Gemstones into Gemstones?

26 Jun

Box Cover

Scepter of Zavandor Review – 110624

Just been introduced to this game, and for my first play in 3 players game, i like it. But definitely not for newbie, since it really need quite understanding upon the mechanics and all the possibilities. Published by Z-Man Games and designed by Jens Drögemüller

The Scepter of Zavandor is about magic and power. Players represent young magicians who have gained possession of old magic knowledge, and with it they attempt to achieve the powerful position of archmage, symbolized by the Scepter of Zavandor.

To increase their power and influence, the young magicians enchant jewels and seek out knowledge. An auction mechanism also allows them to acquire artifacts and sentinels. Victory points are earned through active gems, artifacts, sentinels, and knowledge.

Here is the overview of the game:

1. The Theme
Well, since it’s euro game, there’s not much to talk about the theme. But even it’s paste on, theme is quite different and fresh from other games. Players take the role of magician apprentices that have the goal to achieve the highest VP when the game ends. Each player has variable player powers. the only odd thing is, the apprentices turns a specific gemstones into that same kind gemstones! What? Well i know they’re still an apprentice, but seriously? Even i myself doesn’t need to be them to be able to convert a ruby into ruby! But, carry on, it still interesting (ignoring the odd).

2. The Artworks
Beautiful. Yes, the artworks looked fresh and clear to be seen. But the illustrations of the characters seemed immature (well they’re apprentices anyway) and not good lookings. And there are some texts that really hard to be read because the annoying background (darker color that interfere the black text readibility).

Player Sheet example

3. The Game Components


Actually the game components are quite good, even though there were some minor drawbacks such as the gems cards (which the front side are black and white), the gem tokens VP info are in the other side, and the 2 version languages (really cramped the space with texts). The main board is just for the spell books and each player has his / her own player sheet. The gemstones’ denomination comes in tokens and cards for easy handling for the incomes. The sentinel tiles has different size from the others (square tiles).

4. The Game Play
Okay, the game take bidding / auction mechanic, variable player powers, resource management mechanic.
Each player randomly choose a character and take his / her starting statistic (from starting hand limit, spell book, starting gemstones and capital).
Now set the starting players by randomly choose the player order tiles.
Now the goal of the game is to collect as many gemstones you can hold each turn and turn it into VP every turn (by doing actions). Each turn consist of 4 phases (determine turn order, income phase, action phase, count the VP’s). Every player can take actions as many as they want if he / her is able to.
So what actions are available to each player? They are listed below

  • Put your skill token (or whatever it’s named) to one of the spell books (this can only be done once per turn by each player.
  • Buy or sell any kind of gemstones.
  • Allocate active gemstones.
  • Buy your skill token.
  • Bid the artifact cards and sentinel tiles.

Game in Progress

Each gemstones you posses, generate some amount of gemstones (this is the weird thing) that you can use or keep (when you decide to keep it, only the same amount of your hand limit, the excesses were removed back to the supply at the end of the turn). Opal stones gives you opal tiles, based on the number of opal you have. The ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond has cards, that randomize the amount that generates the gemstones.
Spell book gives you knowledge, there is 6 knowledge trees that can be developed (each knowledge tree has 5 levels). when you gain the last / top level you instantly receive 2 VP’s. This knowledge gives you benefits and also detriments. Usually it affects your hand limit. The game ends when the fifth sentinel are bought.

5. The Replay Value
It’s quite good and after my first game, i want to play this again. The variable player powers gives you variants, and the random gemstone cards and artifacts put luck into replay value. And no dice, so no curses if your hand sucks to roll.

My Thought of The Game
Well, you can say i love this game, i even think about own it myself. A great game to pass the time with thinking. This game also indirectly put your math lessons in elementary school to test. The need of adds and substractions in inevitable. The downside of the game is, there’s no change of quarters in this game, so quite a hard decision to let go that useless dimes for donation.

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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Board Games, Euro Games, Reviews


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