Galenus is a board game that puts you in the shoes of a doctor in ancient Rome. In Galenus, you will treat maladies, gain research project benefits and impact points, publish Notable Works, and gain prestige, enabling you to enter the Sectum of Galenum. As a work-placement board game, it will test your skills, strategy, and wits to see if you can defeat the opponent's plans. Get your friends together, sharpen your medical knowledge, and prepare to compete to become the most successful Doctor in ancient Rome.
With one to four players, this game is best played by three or four players aged fourteen or older. The gameplay time is thirty minutes per player, assuming the player is familiarised with the game.
The Unique Gameplay Experience Of Galenus
As a renowned doctor in ancient Rome, your goal is to make the most significant positive impact on the medical field after five years. An alternative goal is to publish four more Notable Works than everyone else.
In Galenus, you must manage four attributes: Focus, Philosophy, Reputation, and Health. Plan and take action at several locations, including your Villa, which comprises a hospital, an office, and other spaces, as well as locations in Roma, including the Baths, Regions, the Journey, the Theater, and the Contest Track. Different actions and rules apply to each location.
Each year has three phases: Work, Contest, and New Year.
During the Work phase, players take turns choosing to Plan or Get Results. If you decide to Plan, select an Unplanned Mediple and place it in an available location. Choosing Get Results means you cannot plan for the remainder of the year, but if you are the first player to get results, you must select the Contest Subject (a malady). Once your actions are planned, you must move Mediple into an Action Space and perform the corresponding action, such as treating patients or publishing works. As you treat patients, you will gain experience and knowledge about specific ailments, gain focus, gain impact points, and others. Skill markers are unlocked as you publish works, allowing you to specialise in your skills.
As part of the Contest phase, everyone prepares and presents to determine which participant is the most skilled in the subject matter of the contest. After adjudication, prizes are awarded.
At the year's end, determine if anyone won; otherwise, prepare for the following year.
You lose impact points when you neglect patients or deplete your Health and Focus. Manage your attributes wisely, plan strategically, and compete fiercely to become the most successful Doctor in ancient Rome.
A Euro-Style Game For Strategic Thinkers
If you're an experienced board game player looking for a challenge, Galenus may be the perfect game for you! With its advanced Euro-style gameplay mechanics, Galenus is not your typical "filler" game or a gateway for newcomers to the hobby. However, be warned that the game can take over two hours during the first matches with novice players and has long set-up and tear-down times.
Galenus combines novel mechanics with traditional ones, striving for uniqueness and engagement. From worker placement to set collection, the game's mechanics come with twists, adding depth and complexity to the gameplay. However, be prepared for some frustrating extended downtime, analysis paralysis, and predictable planning. Some mechanics, such as set collection, are quite superficial and do not add much to overall gameplay.
While Galenus offers plenty of agency to every player, the game's linear strategy can become predictable after each player has analysed and chosen their plan. Paying attention to the Contest Phase is highly suggested, as the first player has a significant advantage in a round. Cunning and deception can also benefit a player, but the linear nature of the game'stactics ultimately surpasses everything else. Each round can be predicted from prior actions, making it easy to guess other players' moves and prepare your plans accordingly.
The major issue with the game is the myriad of rules, constraints, and exceptions for each action in the game. The player aid is extensive and filled with bullet points to describe each game phase, regions, planning, and actions. The high level of game complexity feels unnecessary and frustrating without adding value to gameplay. In the worst-case scenario, the game's unnecessarily complex rules and long downtimes can lead to heated discussions and players abandoning the game halfway through. I have seen this happen a few times when evaluating the game. However, don't let this discourage you. As long as you have the right expectations and audience, and once you master the game rules, Galenus can be a challenging and engaging game offering unique gameplay mechanics and a compelling historical setting. Galenus is one of those love-or-hate games, but once you learn to love it, it delivers an impressive experience.