THE PREMISE OF MULTIUNIVERSUM
Multiuniversum is a 1-5 player, competitive set-collecting card game in which players take control of scientists at CERN, looking to close portals they have accidentally opened to multiple dimensions. In order to do so the players must collect resources and move between five different coloured modules of the Hadron Collider to close cards on each one. There are four portals at each module, each portal requiring a different combination of five resources to close.
The players get three actions a turn, as well as always having a hand of three cards. These cards double up as actions that they can take, as well as resources they can save, so the player needs to decide carefully as to whether they need the resource or whether they need the action, something which can make the game more strategic than it comes across.
Each portal has a score value, as well as a portal type, branded onto it. The score value is how it looks; however, the resource type has a little bit more to it. Portal types usually come in threes, so there are three cards of any one type of portal (although there are some odd ones), and these are worth points in the end game. For instance, three water portals will score an additional 9 points in the end game. Two will score 4 points. Five portals of any one type will score an additional 9 points. This lead to some incredibly high scoring two player experiences, but some incredibly low scoring six player games.
The actions you can take are determined by your hand each turn, as well as the portal you are on. Each card has five different actions, one for each colour part of the Hadron Collider, and the player can only do the action on their colour. For instance, if you are on the red module, you can only do the red action.
The actions vary in what they are. Each module/Hadron Collider part/whatever had an ability which varies per colour. These may be reshuffling the portals at each point, or switching the top portals of any two piles, 0r being able to use a card as an action and as a resource as three examples.
Alternatively, the standard actions are:
- Move : Move between portals.
- Recycle: Go through the discard pile to find the card you want.
- Use Portal/Module/Hadron Collider Ability: As explained above.
- Draw 2 Cards
- Close Portal: For this you spend the resources you have gathered, to close a portal.
During your turn you can do any of the above actions you are allowed to do by the cards you have in your hand (so looking at the above picture, my meeple is on Red, which would mean I could Recycle or Close a Portal that turn), you can discard your cards and draw afresh, or you can save up resources by placing them in your own player area. When you want to close a portal (at the module you are at) you spend the resources you have gathered. Any resources you do not spend by the end of the game result in a -1 point against you, making it important to manage resources (or “tools”, as my girlfriend has just reminded me) correctly.
The game continues until two piles of portals have been depleted, in two player, or three in 3-5 players.
QUALITY AND COMPONENTS OF MULTIUNIVERSUM
Multiuniversum has some of the best art I have ever seen in a game. Although the cards are standard playing cards (I always have a preference for woven cards personally, but I do understand it jacks the price up), they have some incredible art. The meeples are standard wooden meeples, that have been well made, if not a little bit rough at times. Fun fact, the meeples I used for the Favicon image for this site was a Multiuniversum meeple.
Going back to the art, the artists have created some absolutely beautiful parallel universes that really capture the imagination. Some have been taken seriously, some less so, and then there are things like the Evil Gummy Bear universe, that is both fun and disturbing at the same time. Another fun fact is that, according to Board Game Geek, one of the artists also worked on the recent game “This War of Mine”.
More examples of the art can be found here.
WHAT IS IT LIKE PLAYING MULTIUNIVERSUM?
Multiuniversum is a fun game for something that was so cheap. It only cost us £10 at the UK Games Expo. We’ve played a few games now, with varying numbers of people, and it has proven itself consistently fun. The game is simple enough to get your head around quickly; although, the first time we played it was tricky to keep track of which actions you could do at which spaces. For instance, I, for quite a while, kept doing the white actions even though I had moved off the module since.
For a game that is, in a way, so simple it is also remarkably complex. There is a strategy there, if you can get it off the ground. Namely, there can be quite a lot of thought processes behind each turn, making sure the right or optimal thing is done each round.
That being said, it can also be easy for a player to become bogged down and limited by cards. It is possible to draw three cards and get three transformer actions, or draw three cards and get three cards you don’t want. What is more, it is possible to do that over and over again due to the large number of cards and limited actions. Since the game is not that long it can cripple a character for the majority of the game whilst other players clean up the other piles. It wasn’t until a friend pointed it out that we realised that we too had been in that situation whilst playing, and that does mean the game relies heavily on luck as well as stratagem.
The final point would be about the recycle action. With 6 players we relied incredibly heavily on the recycle action to get what we wanted out of the discard pile. It’s not a complaint, but more an observation that the recycle action was slightly overpowered.
VERDICT FOR MULTIUNIVERSUM
All in all, Multiuniversum is a fun game with absolutely stunning art. It is not perfect, in fact it is far from perfect, however, it occupies a space between being a serious game and a “sorbet” game (game which is a break between large games). There is a market for games like Multiuniversum, and we certainly have space for it on our shelves; however, it is worth noting that the price is usually closer to £20 than it is to £10. I guess we just got it at Expo prices.
I can see Multiuniversum as being “one of those games” that we regularly find ourselves returning to when we want a quick, pseudo-strategic game, and so it is fairly easy to recommend.