Thera is the latest game to be published by the long-time industry veterans at Mr. B Games and L-4 Studios and designed by Zach Hoekstra with art by Grzegorz Pedrycz.
In 1646 BC, the island of Thera was the site of a volcanic eruption 100 times more powerful than Pompeii. This eruption coincided with the decline of the Minoan civilization and the rise of the Mycenaean civilization. Due to Thera’s strategic location, the Mycanaean wanax has decided that it is time to rebuild Thera and has tasked you, one of his koreters with this responsibility. The koreter who best rebuilds Thera to its prior glory will be victorious.
Thera is a role selection and resource management game for 1-4 players with a game length of about 30 minutes per player.
“It’s that rare white buffalo type of game…” – Undead Viking
Each player has a map of the island where they will engage in trade (at the port in the lower left), clear ash, generate resources (from specialized buildings), move those resources to building sites across the island, and construct economic and luxury buildings.
On a player’s turn, they will select one of five roles from a center rondel. When a role is selected, every player can benefit from that role (the actions shown above the water line). In addition to benefits for all players, the one who chose the role gets benefits that scale with the amount of favor on the role. Favor (not shown in the picture below) accumulates on the roles over the course of the game and is redistributed every time a role is chosen, increasing the benefits from that role.
Rebuilding your island is the primary way of earning victory points. The spring (which looks shockingly like a fountain) provides water when the priestess role is chosen. Water is the resource that the grove and quarry (among other worker activated buildings) use to generate wood and stone (respectively).
The luxury buildings are typically where the lion's share of your victory points are earned. The agora, vineyard, temple, and palace each tend to require more of a particular resource (for example the temples need lots of stone). Luxury buildings may convey benefits beyond their end game victory points. The temple shown below generates cloth when the priestess is chosen. The vineyard benefits from being surrounded by other luxury buildings. The palace convey an immediate benefit (move three resources). The agora does not convey any additional benefits.
Your goal is to rebuild your island city to its prior glory. At the beginning of the game, your island is covered in ash. You have established a toe hold in the area surrounding your port in the lower left of the map. You have established a small quarry to the north (with water for its workers), a fountain to the northeast (which generates water), and some resources (enough to construct a building or two), to the east.
Each role provides some type of action involved in the rebuilding of the island.
The priestess - provides life-giving water that is consumed by workers in the course of their duties on the industry tiles.
The worker - generates resources when water is present on industry buildings.
The planner - moves resources around the island (resources need to be on the construction site before building can commence).
The builder - constructs buildings and removes ash from the island.
The trader - buys and sells resources at the port and activates merchant related buildings.
Economic buildings benefit the development of your island. They may generate resources, clear ash, move resources, among other things. Luxury buildings are unique and have special abilities. Usually most of your victory points come from luxury buildings.
As you rebuild Thera you earn victory points throughout the game. Victory points earned during the game come from the planner role and from constructing palaces early in the island's development. Victory points earned at the end of the game come from the ash cleared, buildings constructed, where they were constructed, and how they were arranged.
Time is of the essence in Thera. The game ends when either the final favor disc is pulled from the time track, or if two of the four luxury building types are all constructed. Thera rewards good planning and aggressive play. The player with the most victory points wins. Good luck koreter. Thera awaits!
Preview from Dice Tower
“Board Games in a Minute” Review
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