Playtime: 90 minutes
Designer: Ryan Lauket
Publisher: Red Raven Games
Sum it Up: Compete to build a thriving village while exploring a mysterious underworld.
Break it Down: At first glance, Above and Below might just look like another worker placement game, albeit one with an endearing art style. For the most part, that assumption isn’t wrong. However, Above and Below is so much more than that!
Let’s start at the obvious. Yes, this game is about building a village and filling it with workers. For each worker that you bring in to your civilisation, you’ll be able to perform one more action on your turn. Whether it be training other villagers, constructing buildings, working the land or travelling into ‘The Below’…
The Below is where things take a change from the norm. Form a party of adventurers (from anyone who you didn’t send to work on your turn) and they begin their journey into the depths. By having another player read one of the passages from a large book of encounters (selected randomly by a card draw) your team of explorers will find themselves thrust into one of many situations which you will need to overcome. Will you discover a strange race of never before seen creatures and recruit them to your cause? Or maybe you’ll stumble upon some long-forgotten treasure!
Since playing Above and Below 5 years ago, Ryan Lauket has become one of my most eagerly watched designers. With interesting play mechanics, an inclination towards storytelling, and instantly recognisable artwork, his games fuse many different aspects to create something very special.
By Alan Campbell (Twitter @MudManCampbell )