Recently we’ve got our hands on a number of really neat board game prototypes. Considering our soft spot for euro games, we simply had to start with Curators: Collection Conundrum. The game created by Jacob Westerlund and his team manages to merge many old and new eurogame mechanics into something quite creative unique and without doubt – fun. Curators: CC is supposed to launch on Kickstarter on April 21st, so: about a month from now.
Let’s Go to a Museum
Dim, cozy halls. A smell of hundreds if not thousands of years. Wooden floors. Lots of glass shelves and painting exhibitions. And whichever way you look: relicts of days gone by, works that make you stand in amazement and admire knowledge you won’t gain from anywhere else.
Museums are a fascinating place and every single one is an universe of its own. Be it a tiny art gallery or a colossal collection of historical armour. While wandering through their halls we usually forget about the people who put them together. Passionate archeologists, busy carpenters or these responsible for designing the shape of each collection. In Curators: Collection Conundrum you’ll be able to create a museum of your own, lead a team of talented specialists and fight for the title of the best museum in the country.
Starting a Collection!
Curators is a game aimed at 1 to 4 players. Each of them builds his or her own museum, but areas like the auction house are shared, so competing will ensue as soon as you start playing. Our setup process felt quick, even though the game has quite a lot of components. Each player gets a mini-board, a set of two-sided employee chips and a hidden “contract” objective (one normal and optionally: one difficult).
The center of the table holds a spiral made out of colorful polyomino pieces. These represent the wings that you’ll be able to add to your museum to make more space for your collection. Wings come in different shapes and sizes and have varying costs depending on how far from the end side of the spiral they lie. Apart from them, the table hosts an auction house mini board and a few stacks of tokens.
Just like the setup process, the game is rather fast paced – about 15 minutes per player. Various actions will reward you with so-called Visitor Points (VPs) and these determine whoever ends up as the winner.
Your museum team consists of 5 talented people who will perform their actions to help your collection thrive. Each of them is represented by a special chip-like token. The chips have an employee’s symbol on the front and another one – on the rear. So who are our heroes and what are their “powers”?
Archeologist can find objects for you and thanks to his actions you’ll be able to later place them in your museum’s storage. Collection manager has his own method of gaining objects – he buys them off the auction house. Carpenter’s action lets you pick a museum wing polyomino and add it to your own map so you can show off your expositions there. Restorer allows you to place your newly gained items from the storage into the halls of your building. Finally: the financial manager will make you profit from every visitor on your mini board’s track area.
Twice the Power
While your employee chips allow only for regular actions at the beginning of the game, sooner or later you’ll run into a situation where you have 2 identical employees at your disposal. That happens because the tokens actually have different employees printed on each of their 2 sides. How does it work ? After you play the financial manager’s action and have to flip his chip – you end up with 2 face up archeologists. This way you can activate both of them at once and perform a “double allocation”. That basically means doing 2 actions in 1 turn. If you plan your moves carefully it’s possible to create combos that boost your entire business by miles.
Completing the Puzzle
As you might have guessed: there’s much more to building museum wings than just making place for your expositions. At the beginning of the game each player receives hidden tasks to complete for bonus VPs. The tasks show certain shapes and colours and if you manage to create them from museum hall polyominoes: you score additional points at the end of the game. This way, apart from gathering objects, you will also have to take these goals into consideration when you make your every move. It’s also possible to draw additional contracts when you have enough visitors on your track.
When all polyominoes from the spiral are taken and two more turns pass: it’s time to count the points and determine who won the great museum contest. Players get points for the money they have, for contracts they’ve managed to complete, objects exhibited and fully filled wings.
What Do We Think About Curators: Collection Conundrum
So what are our impressions after a few initial plays? First of all: Curators: Collection Conundrum is paced in a really smart way and pretty much never drags. Turn by turn, move by move you expand your museum, pick employees, collect new items and display them. Despite your area growing, you don’t feel overwhelmed. And yet the game still manages to be deeper than many titles that include polyominoes. When placing yours you need to consider which wings you have, what objects are available and what are your secret goals.
The iconography is clear and easy to remember. Same with the set-up: during our first session with the manual and a bunch of turns we were ready to play the game completely by ourselves. Visuals by Emilie Vaccarini Francis and Niklas Wallén feel clear and fit the game’s theme well.
We’ve also enjoyed the replayability of Curators, as the polyomino spiral mechanic generates different tile layouts each time you play, and the variety of employee actions creates an insane number of options at your disposal.
The double allocation chip mechanic is also praiseworthy, and brings tons of depth into the game. If used smartly, it can grant you free turns and double the effects of your actions.
After playing the prototype we can easily say that we loved Curators and can’t wait to get our hands on the final version. The game is quick, easy to learn and quite addictive. If you’re looking for an euro that won’t take you 3 hours to complete Curators: Collection Conundrum might be a must have for you.