Thursday, January 12, 2023

Hadrian's Wall

My 18th favorite game of all time is, Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall is a member of the genre of games known as "roll-and-writes" or "flip-and-writes." (Roll some dice and write something down, or flip a card and write something down.) Each round a card is flipped up and players are granted some resources as displayed on the card. On your turn, you spend your resources. That's pretty much the game.

It sounds simple, but it's really a very full experience. Your resources are represented by wooden game pieces that you collect and exchange and spend on your turn, making Hadrian's Wall a much more tactile experience than most x-and-writes. You have little people (meeples) of different colors representing different kinds of skilled human resources you can employ, and blocks of stone that represent all manner of building materials and general wealth.

As you expend resources you mark off tracks on one of two sheets representing all the things you can do in the game. These sheets are where Hadrian's Wall shines. They provide every player with a myriad of options and opportunities. The choices are many, and winning or losing is down to who makes the best choices when. Thematically, you are employing workers to build Hadrian's Wall, training soldiers to guard the wall and supporting your community to provide the infrastructure for all this to happen.

You can invest in business to maintain your economy, theater and entertainment to keep your people happy and religion to provide for the spiritual needs of your people. There are aristocrats to bribe and scouts to send on diplomatic missions. All of this is to maintain the safety and prosperity of your community (or in game terms, earn victory points.) At the end of the day however, it's all about the wall. At the end of each round there is an attack and your wall needs to be built up to withstand it. (Don't worry, you can't die, just lose some victory points.)

Hadrian's Wall has one of the richest game play experiences of any board game, with the minimal overhead, setup, and tear down of a roll-and-write game. This makes Hadrian's Wall the 18th greatest board game of all time!

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