There is something ultimately satisfying about mastering the elements and traversing across environmental disasters. Sure, it’s in the form of a board game but the sense of accomplishment is still there. Tremor is exactly all of that–with the added joy of smashing my opponents into the ravaged ground!!
What is Tremor?
Like many post-apocalyptic games before it, Tremor has created its own world with just enough contemporary referencing to make it relatable. Humans are long gone and even though some animals have survived, they too are facing a dire end. Their only hope lies in reaching their habitat and rebuilding the world from the rubble left behind. It is a strategic tile-game with maze-building elements and some organized chaos for good measure.
Tremor is the first game created by Curly Bros Games and is currently live on Kickstarter. The team has already met their goal and are guaranteed to go.
- 25 x Tiles (4 Habitat tiles, 3 Oasis tiles, 1 Earthquake tile, 17 Disaster tiles)
- 1 x Seismic counter
- 1 x Catastrophe/Spirit Board
- 4 x Double Sided Player Aid Sheets
- 4 x 10 Double sided Animal Counters
- 8 x Animal Meeples
- 4 x Double sided Species Cards
- 4 x 20 Tremor tokens for each player
- 52 x Climate Cards
- 12 x Catastrophe Cards
- 2 x Disaster Dice
I borrowed a prototype copy from Curly Bros Games, with some components different to what is promised with the Kickstarter. The quality of the cardstock and the tokens is excellent in the prototype; the noticeable difference is in the artwork. The color and detail in the images are vastly better in the Kickstarter package. The prototype artwork is nice and simple and does the job, however, I think the artwork on offer with the updated pack is MUCH better. It has a stronger post-apocalyptic feel to it, with slightly muted colours and a cleaner finish with the disaster symbolism.
I’m also looking forward to the meeples in the new pack. They are distinctly shaped for each individual animal species. The tokens are standard colored cubes to match the species as well.
How to Play Tremor
The ‘game-board’ is a 5×5 tile layout, with additional cards and token counters on the side. The game can be played with two, three, or four players–the rules will vary slightly depending on how many players you have. You can either play competitively against everyone or with two teams of two players trying to work together. (NB: We played competitively. Of course.)
The aim of the game is to move your animal from one corner of the gameplay area to your habitat at the other side. It’s survival of the fittest and there are plenty of disasters to interfere with your journey.
- To start with, each player chooses a species card. You can pick one (1) animal on the card as your character for the game. Each animal comes with its own unique skill, so choose wisely. The number next to the hourglass in the top right corner shows the order in which you will play.
- The game board is a 5×5 tile grid, with the Earthquake tile in the centre and a Habitat tile in each corner, to match the chosen species. Only the Earthquake tile and the Habitat tiles are face-up; the remaining tiles are face down for the initial “explore” element of the game.
- Each player as a Cheat Sheet / Aid Sheet in front of them, along with the tremor tokens for their color.
- Each player places their species token on the ‘Spirit Board’ in the order of their turn in the gameplay (eg. Goliath Frog is #1).
- Each player receives two Climate Cards. Climate Cards give you bonus actions and added benefits to deploy strategically –eg. Locking your position so other players can’t move you away from your path. The remaining climate cards are placed next to the game board, next to the two sets of Catastrophe Cards.
The gameplay is simple: Explore; Build; Activate. Additional elements can come into play but essentially they work around these three key steps.
To start, players can explore the ‘board’, either by revealing flipped over tiles or by moving across revealed tiles. As you explore, you will find either an Oasis or a Disaster. Finding an Oasis is exactly the refuge it sounds but those Disaster tiles are a whole other situation. Each Disaster tile holds two different environmental disasters; either they can help you reach your destination or hinder your opponents.
Each time you explore a new tile, you have the option to allocate a Tremor Token to one of the ‘disaster powers’. You can build your tokens within one particular power or across many. Place enough tokens on a chosen disaster and you activate a ‘tectonic twist’. This is where the real strategy kicks in.
A ‘Tectonic Twist’ differs from tile to tile. Each disaster has its own effect on a tile; some tiles will move around the board, some tiles will twist and unlock pathways in the maze to your habitat. Most disaster tiles will still twist when occupied by another player–and yes, that can be just as dastardly as you can imagine! When playing with my kids, we realized how close our eldest child was to winning the game. It quickly became a “Stop Him”, with each of us creating as many disasters as possible to block his way. It was a brilliant example of the strategy incorporated in this game, relying on maze building and resource building to ensure you can prevent one move while protecting your own path.
To add to the chaos, each disaster causes a Tremor, and every Tremor brings you closer to an Earthquake which mixes up the game board again. Earthquakes can be triggered by a roll of the dice, an ill-timed catastrophe card, or simply the accumulation of tremors waiting for the right time to wreak havoc on your carefully laid-out plans.
All the Reasons to Play Tremor
I’ll be honest with you: at first, I thought, “This is a complex game. They clearly overestimate my tabletop skills because I think this is too complex for me…”
I was wrong. It is brilliant.
The game is aimed for 14-years-and-over and I would say this is about right; maybe even a little on the conservative side. Our 13-year-old picked it up very easily and annihilated us in the first round. Our 10-year-old needed a second play (without the overly strategic 13-year-old) and was then very comfortable with the play. Our 6-year-old picked up on the disaster/tectonic twist part very well but struggled to maintain her attention with the rest of the game mechanics. Not bad for a very active 6-year-old with a game that averages around an hour to play.
My point being, this game is aimed at the strategist. And probably anyone with a taste for ‘chaotic neutral’. The game reminds me a lot of Pandemic but without the co-operative element. Allowing a long-term build of strategy and planning leaves a lot of room for trickery and faux-pathways. My favorite element of the game is the Earthquake, for its subtle crescendo towards wide-spread panic across the game board. It is often the only chance I have of catching up to the kids.
Kickstarter is LIVE!
Tremor is already live AND has reached its goal. At $39 USD, it is a really good price for the quality and quantity of what is included in the box.
Further to the good news, Tremor has already met a few of its stretch goals. Backing it now will not only give you an awesome game to play but it will give you some sweet bonuses too:
Thematic Tile Art – the team has commissioned an artist to upgrade the entire tile-set and it looks gorgeous. The prototype I played with was nice but this extra level of art looks so much better!
Linen finish on cards – The cardboard used so far was high-quality but I definitely appreciate the finer detail with a linen-finish.
Jungle Expansion – Two more animal species will be created: Orangutan and Chameleon. My eldest is already buzzing for the Chameleon.
Outback Expansion – And this one is a personal favorite: The Outback Habitat with the Red Kangaroo and the Bush Dingo. This one is unlocked!!
One More Reason You Should Back Tremor
When I was chatting with Julian at PAX Aust, he was really proud of the team behind the game. Julian and his co-founder Jonah are as passionate about the environment as the game they have built. It’s one of the reasons why they have partnered with TreeSisters.
With each physical game purchased, Curly Bros Games and TreeSisters will plant five (5) trees in aid of Tropical Reforestation. That’s right – They have partnered with TreeSisters to plant five trees per game funded! Add this to the high-quality sustainable production they are including in the games, and I am a proud supporter of this project!
Head over to their Kickstarter page right now. The Kickstarter project closes Friday, November 8, 2019, at 8 pm UTC. Delivery is currently estimated for April 2020. And I can’t wait!
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.