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MINUTE REALMS
Question One: is it Minute as pronounced "Minnitt" ?
or is it Minute as pronounced "My Newt" ?

Designed by: Stefano Castelli with Artwork by: Pawel Hordyniak.  Published by: dvGiochi. Game Time 15` - 30`.  Players: 2-5  Aged 10+

MINUTE REALMS is a Realm building game with simple, clear, fun mechanics. It is played over just 8 Rounds with each Round playing the same, though between Rounds 4 and 5 and at the end of the 8th Round prior to scoring every player's Realm is raided by invaders. Before starting the 5th Round the Shields in your Defence must be equal to or greater than the value of the Invaders Attack for you to suffer no ill, but if your Defence is lower then you will lose exactly one Building from your Realm, if you defend successfully nothing happens as you have beaten the invaders away. The tokens for the invaders vary in colour for games with different numbers of players, it makes them easy to remove from the game if not required (2-3 players remove 1 purple and 2 orange token, for 4 players remove just the the single purple token. These tokens are are then shuffled face down and placed in a pile on the #1 space of the Invader Track Board. At the end of the 8th Round the invasion is similar with the exception that if you defeat the invaders you gain some Victory Points.

 

There are six types of Buildings, Production, Residential, Commercial, Military, Nobility, Clerical and of course Bastions which although they are constructions are not counted as buildings. Each type of building has its own coloured symbol in the lower right corner of the card. Some cards have a red-cross on their symbol which declares that it may never be used as a Bastion (remember that Bastions are created by flipping Building cards over). 

Many games give an age range and in my opinion this is generally just a guestimate as different people grow and understand at a different pace. My children (well grown up now and with kids of their own) were role-playing from about 8 years old and knowing what they were doing and now their children have been playing board games and Games Workshop style miniatures games since they were aged 6. You may be wondering what I'm blethering on about here but what I am trying to say is that some games actually get the suggested age correct and MINUTE REALMS which states it is for players aged 10+ (actually 10-99 but I am to prove them wrong in 33 years) is indeed one that does.

The game is about collecting cards to create the best Realm possible while doing your utmost to prevent your opponents from building more proficiently and better than yourself. Rounds are so simple they are described by just two Rules and a couple of Options and one mandatory Action. At the beginning of each Round the Start Player deals one card face up to each player and then two face up to the middle of the table, next to the Deck. In clockwise order the First Player selects one of the cards that are face up - in front of them, on the table or in front of the other players, then you position it into your Realm. If you choose the card dealt to you, you pay the cost of the card (it may be free or it may have a coin value) you can place it face-up in your Realm. If you cannot pay (it doesn't say but it is suggestive that if you don't want to pay, you may also defer) then you must place the card face-down as a Bastion, not only giving you extra Defence (as cards usually have Shields on their flipsides) but also giving you 2 coins. If you choose to take a card from another player you must carry out the Trading Actions.

The artwork on the cards is photographic and the pict-a-grams are so clear that they are easy to see and understand; they're some of the best defined pictures-for-actions I have seen in a game for a fair while. The only things out of place in the game are the plastic "gold" coins. I say out of place because everything else is quality card with excellent art and these are simple plastic tablets (about the size of Werther's Originals - though please do not mistake them for sweets of any kind - in fact, thinking on it, this may well be the best reason for the game being for 10 year olds and upwards).

Another option is to take one of the cards in the middle of the table and replace it with the card that was dealt to you, OR you can do the same but take a card from in front of an opposing player; in either case you MUST execute the Trading Actions of the card you have chosen. The cards have symbols on them in the top Right corner, read them and react to them from Left to Right. If there is a Green Button you take a Coin from the bank (you do this for however many Green Buttons there are, so 4 Green Buttons = 4 coins). A Red Button means you have to pay 1 coin to either the player you took it from or to the Bank if you took it from the middle. If it has an Invader symbol you may have to take the top Invader token and, without looking at it, place it face down on the dotted space below the stack. (Note: Only ONE Invader Token can be placed in a Round - hence 8 Invader Spaces equal 8 Rounds of play.  Then, and only after, you have activated the card's effects, you may Build the card into your Realm by paying its cost or flip it over as a Bastion. In turn order all players must thus take and build a card. Move the First Turn marker ( a two-piece slotted castle) on one position to the left and start again until 8 Rounds have been played. The castle is unnecessary but it adds to the fun of the game.

 

This is one of those games that requires luck and planning (generally an even amount of each) and of course knowing (making the right decision that is best for you) whether to add a Building or a Bastion to your Realm - money may be the deciding faction, in fact it usually is as if you have the cash then splash it and build and if youi are low on funds take the Bastion option and the coins from the bank. Like "Tiny Epic Quest" this is a BIG game in a small box. There are only four small colourful pages of rules and these are padded out with illustrations and examples plus card and symbol descriptions. Sometimes games with so few rules and simple mechanics can be matter of fact, sort of play by going through the motions, but this is not one of those games. We have played MINUTE REALMS so many times and each game has had similar qualities (all good by the way) to the others, though not once have we, any of us, not wanted to play again; and playing the same game twice, one time after the first, is quite unusual for us. We prefer to play different games in sessions, maybe returning to a short one when we only have 30 or so minutes before our session ends.This is definitely what we used to call an Opener or Closer (or Both) and it fits this bill perfectly. In a way it is in its own genre. It is a card game, it is a City Builder, it is a Strategy game, it is a very fine entertaining past-time.

 

I figured it out MINUTE REALMS means both "Minnit" as in time and "My Newt" as in small. Now check the game out at your local Games Store

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015