Review Detail

Five Tribes
Board Games 272
Slave Heaven Lies Below the Hellmouth
Rating 
 
3.5
tl;dr — Light & fast = FUN; serious & slow = OH GOD KILL ME NOW

After 1 play: (2p) Works well as a chill activity with a glass of wine & some downtempo ambient. It's pretty, has neat little puzzles to solve, and everything you do nets you some kind of return, so there's a feeling of constant forward progress (as opposed to irritating impotence). I like the dark undertones of Rasputin-like manipulation of entire peoples, murder, and slave sacrifice in order to treat with demons. But that's just me.

I think it would be absolute hell with hardcore gamers, especially at max player count. Each turn can be laboriously optimized for maximum payoff with minimum setup for the next player; but this process, at least in the early game, involves brute-forcing all possible moves to climb the various branches of the game tree, a fractally-fuzzed boredom bush. This might be okay if you're playing against quantum computers (spoiler alert: you will lose), but it would be excruciating with savannah-born meat-brains (chuck a spear, check; grind n-ply game states in a timely fashion, not so much). A chess clock would be a must... or you could just hold everyone to casual play and save the thinky for heavier games where such deep contemplation is part of the intended experience.

Probably most enjoyable with your honey, family play, or two couples as a social activity.

Thoughts on the 2p rules:

It's a bummer that the process of turn-order bidding for two is merely implied in the rules—maybe more obviously for some, but still. It would have been nice to have a small, concrete example of what must otherwise be intuited.

No one wrote:

The two players will bid for four turn order slots; it is therefore possible, through clever and/or aggressive bidding, to get two (or more!) turns in a row.*

*If you go 3,4 in one turn and then 1,2 in the next that's four turns in row!

After 4 plays: (3x 4p) It's a solid 7. Works as intended—a pleasant little puzzler with lots to do, Nerf®-edged back-and-forth, and gorgeous to boot.

Stuff we got wrong:

• Resource cards are hidden.
Good luck finding that in the rulebook...

• Djinn & the market only refresh between rounds.
What you see during turn order bidding is all you'll get until next time...

• Viziers score 1 VP each, then +10 per person with fewer than you.
So if the final vizier count is 5, 4, 3, 1 the scores will be 35, 24, 13, and 1. This will crazy-change the game...

Shaitan take these infidel rules!
H
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