Lumis: Der Pfad des Feuers is a two to four player abstract game from Stephen Glenn. He is the designer of Balloon Cup, a game I really like, and other games, like 1st & Goal and Rattlebones. In this game you try to connect two sides of the board with a path of fire pieces in your colour. You can play a two-player game or play the team versus team game. Can you take the heat?
What do you get for your money?
108 Cards in total, divided into two decks of cards, one per player colour. 40 Tower pieces, 50 yellow Fire pieces, 50 red Fire pieces, a board and the rules.
How do you play the game?
The goal of the game is simple, the red player or team needs to create a path of red fire pieces from one red side of the board to the other and the yellow player does the same, but then from one yellow side to the other. The first team or player that does so wins the game. Simple, right?
How do you create a path of fire? Well, that pretty simple too. Every team has their own deck of cards and two numbered cards, one with a four and a one and another with a two and a three. On every card in the deck you’ll find a colour. That colour corresponds with different areas on the board. There are areas where players can place fire pieces and there are special, larger areas where player can place tower pieces.
Every player start with five cards in their hand, drawn from their own team’s draw deck. The red team start with the cards with the number four and the number two side on top and the yellow team with the three and the one side. The yellow team starts the game.
You can do one of the following four things in your turn. You can draw more cards. You can draw as much cards as one of the numbers on the two cards on the table. So, in the first turn, the yellow player can draw three cards or one card from the deck. After he’s done, he flips the chosen numbered card over. He took three cards, so he then flips the three to its two side.
You can also give cards to your team-mate. You choose a numbered card, you give that amount of cards from your hand to the other player and then you flip the numbered card to the opposite side.
Remember, players can never have more than fifteen cards in their hand.
You can also build a tower in your turn. You then play cards that have the same colour as the tower area you want to place your tower on. The height of the tower depends on the amount of cards you play. Three cards means a tower that has a height of three tower pieces. You take these pieces, put them on top of each other and place a fire piece of your colour on top to show that it’s your tower.
That’s important, because you can also take over your opponent’s tower. You then have to play more cards than the current height of that tower. A green tower with a height of three can be taken over by playing four green cards. A tower that you place on your own baseline cannot be taken over and therefore needs to be only one tower piece high. You can place a tower on a baseline by playing a single card, the colour doesn’t matter.
You want to build towers, because you can only create a path of fire by connecting you own towers with a chain of fire pieces. And that’s the fourth thing you can do in your turn; place fire pieces on the board. You do that by playing cards with the same colour as the areas you want to place them on. You must build a complete path between two towers. You cannot stop halfway through. Once a tower is connected to another tower, he is safe and cannot be taken over by the other team.
There are two additional rules. Firstly, there is a spot in the middle of the board where nobody can place a tower or a fire piece. Secondly, when you play the team versus team game, you cannot discus tactics with your team-mate.
The game ends when one team or player creates a path from one of their sides to the other. That team wins the game. Or it ends when a team has not enough fire pieces to place, then that team loses.
The basic idea of the game is simple. Get from one side to the other side of the board. But, there a bit more going on than that. This game has a nice ebb and flow, first you get your cards and then you do stuff and then you get cards again. At one point you think you’re winning and two moves later you’re on the losing side and three turns later the tables have turned again.
You have to build from tower to another tower and you try to collect the cards you need, but if your opponents decides to take over a tower you own, you have to adjust quickly. Take over that tower again or maybe adjust your desired route entirely? The game goes on like that until the end, back and forth, cutting each other off, taking over each other towers.
The team vs. team game also adds the option to give cards to your team-mate, but you can’t talk about the ideas you have during the game, so you hope your team-mate sees what you are seeing.
The mechanism of the numbered cards is also interesting. You cannot constantly draw the same amount of cards and in the team variant there’s also the option of you taking only one card so the other player can take four. Sometimes you have to take one for the team if the situations asks for that.
The two-player game is just a tactical abstract game and it’s all about making good short-term decisions. The team versus team game then adds the cooperative aspect and a little mind-reading to the game, which makes it slightly more interesting.
I do find that near the end of the game luck (of the draw) gets more and more important. Your options become more limited, so then it’s just about getting the right cards at the right time.
Flavour and Theme
It’s an abstract game and there’s absolutely no theme to be found in the box.
Except from the board itself, which looks a bit boring with all these hexagons, the game looks nice. The fire pieces are pretty themselves. Plus it’s pretty sight when the towers are placed on the board and the fire meanders between them like rivers of red and yellow.
Quality of the components
The quality is very good.
It’s not that this game is terribly exciting or innovative, but it is just a fun abstract game with some nice elements. The team aspect adds a nice twist to the game, but overall you’ll find that Lumis is a collection of familiar mechanisms, like the coloured cards and the route building. This makes that this game is easy to explain and play, but during the game you’ll find that there’s enough depth to keep it interesting and fun.
I also really like the feeling that a game might seem lost, but you’ll find that there’s always a (small) chance to strike back. You’re might not be able to win, but you can at least try not lose.
All in all I can say that Lumis: Der Pfad des Feuers is a solid abstract game with a simple rule-set and good look. It’s fun with two players and even a bit more fun with four.