Core Worlds

Reviewed by: Chris Kovac

(Stronghold Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 90 minutes; $44.95)

coreworlds1Core Worlds is a two to five player deck building game by Andrew Parks. I played the second edition by Stronghold games. The theme of the game is that players are space barbarians conquering a dying galactic empire from its fringes to its “core” worlds (hence the title).

To start, you separate the various cards into sets of player cards and various galactic deck cards (six sector decks ranging from 1-5). You also have some sector zero cards which are only used with the optional draft rules and the starting planet cards. Under each sector deck, you place one of the five turn cards in numerical order and place the turn marker on turn one. Next, each player gets a starting deck of a specific color and is randomly dealt one of the five starting worlds which is put face up in front of each player. Each player will also be given a player board (used to keep track of energy and actions) as well as listing the actions a player can take during a turn and the value of the final core worlds which appear on turn nine and ten. A start player is chosen and given the first player destiny marker. Play proceeds clockwise from the start player and, in a three to four player gave, either the last or last two players is given a bonus energy token since there is a disadvantage of going last.

The game lasts ten turns and each turn has six phases which are:

1. The draw phase in which the players draw up to six cards from their draw deck. The maximum number of cards for a turn is shown on the turn track. If your draw deck runs out of cards, shuffle up and put face down your discards to form a new draw deck.

2. The energy phase where each player adds all the energy shown on his worlds and records this on his energy track on his player aid. A player can generate extra energy with the energy surge tactic card, the exploration action of his homeworld which allows you to generate one extra energy if you discard two cards or if you have an extra energy token(s).

3. The galactic phase is when you lay out under the turn track a number of cards from the galactic deck. You draw from the deck which sits above the current turn as shown by the turn marker. You draw cards until you have drawn a number of cards equal to a number shown on a galactic phase chart (varies with number of players). You must draw an equal number of planet and other cards or you keep drawing until this is fulfilled even if it exceeds the number shown on the galactic phase chart. These cards can be drafted or, in the case of planets, conquered using various actions in the action phase.

4. The next phase is the action phase. The turn cards tell you how many actions you have during a turn (cards can give you extra actions). The actions are listed on the left side of the player aide and are:

corewo1a. Draft a card from the cards laid out in the Galactic Phase. You can pick up one card (military units, tactics or victory point cards) for an action and paying the energy draft cost shown on the card. These cards are placed face up in your discard pile and come into play when you “reshuffle” your deck.

b. Deploy unit cards from you hand (one card per action) paying the deploy cost of the cards. These cards are placed face up in front of you and can be used to invade unclaimed planets.

c. Invade a world using an action. By using units you have deployed, you can conquer a planet from the cards laid out in the Galactic phase. Each world has a fleet and ground strength and the player must expend deployed units equal to or stronger than these numbers in order to conquer the planet. Tactic cards can be played from your hand in order to supplement these numbers. If you succeed, you take the planet card and add it to your empire. You can take one of the units you used to conquer the planet and put it underneath the planet to garrison it. (It takes that card out of the deck.)

d. Use an “as an action” ability on a deployed unit card. You have to use an action and may have to pay energy costs as well.

e. You can pass if you no longer have enough actions/energy to perform an action or if you no longer wish to perform actions. You “zero” your turn and energy tracks and perform no more actions this turn.

Once all players have passed, you go to the round end phase.

In the end phase, all cards in the central zone with an energy marker are removed and any cards without an energy marker get one. The round marker is moved one forward and the destiny first player marker is given to the player to the left of the current owner of the destiny marker. A new round then starts.

After ten turns, the game ends and all red empire points shown on cards in your deck are added together along with any bonuses from core worlds you conquered during rounds nine and ten. The person with the highest points wins (with ties broken by the person with most energy).

The strategy in Core Worlds is to balance deploying enough units to conquer the larger, higher victory point, planets (especially the “core worlds” at the end of the game) with conquering smaller worlds (which will give you energy in order to buy stronger units). The rules are fairly well written though I would have liked more illustrated versions of play in order to understand the rules better. I found in playing Core Worlds that you do get a sense of being a galactic conqueror, going from a small time space barbarian to a galactic overlord during the course of the game. Also, playing with the optional pre game draft rules (which allow players to customize their decks slightly before play begins) adds to the enjoyment.

Overall, I found Core Worlds to be a well crafted game for both gamers and non gamers who wish to try a game a bit more advanced.

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

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