Zaberias Review

Zaberias is a game by Moshe Glick and Benny Goldstein. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will take control of a tribe of warriors as they battle across Zaberias for control of the land. Players will need to build cities and buy units to attack and defend with as they attempt to rid the land of their opponent’s cities and units. In the end, the player that can best lead their tribe to victory by defeating their opponents will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses one of the four tribes and takes the corresponding map board, along with the dice and pieces for their chosen tribe. Depending on the number of players, the player’s map boards are placed either across from each other in a 2 player game, in a triangle for a 3 player game and in a square for a 4 player game. Each player will then set their Armory close by and place one of their wood cities into the slot above their corner city on their map board. Each player starts with only 5 coins, so one of the coins in their Armory must be flipped over to it’s spent side. Players roll a die to see who the first player is and play now begins.

On a player’s turn they may purchase/upgrade cities, purchase units, move units and attack with units. There are 3 different types of cities; wood, metal and gold. Wood cities are free to build and provide 1 coin at the beginning of the player’s turn. Wood cities only allow the player to create wood units. Metal cities cost 2 coins and provide 2 coins at the beginning of their turn. They also allow the player to create either wood or metal units. Gold cities cost 3 coins and provide 3 coins at the beginning of the player’s turn. These cities allow the player to create gold, metal or wood units. To upgrade from a wood city to a gold city, the player must first upgrade to a metal city before upgrading to a gold one.

Once a player has one or more cities on their map board, they may purchase units allowed by their city, as noted above. To purchase a unit, the player simply flips the required amount of coins over and places the unit on their city of choice. Most units have a special ability that can help their allies or possibly even harm their opponent. For more information on each of the unit abilities, please check out the rulebook for the game.

Each unit has a specific number of steps that the unit can move in a single turn. Each square on the board costs 1 step. Units can be moved a number of spaces up to their step number along paths, on the grass and through the trees. Some units even have special abilities that allow them to move over water. One thing to note is that only one unit may occupy a square. Units may not jump over another unit, including one of their own. However flying does allow units to move over other units but they must end their movement on an empty space. The player is allowed to move as many units as they want but each unit may only move once per turn.

Like steps, each unit also has a range number. Once the unit is in range of an opponent’s unit, they may attack or use any special abilities. Attacking another unit with a ranged attack is allowed even over water. Units without a ranged attack may only use a melee attack on a unit in an adjacent space. Each unit has a strength number which is a combination of the unit’s muscle and the result of a dice roll. This number is used for both attack and defense. To attack, the player simply declares which unit they are attacking with and rolls the amount of dice the unit has. The result is then added to the unit’s muscle. The opponent will then do the same thing for their targeted unit, by rolling their dice and adding the result to their unit’s muscle. The unit with the highest score in battle wins. The losing unit is removed from the board, being returned to the player’s armory. Like moving, each unit may only attack once per turn. It should be noted, units may be moved and then attack or may attack and then move. If the result of the attack is a tie, the attacking player may continue the attack or stand down. If the attacker continues the assault then each player will roll their dice again and compare their battle scores once more. When attacking a stronger unit, a player may choose to ambush the opposing unit by attacking it with more than one of their units in range. The ambushing player combines all of their attacking unit’s battle scores against the enemy’s battle score. If the ambush is successful, then the opposing unit is removed from the board. However if the ambushed unit has a battle score higher than all of the attacking units, it not only defends itself but defeats all the attacking units removing all of them from the board.

Players may not only attack other units but may also attack cities as well. Vacant cities may easily be attacked by simply placing a unit on them. This allows the player to place a wood city on the space. Enemy cities may be attacked in 3 different ways. If the city does not have an enemy unit on it, then the player may move their unit into the city and attack the city’s defenses. Each city has a different level of defense; wood cities roll 1 die, metal roll 2 dice and gold roll 3 dice. If the attacking player wins then the enemy’s city is removed and the player may place a wood city of their own. If the attacking player loses, then the attacking unit is removed from the board. If the city is occupied by an enemy unit, then the defending player combines the city’s defense with the unit’s strength. The losing unit is removed and if the city was unable to defend, it is also removed. The city does not become the attacking players until they move a unit into the space. If the player chooses to attack an unoccupied city from an adjacent square or from a distance with a ranged unit, then if the attacking player loses, they do not lose their attacking unit as the city has no ranged attack.

One last thing on attacking and defending. If a player’s unit is being attacked, they may use other units within range of the attacker to assist with defending against the attack. A defending unit will then add their muscle only, not their dice to the defending unit’s strength.

Once a player is done with their turn, play passes the the next player in turn order. The game continues until only one player has units or cities left on the board, having destroyed all of their enemies cities and units. The player that is able to do this is the winner.

One last thing of note, across the boards are special places that may help a player. Portals allow a player’s units to move from one place to another. Gold mines give a player a coin at the beginning of their turn. Power Stars gives all of a player’s units 1 extra muscle point.

The game comes with a lot of pieces for each of the 4 factions. Each faction comes with it’s own faction board that includes all the coins, units and city pieces for each faction. It also has a map board for that faction and a set of colored faction dice that match the faction’s color. The artwork is really nice and each of the cardboard pieces is really thick and sturdy. It’s a bit difficult to get the pieces out of the faction board sometimes which can be a bit of a hassle. The dice are a little small too. I think some larger dice would have been better. The icons on the dice appear to be screen printed on so I figure after a good bit of playing, they’ll probably start rubbing off since the dice are used quite a bit. Really think engraved dice would have been better. The final gripe I have about the components is that all the faction boards and pieces came wrapped up in shrink wrap. There was no box to hold everything together and the faction maps don’t stay on top of the faction board very well. I’m afraid that I’m going to lose pieces from the game. As a matter of fact, the cardboard on one of the faction boards is already starting to separate. The dice are stored in small foam piece that is at the bottom of the faction board. I don’t know how well that’s going to hold up either. It just really feels like a huge miss in terms of storing the game. Apart from that everything looks really good. All the text is clear and easy to read. I do kind of wish that the costs for the different units was also on the front of the pieces so you don’t have to flip them over just to check the price of each one. Of course after a time or two of playing, you kinda remember what each one costs. One thing that I found odd was that the game claims to be the “#1 Best Educational Game for Kids 6+ To Improve Counting & Reading Skills”. This is posted quite large on the front of each of the faction covers. Where did this “Award” come from? Who said that it was the best? Was this what the designers felt the game was or did the game win some award? If there’s no official endorsement here, then that’s very misleading and not something that I would be very happy about. Hopefully if this gets a 2nd edition, there will be some changes and the major issues will be taken into consideration. Issues aside I think that overall the game looks good, there were just some bad choices made that hurt the design of the game.

6 out of 10

Unfortunately the game that I received didn’t come with any rules or rulebook. Thankfully I was able to find a copy of the rules online. That should not have even been a thing. Kind of hard to play a game if you don’t know the rules. Granted there are some great videos on Youtube that explain the game, it’s still nice to have a physical copy of the rules to be able to easily look through when questions come up. Just like I feel the game should have come in a box to be able to store all of the pieces in, the game should have had a set of rules included. That was very poor planning. The only thing that even mentions rules is on the back of the faction boards. There’s a small box on back that says learn to play with video tutorials and it gives the website. Why? Look I loved the Youtube videos, they’re very entertaining and fun. They just don’t do the same thing that a rulebook does. Once I downloaded the rules, they were fairly easy to understand. There are about 5 pages of actual rules and then over 20 pages of frequently asked questions about each of the different units for each tribe as well as rules for rolling the dice. Took a little bit of time to read over everything but once I did, I was ready to play. If the rules had been included I would have felt a lot better about the game and I would have been able to actually have something in hand to rate. As it is without a physical copy, I’m quite disappointed, thus the following score.

6 out of 10

Despite the shortcomings of the components and rulebook, this game is actually quite fun. It’s a fairly simple skirmish style game that combines skirmish tactics with some mild city building. Each building built helps to provide more income to be able to purchase more units to place on the board and ultimately wipe out your enemies and all their cities. Certain special areas make this a bit easier and help to get your unit on the board a bit quicker by providing extra income or even by powering up your units. Quickly taking control of the different cities can make it easier to get units on the board and where you need them to be. The gameplay isn’t overly difficult and is actually quite easy to learn. I think that’s because the game was designed to be played by younger players along with older ones. That’s one reason I fell that the game is a family friendly game that pretty much anyone can play. It does have enough strategy to it that even more seasoned players can enjoy so there’s nothing to worry about there. All the different units have special abilities that can help you secure victory over your opponent(s). Of course the higher the cost for the unit, the better that unit will be. That said, the game does contain a bit of luck. After all, everything comes down to the roll of the dice. Just because you have a more powerful unit doesn’t mean that a bad roll on your part can’t cause you to lose that strong piece to a much weaker one. I’ve seen it happen fairly often. I think that fans of skirmish style games will enjoy the simplicity of this one, especially if they are looking to play with younger players or even less experienced gamers. This isn’t Warhammer or Blood Rage or one of those big miniature style games but it does scratch the itch that those same games do but in a small and easier to manage package. Overall I like the game. It has enough to it that I can see me playing it again. This is one that I’d recommend giving a try, especially if you’re thinking about getting into some of those bigger style games like I mentioned earlier. It’s would be a nice way to see if you like the genre and to help ease you into those types of games.

7 out of 10

Zaberias is a light weight skirmish style game based in a fantasy realm. The game can take a bit of time to play. Most game sessions last around 20 minutes per player. The components are a mixed bag. The artwork and feel of the game are good but the pieces are a bit fiddly and lack a bit of polish, plus the lack of a game box just doesn’t feel right. The rulebook would be ok if it were actually included with the game, but it’s not. The game itself is fun and packs the right amount of strategy in a small package. It’s family friendly and would be good for families with younger players or for anyone looking to learn the skirmish style of games made popular in games like Warhammer and the lot. For this reason I think fans of those types of skirmish games would most likely enjoy this as an intro into that particular genre. It has enough to it that older and younger players can enjoy. Honestly I know that this review hasn’t been completely overwhelming for the game, but I think with just a few additions and improvements, it can be a really great game. At the moment however, this is one that I would recommend giving a try. You just might find you actually enjoy this one like I did.

7 out of 10

For more information about this game, please check out Zaberias at the game’s site.

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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