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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.