I was invited to the launch of Journal Singapore, a Singapore board game by Monsters Under the Bed with the support of National Heritage Board. It is the first board game to feature the history of Singapore from it’s early days as a British Colony in 1900, to it’s Independence in 1965. The game is designed for 3 to 5 players and can be played in 1 to 2 hours.
I would consider the learning curve for this game to be average. That coming from someone who played a few other board games occasionally. I’ll just briefly talk about the game play. It may sound confusing here. But trust me, it would be easier for you to learn as you play along.
You start off by selecting one of the characters. The characters are all pioneers of Singapore like Mr Tan Kah Kee, Mr Lim Bo Seng, Mr Yusoff Ishak etc etc. Each characters has a special abilities to help you during game play, so choose one wisely. Each player also get 5 plan cards and 5 resources (which we prefer to call money). The first player to take the Merlion Token starts the game. This Token will be passed to the next player at the end of each round.
There are 3 era in the game (Colonial, Occupation and Post War) and 5 rounds for each Era. You can choose to play all 3 Era or just one, depending on how much time you have. At the start of each round, the player with the Merlion Token will draw an event card. This event card will affect all players. At every turn, a player has 3 action which he/she may choose to either Move (using the plan card), draw a plan card, influence/bid the sector the player is at. Every sector has a special ability which the player can use if he/she owns the sector. Player can also use the secondary effects on the plan card to either sabotage his/her opponent or give him/her the added advantage.
At the end of each Era, players will tabulate the Victory Points (VP). Each sector is 1 VP. Occupying related sectors gives player 3 VP. Player holding the Merlion Token at the end of the Era gets 3 VP. Players can also exchange 4 resource for 1 VP or 3 plan cards for 2 VP. At the end of the game, the player with the most VP wins.
I played one era during the launch with a few other friends from the media. It’s a pretty fun game. One of the players has no experience in playing board games and she managed to pick up pretty fast. And she almost won the game. Must be beginners luck. The thing I like about Journal Singapore is the way they associate with Singapore history. All the characters, events and sectors are related to Singapore and there is a short write up about their history. It is a fun and interesting way to learn about Singapore’s history.
The game is quite replay-able. Every game is different since there are 12 different events in each Era and the order of these events will change the strategy and game play. I understand that there will also be expansion packs in the future. Journal Singapore is now selling for $59.90. Quite a decent price for a board game. You can also find it at some of the board game cafe in Singapore.
For more information, check out their website.