After Mysthea, Icaion was next on the list to play and review from Tabula games. With the unboxing of this game, we were happy to see very different figurines and a lot more colors. Icaion is a lot to take in the first playthrough. But because we played Mysthea before this board game, we already saw and knew a lot similarities in the set up and gameplay which made it a lot easier to learn. But we would soon find out Icaion was totally different then Mysthea.
How to Play.
For the setup, I recommend you follow the steps in the rulebook. The set up is explained there in easy steps followed with a complete picture in the end. We had some confusion with the set up, but all became clear once we started playing. If you notice you are stuck, just start the game, see how far you come and look it up in the rulebook. Everything is explained there, only it’s sometimes not written in the place where you expect it.
In Icaion you become a seeker, an adventurer, sent out to hunt for treasures like Qoam, relics and artifacts from ancient times. You will compete for the highest reputation score over the course of three years. Each year is divided into three phases. Phase one, the beginning of a year, phase two, during a year and phase three, end of a year. In phase one you add the Colossus card of the current year into the event deck, shuffle it and place it face down. Plug the correct amount of primal shards into the Colossus (amount of shards depends on amount of players), and recharge your emergency power supply. And lastly in year one, the player with number one starts, in year two and three, the player with the least amount of reputation points gets to go first.
In phase two, you first reveal an event card before every round. If there are five region cards revealed, the last turn will begin. For each region card revealed, you place more Qoam’s on the indicated regions for the players to collect, if there is a parasite token under the card, you also place one parasite on the region. If there are four parasites, all machines will be destroyed and put back in the game box. If a Colossus card is revealed, he can add more parasites, be on the move or wound the players, if your seeker is about to get wounded, you can discard a curio card to prevent it. If you have resolved all the event cards, your turn begins.
The players take turns and will first have to decide if he/she moves or makes a camp. If you don’t want to move from your node, you have to set up camp and pay blue Qoam for it. Then you do a standard action. You can extract and collect one Qoam and the bonuses for all the active machines in the regions adjacent to your seeker. Qoam is the payment you use for multiple actions in Icaion. For different actions, you will neem different colors of Qoam. You can deploy a machine to a region that doesn’t have your color or that kind of machine yet. You immediately gain the upgrade under the machine under your player board, like extra strength or extra storage for example. You can pay a grey Qoam to eradicate parasites in the regions adjacent to your seeker, or you can investigate the Colossus if your seeker is located on the edge of crater where the Colossus currently is. To do this you can take one random primal shard and see it’s value. If you pay the same amount of pink Qoam as the value on the primal shard, you can claim the shard which can give you bonuses at the end of the game. You can also retrieve an apparatus. If your seeker is located in the city, you can choose one and place it on the side of your player board. Then on another turn, you can travel to the crater with the same color as the apparatus and choose to install it. Then you can place it at the bottom of you player board. This will score you some immediate reputation points but can give even greater rewards at the end of the game.
As special actions you can play a curio card. This can provide you upgrades or a single effect like move more spaces for example. You can also use your emergency power supply. If you use this, you can choose to take one Qoam of any color, draw one or two curio cards, or work a double shift where you can move/ set up camp again and perform another extra standard action.
If you have the wonders expansion, as a standard action you can also choose to restore a wonder in a region adjacent to your seeker, but only if that region doesn’t hold one of your machines or another wonder. If you perform an extract action next to one of your wonders, you score one reputation point but the wonder can also give you effects such as wound another seeker or move the Colossus to another crater.
After the last turn with the fifth region card, the end of the year begins. Here you counts who has eradicated the most parasites. The player with the most parasites gains nine victory points, the second gains four. Then the parasites go back to the common supply. you also discard all the apparatus tile from the previous year. After this you can start year two or three.
Once you’ve played all three years, the end scoring begins. You score one point for each leftover Qoam on your player board. You add the points based on the number of collected primal shards. You add the points for the installed apparatuses and you can double those point if you link a primal shard to an apparatus. Then, the player with the most reputation points, wins the game.
Playthrough of the game.
We absolutely love this game. The rules are similar to Mysthea which made it easier to understand Icaion. But the game is still so different and again there are so many ways to win this game. Each character and item has it’s own special ability which will change the course to play the game. We had one game for example where one us as had a lot of benefits to fight parasites because of the parasite sword and the other one could benefit a lot from playing curio cards because of his character. Icaion has a lot of replayability because of this and each game will be different.
The event board works in almost the same way as in Mysthea, we love it that you don’t know how many rounds you will have each year and when the Colossus might confront you. But Icaion is still not luck based, you have to plan your strategy to win.
The rulebook was a little more confusing at times. Everything is there, it’s just sometimes not in the place you expect. But once we had played our first year, things became more clear for us. What we didn’t like is that they left out curio cards in the rulebook because we sometimes got confused with the cards we picked up. What would be a good addition to the game is a big reference sheet of all the curio cards just like they did in Mysthea. But overall Icaion is a complex heavy strategy game with great rewards if you learn how to play it properly. What we think is different with Icaion then most games is that there are so many actions you can choose to do, but you have limited turns to make those action. We found that you really have to think an plan properly what you want to do, because there are so many different actions that there is no way you can make them all in each year.
To sum it all up. Icaion is an amazing game with high quality components, miniatures and great art. It’s more complicated, but once you have played this game a couple of times, you can plan out the best strategy and gameplay because of a good written rulebook. It brings a lot of diversity and interaction with other players and because of all the colors this board game brings a lot of joy to your table.