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First Look: Rise of Tribes, a Civilization-style Board Game

Rise of Tribes is a civ-style board game from Breaking Games.

Rise of Tribes is the brand new civ-style board game from Breaking Games. It is set in ancient prehistoric times, among a new land with plentiful lakes, mountains, forests, and an occasional volcano. Players control a tribal faction in those prehistoric times that is looking to grow, move, gather, and lead their people in order to develop their civilization.

Turns are simple in Rise of Tribes. On their turn a player rolls two dice which allows them a choice among four actions:

  • Grow: Add members of your tribe to the hex board.
  • Move: Move a number of your tribe from one hex to another.  
  • Gather: Obtain resources–food, timber, rock–from hexes your tribe occupies.  
  • Lead: Draw goal cards to give your tribe objectives.

There is a lot of game packed into the really slick mechanic that is rolling two dice, then placing them on the event board. A die is placed on the left, which slides the dice that are already present to the right. Suns are better, moons are…uh, badder? Adding dice play to hex moving and cards quests makes for an overall really fun game.

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I asked Brad Brooks–the designer of Rise of Tribes–about the dice. He said, “The game started with the dice mechanic. I was trying to think of how to implement a dice mechanic where sort of the randomness of the dice roll is mitigated by the fact that it affects the whole group. I came up with the mechanic where each action has its own pool of dice, and you add one to it and get rid of the oldest one.”

Civ-style games have a reputation for being boorish, overly complicated, and soooooooo loooooong. Rise of Tribes is streamlined and elegant. It’s a civ game that plays in under an hour, which may be the greatest invention outside of bronze or the wheel.

If this sounds even remotely interesting to you, I encourage you to give it a deeper look. But I know there are a million new board games out there, so I want to highlight two more things before I let you go:

  1. The instruction manual is A+. I realize this sounds like boring praise, but I’ve read through hundreds of board game instruction manuals. Rise of Tribes is among the absolute best. Major props to the production assistants, graphic designers, copywriters, and editors who created the manual, yet rarely get enough credit for what they bring to games. Learning a board game typically isn’t easy; Rise of Tribes makes it a breeze.
  2. It is a stunning game. I asked Brad about the beautiful artwork. He said, “Sergio Chavez is the artist. He’s from Colombia, and when we went looking, I said I want the game to be hopeful looking. The developer looked online and found Sergio, who’d done a painting of Yosemite, and it was one of those ones where the light was coming off the page. It was just electric, both hopeful and epic.”

Rise of Tribes is an exciting new board game. Take a quick look at some pictures of it below. It is available from Amazon, direct from Breaking Games, or, better yet, ask your FLGS about it. There is even an expansion pack for it to trick it out further.

But, I gotta tell you, Rise of Tribes is pretty great as is.