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  £38.99 Travelling Man   £33.06 Dodax   £35.10 Firestorm cards   £27.79 Zatu

CORROSION, born from a sleepless night, is the first published game of Munich mathematician, Stefan Bauer. It is for 1-4 players aged 12+ and takes around 2 hours to play. It is classed as a Pegasus Spiel 'expert' level game and contains components to match that proclamation. On these components you can see the superb illustrations of Cologne artist Dennis Lohausen. Following a brief search of the internet it seems that Zatu - when the game is in stock - offers the best price. At any of the shown prices it is good value to bring it to your table.

Each player owns a factory which is represented by their personal Factory Boards, complete with a 'Corrosion' Wheel that is used to determine which Sector of the Factory the Rust has reached. Rust is the devil when your main factory components are metal. One of your jobs is to create different sizes/types of cogs/gears; the main gears are Chrome (large and the most expensive), whereas the others are Iron and in Medium and Small sizes. Each time the Corrosion Wheel turns your fortune is likely to change, and not always for the better. 

Your factory is Steam driven, so even with Chrome being your most expensive resource, you can get nowhere without Steam, thus keeping your boiler generating Steam when required is your most needed resource. To do this you have to keep water available in the cool part of the boiler so you can move it up to boil when necessary. Water is not always easy to come by, but it is easy to make the wrong choice to get it. You should try to keep a supply in your boiler ready to turn into steam.

 

Thanks to the variety and number of cards and machines, players are never stuck finding options. Of course there are times when you don't have the options available that you really want, so you have to plan for the near future - I say 'near future' because I have yet to play a game where I have been able to plan ahead very far, mostly due to the speedy way things can change each turn.

The player with the Wrench is the active player. Their turn is made up of three phases plus the fourth phase which is when they hand over the Wrench to the next player clockwise. The first and third phases are Maintenance actions whilst the second phase is the Main action, which is a choice of one or two actions: play an engineer (card from your hand) or turn the Corrosion Wheel. 

The playing of an Engineer card can be helpful to all players as, after the card player has performed the action of their engineer, all other players, in clockwise turn, can 'copy' the played card by playing from their hand an engineer of the same suit but with a higher value - note that unlike many games the 'copy' card has to be the same suit and of higher value; the rules do not say 'higher or equal'.

Maintenance phases are where secondary actions may be performed and the sector where the X on the Wheel is has to be cleared  - gears and one-shot machines removed. There is a general display from where you can obtain cards, one-shot machines or gear tiles etc. One-shot machines and Turning machines are gained from the display and placed active side (incompleted) down - you need to pay the necessary resources to activate them.

Chrome machines are positioned on the player boards, not on the Factory board. Only one each of the three types can be on the board but they can be changed by putting a same-style Chrome machine onto the previous one (there are 'prototype' machines pre-printed on your board). Then, like when you place your first Chrome machine on your board, you lose the activity of what is underneath it. During the course of the game the Chrome machine's abilities are indeed extremely useful, but determining when to lose one for another can be most important; this is why there is a specific indent to the left of your player board - this is designed for you to hold a Chrome machine tile as long as it is inactive. You may move a tile from here to the board but not one from the board to here. 

You use Engineer cards, of which there are three suits (by colour) Blue, Green and Orange, plus there is a Grey suit and a Wild suit. Wild suit cards can be used for replacing any of the three major colours but not the Grey. If a player puts down a Wild card then higher value cards of any of the major three suits may be played. The highest value card is a 4+ and is the only card that can copy a value 4 card.  

Page 10 of the rules booklet carries 2 excellent examples of play; one for playing an Engineer and the other for turning your Corrosion Wheel. In fact the rules book is admirably laid out, with coloured sections and bold-print headers making finding what you are looking for so much easier. For example, sections about Main Actions are printed on a distinctly bright yellow background, and Maintenance information is based on a deep salmon back ground.

 

To remove a tile from the display you simply take it - you do not have to pay for it then. You place it on your factory in a specifically specified position (according to the rules). To hire an engineer of any grade except a 4 or 4+ you take the required card and position it in your hand. A 4 or 4+ requires you adding a Green point token AND one point of Steam. You want the best you have to pay for the best. There are several thoughtful decisions you have to make on what you can, may, or even should, buy or take from the display. There are not really any wrong decisions, but there are those decisions that once made you wish you had taken a little longer to think about, as something possibly better for the long term is seen.

Green point markers are in denominations of 1s, 2s, 3s and 5s. These are gained during play from various sources and are all taken into account during final scoring, for like in so many games, your endeavours in building, management and card & tile skills, Tokens, Awards and just about everything else, eventually culminates in a countdown to Victory by the adding together of all the available Points. 

When you play cards they are played to the side of the the Corrosion Wheel that matches the number on the card. They and the Machines positioned around the Wheel board are actionable until the X on the Wheel reaches them, and then they are discarded (during the Maintenance phase). Sometimes your turn actions may mean you have to move the Wheel, so doing all you can prior to this occurring is essential, but not always possible.

Similarly to the cards, when you collect Medium or Small cogs they go onto the Wheel (Chrome cogs are kept separate in front of you) and become available for you to spend. It's a clever, hastling mechanic that keeps you thinking and on your toes. To say it is brilliant and a game you should all have access to may be going a little too over exhuberant, after all, most of us have different ideas and wants. I can say that it's great fun to play 

CORROSION is at times clever, astute and discerning, and sometimes just plain darn frustrating. But it is also intriguing, impressive and exhilarating, especially when your cunning plan works out. You are not just in competition with your opponents, you are also against time and the fall/draw of the cards, plus the choices you make and those made by the other players will firmly assist in the decisions you make. CORROSION isn't a 'heavy' game (apart from the box weight) despite the fact that it is set in a heavy era of time - the Industrial Revolution or the beginnings of machinery replacing manpower, seems to be a popular board game theme at the moment.

Whenever I open a new Pegasus Spiele game I know there will be a lot of  beautiful components and a game that has been very well play-tested. I may not always like the theme or the game, sometimes I like the theme and not the game and other times I like the game and not the theme. CORROSION has beautiful components, a great set of (understandable) rules, a solid theme and excellent game mechanics that are as well-oiled as the cogs and gears in your factory need to be.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021