Lands of Galzyr Review

Lands of Galzyr is a game by Sami Laakso and Seppo Kuukasjärvi, published by Snowdale Design. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of a forest critter in a vast fantasy world. They will be adventuring across a magical landscape as they attempt to earn prestige through various tasks and noteworthy feats. Players can choose to work together or compete to see who the most valuable player is. In the end, the player that can gain the most prestige will be declared the winner.

Before the first game, the card trays and adventure boards are set up as noted in the welcoming letter provided inside the box.

To begin, the card trays are placed within reach of all players. Each player chooses a character and takes all the card from their character’s save slots in the card tray. The cards in the global save slot in the trays are taken out and sorted by type. Players then choose whether they would like to play competitively or co-operatively. The global status cards are placed face up where everyone can see them. Anything that affects the setup on these cards are then dealt with. The board is then placed in the middle of the play area showing either the winter or summer side, based on the global status card. The location cards and any local status cards are then placed on the board in their appropriate places. The event cards are placed facedown near the game board to form the event deck. The quest cards are placed with the public side face up in a row near the board to form the noticeboard. A quest token is placed on each corresponding location on the board. The remaining quest tokens are placed nearby. Each player’s prestige token is placed on the 0 space on the prestige track. The dice, skill marks and timer tokens are placed near the board in a common pool. The Book of Adventures is opened on a tablet, computer or phone to randomize te starting day. The day token is then placed on the appropriate slot on the top row of the calendar. Any timed effects are then placed using timer tokens onto the calendar and paired with the specific card’s timer box. Each player takes the corresponding adventurer board and figure that matches their character. Each player places their item cards faceup below their character board. Status and companion cards are placed beside the player’s character board. Quest cards are kept in the player’s hand. Any cards with timed instructions are dealt with the same way as above. The starting player is chosen and given the starting player token. The starting player places their adventurer figure on the location card of their choosing based on their possible quests. Other players in player order, are then allowed to do the same thing, placing their characters figure on the board. Once all these steps have been completed, play now begins.

Before I start, let me state that I will do my best in this review to make sure and keep the spoilers of the game to a very bare minimum. That means that I will only reveal things on a need to know basis and only those things that will be discovered in the first few moments of playing. Everything else will be left to discover on your own.

The game is played over a series of rounds with each player taking a turn in player order. Each round consists of 2 phases; the Adventure phase and the Calendar phase. The first phase is the Adventure phase. In this phase, each player takes a turn beginning with the starting player. On the player’s turn they may either travel or begin and resolve a scene. At any time, as long as the player is not resolving a scene, they may trade gold and/or items and/or pick up quests from the noticeboard, if the player’s figure is on the quest’s pickup location. They may also abandon any quest that they would like to. Players may only have 3 quests and must abandon down to 3 if they have more than that. Traveling is as simple as moving the player’s figure up to 2 adjacent spaces on the board, as connected by a route. Some movement keywords will modify the number of spaces. After traveling, the player must then resolve a single scene. First they must check to see if any cards available to them have any mandatory scenes that are marked with a lightning bolt. If so, they must choose one of these. If the player doesn’t have any mandatory scenes, then they can pick the scene themself from Quest cards, Adventurer status cards, Location cards, Local status cards or Event cards that the player has available to them. To choose a scene, the player must meet the prerequisites in the scene box of the card. Most times this is based on where the adventure’s figure is on the board. If the player cannot choose a scene from one of the other sources, then the player can begin a scene from the event card. An event card is drawn and the story master chooses the first scene from the top down where the prerequisite is met. The story master keeps the card until the end of the scene where they are then told where to place the card afterwards. Once the scene is chosen, the story master selects the chosen scene in the Book of Adventures and reads it out loud. Some portions of the scene, written in turquoise, are meant just for the story master. These are not to be read aloud but only resolved by the story master. Normally as the scene is read, the story master will present the player with several options to choose from. Sometimes the option might require gold to be paid to choose the option. Once the option is chosen, the story master selects the chosen option and continues to read. Some options require a skill check which I’ll explain in a bit. Sometimes the Book of Adventures will ask a question that must be answered truthfully. Often times this checks to see if the player has a certain tag, which might give a new option. These special options usually have a starry effect around them which should be specified to the player. As I mentioned a moment ago, sometimes skill checks are required for certain options. These checks involve one of the six skills. Each check has a difficulty range of easy, medium, hard or unknown. Each one requires a different number of successes. Of course, the higher number the player gets on the check, the better the result. Easy checks require 1 success. Medium require 2 and hard require 3. Unknown checks are just that…unknown. To perform a skill check, the player takes the 5 base skill dice, swapping out any of these with an advanced die for any corresponding skills they might have. Advanced skill dice have two double success for their own skill and two regular success for the two skill adjacent to them on the adventurer board. Base skill dice only have 1 success for each skill. Items, companions and adventurer status card effects can influence skill checks. These can be used before or after rolling or rerolling all the dice in the dice pool. Effects can’t be used more than once per skill check. A star represents a success for the current skill check, while a broken star represents a failure. Once the skill check has been resolved, the story master reveals the outcomes based on the number of successes that the player received by matching the outcome in the Book of Adventures. The story master then continues to read, resolving any possible effects like before until the end of the scene is reached. This ends the player’s Adventure phase. Play passes to the next player to begin their Adventure phase.

Once all players have taken a turn performing their Adventure phase, then the Calendar phase begins. In this phase, the day token is moved to the next day on the calendar and in the Book of Adventures. If there are any tokens on the new day, then the associated timed effects are resolved one by one, starting with the topmost token. Once all this has been completed, a new round begins. The player with the starting token begins a new Adventure phase and takes their turn.

The game continues until a number of rounds have been completed based on the player count as noted in the rulebook and on the Discord and Harmony global status cards. If players were playing competitively then the player with the most prestige at the end of the game is the winner and begins the scene shown on the Discord card. If players were playing co-operatively then the player that was the most valuable player is chosen to read the scene from the Harmony card.

One thing should be noted, during the game some scenes will have a handshake icon on them that allows the player to choose a partner to help in the scene. Players must be on the same space and agree before this may be chosen. This does not count as a turn for the other player. All decisions are still performed by the active player but the partner may provide access to their character’s skill marks, items, companions, adventurer status, gold or tags on their adventure board. However in skill checks, each advanced skill die is limited to just 2 dice. The players are also able to trade gold and items at any time during the scene.

Finally once the game is over, players must perform a series or steps to save the state of the adventurers and the game world. This provides an ongoing experience where each character’s choices affect the following games. For more information on how to save the game, please consult the rulebook.

This is a truly gorgeous looking game. It definitely catches your eye once it’s all setup on the table. The game comes with a variety of different cards, tokens, dice and other pieces. There are 8 different card types, each with different backs to easily distinguish them from each other. There are items, companions, quests, adventurer statuses, local statuses, global statuses, events and locations. Each card has some very gorgeous looking artwork. If you’re familiar with the Dale of Merchants games, then you’re familiar with the art style. Much of this game looks like it’s been taken from that world and that would be because it has. This is the same world as Dale of Merchants and the other Snowdale Design games. The cards have a great finish to them and they simply look amazing. The locations fit nicely into the spaces on the board and become a cohesive part of the board. The board is double sided with a winter and a summer side. The location cards are also double sided with the same sides on them in winter and summer. I just love pulling out the next card and finding a new item or companion to accompany my character on their journey. Each card truly pulls you even more into the world of the game. The adventurer boards are gorgeous and highlight each of the 4 characters. There are places on them for the skill markers to be inserted, as well as a gold wheel to keep up with the characters ever changing money. The adventurer figures are screen printed wooden meeples that are simply adorable. They are so fun to move around on the board as they travel around. The skill markers and dice are all made of high quality plastics or acrylic, not sure which, but they’re phenomenal. The dice are laser cut and are bright and colorful much like the skill markers. The are small and large skill markers and each of the colors for these and the dice match up with the skills that are being used. There are also lots of tokens, some in cardboard and others in screen printed wood. The quest and day token are both wooden, while the prestige, timer, starting player and souvenir token are all cardboard. Each of these are colorful like the dice and skill markers and really stand out on the board. The game also comes with some card trays and dividers to keep everything all nice and neatly arranged inside the box. There’s also an achievement sheet for keeping track of some nice little things your characters might accomplish, as well as a travel guide that welcomes you to the world of Galzyr. Every piece, every component is designed to bring the world of Galzyr to life on your tabletop and I really feel that it does the job perfectly. If I had to add one thing, it might be a physical copy of the book of adventures. I think having that would be a nice alternative to using the app on my phone or on the computer. Other than that, there would be nothing. This is a stunning game that is definitely a sight to behold.

9 out of 10

The rulebook for this game is very well written. It’s not overly long or complicated, so that means it can be read fairly quickly. There are lots of pictures and examples of gameplay throughout the book. One of the first pages contains pictures of every component in the game. The next couple of pages explain a bit about the adventurers, their skill marks and skill checks and all the different card types. Each section goes into great detail about how each one works with plenty of instructions. The next 2 pages consist of the setup for the game before spending pretty much the rest of the book on covering the rules in a step by step fashion. As noted, there are instructions on saving the game, as well as resetting the game back to it’s original state. This isn’t really recommended as the game is all about each choice having an effect on the game world, however it can be done if players choose to do this. Having personally played both solo, co-operatively with my daughter and then resetting the game to play with my whole family, I can say that it’s not difficult to do. More on my experience with this in the gameplay section. The final page contains keywords and iconography on everything. To be honest, this was one of the easier rulebooks to go through that I’ve ever had. It was so simple to understand everything. The wonderful pictures and thematic images throughout really got me into the game before I even started playing. Honestly I can’t say enough good things about the rulebook. I was able to quickly find what I needed as I played through the game the first couple of times, which made it a lot of help. Needless to say, I am very pleased with the overall look and feel of it and think it’s one of the best I’ve ever read through.
9 out of 10

My daughter and I really enjoyed this game. I’ve played it several times solo, as well as playing several times with my daughter. The game plays well both ways. The stories are so rich and vibrant. It’s such a joy to discover new places, critters and items. Every time that you play the game, it simply builds off of itself. Whatever you had when you finish one game, you carry with you into the next one. I love the continuity that this provides. It really feels like the characters are living beings with their own lives, hopes and dreams. It’s so very easy to get lost in the tales and want to never leave. The gameplay is so very simple with some simple dice rolling and decision making. A lot of the time, we’ve found ourselves looking at what we felt our character would do considering the options available. If I’d been playing one character like a sneaky thief, then it makes sense that the character would prefer to use a more sneaky route to get what they want then to simply try to negotiate with an NPC. Moving around the board sometimes felt like I didn’t have enough movement actions to get where I was trying to go in one round, thereby forcing me to have an event out in the wilderness of the map. Honestly I think that was planned by the designers. Otherwise you most likely wouldn’t just be going for those random encounters that happen outside of the cities. Another thing that struck me was how that certain cards will make it possible for you to swap out one or more of your skill marks for a different one. While I think that’s interesting and can help you refine your character into something more attune with your playstyle, I thought it would have been nice to grow your character as you play. Let’s say that I’ve been doing a lot of negotiating with various NPCs over one or more playthroughs of the game. Wouldn’t that make sense then that I’d grown in that skill, thereby earning a new marker in communication? Instead it seems that certain items are more apt to rearrange your skills. While that’s cool and can possibly help in certain storylines, I would have liked more or a progression. I think eventually then you’d be able to max out your characters with all the skill marks if you’d played the game a ton of times. Unfortunately that’s not the case, or at least it hasn’t been in what I’ve uncovered in the game so far. Another minor gripe that I would have is the items. Why can you only have 3 items? Let’s say that I have a ring, an amulet and a pair of boots. Are you telling me that I couldn’t carry anything in my hands or on my back or even in my pockets? What about a backpack? Why can’t I have one of those and be able to increase my carrying capacity? In the first game or two it’s fine, but the more I play, the more I have to make hard decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of. Several times I’ve discarded or sold something only to find that I could have really used that in one of the later encounters. It’s a bit frustrating. Hopefully some of these things will be addressed whenever the first expansion for the game comes out, or possibly even in an update to the rules. As it is, these are only minor gripes though. I’ve played the game several different ways. I would also like to mention that I had a chance to play with 4 players with my wife and kids. To be honest, I prefer to play solo or with 2 players. With four players it just took too long between turns that my kids starting getting bored. When playing with just my daughter and myself, she was completely spellbound. With four players it just did not go over well. My son felt it had some similarities to the Scooby Doo Coded Chronicles Game which he was not a fan of. I think it was due to all the reading that was being done. If I were to play it again I think I would only play solo or with 2 players. That seems to be the sweet spot for this game. All that said, the game isn’t bad. It’s just that some things I think could have been done differently and would have made it more enjoyable. I will say that I loved playing it. I do think the story telling aspect of the game could get old if that’s not your thing so I can completely understand if someone didn’t like it. In any event, if you enjoy great story telling or if you loved those old choose-your-own adventure books, then this is absolutely the game for you. This is a game that I highly recommend. This one is a gem.

One last thing I felt I needed to add. As I noted earlier, I played 4 player with my family which meant I had to reset the game to play it. I now understand why this isn’t recommended. After playing by myself with one character, then playing with my daughter with two separate characters everything was really awesome. Each character had these amazing stories. When I reset all that so that all 4 of us could play with new characters, I felt the sting of loss. Everything that I had experienced with my first characters was returned to the box and I had this new story that I didn’t enjoy as much as my first play throughs. I will say, from experience. Don’t reset your game! Don’t do it. PSA over.
9 out of 10

Lands of Galzyr is a story telling adventure game set in the same world as Dale of Merchants. It doesn’t take a very long time to play, unless you have more than 2 players. Most game sessions last around an hour, longer with 4 players. The components are gorgeous and everything looks amazing. The artwork fits in perfectly with the Dale of Merchants series. The rulebook is well written and easy to understand. It’s one of the best rulebooks that I’ve seen in awhile. The game itself is lots of fun, especially if you enjoy story driven games without a lot of combat. Playing solo or with 2 players, I enjoyed it and so did my daughter. Playing with 4 players was more of a chore and not something that I would enjoy playing again. I like the overall look and feel of the game and would highly recommend this one. Fans of story telling or the old choose-your-own fate books, would find a lot to enjoy with this one. As I said, it fits in perfectly as a companion game to Dale of Merchants and it’s expansions. Overall this is a good game that everyone should play.

9 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Snowdale Design at their 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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