Golem is a fun little card game of mad scientists
and battling monsters. Published by Rhino Ventures, it's
complete in one box - a big plus with me, not being a fan of CCGs.
The game is for 2-6 players, though the box doesn't tell you that.
In fact, that's actually a bit loosely defined: it's probably
optimum at 4 players, plays very well with 3 or 5, and is a bit
rough in some way or another (but still playable) for 2 or 6
I've just heard that the new box cover, which I haven't seen,
states that the game is for 3-6 players.
Each of the players is a mad scientist, creating their own golem:
a creature made of inanimate - or formerly animate - material,
brought to life by the throwing of a switch at a suitably dramatic
moment. You know the archetype ....
The game consists of 120 body part cards, 30 switch cards, and 30
special cards. There are arms, legs, heads, and torsos of three
different materials: flesh, clay and iron. Flesh are the most
numerous parts, and iron the rarest, and their combat value is
proportionately weak or strong.
The general course of the game is to build a golem (or multiple
golems, if you can!) on your slab (the table space in front
of you), activate it by throwing a switch, and then send it out
into the world to battle other golems - or just to survive. Since
you gain victory points simply by having an active golem, there is
no need to battle other golems - unless they got out there
before you did, of course, in which case you have to fight them in
order to keep them from amassing the necessary victory points before
you do! Or maybe just because you have an all iron golem and feel
like smashing other golems just for fun ...
A completed golem has six body parts: a torso, a head, two arms,
and two legs. You can mix and match materials, but a golem built
entirely of one material type has its combat power doubled. Not
that that helps an all Flesh Golem much against even a half-iron
Each turn you draw one card and play one card. If you don't have
the right mix of body parts to make a complete golem, you can throw
a spare head or whatever onto your slab - in other words, get a
good start on a second golem before you've even finished your first.
Or perhaps have spare parts ready to refurbish a damaged golem when
it comes home.
Once you have a complete golem, on your next turn you can play a
switch card, which activates the golem. While active, you can
battle other golems, or opt not to. It's usually wise to, unless
you're prone to rolling a 1 on a d6, as that's the only way to hurt
the attacker in a battle of golems. Or perhaps you just don't want to
make enemies ...
A fight is resolved with a simple combat results table: compare the
strengths of the golems, find the correct column, and roll 1d6. A
truly strong golem can damage as many as three body parts in one blow,
but one body part is a much more common result, and it's possible to
swing and miss entirely. If an opponent damages a body part, turn
it face down - it's value doesn't count toward combat strength
until you recall the golem and replace it.
At the end of your turn, you can decide if you want to recall your
golem or keep it active - an active golem collects one victory
point on its switch card, while a recalled golem gets to put the
victory chits into safe keeping - they are liable to be lost until
a golem is recalled. A golem and all victory points on its switch
are destroyed when the golem loses its last body part. In a
four-to-six-player game, you can be hit by many golems in between
turns, so weighing how long to keep your golem active is very
When recalled, any damaged body parts are discarded (unless you have a
Hunchback Assistant - found in the Special Cards) and you can freely
mix and match parts to rebuild your golem and hopefully send it out
You can also do Research, which is basically discarding your
whole hand and redrawing. Most of my "research" in this game has
not been in anatomy, but in electrical engineering - I usually need
a switch card desperately when I go to the extreme of doing
The special cards are very entertaining, including optional equipment
for your golem, such as a brain, a club, sneakers, etc., or the ability
to hide, or the ability to go grave-robbing (search through the discard
pile), or scavenge body parts off of someone else's slab, or send a mob
of angry villagers at on opponent, etc.
All in all, a very fun, light game not to be taken too seriously, but
one to be enjoyed when in the mood for laughter and mayhem. Probably
not something you'll play every night, but you'll pull it out often
enough to warrant the very reasonable price. Recommended.
Of course I've created variants for this game ...
The Trading Game: on your turn, after you have played your card,
you may try to trade with other players - but only items on your slab,
for items on other players' slabs (such as body parts and special cards
which can be on a slab: a Brain, a Club, Sneakers, etc.). (Thus, you
can't trade a switch, as you can't have a switch on your slab. Likewise,
you can't play a switch immediately after trading, since you've already
played your card for the turn.) Other players may only trade with the
player whose turn it is.
New Cards: The game comes with a couple of blank cards. Here
are some suggestions for using them:
- Research Assistant: this special card may be played as your one
card for the turn. It allows you to draw five cards from the deck, add
them to your hand, then discard any five of the ten cards you now hold.
You turn ends there, however - you may not fight with an active golem,
recall a golem, or gain a victory point for an active golem.
- Guard Dog: when played to the slab area, the Guard Dog may
(or may not) protect you from Scavenging. When a scavenge attempt is
made on your slab, roll a die:
The Guard Dog remains by your slab the rest of the game. It's very loyal.
- 1-3: Dog is sleeping, body part is stolen.
- 4-5: Dog is vigilant, nothing may be taken - active player discards Scavenge card.
- 6: Dog catches thief in the act! Rescues one body part, but buries it somewhere unknown - discard one body part of the owner's choice from the slab the dog was "protecting".
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