Friday, December 20, 2013

Bioshock Infinite: the Siege of Columbia Board Game Review

Bioshock Infinite: the Siege of Columbia is a new board game based on the highly popular video game of the same name.  The game is for 2-4 players who play individually or in pairs as either the Founders or the Vox Populi.  The goal of the game is to build up your army, fight off the other team, complete in game tasks, and ultimately gain control of Columbia.  The first player/team to 10 points wins.


On each player’s turn, they go through three phases.  The first is a world event phase, where the active player flips the top card of the world event deck and players vote on an event occurring.  This happens by revealing cards from their hand.  Booker may also influence this vote.  These events may help one side, harm another, or have some random global effect.  The global card will also tell you how to move either Booker, Elizabeth, or both.  A small side note about these characters.  In the video game, you play as Booker, but in the board game, it is not an option.  Booker and Elizabeth move about the board randomly based on cards.  They may help you out by attacking your opponent, or may just move around without harming anyone. 
The second phase is the player’s turn phase.  This phase starts with players collecting money by playing cards from their hand.  Next they spend their silver eagles to build new units, structures, or upgrade different things. 
Next the player moves any 4 of his or her tokens.  They must move them to adjacent spaces, or risk travelling on a skyline.  This type of travel is dangerous, as you may lose your unit, or lose cards in your hand. 
The final part of the player’s turn in combat.  Combat is resolved by having players choose cards in their hand face down, and then flipping them at the same time.  The cards will instruct the players on how to roll the dice or use special abilities to resolve combat.
The final phase is the refresh phase.  This is where a player may discard cards, and draw cards so that they have 5 cards back.  A new victory point card is then flipped.  Victory points are earned by meeting the conditions of the victory point cards.  At this point, the next round begins with a new world event phase.


This game has a lot of steps to a turn, and also a high degree of randomness, which make for a challenging initial few gameplays.  The initial setup is fairly straightforward, and starting to play will not be an issue.  The first few times you go through a round it will be slow, as you will need to get use to all the intricacies in each phase.  In preparing to write this review though, I found a fantastic YouTube video that takes you through the game step by step, slowly and thoroughly.  (


One of the biggest predictors in a game’s replay-ability is the probability of a new game experience happening every time you play.  If that probability is low, the game will get boring quite fast, and you won’t want to play it more than a few times.  This game has a high probability of new game experiences though, as there are so many random events that can happen, not only during setup, but also in the game. 


Bioshock Infinite is probably my favorite console game of this generation.  It is about as close to perfect as you can get with this technology.  If you haven’t played it yet, would you kindly stop reading this and go buy it.  This game is overflowing with flavor from the world of Columbia.  The game board is designed with all the locations we visit in the video game.  The miniatures are beautifully crafted to capture the characters they portray.  The cards not only have amazing art on them, but they also include flavor text from the video game.  Just looking at the box of this game made me want to play the video game again, which I did. 
This is a game that I was immediately excited about when I saw it on the shelf in the store.  If you are a fan of the Bioshock games and want to continue exploring that world, then this is the game for you.  Tear open this game and see what’s on the other side.


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