Review – Project L
|Designer||Michal Mikeš, Jan Soukal, Adam Spanel|
|Artist||Jaroslav Jurica, Marek Loskot, Pavel Richter|
Project L is a polyominoes game with a Splendor-style engine-building aspect. In this game, players gain and upgrade pieces to fill in puzzles, and in doing so earn points and new pieces. How does it compare to the dozens of other family-weight polyominoes games out there? Let’s find out!
In Project L, players aim to earn the most points through a mix of planning and efficiency. Despite this euro-sounding description, however, Project L is actually a light puzzle game.
In this game, 1-4 players work to fill out puzzle cards using polyomino pieces. To set up the game, they shuffle 2 decks of cards—1 white and 1 black—and deal a row of 4 cards from each deck.
The game comes with 90 plastic polyomino pieces: 9 shapes in 4 sizes. Each player begins with a size-1 (yellow) and a size-2 (green) piece.
On a player’s turn, they take 3 actions. The available actions are:
- Take a puzzle card from the display. A player may have up to 4 puzzles in progress at a time.
- Take a size-1 piece from the supply.
- Exchange a piece for the next size up or smaller (e.g. trade a size-2 piece for a size-3 piece).
- Place a piece on a puzzle in the player’s tableau.
- Place a piece on EACH puzzle in the player’s tableau. This “Master action” may only be taken once per turn.
When a player completes a puzzle card, they return the used pieces to their inventory and gain the piece indicated on the upper-right of the card. In this way, players steadily gain more and more pieces, which allows them to complete bigger and bigger puzzles. Many cards also award points, as shown on the upper-left.
Play continues like this until the deck of black puzzle cards is depleted. At this time, players finish the current round, play 1 final round, and the game ends. Everyone can then add leftover pieces to their puzzles, but each piece added is worth -1 point. Players then calculate their scores, and the player with the most points wins!
Project L was a big surprise for me. Its odd name and minimalistic look make it hard to tell what the game is—it wouldn’t catch my eye in a store—but inside the box is a very clever puzzle game. Never before have I seen polyominoes used in an engine-building manner, but this mashup of mechanisms works very well. This game has shades of Splendor and Century: Spice Road, yet feels very distinct from both.
Project L has a satisfying game arc. In the beginning, players will only be able to complete low-level white cards, but quickly, things will start to ramp up. As they gain more (and better) pieces, players will start using their Master action more and more—likely every turn by the end of the game! Efficient use of this action is really at the heart of the game’s strategy.
The rules for Project L are simple enough that players can understand the game with just a quick glance at their players aids. What’s more, even at the maximum player count, the game length is only about 30 minutes. This makes Project L a great choice to kick off game night.
Going into this game, I had no idea what to expect, but I found myself really enjoying the puzzle it offers. Of the new-to-me games I have played in 2021, Project L is easily among my favorites. Folks who, like me, enjoy lightish family fare will definitely want to check it out.
A review copy was provided by Asmodee.
The Bottom Line
Project L really surprised me. It is a great family-weight game. Highly recommended for fans of Splendor, Century: Spice Road, and the like.