Rise Review

11 July 2023
Set society on the right track

For most of us, becoming an architect of societal change is unlikely. Within the realm of gaming though, civ-building titles have allowed budding idealists/megalomaniacs to tinker with these societal playgrounds to their heart’s content. In Rise, this complex process has been conveniently condensed down to the merest push of a cube - or ten cubes to be precise. With ten modular tracks, representing everything from culture to bureaucracy (and eight other facets presumably important to society), Rise tells the abstracted story of up to four players’ personal utopias. But only one will succeed in gathering the influence to steer civilisation toward its final course.

Over twelve rounds players will be taking turns plopping down their factory meeple below one of four action cards and triggering the movement of cubes. Typically, moving a cube on one track will influence another, occasionally blossoming out into absurd combos. Enhancing your scientific prowess, for example, may kickstart the news track, which, in turn, boosts bureaucracy etc.

It all starts with the action cards though, which are arranged in a row with costs to activate them ascending from left to right. Whilst this is a commonly seen approach to action selection, Rise spices it up a bit by sandwiching event cards between each action. Any factories placed to the right of an event will activate its usually positive effects, meaning that players occupying the fourth action will trigger all three events.

As for the action cards themselves, they - as you might’ve guessed – bump cubes up or along tracks. Disappointingly, there isn’t even any text or imagery to help flesh out exactly what the action was. Not to sound reductive, but this is essentially all the game is; think Ganz Schon Clever with cubes instead of ink. Indeed, all the combo triggering excitement of a good roll and write is here, elevated somewhat by the replayability its variable setup affords, with each track having an A and a B side combinable in any manner.

Despite its strong mechanical nature, it is possible to extract some theme from all this cube shuffling, particularly when battling with the environmental consequences of certain actions or declining citizen happiness. It just requires a bit of imagination. Humorously, on the occasions where we did manage to uphold the environment despite virulent industrialism, it felt more like sneakiness than well considered, eco-minded capitalism. Indeed, maxing out the industry track whilst avoiding an explosive haemorrhaging of points makes one feel like an evil genius.

In a marked departure from similar games, there are options to pursue comparably utopian paths. Furthermore, having these focused forays into culture and (god forbid) public satisfaction be competitively viable feels just as satisfying as rolling in coins and widespread misery. Consequently, across all of our games, final scores were tight; a testament to the game’s balanced design.

Whilst the tabletop sprawl of so many tracks may seem intimidating, Rise’s gameplay flows smoothly, with technically only twelve actions being taken each game. Thanks to the structure of the action/event track though, each decision feels meaningful as players consider the balance between the cost of ascending particular tracks and activating as many events as they can. All of this is facilitated by clear iconography and a decent rulebook, although the overall aesthetic comes off as a bit bland. Thankfully, Rise just about differentiates itself from Euros of yesteryear with illustrations acknowledging the existence of women. Just don’t judge the game by its faintly terrifying cover though; towering phantoms composed of pluming noxious smog are distinctly absent from gameplay..



A clever design with occasional bursts of moreish combos, held back by an over-obscuration of theme.


A more tactile take on crazy combos.

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Designer: Remo Conzadori & Marco Pranzo

Publisher: DLP Games

Time: 60-90 minutes

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10+

Price: £45

What’s in the box?

  • 10 Double-sided tracks
  • Victory point track
  • 66 Action cards
  • 44 Event cards
  • 4 Factories
  • 40 Markers
  • 4 Victory point markers
  • 4 Strongboxes
  • 4 100 Point markers
  • 54 Coins
  • 16 School tiles
  • 10 Culture tiles
  • 3 Politics tiles
  • 8 Penalty tiles
  • 2 Frame parts


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