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Tribes of the wind

Tribes of the wind

RRP: £48.00
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RRP £48.00
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In a post-apocalyptic world, the tribes of the wind are going to rebuild the world on the polluted ruins from the past. Players will have to plant forests, build new villages and temples, and decontaminate surrounding areas. They will be able to play cards from their hand. But be careful! The effect or even the possibility of playing the card may vary depending on…the back of …
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Tags , , , SKU ZHACGAM-BDJTDV-EN Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Beautiful presentation
  • Interesting card play
  • Excellent at 2 players

Might Not Like

  • Lack of interaction
  • Assymetry that adds very little.
  • Drags at 4 or 5 players
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Description

In a post-apocalyptic world, the tribes of the wind are going to rebuild the world on the polluted ruins from the past.
Players will have to plant forests, build new villages and temples, and decontaminate surrounding areas.
They will be able to play cards from their hand. But be careful! The effect or even the possibility of playing the card may vary depending on...the back of your surrounding opponents'cards.
Players may also send their wind riders to explore the area, plant forests or build villages and temples using all the gathered ressources.
Along the game, you will manage to complete some objectives that will allow you to unlock your guide's special abilities, and to improve your tribes' powers.
When someone builds their 5th village, the game will be about to end. The player with the most points, depending on pollution, villages, temples, layout of their forests and other various objectives, will be the winner!

The Apocalypse Has Never Looked Prettier, Or Felt Less… Apocalyptic

The aftermath of an apocalypse is an increasingly common grounding for games, both digitally and on the tabletop. Some (The Last of Us) take a narrative approach, where players act as a group of protagonists against a generally hostile environment. Others such as Dead of Winter introduce the possibility of deception and betrayal into the dynamic of survival. 2017’s Outlive pitches you in direct competition with other bands of survivors, as well as environmental hazards. And then, there are games like Tribes of the Wind, where the destruction of human civilisation is included solely for decorative effect.

Apocalypse Wow

And what a decorative effect it is. Boite de Jeu have produced a gorgeous box, thanks to the hardest working artist in board games, Vincent Dutrait. Dutrait’s work isn’t to everyone’s taste, but if you like a colourful style, evocative of books in the 70s and 80s, you will adore the look here. There are definite echoes of Horizon Forbidden West in the way the tribes are represented. Echoes of Aztec, African and Polynesian art jostle with steampunk-like tech in a very charming package. Fortunately, none of this gorgeousness is allowed to interfere with a quite simple and intuitive graphic design. Visually, it’s a treat.

There’s Only One Way To Clean Up This Planet… Literally

Tribes of the wind is essentially a race to build 5 villages across a previously polluted wasteland. Strictly, it’s possible to be the first to complete this race and not win, it’s just never happened in our plays.

But how do you convert a bombed out power station into a verdant treehouse? By following the following steps:

  • Clear pollution
  • Obtain water
  • Plant a forest (spending water)
  • Move population onto the forest
  • Convert population into a village

Doing this 5 times, as efficiently as possible, is the core of the game. Each of these actions (except the last) is driven by the playing of cards of varying potency (see below). If you get stuck you can place a temple, which as well as granting you end-game points and an immediate benefit, will allow you to jettison less useful cards from your hand. Neat, huh?

Once someone has completed 5 villages there is a final round and then each player scores points for the following

  • Villages
  • Temples
  • Tiles clear of pollution
  • Forests
  • Optional objectives that you draw after each village is completed
  • Being the first to finish.

The person with the highest score gets to become global dictator for life. OK, no, but they win, and feel good about themselves as people.

You may be wondering… is that it? Well, no. The game has an appealing trick up its sleeve. And also some other stuff.

I Got Your Back

The central innovation of the game, and the hook that draws gamers to it, is that the effectiveness of your cardplay is affected both by what other cards you have, and also sometimes by the cards that your immediate neighbours have. So you are constantly looking to see what sequence of card play would be optimal, and hoping that the sweet 6 red cards that will super-power your pollution-clearing efforts will still be around next time it’s your turn.

So far, what you may have noticed is a definite lack of player interaction- you are largely running your own race here, until someone finishes it for everyone. So if it matters to you how many green cards I have, that’s interactive, right? Well, I would say that this system gives the appearance of player interaction, but not actual, meaningful interaction. Let me explain. Say I play a red card that means that the card I was talking about above in your hand becomes less powerful. You will be cursing, but you can’t really curse me, because I didn’t know what I was doing- the cards are too variable in their effects. It’s impossible to know what effect my action will have on your play. So instead of a meaningful interaction, what basically happens is that players act as a random environmental factor for each other. And that is not satisfying.

Personality (Would) Go A Long Way

There are a couple of other aspects of the game which are also a bit unsatisfying. There is an element of assymetry- each player has a selection of powers that they can activate under certain circumstances. This is a potentially fun wrinkle, but unfortunately neither the triggering circumstances nor the powers particularly affect the game, and so because you have to do everything (moving, clearing, building) yourself, there’s very little benefit to specialisation. So this aspect feels very bland.

Temple Of Kludge

There’s a game design term, the kludge, which I love. It refers to an extra mechanism or rule which is added to deal with a problem elsewhere in the system. The temples in Tribes of the wind are the perfect example of this phenomenon. At some point the designer seems to have realised that you can end up with a real bummer of a hand of cards, stalling your progress towards sylvan Nirvana. Placing a temple allows you to jettison three cards (and immediately replace them) while gaining an immediate benefit. Which is fine, but it’s disconcerting to see the design ‘joins’ so clearly. The addition of the temples definitely smooths off the play experience, but at the expense of tension and variability.

Why Defer Gratification?

There’s one more mechanism here worth mentioning, because it’s potentially interesting but not handled here in a way that gets the best from it. When you complete a village, you draw a card and choose either an immediate bonus, or an objective which could maybe score you points at the end. This is potentially an interesting choice. The trouble is that the likelihood of these objectives being completed depends on the length of the game, and taking an immediate bonus will speed the game up. Therefore, the immediate bonus is almost always the best option. Again, Tribes of the Wind doesn’t quite use its ideas well enough.

Just The Two Of Us (Preferably)

Thinking about the description of the game so far, how many players do you picture- around the table? Three? This would be the ‘standard’ number of players for this game, allowing every player to have two neighbours. And it’s fine for three players.

Somewhat surprisingly, it’s better at two. The adaptation to this player count is to use the row of cards that you refill your hand from as one of your neighbours, for the purposes of powering your cards. This gives you a much greater measure of control, as the cards you and your opponent select doubly impact the cards in hand. It’s still not truly interactive, but it is more satisfying.

By contrast, playing Tribes of the Wind at 4 or 5 players adds nothing to the 3 player game except duration. When a player who is not your neighbour is playing, you can check out entirely, as nothing they will do short of ending the game matters a great deal to you. This dulls engagement in the game, and makes it a bit, well, dull.

Final Thoughts

Tribes of the Wind is not a bad game. It’s a satisfying puzzle which you mainly do alongside your opponents, who act as a changing background to your efforts. It’s actually pretty fun, and quick, at 2 players. I wouldn’t play it again at 4 or 5. It’s a beautiful object to have on your shelf. But is that what a game is for?

Somewhere, out in the potential space from which games emerge, there is a great game about rival bands reclaiming a ravaged earth, co-operating when necessary but always with an eye on the others’ pistol grip. Tribes of the Wind is not that game. It’s a pleasant diversion, a post-apocalyptic theme park ride. It’s… fine?

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Beautiful presentation
  • Interesting card play
  • Excellent at 2 players

Might not like

  • Lack of interaction
  • Assymetry that adds very little.
  • Drags at 4 or 5 players