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16 Apr 2020

Combat an Ominous Force

Announcing Bethel Woods

Publisher Garphill Games brings Bethel Woods; a fast paced co-operative adventure for 2-4 players where you must prevent the destruction of your home. By gaining the knowledge required to construct a machine mysteriously known as the ‘Daydreamer’ throughout the course of the game you will be able to protect your home... and hopefully from there, protect the world.


Set in the universe of “Hours” created by author Jessy Ribordy (Falling Up, The River Empires), you play as overseers of a ragtag group of young mechanics, engineers and more to repair the various ancient machines scattered throughout the forest and defend them from spies trying to bring apart calamity and the end of all you know.


Bethel Woods is played with a mancala style mechanism (Trajan, Five Tribes, Istanbul). Each turn players will pick up and move a group of workers from the machine they’ve been working on to assist other workers in a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion. Unlike many games with mancala mechanisms, Bethel Woods provides each worker with the ability to perform actions, and the freedom of direction provides strategic depth.


These workers will then be able to fix various malfunctions that have occurred throughout the game, gaining knowledge for the player overseeing the work. Workers are specialists however, and can only repair what they know how to fix. If the player has gained enough knowledge of a single type through a set collection mechanic (Terraforming Mars, Spirit Island, Pandemic), they can start to rebuild part of the ‘Daydreamer’.


If slowly malfunctioning machines weren’t enough of a problem to deal with, spies are attempting to cause more chaos and discord by actively trying to make the machines they are near go critical. Thankfully, each player has a unique character ability which will provide them with benefits to hopefully counteract these problems as they arise.


Designer Shem Phillips has truly made a game of possibilities and complex decisions. As the game comes closer to reaching its conclusion, the situation will often become more and more dire, with more interesting and far reaching choices to make. This provides a steady difficulty curve through its entire playthrough, and additional difficulty options and random player powers make replayability high.


Repair almost forgotten technology. Uncover and fend off spies. Use long forgotten knowledge to build your own defences. Will you protect the orphanage? Or will the ominous force threatening Bethel Woods succeed, and plunge the world into darkness.


Tabletopia Tip: You can select multiple pieces by holding shift and selecting individual pieces to group them together. Alternatively shift and left mouse will create a bounding box to make a selection.

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