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Board Game Review: ‘Tribes, Dawn of Humanity’

Quick Civ. Builder with Interesting Mechanics

Another Gencon has come and gone. This year, I had the great fortune to demo Tribes: Dawn of Humanity and I’m glad I did. I was attracted by the artwork and the action mechanics. I am glad I had the opportunity to play the game later on.

2-Player Game After a Few Rounds

Gameplay
Game play is very simple: On your turn, you choose an action tile from the action row and perform one of the pictured actions. And the actions themselves are also quite simple: Place new tribe members, move your tribe around your lands, or explore to expand your territory. After completing your action, the tile is moved to the back of the action row and all tiles slide up to fill the gap. You may always select the first action tile in the row for free, but if you wish to use a tile farther back, you must place a shell on each “skipped” tile. In addition, if there are any shells on the tile selected, you collect those for future use. Strategic use of shells is necessary in order to not get stuck with an action you do not want.

One Player’s Lands and Two Tribe Members

Each player maintains their own personal territory in front of them, made up of tiles. Each tile represents a different type of resource, like Wheat, Gold, or Horses. In order to make use of a resource, a player must have at least one tribe member standing on that tile. So, as a player’s board expands, they will also need to grow their tribe and move them around in order to draw upon their increasing number of resources.

Player’s Lands Near Game End:
Four Tiles Have Been Exploited

This is because of the 4th action that is available to take: Advance. On the board, there are four columns of Advancement tiles, and each requires a specific number of resources to acquire. Acquiring an advancement scores you points, benefits one of your tribe’s stats permanently, allows access to a higher tier advancement, and might put an event tile into play. Fortunately, hard work pays off as much as luck, in that any tile with a tribe member on it can be “exploited.” This allows the tile to be spent as ANY resource, but afterward the tile is flipped over and produces nothing for the rest of the game.

As I mentioned above, Advancing your tribe will sometimes add an event tile to the action track. These are added to the back when coming into play and are treated exactly like the other action tiles, except that when one is chosen, the player resolves the event text rather than taking an action. These can do many things, like gaining/losing points, gaining/losing tribe members or lands, or giving free actions to various players. Many of these events act differently depending on a tribe’s relative Strength (one of the four stats). In addition, the game is over after a certain number of tier 3 events have been resolved. Once the game is over, players score bonus points based on their stats, territory and tribe size. The winner is the player with the most points.

End of Game

Final Thoughts
Tribes promises a civilization-building experience in less than an hour, and it delivers exactly that. The action system is simple enough, with interesting and meaningful choices to be made in the execution. The action-selection mechanic is interesting and tactical as well.

New players will find it easy to pick up and understand, while more advanced players will enjoy racing each other to the various advancements for points. This is one that I expect to hit the table many more times in various different group sizes.

TLDR: If Tribes: Dawn of Humanity hasn’t hit your table yet, it should.

About Eric Engstrom

Eric Engstrom is an avid board game lover and general tabletop enthusiast. He is also the owner and operator of Grey Dolphin Games, which focuses on supporting game designers and publishers.

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