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Subject: First play through review of Clockwork Wars at my local Gaming Club rss

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Jon Dixon
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Intro

I got to play a few rounds of this game at GenCon and even after not completing a game I was smitten and brought it to bring back home.

Last night was my first meeting back at the gaming club I attend. Obviously took CW with me. Well why wouldn’t you it’s a big beautiful box which once you open reveals really thick tiles, counters and a few plastic minis.

As others have commented my tank is the same with the droopy turret. Will be doing the hot water fix.

Setup

For four players first time took about 12 minutes. We did use one of the preset maps from the manual which takes a bit of time to map the tiles too. The manual is clear but there are a lot of tiles to match and it’s a big board.

This game is big, we definitely spread across two (at a rough guess 4’ x 2’) tables. One table used for the map and discoveries. The other table held the tokens, scoreboard, generals and chits. This left enough space for our player areas and resource reserves.

Definitely setup time was impacted by me losing one of the tiles under the box and then stressing where I had put the ‘T1’ tile. Sorted it and got the play map done, randomly chose a court (Court of Prius) and laid out the sorcery, science and religion discovery cards. Finding the tokens for those also took some time. I’m going to split into separate bags to make sorting easier and can then get the other players involved in setup to cut the time.

Rules Explanation

This took roughly 20 minutes, explaining each of the phases and what it does:

* Spymaster – player takes a tile and does the action. E.g. take a resource, draw intrigue cards etc
* Recruitment – Take 4 resource for citadel and 1 for a village or 2 for a city
* Deployment – This took time, to explain purpose of each tile, and what the court does. Do end up referencing discovery cards, generals at this point but I kept that to a minimum to focus on the map and deployment rules and describe the court. How you can deploy one space or do a forced march. Also how once you deploy you can’t change territory (unless use spymaster tile).
* Combat – Probably the area spent most time on to cover reinforcements and attrition.
* Discovery – Also took equal time to combat, as you’re now covering the discovery cards, generals. I also covered the intrigue cards and how these cost 1 spy to activate.
* Scoring phase – Really important to point out this only takes place on rounds 2, 4 and 7. During the middle age of the game did get confused and started to do the pollution phase. Realised the mistake and was able to put the resources back onto the tiles.

Gameplay

The game took about 90 minutes. Which is amazing considering the game plays 7 rounds and all the phases to each round. Deployment I was expected there to be some Analysis Paralysis but even that part was quite quick.

Discoveries were bought, but there was some saving up for the generals early in the game and Leviathan especially used and changed one area of the board causing quite a bit of attrition in that turn. Not much focus on getting spies to court. I was personally gutted that the Guardian was bought during the discovery phase of round 4. So was gone before I could claim it during the scoring round at having court dominance.

It is a game where you can get focussed on capturing territories and forget about the Lakes and Forests which actually score the victory points. With only 30 resources, it is complex as to where to focus. Did get heavily focussed on the court with 3 players having 9/10 spies there all after the 4 victory points. As it was a draw we got nothing.

The differing unique units also felt fairly balanced even against the generals. E.g. use of crasher and soldiers to go up against the Steamtank.

Final Thoughts

I’m not going to give a score (Its a 10). I’m biased. This is a game I’ve really taken to since I saw it. Out of all the games I got from GenCon this is the one I protected and carried onto the plane home. The remaining came home in the hold.

There was definite interest from the other players to play again, looking at tactics; focussing on villages to get those extra soldiers.
I have already ordered the Sentience expansion. I think this game may get even better with 5 players. There is a lot of conflict in this game with battles starting from round 1. They were getting pretty brutal in the end especially on the Lakes & Forests. I think that additional player might get alliances forming at least in the first half of the game.





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Tom Hill
United Kingdom
Wales
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Great review; I can tell you're truly taken with the game.

Thanks for sharing (glad you found your T1 tile) - can't wait to hear about more of your exploits!
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Jon Dixon
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Will do a review once I get sentience and the extra tile packs I've ordered.

Got carried away and ordered the plastic figures too.


Definately taken with game. One of those games which is just so cool to hear the cheers/groans when the battles and attrition start.
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Miguel Duran
United States
Seattle
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You'll really like Sentience - the 5th player doesn't add a ton of time at all and, like you, I completely agree that it's an extremely fast-playing game. I think one thing players do on first plays is tend towards being overly conservative and not attack one another; many have commented to me that they didn't realize the game would be over so soon. Second plays in those groups, though, are great.
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Hassan Lopez
United States
Greenfield Center
New York
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Thank you so much for this review, Jon. I'm so pleased that you're digging the game. I think you'll find that Clockwork Wars is one of those games that just gets better and better the more you play it and the more experienced your group become with the mechanics.

Brief side-note: Controlling the Pius Court actually lets you steal the Guardian away from another player, if they've researched it before the Turn 4 Scoring Phase. So you may have gotten the short end of the stick on that one...
 
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Rock Bronson

Kansas City
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One thing that hastens setup and teardown for those discoveries is to store them on end in the insert. There are three pairs of indents, which makes a good way to separate the disciplines, and they're much easier to grab out that way. Another thing I find speeds setup is to divide the map tiles by type and group in the box by research, resource, and recruitment related tiles. Barrens I just keep with the smallest stack. It's good for building your own maps, too, kinda compartmentalizes your options in a good way.
 
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Jon Dixon
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Hi Hassan,

Thanks for the info on the court. I'll keep that in mind for future plays. This time was okay, it didn't have a huge impact on my play.

So I'm all in on this game now. Had ordered Empires as well as sentience after GenCon but I messed up the postage which is why its been stuck in processing.

Shipping just too much for me right now, so have had to cancel Empires but kept Sentience Hope Eagle get a UK retailer to pick that one up soon (along with CW I cant find it on the UK sites I look at).

I also had a new order as I decided why not get the extra tiles and plastic unique unit figures.

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