Mysterion Games/Game Salute, 2014

Zoneplex Is a space themed, middle weight game for 3-5 players. Each player is a warrior monk (you play with pieces they call Monkles instead of meeples) who is trying to take control of the Zoneplex pyramid. You overcome fears in order to become worthy to enter the eye of the pyramid. You are aided on your journey by various “relics of the bygone future eras”.  The idea behind this comes from an idea that ancient civilizations were really advanced starfaring races who created the Zoneplex.

Play is relatively simple to learn, but can be somewhat difficult to master, and depends a little more on luck than I would like to see.  You begin the game by drawing tiles to build the gameboard (placing triangular shaped tiles in a pyramid shape), place your 4 spirit stones in spirit chambers, and move around the board, attempting to gain relics.

You place your spirit stones on special spaces marked with different symbols. At the beginning of the game, each player is given a card with a secret symbol. At the midpoint of the game, when the last board tile has been played, the cards are revealed and influence points are scored.

On each turn of the game, you draw a card, which will tell you how many tiles to play, and how many spaces to move (1, 2 or 3), or will have a special power/event, or it may be a fear. Fears are monsters which you must defeat. You must defeat 3 fears (one of each type), have the most influence points, and reach the eye of the pyramid to win the game. Some of the board spaces are relic spaces which give you special relic cards which may give you influence, or other special game effects.

While we did enjoy the game, I did have a couple of difficulties with it. There are relic cards that give  extra influence, however there aren’t very many of them, and one player got the majority of them, giving that player a definite lead that was almost impossible to overcome. Also, you have to defeat fears of three different types, but if you never draw the correct fear, it can be impossible to win. You can ask others for help in defeating a fear, as many of them will require more than you can accomplish on your own. You can negotiate for help, including giving away the fear, or the relic “rewards” that come from defeating it. This is one way to get a fear that you need, if you can’t draw one, although the other players never have to make that deal. It would have been nice to see some cards, maybe in the relic deck, that allowed for the steal of a fear, or to look through the deck or discard for a specific fear.

Overall, we played a generous game, helping each other with fears for various benefits. We didn’t play very “hardcore”, and our game ended up pretty even at the end, with an exciting race for the finish. While this will never be one of my favorite games, it is probably worth a couple of plays to see if we can figure out some different strategies, or see how much luck of the draw really figures into the game.