The Day in Gaming, September 5, 2019: Gentes: Deluxified Edition

I’m posting about a game every day in September! Here’s a link to yesterday’s post.

I backed the Gentes: Deluxified Edition Kickstarter last February and after a few delays, the game arrived earlier this year. I’d never played the original non-fancy version, but knew of Stephen Risthaus’ reputation as designer of Arkwright.

Tonight I played a solo game in about 45 minutes, which is about how long it usually takes me. In Gentes (apparently the Latin pronunciation uses the G sound like “giant,” but here in Southern California my friends and I use the H sound from the Spanish word for people) you’re building your civilization through three eras, with points coming from various sources. You’ll train your population, build monuments, and establish cities throughout the Mediterranean.

The game is a solid midweight Euro for up to four players and I like it all player counts. At its heart Gentes is an action selection game and I love the use of time as a resource in Gentes. For every action you take you’ll usually pay some money, but you’ll also pay time, which is represented by little hourglasses. These take up space on your player board so that you’ll eventually run out of room to perform actions each age due to the action tiles and hourglasses clogging up all of the spaces.

To me it feels like a reverse worker placement mechanism. You take the action tile and if you’re the first one to do that particular action you get the better “price” for it while others that follow you have to pay either more money and/or time. You’re not blocking your opponents, but in a way you are since you can take the cheaper actions and force them to spend more time/money, leaving them fewer open spaces for more actions.

Like other Euros you’re trying to be as efficient as possible, unlocking ongoing abilities that get you cheaper actions, either in price or hourglasses or in being able to take the action without using one of the tiles. There’s a lot more to the game, but it’s this time and money management that I really enjoy trying to balance.

The game has flown a little under the radar, probably because it originally came out in 2017. Everyone who’s seen the Deluxified version loves it and I was impressed by it as well. There are chunky wooden meeples to track your population, metal coins, and an awesome Folded Space insert to keep everything organized.

I was fortunate to play Gentes with my friends John and Monique at Strategicon last weekend and even though I hadn’t played it since the last con in May, I was able to get through the teach and the game ran smoothly. Gentes is such a solid design and every one of my gaming friends has picked it up right away and enjoyed it. I was happy that John and Monique did, too.