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You awake in a fantasy world with none of your memories. You enlist the help of magical elves to help you restore your memories through the construction of special temples all while fighting off the nightmares that seek to undo you.
The main goal in The Forgotten City is to get the most points through building temples, beating nightmares, and buying special relics while balancing your gold, inspiration, and defence. Each round you take it in turns to place your elves in spaces adjacent to your leader elf. Each space relates to a different element and what temples you have in your planning space determines what elements you need to mine and spend to build them, so foresight is needed. Especially as the game only lasts 7 rounds.
Your elves, once placed, can perform different actions. They can mine a resource from the space they’re stood on, build a temple where they are, or sleep. In the early game your elves will be out there capitalising on the various elements of the world, mining away and building temples while staying off of whatever element the current nightmares are guarding. However, as the game progresses the focus changes to utilising the temples to get victory points, heaps of resources, gold, inspiration, and defence to take the fight to the nightmares.
Sadly, the theme gets very quickly ignored for the mechanics. There are no mention of memories once the game gets going. No explanation for the nightmares. Not even any description of what the elves are (cause they certainly ain’t elves as we know them), what the temples do, or anything. The Forgotten City forgets its theme to focus on mechanics which really lost me. I’ve never done well with worker placement eurostyle games. As is the case with most that I’ve played, the only real player interaction is placing a worker where the other players wanted to place a worker or buying a relic someone else wanted. And that lack of interaction just drains the game for me and even with the slight competition at the very end to gather as many resources as possible, it still felt isolated.
With no rules for what to do if another player blocks off where you can place your elves and have no money to pay the fee to place on their space; competition over special scoring relics requiring players to go for completely different goals and some relic powers giving seemingly over powered advantages, we struggled to get through more than one game.
Artistically and thematically, I really like The Forgotten City. The box art, board, and player colours are all bright and cheerful. Even the nightmares are unique and interesting and having to avoid their specific elements does make for a fun early game challenge. I just wish they’d done more with it.
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