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Subject: Not even a single entendre rss

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John Hansel
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When I write a review I always try to come up with a clever title; a pun or a double entendre or a reference to popular culture. I could not even think of a single entendre to write this review. There isn’t any less theme than any other Euro, but I could not find a single idea or theme to attach myself to.

The Game Overview

In Viceroy you are placing characters in a pyramid design over 12 rounds. Characters give you powers (points and/or abilities) depending on where you place them in your pyramid. Often the rewards are greater as you ascend the pyramid, but not always. There seems to be no connection between powers and the type of character. Sometimes there is a slight relationship. There is a wizard type character that produces magic scrolls or there is a character with a knife that produces a sword, but more often than not I cannot make heads or tails as to why a character grants a power. How are these characters producing infinite gems? I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I’ll explain that in the next section.

Phases

During each round, players engage in two phases. An auction phase and a development phase.

In the auction phase, characters bid on a character by placing a gem in their hand matching the color gem above that character (blue, yellow, red, or green). If two players reveal the same color, they return their gems to limited supply pile and get nothing. Those players will move to the 2nd part of the auction phase and bid again. The auction phase ends after three rounds of bidding or after each player has gained a character (one character per round). If you have not acquired a character by this time, you get three gems of your choice from the supply. Characters that are not purchased are moved up and are available for the next round of bidding.

During the auction phase you are allowed to discuss which character you would like before bidding. You do not have to stay true to your word. If there are two characters available (one below and one above) you can negotiate with players that bid the same color as you to acquire a character. If you can’t come up with an agreement, you get nothing.
In the development phase, you are allowed to build (pay) for up to three character or law cards and place them in your pyramid. To build on a new level, there must be two characters below the card you wish to place. Pay the required gems depending on the level and receive the reward, depending on the level (up to level 5 in the pyramid).

Characters have colors in the top right and left corners and bottom of the card. When the cards are placed they complete circles. Sometimes all the colors match giving you an immediate bonus (a gem of the color you completed) and an endgame bonus based on the level of the completed circle.

You can pass during this phase or discard a character or law card for two gems from the supply. Once you pass you are not allowed to do any other actions during this phase.

Rewards

Rewards allow players to:
1.Get more gems from the supply.
2.Place infinite gemstones, which are used to purchase players during the development phase and give points for endgame scoring.
3.Get magic tokens for endgame scoring.
4.Shields for protection and endgame scoring.
5.Swords which are used to either take points away from your opponent or allow you to get any card you wish when placed in your hand during an auction.
6.Gears which are used to complete sets and allow you to get one extra gem from the supply each time you have to pass during the auction phase.
7.Victory point tokens.
8.Bonuses for completed circles.

Law Cards

Law cards are free to place and give you endgame points or an immediate/ongoing ability. They range from worthless to overpowered. I’ll discuss this more in the conclusion.

Conclusion

There really is zero theme here, but theme is not something I pay much attention to. I did a review of Deus earlier in the year and mentioned that the game is ugly and themeless but it’s a game that I love. Sometimes theme is something that designers will use to disguise poor gameplay.

The game is tense throughout. There is a limited supply of gems. If you don’t get any extra card bonuses, you’ll receive 12 cards max to place in your pyramid. This of course is not likely to happen because gems are so tight and you’ll need them for bidding and for placing cards.

Another thing to add tension is game length. By the time you get your engine going, the game is over. This is not a problem, it just adds to the tension. It will make you want to play again immediately. My first time playing this game, I played 4 times in a row. I never play a game 4 times in a row. This game is incredibly addicting.

Like many modern games, there are many paths to victory, but you can’t focus on all of them since the game is so tight. You might focus on circles and bonuses for circles or you might focus on magic scrolls or you could focus on law card bonuses.

While it appears that there might be interaction in this game, it still feels very solitaire. Most of the time, players are focused on their own pyramids and ignore what other people are doing. The auctions provide some interaction but not in a 2 player game. Swords and shields add a little, but not a ton. In other words, players are attempting to maximize their own puzzles and lose track of the other puzzles.

This game is absolutely gorgeous. The art is some of the best I’ve seen in a game. This does not mean the components are top notch. The cards are very flimsy and while I’m not a sleever, I had to sleeve them. The cardboard gems are just fine (there is an upgrade through the kickstarter that I find unnecessary that gives you actual gems).

My biggest problem with the game is the imbalance of the law cards. There is one law card that breaks the game (if you leave it in). The card I am referring to gives a point for every card in your pyramid at the end of the game. This can provide between 15 – 20 victory points which is a big deal because law cards are free to place. There is no risk for playing this card but the reward is great. You start with 4 cards at the beginning of the game that you’ll likely place plus the 12+ you’ll gain. You can take the card out of the game and it balances out just fine.

I have a big problem taking cards out of a game because I feel that the designer put it in for a reason and felt it was balanced. Games are play tested hundreds of times before they are released. I sort of feel like I just bought a painting and I used scissors to cut out a part of the painting I didn’t care for. I might be taking it too seriously but removing cards is a feeling I don’t like. I could be convinced otherwise if someone would comment on how the law cards work for them, making house rules, or taking cards out of games in general.

(Edit: If you haven't read the comments yet, the card I am referring to is card number 68, Referendum. It is in fact part of a kickstarter stretch goal. This is my first kickstarter and even before I pledged, I have never been crazy about add-ons. They are not selling points for me. The game itself is why I pledged.

I will be removing this card along with the other add-ons. For one, I'm not sure what part the designer played in the design of these cards. Part of me feels like it was the publisher that created these cards, not the designer.
)

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Jonathan Schindler
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It looks like "Referendum" (the overpowered law card) is one of the bonus cards added to the game in the Kickstarter campaign, so I don't think there's any reason to feel guilty for removing it (which is what I have done).

Nice review!
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Chris Montgomery
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It's nearly always a good review that points out a downside or two of a game and *why* the reviewer felt a given feature was a negative (for other players many negatives might be a positive).

Thanks for the well-explained review. Have a ridiculously small GG tip.
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Jim Patterson
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While I have and have used the plastic gems, I think the cardstock ones are probably "better" ultimately. For one, they're easier to randomize at the start of the game when everyone must lose two random gems. For another, they're more easily recognized as "tokens" like other tokens. In poor light and behind the player screens, the colored cardboard also stands out more than do the gems. (However, the gems probably do have it over the circles in color-blindness friendliness, even though Mayday has tried to inscribe the gem circles with symbols as well as colors.)
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Josh
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jpat wrote:
While I have and have used the plastic gems, I think the cardstock ones are probably "better" ultimately. For one, they're easier to randomize at the start of the game when everyone must lose two random gems. For another, they're more easily recognized as "tokens" like other tokens. In poor light and behind the player screens, the colored cardboard also stands out more than do the gems. (However, the gems probably do have it over the circles in color-blindness friendliness, even though Mayday has tried to inscribe the gem circles with symbols as well as colors.)


We do the 'random' loss easily just by having everyone simultaneously pick 2 gems to ditch before anyone is dealt cards. While not technically 'random,' as a Zero information decision it works.
 
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Alvin Chen
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Loophus wrote:
You start with 4 cards at the beginning of the game that you’ll likely place plus the 12+ you’ll gain.


I think you see four cards, place one for free (gaining the level one bonus), keep one in hand, and discard the remaining two.
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Justin Davis
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You see four CHARACTER cards. But you draw 3 LAW cards after you have played 1 character card, chosen another, and discarded the other 2.
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Tom C.
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Just played this the other day, for the first time, and I got the card you call broken. I built it, of course, and nearly doubled my opponent's score. I don't recall how many cards I scored in my pyramid, but it was somewhere between 15-20. That wasn't the margin I won by, but I agree that the card gives an awful lot of points. But...there are a few others that can rival it. The bonus cards for completed color circles can get you similar points, if you manage to create those circles. But that is admittedly much harder than just scoring for all your pyramid cards. And nice review, by the way!
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John Hansel
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Kyellan wrote:
Loophus wrote:
You start with 4 cards at the beginning of the game that you’ll likely place plus the 12+ you’ll gain.


I think you see four cards, place one for free (gaining the level one bonus), keep one in hand, and discard the remaining two.


You are exactly right. You are dealt 4 character cards keeping one and placing the other in your hand. You are also dealt three law cards. I think I meant you start with 4 cards in hand plus the 1 you placed so 5 in all. Thanks for the response.
 
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Jason Monroe
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tactitles wrote:
Just played this the other day, for the first time, and I got the card you call broken. I built it, of course, and nearly doubled my opponent's score. I don't recall how many cards I scored in my pyramid, but it was somewhere between 15-20. That wasn't the margin I won by, but I agree that the card gives an awful lot of points. But...there are a few others that can rival it. The bonus cards for completed color circles can get you similar points, if you manage to create those circles. But that is admittedly much harder than just scoring for all your pyramid cards. And nice review, by the way!


I checked and you scored 22 points with your law cards.

You had several other ones but I can't recall if you had any others which were game end points or not. Even if you did, the bulk of those points was from that card.

Hopefully I can play it again tomorrow and see what other strategies they come up with
 
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Tom C.
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belial1134 wrote:
tactitles wrote:
Just played this the other day, for the first time, and I got the card you call broken. I built it, of course, and nearly doubled my opponent's score. I don't recall how many cards I scored in my pyramid, but it was somewhere between 15-20. That wasn't the margin I won by, but I agree that the card gives an awful lot of points. But...there are a few others that can rival it. The bonus cards for completed color circles can get you similar points, if you manage to create those circles. But that is admittedly much harder than just scoring for all your pyramid cards. And nice review, by the way!


I checked and you scored 22 points with your law cards.

You had several other ones but I can't recall if you had any others which were game end points or not. Even if you did, the bulk of those points was from that card.

Hopefully I can play it again tomorrow and see what other strategies they come up with


That was the only one I got game end points with. If you had gotten that card, our scores would almost be reversed, I think. It's almost silly-powerful, because as was stated, there's no downside to using it, and no cost to build it. Without it, our game would have been very close.
 
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John Henry
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The overpowered law card is knowingly overpowered, from the Kickstarter
Quote:
There will be 4 of these because frankly they are over powered and just good clean fun. You can choose to have everyone start with one of these in their hands so they are evenly overpowered for each player, or put 1-4 of them into the deck if you prefer, but know the bidding for these will be fierce as they are simply VICEROY CARDS. Consider these the Superman of all cards, but without the Kryptonite. Yeah, they are pretty sweet. The 4 cards will have four different graphics on them but they will all have the same abilities.
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Jason Monroe
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JBH1 wrote:
The overpowered law card is knowingly overpowered, from the Kickstarter
Quote:
There will be 4 of these because frankly they are over powered and just good clean fun. You can choose to have everyone start with one of these in their hands so they are evenly overpowered for each player, or put 1-4 of them into the deck if you prefer, but know the bidding for these will be fierce as they are simply VICEROY CARDS. Consider these the Superman of all cards, but without the Kryptonite. Yeah, they are pretty sweet. The 4 cards will have four different graphics on them but they will all have the same abilities.


That is referring to the 4 character cards which are part of the 9 cards from Viceroy Promo Cards.

The card in question is a law card (Referendum) which isn't even part of the Promo cards but instead was one of the stretch goal cards Mayday added to the game.

I do not believe a similar card is in the original Russian version
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John Henry
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The law cards were in the same upgrade as the character cardss so I'd say it's fair to assume the overpowered statement also applies to them since there's also 4 of them. Also these cards were additions to the game so not in the base design, so the comment above about worries about removing cards due to designer intent doesn't apply to these cards since they were outside the original intent, so if you feel they are too imbalanced you could give one to each player or remove them relatively easily.
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David McMillan
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Kyellan wrote:
Loophus wrote:
You start with 4 cards at the beginning of the game that you’ll likely place plus the 12+ you’ll gain.


I think you see four cards, place one for free (gaining the level one bonus), keep one in hand, and discard the remaining two.


Actually, right there on page 3 in the Setup section it states that you receive exactly two Character cards (one of which you place right away) and then three Law cards which are kept in your hand. There's never any looking, choosing, and discarding the remainders.
 
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Marty McFly
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CarcassonneFreak wrote:
Kyellan wrote:
Loophus wrote:
You start with 4 cards at the beginning of the game that you’ll likely place plus the 12+ you’ll gain.


I think you see four cards, place one for free (gaining the level one bonus), keep one in hand, and discard the remaining two.


Actually, right there on page 3 in the Setup section it states that you receive exactly two Character cards (one of which you place right away) and then three Law cards which are kept in your hand. There's never any looking, choosing, and discarding the remainders.

This is incorrect. Each player receives 4 Character cards, plays one, chooses another for his/her hand, and shuffle the remaining back into the deck. It's detailed (although worded poorly, IMO) in the first paragraph of the second column on page 3 (emphasis mine):

Rulebook wrote:
Shuffle the character cards and deal each player 4 cards. Each player selects one of the cards, places it face-up in front of him and receives the reward shown in the selected card's lower row [6]. This card is the first card in the player's pyramid. Then the player selects another character card and adds it to his hand. The other 2 cards are returned to the deck.
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I think there is some confusion about what people are talking about, with regards to LAW cards and CHARACTER cards. In setup, you'll be dealt 4 character cards, choose one to play, one to keep, and the other 2 are shuffled back into the deck. You are then dealt 3 Law cards, all of which you keep.

So, you will start the game with 4 total cards in hand...1 character and 3 law.
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Ruskicowboy wrote:
I think there is some confusion about what people are talking about, with regards to LAW cards and CHARACTER cards. In setup, you'll be dealt 4 character cards, choose one to play, one to keep, and the other 2 are shuffled back into the deck. You are then dealt 3 Law cards, all of which you keep.

So, you will start the game with 4 total cards in hand...1 character and 3 law.


And for posterity, it's worth stating that you keep 2 of the 4 CHARACTER cards, but one goes directly into the pyramid.


Regarding the BROKEN LAW CARD - Are there not cards that mess with other cards on peoples pyramids? Isn't the counter to that card, directly messing with your opponent?
 
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Soylencer wrote:
Ruskicowboy wrote:
I think there is some confusion about what people are talking about, with regards to LAW cards and CHARACTER cards. In setup, you'll be dealt 4 character cards, choose one to play, one to keep, and the other 2 are shuffled back into the deck. You are then dealt 3 Law cards, all of which you keep.

So, you will start the game with 4 total cards in hand...1 character and 3 law.


And for posterity, it's worth stating that you keep 2 of the 4 CHARACTER cards, but one goes directly into the pyramid.


Regarding the BROKEN LAW CARD - Are there not cards that mess with other cards on peoples pyramids? Isn't the counter to that card, directly messing with your opponent?


I haven't seen anything like this in the game, but I don't think it would be a very good feature to have--- being able to play a card to potentially remove a 12+ point card on an opponent's pyramid would essentially just be a "target player loses the game" card.
 
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Rudy Peeters
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Painting the circles after the last round
I see in most turtorials that the painting is not done right.

For the lower left + right part of a circle its just the 1 gem to paint,
but on the top halve circle it takes 2 gems to paint it,
this because it contains also 2 parts.

Had to look through the rules several times to get it right.


Also iff you build a character card into your piramid and make a full 1-colored circle, you have to pay the cost first to build in the character i assume, and then get the free "immediate" gem from that color ?
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