Multiuniversum – a big name for such a small box !
Multiuniversum is another small box, quick to play games from my collection. I discovered this from a review in Tabletop Gaming Magazine and instantly was attracted to the theme and the art work. As regular readers will know, both are important aspects of a board game (or any game) for me.
The premise is, the players are working in a lab in Switzerland on a project to open portals to alternate realities, the idea being to use one to travel back in time. Unfortunately when the machine is switched on it opens multiple portals to alternate realities, and some of the inhabitants of those realities are just as curious as you!
The aim is to gain control of the experimental machine and close down the portals before the inhabitants are let lose in our world.
- Players: 1 to 5
- Age: 12+
- Play time: 20 – 40 minutes
- Designer: Manuel Correia
- Publisher: Board & Dice, Poland
The small game box contains 80 cards and 5 wooden meeples to represent the players scientists. There are 5 Lab cards, 1 for each coloured meeple for each player, 5 Transformer cards, 1 of each colour representing the points on the machine that the portals appear. 20 Portal cards, 4 for each Transformer, each with a differing difficulty – I’ll come to that later, and 50 Action cards.
The table is set up as shown below. The Action cards in the centre, the Transformers in a circle and the Portal cards at the end of each Transformer. Each player is given the Lab card matching their meeple.
The aim of Multiuniversum is to collect Action cards which represent the tools required to perform the scientific work to shut down the portals. You start the game with 3 action cards in your hand. In your turn you can perform up to 3 actions using your action cards. The cards have 5 coloured action icons listed on the left hand side – you can only use the action from the card that matches the colour of the transformer you are currently at. So each transformer allows a card to be used in a different way, including moving your scientist to another transformer, and you can move to any transformer.
The other 4 actions are, draw 2 cards from the action card deck, take any card from the action discard pile, trigger a transformer ability, seal a portal.
You can also use an action to discard a card from your hand and draw a new one, and also to prepare tools.
And this is the next purpose of the action cards, as tools for closing portals. This is where the card collection element of the game comes in to play.
The right hand side of each action card has a single tool symbol. These tools match up with the tool icons at the bottom right corner of each portal card, which is the tools required to close it. The most challenging portals require 3 tools to close them.
To collect the tools required, as an action you take one of your action cards and place it beside your Lab card.
There is no maximum hand size limit, so you can keep collecting action cards to get the tools and icons that you need. At the end of your 3 actions if you find you have less than 3 Action cards in your hand (not counting the ones you’ve prepared as tools next to your Lab card) then you draw enough cards from the Action deck back up to 3 cards in your hand.
The game becomes a race to close as many portals as possible as you move round the transformers, remembering each transformer has 4 portals open at it that all must be closed. When you successfully close a portal you take that card from the pile beside the transformer.
Ending the game
Play continues with each player taking their turns to perform actions and closing portals. The game ends when 3 of the 5 portal stacks have been depleted (this becomes 2 portal stacks in a 2 player game).
If you’re playing multiplayer then winning comes down to scoring points from successfully closing portals, with more challenging portals being worth more points. So once the 2 or 3 stacks are depleted it’s a case of totalling up your closed portal score.
If you find yourself short of an opponent and with a half hour to kill, then Multiuniversum comes with a solo mode. This involves assigning a scientist and lab card to the “virtual” player.
You play your turn as normal and then play the virtual players turn. The virtual player doesn’t have a hand of cards, but draws 2 action cards from the deck each turn and adds them to his lab card as tools.
On the virtual players turn, if it has the tools on his lab to close the portal its meeple is on, then it takes the portal card as normal. if the virtual player can’t close a portal then the meeple is then moved to the next transformer and play passes back to you. The game ends when 3 portal stacks have been depleted.
Again, this is a real speed test. Not just for the fact the virtual player is on a different transformer every turn, but they’re also collecting up action cards 2 at a time and not removing any from their lab!
Multiuniversum is a great game to fill time between those larger, all evening or afternoon games. The theme has been well written into the instructions, and the artwork is fantastic. Certainly not your usual sci-fi themes.
I’ve played both 2 player and using the solo mechanic. Quite often these days its difficult for me to get the time to travel to play games with others. And there’s only so many games that my wife will play after she caves in to my pleading! The addition of the clever solo mechanic makes this an enjoyable time based puzzler.