Colony Review - Dice With Dominion

Quite a fair amount of buzz was going for Colony over Essen - it was tricky to get myself into a table to play it. Eventually patience prevailed and I enjoyed a 3 player experience. It intrigued me, but not enough to warrant a space in my hold luggage. With a new copy just in, I've had more time to test it out and even enjoy the solo mode.

The big concern I had when I first heard about Colony was that I wasn't sure it was going to offer much new to the engine building genre. The market is overloaded with such games and therefore some more innovation is required to stand out. Combining dice with a Dominion style setup is a good start. Dice drafting is also welcomed. But is that enough or is there some hidden potential?




Designer: Ted Alspach, Toryo Hojo, Yoshihisa Nakatsu
Publisher: Bezier Games
Age: 13+
Players: 1-4
Time: 45-90 Minutes
RRP: £59.95


From Board Game Geek

In Colony, each player constructs and upgrades buildings, while managing resources to grow their fledgling colony. In a clever twist, dice are used as resources, with each side/number representing a different resource. Some resources are stable, allowing them to be stored between turns, while others must be used right away. Buildings provide new capabilities, such as increased production, resource manipulation, and additional victory points. Using dice-as-resources facilitates a dynamic, ever-changing resources management mini-game while players work to earn victory points by adding building to their tableau on their way to victory.
Colony includes 28 different building card types, of which only seven are used each game in addition to the fixed buildings that are used each time that you play

MIDDLE OF THE PRICEY ROAD


Colony is often thought of as "Dominion With Dice" - and well, that's going to tell you exactly what you get in the box. Lots of cards with some dice. Nothing especially fancy here, which is a shame as some custom dice would have been a nice addition. But the insert does the job of holding all your cards separated by type, which is always the most important part of any game with a multi-variable setup.

The artwork is decent enough, giving me flashbacks of the Fallout game series, but again it's nothing stellar either so overall Colony is not going to draw a crowd of eye-gazers while you play. But nothing here is bad either. It's middle of the road across the board falling short of winning any component/art awards, but also avoiding anybody wanting to look away at something else. But given it has an RRP of £59.95 and a typical online price of £47, I'm wondering where the money went and it's probably not into the free app you can download that helps you choose the card setup.
 

ALL THE THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH DICE


Luck is always the biggest concern by players whenever dice are used, I even share it myself. It's all well and good for a short filler, but when you extend the length and complexity, you need to allow a degree of mitigation. Dice City did this very well and thankfully so does Colony. You roll 3 dice in a round so there's a good chance of getting the number you need and hopefully you've been acquiring some buildings to help you convert dice often to mitigate it further.

Overall the game plays very smoothly, it's a very streamlined affair, although sometimes some analysis paralysis can occur in the late game where your conversion options can get out of hand. Learning the game is pretty straightforward thanks in part to a reasonable rulebook and part to graphic design, which if not pretty, is certainly functional. Don't confuse this for a gateway game by any means.

Colony isn't the most interactive game in the world, but there are some snippets which extend beyond simply "taking the die you wanted". Some cards relate to attack/defense and thus there is an element of take-that you can inflict on other players. You also have to be very observant about your opponent's game plans, because remember, you're drafting dice. Therefore what you don't pick, they get and is it better to take a great die for yourself or deny them the one die they need?


TAKE YOUR TIME


It's important to note that rush tactics will not work in Colony, or at least I've not seen one work yet. You can try to rush for Fallout Shelters for points, but typically the winner will be the person who best builds a system for getting the dice they need. It's an engine building game through and through and deviating from that is not a recommended strategy.

Of course building this engine takes time and when I hear people playing 3-4 player games of this in 45 minutes, I call "liar" on that (not in a mean way, calm down). 2 players possibly could manage, but 3 or 4 players, no way. It takes a while to get the engine going and you have to consider your opponents also during the drafting phase. That takes longer than 45 minutes to accomplish and I'll bet they are not factoring in the time it takes to set the game up and put it away when you're done, sorting all the piles of cards out.

4 players is also not my favourite way to play in general and not just because of the downtime. You still only roll 3 dice in the draft phase which means on some turns you will receive nothing. It's like the turn order mechanism from Le Havre where the more players you have, the less actions you get a round. It isn't as fun to receive nothing in a turn. It's a minor quibble, but coupled with the added downtime, I would only jump in with 2 or 3 players.

There is a solo mode, but it all boils down to a simple "score the most points" objective with a slow timer mechanic. It's not bad, but compared to other solo modes you're unlikely to keep running back to this. Certainly I prefer solo experiences with a stronger theme to bring me back.


VERDICT ON COLONY


Colony may not offer much that's new to the engine building genre, but it's an enjoyable addition to the lineup. A cross between Dominion and the likes of Machi Koro and Dice City. Colony brings in dice drafting as an extra mechanic, thus keeping a certain degree of luck with mitigation, but also more tactical depth as an awareness of your opponents dice becomes more important.

It's not tricky to get into for anyone used to this genre. A step above the likes of Dice City in terms of complexity, but different enough to be its own game. It can get a little long with 4 players and not receiving a die can be a downer for some, so I recommend it with a 3 player limit for optimal fun.

If you like engine building games that don't require an entire evening of investment like many Euro's and theme is a secondary concern for you, there's plenty of variety in Colony with room for expansion to keep you going for a long time.
























BROKEN RATING - 7 Unstable Radioactive Dice


YOU WILL LIKE COLONY IF:



You enjoy Dominion and like the sound of introducing dice.


You want a twist on traditional engine building games.


You want a balance of take-that for interaction, but not too mean.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE COLONY IF:



Dice are too random for you therefore this won't be your game.


You feel it's a little long with a high player count.


You want a strong sense of theme as this is pretty much a mechanical affair.

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