Board Game Review – Ulm [EN]

Ulm has one unique mechanism. And it seems that after its author came up with it, it looked interesting and it was decided to make a game around it and add a few usual euro game elements into the mix. This mechanism is a 3 by 3 grid of tiles and then you draw a tile on your turn and put it into a row or a column pushing it in from one side, so a tile drops out of grid on another side. You get actions on tiles that are still in the grid in the affected row or column and one of the actions also allows you to pick all the dropped tiles on one of the sides. Maybe it is not first time such mechanism was used in a game, but it sure looks fresh and fun. But it is still so minimal. You get 3 tiles out of 5 actions. Some of the actions are simply moving your marker on a river, get coins or a card. It is just not exciting enough. Other actions let you play cards, which is somewhat interesting, as cards usually have one time effects (get coins, points, tiles) or end game effects (collect a set of cards). Again, there is not a huge variety of cards and you just end up collecting sets of 3-4 cards. Then you can also place seals on the map and get shields with points, maybe a special ability. But. Everything feels just so boring. Starting with a theme (some medieval setting town, collecting coats of arms, building cathedral). I’m sure it has some historic background and value, but it feels stale. You are supposedly taking over some districts of a town, workshops, etc. But you just put markers on spots and that’s it. During one stage you can get a special ability, but only a few out of 5 are somewhat interesting. There is a variant to play with cards that change a rule every turn. It adds a little, but these changes are not ground braking. Oh, and i really dislike games that force you to do something or you will get negative points (like feeding people in Stone Age). Here you have to move a barge on the river and you have to do it a lot to get out of negative points. I also get similar feeling like with Voyages of Marco Polo, that i don’t get enough rounds to do something special (although this has 10 rounds). I suppose this game can be pleasant for mid-heavy euro fans. But when board games market has so many games released each year, this feels like a waste of time, when you can play more exciting games, with more interesting decisions, themes and styles. Standard euro – 6/10.

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