Saturday , May 18 2024

Board Game Review: ‘Mosaic’ from Forbidden Games

Mosaic: A Story of Civilization from Forbidden Games and University Games challenges players to build the greatest civilization the then-known world had ever seen.

Situated around the Mediterranean Sea, players take their pick from the Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Gauls, and Carthaginians to see who will rise to supremacy over the others and leave the lasting legacy. They will then have to make their own decisions on how best to invest their resources to maximize their growth.

In addition to its world map showing the civilizations ringing the great sea, Mosaic uses player boards to track the game’s four currencies: stone, ideas, food, and money. Each is crucial to a civilization’s development as food is needed to grow the population, which can be combined with stone to build, ideas expand technological advances, and money drives military might. At the setup of each game, players draft five Technology cards, passing and choosing to build a set of skills to make their civilizations unique in their strengths.

Choose Your Leader

Players also choose Leaders, each with special powers to improve their resources, such as the Engineer giving bonuses to stone production and money or the Artist soothing unrest while also giving more money and ideas. From the very beginning of play, the civilizations are already unique.

Game play in Mosaic is driven largely by card-drawing. On each player’s turn, they are given one action from a long list of possibilities, each of which may have different values on a turn due to what has been drawn before. Players may produce resources, grow population, build, discover, tax for money, found a government, or recruit and move military forces. Whenever they do, they take the card from the board and draw a new one, showing what the options for the next player will look like.

With just one action per turn, Mosaic moves speedily as players should already have a plan in mind, though some players might wish to take their time weighing their options if something good comes up.

More than One Way to Win

Mosaic continues until a third Empire Scoring card is drawn or most of the tiles have been taken of Wonders, Civilization Achievements, and Golden Ages. While the Empire Scoring cards grant victory points periodically for the dominant force in each region, the real calculation of victory comes at the end. There players receive points for all their towns and cities, the Wonders they have built, Golden Ages in any of the nine pillars of civilization from medicine to architecture, civilization achievements in diversity or scholarship, projects, and technology, minus the unrest from an overworked populace.

The winner will have to thrive in multiple areas to achieve victory over the rival civilizations. Mosaic is a strategy game for two to six players aged fourteen and up. Games take a couple of hours to play through with moderate complexity, giving the feel of a long big-box game without the sense of dragging on. As players develop their unique civilizations, they will create diverse and inspiring realms. Even if not the top winner, they still build something amazing.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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