Chamber of Wonders – Kickstarter Edition + Sherlock: A Chamber in Red Expansion

RRP: £59.99
Now £59.98
RRP £59.99
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A brand new game from Stefano Castelli (Potion Explosion, Minute Realms, Bomarzo) and Diego Cerreti (GodZ, Omega: The Game). Send out your Agents in London’s various areas, collect unique objects and try to set up the best Chamber of Wonders! Each game lasts 20 to 40 minutes based on the number of players. Different Contacts and double-faced Areas (with 2 different effects eac…
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Category Tags , SKU ZKS-CHAMBEROFWONDERS Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • High quality components
  • Fully embraces its unusual theme
  • Very fast to play

Might Not Like

  • Can feel a bit random
  • Would benefit from a player aid
  • Over quite quickly
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Description

A brand new game from Stefano Castelli (Potion Explosion, Minute Realms, Bomarzo) and Diego Cerreti (GodZ, Omega: The Game).

Send out your Agents in London's various areas, collect unique objects and try to set up the best Chamber of Wonders!

Each game lasts 20 to 40 minutes based on the number of players.

Different Contacts and double-faced Areas (with 2 different effects each) always offer new combinations, giving enormous variability and longevity to the game.

Chamber of Wonders is a language-free game, which means there is no text in the game components.

ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT DREARY…

As a bored member of the Victorian elite, you compete with your fellows using your agents and contacts to assemble the finest collection of mythic antiquities, literary oddities, gruesome curios and taxidermised monstrosities, to display and garner the most fame possible.

Given how we gamers love to have our boardgames on show, it seems only fitting that a game should capitalise on our desire to show off the weird and wonderful. This innovative, and absurdly beautiful, game from Ludus Magnus Studios is the quality you’d expect from the makers of DEI and Nova Aetas, whilst staying fast and fun.

Chamber of Wonders is ridiculously on-theme, and I love it. It’s weird, creepy and gothic; this is the London of Poe and Stoker, steeped in a foggy, ghoulish atmosphere. It’s essentially a worker placement (and oh my, what lovely meeples it has!) with a mix of hand building, drafting and push your luck – but never diluting the gameplay or feeling forced. The component quality is crazy good, as you would expect if you’ve seen any of their games. I love the London landmarks, but the card rack / showcase cabinets are not only great but can be packed away still assembled- massive bonus. The game is quick to set up, fast to play, and actually rather heavier than first series appears.

DEEP INTO THAT DARKNESS PEERING, LONG I STOOD THERE WONDERING…

The base game of Chamber of Wonders comes with 5 locations (though you are advised not to use Whitechapel to start with), and each location has two possible sets of game mechanics printed on the double-sided location baseplates (again, one is recommended for your first play). Starting with a 3 card hand, and £ equal to the printed locations’ – and depending on the number of players possibly more – you place one of your charming Victorian meeples at a location, activate its ability (which typically affects all players, starting with the active player – variously bidding, drafting, and selling cards), can choose to activate a contact adjacent to the location (the Investor gives you money, for example), and then all players may add a Wonder to their Showcases. This means that it’s a highly interactive game with almost zero downtime – everyone is ALWAYS involved. Unlike many worker placements, more than one player can have a meeple at a location BUT as a player you can only visit a location once per game. This means timing is everything; do you gamble early at Hyde Park, or bide your time to build funds at the Bank of England? As for the Wonders themselves, you are largely set collecting; however, some Wonders may be played AS sets (books and body parts) which means there is again a balancing act to be had – Legendary items, for example, are incredibly valuable, but there’s multiple copies in the deck so if more than player has one on show, they’re CLEARLY worthless fakes, scoring ZERO fame at the end of the game. No, that’s not the golden puzzle-box that unlocks a portal to hell – THIS is, between my slightly water-damaged copy of the Necronomicon, 2/3 of the corpse of an Aztec god and the Crown Jewels. It’s a lot of very simple premises, which combine to an extremely neat and elegant whole.

FANCY UNTO FANCY

It’s important to mention that there is a lot of content in Chamber of Wonders (especially in the Kickstarter edition, which I’ll get to in a sec). Because of the wealth of locational variety, no two games are ever the same; some location versions might not be to your taste as a gaming group, and that’s fine, as you can make the game work the way you want. There’s 6 different Contacts in the base game, and the starting adjacencies of the 4 is likewise random. You can also belong to a (random) Member’s Club, which gives you a separate benefit – in effect, you yourself gain a character ability (selling cards to greater advantage, for example). It comes with a solid solo play variant, working against NPC collectors, and has plenty of chunky, clear, colourful tokens – yes, I’d like them to be different shapes for accessibility (I mean, skull shaped tokens for the Grotesques wouldn’t have been hard), but at least the £1 and £3 tokens are different sizes.

The Kickstarter edition includes a neoprene playmat that’s not available elsewhere (and it’s lush), and two exclusive expansions: Don’t Gamble with Strangers, which adds 3 new contacts, two new locations and a set of gambling dice (high risk, high reward) and the Black Market, which is a new location plus 2 contacts. The former is fun but makes the game very, very swingy, which is not necessarily a good thing, but certainly does feel straight out of Dickens. The Black Market, on the other hand, introduces a whole new way to dig for items your after, making the set collecting generally less random and more cut-throat – I really hope this comes to retail at some point, but it looks unlikely, and so is a MAJOR selling point of the KS version.

ALL MY SOUL WITHIN ME BURNING

The other content included in the KS is available as separate expansions, so as a result we’re covering everything here. The main expansion is Sherlock – A Chamber in Red , in which the Napoleon of Crime has designs upon your Chamber – some rare artefact in there, a mere curio to you, is essential to his nefarious schemes! Fortunately, there is a new deck of clues to add to your Chamber, to help Holmes to track him down, whilst Dr Watson enters the game as a new contact. The risk of having your precious Wonders stolen again adds a layer of uncertainty and challenge to the game, without diluting the gameplay or card pool as a whole. Baker Street itself, with its discard function, is handy location, and the Holmes and Watson meeples are an added delight. A worthy addition to my Showcase!

As for the smaller expansions to Chamber of Wonders, Fair of Wonders expands the game to up to 6, so is a great addition for larger groups (as well as mixing up your locations), and the 4 booster sets (Clockwork Freaks, Travellers, Stranger Things and Cinematographie) add new oddities to collect. They are certainly a lot fun, but they do have the effect of diluting the card pool, making Legendries effectively more valuable (or at least, less risky), books harder to collect in sets, and Arcane objects (which act as multipliers) INSANELY valuable. Nevertheless, they again feel highly thematic, with Clockwork bringing in the Steampunk, Travellers adding a touch of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Stranger Things the oddities and megafauna of Verne and Howard, and Cinematographie the wonders of the Lumiere age – so whether you like your Victoriana historical, fantastical or somewhere in between, there will something to your tastes no matter how rarerified.

GRIM, UNGAINLY, GHASTLY, GAUNT…

Some of the location effects in Chamber of Wonders can feel a little random at times, like a slightly infuriating mini-game; a player aid would also be much appreciated, saving a LOT of flicking back and forth – there’s also a bit of a lack of card icon explanation which is initially confusing. Also, some folk will not like either how FAST this is or how TRICKY it is. It’s not a heavyweight game at all but it’s not lightweight either. For me it’s a great thing, a meaty, mid weight quick game – unusual, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste. And now, if you will excuse me, I am off to converse with a mystic seer about the price of uncommon fish!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • High quality components
  • Fully embraces its unusual theme
  • Very fast to play

Might not like

  • Can feel a bit random
  • Would benefit from a player aid
  • Over quite quickly