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Subject: World Without End - A Review rss

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Yul Beauchamps
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This game took me quite by surprise in more than one way. A couple nights ago I walked in to my local hobby shop and just saw "World Without End" sitting there. I never did catch this one on my radar but I immediately recognized it’s similar style to "Pillars of the Earth". For those unfamiliar "Pillars of the Earth" is a popular novel penned by Ken Follett. He wrote a sequel (kinda) to this novel as you can expect called "World Without End". Make no mistake the game is not an expansion to Pillars but rather an entirely new self contained game. It preserves much of the look and feel of Pillars but it’s gameplay definitely has its own Identity. The second surprise was how much more I like this game to its predecessor.

Players & Game Length:
The game is playable with 2-4 players. However after a few games I can easily see that a 4 player game is ideal and would likely yield the best play. This stems from the clever mechanic that I will describe a little later. The box lists the playing time at approx 90-120 minutes. This was actually very accurate as our game beyond the first one lasted between 120-135 minutes.

Components:
The board is very similar in style to Pillars which I absolutely love. The Cathedral from Pillars is easily recognizable in the lower left corner of the board (as artwork). The cardboard tokens are of good quality as are the wooden pieces. My only complaints which are quite minor are the cards and some misprints. I would have been happier if the cards would have been made of slightly thicker stock. Some of the misprints that I have found were on the "House Building" card which should say "1 Wood" instead of "1 Wool". Also only the blue action card "Resource" is printed correctly as all other colors will find a card called "Building Material" instead.

Instructions:
A simple one page insert was included to list the game’s setup. The instructions themselves were short but sweet. Everything was laid out logically and clearly. There were little to no disputes over the game rules, which for our gaming group was a breath of fresh air. The back of the instructions include additional information about event cards that might require further clarifications in certain situations.

Gameplay:
Like most Euro games the winner is the player that accumulates the most victory points at the end of the game. Scoring points consists of treating people who have the plague, helping with various building projects, making donations, gaining favour, etc... Actually there are many ways to acquire victory points which allows players to take their own unique path to victory. Our group hasn’t found any must "use" strategy thus far and I hope it remains that way.

The game is separated into 4 chapters containing 6 rounds each. There are four chapter event piles that are compromised of 6 event cards randomly drawn from 11. So essentially during one game you will get to see 24 event cards from a pool of 44 which allows for games to play out differently every time. One round consists of:

1. The starting player reveals the topmost event card and resolve any immediate effects. Some event cards are shaded blue which indicate a persistent effect that is only resolved when players play an action card. These cards will normally remain in effect until the end of a chapter.

2. Then the starting player "Orients" the event card on the board. This is one of my favorite mechanics of the game. The event card will indicate an income or reward on each of its four corners. Depending on how the player decides to place the card will determine what all of the players will receive during this round. This is why it’s important that each player sit on of the four side of the board each. When placed the card points it’s corners to each of the players easily displaying which reward they will receive. This forces the starting player to weigh the benefit of giving themselves a resource they might need vs. giving their opponent an item they could really use.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/628594/world-without-end

3. Players receive personal income, which is to say the item listed on the event card pointing towards them.

4. The starting player is awarded "Favor". In addition the event card also has one red arrow pointing towards one of the sides. When oriented on the game board this arrow will point to one of 4 possible numbers (0,1,2,3). This number indicates how many spaces the favor marker will move clockwise on the board. There is a favor track that lists rewards, penalties and ways to score victory points. This is a bonus to the starting player. So this too must be weighed when placing the event card on the board. Note a player does not receive favor if the marker did not move.

5. Each player plays one action card and discards one action card face down. Every player has 12 identical action cards but will only ever play a maximum of 6 during one chapter while the other half is discarded. This forces the player to try and anticipate which actions he will need and which ones can be discarded for this round. Some events will put a wrench in your best laid plans and make you wish you hadn’t discarded an event card prematurely.

After these steps are carried out the starting player marker is passed to the left and a new rounds start until the end of the chapter. At the end of a chapter resources are added to any building projects to help them along even if players are not contributing. Chapter 2 will mark the beginning of the plague as well as the start of the cathedral tower project. However at the end of every chapter the players need to pay duties and are penalized if they cannot pay. The duties include 2 grain, 2 piety and 2-5 gold (random roll). The penalties for not paying certain duties are:

Penance: Lose 3 points for every piety you could not pay. You do not choose which action card to discard in the first round of the next chapter. Another player randomly chooses your discard.

Begging: Lose 2 points for every grain you could not pay. You do not receive your personal income in the first round of the next chapter.

Royal Court: Lose 1 point for every gold you could not pay. You do not take an action in the first round of the next chapter. Ignore the action card you play.

If this is the last chapter the points lost are doubled instead. However players can always use a loyalty to cancel the effect of not paying one of the duties but they still lose the victory points.

Actions cards essentially determine what you will do during your turn. Carefully choosing which actions to take will mean the difference between victory and defeat. The 12 possible action cards are:

1. Grain - Take 1 grain from the field.
2. Piety - Take 1 piety from the cathedral.
3. Resource - Take 1 stone from the quarry or 1 wood from the forest.
4. House Building - Pay 1 gold and either 1 wood or 1 stone. Place 1 house onto a matching building space. (Building houses allows players to receive additional income other than from the event cards)
5. House Rent - Take the indicated income for up to 2 of your houses.
6. Cloth Production - Turn 1 or 2 wool into the same amount of cloth.
7. Wool & Cloth Sales - Sell any amount of wool and/or 1 cloth at the market. (Wool sells for 2 gold while cloth sell for 4 gold. Note in chapter 1 cloth cannot be sold unless an event card lifts the restriction.)
8. Building Project - Place up to 2 resources (wood, stone) onto a single building project and receive 3 victory points each. (Building projects may appear at different stages of the game. Only the Cathedral Tower and Bridge are fixed during each game.)
9. Donation - Pay 1 gold and place 1 donation seal onto an unfinished building project. When the building project is complete, you receive the indicated bonus. (Donations are a way for players to get a bonus for a building project without having to contribute building materials such as wood or stone.)
10. Medicine - Care for one or more ill inhabitants. OR Take 1 gold and 1 victory point. (The plague breaks out at the end of chapter 2. Players who has accumulated enough medical knowledge can use this action to cure infected homes that yield victory points and various bonus rewards.
11. Favor - Move the favor marker 1 space ahead and receive the associated favor.
12. Privilege - Use the last action card you played face-up a second time.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/627188/world-without-end

Final Thoughts:
There is very little downtime between your turns as the rounds are quite quick. The game presents you with many options and various strategies without being complicated. Despite the many different pieces everything seems intuitive and makes sense. i.e. Grain looks like grain, stones are grey squares while wood are brown squares. I found the gameplay vastly superior to "Pillars of the Earth" and just plain more fun. Never mind comparing it to Pillars, this game has been one of my better buys in recent months. This one will definitely hit the table quite often during our gaming nights.

9/10
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Your Friendly Neighborhood Hairfarmer
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Edmonds
Washington
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Just played this for the first time last night. I loved it.
Great review!thumbsup

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Mister Phreeze
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I'm not sure I agree that it's vastly superior to Pillars, as this would imply that Pillars isn't very good. However, I do agree that it's a great game. It "feels" similar to Pillars at times, which might be due simply to the fact that it "looks" like Pillars, however it's not a copy - it is definitely its own game.

I really enjoyed the couple plays I've had of it so far and look forward to more soon.
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Craig Liken
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Thanks for the review - this has been on my radar for a while, but due to lack of rules and reviews, and some concerns expressed about play length and randomness I was undecided.

We wait a bit, but looks like it might be a buy for me.
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Dylan Shakespeare
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Wait, treat people WITH the plague?! I don't want you for my doctor!
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Travis Bridges
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Nazareth
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Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.
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"Hi Doc...I think my ankle is sprained."

"Well, here...have the plague...you will forget all about your shitty ankle."
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Yul Beauchamps
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Abstractite wrote:
Wait, treat people WITH the plague?! I don't want you for my doctor!


What are you an editor?

Anyway I fixed the typo.
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Richard Hutnik
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Hawkeye75 wrote:
Abstractite wrote:
Wait, treat people WITH the plague?! I don't want you for my doctor!


What are you an editor?

Anyway I fixed the typo.


Shoot, it was more entertaining the other way.
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Craig Liken
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Abstractite wrote:
Wait, treat people WITH the plague?! I don't want you for my doctor!


Was this comment really necessary? - everyone understood what was meant.

I was very appreciative of the OP tapping out a very quick review of this game - perhaps you should give some ups for that rather than nit-picking the grammar.

The irony is that one of the key themes of the book is the debate between a key character and the "so-called" doctors about how exactly the plague should be treated. She argued for isolation and covering of mouths (of doctors) etc, while the "doctors" favoured traditional methods such as blood-letting and a more faith based approach.
 
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Steve Duff
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Uh, I think Abstractite was just joking, Craig.
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Travis Bridges
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Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.
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Whoa...who let in Debbie Downer? We were just joking man. We got into this thread and got this far because we liked the review. Now I am stoked that I have this wrapped under the tree. You are right though...some ups would be nice...tip given.
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Yul Beauchamps
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I uploaded an image of the action cards. Will submit some examples of the event cards in a day or two.
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J C
Australia
Tasmania
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Thanks for a clear review highlighting an interesting mechanic. Did you get the feeling that once everyone got the hang of the system there'd have to be a pre-game game about seating arrangements? ('I'm sitting on THIS side of the board!', 'I'm sitting opposite Bob!' etc)
 
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Yul Beauchamps
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Not unless said person has bad hygiene!

In reality I'm not sure if seating positions will make any difference. This would have to be a serious flaw where the cards are always listing an undesirable reward to the (left, right, across) from what could be perceived as the most desirable reward. If you also factor the favor track which also affects a person's decision to position the card it becomes even less likely.

That being said I sat in the south position the last two games and lost! I guess we'll have to keep an eye on that...but seriously I don't think that is an issue.
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Timothy
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Thanks for the great review! I definitely want to give this one a go now. Excellent pics as well by the by.
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weekee chia
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I used to like Pillars of the Earth but subsequently found that Stone Age which adopt some of the game mechanics was a much more enjoyable game.

Is this game similar to Pillars of the Earth or is it a completely different gaming experience?
 
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Yul Beauchamps
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This is definitely not similar to Pillars. Pillars used worker placement as a core mechanic while World Without End relies on action cards. Having duties to pay at the end of every chapter reminds me of Agricola or Le Havre but only in the slightest. The "look" of the game is definitely reminiscent of Pillars but game play is different.
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David McLeod
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Thanks for the good review of the rules and mechanics. Will be useful for my first playing... coming soon?

I'm a huge fan of Pillars w/expansion as I felt the base game was fun but missing something.

Also like Michael Rienick`s game Around the World in 80 Days.

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