Published on September 5th, 2013 | by Greg0
Fun And Frustrating: The Setting Makes Bioshock Infinite: The Board Game
Billed as the “first licensed board game ever created simultaneously to its source video game”, today’s featured product is a gorgeous game that combines a fantastical world and very nuts-and-bolts mechanics. If you’re a fan of the game series and like tabletop fun as well, then you’re in for a treat- the characters, the art, and the concept work in tandem to create an interesting experience that connects nicely to the recent computer and console version.
We’ve played Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia, the board game a few times, and couldn’t help but be drawn in- the compelling design makes you want to jump right in and start playing. But you’ll need patience: there are a lot of rules to run through, and not a very helpful guide for first-time players. The components are lovely- four different colored miniatures, and in a fun twist, you can play either a four-player version or one on one with each player taking the lighter and darker red or blue pieces respectively. And you don’t simply play solely as a character like the Songbird, but instead a small army consisting of various Risk-like units with slightly different abilities with combat based largely on rolling die.
Aimed at ages 13 and over, they list the game as taking 60-90 minutes to play, which felt about right. The basic objective of the game is to earn the most victory points, and there are two ways to do this- controlling regions, or fulfilling an increasing set of objectives that are public and anyone can complete.
In the process, you’re not simply competing with the other side, but are constantly worrying about Booker and Elizabeth, neutral forces who scurry about the game board wreaking havoc on whatever force happens to get in their way. All of which might be enough, but it’s not even close- there is a bidding section of the game, and what felt like a wholly unnecessary upgrading system that allows you to make your different troops a bit better step by step. You have a deck of cards, and need to consider a card’s combat value along with it’s monetary value, and it’s value during the voting round as well. Whew!
It’s easy for the game to end in a surprising fashion- if you hang back even for a move, or don’t communicate well with your partner, the game could be over in a few turns. There can be cruel randomness as well, when a bad roll of the dice and an unlucky draw leaves you with Booker destroying your forces instantly. All in all, Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia led to a fair bit of frustration, thanks to the lengthy setup time, opaque and complicated rules, and sudden wins and losses that felt unearned. Beneath it is some really interesting gameplay, and we admit to wanting to play again- there simply is nothing quite like the skyline system out there, with the interesting mechanics and lovely art and figurines. Available now for around $70, Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia will definitely grab gamers, but feels a little like too much of a good thing.