Beasts of Balance

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Bank Holiday Monday finds us out shopping in Leeds. But I was there for a reason. I wanted to buy a copy of "Beasts of Balance" from the Apple Store. I'd nearly bought a copy on a recent trip but I was talked out of it. But the person who talked me out of the purchase isn't on this trip....

We had a go this evening. I thought it was a game where you try to balance objects on a plinth. It is, but there's a lot more to it than that. The idea of "balance" goes a lot further than than stopping things from falling over. Some of the objects that you balance are beautiful, stylised models of creatures from land, sea or air. And you have to keep their worlds in balance by adding other things too.

We kept adding the octopus (mainly because he has a flat head, and is eminently stackable) but that meant we had to balance his watery needs with  creatures from different realms and he turned out to be quite needy...

So the game turns into a ecological balancing act as well as a physical one. And it gets even more interesting when you add in the "modifier" pieces. There are two types of these. One of them lets you "cross" one creature with another, to make a new species. The other lets you "migrate" a species into another realm. Perhaps we could have used one to get that pesky octopus out of the water. There are a couple of "miracle" pieces too, I'm looking forward to seeing what they do. 

Each piece you add to the plinth contains an RFID tag that is used to identify it. You tap the tag on the plinth before you put it on the structure you're building. The plinth can detect when you've added the piece successfully, and also when everything falls down....

The game is played in conjunction with an app that runs on your Android or Apple device which keeps score and shows the effect your actions are having on the ecosystem you are creating as you play. 

Lots of players can cooperate, but there's not really a competitive mode (although it is kind of fun to put your piece on the plinth in a way that makes it horribly difficult for the next person to do anything). 

Everyone who started playing (including me) began by regarding the game as "Computer Jenga with an ipad scoreboard". It's not. There's a ton of depth to the gameplay. It's not about getting everything on the plinth, it's about getting the right combination of objects on there, and adding bits to find out what they do. 

It's a bit pricey, but not that much more than a video game. And I've seen board games with far fewer, and less engaging, pieces, on sale for a lot more money. The game has a lot of polish, from the beautifully made models to the well drawn user interface of the game. Strongly recommended.