This game from Henrik and Ase Berg was published by Axel and White Goblin Games circa 2010 and is NOT the subject of this review.
This 2013 game from Björn Heismann and published by AMIGO however IS the game on review.
Of course because of the way the board looks and is put together there will be some who will think it is another Settlers of Catan clone but the visual aspect is really the only
comparison that can be made. This is a family game aimed at Mums and Dads with 1 or 2 children aged 8 years and upwards.It has been created to with the interest and
concentration levels of minors in mind and thus each game has a unique board (made up from randomly placed hexagonal tiles) and a time to play of about 30 minutes.
It also has coloured dice and a Sand timer (what we used to call an egg-timer), thick cardboard counters for longevity and wooden Meeples (playing pieces).
The board is laid out, as I said, randomly. Each tile is numbered and the number corresponds to one of the counters. Edge pieces are provided so that you can create a hex
shaped playing area with the Volcano tile as the central piece - this is the only tile that is positioned in the same place for each game; the sand timer is placed on the volcano.
The counters are put in a bag and shuffled up then 6 are drawn and placed turtle-side up on their corresponding numbers. Players then each draw one counter and place their
pawns on the numbers drawn and put the counters back in the bag. Six counters are drawn from the bag each turn which means the game lasts 6 turns (36 counters).
The game is not complicated or complex, it is indeed quite simple, but it requires decision making and demands coordination, speed of thought, spatial awareness and dexterity,
as well as the forethought and gaming skills to see when another player is likely to be after the same target(s) as you and to beat them to the turn by sacrificing one or more of
your possible moves.
Turns can be a little uneven but, like penalties given in a soccer season, they do sort of even out over the length of the game. Number counters (as in players who remember
which numbers have been drawn from the bag already) have an advantage but the game isn't meant for that type of heavy play. The pawns move according to the dice faces
shown for each player's roll. That is, each player rolls their own 5 dice and plots their moves across the board, coloured hexes matching the colours shown on the dice. The
first player to be happy with their plan places their dice in left to right order on the board spaces and grabs the timer which they turn over. The other players now have until
the sand runs through to finish their plotting, the player who turned over the timer may not touch their own dice. Once the players are ready then the first player moves their
pawn in the order of the dice by colour of dice and tile. They collect any available counters and can stop before they reach the end of their allotted movement if they wish.
Then it is the next player, clockwise, to do the same, move and collect if possible - players may always forego their movement and just stay put, hoping for a better die roll
The players are aiming to collect the counters from the hexes by either passing through or landing on the hexes with the counters. The idea is to collect sets of six different
coloured turtles with each set of 6 being valued at 8 points, single turtles only score 1 point each so the extra 2 points for the set can often be a tie breaker at the final scoring.
The game is fun but very random. Counters can be drawn from the bag for the hex your pawn is starting from, though this doesn't mean your pawn can collect it unless it is
still there when it is your turn; other pawns may collect it from underneath you. In fact it is quite possible, especially in a 4 player game, for there to be no counters left for a
player to collect on their turn - of course it is also possible that the die rolls are so bad (aka unlucky) that no one can reach any of the counters. This is what I mean when I say
that it sort of balances out over the length of the game.
Amigo Spiele have a great name in the family games market and this is yet another fine example of the quality one has come to expect in components, eye-catching colour,
and family game play. GALAPAGOS proves that games which can be taught quickly and where randomness plays a part in proceedings have a place in family games collections.