and thus escape the misfortune. As the leaders of the expedition, we explore one of the nearby islands, build buildings and free them from evil creatures, because this is the only way to resettle the Atlanteans.
A race for points
In Orichalkum, the goal is to be the first person to collect 5 victory points and have no monstrous creatures on your island. In each round, the players choose one of 5 - 6 face-up action cards. These each have landscape tiles in the size of 1 - 3 fields that we have to place on our island. Similar to Kingdomino, the landscape tiles have different landscape types. Volcanoes are considered jokers and always come to the island in combination with a monstrous creature.
If we manage to line up three or more tiles of the same landscape type, we receive the favor of the corresponding titan. This gives us a victory point and a one-time ability that we can use at any time while performing the associated action. However, we can also lose Titans again, since they give their favor to opponents as soon as they also line up three or more landscape tiles of the same type.
After we have placed our landscape tile, we resolve the action of the chosen action card. There are 4 action types: produce orichalcum, recruit hoplites, fight creatures and build. The more mines or training camps we have on our island, the more orichalcum or hoplites we can produce/recruit. We can use the Hoplites to increase our chances of winning the Fight Creatures action. Here we start with a cube. If we manage to roll a skull or a higher number than the creature, we defeat it. An additional die is added for each hoplite that we use in combat. On the other hand, we can use orichalcum in the building action to produce a medal. This represents a victory point. In the Build action, we can also decide to build a building from the display or a temple on our island. Buildings give us bonuses that help us in the game and must be placed on the island according to the symbol on the display. The temple gives us one victory point and can only be placed on four different landscape tiles (volcanoes are wild cards).
Finally, we can pay 2 resources of the same type to perform an additional action. An interesting idea is that defeated creatures can also be collected and traded in to perform an additional action. So it can also make sense to lure creatures to your island in order to get a joker field and an additional action.
Orichalcum is often advertised as having slight allusions to the 4X genre - a game genre actually known for its complex rules and long gameplay. 4X stands for Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate. Games of the genre are comparable to large video game strategy titles such as Civilization or Total War, which are known to tend to last for several hours. In Orichalcum, the comparison to the 4X genre comes from the fact that we explore an island (place tiles), construct buildings on it, generate valuable Orichalcum, recruit hoplites and kill creatures. However, it can be said in advance that we are by no means expecting such a cracker as its great strategy role models, since the whole thing is played in under an hour.
There are also no direct confrontations with his opponents. At its core, Orichalkum is a placement and action drafting game that is strongly reminiscent of Bruno Cathala's hit game Kingdomino. You build your own island in a predetermined area as well as possible. To do this, you choose a placement tile with different landscape types and place it next to an existing tile on the island. This is also the only way to disrupt opponents in the game. You can snatch landscape tiles that your opponent might need from under your nose or steal a titan if you meet the associated condition.
Information about orichalcum
|Number of players: 2 to 4
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 45 - 60 minutes
Difficulty: easy - medium
Long-term motivation: medium
Mechanisms: placement game, action drafting
Classification: higher family gameAuthor: Bruno Cathala, Johannes Goupy
Illustrations: Paul Mafayon
Publisher: Pegasus Spiele, Catch Up Games
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 49,99 Euro
Even though we often thought of Kingdomino while playing, Orichalkum has many of its own elements and creates a completely different feel. You have to pay attention to more things in the game, but this also gives you more tactical options than in a Kingdomino. For example, you can try to get victory solely from medals by building lots of orichalcum mines. On the other hand, you can also collect a lot of bonuses by constructing buildings and thus score quick points towards the end of the game. Or build temples by skilfully placing the landscape tiles and so on.
When it comes to components, you shouldn't expect anything special here. We wish the player help had been printed on cardboard instead of flimsy paper. The explanations for all symbols and the effects of all buildings are also only on it. This is a bit unfortunate, as the game aid is often passed around and flutters around wildly. Here we see the potential that this can quickly tear. Regarding the symbols, however, it is nice to mention that Orichalkum is completely language-neutral and the symbols are easy to understand. The game is therefore particularly suitable for people who have a reading disability.
Overall, we had a lot of fun with Orichalkum. It has enough depth to entertain over multiple games and manages to create a nice puzzle of making the best of your situation. Due to the fact that Orichalkum is based on quite simple rules, it can also be played well in the family. But even frequent players will have fun putting together the perfect island.
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