Dilemmas and compromises: discover Boreal and Marabunta, 2 perfect head-to-head games

This week, we present to you two board games exclusively for two players: Boreal And Marabunta.

The year 2023 has been well-stocked with excellent board games for two players. And 2024 seems to be starting off under the best auspices, in particular with the two new products that we are offering you today.

Despite many points in common (a small box, a low price, simple rules, short games, etc.), Boreal And Marabunta offer very different playing sensations. So rather than choosing us, we let you choose yourself, according to your tastes. Or, you do like us and take both. You shouldn’t regret it.

Borealthe game of dilemmas

The world before is no more, and nature has reclaimed its rights over the ravages of humans. Play as two explorers in search of discoveries and lost knowledge.

In front of you, between the two opponents, a river of eight cards. On your turn, you choose: reserve a card from the river (put it aside to possibly play it later) or play a card (from the river or previously reserved).

Source: Spiral Editions

Playing a card has a cost. Each player has a small marker that moves along the board. It indicates both the amount of resources he has, and the cards that are accessible to him, that is to say all those to the left of the marker.

Source: Spiral Editions

To play a card, we therefore move this marker back to pay the cost, thereby reducing access to cards for the following turn. Then, you place the card in front of you, in a pyramid construction (four cards at its base, then three, two, and a last one at the top).

The cards have immediate effects (gain resources, make the opponent lose them, reverse two cards in their pyramid, etc.) and conditions for gaining victory points (two points for each card of the same family, four points for each family for which we have more cards than the opponent…).

They also bring resources at the end of each turn… unless they are covered by another card. Which necessarily happens after a while.

The game ends as soon as one of the pyramids is completed, everyone counts their score and the highest total wins.

Why play Boreal?

As magnificent as the illustrations are, the theme is not the strong point of Boreal . Here, what matters is the mechanics. Rather simple, the latter is nevertheless extremely effective.

This is the publisher’s second game, after the excellent Black District from last year. This new title remains in the same vein as the previous one: simple rules, quick games and minimalism typical of Japanese authors.

But the similarities end there. We move from a game of bluff and counter-bluff to a game of strategy, placement and anticipation.

The correlation between available resources and accessible maps is really well done. Just like the constraints imposed by the construction of its pyramid. It turns out that we have to make important choices at each turn, we are constantly faced with dilemmas that make the games tense and exciting.

We can regret the lack of originality in the effects of the cards, but that does not detract from the pleasure of the game.

The interaction is not direct, but nevertheless very present: we rarely reserve a card for ourselves, rather to steal it from our opponent. However, at the same time, we lose our turn somewhat, when he can advance in his pyramid.

In short, it’s a great second game for this young publisher. It is different from the first, while remaining in the same vein: simple, beautiful, minimalist and clever. We can’t wait to discover the next ones.

  • Borealis a game by Masafumi Mizuno, illustrated by Yuko Iwase and published by Spiral Éditions
  • For 2 players, from 10 years old and games of around 25 minutes
  • Priced at €16.50 at Philibert

In short

Source: Spiral EditionsSource: Spiral Editions

Marabunta the game of compromises

At the head of a colony of ants, you seek to harvest the riches of your territory. The only problem is that another anthill has settled nearby.

In the center of the table, the board representing the playing area, made up of several hexagonal squares and divided into six regions. And, on each side, the personal board of the two players.

Source: Space Cowboys

On our turn, we turn over a tile and roll six dice, then we divide everything into two groups, as we wish. Our opponent then chooses one of the two groups first, and leaves the other to us. Everyone then applies the effects of the elements thus recovered.

Source: Space Cowboys

This mainly consists of writing numbers on the board with the marker in your color, starting from your anthill, or checking boxes on your personal board.

We thus gradually expand our territory, and activate bonuses from our board. Certain locations on the board grant effects when you place yourself there, notably the very lucrative cupcakes which bring in a lot of victory points.

The game ends when one of the three conditions is met, and the players then count their victory points. In addition to those scored during the game, each region can help us win, provided we have a majority. The highest total wins.

Why play Marabunta?

Marabuntais part of the publisher’s range of two-player games (Splendor Duel, Jaipur, and others). It does not deserve to be compared to its classics.

The presence of dice or markers to check boxes. A theme with insects, childish illustrations. One could believe in an accessible and light game.

Accessible, it is, its rules not involving any particular difficulty. On the other hand, it is clearly more strategic and cerebral than it appears at first glance.

The whole game revolves around the mechanics of “I divide, you choose”. And, we must admit that it almost always works. We obviously think of the very good Hanamikojito the classic San Marcoto the little known Sweet whipped cream recent The Great Split etc.

You will have understood, we love this mechanic. Adjoined to that of roll&write (we roll dice, we check things), the mixture forms a coherent and perfectly functional whole.

But, by adding effects on the boards, the chance of the dice, the majority in the regions, we obtain a game that requires a lot of thought. More than you would imagine when you see the size and the illustration of the box.

This is not a fault, quite the contrary. Unlike the size of the elements, a little too small to be perfectly readable.

If you’re looking for a light, no-brainer game, pick up another one. On the other hand, if you are looking for a dueling game, with a little chance, interaction, and a good dose of reflection, all in a small box that is easy to take anywhere, Marabuntashould satisfy you.

  • Marabuntais a game by Reiner Knizia, illustrated by Ingrid Desmidt and published by Space Cowboys
  • For 2 players, from 10 years old and games of around 30 minutes
  • Priced at €17.90 at Philibert

In short

Source: Space CowboysSource: Space Cowboys

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