Published by: Cool Mini or Not
# of Players: 2-4
If Cool Mini or Not was just known for one thing, it would have to be the outstanding miniatures and components that they put out in each game. Once again they outdid themselves and hit a home run with flare. The Victorian Steampunk theme is shown in every inch of this game's design. The box stands out and looks sophisticated with its neutral colors and golf leaf inlay. The insert is great with one minor flaw. The one issue is the finger well to pull the cards out is not deep enough to get them all. Those last few cards are a pain to get out of the insert.
If I had to sum up the gameplay of World of Smog: On Her's Majesty's Service in two words it would be Controlled Chaos. You essentially are racing to get the 4 magic artefacts and the correct ethers that are displayed on secret card that you hold on too. Once you get all those items you must go to the displayed platform that is shown on another secret card that you have so that you can return back to London. During your turn for the round you get 3 actions to either move, buy/sell, rotate a platform or remove an hourglass. Sounds simple right? Well each time you buy or sell one of those ethers or artefacts you place an hourglass on that quadrant and rotate the platform you are on 90 degrees. The hourglass prevents anyone from buying or selling with that specific number and ether on that quadrant of the platform. The quadrants for each platform are important because the quadrant closest to your side of the board is the one you will use for buying and selling. Also some platforms are partially blocked with smog and cost 1 ether or coin to move through. To make matters even worse, 2 of the Shadow Master's associates will also be on the game board and provide either a beneficial or bad effect to the specific platform they are on.
I think World of Smog: On Her Majesty's Service wins the trophy for longest title for a board game. The title fits the game if you take the time to read the backstory and character profiles provided in the rulebook. This game was designed with the theme in mind. Each component, artwork and game mechanic makes you feel like your playing a refined game set in 1889 Steampunk Victorian London. It does have a few minor missteps in the 1 action card I feel is a little off balance and being able to tell the ether markers apart. Those are very minor and do not take away from the fun of this game. I loved how they were able to take this controlled chaos and make it not feel overwhelming the whole game. You can still try to plan your turns but you must account for so many variables that make you caught up in the present. At first when starting this game it was slightly intimidating with all the moving parts and trying to think ahead, but not too long into the game you start getting your rhythm and get comfortable. This game always keeps you engaged as each person's turn could affect what you want to do. I like how this game does not feel like any other game I have played. I am happy to see the Steampunk theme done right. Games usually last around an hour which is a good time for a game like this. World of Smog: On Her Majesty's Service is a nice, refined addition to my collection. This is definitely on my list of surprise games of 2015. The box will attract you to the game, but the gameplay will keep it on the table instead of the trading block.
+ Constantly engages all players in the game
+ Victorian Steampunk theme beautifully done
+ Controlled Chaos gameplay that is refined
+ Nice Components that you have come to expect from Cool Mini or Not
+ Shadow Master benefits come with a price
- Finger Well for card insert is too shallow
- Steam Lord's Decree card is over powered in my opinion
- Can be a lot of information to take in when you first start playing
- Ether markers color issue