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Subject: Overcompensating rss

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David Fair
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One of the biggest complaints about this games Big Brother, Shadows over Camelot, is that it can run a little long. This is quite valid, IMO, as the game typically wears out it's welcome about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the way through.

In an attempt to slim down the game, and make it play, much, much faster, Days of Wonder has come out with Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game. The question is, does slimming the game down to a more reasonable time frame improve it, or is the game overcompensating for the initial perceived problem, and come out worse for it?

The game is in a long, slender box the same size as Red November and a few other titles. This turns out to be problematic, as the box insert, once the counters are punched, does not hold the components well. I have no problem tossing ineffective inserts, so away it goes, counters go into a baggie and Amazing Tape keeps the cards together.

At the start of the game, each player is dealt a loyalty card, and they keep it secret. 2 cards are also dealt to the table. Of all the cards, only one of them depicts a traitor, someone who plays this game and attempts to make the quests fail.

The gameplay here is much simplified, with players having but 3 options on their turns:
1. Draw a card from the Rumor Deck, and add it to the current rumor pile
2. Attempt to defeat the topmost rumor of the rumor pile
3. Accuse another player of being a traitor to Arthur.

Drawing a card from the rumor deck most often means adding a card for one of the familiar Arthurian quests to the face-up deck of rumors. These cards depict a quest and either a numeric value, or a question mark. The question marks work like Guards in Guillotine, and count as 1 for each question mark card (thus 3 of them would be 3 each, for a total of 9).

You may also get a Merlin card, which helps to reduce the strength of one or more quests, which quests exactly being chosen by the player who draws it, from the options shown on the card, a Mordred card, which adds 1 point to the value of each card in both the Saxons and Picts quests, or a Morgan La Fey card, which have various powers, (edit: virtually) all of them bad.

You may also attempt to defeat the top quest card of the rumor stack. In this case, take the entire stack, sort it by card type, and evaluate the quests. Count up the value of the cards for the Major Quest (the card on top of the stack denotes the major quest). Apply the effects of any Merlin, Mordred, or Morgan cards in play, and see if the remaining total is within the range of 11-13, inclusive. If it is, the Knights gain a number of white swords depicted on the cards, if the number is too low or too high, the knights get a number of black swords depicted.

Then, evaluate all the other quests, again applying the special card effects. Any number too low or too high (edit above 14 grants 1 black sword. Numbers in the 1-13 range grant no swords, neither white nor black.

A player may also accuse another knight of disloyalty, and if correct gain white swords, if incorrect, gain black ones.

The game progresses until either 7 black (the loyal knights lose) or 7 white (the loyal knights win) swords are collected.

Effectively, for much of the game, 2 of the turn options are null and void, so really, there is only the illusion of choice on your turn. Because of the total limits on what constitutes a winnable quest, it is rare to choose to attempt a quest, only happening 3-4 times in a normal game. Accusing another knight is risky, and often not worth the attempt.

Despite this rather large-seeming flaw, the game is, thankfully, short enough that it almost doesn't matter. It scratches the SoC itch rather well, and does not overstay it's welcome. It offers some bluffing, some deduction, and plays in about 20 minutes. It should be more readily compared to Saboteur rather than it's own Big Brother, and when making that comparison, I find it comes out on top. I think it will see regular table time over the next few months.
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Darcy Hartwick
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Secondary quests only check to see if they are 14 or higher, otherwise they have no effect.

While some morgan cards are simply bad, others can actually be helpful by letting you go on the quest of your choice or adding an extra white sword to a victory. Likewise sometimes the merlin cards are bad because they throw off your math.

Agree with the illusion of choice comment.

Also agree with comparing it to Saboteur rather than SoC board game. However I personally find saboteur is an interesting game with lots of little strategic value points, whereas the SoC card game has virtually none.
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David Fair
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aitrus wrote:
Secondary quests only check to see if they are 14 or higher, otherwise they have no effect.

While some morgan cards are simply bad, others can actually be helpful by letting you go on the quest of your choice or adding an extra white sword to a victory. Likewise sometimes the merlin cards are bad because they throw off your math.

Agree with the illusion of choice comment.

Also agree with comparing it to Saboteur rather than SoC board game. However I personally find saboteur is an interesting game with lots of little strategic value points, whereas the SoC card game has virtually none.

Thanks, I must have misremembered. I have corrected my rules errors in the main entry.
 
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Lars Wagner Hansen
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Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game » Forums » Reviews
Re: Overcompensating
Major quest only gives 1 black sword if at 10 or below.
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