A little while ago, we played Samara, a game by Corné van Moorsel, illustrated by Philip Kustov and Josh T. McDowell, and published by Cwali.
Each player takes on the role of a group of builders attempting to develop the city of Samara. At the beginning of the game, our amateur architects can only build sandcastles, caves and huts. To construct more complex buildings, you have to invest time to improve your skills and strength or to recruit new workers.
The construction of specific building can gain you bonuses or make things more difficult for other players. The spaces on the board determine how many workers are involved in a project, and for how long. Of course, the larger the project, the more skilled your workers need to be to pull it off, and the more time they will need to spend completing it! During which time they won’t be available to do anything else…
Players need to manage their workers’ time effectively to gain prestige points and win the game.
The time-based mechanics are interesting – based on a Glen More or Thebes type “time track” system – but can be difficult to get into. Don’t be fooled by the cute cartoony design of the game; Samara is a complex puzzle which is not really suitable for children. Or inexperienced players for that matter! Planning how to use your workers to greatest effect (without leaving all of the board’s other projects completely open to other players) is very challenging.
We played with the extensions which add a bit of spice to the basic game. Players can actively damage their opponents and generally cause havoc. However, Samara doesn’t offer a particularly immersive experience.
It’s definitely worth a look if you like time-based mechanics. Samara presents an interesting puzzle for experienced players that will definitely give your brain a workout!