strongly disappointing. the draft portion of the game is weak to begin with, is further trivialized by the random card draw afterward, and is the primary yet extremely minimal point of interaction in the game. It is also the primary decision point of the game, however since your options are so limited, it is rarely an actual decision.
the rules could have been organized better as well, and there should have been a player mat or something for symbology, card/token special rule reminders, turn structure (number of cards available to draft, for instance), and possible actions. But that's all surmountable, the glaring gameplay issues were not.
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.
Good mechanics unsupported by the cards. in particular, it has few relevant early decisions, combined with heavy luck for the first few rich-get-richer fights for the contested resources. and that's not even counting the med issues. needs more development.
much simpler than you'd think from looking at it. a little bit of spatial maximization driving a basic "stock market" sort of mechanic, both for controlling the market and for speculating on it. i'm not chomping at the bit for another game, but i would play anytime someone suggested it.
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.
Another Dominion clone that failed to evaluate what was good and bad about Dominion first, and thus was a step backwards, design wise. less interaction, far less strategy, much more random (notably, the same errors Thunderstone made). All this in exchange for 30 seconds less set-up time. Not a worthwhile trade off (Thunderstone traded those things for some theme instead). Gets more and more painful every time I play it.
copied an already successful design (and un-designed most of the good things about the game), copied an already succesful marketing style (They targeted Magic players, because that's what they were familiar with, and at least didn't take backwards steps doing that, so did a decent job there). No thanks.
The draft mechanic is cool, the economic engine is intuitive, the bits and cards are cool... but there are some problems. the draft mechanic provides the major interaction and decisions in the game, but also injects an unfortunate luck-of-the-draw element. then, on top of that, the buy-a-2-pack cheapens the draft mechanic entirely, AND injects MORE luck-of-the-draw. The actual economic processing is much more deterministic than I'd like (once you've got a couple of plays under your belt, at least), and unfortunately takes up the majority of the playtime. I'd like to remove the buy-a-2-pack entirely, and create a central market for the purchasable/sellable veggies, rather than individual ones.
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.
You're bidding less often based on what you're getting, because the prizes are all so similar, but more on what you think it's costing you- trying to win with low value cards, etc. this makes it feel more like a trick taking game than an auction game. also, someone in the lead can steamroll a bit with the advantage (despite the negative feedback loop), which makes the first couple of turns the most important usually. ok for a couple of plays.
another example of game that was "made" as a product to be sold based on theme, rather than "designed" as a game to be played... sort of like if i tried to make a car without reading or being taught how an engine works. I could make it pretty, but i could not make it functional.
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.
When you do a rock-paper-scissors mechanic, you need to have various things which affect the players' potential motivation for choosing specific things. This game does, is one of the few that does, and thus works very acceptably at doing that.
a more gamer-y carcassonne style game for only 2 players. the tile churn mechanic was ok, but otherwise not a lot new here. if i REALLY liked 2-player cutthroat carc, i would have liked this more, but when i bust out carc, it's not really with cutthroat players.
remember that game you play with grid paper, where you take turns drawing a line, and if someone completes a square they initial it (scoring a point) and get to take a bonus turn? This is like that MOST of the time, without the bonus turn, but with special abilities and some luck thrown in.
It's not bad, and you are making relevant decisions, but I have no burning desire to play again.
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.
Definitely in the same category as "For Sale", with a couple of extra gears to turn. Very solid game.
Weird note- the iello version LOOKS nice out of the box, but the cards are too thick to shuffle, the gloss shows wear and dents A LOT and quickly, the dice are an inefficient method of tracking values over score tracks with chits, and the color matching between the cards, dice, and boards is poor.
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.
As mentioned elsewhere, this is not really a deckbuilding game (which is totally fine)- it's really more of an extended-trick-taking game, like Blue Moon or (more closely) Battle line.
Unfortunately, it's an extended trick taking game with randomness from the card draws, AND randomness from dice, AND randomness from cheating counters, AND some random events. I do enjoy Blood Bowl... I didn't care much for this. I felt like my decisions were too frequently overridden by luck for them to be meaningful.
In fact, I'd ascribe distinctly more luck to this game than I would to Blood Bowl- in Blood Bowl, you're taking a lot of actions that either don't involve dice, or are very safely taken with dice due to skill levels/abilities/rerolls. Then you take a few actions each turn that are riskier propositions. In this game, there's random at the beginning (your hand, random event), random during (the dice rolls for certain actions, comparable to blood bowl), then random after (cheating).
I do recognize that if you have a bad starting hand one round, that means your hand will be much better the next round. However, this still compounds the problem of the other randomness- When you've got a hand full of mostly linemen, there's very little you can do to increase your lot in life that turn. So you're hoping the random elements don't junk out your actually "functional" turns. So, generally speaking, you're hoping your functional turns occur when someone else is having a functional turn too- so that maybe you have the opportunity to outplay them. and then you're hoping the dice and cheating doesn't negate your good plays. and hoping the random event isn't bad for your team's strengths. There's a lot of hoping going on, just to get to the point where what you do matters.
This doesn't appeal to me, but some people like heavily overpowering randomness, and it's Blood Bowl, so it'll sell.
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.
this is one of those "games" i actually feel hurts society. it's spread through fake viral marketing techniques, which people fall for because they've no clue that a real game involves choice... or at least a skill of some sort.
Awesome looking, but lacking SEVERELY in gameplay.
I LOVE the art for this game. The theme and concept grabbed me as well. Even reading a couple of the scenarios made it sound good. I really wanted to like it... But your turns are essentially "move a couple of guys, roll some dice to see if good things or bad things happen to me". Even if you avoid the dice rolling as much as possible, the other players can essentially undo your entire turn by attacking you. No interesting mechanics, and your decisions are largely trumped by the dice- whether it's you doing the rolling or someone else.
if you're looking for a game where the outcome is even remotely decided by intelligent decisions, look elsewhere. this is cards, multiplied by dice, multiplied by bad player portcullis decisions, equals random fest. but it's pretty, so if you're looking for a pretty game where you roll some dice and see what happens, this game's for you.
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.
it does exactly what it's supposed to do, which is help kids with colors (even though it's more of an "activity" than a "game", in the technical sense). i'm tempted to give it a 10 for the deluxe version
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.
Very much like "Ra", but with 4 color-coded showcases and a 4 card hand rather than a random tile pull (though the color-coding tells you where you can play each card). Definitely acceptable, but in general I'd rather play Ra.
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.
Sort of a pick-up-and-deliver game, where the delivery part has several different aspects... and the pick-up part has explosions.
you're managing several very diverse concepts- a spatial element with the network and blocking, a market element, and an opportunity element (definitely a third of the game is timing and opportunity).
I was initially concerned with the talk of the "auction" portion, but that's not really the core of the game, and will tend to push to an obvious and narrow range pretty quickly (which is to say, doing "badly" at the auction parts is only going to hurt you by a couple of points overall, the real decisions in the game are the other things i mentioned above).
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.
in my first game, I felt like I didn't know what I was doing, and I felt like I was losing the whole way... and then I won. I like this designer, I can see the cool stress points in this game and would play again, but whenever I have a first game like that, it doesn't sit well with me.
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.
I'm ok with the theme mash-up and mechanics mash-up concept, but this was not just "inelegant" in gameplay, but downright cumbersome. This wasn't helped by the fact that almost every time we had a question, the answer was either in a place other than where we expected it to be, or not present at all. There are also some usability issues with the components, more of the rules could have been offloaded onto them, and the player aid could have been much more useful.
Even if all those things had been fixed, there was some unnecessary swirliness to the actual gameplay, and it SEEMS like you need to encourage people to produce fruit, rather than making it just a pure negative in all cases except when you yourself are immediately going to build a building with it. (we were even playing it correctly, where you don't remove fruit for shipping, and there was still a fruit problem).
IMO This game needed more development and, in particular, more blind rules tests.
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).
Meh? Maybe for young kids to learn about animals? Aside from that, nothing really new here, mechanically poor with a clear runaway leader problem, and the kickstarter succeeding shows how much the general public is broadly unaware of even pre-existing non-hobby games/concepts.
the board did not impress me, but the gameplay did. though there are two somewhat asymmetrical "sides", it's definitely still every man for himself, and the balancing mechanics are very cleanly implemented. I can say I wish there was a bigger variety of things to build, but that's a minor complaint, as the main value in the game comes from the placement mechanics rather than the building tree.
Very decent area majority game, with some individual player powers and leveling-up involved. I wish the artistic style was more cohesive throughout, the flavor could definitely have benefited from it, but the game itself is solid.
I didn't feel like the options regarding deception were interesting. There's not in-game motivation to contribute anything besides positive values, so it felt (to me) like the only real thing you do as an unrevealed infected was to claim you only rolled negatives. There's no possible other motivations to explain, no nuances that might be there if contributions weren't as overt.
Othello with all strategic decisions turned almost completely into tactics instead. excellent components except for the "pawn" chits, which seem oddly out of place next to the quality of the tiles/cards.
I can see the appeal, but there are better dead CCG's out there- and they were around when this one was, making this guy a distant 5th or 6th at all times. The thematic poker element in the middle is good though.
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.
Seems like a solid expansion, after one play, I'd say it probably fits in easily as my 2nd favorite (after seaside). Games are a little longer (because the new tier of VP's means players aren't buying out the province stack as quickly).
I take issue with all the complaints regarding the memory element:
1- memory elements in games are not inherently flawed or something to be avoided. i could write an essay on why.
but more importantly:
2- this game isn't a memory game. you will, at ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM (and it's highly unlikely it will reach this point), be remembering the location of 12 cards. most of the time, you will only possibly have the ability or need to remember the location of between 5 and 8 cards. if that's a hard task for you, there are deeper issues with your perceptions than i can cover in this comment. and as the game goes on, the possible combinations of those cards shrink. if this is difficult for you, then:
A- we're approaching the difficulty level of remembering your left from right and B- just leave revealed cards face up until someone performs a swap on them. gameplay will be virtually unchanged. try it, i'll wait. ta-daa, not a memory game.
One of very few games from this time period which neatly combines this level of complexity (with multiple solid mechanics, like diplomacy, area control, rock-paper-scissors with motivation, etc. etc.) and theme.
needs exactly 4 players, otherwise someone's playing the extra boards. very good theme integration and components, decisions FEEL interesting but it's hard to really mess up- thus scores just kind of push to a similar range... the learning curve to roughly optimal play is very small, making it good for 1 or 2 plays only. the differences between good players will generally come down to guessing wrong during the blind action selection- which is the primary interaction, and is very small due to the guesswork involved.
I've literally watched a game played where 2 of the players selected their actions (about 10 seconds), and then either had to get up to help customers or had to have the other players resolve the actions because they didn't really know what was going on. This to me was the epitome of the problem- there's about 10 seconds of decision making, then several minutes of almost absolute automation during resolution. I'm ok with some downtime, but not 2000%+ downtime compared to the interesting decision time.
summary: superb thematic integration, low meaningful interaction, only 4 players, and your decisions will probably all come out in the wash.
The worker placement and advancement mechanics are very cool, and I would definitely play this again. The Sphinx cards are probably the worst part about the game, but I would need a few more plays to determine if they were unbalancing enough to make the rest of it not worthwhile.
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.
You must attempt to acquire the saga cards. If you don't get majority in something, someone else will. That means you're only making a few interesting blocking decisions each game, everything else is "which saga card can i complete most efficiently". the other "strategy" bits, like getting the bloody axe bonus or having lots of settlements- are secondary considerations to this, things you just kind of do "along the way" while you're accomplishing sagas.
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.
An exercise in random. It could have been "I think these rules (and other things) i'm playing benefit me more than they hurt you", instead it's "VASTLY GAME ALTERING CARD EVERY TURN... *please let me draw cards that let me win the game through no skillful play of my own*".
decisions are minimal, their effective impact on the game, as far as moving you towards victory? even less.
This is absolutely "Pandemic light" in mechanics and in the strategies you'll use (and easier to win, too- Fool's Landing sinking is definitely the most dangerous loss condition). I would say if you own one, you probably don't need the other. The production value is AMAZING for the price.
Roll-and-move. Then flip over a card, and roll the dice it tells you to, to see what happens. ad infinitum.
the rulebook is horrendously laid out (non-alphabetical glossary anyone?). the print on the abilities of the adventure descriptor cards (the "of illusion", "of doom" ones) is too small, to the point where 5 people didn't notice it until multiple turns into the game (and I'm rarely one to complain about small print).
The game is very pretty. It is not very much of a game, though, and randomness is not theme.
The theme is excellent for a party game, or for a light game with a mixed group. the mechanics are strictly gamer mechanics, and the rules are distinctly heavier than they should be for the execution- especially since when someone wins, it doesn't really feel like there was much you could do about it... which kind of pushes it back out of the "gamer's game" box.
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.
Blind decisions, yes, but INFORMED blind decisions, mostly, which means it's not as bad as my rating may lead you to believe. However, for the weight of the decisions, even the "fast" game lasts about twice as long as I'd prefer.
a good game from a new designer, a "pick up and deliver" sort of design where other people get up in your business, and the bits are thematically well done. Strategy with tactical decisions to either exploit; disrupt; or work around the disruptions of; the other players.
Role selection game with the cards serving lots of different functions. Puerto Rico had lots of interaction. San Juan was a good card game translation but lost a lot of the interaction. RftG should have been the "fixed" one in the same concept space, but instead I think Glory to Rome is the one that fits the bill.
A good abstract with a LOT of memorization of patterns at the top end.
the simplicity of the rules is exaggerated (and in particular the claim of "only one/two/three" rules is wrong or fallacious). it is a simple rules set, but it's not as astoundingly simple as people make it out to be.
Ladder game. doesn't seem like it really needs a special deck of cards, but does benefit greatly from thematic reinforcement (i suggest making the peons sit on the ground, and making the royalty chair a recliner).
Cripplingly random. Cards range from "you're wasting your time by playing this" to "this card can mimic 1 of ANY of the good cards in the deck, of your choice". Even worse, the random events that force you to do things like swap hands, lose all your cards in play, or kill all your cards which are "protected" by a particular type of other card.
Punishing all forms of intelligent decision does not make a game exciting, and saying "but it's a kid's game!" as an excuse is like saying "my kids are too dumb to make real decisions, and I wouldn't want to do anything that might change that!"
When the game was explained to me, It sounded like there would be extreme balance and luck problems. Moreover, the "we saved on graphics by using public domain stuff" was at odds with the molded plastic pieces, which didn't bode well either.
However, when I actually played it, it was WAY better than I expected. The cards are more decently balanced than I thought at first glance, it's easy to hedge your bets against the "luck" elements, or to avoid them if you don't want to fight, and though it LOOKS like there is kingmaking at the end, generally the reality is that players can only go in one of a couple of places by the point where it would give that impression, so they're just making do with what's available (so what really mattered was whether you put yourself in a position where someone might be best served tearing down someone for some 2nd place points for themselves).
Definitely one of those games where people might let their pre-judgements mess up their perception of how it actually plays out.
I'm down with a lot of the things this game does, especially as a party game (for which you can excuse some of the ambiguous rules, etc). That doesn't excuse some of the bad design elements (punish players for making reasonable decisions, disproportionate rewards assigned at random, runaway leaders/losers causing loss of interest for half the table, etc).
You may say "that's the point!", to which I say that random wackiness may be the point, but it ceases to be a very good point when half the table has lost interest 50% of the way through the game.
Incan Gold, with many many more rules. Which is to say, it starts with a solid base, and does a good job adding theme and story arc. I don't think it really adds much in the way of interesting decisions, but it's still short enough to be fine for what it is.
I actually don't think I like the advanced rules for download/extract, as it gives even more power to the "unlock some more point tokens, then take them" item cards that are given out at random, and those are already extremely strong. Drafting the item cards also seems to be much better than getting them at random.
essentially a tactical othello (note i called "Day and Night" the same thing)- your choices are based entirely on the variable power tiles in your hand, and you're trying to put your "owned" markers on as many tiles as possible.
it becomes uncontrollable chaos at 5 and 6 players, the tile effects are too large (and some are distinctly superior to others), so you're just praying your board position vaguely resembles what it was on your prior turn. may be more acceptably strategic at 2 or 3 players.
a few graphic design issues as well, the borders mush together a bit much- it would definitely have been beneficial to have the silver-ring cards more distinctly silver, the power stations more identifiable, and the tiles with point values have a bright or distinctive signifier around/as the point value.
I like the mechanics more than the resultant game.
1 game to learn how to play- TONS more games before you are playing with enough knowledge of the cards and potential paths that your informed decisions come close to overpowering the random elements inherent in the system.
which is to say, for those tons of learning games, you're mostly making purely tactical decisions and hoping cards come up in your favor and not in your opponent's. the fluxx comparison isn't wholly accurate, as EVENTUALLY you will be well enough apprised of the situation that your choices are meaningful (whereas you can never really reach that point in fluxx).
the real issue for me is that, while i'm ok with a steep learning curve, i kind of want the interaction during that curve to still be interesting, and it's not- neither while i'm learning, nor while i would be playing with any new player trying to catch up on the curve... because until you crest that peak, you are pretty much just in random land. and that's a lot of bad games until you reach the good stuff... and then some more bad games whenever you want a new, real opponent. and once everyone IS at a similar skill level, then the random elements are generally what's determining the winner, not clever play. There's a very small window of "interesting and competitive play".
I'm cool with a steep learning curve, but I'd prefer it not be a curve that is mandatory, long, and unfun... but necessary to get over the hump of the random elements in the game.
I read the rules and thought it was maybe going to be too light. and then i played the game, and it might actually be too heavy. lots of interesting decisions, but such a steep and long learning curve that unless you've got a group who you'll play this with regularly, it'll be hard to play a game with everyone on the same level. gameplay is also somewhat procedural, it doesn't flow as much as i'd like it to.
a very good design, with clearly written rules and excellent graphics with intuitive layouts.
cards multiplied by dice = random, and normally that's bad enough. this game takes it a step further by injecting MULTIPLE further random-inducing mechanics, on top of the core imbalances in the cards and the system to begin with.
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.
Worker placement with a different emphasis in regards to blocking- generally there's enough spaces for almost everyone to do a reasonable amount of things, you're just trying to get as much free stuff as possible and then pick your battles well.
voting where you have to go to the tie-breaker WAY too often. player elimination. the game should essentially be based on negotiation, but all you have to negotiate with is your vote. this requires the group to be prone to lively negotiation ALREADY, rather than fostering it... so you could be playing a better game with the same group.
Strongly random, though you're still making interesting decisions. Better than I expected, definitely, but if the game was a touch shorter I might be more inclined to forgive the randomness a bit more. I would play it again though.
and they clearly dropped the ball in not having poker chips for money. even small plastic ones would have been ok.
absolutely nothing special in terms of the mechanics, but it is surprisingly "adequate" as a generic euro considering the publisher- which is to say it is playable and appears decently balanced at first blush.
I would play it again, but doubt I'd be the one to suggest it, just because it's so plain.
The box and insert quality, however, are way, WAY above average.
2 games played, 2 games where the winner was the guy who got a quest first thing that gives more points for same color quests that matched their secret lord goal. This may be a problem. Also, just starting with 2 quests that match your lord is an 8 point swing (which is a very meaningful amount) for no reason.
I like 7 Wonders. This is not 7 Wonders, and does not evidence the sort of interesting decisions I prefer, and that a draft often has the potential to showcase very well. Very flat card abilities which provide virtually no incentive to deviate from the obvious decisions. Ditto with the monster combat. Also, several of the other distribution rules (gold/monsters) felt very awkward in their respective contexts.
Very light tableau game (like Race For The Galaxy), but with a shared pool of cards and dice as the randomness rather than card draws... and it has about a play and a half in it, tops. It REALLY needs different cards that can be rotated in and out. You could hand me a free copy and I wouldn't open it, because I've already gotten all the play I think there is from it.
another game i wanted to like based on theme/art/vague description of gameplay... unfortunately, it's a citadels clone with less tightly woven roles and a sub-optimally integrated injection of randomness from multiple fronts.
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.
Feels disturbingly like Taj Mahal, but with some optimization flaws that push players towards a similar score- resulting in an unfortunate kingmaking. (and I think the "kingmaker" phrase is grossly overused, so me using it for this is saying something).
way too much randomness for the length and the overhead involved in the game. Several different systems for the various aspects, but almost all the systems are just different ways to randomize things. lots of choices (and thematic), but not lots of interesting/meaningful choices. distinct downtime problems as well, which is what the majority of the unfortunate game length comes from.
The scientist discovery cards mar an otherwise good game. Their swinginess is WAY, WAY too high when compared to the rest of the point gains in the game.
My rating would be at least a point higher if their implementation was even remotely balanced. The 6.5 is for the game if you just don't play with the cards at all. If you chose to play with the cards, my rating drops a point and a half... maybe 2.
No idea who let them through playtesting, because I've played with NO group of players who did not unanimously agree that they were strongly flawed.
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.
you're making choices in this game, but the margin between random choices and the best possible choices is very small, and heavily outweighed by the random elements in the game. It's good at being thematically evocative of the board game though, which may or may not be a good thing. it is a short game, though, which is a good thing.
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).
Excellent components, pretty board, some interesting mechanics- and virtually inescapable parity.
all the actions are so close in eventual point value, and there is little to no time constraint for accomplishing particular things or reason to worry about availability of resources- even the good point converters are in adequate abundance. you're not really "building" an economic engine, so much as processing what you get.
i disagree with the luck complaint- there is certainly luck involved, but the luck impact is minimal- the problem is that unless you specifically mess up (like repeatedly generating more resources than you can hold/use, or spending gold down so you lose points from taxation), you will be a contender.
high parity. no relevant blocking. essentially no time constraint on resource processing. no opportunism or long-term strategizing that will play out in an adequate way. almost nothing to allow intelligent decisions to be the deciding factor.
there aren't a lot of normal card games that can hold my interest for long (once you get decent at tracking cards in one game, that translates almost directly over to most others). these help that problem.
Overrated. The dry and unthematic auction is what holds the game in balance (because the elements don't connect well otherwise), and so many games are decided because the right power plant flips at the right time.
One of the expansion maps has rules that include not flipping new plants during an auction phase, and that's a big improvement, but doesn't fix the blah-ness of the rest.
The board did not have a lot of visual appeal to me, but the game itself is interesting. A sort of territory reduction game - vaguely like "Hey That's My Fish" - but rather than having a numerical value each space has 4 different special abilities. When you land on the space, you choose one and black out that ability. When all the abilities on a tile are blacked out, that tile becomes impassable. Thus you're judging your movement based on your evaluation of the abilities (and your positioning relevancy to the other players), rather than just numbers. LOTS of different board tiles (you don't use them all each game), so there's solid replayability.
Yup, it's Ra. If you already own Ra, you probably don't need to spend the money to get this. If you don't own Ra, I'd buy this version.
It is more visually appealing than Ra, and you're making slightly more worthwhile choices, and the scoring system is better; however they aren't grand sweepingly awesome changes, they are only mild tweaks. they also make teaching the game a teensy bit harder, and they make the playtime a teensy bit longer.
Aside from the nice box, coins, and custom wooden goods, this is what they should have done to PR years ago. (which is to say, all those things are awesome, but the basic art and cardboard upgrades should have happened LONG ago).
One of my favorite abstracts, because it plays fast (because of the nature of the game, there is a maximum possible turn number) and because you can use the simple wall mechanics defensively and offensively in several different ways. The 3 and 4 player games are flawed, this game shines only at 2.
I prefer San Juan... or Puerto Rico... or Galactic Emperor. Base game is mostly multi-player-solitaire, and the symbology hurdle is hard to pull new players over. It's not a bad game, but it certainly doesn't push any good buttons for me.
Surprisingly good for a licensed theme. This is what Thunderstone/Ascension WANTED to be. Certainly a Dominion clone like the rest, but better options for interactivity than the other clones out there... and WAY better balanced. The card layout leaves something to be desired, but that's a small gripe.
Dominion is still top of the heap, but this one certainly shoves all the other pretenders into a corner.
Risk with factions, and card trade-in doesn't scale up... which i think makes it marginally worse than normal Risk- however it's hard to tell, as the only game I played was won by the Hutt player before I could take my first turn.
the "Werewolf" mechanic driven by cards- much like "Bang". however in this one you roll dice every turn, which tell you which card you MUST draw and MUST play, as well as whom you're able to attack this turn.
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.
Strongly random, with lots of extra rules you can add in... for more bonus randomness! yay! Also has a runaway leader problem, compounded by a length problem; as well as a fiddliness problem compounded by a board that's too small/not adequately graphically designed for the components.
This game seems EXCELLENTLY aimed at the Munchkin crowd- from the theme to the execution/gameplay (and with a better expected game length). It's clearly not aimed at me, though, and the "shuffle-building" tagline is a straight fail on that front. It's trying to make it sound remotely similar to a deck-building game (any deck building game)- which it's not. And the "shuffle building" part is really just part of the set up of the game, not of the play.
Sort of area majority, with huge swings in game state from turn to turn driven mostly by randomness of card draws. Don't expect a lot of strategy, do expect a lot of luck.
Better than I expected. Tight gameplay and interesting decisions, and the "instinct" mechanic helps break up alpha-player railroading a little. I anticipate it would only be good for 4 or 5 games before you reached repetitiveness, but this could be easily fixed with a very small expansion (a couple more space marine teams, and some more traveling cards)
nice, fast paced game with interesting decisions. my one criticism is that the start player can be placed at such a large disadvantage (essentially the loss of 1/3 of his bid ability during that turn), that if you're the start player at the wrong time, or more often than the other players, you may be severely handicapped. DESPITE that, I would certainly play it again.
the rule the group I played with thought sounded good after the game- figure out which players are going to be the start player more often during the game, and give them 1 more silver each at the start of the game.
This is the sort of game where every turn, people are quietly thinking for 30 to 60 seconds before making their moves. interesting pattern-matching gameplay, and I would play it again, it would just need to be with the right group.
I didn't care for the massive importance of end-game goals that you don't have enough control over... if they're hidden you can't make very well informed decisions- but you certainly may accidentally get trod on, whether by players who accidentally snipe spots you need, or by getting goals that will be harder to fulfill just because the king started in a bad spot for your end-game plans (and you almost can't even LOOK at your goals until the last half of the game, because of how much the board changes turn to turn, and because trying to put things in places pre-emptively makes it that much more likely to get forcefully cleared by the round scoring).
I guess, overall, it's much more tactical than I'd prefer, with a whole lot of "hope this turns out ok".
Worker Placement, multiple paths to victory... but tends to push everyone towards a similar score, assuming you realize the value of the cards. Biggest oddity is that, mathematically speaking, everyone that grows their family at all should intentionally starve it (-10 points a turn) for the majority of the game, because the pip-cost of points retained by expending food exceeds the pip-cost of points that could be gained elsewhere. not a "flaw", but the game will be almost exclusively won by those who try to starve their families, and that's probably not the intent.
After several more plays, my initial impressions are mostly still accurate.
A lot of very clean pieces fit together mechanically, and it's very easy to play through a game and make interesting decisions and have an enjoyable time. But it's also easy for people to be rewarded disproportionately due to tiles coming up when they're in position. If this was just a case of hitting what you're hoping to draw (and thus rewarding diversity of preparation), that would be fine.
Unfortunately, a couple of cards (most notably the Casino and PR Firm) unfairly reward ANYONE who happens to be in position to snag them if they come up early enough in their respective stacks. When either of these cards are grabbed early enough, they benefit ANY strategy, and provide WAY more money income/population income for the dollars spent than any other building, barring odd circumstances. They are worth buying even from the most expensive position if they come up at the right time, and take no preparation/strategy aside from "have money to buy stuff". They essentially unlock your scoring potential, which otherwise caps due to the red lines.
There may be other tiles that are also push the luck envelope a bit more than I care for, but those are definitely the egregious offenders, because they're no-brainer lucky.
I'm ok playing the game again, but not suggesting it myself. And I might go so far as to suggest playing with house-ruled nerfs to the clearly broken tiles.
While I didn't really enjoy this game, I was surprised at how many solid design elements it had. So while my rating is low, I would like to stress that I'm not really the target audience for the game, and it seems like it should be very good for its intended audience.
This game is very good, and after setup there's no luck element, which I particularly like.
The race balance question is an interesting one- I think they're very close to balanced for top-end play, but if you're a new player, some races are much much easier to grasp their optimal (or close to optimal) build paths, so the bottom-to-mid end of play doesn't evidence the balance well.
At first glance, the power mechanic and shovels mechanic are interesting, but once you see them in action, they are much less so (the bowls essentially means each power gain is really 1/3 of a power a gain, and you should burn off half your power ASAP, no question. In-game, the digging mechanic usually means you're only looking at terrain that's within 1 of your type). And the game is just a touch long.
However, despite these gripes, it's still very good overall, and I would definitely play again.
This game felt incomplete- the mechanics are a bit loose, the trading mechanism and its restriction aren't well executed, and the "multiple people can win" thing is even worse. It is still playable, but it really needed more development to be solid.
Vaguely like a fantasy version of Space Hulk, but the "evil" side sets up the dungeon however they want, and the "good" side get to choose their team from several different characters, each with a set of ability cards you get to select three from. Excellent visual appeal, and surprising balance between the two asymmetrical sides. I would recommend it specifically at the 2 or 4 player marks. Playtime is much shorter than you'd expect for all the information and abilities you're managing.
Definite Dominion knock-off, with much better theme integration but much LESS interaction.
dual resources needed for dungeon hands (attack + light) are used to buy VP (defeat monsters), and gold is used to buy normal cards. This generally equates to the game being much more random than dominion. Also, more than half the numbers on the card have no functional symbology to remind you of their function if you play infrequently.
less decisions, less interaction, more random, more theme.
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.
Another unapologetic Dominion clone. Instead of focusing on hand management combos, it's got a board. At first I wanted to say "if you prefer trains to Dominion's theme, you could pick this up", but it really does a poor job of conveying the train theme. The cards are fine, but the board rides a fine line between "not very functional" and "not very pretty". It looks like someone's not-worked-on-enough prototype. And the cubes for "tracks" and octagons for stations exacerbates this.
I like the art on this version, but would never ever recommend playing with the extra rules. They roughly double the length of the game by adding multiple dice rolls to resolve non-decision related bookkeeping whose sole purpose is to randomly eliminate players. On top of that, the rotation of units that already have an equally random chance at moving in all directions just reiterates the issue- you're literally rotating them to accomplish nothing.
My rating reflects how I feel about this game when playing with those changes.
This game is very interesting for 2 or 3 plays, then the mis-valued mechanics, optimal plays, downtime, and low replayability start to bubble to the surface. But I do recommend giving it those couple of plays.
No meaningful decisions. No meaningful player interaction. Move, flip over a random card, roll the dice you've been randomly assigned, and reap the random rewards or punishments. Every turn. Ad nauseum.
To add insult to injury, they've got great art resources with which to make this game (the comic book) and the graphic design is bland- but not the "function over form" kind, just the bad kind. Need to find a particular follower token? Gotta read the tiny font on the half-inch tokens, you're certainly not doing it by the picture. Need to go somewhere? Time to read words on the board, because who needs clearly identifying art?
Want to move your pawn? Remember to hold it by the chipboard cross-bar, because it doesn't stay in if you pick it up by the top. This card goes into your character's inventory. It is not an object, and the title doesn't really match what you do with it, but that's OK, I guess?
If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll be player-eliminated by the runaway leader flipping over a random event 15 minutes into the 2 hour game. If you're not, you'll be the runaway leader, having to decide if he wants to play another half an hour by himself to see if he actually won, after all the other players have been eliminated.
Shining example of a horrible game rushed out to try and make money off a license. Randomness is not theme.
It's got miniatures, and you run from zombies and/or kill them with a variety of weapons. That's enough theme for some people to enjoy this. To me, there was minimal interesting decisions for the time invested (most decisions are very 1 for 1 and the odds are very apparent when there's a relevant "risky" move). Move and roll, repeat. repeat. repeat...