15 November 2019
Air, Earth, Fire and water!
To shape a world, one must combine the four elements: air, earth, fire and water. Although, that’s the easy part. You then need to strategically place and empower your elements to ensure you alone are the greatest world creator – or, at least, so World Shapers would have us believe.
In this card-drafting game, players compete to earn the most creation – victory – points by choosing cards and placing them under one of their corresponding elemental tiles, forming a four-column tableau. The gameplay offers a bit of flexibility by allowing you to exchange cards with the shared pool, or to enhance cards with power crystals or activate special abilities on cards that offer some player interaction. However, the latter is half-baked and has very limited opportunity to throttle your opponents in any significant way, feeling lacklustre overall.
The most exciting part of the game is how the cards and their location within the tableau inform the end-of game scoring. This is done in various manners, such as having the most of a certain element or scoring for each set of different symbols collected. Positioning is also important. For example, picking up a card that earns points by being surrounded by specific types of elements will inform future choices, as well as requiring planning – it is possible to block yourself off by not paying attention or through an unlucky draw.
With such a vibrant theme, the elements themselves have little to no uniqueness throughout the sets. Although this makes them well balanced, it seems like a huge missed opportunity to not take advantage of potential strategies built around each of the element types.
World Shapers is a small, quick game that plays smoothly and is easily taught. The artwork is fantastic; it looks great on and off the table. It does, unfortunately, let itself down with gameplay that is a little too simplistic and leaves players with a lack of variety when it comes to choices. World Shapers makes for a good gateway game or one to take on your travels; just don’t expect it to break new ground.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Designer: Mariusz Milewski
Artist: Pawel Nizolek, Jaroslaw Wajs
Time: 30 minutes
Purchase the game here
This review originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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