Surviving the ice age.
It’s great to see Gale Force Nine making so many board games lately, but this one marks a change — not only is it a bit more geared towards the family, but it doesn’t come attached to an IP. Tusk! is a short, fun title that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and while certainly not perfect, is entertaining and worth playing.
You can check out my full video review in the column to the right, but Tusk! features a nice mechanic of building up the hex tile board in the first three turns, then watching it slowly be dominated by the encroachment of the ice age in the turns following. That means you’ll have very little time to grow your tribe, gather resources, and ultimately, hunt the mammoth, all in pursuit of the tasty food tokens that will give you victory. It’s not all ruthless competition however, as some cooperation is encouraged – just be sure to keep an eye on the special victory conditions your opponents will be secretly pursuing.
The rhythm of Tusk! is a bit off, as those first few turns can be underwhelming, but it soon ramps up into a race for the dwindling resources and a push for the last victory tokens the mammoth represents. It’s an unapologetically random game, so don’t come here for high strategy, but my (2 player) games so far have been fun and close at the finish.
I do have some issues with the art style (while all skin colours are represented among the neolithic tribespeople characters illustrated, the ‘goofy’ style makes some of the portrayals uncomfortable given historical treatments), the rulebook needs a bit more editing, and perhaps the game could have been tweaked a bit more to avoid those clunky first few turns and a tendency to turn into a dice roll-fest when hunting, but these are relatively minor quibbles. Tusk! is a fun, short title that’s worth bringing out when you want a light game with just enough decisions to make it interesting.