Last week we’ve received our early reviewer copy of Imnia – a first tabletop game by BlackSea Interactive. After some hours spent playing we could finally put together a proper review. So how is the game? We’ve collected all of our impressions below. Enjoy!
A Race for Victory
Imnia has a race-like feeling. The player who manages to build the first wonder wins. As the building process starts only after you reach the maximum level of influence – the game becomes naturally divided into 2 parts. The first consists of building your engine and progressing through the influence track, while the second focuses on generating the currency necessary to fund your wonder. You need a total of 42 currency units paid in three steps (7, 14 and 21).
To begin building your wonder you need to amass 14 points of Influence. You get them by creating buildings and when a rival uses one of your own. Also: some quests offer influence as a reward. Influence can also be decreased. This happens when you fail to protect your people before the winter arrives, when you visit your rival’s building or when you destroy one of your own constructions.
You might have already noticed that the game seems like a long one. Filling your land with buildings and people takes some time, and the very process of building wonders isn’t simple either. When playing with the smallest amount of people, you should expect a 90 minutes long game at least. Each additional player adds about 40 minutes more.
A Difficult Road
Imnia is also a game with a very high entry barrier. There are many dependencies, and without knowing these, there’s a little chance of winning. Since the very first action, you have to create a long term plan for your victory. This makes the reference card really handy.
Example: to build a Cathedral (one of the 5 unique buildings, that are always available), we’ll have to build 3 structures belonging to 3 specific types. Also: you’ll need to have 3 monks, who can be recruited only from the Abbey. Recruiting them requires parchment, and parchment can be created only in yet another specific building.
As you can see, without a prior plan you’ll not only get lost but also fail in accomplishing whatever you wanted to achieve. There’s no place for adjusting to the situation: you need to have an early strategy and carry it out effectively. Especially when the game punishes your mistakes and at some point you may realize that you know, who’s most likely the winner.
Imnia includes negative interaction although it’s not direct. Due to some dependencies between buildings, we can guess what our opponent is planning, and buy the structure before he gets the chance to do it. He can use our new building to create his items anyway, but that will cost him 1 point of influence paid to us.
You also have to remember about the building limit: during the course of the game you can construct only twelve of them (unique buildings don’t count here). This again requires planning because we need space for everything. There is no way to block yourself, because you can always destroy some of your buildings. This however again requires payment in influence points and these happen to be the most important currency in the game (at least until a certain point). They’re also hard to come by already, so players should do everything in their power to avoid losing them.
Ingame quests are an interesting concept in Imnia. We can draw them thanks to the action available on one of the 4 starter buildings, that each player gets at the beginning. There are many quests and each offers 2 alternative options. First one has certain requirements and rewards: from drawing new quests to increasing influence or building limit. The second one always tells us to discard something and get a currency required for building our wonder (dependant on our level of influence).
At the beginning players also draw some general goals, that offer rewards for whoever accomplishes them first. Prizes include influence points and other valuable things.
Seasons of the year are also an interesting aspect of the game. Gameplay flow might seem pretty standard at first: players take actions in turn until each of them decides to pass, but each round like that is also treated… as another season of the year.
In spring we get rid of all the buildings available for construction and replace them with a new set.
In summer boat owners can receive some exotic goods (there are 3 types of these and they serve as yet another currency).
In fall buildings that manufacture items double their productions.
In winter the player has to support his people with warmth and food – certain items can “save” 1/2/3 persons when used. If you fail to save some characters, you’ll have to discard their cards and lose 1 influence point for each.
Feast for the Eyes
It’s impossible to rate the game’s visual side based on a prototype, but in Imnia cards already have their final illustrations and these are beautiful! The board looks neat, and so does the box illustration, but cards are easily the lead actors here. When you expand your realm – the table becomes a colorful mosaic filled with cozy houses, monumental structures and busy harbors. Each picture is a scene worth looking at.
The design of ingame elements is also worth lots of praise. Everything is easy to read, visible and simple to understand. Nobody should have any problems with figuring out what does a certain element do and what does it require from us.
Imnia is a game, where many elements remind us of Everdell. It also manages to be very, very different. It’s much more demanding, gameplay lasts longer and to achieve success you have to create your strategy right from the beginning. Imnia also requires players to think a lot before making each decision. A small mistake make take away your chances at victory.
If you’re looking for a demanding game, that will challenge your planning and action optimization skills, you should get interested in the title, especially that its Kickstarter campaign is coming later this month.