It’s no secret…we love family games. We have a closet bursting with a variety of different board games, so we were really excited to have the opportunity to add a new one to our collection, Commissioned. Not only did it sound like a wonderfully fun game but it also promised to be educational. A perfect combination.
Commissioned is a family board game geared towards older members of the family, ages 14 and up. It can be played with 2 to 6 players. A game usually takes about an hour to play. It currently retails for $44.00.
Designed by Chara Games, a Christian family owned company, Commissioned is a cooperative game with a Biblical early church setting. The goal of the game is to meet specific objectives for forming new churches and adding books of the Bible to the canon.
How to Play
Each player selects an apostle, who has certain special abilities. There are a total of six apostles, so up to six players can play. As a fun twist to the rules, an extra player can play as an adversary (a Roman legion) who tries to slow the growth of the church and cause the other players to lose.
The game is won if all objectives are met. However, just like in the days of the early church, there are numerous persecutions and trials that the church has to go through. Sometimes these trials can wipe out an entire church in a city, which causes one of the church candles to be extinguished. The players lose if five candles get extinguished, or if all of the trial cards are drawn before the objectives are met.
There are two levels that can be selected for the difficulty of the trial cards—disciple and martyr. This game is not an easy one to win—even with the less severe “disciple” trial cards. Sometimes, a particularly bad trial right at the beginning of the game can almost wipe the first church out, and it takes a few turns just to try to recover and start sending out apostles or missionaries to form new churches.
Although the game is recommended for kids 14 and older, because it is a cooperative game, we found that it was not too difficult for my 11 year old son to play. My 5 year old daughter also enjoyed playing along, although she really wasn’t able to grasp the rules and had to have a lot of extra coaching.
Thoughts and Usage
Many cooperative games tend to suffer from one dominant player basically telling all of the other players what to do. However, one of the things that makes Commissioned more fun is that each player has to make individual choices each turn. Also, depending on a die role, sometimes players are not allowed to talk to each other during a turn. This causes the player making the decisions that turn (referred to as the “elder”) to have to decide what to do by himself.
Here’s what my son had to say about the game: “I thought that the game was exciting because you have to try to get all the cities to have churches and get all the books without the candles getting blown out!”
One of the things that I was a little concerned about when I first heard about Commissioned was that it would be shallow and disrespectful toward God or the Bible in an effort to make the game fun or funny. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was neither shallow nor disrespectful. The creators worked hard to give the players a good biblical and historical perspective of what the early church had to go through.
Something that I both liked and disliked about the game is the game board itself. There are two sides to the board with a map of the Roman world on each side (both maps are the same, but one side is zoomed farther in to show specific regions). Something that is very interesting about the game board map is that it is based on an actual Roman map created by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 20 A.D. The historical background is fun and interesting. However, it was also a little disappointing to me. One of the best ways that I learned geography growing up was playing games like Risk and Axis and Allies where I “studied” world maps for hours just by playing games with my brothers and friends. Unfortunately, Marcus Agrippa’s map is not geographically accurate, and you really have to look closely to try to understand where the regions are in modern day countries. I think that having at least one side of the board be a geographically accurate map would have helped bring the lessons that kids can learn to life when they see or hear about something happening in the news that is in a place that they learned about in the game. That said, however, the game board map does still allow the players to see where cities are located with respect to each other. It also helps the players learn the names of cities that were around during the time of the early church.
All-in-all, this game was well-designed, we had a lot of fun playing it, and we look forward to playing again frequently.
If you are interested, Chara Games also just released a brand new card game called 3 Seeds. This game is a strategic game for 2-5 players and you can watch a video on how to play it by clicking the link.