Review – Expedition Sumatra from Igramoon Spieleverlag

Review – Expedition Sumatra from Igramoon Spieleverlag

Designed by Jens Jahnke and Britta Stockmann

ArtworkMariusz Gandzel, Piotr Rorot, Anna Wiodarska

Many thanks to the folks at Igramoon Spieleverlag for providing a copy of this game for review purposes.

Another new game from a small publisher crosses my threshold and it is a game of exploration of the jungles of Sumatra. Rare animals are in danger of extinction and must be captured and protected, or sold to the highest bidder. So off you go to Sumatra only to find that its not as easy as you think. For one thing, the jungle passages are confusing and its easy to have your way blocked. Also, you only have a couple of trucks to capture the animals and place them on your ship. Oh yes, you are under time pressure as your ship is circling the island and will be leaving soon! And then the local inhabitants may not take too kindly to your antics on their home turf…

Anyway, I love family games and the good folks at Igramoon Spieleverlag have come up with a game for 2-4 players aged 8+ which provides a change from the usual fare.

Expedition Sumatra comes with excellent quality components ranging from the lush jungle board, to the jungle pathway tiles to the ship and truck tiles. Even the rules are set out very nicely in a layered brochure. Disappointingly, animals are represented by cubes. Yes, sterile colored cubes which are serviceable. If only they’d gone a step further and created animeeples… sigh…

The aim of the game is to find and catch animals, using their trucks to transport the animals to their ships. So a pick up and delivery game. But their is more… The jungle pathway tiles are placed on the board and can me moved and turned to help the players create paths to the ships OR block other players. So, we have a tile placement and manipulation aspect along with and interactive “Gotcha” element.

Victory points are gained for capturing animals.

Gameplay

The game process is relatively simple. Each player can choose from 4 actions in any order per turn

– Move a tile – flipping or rotating to your advantage or to impede other players

– Drive a truck through the jungle and on/off the ship – Ships are randomly organized and will have different limits to the number of animals that can be taken onto different parts of the ship

– Load an animal which shares a square on the game board with one’s truck onto the truck

– Steal an animal if your truck is on the same square as an opponent (costs 2 Actions)

– Move your ship 1 square forward or backward

After completing the 4 actions, the special Ship rule takes place – the player checks where his large truck is located and  then moves his ship forward a number of water spaces equal to the number of pathway exits in the occupied tile. If the large truck is on a ship, the ship is moved forward 1 space.

The jungle pathway tiles are all the same on one side and have different effects when flipped. Thing is, you will need to flip them to create a path to your ship so there is no avoiding it. Most tiles are flipped to reveal a pathway which can be rotated. Other effects are –

Animals – Yay! place the relevant cube to represent the animal

Trap – Yay! You can randomly place any animal cube

Native – Uh oh! The natives release one animal per player  as noted in the rules

Binoculars – Yay! you can secretly look at the reverse side of 2 tiles

Storm – Uh oh! tiles and ships are moved

The game ends when

– the draw pile is used up or

– one player has managed to fill all his cargo holds completely, or

– when the first ship circles the island and returns to its starting position.

Victory points are scored for animals, ships circumnavigating the island, completing big and small animal orders.

The flexibility of actions works well and the process and mechanics are easy to understand and pitched at an appropriate level for families.

Did it work for me?

Expedition Sumatra is a very nice family game and a good start for Igramoon Spieleverlag. The quality components and clear rules make it very easy to get into. The tile placement and manipulation is fine and the challenge of balancing collecting animals, getting them on your ship, navigating changing roads where your opponents can make things difficult for you and doing all this whilst moving your ship around the island provides a good variety of choices and balanced tensions. The luck factor is reasonable but may frustrate some gamers although I do think that pulling the Native tile is a bit harsh. If you approach this game as a gateway game /or family game, you should enjoy it. A very solid design and fun game.

Boardgames in Blighty rating – 6.5 out of 10

Family Friendly?

Yes, and the 8+ age is right, although it may take a couple of turns for younger players to understand. A nice family game.

For more information about Igramoon Spieleverlag go to – http://www.igramoon.de/Igramoon_Games/Home.html

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