The World of Smog, On Her Majesty’s Service Review

World of Smog

When I think of Steam Punk style artwork, I drift to giant gears, obviously steam, top hats, floor length dresses, steam, brass, lanterns, cool monocles, and mystery. The game I call SMOG has seemingly all of these key components.

The Queen of England has requested that the major investigatory clubs send their most daring people into the heart of the World of Shadow, and bring back the four artifices of the other world. 

This game is literally a race against other players whom have all been similarly tasked. The main objective is to gather the essential artifacts, collect the Ether (magical essences used as a type of goods), and exit via the secret gate.

I love how pretty these foil cards look, I was worried early on allowing other people touching these cards, plus my OCD kicks in anytime these cards get scratched. They seem to be holding up.

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These are the needed artifacts, along with the secret combination and exit

The game board is a set of gears that literally can be rotated to change the effective direction of the game. The side of the board that is facing you determines how much you can buy/sell your elixirs (they are actually Ethers, but I refused to call them that), the outer larger gears are where you can buy the artifacts.

Make sure you are sitting at an actual square table, or place the game diamond style in the middle of your rectangular table to allow everyone to face their correct side.

When we were playing this at our FLGS several people stopped by in curiosity, because of how awesome this game looks. Not many people have heard of this game which is rather sad.

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The game in the middle of being played
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Game before the gears have been placed on the board

All the players can move orthogonally (Vertical or Horizontal) around the board. The player gets 3 actions to spend on:

  • moving
  • buying
  • selling
  • rotating the gear your on
  • removing blue time counters
  • gaining coins (if in the middle)
  • rotating any gear and collecting a special action (if in the middle)

The characters are a hodgepodge of different creatures and humaniods. I played the distinguished Fox, and felt I was going to dominate. Maybe even pull out some punny what “does the fox say” jokes.

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The four player selectable pieces and the middle one is the Shadow Master
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These are the agents of the Shadow Masters able to do the bidding of the players

That lizardy character is actually a friendly character along with the pipe smoker. Unfortunately I kept messing the pipe smoking light blue player mini with the grey pipe smoking agent. I had many a conversation about this mind meld.

The players do not have any differences except for where you are positioned at the table. Every side of the board has a different color giving the player a mastery in that type of Ether (a mechanism to break ties).

Players can also pay for the aid of the Shadow Master, who will give the player a 4th action and also the ability to manipulate the Agents on their turn. This is extremely valuable, but it does come at a price. You give up your free coin at the beginning of the round (currency can be scarce so this may hurt).

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Coins, blue hour counter, first player token

I really liked the feel of those plastic coins, they even clinked together giving me that satisfying feeling of playing with an actual currency. The artwork was dual sided having a steam cog and the queen.

Ether tokens to track your ether totals
Ether tokens to track your ether totals

While these little minis are awesome, I wish that the stain glassed window center were better at representing their associated ether colors.

As you are running around the board, make sure that you are stopping in the middle of the board to get access to the Queens money, and also getting the ability to rotate any gears along with getting access to powerful special actions.

These actions are able to be used only if you have enough Ether
These actions are able to be used only if you have enough Ether

I really enjoyed this game because of the themes. The mechanics that I really thought were inventive were both the board and the Shadow Master. The board, in that it is able to be rotated, each of those gears being spaces along with the position of them affecting individual players.

The Shadow Master is a creepy and powerful figure. You want to have him on your side because of that 4th action, but you also don’t want him because of the lose of money. The ability to manipulate the Agents is an amazing perk as well.

The game is a giant puzzle, where you are truly mentally invested. I loved the interactions with the gears and the game board itself. I felt that there was soo many things to like about this game, if you ever have a chance, you should play.

As always play more games,

Clinton Morris

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