EXCERPTS FROM THE SPRING 2001 GA REPORT
FROM “K-BAN’S KORNER”:
MORISI (Cwali, about $30)
In 1999, Dutch designer Corne’ van Moorsel home-produced a delightful 2-player abstract game called Isi. It was packaged in a cylindrical cardboard tube and sold as a limited numbered edition of 200 at the Essen Fair. Positive buzz on Isi spread quickly over the Internet (thanks to Mik Svellov’s Brett & Board web-site) with many requests for the game to be expanded into a multi-player game. Thus van Moorsel created Morisi, which shares the same core mechanism as its predecessor but adds several key elements that allow it to scale beautifully for 3 and 4 players.
Morisi’s components have a professional appearance, as the 39 tiles that form the board are very nicely produced cardboard hexes with colorful landscapes. There are 9 gray city tiles and 30 land tiles ( 6 each of 5 different colors). The colored hexes represent farmland, pastures, forests, fisheries and vineyards – but that is the extent of the rather thin attempt to add theme to an abstract game.
The 39 hexes are arranged printed side down to form the land of Morisi. Each hex must touch 3 or more other tiles, with the entire landmass having a maximum surface area of 22 tiles. Tiles are then turned over, with minor adjustments made to keep city tiles from being adjacent to each other. The author highly recommends leaving 2 or 3 gaps in the layout, creating a more challenging set-up and we heartily agree.
Each colored land tiles receives either 1 or 3 wooden resource cubes of matching color. The cubes represent the experience a player has received for visiting that land tile. Morisi scales well from 2-4 players as fewer tiles and/or cubes are used for the 2 and 3 player versions.
Each player is given a cylindrical wooden pawn and 20 roads (wooden sticks) in their color along with a supply of markers that are used to count connections by each player among the gray city hexes.
On a turn, a player MUST move his pawn one space in any direction but can’t land on a tile occupied by an opponent. Opponents’ pawns can, however, be jumped if in a straight line. Landing on a colored land tile is rewarded, with the player receiving a colored cube of matching color (if available). Cubes get placed behind a cardboard privacy screen. Players can then, optionally, spend some or all of their cubes to construct connecting roads from the center of one hex to at least one other hex.
All roads constructed on a given turn must either link two cities or branch off a previously constructed road to a city and must match the color of at least one of the land hexes. As a result, players tend to accumulate cubes for future builds, staking out key routes that make branching for future moves easier. Scoring markers are paced on the cities connected, some receiving an initial one and others being upgraded to indicate multiple connections. A player cannot build a road segment unless it creates one or more connections. If an opponent has already taken a route you desire, you must pay the bank an additional cube to build a parallel route.
Play continues until the last cube of one color has been taken. Scoring commences, with each player earning 4 points for each city he has connected with his network of roads. Bonuses are earned for having scoring markers on any of the 3 largest cities (largest being defined as having the most value of markers for all players combined) on the board.
Morisi plays quickly, usually in 30-60 minutes. The pawn movement and resulting collection of colored cubes is surprisingly pleasing. Planning an efficient network of roads that connect cities and staking out fertile areas of the board for your pawn to gain ‘experience’ efficiently are crucial to securing victory.
If you place too much emphasis on earning the bonuses for largest cities, you’ll likely lose sight of where most of your points come from – connecting as many cities as possible. Connections accomplished via branching are the most cost effective way to conserve your cubes, especially when the board starts becoming congested.
Morisi’s reasonable playing time (for a multi-player abstract) and the pleasant nature of collecting and spending resource cubes ensure that it will get pulled off our game shelf for frequent play. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Steve Kurzban
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Spring 2001 GA Report Articles SAMPLES