Favelas – Wizkids – Review


Favelas is an easy to learn and quick to play game. Mix that with the bright colors and the stacking mechanic and it looks like we have a great gateway game on our hands!

Publisher: WizKids

Designer: Chris Bryan

Artist: Brigette Indelicato, Kwanchai Moriya

Game Type: Tile Laying

Initial Year of Release: 2017

Age Range: 14+

Expected Playtime: 30-45

Number of Players: 2-4

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Theme and What is it?

In the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are colorful, multi-level neighborhoods know as favelas. The council of the city has decided it is time to invest in these iconic neighborhoods. They have invited you, a modern developer, to bring your skills to the city and help revitalize the favelas. The only problem is that the counsel can’t make up its mind, and the funding can change from day to day, making it hard to know what color will be of most value. You must pay attention to the ever-changing market value and try to position yourself to have the most success.

Favels is a tile placement game for 2-4 players.

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Gameplay Mechanics

Each player starts out with a game board that represents an area of the city that must be remodeled. Tiles are placed on top of this board and cannot hang off the edges. The way to build is up! There are five color options and at the start of each round (which is called a year in the game) a matching color dice is rolled to give the starting value for each color. There are two types of tiles. Dual tiles have two houses on them and a single tile has one house on it. On a player’s turn they can select one of three options: the face up dual tile (there are always three of these in play), a face down dual tile, or a face down single tile. They then add this tile to their player boards. Remember, tiles must be placed on top of the player board, or tiles already on the player board, and cannot hang off. Also, tiles must stack on the same level, they cannot be slanted between two tiles of different height. 

The round continues until an “end of year” tile is drawn. Then scoring for the round takes place based on the current values of the dice. The values change as players add tiles to their boards. When a player lays a tile that matches the color underneath (one blue building is laid on top of an already played blue building) then that player must move the dice of the matching color either up one point in value or down one point in value. That is how the values for each color change throughout the round.

Three rounds are played and at the end of round three scores are totaled. The player with the highest score wins!

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Initial Impressions

Favelas is a visually striking game. It is vibrant and feels full of life. My daughter and I set up the first game and we had fun checking out all the pieces and seeing all the colors. It was very easy to learn the rules and to get our first game up and running. We played a three-player game. After a couple of turns, everyone understood what was going on, although we all took the dice value changes for granted the first round. That really came back to bite a few of us as we scored well below one player. 

It was also a bit of a challenge to fit new tiles onto the player boards. But again, once everyone understood what they were doing, the speed of the game really picked up. That is another thing about Favelas, it plays very fast. We made it through our first game and all thought it went by very quickly.

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Game Build Quality

Favelas is built to last. There is lots of cardboard involved in this game. All of the cardboard is very thick and should hold for a long time. The tiles are very thick. This may be intentional since you are layering pieces. The thicker tiles make your favelas stack taller.

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Artistic Direction

Favelas looks wonderful. It is full of color and life. The artists did a wonderful job capturing the feel of a Rio de Janeiro favelas and making it accessible in a game. Having all the bright, lively colors in front of you helps brighten your mood and makes the game feel relaxing and therapeutic, while still being very competitive. 

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Fun Factor

There are some great elements in Favelas that contribute to it being a fun experience. The vivid colors and stacking tiles to watch your neighborhood grow are my two favorites. 

There is some interesting strategy involved with changing the value of the dice during the rounds. There are opportunities to have some fantastic “gotcha” moments when you completely devalue a color that another player is banking on.

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Age Range & Weight

Favelas is recommended for 14+. My ten-year-old daughter loved this game. She ended up winning our first couple of plays. If a younger player has some experience with area control, it might help with Favelas. I think the most challenging aspect is getting the tiles to fit within the player board. 

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Favelas is an easy to learn and quick to play game. Mix that with the bright colors and the stacking mechanic and it looks like we have a great gateway game on our hands!  

We have played Favelas a few times now and have been finding new strategies. The subtle, yet always entertaining, “gotcha” moments are fulfilling and shouldn’t be missed. 

I can see Favelas working well at social game nights, in family settings and introducing new people to the gaming hobby. It is designed to draw players in and it does that very well.


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