Our preview post below was published on September 13.
Colab is a 1-4 players tableau building, pool building, and worker placement game in which you play as a member of Colaboratory Incorporated. You are trying to build the best magical devices, monsters and potions, before your former collaborator -now mad and evil- completes their doomsday device. The campaign for the game will launch on Kickstarter on September 16.
To set up the game, you must first build the hexagonal board by randomly alternating towers (on the radii of the hexagon), and laboratories (the triangles in-between). Then, you pick a character, an enemy character, and a doomsday device that the enemy will try to build. You may also play against several enemies if you want. All characters have different special abilities and come with a set of three minions and a scientist figure to represent them on the board. The enemy character comes with two unique dice that they will roll to activate some special abilities. Throughout the game, you rely on a personal pool of dice; dice are rolled before being added to the pool and show resources on their sides. During the game, the dice you use get depleted and need to be refreshed, but you can widen your pool by purchasing new dice of different kinds.
The game begins with a set-up turn in which two enemy minions and their scientist figures are randomly placed on the board. Then, you choose where to place two of your minions. On your turn, you take a die from your pool and place it on one of your minions. You must place your minion on an empty window of one of the towers, earning one of the two resources listed on that space. Then, you must retrieve another minion from a tower window, which grants you one of the two resources listed there as well, and sends the attached die back to the pool. Once you have done this, you must place your scientist figure on any of the space labs.
The scientist can either collect or build. If they choose to collect, all adjacent minions (that is, all minions on the two towers bordering that lab space) can be used to take collect actions: you can gain a new die for your pool, a resource token, a potion token to charge potion abilities, a card (potion, device, or monster) to build later on, earn victory points, return a spent die to your pool by rolling it, etc. Each lab space lists the actions that can be taken there, and some actions may require a higher number of minions to activate. If you opt for building, you may spend resources to build a card in your hand matching the type listed on the lab space. You can spend resources from your resource tokens, from the dice in your pool, or from the dice of the minions adjacent to the lab. Built cards go into your personal grid, adjacent to a previously built one, and grant you victory points. Some may trigger effects once built, some may require to take a collect action to trigger their abilities, and to use potions, you must spend a set amount of potion tokens. Instead of taking a turn, you may also decide to rest, refreshing all spent dice to your pool and taking two cards or tokens (either resource or potion).
On the enemy's turn, you first draw a token from the enemy bag. There are two types of tokens, Teal and Criteria. Criteria tokens stack up on the enemy board until they reach the number shown there: they are then removed from the game, and one of the nine parts of the doomsday device is built. Teal tokens charge up the “Enemy special power” track, as does any encounter between your respective scientist figures on a given lab space. Criteria tokens also specify actions that the enemy will take. They can move around the board, or move their minions. Whenever a minion moves, you must roll dice to determine their next location. Sometimes the minion cannot get to that location, in which case the enemy, out of frustration, will charge up its power track as well. Special values of the dice for each enemy character may also trigger special effects. Some of these effects destroy tower spaces which cannot be visited again unless you repair them. You may repair them by resting each time you earn 5 victory points, or by paying two resources. To sum up, the enemy player never collects resources, but has a time track that moves in an unpredictable fashion, and takes spots on the board to hinder you. It doesn’t get a score in the end.
The game ends in three ways: if you build 12 cards; if there is no longer any tower space available on your turn (because they all got destroyed or occupied with minions); if the enemy builds their doomsday device. In the latter case, you get one last turn to try to build additional cards in your grid. You win the game if you build 12 cards or more, and lose otherwise. In all cases, you get a score that you may attempt to beat the next time you play. Additionally, there is a series of achievements that you may try to fulfill.