Published by: Tasty Minstrel Games
# of Players: 3 to 4
Lemuria is a big game in a small box. The city of Lemuria is depicted on the main game board and will have areas for the resource wheel, the number of months (rounds) and also 4 areas that you will be competing for majority control over. Each player will have city tiles ,2 plastic plant tokens (squares) and 2 plastic mineral tokens (rough gem shaped). There are 6 resources in Lemuria and each is represented by cardboard markers. The markers are double sided and have a different resource on each side. This may cause an issue if you knock over your resources and are unsure of which of the two resources you had and in what quantity. Players will also have a wooden pawn and scoring disc in their color to track scoring and turn order. A circular cardboard resource wheel acts as the alter tile and will rotate during the game. There are sturdy cards for the buildings and citizens that you obtain during the game. All of the art in Lemuria is interesting and the game board is especially eye catching. The rules are on a large sheet of paper that is folded to fit into the box. While it is only one large page, the rules include colorful illustrations and explain everything involved in Lemuria. It is refreshing to see a set of rules that does not over explain every detail. Lemuria's rules are simple and concise to get players playing as fast as possible. While it is not the flashiest game from Tasty Minstrel Games, it does pack a lot into a smaller than usual box for this type of game.
Lemuria is combination of area control, set collection, civilization building and resource gathering that is played over 1 year. Each month will act as a game round with every 4th month being a festival round. Even in Lemuria, they like to party. I recommend playing with the optional Lemurian impact cards because they add something extra to the game while not requiring a lot of extra rules. The Lemurian impact cards are one time use cards that each player will be able to choose the left most card during the game. Each player can only use one card during the whole game.
The board will be set up with the alter tile at the starting position (two red arrows will meet) and 5 building cards will be available to build. At the start of the each round except the first round, you will remove the right most building, slide down the cards and fill empty slots. The players who have the majority is each of the 4 city areas will receive their bonus (3VP, 1 Gold, 1 Food, or 1 less building cost). During festival rounds, anyone who has a building tile in the city area will get the benefit of that area. Player order is determined by who is currently in last place followed by the next lowest and so on. During rounds 4 through the end of the game, the star alter tile will rotate clockwise one section. The starting player may then pay 1 gold to rotate the tile in either direction one section. After the alter has turned, players will take their turn in the previously determined order.
During a player's turn they will either seed or harvest materia. When a player seeds materia, they will place their plastic markers on the spaces they want on the outside of the star alter tile. The alter will rotate, but not where the markers are placed. So the good produced could change from round to round. You can seed any or all of your markers during your turn. Each section can only contain one type of materia (plant or mineral). If you decide to harvest materia, you will be picking up all markers in a filled section. You will receive the resource displayed on the star alter. The quantity will be based on the number or your markers on that section plus any black filler markers. Any player that has markers in that section will also receive a resource per marker and 1 resource for every 2 black filler marker in an area. All markers are then removed from that section. If a player would like to harvest a second section, they can do so for 1 gold. During a player's turn, they can choose to build/reform one building. To build a building, they must pay the cost displayed on the card. If the building is on the last 2 spaces of the building row, you can play 1 less resource. The other 3 spots provide additional victory points if you build a building from that spot. The player will pay the resources and place the building in front of them. They will also move up on the victory point track based on the victory point number on the card plus any additional points if they built a building from one of the three left most spots. Reforming a building can only happen in rounds 8 or later. The player will discard one of their buildings along with any citizen that is attached to the building, then builds any of the new buildings at a one resource discount. If the building was the same color as the discarded building, you get a second resource discount. This discount does stack with other discounts you earned for the round (area control majority or 2 right most spots). You will gain victory points as if you built a new building. When you build a building instead of reforming, you will place a building tile in one of the 4 city areas with an open tile space. This is how area majority is figured out for each area. The last action a player can do during their turn is to play or buy citizen cards. They may do this action as much as they want. To buy a citizen card, you will pay 1 gold for each citizen card currently in your hand. If you have no cards, the card is free. To play a citizen card, you will pay the food cost displayed in the upper right corner of the card. You can then perform the action on the card and if you have a building available, you may place them in that building. Each citizen has 2 numbers for victory points (x/y), the x number is for placing a citizen in a building that does not match it's color. The y number value is if the building and citizen card are the same color. You will move up on the victory point track once you place them in a building. If you can not place them in a building, then you must discard the card after using it's action. All of the player's actions can be done in any order, but you must complete an action before starting a new one.
At the end of a round, if a section of the star alter has player materia and empty spaces, you will add 1 black marker per section per round. During festival rounds, players will score for each building they own that is occupied. Then for each building color, the player who has the most buildings occupied of that color earns 2 victory points per occupied building of that color. After festival scoring of the final round, the player with the most victory points wins Lemuria.
Lemuria is an interesting game that reminds me of Tzolkin the Mayan Calendar with the alter wheel. I enjoyed the art and a lot of the mechanics of Lemuria, but the actual gameplay fell flat and was too tight. I never felt any type of theme come through during the gameplay and there was no sense of progression. You placed materia, got resources and then built buildings. This was a repetitive 2 or 3 round process that seemed to have no engine to make things progress at a faster pace. Some turns you get to do a lot and then each of us each had at least 1 round where all we did was seed or harvest. Your strategy and planning had to be very exact because of the limited amount of resources you will receive during the game, and if the first player turns the alter on you, it can really throw your plans for ruin. One game we had a lot of high cost cards for the first few rounds, which prevented us building many buildings and slowed the game even more. The star alter is interesting and i like how you have to plan and get resources. I just felt it was too tight and too little resource gain. Scores in each game were fairly close. Taking the game to someone's house is very easy to do since it is in a very thin box. I loved the concept and art of Lemuria, but the gameplay made me wanting more. I would recommend trying this out if you like tight strategy games that include resource gathering and set collection. Lemuria will not be making my collection, but I am sure there are some out there that will enjoy the gameplay.
+ Eye catching art
+ Big game in a small box
+Rotating star alter similar to Tzolkin
+Easy to teach and learn
-Too tight of gameplay and few resources
-No feeling of ramping up during the game
-Game feels repetitive every few rounds