Above and Below merges choose your own adventure books with a well designed worker placement game. All wrapped up in a highly thematic and visually stunning package. It makes building your own little village an experience you should not be without.
What is Above and Below like?
In Above and Below you take charge of a little village with three villagers. You will spend your turns recruiting new villagers, buying buildings and sending your villagers out to work. You will also have the chance to send you’re villagers on grand adventures underground, where they will meet challenges, makes moral choices, fight monsters and maybe even make new friends. Regardless of what happens they will come back with stories to tell and maybe some treasures. Exploring the underground caverns will also let you build new buildings there (that are better than normal ones you can build above ground).
After seven turns the game is over and the player with the most points is the winner. You’ll get points in various ways, but they mainly come from two sources: getting different resources and acquiring special buildings.
There are eight different types of resources, some more common than others. You can acquire them when going on adventures below ground or from sending your villagers to work on farms and mines you have built. These resources can be used right away to gain your more coins for the rest of the game (making it possible to train more villagers and purchase better buildings) or you can save them for victory points at the end of the game. This balance is one of the key elements of the game and finding the right balance is indeed a challenge.
I admit it, I love Above and Below… A lot. The way it merges storytelling with a clean and well designed worker placement game strikes the perfect balance. It has multiple ways to victory and works well with all the player counts. The stories you read to each other are superbly written, not too long, and gives you fun thematic choices to make. I’ve enjoyed all my plays of this game tremendously, and everyone I tried it with really enjoyed the experience too. Even after the game is over you keep talking about the choices you made and the adventures you’ve had. However, if you’re not a fan of randomness in games and the storytelling aspect doesn’t appeal to you this game will definitely not be for you.
The village building and exploration of the underground caverns shines through beautifully, you can not help but get immersed in this wonderful world of Above and Below.
Ryan Laukat is not only a great designer but also a fantastic artist. The art for this game is simply stunning and makes the world and the stories come even more alive. All the different villagers also have different illustrations.
The quality of the game is great. Nice thick cardboard, colours that pop and a well written rulebook.
The rules of the are not overly complicated, but there are several options for you each turn and some strategy to the game. It is also not normally a quick game (but this is mostly because of the reading of the adventures, where you are all entertained anyway).
- Players: 2 – 4
- Playing time: 90 – 120 minutes
- Suggested age: 10+
Would you like to know more?
Rodney Smith form Watch it Played has once again made a great “How To Play” video. Check it out if you want to know more about how the game plays: