I was introduced to Artemis Project by Grand Gamers Guild at Gen Con 2019. It was Saturday of the convention and my wife was taking me from booth to booth checking out those last vendors that had something we really wanted to see. I don’t know where she heard of Artemis Project, but she knew I liked games that used dice as workers in a worker placement role. Walking up to the booth, we spoke with the designer and within moments I was sold. I needed to have a copy of this game!
- Players: 1-5
- Playtime (with Setup): we find it around 90-150 minutes
- Publisher: Grand Gamers Guild
- Designer: Daryl Chow and Daniel Rocchi
The Mission Briefing – Europa (Theme and Immersion)
Humanity has mastered space travel to Jupiter. On the moon of Europa valuable minerals and resources have been discovered. Humanity has decided to establish a colony in Europa and harvest those resources. As a player, you take on the role of a corporation or faction that has a role in the construction of the colony. Of course, you want your contributions to give you the greatest control through your contributions to the colony.
Overall, the game board art and light narrative text applied to the event and expedition cards gives you a taste of the incredible cold and remote challenges faced by your team. The game rules describe you as the head of a Stabilizers team sent to the colony. All of this just gives you a taste of the theme experience that this game is.
The competitive nature of many of the game areas really is where this game starts to give you some of that immersion. Players jockey with the other players for positions to gather the best resources. This competition for resources that don’t ever seem quite abundant enough, trying to overcome each other to score big on the expeditions, and struggling to acquire the best structures really lets you feel the challenge of establishing a colony on a remote moon might be like.
Delving for Resources (The Game Components)
Artemis Project is a game that minimizes components and focuses on gameplay. This really made the price point for the game very attractive. From an undersized game board, effective player boards, and limited resources that you use in the game there are just a few things to really examine here.
There are only two resources in the game. The energy is represented by opaque yellow cubes. Minerals are represented by blue hexagonal pillars made of wood. These are simple to keep track of and look pretty cool, even if they are pretty generic in what they represent. The other component getting lumped into this conversation should be the toolboxes, which are wooden briefcase-looking pieces. Honestly, these could use a sticker or something to help them stand out.
The game board itself has a good graphical design behind it. The art is attractive, but not overwhelming. Things that need to be called out are brightly colored, and the white lines for worker dice and components are clearly visible against the art. The victory point track is a bit interesting, being centered on the board in a kind of zig-zag between numbers, but even that works.
Where my biggest gripe with this game’s components comes from are the player’s boards and lack of quick reference materials. The player boards have 6 areas for storing different components. On the top of the board, you will place the dice for the round, below that are spaces for the resources, and on the right side of the board is a spot called your shelter.
The shelter is supposed to be your campsite on the surface of the moon where you place colonists that you acquire that can’t immediately be placed in a building. This area of the board has some references to how you can use the colonists, but it’s not very obvious. Honestly, the player boards do not serve any real in-game need other than organizing the player area. What is really needed is an aid that tells players what all of the buildings do, turn sequence, and end-game scoring conditions!
Overcoming the Elements (Gameplay)
My favorite part of the Artemis Project is the gameplay! The game uses one of my favorite mechanisms and that is to use dice as your workers. The way this is engineered into the game though is unique, interesting, and introduces a good amount of player interaction and competition!
The game lasts over 6 rounds and you have a narrative event that happens. There are plenty of events included in the game which will definitely change up the gameplay. Then players will roll the 5 dice of their color and take them in turn order placing dice on the board. Once all of the dice are placed in this planning phase the players then move into a sort of resolution phase where the dice will be resolved based on location order.
The goal of the game is to score the most points. While most of the points will come during end-of-the-game scoring, it’s worth paying attention during the game for those spots where you can pick up a few points.
Dice Placement and Resolution
The interesting trick though is how the dice, and the number of pips, factor into different actions. The resource gather spots for energy, minerals, and colonists all work by resolving the lowest pip dice and then moving up. What this sets up is let’s say player 1 places a 5 on the Quarry location to collect minerals. Normally during resolution, that player would gain 5 mineral tokens from that location. However, Player 2 places a 4 at that location next. Their 4 would be placed in front of Player 1’s 5 pip dice and would resolve first when collecting resources. Oh no, there were only 7 minerals at the location. Player 2 collects 4 leaving Player 1 only 3 to collect.
If there aren’t resources there when your dice resolve, then you receive nothing from that area. Those that are in that position will get to move up the relief track and receive one of the rewards equal to that position or further behind. At least the player receives something, but it may not have been what they needed.
Artemis Project is one of those games that I had never done research on, hadn’t heard of, but on the word of my wife and a little convincing from the designer I decided to buy it. From there, this game has blown me away every chance it gets. The gameplay is a bit aggressive, interactive, and engaging which makes it not for everyone.
At WiscoDice, we rank games on a 1-10 scale, where 1 is being eaten by an aquatic frozen sea monster on Europa and a 10 is establishing a profitable, thriving colony that is responsible for the next major exploration by mankind of the outer planets. I rank this game as an 8. It’s very fun to play, doesn’t bloat the table too much with unnecessary things, and every play will be different for great replayability. Components could be a little better, especially the player boards.
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