I’d only recently found out about Cytosis, a game that may have slipped by my radar if it weren’t for a PR company I deal with on a normal basis. I was offered a prototype to take a look at and figured the game looked pretty sweet, if for nothing else other than the fact that it was science based and had a cool looking board.
The game arrived in 2 parts: an envelope with all the bits and a rolled up board printed on poster paper. After a few days of getting the board to sit flat, I sat down with my 7-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to play. Upon reading the rules I was a bit surprised to what I was actually getting into.
At its core, Cytosis is a worker placement game. Players have a number of workers depending on the number of players in the game. Each turn they can place these to gather several types of resources, energy, convert resources to other resources, gain the first player card and claim a goal, buy component cards, or synthesize hormones, proteins, or enzymes.
Cytosis is made up of several other different cool mechanics that come together to make a whole. After every round, an Event card is played that effect the games. The game is over when the Event deck runs out. There are goal cards players can claim that will earn them bonus points at the end of the game if the conditions are met. There’s also different ways to score points during the game.
Hormones and Proteins can be created over the course of several turns by moving them along different worker tracks. These are generally worth more points as they require time and resources to complete. Hormone and Protein Receptions work similarly, but also score extra points when you or another player score a Hormone or Protein. Enzymes are easier to score on as they just require 1 worker placement, limited resources, and a small expenditure of energy. They’re not worth much, but can be very useful when in sets. There’s also detox cards which are the easiest to score on, are worth the least, but earn big bonus points to the player who has completed the most.
Once the Event deck runs out scores are calculated and the player with the highest score wins.
I should also mention that Cytosis comes with a Virus expansion that adds a bit more depth to gameplay by having players building up antibodies to survive virus attacks. So far we haven’t given that aspect of the game a shot yet.
Since this is a prototype there’s not much I can go on here except the art direction. Cytosis is certainly colorful and very pleasing to the eye. The board is both beautiful and functional, as are the cards. The prototype I have is very well put together overall, and I can’t wait to see what the finished game will look like.
I was a bit blown away by Cytosis, mostly because I was kind of expecting something completely different that the game I played. Cytosis is more than just a worker placement game. It’s an extremely good worker placement game. Between the different ways to score during the game, the goal mechanic, and the event deck, there’s plenty of paths to victory. The board has just enough worker spaces to make sure there’s always options but holds back just enough so that strategic areas can be blocked off my cunning players.
What surprised me the most about Cytosis is how accessible the game is. Not only was I able to teach my 7-year-old son to play, but he was able to hold his own and almost pull out a victory in our first game. His defining moment was claiming the “First Player” space even though he already had the card, just so the rest of us playing couldn’t take that advantage away from him.
Cytosis has already blown through its funding goal with 24 days left as of this writing. A $39 pledge will get you the game and its expansion, and let me tell you, that’s a deal. The game is excellent and will probably be my go-to for worker placements games for quite some time.
A prototype of Cytosis: A Cell Biology Game was provided free for this preview by Genius Games.