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GAMEPLAY Players are clans who are trying to learn the secrets of the ancient masters who have suddenly vanished from Shangri-La. By sending their most astute masters and students to the fabled land, they hope to enshrine their clan in wisdom and glory. On a turn, a player has three options: place one master tile; place two student tiles, either in the same or different villages; or initiate a journey of students. The journey of students is the main mechanism for winning the game. All students in one village travel to another village, and depending on the strength of the departure and arrival villages, the students can become masters, hopefully by kicking out the masters of opponents. The bridge used to travel to that village is destroyed so eventually a village will be completely isolated and no more masters or students can enter or leave. The winner is the player with the most masters on the board when all the villages are isolated. THOUGHTS This is an abstract game dressed up in a goofy, woo-woo theme, but it’s a theme I love. I mean, one of the tile types is Yeti Whisperer. Come on! The board art does a nice job too of masking the otherwise dry, puzzley nature of BoSL. I find the gameplay itself fascinating: at every moment there seems to be an emerging alliance in one village while you’re looking to wipe out the same opponent in a different village on the other side of the board. Sharp elbows, indeed! Journey’s have cascading effects and the implications of those effects may not become apparent until much later in the game. In short, BoSL is on a short list of my favorite abstracts, and my favorite design from Colovini alongside Clans. PROS -Beautiful board art that has a sort of retro 80s, Puff the Magic Dragon feel to it. -Low rules overhead while having interesting decisions. -Emerging alliances and sharp elbows aplenty! -It’s an abstract that plays better at 3 or 4 players. NEUTRAL -Player elimination can happen if a player is not sufficiently spread out on the board. This is more of a knock against poor planning than the game though. CONS -The tiles are fine but they do get easily jostled. It would have been nice if those spaces were slightly larger or the tiles were more akin to Azul tiles than simple cardboard chits. -It’s an abstract that cannot be played with 2 players. -The box is probably 80% air.