So you’re in District 12 in the days leading up to the Tribute selection. Happy Hunger Games!
This is a very simple worker placement game. You have just one worker to move each turn. There are various locations on the board that coincide with movie locations. You move from location to location and draw a card or cards trying to claim the resources you need to pay at set points on the timeline. This starts off easily enough but gets progressively more difficult as each pay round, the number and type of resources increase.
Each player starts off with one entry in the Tribute selection pile. If you cannot or choose not to pay the resources needed on the pay rounds, you must put another entry in the selection pile for each resource you are short. If you’re hoarding a certain resource for their high values and have a card that grants a bonus for having those, it could be worth the risk to keep those cards and pay into the selection pile.
There is nothing special in the mechanics. It’s standard worker placement. Put down token, draw card or cards. Next player. Each player starts the game with a special ability card that interacts with a location on the map. You could be allowed to draw extra cards or trade more cards or keep different types are cards then indicated at the location. There doesn’t seem to be a particular advantage or disadvantage to any of them. It’s just a way of adding a bit of differentiation between players.
Play progresses and players gather resources until they reach the pay round. Players then decide how much they will/can pay and if they will be putting more entries into the Tribute pile.
After the last pay round, the Tribute is selected. This is my favorite part of the game. I like it for two reasons. Primarily because it is totally random and is a great way to upset the min/max type players who try to optimize every turn. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve done in the game, really. If your card comes up, your card comes up and you lose. The second reason I like it is that you’re not so much playing to win, though there are actual victory conditions. You’re simply playing not to lose. The person whose Tribute card is drawn is the automatic loser. Of those left over, the person with the highest point total in their resource cards is the technical winner. But really, it’s all about not being a loser.
There’s not a lot of longevity here. The game will get stale after no more than a dozen plays. While this could be mitigated with some expansions, this is not likely to come from Neca. They simply wanted to capitalize on the movie. At $25 MSRP this is not a big investment but you do get what you pay for which is not a lot of longevity.