Multiuniversum by Grey Fox Games Review

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Theme and What is it?

As one of CERN’s top researchers you are involved in a groundbreaking project. Your team has been given the green light to build a time machine. With every resource at your disposal your team finally completes what may be considered the most important discovery of all time. Your time machine has five cores, called Transformators, that will provide the power needed to move about in the time space continuum. As your team powers up each Transformator, you see multiple possibilities that can be manipulated to change the course of history. As the last Transformator fires up, everything immediately becomes clear. You have not opened portals into time, you have opened portals into other dimensions. Unspeakable horrors stare back at you. Creatures from realms that would love to subjugate mankind and take rule of a new world. Now it is a race against time. Can you and your team seal all the portals and shut down the power core pillars before our world is overrun with things that we only thought existed in nightmares?

Mutliuniversum is a race to close as many portals as possible. Will you be the scientist who closes the most portals and receives fame for saving the world from an unexpected invasion? Sure, you will be famous, only for different reasons than you originally planned.

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Gameplay Mechanics

Multiuniversum is set up by taking the five transformer cards and placing them in a circle around the action card pile, leaving room for an action card discard pile. The portal cards are shuffled and five cards are placed above each portal. Each player picks a scientist color and places their meeple on the matching transformer color. Each player draws three action cards. The most ingenious player starts. According to the rules that is the player who suggested playing Multiuniversum. 

Each player can take three actions on their turn. Actions include: 1. Resolve an action card   2. Prepare a tool  

3. Discard a card  Or players may pass to end their turn. Players may do any option all three times for their turn or mix and match as they choose. On each action card is a list of actions that can be completed. From that list, players can complete the action that is associated with the color of transformer that their scientist is currently standing on. For example, if a player is on the red transformer, they may only resolve the red action on their card. They cannot use another action. They must first move (which is an option on the action cards) to another color transformer before they can use that color’s action. Each transformer has its own special ability which may be triggered with the appropriate action card option. Players may also prepare tools. These are used to close portals. A tool is prepared by spending an action and taking an action card and moving it next to the player’s lab card. Each action card has a tool symbol relating to a tool needed to close a portal, and each action card has the action options arranged in different colors. This makes the shuffling of action cards in and out of your hand very important to help you accomplish all that is needed to close portals. Once a player has the right tools and the correct actions for the color of a certain transformer, than they can close the portal above that transformer.

Once three of the five portal piles are exhausted, the game ends and final scoring takes place. When you close portals you receive Discovery Points (DP) based on how hard it was to close that portal. If you collect certain combinations of portals, you receive bonus DP points. The player with the most DP wins international fame…maybe international infamy. It depends on how the world views you screwing with space and time.

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Initial Impressions

Multiuniversum is a small box game. Small box games intrigue me. It takes a very talented person or group of people to design a game that is truly immersive both from a story standpoint as well as from a game play standpoint. Small box games usually work as party games because you aren’t there to build backstory and explore new worlds. Every once in a while, you find a small box game that breaks the mold and plays like a big box game. Multiuniversum feels like a fully immersive big game experience. It takes up a good amount of space on the table. It has some great interaction with the elements that use that space. It involves you in the story and builds on it as new portals are opened. And it made my brain numb! I love when games make my brain numb. Trying to look ahead to the next action and figure out what to do next can really be challenging. Challenging in a very good way. Because you have a limited number of cards and those cards have a lot of actions on each one, but the actions can only be performed in certain spots, makes for some great “I have no clue what to do next” moments. Did you follow all that? If not re-read it and see if it makes more sense. It was great to see people struggling with their turn. That means you have moved well outside the party game genre. Mutliuniversum did not have a great initial play through with my group. It took some people longer than others to really know how to create a chain of moves that scored them points, and that made the game lopsided. But I know everyone had fun because everyone wanted to play it again to try and do better. That tells me that even though it was tough, they really liked it because they wanted another shot at it. 

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Game Build Quality

Multiuniversum came with cards and five wooden meeples. The cards are a very nice stock and should hold up well. If you like sleeving cards, I would recommend it because the action cards get used a lot. The maples were fun and are little scientists with beakers. The box is thick and built to travel. Although I think it might be too big to be a take to dinner type of game. I do not have anything negative to say about component quality.

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Artistic Direction

Yes! They artistically directed the heck out of this game! When I played it with my kids they couldn’t wait to finish the current portal so they could flip over the next one to see what kind of creatures it held. They would pass it back and forth talking about it while Ally and I took our turns. They loved the artwork. I loved the artwork. It snatched us all up and made us feel like we were there struggling to close the portals. I love when designers take the time and find the talent necessary to build a world or a story or whatever is needed to draw players in. Board games are my release. I want them taking me as far away from everyday stress as I can get. 

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Fun Factor

I am not sure how many different ways I can say I enjoyed Multiuniversum. I was very surprised I liked it as much as I did. Not that I didn’t except to enjoy it. I guess I just saw it sitting there in its small box and I thought it would be like so many small box games. I always enjoy them but do they transport me somewhere in my imagination? Most of the time they do not. That is what caught me off guard, especially when playing with my kids. For the most part they had no clue what they were doing (see Age Recommendation below) but they were into it. When they start yelling stuff like, “Hey, someone come close this portal before these scary gummy bear things eat my face!” You know you have a winner.

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Age Range & Weight

Multiuniversum is suggested as a 12+ game. I thought that since it had zero reading that my six-year-old would be able to play. Not only did my six-year-old not even finish (we started skipping his turn because he was too busy checking out the portals and he never even realized what we were doing to him), my ten-year-old really struggled with creating any meaningful moves to score points. I was having some major strategy paralysis, I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for my ten-year-old to plan ahead and work some advanced moves in her head. And she is a little genius. I never go easy on her or she will crush me. But trying to figure out how to string the action cards in such a way to move from colored transformer to colored transformer and then close portals really took some intense concentration. Maybe in time, once she is used to the mechanics, she will be able to crush me at this game too. I would say 12+ is a very fair recommendation. 

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Conclusions

Was Multiuniversum a huge hit the first time anyone played it? In some ways yes, and in some ways no. It took a while for the grownups to figure out what they were doing, and the kids never really got there. It was a real head scratcher for some of the mature players until they started to see what to do and by then the game was out of their hands. And for my kids, forget about it. They never came close. Yet every person was sucked into their roles as a scientist trying to save the world. This was accomplished by the stunning artwork found all throughout Musltiuniversum. Every “grownup” player wanted another shot to redeem themselves. Even the ones that scored competitively wanted to retry it in hopes of doing better. That speaks very highly of a game. If players feel like they were terrible, but want to jump right back in, that may be as good of a recommendation as you can give. I would suggest playing a few rounds, let people catch on, and then blow that game up and start all over fresh so people can end the game feeling better about it. It doesn’t hurt anyone to have some practice runs and then reset for the real thing. I think it can be a big hit with gamers who like to be involved with a game.

Well, you may not have found the fame you were seeking, but fame found you all the same. But it is real shame about Dr. McGruffin. He was such a nice man. It was a shame to see him getting eaten by that pack to netherworld imps. But you made it, and you saved the world. Now you can just sit back and let your agent negotiate the book and movie deals that are flowing in almost as fast as if a portal to another world had opened up.

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