So today I’m going to take a quick break from my look back at 2016 to do a review of a game that is currently on Kickstarter, called Iris. I’m a big fan of cooperative games. I love working together with your friends to beat a game. Iris is a cooperative game in microgame package. Let’s take a look.
Designer: Dustin Vance
Play Time: 20 minutes
Player Count: 1-4 players
Iris is a cooperative microgame published by Captive Publishing. In Iris, you play as a group of humans trying to manage human population settlements and clone work forces. The goal of the game is to keep as much of the population alive as possible. At the beginning of the game, you place out the 4 planet cards on the table. You then shuffle the clone deck, discard two cards without looking at them, and then place one clone card above each planet. The remaining clone cards are dealt out to each player and kept with the clone data side down. The clones are, in fact, evil and trying to kill off the humans at each planet. On the back of each clone card is the clone data, which is one of the letters A, B, M, or O.
Examples of the clone data cards.
On your turn, you can take the standard turn, which is to scan a clone (look at the ‘data’ or back of the card), place a clone above a planet, and then place a population token. You can also take an alternate turn, which are listed on the front of the clone cards. Over the course of the game, you are trying to place the clones in such a way that the words, Bomb, Mob, and Ammo aren’t spelled out using the planet cards and the clones at each location. If those words are spelled out, the human population at that location will decrease. In the easy game, you are trying to achieve the human survival goal of 7 tokens, while the standard game has a goal of 9 tokens.
Things I like:
- The puzzle. This game is puzzley. There’s a memory component as you try to remember what cards you’ve placed at which location. It can get really difficult as you try to remember letter patterns at the different locations combined with the cards that you’ve moved around. It can get even more difficult as you start using the alternative actions to look at cards in your hand as well.
- Play time. This game doesn’t take long to play. The packaging says 20 minutes and I think that may even be a little on the high end. You can whip out a game, check to see how humanity fared, and then shuffle up to play again. It plays really quickly.
- The Location Art. The copy that I’ve played with has prototype components. The art is decent as it is, but having seen the final art on the Kickstarter page, I really like the new location art. It adds some nice color and pop to the game.
The Location Cards without the new artwork.
Things I don’t like:
- Theme. This one is tough for a microgame. Generally speaking, it’s tough to have a hugely thematic experience in a package this small. That happens here as well. It doesn’t really feel like you’re trying to save human populations from an evil clone workforce. It mostly feels like you’re trying to solve a memory puzzle.
- Difficulty. This may sound like a strange one, but I’ve found that in the plays I’ve gone through with this game, I’ve been a little more successful than I would like. I like when a cooperative game is a little more difficult and smacks me around a little bit more. The more we played this, we consistently tried to complete the standard puzzle, trying to keep even more than 9 tokens on the board.
- Foot print. For being a microgame, this one takes up a lot of space on the table. This is a minor point, but make sure you have some space to play.
Final play space at the end of a game.
Overall, this is a decent little game. I wouldn’t say it’s anything earth shattering, but I don’t think you’re going to find that in many micro games. I think for this one, it’s just not my style of game. It’s got some nice puzzley aspects and it plays pretty well solo too. If you’re looking for a quick little cooperative microgame, this might be one to check out.
GLG Rating: 5.5/10