Updated: Apr 15, 2019
The Artemis Project
A couple of weekends ago, I attended my fourth Breakout convention, and it was an amazing weekend! I played a lot of new games and caught up with many old friends. I don’t make a lot of plans at conventions, as I find it’s easier to bump into people and sit down for a game instead of scheduling. However, the one exception I made at Breakout was to play The Artemis Project.
The game immediately caught my eye as I’m a fan of dice-placement games.
I saw a pre-production copy at GenCon 2018 and we played a quick sample round at the booth. The game immediately caught my eye as I’m a fan of dice-placement games, and I wanted to play more. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts at GenCon I wasn’t able to sit down for a proper game. However, one of the co-designers, Daniel Rocchi is from Toronto, and I knew that another opportunity would come soon. Daniel was kind enough to sit down with our group on Sunday to teach us The Artemis Project and play a full game.
The premise of the game is that we are the head of a team of Stabilizers, competing to build the most successful colony during the course of the game. We will be harvesting resources, constructing buildings, and recruiting colonists to staff the colony and lead expeditions. At the end of the game, each colony will be evaluated based on how well they achieved each of the above tasks.
As Daniel began setting up the game, I got a chance to look over the beautiful board illustrated by Dominik Mayer. I remember seeing some of the artwork during the Kickstarter campaign, and it looked just as fantastic in-person.
I appreciate the extra effort from the publisher to keep components sorted during gameplay so that knocking the table won’t cause components to mix together.
Another component that quickly caught my eye was the indented player boards. I appreciate the extra effort from the publisher to keep components sorted during gameplay so that knocking the table won’t cause components to mix together. During setup, I also took the opportunity to examine the other components as well. The energy, mineral, and toolkit tokens both look and feel great, and I like the thick cardstock on the building tiles as well. At first, I thought the colonist markers were a little small, but they would hide too much of the artwork if they were any bigger and I never had any issues grabbing them during the game.
At the beginning of each round, a number of resources (energy, minerals, colonists) and buildings are placed on the board. New expeditions are also made available to all of the players. Lastly, an event card is revealed each round which will affect gameplay. The card will indicate its effect, as well as when the card triggers. During the course of each round, players will take turns placing one of their dice on the board. Players will also be able to spend toolkits (green resource) while placing dice to alter their value. Each toolkit spent can increase or decrease the die value by one. Once all of the dice have been placed, everything is resolved starting from region 1, working its way around the board to region 6.
From the Box The Artemis Project 1–5 Players, ages 13+
Playing Time: 60 - 75 minutes
Designers: Daryl Chow and Daniel Rocchi
Artists: Josh Cappel and Dominik Mayer
Published by: Grand Gamers Guild
Region 1 is the basecamp where the colony will attempt to complete expeditions. Players can choose to place their die on any of the available expeditions. In addition, players can also send colonists in their shelter alongside their die. Each type of colonist will provide a different effect during the expedition.
During the dice resolution phase, if the combined total of all the player dice exceeds the expedition difficulty on the top right of the card, the expedition is successful. The player with the highest combined value of their own dice gains an expedition badge, and chooses one of the two rewards on the bottom of the card. The player with the second highest combined value also gains an expedition badge, and receives the remaining reward on the card.
Region 2 and 3 are the Vents and Quarry. Both function the same way, but provide different resources; the Vents provide energy to gain colonists, while the Quarry provides minerals to acquire buildings. When placing dice in these regions, the die will be placed to the right of all existing dice that are equal to or lower than your die value, referred to in the game as the exposure mechanism. This will result in a queue of dice ordered from smallest to largest, and dice with the same values will be queued in the order they were played from left to right. When resolving the dice in these regions, resolve the dice from left to right, with the die owner taking resources from the pool equal to the die’s value. If there aren’t enough resources left on the board, the player only receives what’s available. Any remaining dice won’t receive anything at all.
Region 4 is the Gantry, where players will bid to construct building tiles. When placing a die in this region, place the die on top of the building you would like to build. The die’s value has to be greater than all existing dice currently placed on the building. The die’s face value represents the amount of minerals it will cost you to construct it. During the resolution phase, the buildings with dice on it are resolved separately. For each resolving building, the player with the highest-value single die has the option to spend that much in minerals to purchase and construct that building. If they choose not to, the option goes to the player with the next highest value, and so on. When gaining a new building, you may immediately move any colonists in your shelter onto that building, following the type restrictions that the buildings have. During the first 3 rounds, Ocean tiles are revealed. These tiles will generally grant you resources or abilities when fully-staffed. In the last 3 rounds, Surface tiles are revealed. These tiles will all score victory points if fully-staffed.
Region 5 is the doorstep, where players will recruit new colonists to their colony. Dice placement in this region will follow the exposure mechanism outlined in the Vents and Quarry. When resolving each die, the face value will dictate the number of colonists the player can recruit, but each colonist will cost 2 energy. Similar to the Vents and Quarry, if there aren’t enough resources left on the board, the player only receives what’s available, and any remaining dice won’t receive anything.
Region 6 is the Academy, where players can train their colonists and upgrade them. This is the only location which has limited spaces to place your die. When placing a die, also place the colonist you intend to upgrade. During the resolution phase, discard your colonist and gain a new colonist from the academy supply based on the die value.
In addition to the six regions, there is an additional location known as the Outfitter. Dice placed in this location are immediately resolved, instead of the resolution phase. When resolving a die in this region, gain the number of toolkits based on the die value.
The relief track allows you to gain the resource on your current spot, or any other resources before it.
If any of your dice are outbid or receive nothing during the resolution phase, move your token up the relief track. The relief track allows you to gain the resource on your current spot, or any other resources before it. The only exception to this rule is if you refuse to construct a building with your die, choosing not to build won’t move you on the relief track.
At the end of each round, there is an upkeep phase. Players will be allowed to perform one free move or swap action. This allows them to move their characters to fully-staff the buildings they require for that round. After the swap, any fully-staffed buildings can trigger their ability. The next step is to pay energy for each colonist remaining in your shelter. You will typically have colonists in the shelter if there was insufficient space in your buildings to house your colonists, or you chose to leave them there for future expeditions. After this phase, the board is reset for the next round, and the player with the fewest resources chooses a new player for the new round.
After 6 rounds, players total their scores to see who has the best colony. Points are awarded based on a number of factors such as remaining resources, fully staffed buildings, buildings constructed, variety of colonists in your colony, expedition badges, and the most toolkits.
The long wait to try this game was definitely worth it! While there are a number of rules to teach before we could start playing, I felt comfortable with the majority of the rules by the end of the second round. The iconography does a fantastic job of illustrating the effects of each region, and we didn’t have too many rules questions for Daniel after the first few rounds. The flow of the game is also very smooth and easy to remember. The resolution phases are numbered and ordered, which helps the player plan out their turn.
I also liked the variance in how each region resolves its dice. The exposure mechanic was well-implemented, and I really enjoyed the push-your-luck aspect in regards to the higher values. A 6-value die will get you a lot of resources, but only if there are enough left over for you. However, I’m happy that constructing buildings and leading expeditions took a different approach in dice resolution. It allows any given die value to be strong in at least a few regions.
Deciding where to place your die each turn is the meat of the game, and I enjoyed the puzzle of determining my best move. As placed dice are open information, you have to carefully plan where you want to place your dice. Keeping track of expedition values and remaining resources are very important, as you don’t want to waste your turn. The relief track is also helpful in mitigating some of the effects of wasted dice, and could become a strong strategy later in the game with the victory point bonus.
Deciding where to place your die each turn is the meat of the game, and I enjoyed the puzzle of determining my best move. As placed dice are open information, you have to carefully plan where you want to place your dice.
One rule I had mixed feelings about was deciding the first player in the next round. The player with the least amount of resources chooses the first player, and in most cases would choose the player to their left. This allows themselves to take the last turn, placing their die with perfect information and without worry of interference by the others. I couldn’t tell if this was a catch-up mechanic for the person who was behind, or a reward for the player most efficiently spending their resources. Despite everyone choosing to go last when given the option, I can definitely see situations where the player may want to go first: placing a 6-value die on a building would guarantee they construct it, albeit at a high cost. I’ll definitely need to play the game a few more times to gain a better understanding of this mechanic.
One aspect of the game that was underutilized by the players was sending colonists during expeditions. Most of us immediately placed our shelter colonists onto buildings when we constructed them, as we were afraid of paying the energy penalty at the end of the turn. I was preoccupied with filling my buildings and forgot about this mechanic until the end of the game. I’ll definitely take advantage of this in future games to test its effect.
Our playgroup had a lot of fun with The Artemis Project and we really appreciated that Daniel took the time to teach us. I felt the majority of my dice placements were very important, but mistakes weren’t heavily punished due to the relief track. The iconography makes the game very straightforward and there aren’t many edge-cases that require consulting the rulebook. The majority of our late-game questions were directed at building abilities, as they were usually new and unique.
I would say the Artemis Project is more accessible than both The Castles of Burgundy and The Voyages of Marco Polo, two other dice-placement games that I enjoy.
The game is very accessible and I would feel comfortable teaching it after the first playthrough. Personally, I would say the Artemis Project is more accessible than both The Castles of Burgundy and The Voyages of Marco Polo, two other dice-placement games that I enjoy. Most of the iconography doesn’t require an external reference, making it easier for new players to understand the game. Within my playgroup, there is always a new player whenever we play a game, so this would definitely be a good fit for us. I’m looking forward to my next playthrough when the game releases.
About Our Guest Contributor Michael Chang
Michael is a board game enthusiast with his own Youtube channel, Shelf Space. The channel focuses on Game & Accessory reviews, alongside interviews with designers.
Outside of filming, Michael is involved within the gaming community through playtesting and hosting events. He enjoys playing games in development and helping designers refine their games. Michael will also periodically host demo events at Board Game Bliss, showing off new releases and promoting games from a variety of companies.
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