When I was in grade school, I remember days of kneeling in the hallway with our heads tucked and hands covering our necks. It was a standard tornado drill, something long replaced by schools with shelter areas. During the Cold War, I remember being told that along with Washington DC, our quaint metropolitan area in the Midwest would be one of the first to be attacked. Apparently living near a weapons arsenal, a nuclear power plant and a major waterway make you a target. This story has always stuck with me, but this quickly bubbled to the surface when we sat down to play Nucleum from Board & Dice.
As the name implies, Nucleum is a game revolving around the theme of nuclear power. The goal is to earn points by completing contracts, building and powering structures and meeting milestones as you industrialize the land. The main board features cities, mining sites, urban sites and power plants. It’s is where you’ll take your actions to do things like connect cities and deliver energy.
Your player board is where you’ll track income, milestones, contracts and various tile types. Each player selects a color. You collect five starting action tiles, eight technology tiles, meeples, income and milestone markers, turbine tokens, mine tiles and urban building tiles (residences, factories and laboratories).
The bulk of the game revolves around Action tiles. They are double sided with the front showing various base actions and the back representing railroad. On your turn, you must take an action. Play an Action tile from your pool to the main board or your player board. You’re limited by the tiles you’ve acquired as well as the available spaces. If you play a rail section on the board, you lay the tile face up and take the designated action. Then place your meeple on top to identify your association to the segment. Flip the pieces to the rail side when the line is complete. Player(s) in that section earn(s) bonuses and may utilize it for delivering energy.
While you want to complete actions to fulfill your contracts, you also need to focus on development of the lands. At the same time, there are some actions that relate to your individual player board. The top of your board includes slots where you can place an Action tile. As an option on your turn, you can place tiles here and take both actions actions displayed on the tile. But this also impacts how much income you can earn. Different things increase the markers on the income track. When you’re ready to trigger income, the cap of what you’ll receive is based on the furthest Action tile above your income track.
An important aspect to the game is to create networks of connected cities that contain one of your buildings. You can Urbanize, which means add an Urban building to an empty urban space in your network. Powering buildings is instrumental to success since, duh, it’s a nuclear-power-plant-themed game. To do this, you’ll need to build mines to hold Uranium that will eventually be used for your buildings. Turbines are a way to increase the production level of the plants. You gain bonuses as shown on your player board when you opt to industrialize by constructing mines or turbines.
As with any economic game such as this, there are an assortment of different types of actions to take in order to progress through the game and earn victory points. In addition to the various options I’ve mentioned, you can complete contracts, gain technologies and energize buildings. This variety adds to the replay value of the game, making it a great addition to the game shelf. We recommend you check with your local game store about availability. For online purchases, check Amazon or keep watch for restock direct from Board & Dice. They’re active on Instagram and Facebook if you’re curious about what else is charging up in their pipeline.
What recent game sparked an old childhood memory for you?