In another of Zatu Games’ board game spotlights, we moisten our corneas and gaze longingly at A Study in Emerald from designer Martin Wallace.
A Study in Emerald
A Study in Emerald is based on an excellent short story by Neil Gaiman, one which less combines the worlds of Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft and more violently shoves them through Jeff Goldblum’s teleporters. In this world, ruled over by the Old Ones, the murder of a royal sheds light on a hidden struggle between Loyalists, supporters and lovers of their nightmarish masters, and Restorationists, who want to free humanity from their influence.
The board game expands this world quite literally, moving away from the streets of an alternate Victorian London, adding a breadth of historical and fictional figures from the late 1800s and giving players access to cities across the world, for which they must vie for control.
When the game starts, 2-5 players are secretly assigned to one of the two factions. From there, the game is, at its core, about area control and deck building. A set number of cards (depending on the number of players) are placed on each city location on the board. Players draw a starting deck of ten cards, and must use the actions on them to further their cause, bidding for cards and cities on the board.
Given the sheer number of actions a player can take, no two games are the same, and the hidden Loyalist or Restorationist agendas add intriguing depth. Your score and that of your ally are separate but intertwined: doing well on your own won’t guarantee victory.
For its fascinating mix of fictional and artistic styles, A Study in Emerald is thematically unique.
Treefrog Games is the publishing company of designer Martin Wallace. It’s a rebranding and new direction for the company previously known as Warfrog. Their first game was 2010’s Age of Industry.
Originally from southern England, Martin Wallace first turned to board game design in the early 1990s, and since then has designed over 40 games. His first success came with 1993’s Lords of Creation, a civilisation builder. When he’s not designing, Wallace works as a teacher.
Keep your eyes peeled for our review in the coming weeks!
If you’ve always looked back on the 1880’s and despaired at the lack of facial tentacles, buy this game here at Zatu Games.