WBG Score: 8/10
Player Count 1-5
Published by: Tress Games
Designed by: Sean Lee
This preview is based on a prototype copy of the game. Rules and components will change.
Cytress is a stunning looking game. Check out this box art...
But so many games with great box art can disappoint when you set the game up and the in-game art doesn't follow what's on the cover. This is NOT the case here.
Bright, vibrant, cyber-punk colours, with lots of options. Lovely! But we haven't even got to the main bit yet. Check out this three tiered structure that represents Stratos, the city you are trying to break into. It dominates the table, looming down on the rest of the set-up and looks gorgeous, even in prototype form!
OK, enough purring. How does this play?
Cytress is made up of four distinct phases. In phase one you simply gain supplies. In phase two you can send your leader out to get more supplies. Phase three you will send your workers out to complete missions to improve your engine and get end game points. Then phase four is a simple reset to ready yourself to go again for another round.
The interesting part is how everything you do, get, earn, and pay for is affected by your own personal lifepath. A unique way to track your engine building within the game, linking everything back to your own personal life experience.
Each player will start the game with a double sided player board. You can choose either side to use. The variation being the icons on each of the four main areas linking back to the four factions in the game. Subsequently, when you complete missions in phase three, you will add the cards acquired into the appropriate area based on colour, and increase your lifepath skills accordingly. Below you can see a player board with one card added to each area.
Your lifepath is then used to affect each phase. In phase one, when collecting resources, you will do so for each icon shown in your Coprocrat lifespan. The more completed missions for this faction, the more symbols you have, therefore, the more resources gained.
In Phase two, when each other player places their leader onto the board to gain resources, for every resource that they gain that match symbols in your Privateer area, this will gain you one of those resources too. Building your engine here needs to be based on what resources you think the other player will want to acquire in future rounds.
In phase three, you can trade goods based on a ratio of how many symbols you have in your Rover lifepath. For example, if you are trading credits for technology, and have three technology symbols in your Rover lifepath, you will trade at a ratio of 1:3 in your favour.
Also in phase three whenever you complete missions, you will need to pay the required cost. This cost will be reduced by any symbols you have of the same type in your Hooligang lifepath.
Your lifepath is an engine that you need to nurture and build over the game. It makes choosing which mission to complete a fascination choice. There is a lot to consider here, and herein lies the brilliance of this game. Let's look into it.
In phase three, you can send out three ships to trade goods, take out loans, complete bounty hunter missions, build tunnels to Stratos, or complete missions for one of the four different factions. When you make this choice there are four main things to consider.
1. Which area of your lifepath do you want to improve? Each faction will have three face up mission cards to choice from, each in that factions own colour. If for example, you want to increase the resources you get in phase one, then you need to complete a mission for the Corprocrats. But you will need the right resource for completing Corprocrat missions, unless you have the right symbol shown enough times in your Hooligang lifepath to apply the appropriate discount.
2. Where do you want to put your worker? When you complete a mission, you will place one of your three ships onto the appropriate faction board, but you will also place a worker represented by a coloured cube onto the same coloured hex on the mini-map. The colour is important for two main reasons. First, when you build a tunnel, you can only do so on a space you have a worker; and one way to build tunnels requires the tunnel to be build with specific resource on a specific colour. Second, you will score end game points based on an area control battle of left over workers that have not managed to ascend to Stratos, based on their proximity to the tunnels that all player built. Where you place your worker will affect your ability to get up to Stratos, but also your ability to control the tunnels that have been and will be built.
3. Which Skill do you want to improve? Each mission has two symbols on it that represent what type of mission it is and who that mission is being performed on. You will have skill cards dealt to you at the start of the game that require you to complete three missions of a specific type. When this is done, you can take the bonus associated with becoming a specialist at that type of mission, making any subsequent missions of this type cost one less resource moving forward.
4. Which faction to you want to attack? Who you complete that mission against will also contribute towards your ability to complete the available bounty cards. Each card will score you end game points when collected, if you have three mission cards completed against the same faction.
So, as you make this choice, there is a lot to consider. What resources do you have? What resources discounts do you generate when completing a mission? What resources do you want to generate more of, or get more discounts with, or have a better ratio for, or generate more of when opposition leaders go out and get those? Where do you want to place your workers on the mini map? Are you looking to send that worker up to Stratos or will they stay behind to fight the area control battle?
All these factors will be swimming around your head as you make your choice and it is delightful!
The look and feel of Cytress feels fresh. The rules work well together and bring you into the theme. The lifepath engine build mechanic is a clever way to focus your turns, makes each round and decision feel important, and sets each game to feel like its own unique experience.
I love the way the lifepath mechanic works, and brings the classic engine-building mechanic more focused to your own personality in the game. It feels more of a video game mechanic than one associated to a board game, but it works very well.
There are multiple ways to score, and with that, many different strategies to focus on. DO you want to get as many of your crew up to Stratos? Or, would you rather benefit from the controlling the tunnels the other players are building? With limited turns, and the game all run on a clock of a limited number of tunnel pieces, every turn is crucial. You need to maximise your point scoring efficiency and react to how the other players are playing the game.
Cytress is launching on the 26th of April.