June 9, 2023


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Criticisms on the Animal Sanctuary Placement Game, Testing, Review

Nimalia. Animal breeding game claims instructions. And in theory, William Levine’s idea is great. Place small tiles, build an animal sanctuary and collect lots of points. But in practice?

The Pegasus Games Mini Box presents a panda in front of an exotic mix of forest, savanna, water and ice. Somehow they don’t fit together. I still want to love this little thing. But somehow…

First conclusion: Nimalia oozes a lot of potential

Let’s get straight to the evaluation: The author and publisher give away a lot of potential with Nimalia. Simple placement rules are immediately understood by everyone. On the other hand, recording is tricky. My expectation is important. It actually sounds good, but there is still a constant feeling that the arrangement and score are out of tune and that the crucial feeling of happiness is missing. That is, Nimalia does not reward the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries. So there is no sense in assembling something great.

Nothing pretty appears.

Instead, it’s an almost blunt improvement of points. This is disappointing and takes away from a lot of what makes tile games good. The detailed rules are really good.

The rules laid out: very neat and very good

It starts with the rules of the situation. At the beginning of the round, all players put one of their three spare cards face down at the same time. Then everyone turns around at the same time and inserts the card into their animal sanctuary, which is gradually being created. Each card displays four squares with the same or different landscapes and animals. So a map can contain, for example, snow, desert, water and savanna with or without animals.

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Nimalia - Created Animal Sanctuary - Image by Michael Weber

There are only two neat rules for placement:

  1. A grid of 6 x 6 fields must be maintained.
  2. Each new card must cover a previously laid out card with at least one of the four squares.

The result is exciting: an animal sanctuary is created from different enclosures, which are constantly covered and adapted by new cards. This laid rule is great.

Nimalia: Expand Reserve and Score

Unfortunately, this is where the fun ends. Because each person only has three cards. After choosing, they pass the rest of the cards, so there is supposed to be some interaction. However, the number of cards is so small that a simple draw makes just as much sense.

default grades

Once all three cards are installed, points are scored. This continues for five rounds until all fifteen cards have been used. Scoring follows predetermined procedures. At the beginning of each round, four scorecards are placed on the round card. This card determines which two or three scorecards are played after each round. Each recording is performed at least twice during the tours. Sometimes it is about certain animals or their order, sometimes about contiguous areas, and sometimes about the number of different areas of the reserve. There is enough variety.

Nimalia - variable register plate - photo by Michael Weber

Hardly any layout is possible

The gist of the matter: There are different point ratings in each game and the order of the ratings is also clear. But somehow this mechanism does not want to convince. Because planning your animal reserve is almost possible. They are all at the mercy of the available cards and can only be placed to reduce damage. Expansions that generate points can rarely be achieved with luck. Despite your decision to place the card sensibly and farsightedly, the scoring seems almost random.

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Unsatisfactory reduction dampens the fun

The combination of small footprint and the compulsion to over-build and enroll does not allow for any strategic reserve construction. First of all, everyone is looking forward to doing well in the next assessment. Unfortunately, the discounted offer doesn’t offer much more. This is very unsatisfying, as big lot games show a completely different approach. They leave room to create landscaping and enjoy doing so. Besides, there are points. With Nimalia, everyone tends to choose the lesser evil.

quickly put something – but like this?

Like I said, I really want to love Nimalia. I even feel part of the target group. I love CarcassonneAnd Kingdomino or bear park. As it is there, I wanted to create something and be rewarded for my clever planning or punished for my mismanagement.

But this is where the game leaves me in the dark.

Small and not great

Nimalia Box - Photo by Pegasus Games

Yes, Nimalia is heavily discounted and comes in a small box. Yes, she has great and explicit placement rules. But the rating and the tour route do not want to keep up. It’s fast and somewhat fun. But just where other tile-laying games really start to get better is Nimalia really coming to an end. This is clearly not enough for me. It is wasted potential. Animal sanctuary lovers are not given the happiness of building a magnificent landscape.

Yes, I will play it again and again, because it is easy to explain, easy to play and quick to finish. But it doesn’t satisfy my gaming instinct enough.