Rise & Fall Board Game Review

Polyhedron Collider Board Game Review Rise & Fall
Rise & Fall is a great big open world civ building game, with light rules but with a great deal of intricacy.  The game starts with literally building the unique world in which you'll play, its a game about creativity: create the world, create your empire, and don't mess it up!

Rise & Fall is a very open, sandbox game with very light rules but with a great deal of intricacy and interdependency.  It is also a very unforgiving game, mistakes or lapses in judgement are costly and you can be paying for them for the rest of the game.  If this all sounds like a negative introduction to a board game review, then there is a good chance that Rise & Fall is not for you.

Polyhedron Collider Board Game Review Rise & Fall In Play Longshot

Rise & Fall is a game for you if the prospect of openly exploring different strategies and tactics to build a civilisation and win the game with no hand holding, mini objectives or goals.  It’s a game for you if you like games where you absolutely have to plan three or four moves ahead and chain a series of actions together to achieve your plan.  Rise & Fall is a game that presents a small number of choices, but the weight and importance of those simple choices grow with each passing turn.

Rise & Fall is an area control, civilisation-building game.  The game starts with this wonderfully collaborative and unique world-building phase.  Players will first place ocean tiles to form the base of the map, followed by fields, forests, mountains and then finally the snow-capped peaks.   This experience is not only quite good fun, but it also reminds and reinforces the notion that this game has a rather grand scope.  This map, this world you are about to play on is utterly unique.

From here you’ll place your starting units, a Nomad (the base “troop” type) a City and a Ship.  Each unit has a corresponding card on which are detailed (in very clear, language-independent iconography) the different actions that unit type can take.  Largely they are similar; the Nomad, the Merchant, the Mountaineers and the Ships can all move.  The Nomad and the Mountaineers can collect resources, the Merchant and the Ship can gain trade and gain money.  The City can create new Nomads, or turn a Nomad into a Mountaineer…and so on and so on. 

Polyhedron Collider Board Game Review Rise & Fall Merchant on the Mountain

All players will simultaneously select a card and then in turn order, those units activate.  That card stays on the table until you have none in your hand.  If you create a new unit, i.e. a Merchant, you’ll add the merchant card to your hand.  If you beach your ship to create a new city, you’ll discard your ship card.  Simply put, pick a card, activate units, pick a different card, repeat.  This process continues until the game ends. Like I said: “very light rules”.

The game ends when X number of Trophies (equal to the number of players) are won, with each trophy being won when a player has added all of a unit type to the map – so once you’ve added your fifth and final ship to the map you claim the ship trophy.  Once the end game is triggered, it is a simple case of which player has the majority in each region of the map with mountains (being the least numerous) worth the most points, and the plains (the most numerous) worth the least.  
I have to admit that I admire the design of this game, Rise & Fall manages to be tightly constrained yet simultaneously incredibly open.  At the start of the game, you have three choices; you can activate your Nomad, your City, or your Ship.  By the end of the game, you may have a few more units you could activate, and you may actually have less, but fundamentally, the choice of which unit to activate in a given turn is the only choice that has to be made throughout the entire game.    This simple choice gets compounded and weighted as the game progresses, but it is still the same simple choice.

Polyhedron Collider Board Game Review Rise & Fall In Play View from the mountain

However, it is incredibly reductive to think that just because you only have one choice to make each turn the game lacks agency or important decisions.  Far, far from it.  This one mechanical choice serves your goal and is just one of the steps towards that end.  That goal is part of your larger plan, one that you have decided is necessary for your victory.  These are the countless and ever-changing decisions you make as a player.  With each turn, both that of yours and that of your opponent’s, you will have to re-evaluate your position and your strategy.

That large mountainous area is worth a lot of points.  You know that.  Each of your opponents knows that.  How you choose to try and occupy it (if at all) will differ, and your approach to defending it whilst continuing to grow your empire will differ too.  These are the choices, the decisions and plans that you make in Rise & Fall which are distilled down to the one mechanical decision to pick a card.

I feel that in many ways, Rise & Fall has the feel of a war game.  Given everything said so far, that may seem odd, chiefly because there is no combat in Rise & Fall at all, and secondly because Rise & Fall is essentially a civilisation-building game and has nothing to do with war or conquest.  Yet, it is the broadness of the scope of the game, the openness to explore and act within the confines of the rules that has that feel of a war game.

Polyhedron Collider Board Game Review Rise and Fall In Play Mountaineer

Rise & Fall is simple yet intricate.  It is open but constrained. It is not a game for everyone, it’s a game that rewards repeated plays as each play allows you to develop your strategies but most importantly it allows you to learn from your mistakes, because you will make them, and if you are the type of person/gamer who likes to take their losses and learn from them (just like in a war game) then Rise & Fall is certainly worth a look. 

Rise & Fall is currently fully funded on Kickstarter right now, you can check out the campaign for yourself here.

This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


Post a Comment