Deep in the far reaches of space is the intergalactic commerce space station, Chimera. Where the workers are anything but regular. Not only do the workers of the station perform various tasks, they can also be spliced with claws, tentacles, plants and brains to give them an edge over the competition. Players of Chimera Station will gather resources, build modules and expand the space station whilst gaining prestige.
Chimera Station is a two to four player worker placement game, designed by Mark Major and published by Tasty Minstrel Games and Game Brewer. The twist with this worker placement game is that your workers are plastic aliens that can be upgraded with other alien parts to make them more effective. It is a neat twist on a massively saturated market and a twist that makes this game stand out.
For the full game set-up, check out the rulebook. Listed here are the main points:
- Two countdown tokens are placed on module B of the Command Hub.
- Four round markers are placed on the round tracker.
- The genetic components, coins and food, are set out in a supply.
- The 40 station modules are shuffled and placed near the Reactor.
- Six modules are dealt face-up on to the Reactor spaces on the board.
- 22 Perk cards are shuffled and three are drawn to form the Perk supply.
- Players take their player boards and place a score marker on the score track.
- Each player takes workers in their colour and sets two aside to be gained later in the game.
- Each player starts off with four, three or two workers in a two, three or four player game, respectively.
- The resource deck is handed to the right of the first player who selects one and passes them on. The resources depicted on the card are gathered from the supply.
Chimera Station is played over five rounds with each round having a placement phase, splicing phase and a feeding phase. At the beginning of every round (except round one) the corresponding round token is removed. In rounds two, three and five there are various aspects of the game that are changed and are depicted on the board. The changes will not be discussed in this review.
Starting with the first player and proceeding clockwise, each player places a worker on a Module, the Splicing Lab or the Worker Lounge and performs the relevant action.
Modules – The game board has eight pre-printed basic modules which allow you to gain food, money, buy components, construct a building and increase a player’s research track. As the game progresses more modules will be placed on the space station or gained through Perk cards and can be used during this phase. Any of the Modules on the main board can be used by any player during this turn including the Command Module A and, in future turns, Command Module B. These Modules give players points for each worker they have already placed during this phase.
Splicing Lab – The splicing lab allows players to splice new components on to their workers. There are only three spaces available and each spot can only take one worker. A player must have the component in their personal supply to be able to splice it. As soon as a worker is placed here one or two components must either be added or removed from the worker. The worker must look physically different from when it enters to when it leaves the Splicing Lab.
Worker Lounge – Any number of workers can go to the Worker Lounge to gain either one food or one coin.
Any workers placed in the Splicing Lab in the previous round are now placed on another Module in the order they were placed in the Splicing Lab. No workers can be placed in the Splicing Lab again during this phase.
All players retrieve their workers and must pay one food for each worker they have in their worker pool. If a player does not have enough food, they must discard one component that has previously been spliced on to a worker. If a player does not have enough components to do this, they lose two points for each food they are short.
There are four different types of components that can be spliced on to a player’s worker. Any worker cannot contain more than two additional components, but they can contain two of the same components.
Brains – When workers containing a brain are placed on a module, they score the points shown on the module. When a worker with two brains is placed on the Command Module space, they score points for their opponent’s workers as well as their own.
Claws – A worker with claws allows a player to displace an opponent’s worker. A worker with one claw can displace an opponent with zero or one claw component. A worker with two claw components can displace any opponent’s worker. Any displaced workers are sent to the Workers Lounge and gain either one food or one coin.
Leaves – Leaves provide one food and as such negate the effect of needing to be feed one worker at the end of the round. A worker with two leaf components provides two food at the beginning of the feeding phase, one to feed themselves and another to feed another worker.
Tentacles – Workers with tentacles allow the player to gain one additional resource when they gain coins or food. A worker with two tentacles can gain an additional component when the action allows the player to gain a component.
Not all the Modules in Chimera Station will be discussed in detail as part of this review, due to the large number available, but one that is worth mentioning is the Building Module. When a player uses this module, they pay the number of coins listed on the module they want to build from the Reactor and place it on the board. The module must be placed adjacent to an existing module on the main board and the player gains the relevant building bonus (coins, food, points, components etc) depending on where they place the module. Points are also awarded for building a module.
The Reactor is not refilled until a player performs the “Flushing the Reactor” action. When this is performed the player gains rewards based on the worker used, the worker's component upgrades and the number of spaces visible on the Reactor. The Reactor is then refilled with new Modules from the supply.
Some Modules allow a player to increase their research level. This grants players additional workers, components and perk cards. These perk cards are taken from the face-up supply and can be either additional Modules or abilities that only the player can use or victory points for end game scoring.
The game ends after five rounds. Players count any additional points they may gain from Perk cards and add it to their score. They gain one point for every three money, one point for every two food and two points for every component (attached or not). The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Final Thoughts on Chimera Station
The modern board game hobby is overflowing with worker placement games, it is certainly a genre that is very popular. I am a massive fan of worker placement games, but they need to have something which makes them stand out. Chimera Station has that “something” in the form of workers which you can upgrade.
The workers are big chunky aliens that come in two pieces; head and legs. Brains, leaves, tentacles and claws can be added to the workers by splicing the new component on to the base worker. It makes for some really cool-looking workers. But this is not just a gimmick, these components actually have additional functionality when they are upgraded and how to upgrade your worker is not an easy decision to make.
Chimera Station is a fantastic worker placement game, one that stands out from the crowd for me and one that I don’t see much buzz about. The splicing action to upgrade your workers is a great addition to the game. The way the space station builds as you play is brilliant, meaning that the space station looks different each time. There are a host of buildings that I have not seen yet with new buildings coming out each game. There are plenty of Perk cards that keep the game fresh for every play.
In addition to all this, the player boards are double-sided with a basic side (all players having the same set-up) or an advance side (where players have different starting powers/upgrades) to add even more replay-ability in to the game. I can see Chimera station getting a lot of plays and it has great table presence with the big, colourful, chunky, aliens.