“I have played the game 12 times with a variety of different players and the game always seems get a warm reception.”
Publisher: Weird City Games
Designer: Tim Eisner
Artist: Tim Eisner, Ryan Swisher, Peter Wocken
Game Type: Strategy; Area Control; Modular Board; Take That; Player Variable Powers
Initial Year of Release: 2015
Age Range: 13+
Expected Playtime: 70+ minutes
Number of Players: 1-5
Theme and What is it?
Ants live and scavenge anywhere and everywhere. I took pictures of these ant colonies living in the cracks of my back porch.
The ants are exploring the meadow to build their empires within this 4X styled board game. Your ants begin in a semi cooperative environment with the other colonies. Hunger for food supplies, an imperialistic drive to capture larva spawn points, and gaining powerful event cards will allow us to evolve into a powerful tribe.
All of these pursuits happen within the battleground of the meadow, which is made up of hexagonal tiles that are creating this interlinking colony. Here you will do battles with other players’ ants and also with the horrifying centipedes.
The Worker Phase is where the primary actions are taken.
Players will be taking turns choosing Actions from their Hive (player board) and paying for these actions via food or larva/ants.
These actions are:
- Explore: taking a new Hex and adding it to the Meadow and moving your own ants into it.
- March: you can move your larva from the Hive (player board) into the meadow or move ants that are already on the player board.
- Forage: you may draw two new event cards.
- Play a Card: cards cost larva or ants to play, and give either instant 1x benefits, or ant evolutions that help augment actions like March or even fighting, or they can give your colony ongoing goals.
- Rest: takes you out of the round, but it does give you turn based perks of larva and food.
Each of the main actions come with a Reactionary Action for the rest of the players to take. For instance, if a player takes the Explore Action then the other players may place one of their larva onto any hex that they have an ant.
After the Actions have all been exhausted and 2 players have passed, then play proceeds to the Soldier Phase. Fights will only take place if either players have over filled a Hex (taken all the collection sites and also placed additional ants) or there is a Centipede within the Hex.
It comes down to a simple matter of counting up how much power (ants) are present and both players are allowed to play one of their action cards to augment their power and the Head evolution also provides an additional power boost. After all of the calculations, the one with the largest power in Hex wins and Victory Points are Rewarded. If you fight and beat a Centipede, not only do you get Victory Points; but you also get Food, because to the victor goes the spoils of war.
After all the Fights have occurred, the Queen Phase happens.
Collect all of your resources. Feed all of your Ants. Every four ants require one food and if you do not have enough food, they will eat your larva on a 1:1 basis. After all of this happens, you may now choose a Royal Decree to either gain two food or five larva to your colony to help set yourself up for the next season.
The last step to the round is Slumber where players will now collect Victory Points for control of Hexes that touch the main Meadow Hex and also any ongoing Colony Goals. Play will continue until all of the Seasons have passed and then conclude with the final scoring.
I was very excited to see how this game was going to compare to larger 4x games. This theme is normally reserved for large space odysseys like Twilight Imperium, and I was skeptical that March of the Ants would capture the vastness of this style of game.
The game, however, was a success in my mind. The abilities to evolve the Ant Colony over the course of the Game felt great along with the Battle sequences. I do think that the normal length of the game is a bit “short” and I recommend playing on the longest length to get that extra toothiness. The exploration of the Meadow along with the collection of resources and battles made the game feel like the larger space game within a scaled version. I have played the game 12 times with a variety of different players and the game always seems get a warm reception.
Game Build Quality
The cards and hexes are all linen finished in the edition that I have, and have a good weight. Cards feel like a good strong stock providing a solid shuffle. The player pieces are all wooden cubes that have retained their bright color. The insert is passable, but nothing to brag about.
The art matches the theme, and does not feel out of place. There has not been a single player complaint about the art or graphical direction of the Game, but their hasn’t been any praise for the art either. It is suitable for the game and gets the job done. Most notable artwork is the Ant Evolution Cards which do look nice.
The game has a steady ramp. The beginning is all about scaling and trying to build uneasy alliances – playing the social game as well as the actual game. The middle of the game has the crumbling of society as battles begin to break out and tension mounts. The end of the game will see an assortment of players playing varied roles. If you are a standard non confrontational player, there is a way to play within that framework as well.
Age Range & Weight
It is a mid-range game that provides a few choices, however there can be “wrong” choices, which can create some analysis paralysis. In my opinion, the game can be played with 10 year olds and up.
Being one of Tim Eisner’s first games (designer of Grimm Forest – Tidal Blades) it is worth taking a look at just for that reason alone. March of the Ants is a fun and engaging exploration through the Meadow, if you can survive the onslaught of other ants, ferocious centipedes, and impending starvation.