M.U.L.E. is an old school strategy board game; deep and long, but still completely fun!
M.U.L.E. is a great game. The setting is cool, and it really feels like you are helping create a new colony on a distant planet! This setting should also be familiar to anyone who has played the computer game. The quality of the components is really high, I especially liked the money which comes in multiple different sizes, and shapes. Their is a little bit of a learning curve to the game, and the recommendation is pretty accurate about being for players 14 and up. However, once you learn to play the game, it is way fun! So how do you play?
Well to begin, each player grabs a land tile from the planet Irata, and places it on their own personal board. Their are three different colors. The red, and blue hold more valuable goods, but cost more to operate. Once you have all placed your land you move on to the development phase. The development phase is where you spend your green food tokens to take actions. Such as buying a M.U.L.E. . To buy a M.U.L.E., simply spend 1 food to play it on a white land, or 2 food to play it on a red, or blue land. You then rotate the piece until the resource you want is facing the planet map. You can change the resource at any time by paying one food, and rotating the piece to the resource you want. You can also either pay a food to gamble, and get +$5, or risk trying to hunt down the Wampus for +$10. The final thing you can do is move a M.U.L.E. to a new land on your board that doesn't have one. To do this, pay one food to move him to a white spot, or 2 food to move him to a red, or blue spot. Once you are through the development phase you move on to the usage, and spoilage phase were you remove the food spent the previous round, and one energy per M.U.L.E. in play on your board. If you don't have enough energy for your M.U.L.E. It shuts down for the next production phase which I'll tell you about later. After you remove those tokens, you remove half your food, and a fourth of your energy through spoilage. After spoilage comes production where you receive the resources that have a M.U.L.E. on them, and are facing the planetary map. Then you move on to pricing were the price of the goods you can sell, or buy fluctuate.
There is a rubber band effect in play here that keeps all players relatively close to each other in score as the game progresses. the rubber band effect works here in the way that the leading player for the round draws a blessing card, gives it to another player. The player that received the blessing card, then gets a curse card to give to another player.
After this the round ends, and you move on to the next round. The game ends when the "Ship is back!" card is played, and the player with the most money after selling off the rest of his goods is the winner.
So what did I think of the game? Well, as I said earlier, after the initial learning curve is met, the game is pretty cool. Buying, selling, and trading goods is fun, and the twist of the events, curses, and blessing really give the game, a boost. This game has some really nice resource management types of decisions that leave you with some really painful decisions to be made along the way.
All in all, I loved how long the game was. It is hard to find lengthy high strategy games these days that can be learned in 15 minutes but played in 3 hours!
Definitely check out M.U.L.E.! If you were a fan of the old computer game, or if you just like a good long strategy game with some tough decisions, you will not go wrong here!