We’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. A lot of it has been for conventions like TantrumCon, Great Plains Game Festival, GAMA Expo, Origins Game Fair, PAX Unplugged, Proto ATL and Geekway (to name just a few). Generally, we’re able to drive, but several have involved flights. At the risk of sounding like I’m complaining, it would be nice to fly somewhere and not experience issues with our luggage getting lost or our flights getting cancelled. I’ve decided it’s time someone invents wormholes so we can easily traverse long distances without worrying about what the airline is going to do to mess up our trip. Maybe these thoughts arose from frustrations with the airlines, but it’s more likely the result of playing Wormholes from Alderac Entertainment Group.
Don’t worry, Wormholes isn’t about commercial passengers crammed into cramped quarters in hopes of arriving at their destination on time and with their luggage. That wouldn’t be family-friendly and would require a lot more swearing. In Wormholes, players are acting as captains of passenger spaceships equipped with a wormhole creator and the ability to create links to far reaches of the galaxy. The objective is to be the player with the most points shortly after wormholes have been placed next to all the planets. There are various ways to earn points including creating wormholes and delivering passengers. What makes this interesting is that players also earn points when opponents use their wormholes. Sure, you can move across the board quicker to explore or drop off passengers, but you do it with the knowledge that you’re giving points to an opponent.
Setup varies based on player count, but generally it’s the same. Place the Space Station tile in the center of the table. Randomly place space boards around the Space Station in a designated pattern based on player count. Rotate tiles to ensure proper spacing between planets. Alongside the play area, form a stack of exploration tokens then place it atop a stack consisting of the Planets Connected marker and 3 round tokens. Create a general pool of point tokens. Each player begins with three (active) energy tokens, a ship, pickup token, reference card and 10 sets of wormhole markers (stacked in ascending order). Form a passenger deck then deal cards to players based on their turn order.
On your turn, players utilize three units of energy to move their ship across the universe. Players may pick up passengers once per turn. In addition, free actions may be performed multiple times before, during or after movement. Examples of free actions include dropping off passengers, playing a wormhole token, warping or using a map feature.
The game is called Wormholes so it’s probably obvious that they are important to the game play. Placing them is a free action, but there are limitations. They can only be created on a blank space on or adjacent to their ship’s space. The wormhole tokens are stacked in order and must be placed in that order by either starting a new one or completing a pair. Once created, wormholes don’t move. Finally, players may not have more than one next to any single planet.
Diving into the unknown may sound reckless, but there’s a point benefit to being first to develop a planet. The first person to create a wormhole next to each planet draws the top token from the exploration stack. The first six are only worth 1 victory point each, but the remainder are worth 3 each. So while the first players are likely to earn tokens first, those aren’t the highest valued ones as happens in some games. Plus, there are extra points for players who are effective at developing the final planets.
Passengers are represented by cards with the image reflecting their requested destination. When a player is next to a planet, they may drop off all cards for that planet. Those cards are stacked face-down in front of the pilot. At the end of the game, each is worth two points. Additionally, players get bonus points for delivering passengers to more then five planets. Players may pick up passengers from a planet or Space Station with rules varying based on the location.
Players continue to navigate the map, delivering passengers and creating wormholes until all the planets have been discovered. Three additional rounds are conducted to allow delivery of passengers then points are calculated. From start to finish, Wormholes is pretty quick. The setup is easy, there isn’t much downtime between turns and scoring is as easy as counting your tokens and cards. Between the variable setup and the different obstacles and map features, the experience is different each game. There are even rules for playing Wormholes solo!
The concept is pretty easy for younger players to learn, making Wormholes a quality option for family game night. Copies are readily available online from Alderac Entertainment Group, on Amazon (order with Prime delivery) or locally at game stores. AEG focuses on quality over quantity so you won’t see them rolling out game after game. If you’re curious what else they have in their catalog on in the pipeline, port over to any of their social channels for details.
What two locations would you want connected by a wormhole?