Time for a look at a game about building an ancient civilization with cute woodland creatures.
SPQF is a game designed by Grant Rodiek and to be published by Hyperbole Games. It’s a deck building game for 2-4 players that takes 30 minutes to play. SPQR is a familiar phrase that stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus, or The Senate and People of Rome. SPQF, then, replaces the R with an F for Forest.
The game will come with 20 starter cards, 48 civilization cards, 4 monument cards, 25 crop cubes, 25 material cubes, 4 wooden tableaus, 4 wooden civilization markers, 1 first player coin, and 40 wooden VP acorns. Each player will start the game with a tableau with their civilization level set to 0, as well as one Monument that is kept secret from everyone else. Each player gets 5 different starter cards and 5 random cards from the civilization deck (instead of dealing randomly, you can draft the 5 non-starter cards for a more advanced version). From the remaining cards, reveal three to form the trade row. Draw a hand of five from your deck, and you’re ready to begin.
On your turn, you’ll be following a sequence of phases. First, it’s the Action Phase. You’ll choose one card to play, paying the cube cost if needed. You can also choose to play any other cards from your hand with modifier symbols that match the one on the card you played (there are six different symbols, with one – the oak leaf – being wild). This will allow you to take the actions of the card you played more than once.
Once you’ve played your card, other players may choose to follow by playing a card from their hand with a symbol that matches the modifier on the one you played. They don’t get to play extra modifiers, and some actions have a special symbol that means they cannot be followed. All actions will be resolved in turn order.
Following the Actions will be the Recruit Phase, which is mandatory (unlike the actions, which can be skipped). The active player MUST recruit one card from a trade row. As you play, your opponents will be adding to their own trade rows. So you can recruit from the central trade row, or you can recruit from an opponent’s trade row (but never your own). Recruited cards go straight to your discard pile.
After recruiting, it’s time for the Discard Phase. Discard any cards in your trade row, plus any cards you played as your action or as modifiers. You’ll also discard any starter cards you have. Any cards remaining in your hand are placed in your trade row, and are available to be recruited by someone else. After this, it’s time for the Draw Phase – draw five more cards, reshuffling their discard pile if necessary.
The game continues until one player has at least 25 VP tokens, or until one player has reached the fifth civilization level, or the civilization deck is empty. Once one of these has occurred and everyone has had the same number of rounds, add up your points from VP tokens, civilization level, monuments, and cards. The high score wins.
This is a pretty unique take on deck building. The thing that stands out to me most is the ability to recruit cards that other players didn’t use on their last turn. Culling has always been a major strategy of deck builders, but here, it seems more like you’re letting the market decide what is and what isn’t useful. If you use it, great, you can keep using it. If you don’t, you risk losing it to someone else who would like to use it. Or, if it is truly useless, you might have to keep it in your deck because no one else wants it. That’s a pretty good idea.
This game also reminds me of Glory to Rome a bit because of the ability to follow actions. I know GTR is not the only game where you can do that, but the theme here has probably put me in the mood to think about it. Especially with the ability to do things more due to modifiers – that seems kind of like the Clientele in GTR. To be clear, this game does not look anything like GTR (the art is better, for one thing), but that aspect just jumped out to me.
Overall, I think this looks like a really fun game. I haven’t played it, nor was this post commissioned by Hyperbole Games – I just wanted to write it up and help people to find it and check it out. The Kickstarter is running until July 29, and you can get your own copy for $49 ($10 if you just want the PNP). Supplies are limited, and this game is not going to be produced beyond the Kickstarter, so get in there soon.
That’s it for today! Thanks for reading!