Games Gazette Logo

 

Die PORTAL von MOLTHAR - The PORTALS of MOLTHAR  an Amigo card game by Johannes Schmidauer-König for 2-5 players aged 10+
The English translated version is from Mayfair Games

The components consist of the Rules (obviously) plus 2 decks of cards and 5 folded card Portals. The cards are of good stock and have excellent illustrations by Dennis Lohausen.
The Portals are not so interestingly illustrated and because they are folded (being double card size) they are quite weak down the centre and liable to tear given a fair amount of use.

The two card decks are Pearls (56 cards) and Characters (54 cards). These are shuffled separately and positioned on the table so that they are Pearl cards Portrait and beneath them the Character card deck is placed Landscape.

Draw four Pearl cards and lay them face up to the left of the Pearl deck, leaving enough room for a Discard pile to the right of the deck. Then draw two Character cards and lay them to the left of the Character card deck, forming a (Landscape) Row beneath the Pearl cards. Also leave room for a Discard stack of Character cards under the Pearl card Discard stack. Players sit around the table, able to reach the card displays and each have a Portal which they open in front of them - the Portals have the same illustration on each side with the exception that one side of each has a Gold Medallion in the bottom left corner, only the Start player has this side face up.

  

On their turn players have four Actions to choose from and they may take any three of these. Take a Pearl card, Swap out all 4 Pearl cards with the top four from the Pearl deck, Place a Character card on their Portal or Activate the ability of one character that is on their Portal.

This means that most pre-turn planning is likely to be upset by the actions of the players preceeding you but that is part of the fun. The other players can see the Characters on your Portal and so know what Pearl cards you need. This means they can take cards to try to spoil your plan but when each Pearl card is removed from the display another immediately takes its place so spoiling doesn't always work, in fact there are times when it works against the spoiler player because the next cards up are of even more use to the next player, it's the luck of the draw. 

Pearl cards are taken into the hand and the number shown in their corners is used as part of a code to activate the Characters on your Portal. Characters each have a special code which can be anything from one to five specific numbers, a grouping similar to Poker sets (ie a pair, two pairs, a straight etc) or a combination of numbers that create a specific set (3 cards total value 7,  cards adding up to 10, or a special three 2s and a Diamond - the Diamond being the back of a Character card); there are many combinations and all are listed in the rules booklet.  

When you have the correct combination of cards to activate a Character on your Portal you present them as an Action during your turn - this means you can have collected one of the necessary cards (also even the Character) this same turn - and use the ability of the Character just activated - there is a pictogram on each Character card and its meaning is found in the rules; some of these are helpful to you, for example take another three Actions (which basically means have another turn) and some help other players (the next player gets one extra Action). Once activated the Character card is turned upside down and placed to the right of your Portal so that the Gold Number, its Power Point Value, is facing you in the correct orientation. The first player to collect 12 Power Points is the winner.

  

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, some of the Character cards are harder to obtain than others but they have larger Power Point values so it's often worth pursuing them. It's also worth noting that the Pearl cards have a Treasure Chest on their flip side whilst Character cards show a Diamond. At the beginning of our first game I remember that this never sank in to begin with and we just saw a Gem and blindly decided that as it was a Gem it was meant to be a Pearl and so for a few moments until we found no reference to Treasure Chests we were confused. Of course reading the rules through and actually taking notice of the pictures instead of glossing over them it is obvious, but we were in a hurry to play. Just pointing out that it's worth reading the rules fully before beginning to play - even if you are a seasoned gamer.

In our opinion the only thing missing from this excellent game is a personal reference sheet for each player that shows the possible combinations of the Character cards, and the meaning of the Character Abilities. They are in the rules but this can slow the game down as the rules are regularly passed around from player to player. This apart PORTAL of HEROES (Die Portale von Molthar) is a really good game for family and gamer play.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015