We have had a chance to review something that we normally don’t get to check out: an awesome board game from Chara Games! It’s called Commissioned and it really is like nothing our family has ever played before. Let me tell you about our experiences!
Well, first of all, you’re going to want to know what “chara” means. If you’re a Greek scholar, you already know…but for all of the rest of us, here’s the definition: “unshakeable joy.” Now who wouldn’t want to purchase things from a gaming company with a name like that? Patrick and Katherine Lysaght created Chara Games to produce Christian-themed board games which will bring the whole family together for fun, fellowship, and (of course) joy. Currently, Chara Games has produced two games; Commissioned and 3 Seeds, which we’ll be reviewing a little later this month for you. (Stay tuned for that….after experiencing Commissioned, I have high hopes for more gaming fun with 3 Seeds!)
a tabletop board game based on actual history, in which players build the early Christian church, starting in Jerusalem (where, you might know, the Christian church began) and moving out into Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the known world at that time. The game is designed for 2-6 players, and those aged 14 (or even, perhaps, 13) and up will play and enjoy the game most effectively, although younger players can definitely play with the help of a parent or an older sibling.
Players choose to play as one of the first apostles (Peter, John, James, Andrew, Paul, or Barnabas). Each of these has a small playing board which describes the apostle and provides instructions for the game and for what happens during each turn. To begin the game, players are given 6 Faith Cards. Then, the first player takes the shepherd’s staff and draws a Trial Card, which determines what happens to that player and the board during that turn. The Trial Card describes a struggle that the apostle or early church faced. In Commissioned, those trials can include losing a missionary, blocking church growth, losing church members, or imprisonment, to name a few. There are also increasing levels of difficulty, so once you’ve mastered the basics of the game you can continue to play other interesting challenges. The goal is to build the Church and start new groups in different regions and cities, along with collecting the books of the New Testament, building your faith deck, and persevering through the trials. Generally, game play takes about one hour from start to finish. Watch out, as you don’t want your churches to be extinguished!
I am someone who would always rather read directions than watch a video on how to do something. (I realize in this day and age, I’m in the minority!) However, this is one time when you absolutely want to watch Patrick Lysaght’s 24-minute “How To Play” video. (This is found at the Commissioned link.) This game is so enjoyable, but just reading the directions (which are very clearly written and beautifully illustrated) wasn’t quite enough for us. So, the first two times my husband, son and I played Commissioned, we watched Mr. Lysaght’s video AS we were playing. He describes how to set up the board, what each game piece or card does, and then he takes you through playing an actual game. The first time, we sort of understood it. But the second time, our reaction was, “OH! That’s how you do it. How cool!”
We’re a 3-person family, so we had a perfect number of players (although clearly, we could have had more people over to play and things would also have worked well).
We loved it! We enjoyed playing a board game together; honestly, we’ve played more cards or video games in the last couple of months than board games. So it was wonderful to have a fascinating game we could enjoy together. Our son is 14, so I think it was also good timing for him, as there are some tough things that happened to the early Christian church that do come up in this game; like lions, imprisonment, persecution. Yet the cool thing is that players can see, in a gaming fashion that I know they can then apply to real life, that tribulations CAN be overcome. Plus, it’s just fun!
I found it interesting to see how the three of us reacted as we played through the game. In many ways, Commissioned is a collaborative game, so players work together using their Faith cards to overcome struggles. My son did a great job in seeing what cards would most benefit us as we worked to overcome the struggle. My husband is apparently the strategy king; he reminded us here and there how we could move in ways that would benefit the church overall. Me? I just loved playing the game with my guys, and being reminded of some of the amazing things God did in the early church. We all liked the way it gives a very visual image of what life was like in the early church, from a macro perspective.
We say: big thumbs up!
If you, or someone you know:
- loves tabletop or board games
- enjoys world-building games
- has played that Catan game and liked it
- is looking for ways to enjoy family game time
- is interested in learning how the Christian church might have spread
- or is just looking for a fascinating new game…
then you might just love Commissioned! You don’t have to be a Christian to thoroughly enjoy this game…although enjoying history would probably be a plus. The game is interesting historically, extremely fun and fascinating to play, and something that we truly enjoyed. The more you play it, the more you’ll understand it; but those who’ve played world-building, collaborative games before will probably get it immediately.
Honestly, anyone who likes board games should check this out!
Visit Chara Games to purchase Commissioned. And read more about this neat company while you’re there! Other Crew members of the Homeschool Review Crew also played and reviewed Commissioned. If you click on the banner below, you can read about their experiences!