Initial Play Date: 1/24/2008 - 1/25/2008 My original comments got deleted for some reason.
Short version: Very card draw dependant. Got many rules wrong in first playing, which may taint overall view of the game. Boards and cards both warped when left on the table over night. The house is dry! There should be no warpage! Too few cubes, uneven number of cubes.
A worker placement game where there's never enough of what you need to do what you want.
Two player family game was fun, and competition got fierce for key spaces (such as wood and reeds). Though I anticipate suggesting this be brought to the table in the foreseeable future, it is more fiddly than Puerto Rico, and that detracts a bit from the play.
Played 4 player and there's a vast difference in resource allocation and distribution with that number. I still think this is very fiddly with all the wooden bits moving around. Competition was again fierce, only this time over different key spaces.
I'd been holding off on rating this until I got a decent number of plays of this version under my belt. With Area 42 (Aug 24) and TCEP (LaborDay weekend) finished, I have now played every OOB faction at least once (and a few many more times than once) and can finally drop in a comment.
This is now my 'go-to' 2 player game. OOB this title is phenomenal and every person I've showed it to has been interested in playing more. The experience is spectacular with the provided starter decks and even with the same faction v faction matchups, they didn't always play the same based on the shuffle.
I'll have more of an opinion on constructed play once I've had a chance to do so.
Enjoyment is very dependant upon the player base and the 'meta game' of trying to figure out what you have that your opponent might select.Have been known to play this until the sun came up with the right crowd.Have been known to politely excuse myself away from a game after 2 rounds with the wrong crowd.
An adventure style game which, for me, tends to drag on far too long. I would prefer to get in 2-3 other games in the time it takes to set up and execute this one.
Recent edition puts too much information cards, I miss the feel of the old booklet and another player reading what happened. After the first read through the actions at the site cards, it turns into an exercise of 'what do I roll, what do I get?'
A cute crossword puzzle game that's extremely portable.
Where it falls flat for me is if one person is able to quickly use up their current tiles, they force a new tile onto the opponent(s). That's fine once, but after five or six it's a lot harder to incorporate those tiles.
Good for teaching letters and words to children, and as a filler.
Nice reprint of all things Bang! related. Reprint changed 'book' symbol cards to actually have English text on them - a nice addition. Includes original Bang!, Dodge City!, The two expansion sets and a cute plastic star for the sheriff.
Only complaint is the over-indulgent packaging. The bullet is bulky, prone to rolling a bit and doesn't fit well on the shelf. If any game is a candidate for repackaging into aftermarket card holders, this is it. (Revision: The bullet isn't that bulky compared to other boxes, and slides nicely into the current carrying bag. It's still overindulgent in terms of wasted space)
A good hidden role game with the extra element of not totally knowing which side you're on until halfway through the game.
Humans have a difficult time winning in the beginning, usually due to over-compensating on skill checks when they don't have to. With practice, I believe that skill checks will get closer and thus put the humans in better stead.
The Sympathizer card is fine the way it is. Leave it alone.
I nice little worker placement game with some area control mechanics. Some like the dueling, others don't. The uncertainty associated with getting dueled off a spot somewhat mitigates the worker placement "I was here first" problem.
Of course, now the player with the most guns gets there 'first'.
First Play: 1/25/208 Two player card based game which is close to 'blackjack' in its play mechanics, with each card 'suit' having a special ability.
Plays quickly, and has a few elements of bluffing and strategy in it.
Components are solid, poker chips are nice.
Card driven nature can lead to luck being a very high factor.
Metagame of agent selection will probably develop with a more solid understanding of the objectives.
Need to reshuffle the groups EVERY ROUND is slightly bothersome - replacing groups with thick cardboard tokens and pulling them from a bag might go faster, but would require uniform backs for the Analyst to be possible.
Nice small box, just the right size to hold the cards and other components.
Had an opportunity to get introduced to the final playset in prototype form a GCOM: Games Days. Many decision making points have been moved from the selection of what card to buy to the play of action cards, making a very nice addition to the first set.
There are familiar elements and new twists. In many ways, it feels like Magic:the Gathering when a new set of cards came out for people to exploit explore.
So now I own this and after swapping out the box with something a bit more sturdy and a lot less likely to spill, it gets brought in the 'small games bag' quite frequently.
What's frustrating is that I showed it to one group quickly, using the introductory rules (half the deck, no building powers) and now at least one of those players indicates that it's just not that interesting.
Of the LEGO games, this is one of two I was willing to purchase because it had enough 'game' to it.
First off the build is fairly straightforward. You are making 12 'staircase' tiles which are nothing more than a brown 2x2 on a gray 6x6 plate with 2-3 brown 2x2 plates connecting the sides to the big block. Four slightly more complex 'classrooms' (in a sand color) round out the movable tiles. The rest of the build is a tray large enough to hold the 16 tiles that allows them to slide around with some themetic bits around the edge to make it look like a school for wizarding.
Game play is remarkably strategic and you tend to forget that it is controlled by a die. Players roll a die which tells them which action they can perform: slide tiles, rotate a staircase or find a secret passage.
First to collect all of their homework and get back to their common room wins the game.
This one plays well with the 'base' rule set, but I can see making a few modifications to make the game more even, such as allowing only entry into the classrooms via the main entrance (not via the back door), which would make a perfectly symmetrical board.
I find this plays best with four. Two player is a bit too straightforward.
Arrived: 7/29/2010 First play: 7/30/2010 Initial rating: 9
This is card based civilization game. The first few plays will see players probably see whomever gets an early achievement lead taking the game. This effect seems to dissipate after a few plays.
By play #4, my wife and I were always neck and neck on scoring achievements, with many being a 'if you hadn't gotten it just then, I was about to snag it'. This was the case for the basic achievements as well as a tooth-and-nail fight for EMPIRE.
Scoring is critical. If you cannot score you cannot achieve.
Splaying is important. A higher symbol count allows extra actions on other player's turns and prevent detrimental "I demand" effects.
Tucking is only really helpful if you've already splayed.
Drawing cards is helpful. Teching ahead is more helpful but a built in 'catch up' mechanic means you won't keep a tech advantage for long if you don't maintain that pace.
In the end, this is a nice game that has a lot to explore.
After one play, which admittedly was a learning experience, I'm concerned that turn order or player position might be a significant factor in this game. The first player to go scored 30% of what everyone else did due to having one of his major buildings destroyed by a time shadow in turn 3.
I like the theme (time travel) but believe I need a few more playings to determine if it's flawed.
Purchased: 4/20/2008 @ Game Parlor (yes, paid full price Initial rating: 7
This is a tight two player game but there's not a lot of talking going on while playing. Played first two games within an hour, alternating sides. There's a lot of deduction going on in this game, so it has elements of CLUE and MASTERMIND on a larger board with a lot more options.
Made the mistake of NOT scanning or photocopying the sticker sheet prior to playing, because we were hot to play it immediately.
Was surprised at the size of the board for a two player game. Not sure why but expected it to be smaller.
Simple enough tile laying game that moves quickly once the rules are distilled to the essense of the game. Steppes tiles preprinted on the board could have been more noticable and differentiated from the sand.
Strategies will probably get tighter as players stop focusing on only their own position, but remember what others are pushing for as well.
5/2/08: initial rating 7; Nice cooperative game - not sure how to BEAT the game yet, but the fun is in learning. 6/6/08: Two games with my wife, one on difficult 4 (beaten) and one on difficulty 5 (beaten). It's a cute little diversion we can play while watching television. Two player definitely seems easier to coordinate than four, which may be affecting the difficulty perception at this point.
Full Disclosure: I have been involved with the creation of this game and its predessor (RoboDerby). I have received no remuneration or funds as a result of this involvement, just a lot of late nights Skyping with Clint.
Fun little dice game that feels like RoboRally without having to set everything up. This is a pirate retheme of RoboDerby with more damage (ramming and broadside cannons instead of forward firing lazers) and a different goal. Instead of racing around the course, the goal is to get to the treasure and back home to the port.
This is a dice game, with different commands on the dice. Dice means random, but for a short game, that's not an issue.
I find this best with 2 or 3, 4 players can get a bit crowded.
Getting two copies from the Kickstarter, even though I have a prototype set, because I really want the wooden dice.
One of the few games I'm always willing to play, unless I'm on fire.
I've been known to stay late at conventions in order to squeeze a copy of this in, and I'm known in my group as being an available opponent when someone wants to get this game going.
Not a big fan of the 'expansion tiles'.
Update (March 2008): Purchased the software version of PR and have been playing with the expansion tiles a lot now. Definitely shakes up the game. Would only use the expansion with experienced players who have grown tired of the based game. Still trying to evaluate how to determine the 'value' of the various tiles, esp in relation to each other.
In my opinion, unnecessary modifications to a very beautiful and well integrated game.
The fact that this expansion was made 'by committee' (for all intents and purposes) and generally serves to short circuit the need to learn the intricacies of the game both combine to mean that I own the expansion, but rarely play with it.
Definitely serves a purpose to mix up a game that's overplayed - but if there are new people at the table, leave this in the box.
Update (March 2008): After purchase of software version of PR, still believe that expansion tiles are best left in the box with NEW players at the table. With experienced players, they might serve to make the game 'new' again'.
An in depth game that plays well with two players in a relatively short period of time. With more players, this can only get more complex and interesting. Repeated plays increase the understand of the game space created by the card deck, and the subspace created by ones current hand, which leads to a multitude of strategies.
Finally played with 4 players and it was a blast. The deck got shuffled a good 3-4 times, increasing the opportunities to get a shot at a particular card, and also increasing the need withhold cards from the discard which might be beneficial to other players.
Everyone I demo the game to enjoys it, and usually wants a second game immediately after the teaching game in order to test out a strategy or home world.
Cut down and wrapped the chipboard from "Yahtzee Jr." into four boards. Canibalized a box that used to hold Christmas Cards for the player boards. All boards were wrapped in black faux-leather contact paper from Home Depot before stickers were applied.
One modification from 'as is'. I changed the red components to yellow to match the dice I have.
(original assessment / '5') At one time a decent card game which simulated a quick play of Puerto Rico.
Now it plays second fiddle to 'Race for the Galaxy' in my gaming circles.
(Jan 2012 update / upgrade to '7') With the discovery of Condado, an android clone of this game, I find myself playing it much more on my tablet in order to quickly pass the time. Condado has all the expansions, which in turn made me seek them out for my physical copy, and this will be entering the rotation again.
Where RftG got more and more complex with the various expansions, San Juan still feels fairly crisp and clean. Getting to play it rapid fire against AI opponents on the android tablet has let me explore (without much time investment) various strategies and capabilities.
Basic strategy remains to build a card generation engine and then build, build, build, though there are other paths to victory if you can get out of the mindset that there is only one way to win.
A game with an electronic game master who hides the 'mastermind' and 6 'covert agents' on the six contintents.
Travel the board to find the covert agents which give you 'covert operation' cards. The cards give you additional moves, the ability to close roads or airports (or reopen them), jump across the world or most importantly, gain clues to the mastermind's location.
Once you know where the mastermind is, run there with a 'find the mastermind' card and arrest him.
It's like having Scotland Yard without one person playing the bad guy. The electronic component was a bit tempremental (the first one had to be returned!) but for $10 in the bargain bin, this was a nice little addition to the 'light' games bin.
4089 You encounter a strange arcane shop filled with many boxes painted bright cheerful colors. One of the larger and heavier boxes catches your eye. It has a picture of a djiin and the legendary sailor Sinbad etched across the top.
NO SKILL: You look inside but do not understand the grandeur involved in the strange cardboard and large spiral bound book. The shop keeper instead edges you towards Abstracts and Eurogames with defined goals and strategies. [S:1]
ENDURING HARDSHIP: A large man comes into the shop and says "Put that down, I had it on preorder." He pays for it and quickly runs off. Not to be denied your prize, you follow him to an area with chairs and tables where other people await him. They quickly punch out many cardboard chits and pull out a map of Arabia. They pretend to be heros of myth, like Sinbad and Aladin. They pass a large book around and dramatically roll dice in order to have numbers told to them by another of the gathering. They seem to be enjoying themselves, but their choices seem to have little bearing on the outcomes of these short stories and one player seems to be constantly beating a Hunchback in order to try to escape from being in prison while another complains that being a sex-changed, beast-form, grief-stricken and married isn't making things very fun for them. One of them eventually causes an event that makes them put everything back into the box to a chorus of 'good game'. You walk away confused. [S:1, D:1, Confused ]
STORYTELLING: You open the box and believe you have found the suitcase of Marcelas Wallace. Contained therein are colorful chits and a map of Arabia. A tome, weighing many pounds, has many thousands of paragraphs of entertainment and adventure to be shared with your friends. You quickly empty your pockets and whisk this new found treasure to your next game meeting, where you accept the fact that you cannot control the fates, but are only along for the ride. You delight in the storytelling, acting out the characters of an enraged djiin or a crazed beggar. Your friends enjoy themselves as well and are glad you made this purchase. [S:1, D:1, W:-1 (no minimum), Beguiled]
WEAPON USE: You draw forth your scimitar and slay the mighty dragon, shouting praises to Allah. A small green creature from outerspace chances upon you and says "I believe this paragraph is a typo and should have been #2583. Sorry about that." [S:2, D:1, Typographical Error]
Initial Rating: 6 Date of first play: 21 June 2010
The first game or two is going to be learning the mechanics and paths to the various victory conditions. The introductory scenario (Carpe Diem) can be over extremely quickly.
Keeping track of everyone else's boards is going to be challenging and learning the balance between gaining new cards and spending them on faction control is going to be the lynch pin in this game. One of our initial play group was so enamored with getting cards that she failed to take over more than one faction. The winner of the first game performed three unchallenged take overs on turn four which gave him a Tribune, favor of the gods, 5 factions controlled and enough money to take the game.
Next time it'll be a fast and furious race to be the first to take over each faction.
Cooperative game that I don't enjoy as much as I hoped I would. Lots of 'making change' type actions necessary to turn raw materials into components and then into finished goods. Would work well on a PC, but not so much with cards.
Note: I have probably played this at least once with the 'wrong people', all of whom were so concentrated on how to survive against the evil tentacle headed their way that they forgot the fight for the greater good.
Cerebral party game. Similar to Scattergories or Balderdash in that it has intense periods of thinking, quiet and writing down followed by exposition. Some minor strategy involved with larger groups in trying to get others to vote for your fake saying.