I won Nimalia in a raffle at UK Games Expo and when I picked it up I can’t say I was enthused by it. However, when I got home I watched a few reviews and read the rules and I decided it looked pretty good.

Game Details
NameNimalia (2023)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.61]
BGG Rank2610 [7.20]
Player Count (Recommended)2-4 (1-4)
Designer(s)William Liévin
Mechanism(s)Closed Drafting, Grid Coverage, Layering, Simultaneous Action Selection and Tile Placement

It’s a card drafting and laying game where each card contains four terrains and on each terrain is an animal. In each of the five rounds you draft three cards – taking one, playing it, and passing the rest to the next person. The catch is that other than the first card of the game, from now on the new cards must overlap an existing card on your tableau. Plus, you are limited to a 6×6 grid meaning that you can end up having to play your last cards completely over previously laid cards.

That said, this isn’t necessarily a problem. Scoring happens similarly to Isle of Skye. There are four different scoring criteria and for each of the five round you score a different combination of two or three of the criteria. The criteria vary quite widely – things like certain animals next to certain terrains or animals, sizes of certain terrains, number of a specific animal, longest river (one of the four scoring criteria is always one where it depends on what you’ve done compared to everyone else – the other three always score based on your own tiles). I’ve only played it twice so far but these two plays were vastly different due to the tiles that came up.

Drafting means that you need to keep an eye on what other players (yes, hate drafting is a thing in this game) providing some interesting interaction – you alternate which way you draft between rounds so you aren’t always giving to the same person.

One thing I really like about the game is at everything in it – the tiles, the scoring criteria and the score chart – are all same sized cards (well, except for your score markers). So it’s a really compact game. Although it’s a shame that the box is a little bigger than the cards making it less compact than it could be.

The score board

This is definitely a game I will be trying to get to the table as an evening starter (or ender) more often as it’s quick, simple, and yet fairly deep.

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