Tiers of Existence is a very elaborate roll and move game with a complement host of numerous pawns, a spinner, dice, 4 game boards, a spinner, the kitchen sink, your grandma’s lasagna (just in case you get hungry), and a piccolo. Did I mention pawns? Holy Buckets there are a lot of pawns. The game is by Corbin Campbell. In Tiers of Existence you are attempting to reach the 5th dimension where you control reality, existence, and the fate of the universe. To win, roll and move yourself through the 4 tiers of existence and land on the ‘you win!’ space.
As stated in the advertisement, “Tiers of Existence is an exciting, fun game for family and friends. Nuanced strategies are possible with an innovative blend of gameplay that uses cards, dice, tokens, and game boards. With a balance of casual and competitive play, Tiers of Existence offers a wonderful gaming experience. Roll the dice to move your token; draw a card when you land on a square; strategize which token to move and which card to play.
Play time can be adjusted to lengthen or shorten the game according to the time you have available. Replay value of the game is exceptional…”
So what comes in the game?
To the Rubric, Batman!
Easy to Learn: 7.5/10
Game Genre: Roll and Move Game
- Simple and common sense roll and move
- Abstract, often confusing artwork
- Needs a bit better graphic design to improve legibility
- It’s like if Uwe Rosenberg made an Amerithrash prototype in the 70’s before board gaming got good, pitched it to Milton Bradley and they rejected it, so then it was picked up by Cryptozoic. It’s that kinda game.
How to Play
In Tiers of Existence, everyone starts off on the 1st tier track, emerging from the Birth canal. All 1st tier tokens start here. Then you roll two dice and move 1 of your pawns. at the start of the game you have just the one pawn. Your goal is to land your pawn on a nebula. If you get 4 pawns in the nebulae spaces, you get to add 1 of your pawns to the 2nd tier.
Each round, the round tracker moves from 4th tier to 3rd tier to 2nd tier to 1st tier and then Marauder movement.
On Marauder movement, each player gets to move their Marauders. Marauders roll a single die and move that distance. Any pawns passed by your Marauder are removed, except your own.
Each location on the game board have various effects. They can be as simple as the Nebula preparing your pawns for the next tier, or time wrinkle, where you miss your next turn, or Fate Harvest, where you get to draw a Fate Harvest card and use it to mess with the other players or improve your standing.
Outside of those simple procedures it is rinse and repeat. You roll dice for each tier, perform the action of the location you are on, all in the attempt to move your pawns from one tier to the next through the nebula (or instant win Wormholes). Each tier has their own pawns. When you move your pawns and you have more than one pawn in a tier, you can choose which to move. The first to land on the exact right space on the 4th tier, enters the 5th tier and wins the game.
As I’m sure you can tell already, this was not my cup of tea. It is heavily leaning on the dice rolling for movement to be combined with exact roll and move, no seen since the breakout hit, “Sorry”. And for good reason. That mechanic is painful. Like….I can’t believe we’ve played this game for 5 hours, I’m bored, and nobody can roll the requisite roll to win sorta painful. Now I know, maybe that’s a little harsh. But come on. It is 2016 (yes the game was made in 2013), we have better mechanics than this. Maybe if the game was deck building and a player could build their deck to get them through several tiers of existence, increasing their stats in one area, to bleed it out in another. Now there would be a nice cerebral experience. Instead, I clutch onto two cubes, roll them, and hope to god that the game doesn’t take longer than a work shift. The only control I have are the badly drafted Fate Harvest cards. The cards are painful to read. Written in neon yellow with psychedelic backgrounds, the migraine I earned from trying to read these cards has only just begun to settle down. Wait… nope. Just thinking about it brought it back.
Well, this is turning out to be quite the rude rant. I know it is, and I do feel bad about this. I know this guy poured his heart and soul into this. I can tell from his dedication thank you to everyone that helped him over the last decade to refine the game. So it took him a decade. It’s possible. It’s also possible that he isn’t an avid game player and so has missed out on the modern innovations of board gaming. I always recommend that folks have a healthy love of board gaming and attempt to experience as many games as they can before they start designing. In order for an artist to create art, they have needed to experience art, study it, and to truly feel it. Board gaming is no different.
As such, I cannot recommend this game to anyone. It is a weighty expense at $60 and probably the most miserable time I’ve had playing a game since the last time I played Roshambo with the highschool soccer team. If you want a great experience in board gaming, I highly recommend you look elsewhere.
But if you want to throw caution to the wind and live dangerously, it can be picked up here: