Spyrium Review

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Spyrium is a game by William Attia, published by Asmodee. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will each be running an industrial conglomerate. They will be trying to score victory points by building buildings, employing workers, patenting techniques and calling on special characters. The player that scores the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the cards are separated into A, B and C decks. These are each shuffled and placed face down on the table. The event cards are shuffled and placed face up on the Future Event board space. Players choose colors and receive 3 discs and 3 worker meeple of their chosen color. The discs are placed on the 0 space of the score track, the first space of the residence track and the Phase I space. Players also receive a Start card, 2 Spyrium crystals, 8 British pounds and an extra colored disc to indicate if the player has used the turn’s event or not. The remaining 4 worker meeples for each player are placed to the side of the board. Bonus tokens are placed next to the score track next to the 8 space. The numbered tokens are shuffled and placed face down beside the board. If the top event card uses a token, it is drawn randomly from the stack and placed face up on the event card. The Spyrium crystals and money are placed where all players can reach them. The first player is chosen and they receive the First player card. Play now begins.

The game is played over 6 turns which are divided into 3 periods. Period A is done over the first 3 turns. Period B is done on turns 4 and 5. Period C is done on turn 6. Before each turn begins, players get money from the bank based on their disc’s position on the residence track. On the first turn, this is 2 British pounds. The top card from the event deck is placed in the turn’s event space. If the next card face up requires a token to be drawn, it is drawn and placed face up on top of the new card. The market is then set up with the first 9 card of the current period deck. These are placed in a 3×3 grid leaving space between them all. Tokens are placed on any cards that show token symbols. Workers are then placed on the player’s start card making them active.

Players will now perform actions in turn order until all players have passed. There are 2 phases of actions; Placement phase and Activation phase. In the Placement phase the actions are to place a worker, use the turn’s event and start the activation phase. To place a worker, the player simply takes one of their workers from their start card and places it between two adjacent cards. To use the turn’s event, the player places the disc of their color on the card to indicate that they’ve used it and then perform whatever action that the event allows. The last action that can be taken during this phase is to start the Activation phase, this is done by the player moving their disc from the Phase I space to the Phase II space. They are then able to perform an action from the Activation phase.

The Activation phase has 5 actions that are available; earn money, activate a card, use the turn’s event, use one of the player’s buildings and pass. Players are not able to go back to the Placement phase once they have moved to the Activation phase. To earn money a player chooses one of their workers that they placed earlier and a card adjacent to that worker. The player then gains money equal to the number of other adjacent workers to that card. The player then removes the worker and placed next to their start card making it inactive. If there are no cards adjacent to the worker, the player gains nothing and the worker is removed and made inactive. To activate a card, the player chooses one of their workers and a card adjacent to it which they then activate. Character cards call upon that character, buildings must be constructed and techniques are patented by that player. To do any of those things, the player must first pay the cost on the activated card to the bank as well as an additional British pound for each worker adjacent to the card. The worker is then removed and becomes inactive. Characters provide immediate benefits. Buildings are added to the player’s neighborhood which can also provide immediate benefits or can be used later. Techniques provide advantages that are active throughout the rest of the game and are worth victory points at the end of the game. Using a turn’s event is the same as described earlier. Using a building is done by turning the card sideways and resolving the card’s effect using spyrium or workers if needed. Passing is done when the player has no more active workers present in the market. Once a player passes, they can no longer take actions.

Once all players have passed, the turn ends. Cards present in the market are discarded as is the turn’s event card. Used buildings and techniques are turned back right side up and players regain any discs used on the event. The first player card is passed to the next player. This all continues until the end of the 6th turn. Players add up their victory points including those from buildings in their neighborhood and on techniques. The player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
The game comes with some very thematic and great looking pieces. There are different colored meeples and discs used for each player. They are wooden and are standard fare for games like this. The spyrium crystals are neon green plastic and are a nice addition that are very thematic. All the different tokens, coins and bonus tokens are thick cardboard and are very sturdy. I especially like the look of the money. Again these are very thematic and nice. All the cards are extremely well made. The artwork is very nice and I love the steampunk look and feel especially on the character cards. The board is small but is just what is needed for keeping track of events, scoring, residence and phases. It’s really well made and has that steampunk feel to it as well. I’m really thrilled with the look and feel of each piece and love how well the theme is integrated into the game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is really great looking and has lots of pictures and examples throughout. Everything is explained in really great detail so that there is nothing difficult to understand. There are sections that greatly detail each part of the game from tokens, residences and bonus tokens to each card. That’s one thing that I really like about this book. The events, characters, buildings and technique cards are all thoroughly covered for each card including pictures of each one. There is nothing in this game that hasn’t been covered for ease of use. If a question arrives, you can look it up in the rulebook and easily find exactly what you need to know. It’s very thematic in look and feel. Overall, I’m really thrilled with how nicely put together the rulebook is.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a really neat worker placement design unlike any other that I’ve played. Knowing when to pull your workers off a card is key. The game is very strategic. You really have to think a couple of steps ahead so that you don’t wind up pulling a worker and gaining nothing for it. Waiting a moment too late on picking up a chosen card can leave you fumbling to use a worker before you lose it. I really love the thematic elements of the game as well as the look and feel of it. The game is very fun and definitely puts a new spin on the worker placement mechanic. It takes about an hour or so to play depending on the players. There can be some analysis paralysis moments with this game but it’s not usually too bad. In short, I really enjoyed it and find it to be rather unique in design and gameplay.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Spyrium is a medium weight worker placement game that is very unique in style. The game plays in roughly an hour so it’s falls into the average category. The artwork and design is very nice and thematic. The steampunk genre is one that I really love and this game pulls it off quite nicely. This is a game that has a good amount of strategy to it and really excels in the worker placement category. Fans of games like Lords of Waterdeep or Yedo should really enjoy this game. This is quite a bit of player interaction through the worker placement elements and cards. It’s got a little bit of a learning curve in the first couple of games as it can be difficult to really grasp the concepts for first time players. Even so, this is a really great game especially for veteran gamers. The look and feel of this game really fits. I would definitely recommend it. It’s great fun.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Asmodee at their site.

http://asmodee.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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