To watch an overview of Limes and see a few sample turns, click here.
What is this game about?
Limes is basically a less restrictive, solo-playable Carcassonne. Designed for two people (or more, if you have more copies of the game), it contains two decks of numbered cards, identical except that their backs are different colors. One player shuffles his deck, while the other does not. The player who shuffled then draws a card and calls out the number. The second player finds the matching card in her own deck (which is why her cards were kept in order instead of shuffled). Each player then places his or her card and chooses whether to move or place a meeple. The game ends when 16 cards have been placed in a 4x4 grid, and scoring is based on the placement of meeples in different types of "territories" (fields, forests, water, and watchtowers). One of the interesting aspects of the game is that each player has the exact same cards to work with, but will end up arranging them differently, so victory depends on who can make the best of the same set of resources. At the same time, there is plenty of variability to the game, because you don't which cards you will see during a game or in what order you'll see them.
How does it play solo?
Limes is perfect for solo play—there is no interaction between players, so it is no problem to just shuffle one of the decks and play by yourself, placing cards and arranging meeples to get the highest score you can. If you hate "beat your own score" games, then it might not be for you. But if you enjoy games like Carcassonne and Honshu, I think Limes is a good choice for solo.
Limes is not a very thematic game—although limes are Roman "boundaries" or "limits," there is no Roman flavor to speak of during actual gameplay. This is purely a puzzle and score optimization experience. That said, I genuinely enjoy Limes. It satisfies me to try to come up with better card arrangements, better meeple placements, and higher scores. The game plays quickly enough that I don't ever feel like I've sunk a bunch of time into a game gone horribly wrong—and it's also very fast to set up another game, if I want to play again.
And I usually do. Limes is curiously addictive. I acquired a copy when it made the People's Choice Top 100 on BGG, and now I know exactly why that is the case.
Limes is perfect for a work night, a lunch break, or any other free moment when you have access to a flat surface to play on. Its footprint is very small. In fact, the box is too big for the game, and you could just put it in a Ziploc bag if you wanted to travel with it! It is definitely one of my favorite quick, not-too-heavy games.
The only issue with Limes is that it's out of print, which means that you can't just walk into a game store and buy a copy. Prices may vary, so you should hunt around a little bit for the best price. I lucked out and got a new-in-shrink copy from a seller on BGG for under $30, including shipping.
Do I recommend it?
If you like quick puzzle games with a beat-your-high-score win condition, then Limes is a good choice. The random card draw makes each game a bit different from the last, but there is plenty of strategy involved, too.
Overall Rating: 4 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it!
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.