Physical Board Game with App Connectivity
Beasts of Balance is a cooperative, physical stacking game that connects to a vibrant digital world via an app. In this tech-infused board game, the players' actions in the real world affect the evolution of the digital world.
Every time you balance one of the 24 physical game pieces on the stacking platform called the "Plinth," something happens in the digital world that causes you to either gain or lose points. The goal of the game is twofold: balance the greatest number of pieces on the Plinth while also balancing the digital ecosystem to earn the most points possible. The game is over when you either run out of pieces to stack or your stack of pieces falls over.
The Game Pieces
The Plinth's stacking surface is three and one-half inches in diameter. The stacking platform syncs to your tablet (Android or iOS) via Bluetooth, using 3 AA batteries. The gorgeous, molded plastic game pieces include six beasts (warthog, octopus, toucan, bear, shark, and eagle), 10 Elemental Artefacts, 2 Miracle Artefacts, 3 Cross Artefacts, and 3 Migrate Artefacts.
How to Play
Players start Beasts of Balance by selecting an animal to add to the digital world. Before placing a piece on the Plinth, players must touch the scan symbol on the piece to the corresponding symbol on the Plinth. Then, using augmented reality, the digital screen shows the addition of the piece as you successfully balance it on the Plinth. Every subsequent piece stacked on the Plinth either adds another beast, enhances the existing beasts, or creates new ones in the digital world.
Each beast has a point value. When players add more than one animal to the world, the animals compete for resources unless they have the same point value (a balanced ecosystem). All animals lower in points than the top beast, lose one point per turn. If players do nothing to fix the imbalance, the lowest animals will eventually go extinct.
The Elemental Artefacts can add points to an animal, so they can be used to balance the ecosystem. Players will discover that when an animal reaches a point value of 20, it will evolve into a new beast that can't become extinct. For example, the eagle becomes a phoenix, and the octopus evolves into a kraken.
Playing a Cross Artefact creates a new fantastical beast by crossing two existing beasts. The Migrate Artefacts create a new beast by migrating one from its current location on land, air, or sea to another location. For instance, when the warthog migrates from land to the air, it becomes a new beast called an Ayten, which looks like a warthog with wings.
The two Miracle Artefacts create interesting scenarios that play out over many turns. If completed, they can greatly add many points to the score.
The Plinth knows if you lift off a piece to rearrange or if a piece falls. You have limited time to rectify the stack before the game is over.
Tech Toy Analysis
Beasts of Balance
brilliantly blends real world play with dazzling digital creation! This is a great game for kids to play with others -- including family members or friends -- because it encourages cooperation. It requires physical dexterity and logical thinking in the placement of the oddly shaped pieces on the Plinth. It also challenges players to strategize about how to create and maintain a balanced ecosystem.
While the physical balancing offers Jenga
-like fun, Beasts of Balance
really shines in making kids think. They will need to experiment with different survival strategies to see which awards them the most points. When playing with my son, we brainstormed new strategies before starting each game and had a blast testing out our theories.
Players will also use logic when combining beasts to unlock new ones. Like Pokemon games, Beasts of Balance
caters to kids' love of collecting by providing an encyclopedia known as Bestiary. The Bestiary reveals the new beasts found and challenges players to discover the 120 possible beasts that arise from crossing, migrating, and evolving beasts. Each animal in the Bestiary has a short, amusing story. The gameplay also supports finding new beasts by showing an award badge each time a new one is uncovered.
As with most tech toys coming out of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Beasts of Balance's
pricing is currently a little high at $99 on the creator's website
. But an online search also found the game available for $39.99 at Marbles
and $88 at Amazon
. This game offers beautifully crafted pieces that are a pleasure to hold; and, with deep gameplay that changes each time you play, Beasts of Balance
is a highly replayable tech toy.
Beasts of Balance is a great addition to any family that enjoys playing games together. With its relevant balanced-ecosystem theme, satisfying physical gameplay, and a fascinating digital simulation where kids become beast creators, this game is delightfully irresistible.
This tech toy review of Beasts of Balance was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.