Game Review: Ancestree

Family trees are a great way to take a look back at everyone that has come and gone in your lineage. Taking time to reflect on the archival records of your particular line of family members can show you all of the greats that existed and remind you of how amazing your family history is. But your rivals all think their family is the best and it is time to prove them wrong-uncover records of some of the dynasties and marriages that exist in the record and keep playing until you can gain the all-important bragging rights of being the best of the bunch!

Contents:

Ancestree is designed by Eric Lang with Illustrations from Larry Elmore and Adelheid Zimmerman. It is produced by Calliope Games with an average play duration of 20 minutes for 2-6 players. The game contents include:

-110 Ancestor Tiles

-6 scoreboards

-96 Dynasty Tokens

-110 Gold Tokens

 

Gameplay:

Each player is given a scoreboard to start. Shuffle all of the tiles face down into a large pile that all players can reach. Each player will need a large amount of space to build their family tree.

The individual Ancestor tiles are important to note as their features are what drives the game Each has 4 specific features to them: Heritage, Leaves, Hearts and Coins.

Heritage is the icon on each of the tiles that represents one of the 5 great lineages in the game: Gold Eagle, Blue Camel, Purple Elephant, Grey Lion and Red Dragon.

Half Leaves connect up with the other half of leaves to represent parents and forebears, or in a down direction to link to descendants.

Half Hearts link up with other Half Hearts to represent marriages that may have happened in the course of the Ancestor’s life. Two connected hearts represent a marriage in that family.

Coins are the wealth amount that the Ancestor has contributed to the family.

The game is played over three rounds. At the beginning of each round, all players will randomly draw six Ancestor tiles for their starting hand. Your turn and everyone else’s turn happens simultaneously, where you will pick a tile from your hand and pass the rest of the hand to the left or right depending on the round. You will use your chosen tile to build onto your family tree. Each tile must build off of one of the tiles in your tree by either connecting through a Heart or Leaf. Placed tiles may not be moved, and if you don’t have a way to match the Ancestor tile to the tree it is discarded from the game.

When lining up Heart and Leaf tiles, they may be placed to any other tiles as long as they match up correctly. There is no restriction to Heritage, all Ancestors may marry or be parents/children of any Heritage. Playing a tile must only have one connection to start, beyond the first it doesn’t matter if they don’t match up to other tiles.

 

Impressions:

What could be better:

Length: I would love to see this go a few more rounds. I think even one more round would be great, the chance to score a few more points to see how far out you can really get your family tree to branch and score points.

Art variety: The art on these Ancestor tiles are excellent but I would love to see how a few more variety profiles would look in this set. I felt like my board got a bit repetitive at times but ultimately this is a small detail and the overall art is superb.

What I liked:

Gameplay: This game is smooth. The way the tiles play it was rare that there wasn’t something that would work on the board. The matching and set collection really puts a lot of focus on how you can best construct this genealogy to look good and score well at the same time.

Scoring: I love the way this game ramps up as you go. Whether you have 2 or 6 players or any combination inbetween you can startegize to the right and left of you or just right across from you and build up your family based on their plays along with the best piece in your hand.

Overall Ancestree is a great addition to the series of creator focused games that Calliope has been putting out. This is another in a line of solid, easy-to-learn strategy games that can be played by a variety of skill levels and ages. Ancestree’s tile drafting and placement brings a construction aspect that really focuses in on proper choice of your tile and best build placement as the levels advance. I love it when a drafting game like this adds just enough to avoid a solitaire experience and Ancestree does that as you need to be aware at all times of what the players around you are doing. Ancestree is a solid, quick playing strategy game with a theme that can’t be beat-so gather up your friends and see who comes out on top with the best lineage of them all!

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