Review – Via Nebula

Posted on by Jesta

A Pick-up and Deliver, Route Building game.

Title: Via Nebula

Year Published: 2016

Designer: Martin Wallace

Publisher: Space Cowboys

Players: 2-4

Game Time: 45-60 mins

Set-up Time: ~5 mins

Ages: 12+

Theme: Fantasy

Mechanic: Pick-up and Deliver, Route Building

How to win: Score the most points.

Game Description

Crafters, builders and carriers — your help is needed to dispel the mists of Nebula! The people of the valley will reward you handsomely if you harvest and exploit our many resources, open paths through the mists, and help our settlers build new structures. Cooperate temporarily with other builders in order to create paths and share goods, but do not forget your own objectives. Will you have a statue erected in your honour on the Nebula City plaza?

Set Up

Pick a side of the board, they’re similar but not the same and one is defined as slightly harder to play. Put the Game End card on its space, shuffle the Neutral contract cards and put 4 of them on the board and put the deck in its place.

Take all of the Special Exploitation tokens and randomly return one to the box. Shuffle the remaining ones  with the other Exploitation tokens and add them to each Meadow space on the board.

The special Exploitation tokens

Swap the Special exploitation tiles with resources of the correct type and amount (If you’re playing with 2 or 3 players, add 1 fewer than printed on the token)

Put the players pieces on their spaces on the game board and make 4 stacks of 3/4  (depending on player count) blank green Meadow tiles.

Deal 2 Private contracts to each player and randomly select someone to go first.

Game Play

Starting with the first player and going clockwise, players have 2 ‘Action Points’ and there are 6 actions to take…

Place a Craftsman
Put an available Craftsman from your board onto an Exploitation token. The player keeps the token face down and adds resources shown on the token to the space.

Place a Building Site
Cover a free half of a Ruin space with a Building Site token. (In a 2 player game you cover the whole space with a larger token.)

The token for a 2 player game takes up a whole space. In 3-4 player games players can share a space using half each.

Explore a Fog Space
The player will take the leftmost tile from their player board and put it on a Fog space on the board. However, it MUST be either next to something in your colour (Craftsman, Building Site or Building) or next to empty meadow or tile (one that doesn’t have any resources of an exploitation tile on it)

Explore Petrified Forest (Costs 2 Action Points)
Take a leftmost Explorer tile from your board and put it on a Petrified Forest space following the same placement rules as exploring a Fog space.

Looking at the Explorer tiles on the player board, when a stack is depleted the revealed explorer gives 2 end game points. If you run out of tiles on your board, you can explore with tiles from a stack of spares in the supply if any are available.

Transport Resource to Building Site
Take a resource from an exploitation to a building site but only if you can trace a path of COMPLETELY empty spaces between the two.

If all resources on a space are depleted,  the player takes their Craftsman back to their player board.

As a Building Site is half and half on a tile, you can deliver to the space with a building site on either side of the space.

Erect a Building
Build a building from the player board on to a Building Site from using a contract either in your hand, or one available on the board. 3 things happens here…

1 – Return the building site to the player board and the resources used to build the building to the supply
2 – Use the Power on the card if desired
3 – The contact is kept face down near the players board. If one was taken from the main board, replace it straight away.

If there were too many resources on the building site to build the building, the extra resources are placed in the owner’s storage area.

Game End

When a player builds their 5th building their turn ends immediately and they claim the game end card. Everyone else gets 1 more turn.

Resources on Exploitations with a players Craftsman or on a players Building Sites go to their owner’s storage.

Players score for…
The value printed on claimed Exploitation Tokens
The value of Fulfilled Contract cards
Points for Revealed Explorers
Owning the End Game Card

Players also lose 1 point per Resource in their Storage area.

Most points wins with the player having the fewest resources in their Storage breaking ties.

Round Up

The components are fantastic, the art is fun and the insert is great, a place for everything and all that…

So there is a lot going on here. What you have, as everyone knows, is a ‘Martin Wallace Train game made simple’ with a fantasy theme on top. I love this 🙂

The game is simple and should be straight forward. Open resources, build a path, transport them and build a building… but…

Craftsmen are limited and hard to get back so you can’t open Exploitations willy nilly.

You lose points for wasting resources so every time you open an exploitation it’s a risk.

To use resources/return Craftsmen, you NEED other players to use your resources.

When you clear some Fog, you may be helping someone else build a path.

You NEED people to help YOU build a path. 🙂

When working towards Building a card from the board, will it be there when it’s time to build?

Lots to think about all the time. Trying to balance helping others and allowing them to help you is a lot of fun and quite frustrating 🙂

The game as a whole just plays very well, making you be very active, taking streamlined actions and being very selfish 😉


A very VERY nice Euro.

I give it 7/10

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