Lair Review

Rob Kalajian review, tabletop Leave a Comment

Lair - Game and a Curry

Game title: Lair

Game description: Lair is a competitive building game where you are in charge of constructing a 60’s era, underground HQ — inside a volcano, no less — for your nefarious boss. It has a Euro-influenced, worker placement mechanic where you have two types of workers: the lowly henchmen that you use to claim a room, and the boss that can command henchmen to activate the ability of the room. You spend Work Tokens to command a henchmen, but if you command another player’s henchmen, you have to give that player the Work Token. It also has an expanding score track that doubles as the elevator shaft, which affects your build options and game strategy in interesting ways.

Overall
2
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

It’s tough being in middle management. As a boss of an evil mastermind’s henchmen, you must help build an underground lair worthy of your superior. Of course, you want to look good and make the other bosses look like complete fools. Build out the base and score the most points before reaching the core to be the best boss there is.

Pros

  • Great artwork
  • Mid-weight worker placement

Cons

  • Rulebook is poorly written and not clear
  • Game can be completely halted by competitive players
  • Iconography is confusing
  • Needs a board
  • Victory point values seem unbalanced

Full Lair Review

It’s tough being in middle management. As a boss of an evil mastermind’s henchmen, you must help build an underground lair worthy of your superior. Of course, you want to look good and make the other bosses look like complete fools. Build out the base and score the most points before reaching the core to be the best boss there is.

Lair is a mid-weight worker placement game for 2-4 players where each turn will choose a space for resources, then move your boss and henchmen to different rooms, build new rooms, activate room abilities, and excavate further towards the volcano’s core. The resources chosen will dictate turn order for the next round. Once a player’s score marker moves all the way down the central elevator to the core, the game ends. If all the rooms in the lair are built out before anyone reaches the core, the game ends and the player with the most victory points wins the game.

It’s certainly an interesting theme and concept but the game falls a bit short on several levels. First off is the rulebook, which doesn’t convey the rules of the game very well at all. It’s a confusing mess. Next, the excavation rules which prohibit players from moving further down the scoreboard until new elevator cards are flipped can cause the game to stall with very competitive players. It’s quite possible to have all the players refusing to excavate on their turn so that other players can’t move farther down towards the core before them.

Lair also feels a bit unbalanced, with some rooms causing you to fly down the score track when built, while others have you crawling at a snail’s pace. The iconography in the game is also confusing. Many of the actions that can be activated are a bit more complicated than a simple icon can represent. Add all the aforementioned issues together with the fact that this is a game that very clearly could use a board instead of being made up of all cards and Lair is a tough $25 to swallow.

The main thing about Lair is that it could have been a great game if it just had a bit more polish. The theme is solid and the artwork is really well done. The weight and length of the game are also a plus. Unfortunately, it all feels like the game was a bit rushed and I can’t see it hitting the table ever again.

A copy of Lair was provided free for review by Game and a Curry

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