Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 5
Time to play: 30 to 45 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Tile placement
Ratings (1 to 5)
Educational Value: 4
Gaming value: 5
Aesthetic value: 5
Price value: 5
Ease of play: 3
Younger adaptability: 5
My comments: This is a variation of the award-winning game Carcassonne. Playing the game is simple: pick a tile and place a tile, then maybe place a meeple (mini people). Each tile has part of a castle, road, or landscape on it and the players are creating a city of sorts with the tiles. What makes this game a little challenging is keeping track of the points as you play, for which there is a wonderful scoring board. You "claim" roads, castles, fields, and temples by placing a meeple on it after you place a tile; when that structure is completed you get the points. Only one meeple can be on a structure, but you or someone else can have a meeple on two separate structures that get connected later on and then you get double or split points.
The game then has some added scoring to make things more interesting. Roads get extra points if there are attached oases. Fields are scored by how many sheep are grazing minus the number of wolves in that field. You can place a prophet once during the game on a structure and score double when it is completed. Temples are scored according to whomever has the most followers around it. And The Ark gets placed once a castle has been completed, and then players can move it over themselves (and others) to score additional points for themselves (and others) each turn.
The game ends when all the tiles have been placed. The fields are scored then, and the player with the highest score wins.
There's plenty of opportunity for mental addition here, as well as the wonderful spacial perception when laying tiles. Each tile has 4 sides, and you have to match sides up such that the resulting picture makes sense (you can't put a field in the middle of a castle, for example.)
Play is easy, though scoring is quite challenging. Youngers can play if you score for them, or eliminate some of the bonus score to simplify things. The tiles are thick and colorful, as are the meeples. It comes in a small, thick box making it easily transportable. Overall, this is a wonderful game.
BoardGameGeek.com link to this game: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/6779