The best game I played at GenCon 2010, and from the hype and the description, I was actually expecting to be lukewarm at best about it. Very solid drafting mechanics, very quick play, accommodates a larger than average number of players, and asymmetrical starting boards.
A rule of thumb as you look down the list of comments: in virtually every comment that says it is "random" "chaotic" "luck driven" or "low interaction", you should replace those statements with "this person doesn't know how to draft".
the cards don't add replayability as much as they add randomness (not overpowering randomness, but they do cripple a lot of the "figure out what the other people need" part of the game- which is the primary form of interaction. any time you could be blocked, you can almost always fix your bad play with the cards). my rating drops 2 points when playing with the cards. the "family game" is the better way to play for gamers.
and when playing it without cards, this is one of my favorites. Pushes the boundaries of what you can reasonably parse while still keeping track of your opponents (sitting it right along the edge of challenge:skill for me, making it highly enjoyable), with heavy interaction if you actually understand the game.
very enjoyable- a game with a dexterity element in place of a random element, and it's not the ONLY thing that you do in the game (compared to most dexterity games, where the dexterity element IS the game).
I've experienced no particular problem with the boards, and here's the thing- for a board of that size, you've only got a few options, and the puzzle-piece style keeps the price down. if you don't care about price (you're in the vast minority), then go buy a $3 plastic sheet from Wal-mart or Lowes. you don't even really need to cut holes in it. For this to be a seamless folding board of that size, everyone else would be paying $20+ more for the game, meaning it would get carried by less stores, bought by less people, and probably not printed in the first place because of that.
the effective board state changes drastically very quickly, meaning you can't really plan things out very well. this means each turn is some numbers crunching before your action, which adds small but unfortunate downtime to a high tactics/low strategy game.
a Werewolf mechanic with an acceptable card engine to drive it rather than a "heads down thumbs up", making it a bit more mob-mentality than politics, which is fine. and it works very well thematically. needs 5 players or more to start to shine.
maneuvering value is high, which is what i like in a wargame, but it's still missing a little something to drive it home for me- probably because I wish the magic portion of the game worked as cleanly as the combat and movement.
rating is for campaign play, and if you've got a group of 8 people to run a season with (using the deathzone advancement rules and such, or just the living rulebook), I highly recommend it. An excellent blend of theme, making you learn and develop diverse strategies combined with fluid tactics, glued together with some character advancement to help you associate with the game, and some risk-management in how often, when and where you choose to make risky dice rolls.
wheeling and dealing is the heart of this game, and since every mechanic in this game pushes players into trading more, it is an excellent design for this purpose. not my fav from this designer, but i'm pretty much always willing to give it a go, as long as there are at least 4 players.
Nice mechanical twist to a trick-taking game, though i'm not yet convinced that there's a justified design reason for the way the coin quantities are distributed, and the cards with text on them should have more pictures instead.
excellent theme (well integrated and graphically well presented), and the mechanics are all sound separately, but together they generate a high amount of parity (via the heavy negative feedback loop of resources), which is broken primarily by the way the cards come out. the distribution of the boulders means your bid capabilities wax and wane... so you're hoping the right set of cards comes out when your boulders are waxing.
not a luck "fest", but certainly not prone to much strategizing. I would play again, but wouldn't suggest it often.
the rules are a bit "swirly" to explain, so i recommend going over them quickly, and then just handhold people through a turn or so. people will pick it up after the second turn, in general.
it is not really "epic", and it's more prone to tactics than strategy, but it is a game. the math used for rough balancing purposes (both in the terrain and the stats) works better than i expected, and as a light wargame that plays in about 10 minutes, it's good for an occasional run-through.
even though this game is straightforward, i'm still wrapping my head around the strategies (even though they're not all that deep, they do have some levels of exploration)- and of course it's a quintessential gateway game.
if the placement mechanic weren't in such a confined space, i think it could shine more. the card event mechanic is very cool, unfortunately one type of card event rises quickly to the top as the important kind. So close to awesome in 2 different aspects, but instead falls short.
A very Agricola feel, but since the building board is shared, explanations are a little harder, and scoring is a bit muddier. But enjoyable, and i like worker placement, and would like to play this some more.
I founded my high school chess club- and i'm not very good at chess. There are now a lot of abstracts that I prefer, but design-wise chess has a lot of things going for it, and nostalgia-wise, it's got even more.
one of my favs, card drafting, bluffing, paper-rock-scissors with motivations attached, and mini-metagame considerations. Tactically best at 3 and 4 players... starts to become a bit chaos heavy, along with a distinct downtime increase at more than that.
much better than i expected it to be, simple betting mechanism with variable powers to generate interesting interactions, without 100 different cards of text. I would actually classify it very vaguely as a "trick taking" game, but it's got more depth than what i normally associate with that.
this rating is for the normal version, which seems better balanced. the "advanced" actually made luck a bigger factor in the game, and would be just a 6 or 7 for me. area control game with some maneuvering and risk estimation. one of my favorite area control games, by dint of having a good light mix of strategy with tactics, and quantifiable stats rather than the convolution that makes decisions in a lot of similar games worse (i'm not a big fan of "well, option A seems only marginally different from B, C, and D, so i guess i'll go with my mental lottery", and this game manages to avoid this cleanly).
This game is very hard for me to pin down. It's chaotic, and almost entirely tactical (rather than strategic) as a result, but as long as everyone is paying attention to the possible win conditions, your decisions are still meaningful.
I'm not sure I would appreciate it as much, or even have given it a second chance, if the theme wasn't applied so well to the elements. I wouldn't say "integrated", but applied is definitely accurate, and as a fan of the books, that probably lets me overlook the level of randomness inherent in the cards a little more than I would otherwise.
The game also teaches SUPER-quickly, as it's play 1 card, do what the symbols say in order (reference the player aids for what the symbols do) and draw up to your 5 card hand limit.
honestly, it makes the base game a little more random. you're hoping for potions to come up along with the correct amount of gold for you to make an efficient purchase. in an alchemy-heavy game, this can very easily be the defining difference in scores.
most configurations, with or without the original, play distinctly slower than the original- and any configuration including the new victory point cards makes it much harder to track exactly what point value everyone's at.
neither of those are specifically criticisms, just observations.
like Cutlass of Fire, this was clearly concepts stuck together rather than "designed", but it's still ok to play. Equivalent dice rolls would solve most of the problems (because some elements are clearly superior to others).
a mild deduction element with with a transparent guess mechanism, and failing a guess to find one of the 3 game-winning bits will still yield a potion which will give you extra abilities. slight imbalance in the starting positions, but still well designed overall- good for family games, good for mixed groups, even good for gamers on occasion.
Need to play it a few more times to grok the tech cards, but it's definitely interesting. Doesn't really feel like a deck-building game (because of how much more control you have compared to others in the genre), but I think that's a good thing.
Edit: The more I play it, the more I enjoy it. Exploring the tech tree is very interesting.
the only random element is the initial setup, which is viewable by all- excellent mix of strategy and tactics, direct and indirect interaction, along with interesting and constant decisions, all in 45 minutes to an hour. This hits all the right buttons for me, and makes me want to play it MORE every time I play it.
carcassonne's cousin, if you like one you'll probably like the other. the tiles could have been better set up so the quirky rules restrictions didn't show up every second turn, and it seems like there should be twice the number of tiles that there are (which would offset what seems to be a distinct first-player advantage by making maneuvering more important), but still a fun 2-player game.
some of the interesting parts of the decisions you make in this game are essentially not present (set collection and blocking set collection, as well as subtleties of when and how much to bid) when playing with 2 players, so I highly recommend playing with 3 or 4.
that's not to say that it becomes bad at 2, just that it becomes much lighter overall... and it starts out very light to begin with.
From the same designer as Conquest of the Fallen Lands, another area control game with some cool mechanics, I enjoy CotFL a teensy bit more, but I think most real gamers should enjoy Galaxy's Edge more.
(my game, i'm a shill) 2 player, playable with no table space (can be played standing up). Has a memory element (which i recognize will turn some people off), but uses that to fuel a very mild deduction element (which is what you should be using to trigger the game-end).
Grave Business is a worker placement spatial auction with deduction and direct aggression elements.
People are most frequently scared away by the "direct aggression" part, but the attacking and stealing is mathematically and strategically inefficient in the majority of circumstances, so it's up to the good players to figure out when the right time for taking those actions is.
The bidding is blind-yet-informed... informed in multiple aspects, in fact. It was important to me for your decisions to be the primary factor, but I didn't want people bogged down in over-math'ing the board, so there's definitely enough info to make intelligent and meaningful choices, but still the possibility for some jukes and jives.
Pro-tip: When resolving the graveyard, it's often easy to find columns and rows which clearly go entirely to one player, and resolving those first- which frequently makes most of the rest of the board pretty easy to dole out as well. If you're taking more than 1 minute to hand out the board pieces at the end of the round, you're probably making it more difficult than it needs to be
Way better than i expected, a fun and thematic dice game of king-of-the-hill. There were issues with the card wordings on the prototype i played (meaning that it probably needs errata even before it's published), but i definitely would have bought it at Essen if it had been available there.
people often only state the things they perceive as having been "done wrong" in Magic. unfortunately, most CCG's missed the important things that were done right.
people complain that the cards have gotten too powerful- and i say you build a deck with what you believe is the most overpowered recent set, let me build a deck with just the original set, moxes, black lotus, dual lands, swords to plowshares, timewalk, etc.
If you want to do the most recent base set along with its 2 expansions, i'm fine mixing the original set in with Arabian Nights and Antiquities. Khird Apes, Serendib Efreet, Mishra's Factories and Workshops... it will be fun.
people say that the game is too expensive. if you're good enough at the game, the only cost is tournament fees- you win more than enough product to keep you playing competitively.
What really happens is that people's perceptions change- and they are inaccurate... either misinformed or tainted with nostalgia.
let's see... long game, hugely luck based, luck factor scales unfavorably with making trades, and making trades is roughly the only skill factor in the game... there was a patent for a virtually identical game that was in before the patent-holder of monopoly, and now this guy is getting rich off of people who think that just because their parents taught them how to play this "game", that it makes it worth playing.
Primary skill is fast recognition- grabbing the best truck for your load. It is heavily random, which I normally strongly dislike, but the pseudo-Tetris aspect plus the fast grab somehow overrides this distaste.
If you want a more brain-based game, auctioning the trucks using points is an easy fix. I'd recommend blind bid to maintain game speed (whoever has the least points currently wins ties).
My piecepack design. Sail your ship around, drop off pirates and shoot at theirs as you scramble for treasure. The more pirates you manage to get around a potential treasure spot before "digging" for it, the better your chance of success.
at 3 or 4 players, you have neither enough control over when scoring happens (giving whoever gets to move right before it happens the heavy advantage), nor will you have any inkling of what the board will look like when it comes back to your turn. it is a chaos fest.
however, playing only 2 players using the "workaround" in the rulebook mostly solves those problems, making it the only acceptable way to play this.
Don't let my rating fool you, this game has strategy and no huge flaws ...no heavy exploits, and the random parts aren't cripplingly so- although on the flip side of the coin, the tree planting has less impact on most games than what the effort of implementation would lead you to believe.
But yes, solid design, AMAZINGLY presented (awesome board, bits, and box). A good light family game, just not one i'm clamoring to play a lot.