The Game of Irish Myth and Epic Exploration Is Coming Soon
They landed with dread, with lofty deed,
in their cloud of ghosts’ mighty combat,
upon a mountain of Connemara of Connacht.
The truth was not known beneath the sky of stars,
whether they were of heaven or of earth.
– From Lebor Gabála Éirenn (The Book of Invasions)
Thousands of years ago, the legendary “people of the goddess,” the Tuatha Dé Danann, arrived at an unknown, verdant island shrouded in mists. Neither entirely divine nor entirely human, they had descended from the magical cities of the north, bearing four powerful treasures. They are the most well-known of Ireland’s prehistoric invaders, but they were not the first to settle the emerald isle, and most certainly not the last. Four different peoples came to Ireland during this mythological era, each seeking to claim the island for themselves and rule over the others.
The upcoming board game Inis immerses you in the great deeds, clan rivalries, and mysterious lands of ancient Irish myth. In Inis, you and up to three opponents explore Ireland, populate the land with your clans, build sanctuaries and citadels, and fight for territory. Multiple players can become pretenders to the throne, but only one can become Ard Rí, or High King. Created by Christian Martinez and the team at Matagot, Inis features an elegant system of gameplay that combines card drafting and area control. Its stunning original art brings to life the heroes and legends of Celtic mythology, and a modular puzzle board sets before you an ever-changing Irish landscape.
The Meeting of the Clans
Once a year, all the great chieftains of Ireland and many of their clans would come together at the Óenach, a combined festival, market, and political assembly. At the Óenach, laws were proclaimed and confirmed and warring clans could negotiate under truce. Similarly, each round of Inis begins with an Assembly where you determine the first player, take Advantage cards from any territories where your clans are the majority, and draft your Action cards for the round.
All actions in Inis are card-driven, so that you have as many actions each round as you have cards in hand. Action cards, the only ones you are guaranteed to get, cannot be kept between rounds. This means that the card drafting that occurs during the Assembly determines most of what you will be able to accomplish that round. You also have a chance to limit what your opponents can do by keeping certain cards out of their hands. Drafting your cards carefully can make the difference between stealthily achieving victory or enabling an opponent to become High King.
The Time for Great Deeds
Once Action cards are all chosen, the Assembly ends and the next phase, called the Season, begins. Beginning with the first player, you and your opponents go around the table, each person taking one action per turn until everyone passes. Many of these actions are peaceful: placing clans in territories you occupy, exploring new territories, building Sanctuaries and Citadels. Some Action cards enable you to draw Epic Tale cards that offer powerful abilities and can be kept between rounds. However, when you move a clan into a territory occupied by other players’ clans, a clash erupts. Any threatened clans have a only brief chance to take refuge in Citadels before battle begins.
In a clash, you have three choices. You can attack, forcing another player to lose a clan from that territory or discard a card, you can use a maneuver from an Epic Tale card, or you can withdraw your clans to another territory. Then, the player you attacked chooses a maneuver in reply. If there are no more unprotected clans in that territory, or if all players agree to end it, the clash ends. You’ll find that eradicating your opponents’ clans is often unnecessary. Having the majority in a territory makes you its chieftain and enables you to take an Advantage card next round. Frequently, that is enough to keep you on the path to victory.
Becoming High King
There are three victory conditions in Inis. You can win simply by being present in six or more territories, whether or not you are chieftain of any of them. You can win by being present in territories with a combined total of six or more Sanctuaries. Finally, you can win by being chieftain over six or more of your opponents’ clans. The player who achieves more of these victory conditions than any other player wins.
In the scenario above, both the blue player and the white player meet victory conditions. The blue player rules over six of her opponents’ clans in the Lost Vale. The while player occupies territories that have a total of six sanctuaries (the brown buildings) combined. But since both players each meet one victory conditions, neither can become High King. The game continues until one of them meets a second, or third, before the other does.
Welcome to the Emerald Isle
Rather than a game of might and battle, Inis is a game of intrigue and strategy, of making careful choices and outwitting your opponents. Clashes will occur, but can become opportunities for negotiation. Exploring unoccupied territory or drawing an Epic Tale card may prove to be as valuable as conquering the Capital. Achieving peaceful coexistence with other clans may be the best means to become the High King, or it may be your undoing. You never know what the next season, or the next territory, may hold.
Inis will become available in September of this year. You can learn more about it on the Inis product site, or demo it in the Asmodee booth at this year’s Gen Con.