Explorers Board Game Review
Simple roll-and-write games, flip-and-write games, etc. are a dime a dozen it seems. Some are really good, others are really bad, and most hover in that middle category of just being OK. The popularity of these games is due to how inexpensive they are to produce, and therefore, purchase. When we got our hands on Explorers, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After playing it multiple times over the past few weeks, I’m glad it is in my collection.
While most games in this genre are opting for pads of paper and small little pencils, Ravensburger is looking to make the game last as long as possible by opting to NOT include paper. Instead, the glossy tiles used to play the game are wipeable, which means players can use a dry-erase market directly on the tiles. All the tiles are a nice thick cardboard, with the glossy finish to allow writing and wiping. The only downside to this experience is putting the game away. Having some kind of insert in the box for all the components would have been nice, albeit a more expensive option. Overall, the components are great!
How to Play
We will not be going indepth on every in and out of Explorers. If you want to see a thorough breakdown of the game, check out this video from Rodney Smith:
Each player is exploring on their own player board comprised of 4 tiles, and each player will have the exact same 4 tiles in the exact same orientation. After setting up the game (see the video), players will then take turns flipping over a tile from the exploration stack which will show two terrain types (unless the tile is wild). The terrain types in Explorers are Grasslands, Dessert, Water, and Mountains. Whoever flipped the tile chooses which terrain they would like to place in, while all other players will place in the other.
Placing, or exploring, is simply done by putting 3 X’s in the territory NOT chosen by the active player, or 2 X’s in the territory chosen by the active player. This can be modified by using various techniques, but you can discover that for yourself. The reason you are exploring is to earn points, and there are various symbols and icons on your map that you might be working towards. There are a variety of scoring methods, such as scoring for collected resources each round, unlocking temples with keys, surrounding villages with X’s, and more. `While scoring might be different depending on which side of the board you play with, you ultimately must decide how you want to place your X’s to maximize your end game points.
Is it Worth It?
The simplicity of Explorers makes it an easy recommendation. While younger players might not be able to see the big picture and develop a strategy for where they are trying to go. There are a variety of different scoring options, and with each game laid out differently, one strategy might not work in all games. Players must also be able to adapt based on which terrain tiles are flipped each round. You can have a goal in mind, but if you don’t get the right tiles to actually get to that location, you might be in trouble.
This game is vastly replay-able. There are 8 tiles to choose from before starting (this should be done randomly) and even after those 8 tiles are chosen, the orientation that they are placed is also random, giving you so many possibilities. This allows the core mechanics to feel familiar, but each game is different based on the board layout.
The inclusion of additional rules and a more difficult board will allow veteran players to go head-to-head in a more strategic way, but simplistic rules will keep novice players happy as well. It’s a great package, and one worth investing in!