Innovation Reviewed

“Invent your way to an empire! Innovation is a card-driven journey through humanity’s ideas and advancements from THE WHEEL all the way to The Internet. You must strategically guide your civilization through time and try to emerge victorious by claiming achievements before your rivals can! Choosing and effectively using your innovations are the keys to success.”

Woo! A civilization game, with cards! The latent Magic player in me is stirring, lets get the box open!

What’s in the box?

Cards. This is a card game. 105 Technology cards and 5 Achievement cards. They aren’t pretty, in fact they’re drab, but they’re functional and provide exactly the information required to play the game without consulting the rules (as you have to in Race for the Galaxy to decipher the icons for example). There are also handy reference sheets detailing your available turn actions and victory conditions, which also double as player mats.

What’s it like to play?

If you’re someone who likes unique card abilities which interact to produce interesting combos, then you’re in luck, there’s plenty of that here, and unlike in Race for the Galaxy, there are many opportunities to screw over your opponents. Does it get better? It does!

You can get into the game extremely quickly; the mechanics unfold as you discover the cards. A turn consists of 2 actions to be picked from;

1. Draw a Technology card

2. Place a Technology card on your play area

3. Use one of the Technology cards abilities (or Dogmas as they are called)

4. Score an achievement

It’s that easy, there are no confusing icons or rules you have to learn and just a handful of new (but intuitive) terms, it’s virtually all on the cards and the interactions become apparent as you play.

Each Technology card does have a set of icons, (these are factory, crown, leaf, clock, lightbulb, and castle) which appear in different combinations. When you choose to activate a Dogma on a card it will be assigned one of these icons. Should an opponent have an equal amount or more of these icons than you on his board (play area), then he gets to utilise the Dogma’s abilities too. Don’t hand the power to your opponents!

The Technology cards are placed in 10 piles (“Ages”) from Pre-History to Information and players can draw from the pile corresponding to the highest age on their board plus one. The game ends once Age 10 (Information) is exhausted and a player is required to draw a card from this age.

Scoring.

Ages can be scored as part of certain Technologies Dogmas. These cards are tucked underneath the player mats and can be also used to acquire achievements. If a player should acquire 4 achievements then he wins the game immediately.

There are also a couple of things you may need to be aware of that may spoil your enjoyment of the game: Due to the quantity of text on each card, reading all your opponents cards and keeping track of what they can do is less easy, especially in the first few plays. Only when you become familiarised with the Dogmas on the Technology cards will the game start to flow in your mind.

Also, if you’re looking for a theme, Innovation is hardly dripping with it. The basic theme is building a civilisation from scratch, but the drabness of the cards provides no colour or narrative theme, and the Technologies are not explained or illustrated by the Dogmas. If you’re looking for a logical reason to why a card will perform a specific action, you will struggle to find it as the Technologies are an abstraction to the nth degree, jumping from the invention of the Wheel to developing Robotics in one swoop is possible.

Conclusion

Drab cards and abstract theme aside, Innovation is an intriguing, tactical game. Dogmas and combos are satisfying to activate, yet the Technologies that support them are fragile and can be removed or replaced by opponents. Long-term strategy is usually not an option which can be frustrating for some players. Interaction between players is high and leads to screwage, which I personally love, but may put off the more gentle gamer.

Publisher: Asmadi

Players: 2-4

Age: 12+

Playing Time: 30 minutes

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2 Comments to “Innovation Reviewed”

  1. A very clear and balanced review. Thanks, I Hadn’t heard of this before. Your review has put in on my radar.

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