In the past, Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc have teamed up to make some really fun games. Pocket Madness, Dice Stars, Cyclades, and Cleopatra and the Society of Architects just to name a few. Well this duo is back at it again with their newest game, Scarabya from Blue Orange Games. This time, they have players establishing archeological camps across the four corners of the globe searching for the elusive golden scarabs.
Scarabya is a tile laying, polyominoes game for 2-4 players that takes about 15 minutes to play. Scarabya plays well at any player count.
Playing Scarabya is easy. Your goal is to earn the most victory points collecting scarabs in your dig site. Each round, a new card will be flipped over. This card shows the polyomino shaped tile that each player must place on their board. New tiles must be placed adjacent to a previously placed tile. After placement, if the player has enclosed any number of scarabs into a 4 space or smaller area, the player scores points for each scarab in that area. Each scarab is worth as many points in as spaces in the area. So if you had 3 scarabs in a 4 space enclosure would be worth 4 points each.
The game ends when the last card has been drawn and all tiles have been placed. Players add up their total points from their scarabs and whoever has the most points, wins.
Scarabya is definitely a light game, which fits right in with publisher Blue Orange Games catalog of titles. Kingdomino and Photosynthesis are some of their other accessible and high quality games that find their way to our tabletop. So I had some high hopes when I got my hands on Scarabya. Could this be another staple that I can bring out with both my gaming group and non-gamer friends as well?
The short answer is, maybe. Scarabya has a few things going for it. It’s very easy to learn. Pretty much everyone I played it with was able to jump in and play in a matter of minutes. Trying to make enclosures of 4 or less was simple enough to understand, yet trying to maximize your points was challenging enough to keep most players interested over the course of the game (which flows pretty fast).
However, Scarabya also falters in a number of areas. The first is with the component quality (normally a strongpoint with Blue Orange Games). The tiles and board frame feel pretty thin and flimsy. The artwork one the cover of the box was great, but once you got into the game proper, things felt fairly repetitive.
Players should also be aware that Scarabya is solidly a multiplayer solitaire game. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing (we even did a Top 10 list of our favorite multiplayer solitaire games), but those looking for any kind of player interaction will want to steer clear of this one. You could play this game with 99 other players and not increase the game length one bit.
Despite those issues, I still think Scarabya is a good game, just not a terrible exciting one. You’ll draw a card each round and try to think of how best to place it. After a game or two, you’ll probably have seen all Scarabya has to offer. Unless you are a huge fan of thinky puzzles and multiplayer solitaire, I wouldn’t rush out to grab this one. There are quite a few polyomino based games now, and I don’t feel like Scarabya really brought a whole lot new to the table. It’s a fine game, but eminently forgettable.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A mechanically solid game that can be played with just about any group.
• Easy to learn rules
• Scales seamlessly at any player count
• No player interaction
• Minimal replay value