“It is still early in the Artemis project. A foothold on life here has been gained, but it will take tenacious effort from the competing colonies to reach the point where Europa is truly viable as a home.”
The Artemis Project is a 1-5 player dice placement game designed by Daryl Chow and Daniel Rocchi, published by Grand Gamers Guild with artwork by Josh Cappel and Dominik Mayer.
Box Game Length: 60-75 minutes
Actual Playtime: 60-90 minutes. The box length is actually pretty accurate. I’ve played at 2,3,4 and 5 players and all games seem to run roughly the same, with a bit of time added for each player count.
Setup Time: 10 minutes
Player Count: 1-5 players
Game Mechanics: Dice Placement, Take That, Set Collection
Game Weight: 3/5 This seems a little high from my experience, so don’t let it deter you, the rules and flow of the game are simple enough. The strategy of dice placement is where you get your depth.
Thematic Integration: Moderate. The theme isn’t very important to the function of the game, it could have easily taken place on just about any terrain/planet, however the integration of game elements into the theme was done quite well.
One example would be having to pay energy per pioneer in your shelters during cleanup. I can imagine that energy would be needed to heat the shelter so they didn’t freeze to death on the cold surface.
Another way that theme was well integrated into the game is with Event and Expedition cards. They each have their own little story causing a negative or positive reaction. Much like in real life, we have to work around what is thrown at us.
Objective: Your objective in The Artemis Project is to survive and thrive on Europa, Jupiter’s moon. Collect minerals and energy, construct buildings above and below the surface, recruit and train new workers and go on expeditions.
Game Round Summary: Each round you will roll your dice into your private pool, then in clockwise turn order, you will place one die in any of the 7 sections on the board, turn continues, placing one die at a time until everyone has placed their 5th dice.
- Basecamp: Dice placed here will be going on any one of the available Expedition cards. For an expedition to be successful, the value in total pips among players must meet or exceed the value indicated on the card. Kind of how a base is busted in Smash Up. The two players with the highest value on their die/dice will gain a reward on the card. You can also send along different types of pioneers on Expeditions to gain addition resources, to decrease the pip value on opponents dice, or to gain victory points.
- Vents: You will be able to harness energy based on the value of your dice, resources are limited and lower valued dice always go first, meaning, dice are placed and resolved in ascending order. So you can try to go big, but you might go home empty handed.
- Quarry: The Quarry functions the same as The Vents, however, you harvest minerals here, which can then be used for constructing buildings, or different building effects.
- Gandry: Place your dice on a building you wish to construct. The value of the die placed here is how many minerals you will have to spend to construct the building. You can be outbid by higher dice placed here. Then the choice is yours, let it go, or outbid them again!
- Doorstep: Dice placed here will recruit pioneers from the available pool. You may recruit 1-3 pioneers depending on the die used at 2 energy per recruit.
- Academy: Dice placed here must be accompanied by a pioneer from your camp. That pioneer will be trained at The Academy and become a different type of specialist depending on the die placed. Either an Engineer, Marine or Steward (Space Wizard).
- Outfitter: When dice are placed here, they will either gain one or two toolkits, your receive those immediately when dice are places and not when dice are resolved. Toolkits are used to lower or increase the pip value of dice you place. So they are important to have when placing other dice, as they might allow you to sneak ahead of someone else.
Be sure to stop and resolve any event that happen when you are resolving the section the event takes place. The event card will have a pink letter indicating when it resolves.
Artwork: The artwork in this game is outstanding, like really really beautiful. Though I would say that board games are moving more towards works of art. To stand out, your games artwork needs to be above and beyond. Well done Josh Cappel and Dominik Mayer!
One thing that stood out to me in particular were the different buildings, ocean and surface. When you place the buildings next to each other, they form an image of Europa, above and below the surface. It’s really neat to put together and see it expand with each new building you construct.
The only thing I would say that I didn’t love, which is more of a graphic design issue than an art issue is the victory point track. You zig-zag up and down when adding VPs rather than moving your piece in a linear line. It’s honestly a small complaint, but when I was playing solo for the first time, I totally missed that it zig-zagged and it took me a hot second to look below. Again, small complaint, and honestly, if that’s the only thing I can really complain about, I think that’s pretty impressive.
Components: In a time where plastic is everything, this game has really great wooden components. Each of the different types of pioneers have their own unique meeple shape and colour. The energy cubes are plastic, which I don’t have a problem with, they glow and convey the feeling of energy well that I don’t think would have worked as nicely as wooden cubes.
The dice are nice and chonky, super satisfying to roll and easy to see across the board, plus there’s a purple/maroon player colour! Cardboard pieces are thick and durable. Honestly, there’s nothing about this game that isn’t high quality. For a retail edition especially, there was no skimping and I was so thoroughly impressed.
If you are a Kickstarter backer, you will have some upgraded components, a fancier shaker ship to randomly select arriving pioneers, some uniquely shaped victory point and relief track markers as well as a cool little first player Snowcat mini. Just a little something something for those suffering from plastic withdrawal!
Scales Based on Player Count:
Solo: Have not tried yet.
2 Players – My first game that I played was two players. It isn’t bad, but this game was definitely made to play at a higher player count. There are some things that just don’t seem to work the way you’d want them to at 2 players. For instance, the Expeditions, these cards need to bust to succeed, meaning, you have to place dice there in value equal to, or more than the value shown on the card.
In a two player game, this is much more difficult to do because you don’t have the help from 3-4 other players to get it done. I was finding that I had to place 2-3 of my own dice to make an expedition successful because strategy wise, it didn’t make sense to help the other player when you could use the board to gain the same, if not more rewards by placing your dice somewhere else. Plus, you’ve effectively forced your opponents hand.
The other track that didn’t see much movement during the two player game was the relief track. I didn’t really talk about this yet. But basically, anytime your dice gains no reward, either by being pushed out, or outbid, you move up on the relief track and gain a benefit. Not that this is really a problem, because you’re gaining the resources elsewhere anyways, but I think someone’s piece moved once during the two player game.
I would say that if you play using the hard mode, you’d probably see this being used more.
Other than that, as you would imagine, it is a little easier to plan your moves, things generally cost less because you are being outbid less, or are able to sneak in and construct a building with a 1-2 value die. It’s really not a bad game at two players, it’s just a much different game than when playing at a higher player count.
3/4/5 Players – Three players and up is where you really start seeing some more involvement in the Expeditions and the Relief Track. The other thing you’ll notice is that there is much more competition for resources and buildings. This means that you will be bumped and outbid a lot. It’s a take that element that I love because you still have choice. There are ways to modify dice with toolkits to get back under someone that has bumped you out, or to outbid someone again. Not to mention the rewards on the Relief Track. While they aren’t outstanding, you still don’t leave empty handed.
Going from three to four to five players increases the tightness of the game, especially the academy, as there are either 1 or two spots available, and the take that element, to some extent. Especially when end game scoring buildings (surface buildings) come into play. But the other thing that increases is the success rate of Expeditions, this often meant greater rewards than trying to risk it at some of the other board locations. There are pros and cons to each player count based on what kind of experience you want.
I would say that I’ve enjoyed the game at 3/4 players the most. If you’re a fan of more cutthroat/take that game play, load er up and play with 5 players.
Replayability: I have played a total of 5 times so far and each game is totally different, especially because of the change in player count. But there is a large stack of Expeditions, Buildings, and Event Cards that allow for different strategy each time you play. You’re actions are often dictated by the current round’s event, but also by the buildings that show up early on.
Overall Thoughts: Dice placement games are among my favourite, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this as much as I did. Dice placement games have a chance element, but aren’t as punishing for rolling low. In this game in particular, low rolls mean you will resolve actions first, which is good.
With the buildings, there’s a kind of engine building that happens as well. Even though the location spaces are limited, the options felt really vast with the building actions.
I was so pleased with my first play and have brought it out to game night every week since. I think this game really stands out above a lot of other releases this year and wouldn’t be surprised to see it winning a bunch of awards, if it doesn’t, it’s not to say it wouldn’t have deserved them.
Recommend You Liked: Coimbra, Alien Frontiers and Kingsburg. It has some shared elements, but I think that it does it better than the rest.
Funny Story: When I first taught the game to my game group, I couldn’t for the life of me remember that the purple guys were called Stewards. So without thinking, the first thing that popped into my head was wizards. I mean, if we’re being honest here, they kinda look like wizards. I didn’t really think anyone would notice, but my group did, and kind of looked at my quizzically. Since then, when playing, they’ve been calling them space wizards because well, space wizards are a better name than Stewards.
If you’re interested in checking them out or picking up the game at Gen Con, you can find more information about ordering and what will be available at the following links: