This one is beginning to feel dated -- more numbers than it should need to keep in my head to play competively. I find playing a computer version is a better game since the numbers are easier to track (a trait that is true for many old classic sims). For me this is a sign that its not best suited as a boardgame.
Playing again recently I see this is just a colection of Knizia mechanics to be solved tactically (except for using up your base camps in the end game, strategy isn't part of playing this game). Anyone who likes Carcossone should really like this as you can play in that same group-talking-about-what-your-best-play-is manner that is popular with Carcossone players.
Keith of Eagle Games brought the prototypes to a few of our club meetings for some playtesting. The game plays like Caylus meets El Grande with an old AH/SPI Conquistador theme. Game plays in 2 hours, but the 3 different ages keep the gameplay constantly evolving. Fan's of Martin Wallace should like this as the resources are tight, balanced choices are many, and the competition is fierce (with a small sprinkling of "attack the leader" via soldiers to keep the end score tight) - but if you hate random post action exploration card results (and I've seen enough Railroad Tycoon threads to know that some people do) you might want to modify the rules some either playing them face up or discarding the extreme cards from play beforehand (fortunately the most extreme ones are in the early game giving time for counter strategies to trim off some game leaders score).
Update: Have played the released version now and the minis and board art really help to evoke the theme. I did (but others in our groups didn't) have some problems telling the difference between merchant and colonist figures from the far end of the table. I might replace the colonists with a set of wooden cubes or glass beads in future plays. Or perhaps the answer is to do what is done with the missionaries and add a colonist along with any unit that is worth two units (e.g. when I add a captain to the merchant ship I also add a colonist from my unused supply with that captain and count each as one unit)
Don't let the randomness and chaos of this wargame (there can be *a lot*) fool you. You can control it by knowing when to let it occur and when not to. Good player see this and win often. Bad ones see the game as a luck-fest and win randomly.
As for the combat down time, the answer is the same one as in Titan: With experience you learn to negotiate the combats (and here you can flee without any troops being lost). Of course there are times where you want the fun of playing it out.
Lastly, I must admit that the game does have an early attack problem (the reward is too high for an even chance action). So house rule is needed to discourage this.
For me personally, another overplayed game thats popular with others in my gaming group. It has the worse Kingmaking problems I've ever encountered (in the form of very strong calamities). Also would be a better computer game with all its accounting.
Ooh. A game with some real meat (i.e. little luck. Take the time to look at where all the cubes are going to be) when playing AND a randomness to its setup that makes every game different (and therefore less studied). Rare indeed. My preference is for lots of players and a tough time at it. But watch out for the suicidal underdog with the grudge taking you out.
I almost always hate expansions (I like clean less muddied games) but I must say that Germany is just an awesome expansion. The production power of Berlin, the isolation of the southern mountains area, and the mid game strength of the remote cities all make for a richer game. Make sure to read the map errata: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/62052
The US on the other hand needs a bit of caution. Having to stay with the one railroad can really take some players out if they get boxed into a dry area. The player who can get a turn 1 income increase of 4 is even harder to stop since you can't go elsewhere to block them. For experienced players only.
I really like how this captures the tightness of competitive min maxing, *BUT* defers the scoring and the turgid part of min maxing until the end. Lesson to be learned here in fun...
Also for the economists in the crowd the fact that only one worker can work a role effectively creates a nice model for barrier of entry economics (compared to the terrain competition of roads and boats barrier model which feels like too easy a path of entry to me)
Another SPI game with that mix of small unit man-to-man and large armies. In some ways this is the most ambitious Fantasy game SPI did (as it has layered conflicts at 5 different levels -- much more than War of the Ring). However its a bit off balance in that the gnomes either come in early and kick butt or they come too late and then you lose. Also I suspect its hurt by trying to be a small magazine size game when it wants to be an epic monster (and SPI did monster wargames so well).
Easy rules, but lots and lots of them. I particularly was impressed with all the special building rules to go with the map calling each building out in a 50m hex by hex traversal of the city ending up at the Reichstag (from Opera houses, to elevated trains, to subways, to prisons, etc.) Never thought a game would simulate in so much detail 1945 Berlin geography.
A new age is upon tactical game map designers thanks to products like Google Maps (and a bit of research to flesh them out historically). Can't wait to see where it goes...
it clearly helps everyone get more for their dice. For example 4 players with last dice 2,2,2,6 all vying for a last key tile. Without any chips one get a 6 the other a 2 and two are left unable to play. With the chips one player gets 6, another spins it up one to get 3, a third plays a 2, and the last spins it down one to get 1.
Reducing these random unable to make play die busts IMHO is very good thing for play balance.
Hmm. Positives: the artwork is good. I love the "San Juan like" aspect to the game where any card can be used/played as an energy source of the color of the card -or- be played as what the card is (it removes the too much/little land issue of Magic:tG). Negatives: the prebuilt decks are fun but they soon leave you wanting more. If you want to play a 2 faction 50 card deck (20, 20, and 10 colorless for instance) with colors other than what comes with a prebuilt deck you need to buy many (15 or more?) booster packs (since their are 8 factions in the game it takes many 11 card boosters to get 20 cards of each color) This makes this a rather expensive ($50?) game to begin to dabble in. Of course you can buy less and trade your way to only a couple factions (if you can be satisfied with only playing some of them) but be aware of this limitation. (and of course it gets worse if you try to get certain cards for certain strategies) But if you don't mind the price this is one of the best CCGs out there.
I think most folks miss the point of this game. Its not a game to try to win (although there is nothing wrong in wanting to win). Instead think of it as a story that unfolds as the game progresses (The pawns travel throughout the land). So yes it has nill strategy from mechanics but it does have an evolving presentation (by designers intent). and since it is all presentation its only as good as the art and character names (which is what should be rated here) I would even go one step further and say that although not spelled out in the rules as such its intended to be a narative game (like Tales of the Arabian Nights) with the older players narating to the younger ones. (Do any parents not tell the story of the board when playing with their children? Bonus points to parents who tell their kids about Eleanor Abbott's use of the traveling theme with regards to Polio in the 1940's). Shame on all you folks that can't see past the mechanic/strategy component of a games rating to see that the fun in this one lies on your narative shoulders.
There is some fun decision making in forgoing draws at the shrines and passing on experience card plays until late in the game when they really matter. Unfortunately the game will only present you 1 or 2 times when the random risk matters which is not enough random events for them to level out (making the game much larger would fix this, but this mechanics aren't interesting enough for several hours of that). Also all the moving around of the amulet tiles is a bit clunky (drops my rating a point).
To me this is K&K's simpler version of Knizia's Beowulf -- a traveling/ exploring story game without the chrome for that story, but some abstract mechanics and nice art instead. Succinctly its a quicker playing "Euro-Candyland". It's odd enough for people not to like it and unique enough to rise above the repetition of Eurogame designs for me to like it.
I would really enjoy this as a lighter quicker playing computer game (something we don't see enough of nowadays). For its day it was well done with layered encounter tables building up to the ultimate encounter with the Hellgate.
I'm enjoying the new twists of the extra characters in the new FFG version. and while I originally didn't like the immediate ending in the new edition (the troll and cyclops were stronger before), I find it makes it a quicker lighter 15-30 minute game (so we play it more).
Be warned that there is plenty of diplomacy and fans of optimal decision making based on "return on investments" may find it overly chaotic or lacking. Still its a great game because it plays so differently every time you play it and is full of surprises and the most unexpected deal making.
1st (Eon) edition is still my favorite. The trick when teaching this game is to play basic set only, then every so many games add the next expansion (once the game becomes routine). Throwing all of them in at once is IMO less fun. If you take a break from the game go back to the basic when you decide to rediscover it again.
Conceptually this game is just awesome -- but the costs and unit strengths are completely out of whack (I think the designer said something about being balanced for a ranged system vs a close combat system and never getting readjusted when the change occurred)
A refreshingly different type of solitaire game that due to the SPI/TSR bankruptcy delays (in getting published in relaunched Ares) has very clean rules and extensive playtesting. Using various scientific disciplined to reactivate an alien spacecraft makes it feel like an RPG (because of the character skills system) yet with no character interactions. While thematically conducting scientific tests may not excite everyone the many layers of resources to balance (types of astronauts, types of equipment to bring, types of sections of the alien vessel to activate, etc) create a challenging yet extremely varied game strategy puzzle to solve. My only complaint is all the passage opening / closing die rolling is a bit much. Still it's an overlooked Pseudo-RPG / DungeonCrawl gem.
What escapes most people is the reason this game re-sells for so much. In an age when computer games were mostly text based with marginal PC speaker sound (atari 2600 and arcades were there too) Dark Tower had lights, pictures, and sounds above any multiplayer computer game. It set the multimedia stage for computer games to evolve into. Historically its one of a kind -- despite its poor gameplay.
I enjoyed Death Test 2 more than Death Test 1, but there are others later in the series that have better themes than "here's a bunch of room that you can test yourself in to earn the right to join the guard". Still the combats were varied enough to make replay worthwhile.
I always liked the GDW space combat (e.g. Triplanetary) systems better. Yet, for ship construction the Universe system is preferred. Star Trader also uses the same system of ship construction, but with more economic repercussions.
It reminded me of a simpler Sword & Sorcery (using magic points to create terrain and to summon creatures) with some elements of Titan (attempt to slay other players mages and thus eliminate them from the game). In some ways the use of magic points reminded me of Necromancer. Nothing wrong with the game and if you like the SJGs of this type you may like this one too.
I once rated this much higher, but the random distribution of mostly mediocre units across too many factions really ruined what could have been a decent game (let me buy the units I want instead of units I don't want). Play is still fun however, so I rate the fixed box sets a 7.
I like it a lot but its length is a bit old school (making it a rough time to play with folks spoiled on leaner meaner current games) and yet to shorten the game isnt necessarily the answer either as the randomness of cards and elements needs some time to mitigate.
Glorantha is so rich in immersive atmosphere. In many ways these layers of detail exceeds licensed worlds such as Tolkien and Lovecraft because it is fleshed out for more than just the path the characters took in those adventures. It is at its best when in a boardgame with lots of unit. Would love to see a modern treatment with less clunky rules.
Roll and move games do get the short end of the stick. Many folks fall into the habit of playing them mindlessly because that was how they played them as children. An open mind and a bit more serious thought with some trading can take the game a bit further (if still not as meaty as a present day Euro).
Playing this game I can tell it's been well thought out (there is a sense of balance to the options), but like most of these games sometimes nothing happens on your turn (based on where you land) which makes the game less interesting. Thankfully there is an option to trade instead of move. Nice attention to detail (I like the envelope glued to the board with a little high score sheet tucked inside). My kids love it.
A minis race game played on a board that captures much of the feel of computer based racing games. Just like a computer game their is much to be said about when it is better to navigate a turn and when it is better to go fast, hit the wall, take on a new facing, and build up your speed again. A bit awkward to handle the plastic figures on the linen covered paper boards, but I find repeated play does improve ones racing skills.
The best game when your looking for a combination of: quick play, easy rules, no accounting, destroying your enemy, and bluffing on your agenda -- yet very subtle. If you don't find this intense and cutthroat then your not playing it right (Playing this game wrong is like playing poker where everyone antees and then just turns over their cards). i.e. Look at the mind-game/bluffing/negotiating aspect when you play -- not just the rules.
Like most conflict simulation games this one takes some experience to really see it smooth out (It has a learning curve that takes longer to hit the enjoyment sweet spot on, but will stay at that sweet spot longer too). This doesn't mix well with it being a beer and pretzels game (which most folks want to be working earlier in the playings cycle) thus all the controversy.
Great looking map. The ARMY EATER/FLEET EATER idea (to automatically eliminate an entire stack of armies but have a few personalities make heroic escapes) so fits the theme of the books (and for those who find such quick extreme losses too chaotic I remind them that the two sides of the cosmic balance were the Lords of LAW and Lords of CHAOS). Have fun with it as it captures the feel of the books.
Given the 3 continents (and 3 island nations) this game is really good with 3 players.
While there is a bit of the game playing itself, this is outweighed by the math being so much fun and the "fire spreading" theme to mechanics match. Fantastic game to teach children to use math in their game play.
Yeah it favors the lean British deck. So what? Some of us not only love but need a bit of asymmetry and the challenge of the underdog side. Also it's only the Treefrog edition which usually lead to a reprint more polished anyways. In other words i'm really not worried of it exhausting options as I'm sure some options for shifting asymmetry will be coming.
In the meantime if you are the kind of gamer who likes the commitment to strategy that deck drafting gives, who loves to experiment with more strategies than you can digest (and not just reading online to find out what others tell you to do) you'll love this ...a lot.
Oh. I'm also waiting for Mark Herman to do one of these as he's been active in some threads...