As a family we really enjoy a board game or two at the weekend! This is mainly down to when my cousin bought a few over when we had a night in. We enjoyed it so much we started our own collection! As ever we are always seeking new games to try, and today we have been playing Low Lands, designed by Claudia and Ralf Partenheimer.
Opening the box
When you open the box, there seems to be a never ending amount of components – which I like, you feel some kind satisfaction popping out the various bits and pieces. There are in fact over 230 wooden pieces, 180 cardboard pieces, 11 boards and 78 cards! Once you have everything ready to go, grab the rules and get onto set up!
There are two aspects to setting up, there is the shared set up that you all will interact with. And then there is the player set up, that you each have and play on.
- A Random farmyard board
- An income board
- A reference sheet
- 3 Farmers (of your chosen colour numbered 2,3 and 4)
- 4 Building markers
- 2 Sheep
- 16 Fences
- 2 Labourers
- 4 Coins
- 4 Resource cards
Place your randomly selected farmyard board face up (you choose which side). Next to your board place your income board and reference sheet. Place your fences, buildings and one laborer on your income card. One laborer goes on the farmyard board and place your 6 remaining fences on the board to form a pasture (pen) for your two sheep (which are placed within). Keep your farmers and coins next to your farmyard board. All other items left over can go back in the box.
Main Board Setup
Place the main board in the middle of the table. Take the flood card and shuffle them, place the deck on the space in the sea. For your first go you want to remove the flood card marked with 6. Place the coloured dike markers on the 0 starting place (remove any unused colours). Put a random progress token on each of the large spaces on the dike tracker. Place the value marker and phase marker on the board.
Shuffle and deal four resource cards onto the bottom of the board (in there predefined spots) Place the sheep market board next to the main board, ensure you take the correct one for the amount of players you have. Place the three resource markers on the sheep market board in their spaces at the top of the board. Fill the sheep market board with sheep where there are sheep pictures.
Place the Farm expansion files next to the board, there are four separate piles that need to be shuffled and laid out. Draw three tiles from each bar the storm surge pile, here you need to draw the same amount as players plus one. Place all coins, sheep, 3 sheep tokens, flood pieces, dike segments, dike breach tokens and farmer +2 tokens to the side of the board to draw as you need them. At this point you can set the score pad aside as it is not needed until the storm surge phase.
The winner of the game is the player with the most Victory Points (VP). You score victory points by holding sheep and building the dike, however their values will change as the game progresses. You gain additional VP for coins, farm buildings and resource cards.
Game Play – The basics
There are five phases to the game, the rules on the surface and the turns can be a bit daunting but once you get playing they are very easy to follow. The phases are:
Turn of the tide
Check your hand size to ensure you do not have more than 8 cards, place face down three flood cards on the space in the sea and reveal a new flood card by turning over the left most card you then need to take that amount of flood markers and add them to the flood space.
In this phase you all take your farmers and place them on your farmyard board in three of the five action spaces, remembering that each farmer has a different value.
Breeding, income, retrieve farmers, reset sheep market, change first player and reveal a new flood card.
This is where you check if your dike holds. If it does player gains one coin for each dike point they have more than the player with the fewest. If it breaches each player receives a dike breach token for each dike point fewer than the player with the most dike points.
Storm Surge – end of the game
This is the scoring stage. Buildings and features with an exclamation mark can score. You recheck the dike, if it holds you can all discard your breach tokens without effect. If the dike breaches you discard a sheep per token. Final scoring then occurs and you will have your winner!
The game itself did appear to be overly complicated. I am one for jumping straight in to play the game, while reading the rules as we go, so the first game is always the trickiest. However, I found after a few phases the game really came together. You want to work together as a team to keep the dike from being breached, but you also need to secure your own VP in order to win, sometime it does take some sacrifice in order to win. You can get through the game in around an hour (after your first try). It is pitched at 14+ but our 9 year old managed it without to much hassle, he had been playing proper board games for a few year now tho, so I wouldn’t recommend this to be the first “adult” board game to try!
I have one copy to give away please enter in the Gleam below, competition ends 16th October 2018.