Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.
As we are all painfully aware these days, you can’t trust everything you read on the internet. For instance, if you Google “how are rainbows made?” you’ll get some weird explanations about water droplets and light and refraction or something. Obviously, we know that rainbows are formed through our hard work of collecting unicorn poop and depositing it into the rainbow maker.
Welcome to Somewhere Under the Rainbow, a game of abstract movement, set collection, and resource conversion with a great family-friendly (assuming your family is ok with copious amounts of poop jokes) theme.
To set up the game you’ll take the triangular grid and insert three triangle pieces into each slot. Through some feat of engineering, this is made fun with a plastic cover that fits snugly on the grid, and you can gently shake all the pieces into place in just a few seconds. Once that is taken care of, you’ll place out some ingredient cards into the market and get started.
Each turn you have two different options: gather poop or visit the village.
Gathering poop is the most common action you’ll take. On the first turn, you’ll just place your character on the board anywhere and take the poop token from the top of that space (with the helpfully included plungers). But your character also has an arrow indicating the direction you must move them next turn. After moving you can orient your character in whichever direction you wish. For subsequent turns, you must move in the direction of the arrow. Generally, you can move as far along that line as you wish and take the poop from wherever you decide to stop.
However, as poop starts to be collected it’s possible there might be places where your characters start at a lower height. If you reach a cell on the grid which is higher than where you started, you can climb up to that space, but you cannot progress farther.
You can only keep four poop tokens on your player board and if you ever collect a fifth you must return the one you’ve had the longest back to the grid along the path you traveled.
Of course, all this poop collection is in the name of making beautiful rainbows and that happens when you choose to visit the village. There are several things you can do when you visit the market, and you can do any number of them in any order when you choose to go there.
First, you can deposit the poop you’ve collected of a single color into the rainbow maker. Importantly, you can only do so if you have at least two poop tokens of that color and it’s not already in the rainbow maker—you can’t have two yellow lines in a rainbow, obviously). Depending on how much poop you deposit you’ll be able to draw several glitter cubes from a bag. These come in red, blue, and yellow.
Once you have glitter cubes you can use them to buy ingredients that also come in those matching colors. There are always three ingredients available when you visit the market and you can buy as many of them as you wish, but you can only store two ingredients on your board in future turns. You can also buy mystery box cards that give you special abilities.
The last option is, if you have two ingredients, to combine them into food to feed the unicorns. Any two ingredients can be combined and the color of food you end up making will always correspond to the ingredients you put in. Two blue ingredients make for a blue dish, obviously. Mix a red with a yellow and you’ll get something deliciously orange. Each food you create is worth 2-4 points depending on the quality of the ingredients that went into it.
Of course, there’s another neat little wrinkle here—unicorns are apparently very picky eaters. If you feed them anything their next dish must be either the same color or a “nearby” color on the color wheel. So, after that orange meal they will only accept orange, yellow, or red. There is an option at the village to spend some glitter cubes to cleanse their palate with some milk to free yourself of this restriction in a pinch.
After all colors are added to the rainbow maker a new rainbow cycle begins. All poop is dumped into the back of the rainbow machine and the phase marker advances. After the fourth rainbow cycle the game ends. Food created scores its base points, but you will also score additional points for having most food of a color. The player with the most points is officially crowned the best rainbow maker.
The heart of Somewhere Under the Rainbow is the movement when trying to collect the poop tokens you need. When you write it down it sounds simple, move in a straight line, pick up a piece, rotate whatever direction you plan to move next turn. Rinse, repeat. But triangles are tricky folks. There are lots of places you can’t just go to from one turn to the next. And imagine if someone else takes a piece you needed. Or there ends up being a height difference you can’t pass. There is a lot of brain burn in how to manage your character and try to maximize your poop-to-glitter cubes ratios.
I am glad the game allows you to do everything you want when taking a turn to visit the village. Rather than slow things down by having one turn to turn poop into cubes and a later turn turning cubes into ingredients and finally turning ingredients into food… you can just knock it all out at once. Of course, if you don’t get the cubes you need or the ingredients you want aren’t available you may have to visit more often, but it makes the conversion of poop into points go by pretty quickly and get you back into the movement and rainbow making.
There’s also a surprising level of interaction here, especially with the restriction about never having the same color in the rainbow maker. If you start collecting yellow but someone gets them into the rainbow maker before you it can really set you back in your plans. The mystery box cards add a fun element as well as they add some amount of unpredictability. You may think you’ll get to go to the village before your poop-collecting rivals only for them to play a card giving them another action and leave you literally full of crap you can’t do anything with.
Now we generally don’t discuss components in depth much with preview prototypes, it’s worth noting this is one of the best I’ve encountered. The grid and lid system works well to get the game set up quickly. The plungers are perfect for removing tiles from their cells. The tiles are bright acrylic and glittery to boot. I’m looking forward to seeing what the final components look like in the Kickstarter version.
There are plenty of games that have you moving about, collecting items, and converting them into points in various ways. But this is the only one where you turn poop into rainbows. And the movement system in Somewhere Under the Rainbow is unique and, while simple to teach, can lead to a lot of anguish trying to figure out how to maneuver about the board getting matching tiles. Yet despite the abstract nature of the movement, there can be a lot of interaction amongst players with blocking and racing to fill the rainbow maker.
If collecting unicorn poop seems like it’s up your alley, you can check it out Somewhere Under the Rainbow on Kickstarter today.