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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.