#439 – Tribe

Box

2 – 4 players.
Play time: 30 – 60 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas

Logged plays: 7 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Tribe was provided by itten.

Well, I had a chance to get to one a few weeks ago with Ponkotsu Factory, but now I’ve got some free time to dive into more titles from itten that have been released in the past! This one’s a stacking game, which is always up my alley, but it’s also being reimplemented by Jordan Draper as Cactus, part of his collection of games that are coming out soon. So I’ll probably review that one once it happens, also. Either way, let’s dive into Tribe.

Tribe is a pair of games that center around the same thing; learning to fit in by wearing whatever weird thing other people are wearing. As you start doing that, these cliques or tribes that have something in common form. Naturally, people like that sort of thing, but they also treasure their individuality. As you guide these humans into the next age, which will you consider to be more important? And will you teach these humans to have pride in themselves?

Contents

Setup

So, there are two games here. Tribe and Tribe: Chronicle. I’ll explain them both, but there are still core setup things worth noting. You’re going to want to set up the people on their stands:

People

Put the people in a circle. It’ll also help if you set the Basic Ornaments out:

Basic Ornaments

The Folklore Ornaments should be kept separate:

Folklore Ornaments

And then, set out the Pride Tokens:

Pride Tokens

The golds are worth 3 of the grays. Last up, set out the die:

Die

Now, let’s talk specifics.

Tribe Setup

For the base game, just put the basic ornaments in the center and choose 12 of the Folklore Ornaments randomly and place them around the outer ring of the people. Give each player 3 Pride Tokens, and you’re ready to start!

Basic Setup

Chronicle Setup

For this one, you’re going to keep the humans in the same spot, but place all the Basic Ornaments in the bag:

Bag

Randomly put 10 of the Folklore Ornaments in a line, making sure no two ornaments of the same color are adjacent to each other. The remainder can be set aside. Place 10 Pride Tokens, gray side up, at one end of the line; that will be the starting point. Give each player 3 Pride Tokens and you’re ready to start!

Chronicle Setup

Gameplay

Again, two different games, but with similar core concepts; you’re going to be doing a lot of stacking. The scoring conditions are pretty similar, too, so keep an eye out for that.

Tribe

B Gameplay 1

In Tribe, you’re going to be guiding a group of humans toward prosperity by helping shape what they’re going to look like for a long time to come.

On the first player’s turn, they may place whatever piece they want on any person. On subsequent turns, every player must roll the die and follow the rules for that turn:

  • Eye (Harmony): You may place a piece on any person, provided that it is either the same color or the same shape as the previous piece.
  • Hand (Creation): You may place a piece on any person, provided it is both a different color and a different shape than the previous piece.
  • Ear (Oral History): You may place a folklore ornament on any person.

B Gameplay 2

The piece placed cannot touch the ground, the base, or another piece of the same shape or color. Easy now, but it’ll get tough later.

B Gameplay 3

If you drop your own piece, that’s fine, but if you knock any other piece(s) off, you incur a penalty:

  • Lose 1 Pride Token per color of pieces you knocked off.  Helps make sure you don’t go bankrupt. If you run out of Pride Tokens, you are eliminated from the game.
  • Remove the ornaments you knocked down from the game.
  • You must still finish your turn, but you can score no points.

B Gameplay 4

Once you’ve done that, check for scoring:

  • Tribe Traits: You can score for groups of people who have the same trait. The person you just put a piece on must be in the group to score.
    • People with the same color ornaments:
      • 3 people: 1 point
      • 5 people: 2 points
    • People with the same shape ornaments:
      • 3 people: 1 point
      • 5 people: 2 points
    • People with folklore ornaments:
      • 3 people: 1 point
      • 5 people: 2 points
  • Individual Traits: You can also score for certain traits on the person you just put a piece on.
    • Same color ornaments:
      • 3 ornaments: 1 point
      • 5 ornaments: 2 points
    • Same shape ornaments:
      • 3 ornaments: 1 point
      • 5 ornaments: 2 points
    • Folklore ornaments:
      • 3 ornaments: 1 point
      • 5 ornaments: 2 points
    • One person with all five ornament colors: 2 points

If you fulfill multiple of these conditions, you score multiple times. 3 Blue + 3 Purple + 5 Folklore = 4 points, for instance.

B Gameplay 5

Once you hand the die to the next player, your turn ends. If you notice after the fact that you should have scored more points, too bad.

Play until:

  • All Folklore Ornaments have been placed.
  • A turn where no ornament can be played.

Once that happens, the game immediately ends. The player with the most Pride Tokens wins!

Chronicle

C Gameplay 1

Chronicle plays a bit differently, over the course of two ages. The first age deals only with grey pride tokens. Let’s look to the Root Age, first.

Root Age

C Gameplay 2

During the Root Age, your goal is to find ways in which all the tribe is alike. This means you’ll be scoring similarly to the Tribe-level scoring of the Base Game. How this works is that the first player chooses a human and rolls the die. For the Eye, they choose any piece from the bag. For the Hand, they choose a piece without looking. For the Ear, they take the first Folklore Ornament. For all subsequent players, first roll the die:

  • Eye (Harmony): You may look into the bag and choose a piece to place on the next person clockwise, provided that it is either the same color or the same shape as the previous piece.
  • Hand (Creation): You may reach into the bag and choose a piece that is a different shape than the previous piece, placing it on the next person clockwise.
  • Ear (Oral History): You may place a folklore ornament on the next person clockwise.

The same placement rules as the base game apply, as well, including the point penalties and the elimination. There is a new rule, however. If you cannot or do not want to place a piece, you may return 1 Pride Token to the supply to remove any piece from a human and return it to the bag and then place your piece. However, you do not score.

Now, like the base game, identify tribes:

  • Tribe Traits: You can score for groups of people who have the same trait. The person you just put a piece on must be in the group to score.
    • People with the same color ornaments:
      • 3 people: 1 point
      • 5 people: 2 points
    • People with the same shape ornaments:
      • 3 people: 1 point
      • 5 people: 2 points
    • People with folklore ornaments:
      • 3 people: 1 point
      • 5 people: 2 points

Once you’ve done that, pass the die to the next player, like the base game. Play continues until one of three circumstances:

  • All Pride Tokens have been claimed.
  • All Folklore Ornaments have been placed.
  • A turn where no ornament can be played.

If any of those things happen, prepare for the New Age.

New Age

C Gameplay 3

In the New Age, it’s less about the group and more about celebrating individuality. This version leverages the rules from the individual scoring of the base game.

To prepare for the New Age, take all the ornaments out of the bag and mix any remaining Folklore Ornaments with them. Put the die and bag back into the box, and change your pride tokens to gold:

  • For every three gray Pride Tokens you have, flip one over and return the other two to the Supply.

Once you’ve done that, play continues with the player after the final player of the Root Age.

On your turn, take any ornament matching the same color or shape as the previous ornament chosen. If they picked a Folklore Ornament, you may choose any Folklore Ornament as well.

Place as normal, following that clockwise placement. You may also, like the Root Age, return a Pride Token to remove any piece and then place your piece, but the removed piece is now removed from the game.

After you’ve placed successfully, check to score like the base game:

  • Individual Traits: You score for certain traits on the person you just put a piece on.
    • Same color ornaments:
      • 3 ornaments: 1 point
      • 5 ornaments: 2 points
    • Same shape ornaments:
      • 3 ornaments: 1 point
      • 5 ornaments: 2 points
    • Folklore ornaments:
      • 3 ornaments: 1 point
      • 5 ornaments: 2 points
    • One person with all five ornament colors: 2 points

C Gameplay 4

Continue playing until all the ornaments run out or a player cannot choose a valid ornament to play. Each player then counts their points and the player with the most points wins!

For an Expert Variant, you can add more Folklore Ornaments to the game (max 12) or you can return removed ornaments back to the supply in the New Age.

Player Count Differences

Not really much of them; the major thing is downtime, honestly. Players are going to want to spend some time thinking through their moves on their turn, and that is inevitably going to take a while. The more players you have, then, the more thinking there is that doesn’t involve you, directly. That said, it is nice to have more than two players so you’re also not just going tit-for-tat and you can occasionally mess up a third party. Up to you! I actually quite enjoy it at every player count, just because the downtime isn’t particularly stressful.

Strategy

  • Play delicately. You should be placing things with both hands very carefully; the penalty for knocking things off can be severe. Thankfully, it’s somewhat tempered by there only being five colors. That said, you can occasionally really get away with things if you place them gently enough; it’s very similar to Catch the Moon, but with Tokyo Highway-textured pieces.
  • Look for combos. This is most of the game, honestly. You need to work hard to identify existing combos or things with combo potential. One thing a lot of players miss is shape combos; there aren’t always clear indicators that the C or the O have been played a bunch, so if you can sneak one on then you might be able to do so without your opponent getting the third or fifth piece and scoring the points that should have been yours.
  • Try not to place the second or fourth of anything. It just gives your opponent a massive opportunity, honestly. You should know better. Try, instead, to place a variety of colors and shapes to pressure them into being the person who plays that hated second or fourth piece and benefits you. It’s much more fun for you that way, I guarantee.
  • Watch out for the five-different-color-pieces bonus. It sneaks up on you. A lot of players won’t notice it! That’s two points every time you successfully play anything on that character, which is amazing. That said, once everyone’s going for it it can be kind of dangerous to do so legally without knocking anything off; you really want to be the player who notices this first and makes a play to render that person unplayable. It’s a bit rude, but, most stacking games end up a bit rude after some time.
  • The Folklore Ornaments are strange. Use them to your advantage. You can do all sorts of stuff with angles and leaning pieces and weight arrangements with those giant tokens; just make sure you don’t knock one off with all the stuff it has on top of it; that would be an aggressive mistake.
  • Also play aggressively. Use the long pieces to make weird levers. Give everyone hats. Try to do things that aren’t long-term sustainable and then make them someone else’s problem. The only real way to win is to try and trap other players into making really costly mistakes; otherwise it comes down to pattern-matching and you might not be the best at that.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • It’s a silly theme. I ended up with someone wearing a fish for a hat; it’s definitely a fashionable game.
  • I love the whimsical pieces. They’re weird shapes and bright colors, two of the best things pieces can be. They’re also unnamed, which is the third best thing. I call at least one of them a danger noodle.
  • The people on stands are also really great. They’re all in very powerful poses and I respect that.
  • The two games are very distinct with common elements, and I appreciate that. It’s nice once you get used to the basic game to move up to the advanced game, and it definitely provides its own interesting challenges. I’m not going to say that the strategy changes a ton, but it’s spread more across the ages, which is interesting. Generally, I think itten tends toward these multi-game games, which makes for a better value for the customer (and more of a pain for the reviewer, who has to write up both).
  • I just really like stacking games. They’re all so much fun. I think I slightly prefer Rhino Hero: Super Battle, but that’s more because the verticality aspect of stacking games gets me even more excited. The ridiculous fashions of this one is pretty great, though.
  • Generally not that complex to explain. The hard parts are the dice faces and the scoring rules. If you can get those coherently, you’re golden. The Advanced Game is a bit tougher to explain, but that’s why it’s the Advanced Game, after all; you should expect that.
  • really like the Folklore Tokens. They’re large, unique, and have all sorts of weird quirks to them. I would definitely recommend things like them if you’re ever building a stacking game; they add a very interesting additional layer to the game. I’m super into it.

Mehs

  • Be careful rolling the die. I’ve seen people pitch the die right into a person and knock stuff off. It’s very sad and very expensive, for them. Me, I’m pretty fine with it, but it seems fair to warn you, reader.
  • Actually, just watch out in general for people jostling the table. It’s not a very stable game at all. It shares this problem with Tokyo Highway. It’s not the worst thing, and is kind of the nature of stacking games, so, meh.

Cons

  • The playtime can swing wildly. I’ve played games of this that have taken 30 minutes and I’ve played this game for over an hour. Depending on which game you’re playing and how quickly certain pieces get used up, you might be playing Tribe for a while.
  • It can be a bit annoying when certain tokens will get you a lot of points and you have to play something that scores very little. The die’s randomness can be a bit cruel, unfortunately, but there’s also not much that can be done about it, in the base game. In Chronicle, you have a few more options.

Overall: 8.5 / 10

Chronicle In Progress

Overall, I really like Tribe! Like I said, I’m generally a sucker for stacking games, anyways, so it’s rare to get one that doesn’t really excite me, but add in some bold colors and whimsical shapes and I’m pretty much sold. The one thing that doesn’t excite me as much is that it’s much more about balance than verticality, which disappoints me when I compare it to my favorite stacking games, Rhino Hero: Super Battle and Catch the Moon. I want to send this stuff into the sky, you know? That said, it’s far from bad; I quite enjoy it, and it will probably make its way onto my 30×10 this year. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Jordan Draper does with it by way of Cactus, when that releases later. The bonus game, Chronicle, is a delight as well, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re finding that the basic game is getting too basic for you. The forced clockwise placement and the random pulls from the bag make it a lot harder to be choosy about what you think will get you the most points, which is a welcome improvement. Either way, I’m really a big fan of Tribe, so, if you ever get a chance to check it out, I’d definitely recommend it!


If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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