Big Box Woes and Solo Joys in Anunnaki: Dawn of the Gods

Dec 22, 2023 | Sessions | 0 comments

Plan a course through the stars to summon gods on planets and advance in technology with Anunnaki: Dawn of the Gods.

My husband can finally be happy! We first played Anunnaki: Dawn of the Gods together when it arrived, and he was so excited to hear my thoughts about the solo mode. At least I was well-prepared with an understanding of the rules ahead of time! With an interesting action system and lots of interconnected mechanics, I was eager to bring it to my table.

Game Overview

Game Name: Anunnaki: Dawn of the Gods
Publication Year:
2023
Designers:
Simone Luciani & Danilo Sabia
Artists:
Paolo Vicenzi & Jara Zambrano
Publisher: Cranio Creations
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

With a dying home planet, an alien faction must take to the stars to discover Gaia. The heart of gameplay occurs on a randomized assortment of action tiles, where plotting connected links leads to many benefits. Building and even technology play major roles in this complex and fun web!

A Very Interesting Action Selection System with Anunnaki
R

First Play

December 18, 2023

Complexity

4

Latest Play

December 18, 2023

Expansions

0

Setup Time

10 Minutes

Lifetime Plays

2

Play Time

1 Hour & 15 Minutes

:

High Score

67

1

Game Area

38" x 30"

;

Low Score

59

Surprisingly Small

As I’ll touch on in a moment, there is a huge disconnect between what this game looks like it will be… And what it actually looks like out on the table. This is about it!

Not too much, and honestly, there aren’t a ton of different components to keep track of. Action is mostly contained to a player mat, planet boards with hexes, and a scoring mat.

I was a little hesitant over the theme and initial flavor text. Which is extremely serious, then takes a comical tone?

Still, the idea here is that factions are aliens who travel to other planets, where they’re then celebrated as gods.

A Mostly Reasonable Play Area Minus Excessive Components in Anunnaki

A Gigantic, Huge “No!”

If you’re looking up this game, be aware that there is a very reasonably sized retail edition. I’ve seen the box. I wish I had that box! My complaint here is not about that.

I have the Kickstarter edition, which features all of the expansion content in a deluxe box. It’s 14″ x 12″ x 9″.

What?! It looks extremely intimidating and is so large it will never leave our house. Inside are trays… That serve no help in setting up the game. I want to switch to bags.

Just going back and writing this up, I know the box size and terrible trays are a big part of why I won’t play a lot.

A Gigantic Box to Limit Any Desire to Play Regularly with Anunnaki

Neat Setup Selection

Each faction is designed to play very differently, and I hope I get to see them all in action over time! Minor gods make up a big part of these choices, as only some are used.

When summoning a minor god, the choice is important. There isn’t a set order, so it’s a good idea to try to have a mix of different powers available. I wasn’t so good. Ha!

I do want to highlight how neat a lot of the mechanics are here because the production really detracts from the core.

Could the theme have been something else? Absolutely, yet it sort of makes sense and melts away during play.

Making Decisions About Minor Gods and When to Summon in Anunnaki

Warp Speed?

These aliens might be warping through space, but I didn’t need to see a live demonstration! My player mats have gone through the oddest warping process that continues.

First, they went concave while Ganesh and I played. When I went to clean up the next morning, they were convex.

During this session, they were back to concave and seem to be doing something odd on the diagonal. No, no, no!

There are also so many strange decisions about having some areas recessed. And I just can’t go into my reaction over the nonsensical player aids. Made for ants? Ha ha!

Questionable Component Quality with Strange Dual-Layered Board Choices in Anunnaki

Aligning Box Presentation with Gameplay

I know that huge game boxes are far from a rarity, and there are some awesome ones out there! My own collection is filled with these, most of which offer a very deep and awesome experience with plenty of setup assistance. I’m not upset about the size of this box, but how unnecessary it seems. There’s just… A giant box with less-than-helpful trays.

The game itself is actually really good and offers a pretty heavy experience that doesn’t last too long. That should be the huge selling point! Not a huge box. One look at it, and no one in my gaming group is going to ask to play. It’s rather intimidating, and I don’t have the heart to say that if you want an expansion faction, I have to dig to the bottom tray.

My goal with a lot of newer acquisitions is to understand what I’m getting. Gone are the days when I could haphazardly get everything, including games with around 5-10 boxes for all of the content. My house is already mostly a storage warehouse for games! Ha! It just baffles me why this box had to be so enormous for the amount of components.

Planning Actions

There aren’t a lot of rules to understand after digesting everything during the first play. Yet there are a lot of elements that work together, leading to many choices.

At the heart is the player mat, where action tiles are randomly laid out during setup. It’s possible to choose anything in future turns, aside from the current tile.

Yet the coolest part is in filling in the cube spaces by taking adjacent actions in sequence. Bonus awards!

If the central area or any triangular minor god token is surrounded, that leads to a special summon action. Cool! 

An Odd Mix of Recessed and Non-Recessed Spaces on the Player Mat in Anunnaki

Tracking Progress

Overall victory points come from a few direct sources, yet moving up these 4 tracks is a core element. Each is tied to a different factor, like combat or technology.

Each is factored into scoring a different feature based on tiles that might be placed in different spots. So the pairings change from play to play, which is very neat!

I did find myself focusing on the iconography after a short time, so the theme didn’t really come through that much.

Still, despite this feeling rather dry, it was an excellent puzzle that made me think through each turn!

An Interesting Way to Advance in Different Areas Across Many Tracks in Anunnaki

Solo Mode Goodness

In short, the solo mode was a lot of fun. I had to reference the rulebook and flow charts a little more than I usually like to, but this made the solo opponent feel realistic.

Each faction has its own priorities and styles, too, which leads to plenty of variety with the difficulty levels.

I also liked how I had a little insight into what would happen during the next round, helping me plan ahead just a little bit… I always need all the help I can get. Ha ha!

Pharaos looked like a dangerous faction, yet I had what I considered to be the makings of a good plan in mind.

An Interesting and Variable Sort of Solo Opponent in Anunnaki

A Dying World

The impetus to travel to other planets comes down to the idea that each faction’s home is nearly depleted. This is done realistically with resources that disappear over time.

It’s possible to focus on building a stronghold, yet the real source of power comes from gaining control of Atlantis.

Area control and battles were certainly some central parts of my experience, yet these didn’t feel overly strong.

Lost units were simply returned home, too, so the penalty for losing was more about taking some steps back than dealing with major losses and death. I still had a chance!

Starting Out on the Babylonian Planet Near Depletion in Anunnaki

Puzzling Around

Triggering the end game by placing out every cube is a nice advantage… But it isn’t easy to simply go around the action tiles and proceed in a perfectly orderly manner.

The randomized setup plays a huge role in influencing some choices, and I loved how I was never backed into a corner. I just lost out on a bonus or cube placement.

At a glance, maybe this doesn’t look neat, but it was so cool to consider my best options and what I wanted to do.

Sometimes, I saw a way to achieve what I wanted a few turns ahead to make sure I maximized everything. Fun!

The Clever Action Selection Paths and Ways to Unlock Gods in Anunnaki

Keeping Up with Ra

This entire session served as a learning experience, so I didn’t expect to do all that well. Still, looking at the final assortment on the tracks, I did pretty well!

I didn’t consider the pairings enough to really make an impact, though. My grand plan didn’t turn out to be much of anything, either, as I didn’t have any sort of focus.

Despite my initial loss, I was pretty excited to see how all of the mechanics worked together to create a puzzle.

Nothing was obvious, and I even had to adjust a bit after the solo opponent took its turn. Lots and lots of choices.

Managing to Keep Up with the Solo Opponent in the First Play of Anunnaki

Taking Over Atlantis

Due to some quick moves and the very easy difficulty level, Atlantis was mine near the end! This provided a lot of benefits, and it was nice to not lose anyone in battle.

Keeping a lot of my summoned minor gods around also forced Pharaos to go elsewhere… I was just too strong!

I rather enjoyed knowing I achieved a very tiny victory for myself by controlling Atlantis. My scores weren’t enough to get me anywhere, but I still achieved something!

The pace of play felt just about right, too, as it all came to an end a few rounds after I hunkered down in Atlantis.

Taking Control of Atlantis and Keeping Out Pharaos in Anunnaki

Shiny Artifacts

In the solo mode, the other main benefit to taking over Atlantis is the artifact card. A trio of these are available to choose from, each with its own powerful effect.

I found myself with the Duplicity Mirror, which gave me a way to quickly upgrade and build near the end. Worth it!

There are also many other artifacts, and it’s never known which ones are available until Atlantis is attacked.

“Attacked” might not even be the right word… There were no references to deaths. I guess this didn’t involve alien invasions like in the movies? That would be something!

A Most Awesome Discovery in Atlantis with the Duplicity Mirror in Anunnaki

Session Overview

Play Number: 1 & 2
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Easy Difficulty Level
Outcome: 59-79, 67-74 (2 Losses)

So close! I certainly improved, and summoned my major god very early during my second play. A few better decisions would have seen me succeed, yet I enjoyed the experience of working out everything. The only problem is that I have no desire to deal with this box again anytime soon… Definitely hope this one gets a better following with the more reasonably sized retail edition!

Lots of Interesting Choices with the Random Assortment of Action Tiles in Anunnaki

%

1 Play

Affordability

Price & Value

4

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

9

Originality

Design & Theme

4

Quality

Components & Rules

6

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

9

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

7

+ Pros (Positives)

  • Overall, the play area isn’t enormous and remains in a pretty compact space where everything is within reach.
  • Figuring out how to order actions to gain bonuses and summon gods is very interesting and satisfying to solve.
  • Scoring differs from play to play in the way the tracks are tied to different goals, adding a lot of variety.
  • Battles are part of the area control aspect, yet no units actually die so a loss isn’t as catastrophic as it might be.
  • Each solo opponent faction operates a bit differently, and there are multiple difficulty levels to try to beat.
  • There are a lot of flow charts for the solo mode, yet these become pretty intuitive and provide a realistic opponent.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • The Kickstarter edition box is obnoxiously large with frustrating trays that do nothing to help speed up setup.
  • Production quality is a bit questionable with warped player mats and only some recessed spaces for the tokens.
  • Although the theme aligns with the mechanics, it isn’t particularly appealing and disappears during gameplay.
  • There isn’t actually a player aid, and a lot of iconography requires flipping around the rulebook to understand.

More Anunnaki

Explore related posts about Anunnaki!

Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 0% 0%

Goals and Milestones

Q

Win at least 1 game as Babylon.

Q

Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.

Continue the Conversation

Have you played Anunnaki: Dawn of the Gods? I enjoyed the solo mode a lot, despite some of the issues with the production! Do you have a favorite faction? The act of figuring out the action tiles is so much fun, and I can only hope that more players discover this one… In a smaller box. Less is more when shelves are overflowing with games. Ha ha!

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