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Gather those resources! A Looot Review!

Looot from Gigamic and distributed by Hachette Board Games UK, is a resource gathering game, which feels familiar, and I can’t put my finger on why! Needless to say, I’m alittle bit obsessed with Looot and this may be a largely glowing review! I first discovered Looot on Board Game Arena (invite me Sardonic Wolf for a game!) and I felt like I got it, but the zooming in and out function wasn’t ideal, and ultimately felt a bit meh! Intact even after playing it in person and coming back to Boardgamearena, I don't love the board game arena version.

But then UK Games Expo meant Looot was a) available in person b) meant I could play it in person! Now it did sell out largely by the end of weekend, although I heard that Gameslore still had copies left at the end of Sunday (I can’t confirm if this was true, as I didn’t go and personally check!) and after sitting on a demo teach and then watching a game, made me realise that this maybe isn’t a game for Boardgamearena. But actually one that benefits from being on the table.

Looot is played over a number of rounds until each player has played all their vikings, meaning you in theory only have a total of 13 turns maximum. And each turn follows a super simple turn structue:

1) Place your viking on the central board, on a resource tile, adjacent to a viking (of any colour)

2) Take the resource and place it somewhere on your personal board

3) If applicable capture a building a place this on your board

4) (Optional) take a long ship and place this on your board

5) (Optional) using a shield

6) (Conditional) Completing a construction site

7) (Optional/Conditional) grabbing a trophy

Sounds relatively straightforward, but its the decisions within each of those steps that are so tantalising, that 13 turns doesn’t feel like enough. When you’re placing a viking, you’ll need to consider where you are placing for the resource and for potential buildings. Houses are captured when you place a viking adjacent to them. Watchtowers require you to connect two watch towers together with vikings of your colour, and a Castle is captured when it is adjacent to at least four of your vikings. And here’s the thing, you’ll want all of these, in fact you’ll need all of these to be able to complete construction sites, but so does everyone else....

And then there’s the long ships, longships give you bonuses for resources and buildings on your map, and in order to complete a long ship you’ll need to have them adjacent to three specific resources e.g. 2 sheep and 1 gold, which means at the end of game you will have unlock a bonus for a resource e.g. gold. However, each longship you take and don’t complete is a negative 5 points! So its important not to over commit, but equally you don’t want to leave some prime location longships for an opponent to grab and score.

There’s also shields, which give you one off advantages when you use one, there’s place another viking, place your viking on a space already occupied by another Viking, and double the resource gained. You’re not obliged to use them, but you probably want to, the placing an additional viking and placing a viking on an occupied space, are probably my favourite, especially if you combo them together!

At the end of the game each resource/building is scored the same way, start with the starting value i.e. sheep are worth 1 point each, then add the sheep bonuses you have obtained and then multiple by the number of sheep. In addition to points for construction sites you have completed.

Looot has surprised me, and grown on me with more plays, like fine wine? Or maybe like a spicy chicken wing that slowly warms your taste buds as the Spice warms your inners? But not the super spicy type, more the pleasant warming, just on the edge of too spicy ones. I started this review a few days ago and came back to finish it after a few more plays at two players and it still feels familiar, maybe its the board that reminds me of Barony, Quest for El Dorado and Cryptid? Or maybe the central board like presence, like Deus. Admittedly, Looot doesn’t really play like any of these games, but what it does do is offer this tactile like puzzle, which reminds me somewhat of Calico and Harmonies, although Looot has an defined number of turns, its what you do with those turns that matter!

In terms of components, and I’m being a bit picky, I would have liked to see some alternative shields that you could swap in and out each game or draft. And alternative trophies e.g. for each resource that you could swap in and out, meaning each game there’s a different focus, alongside some alternative construction buildings. So I wonder if an expansion with more content is on the cards? And I’ve found the player boards to be a little bit slippy, meaning we’ve had two games of “Errrr I think that was there and that was there?”, you could argue it was a player issue (as both were caused by over eager reaching for the central board), so there’s maybe a need to be a bit more careful. But I wonder if we’ll see a plastic overlay released by a third party? And the space for the trophy has the same resource as the Axe, so some players did think it meant it was a free axe resource, not a spot for a trophy. I also don’t think there's a fair split between buildings, one game saw us both needing castles, but we only had 3 on the board to start with! And after just 2 plays of my own copy, some of the player boards are already no longer sitting flat on the table!

As you know, I rate games on a

- Buy or play

- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ

- Avoid

Looot gets an easy Play if you like Calico, Cascadia, Harmonies recommendation, I was edging towards a Buy or Play, however, if you don’t like optimisation puzzles or largely un-interactive games, this probably isn’t going to do it for you! You could say Looot is a multiplayer solitaire resource efficiency game, that could be crippled by Analysis paralysis. As you can place next to any Viking. But equally you could argue that it creates competition for spaces, as some resources become critical to players game plans. For me this is a puzzle game, that throws another game on top, you’ve got the central board competition combined with the individual puzzle of your own board. And if you’re a fan of game with that spatial planning like Azul, then its hard not to recommend Looot.

After trawling through plays and photos, I’ve realised where the familiarity is! And I think if you like spacial puzzles and enjoy Looot you may enjoy Babylonia too (potentially even more so!), which has a similar vibe on its puzzle like central board mechanisms. And I’d argue that Babylonia’s tile placement has a greater weight, as each decision and placement, feels that you need to re-evaluate the board state, Looot offers more potential and I think less weight behind each placement, as resources feel plentiful, although the buildings do not. However, if you’re not a fan of tile placement puzzle style games, I’m not sure the central board ‘mini game’ of Looot is enough to win anyone over, there is some central blocking and racing towards buildings, but I’m not sure its high on the player interactivity levels.

Disclaimer: I bought my own copy of Looot and was not paid for this review. Looot was voted as the next game to review in my instagram channel (free to join!) Looot is distributed in the UK by Hachette Board Games UK and will be available from Kienda.

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