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Subject: Earth Reborn at Paris Game Show: as close to a review as one can get! rss

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Bruno Gaia
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Introducing my meeting the game at Paris Game Show

On a French website dedicated to board games, it has been said that Earth Reborn was Christophe Boelinger’s dream come true: basically all his influences and best ideas in a single package.
I had never met Christophe Boelinger before last Saturday, I only knew him through his games (which I like very much though) so I can’t say if he’s always like that or if it’s that game he was presenting that made him that way but, guys… I’ve never met anyone with such glittering passion in his eyes!
And that’s exactly what you can feel all along when you discover the game itself: it’s full of passion, it’s packed with basically all the smartest ideas the man has had for the past few years; it allows you to do everything and much more.

Soooo… You’ll understand why I had to take sort of a long time to write a decent account of what I’ve seen there!

Disclaimer: this account is based on my single experience of it on Saturday and lazily reading the rules afterwards, so don’t pick on me with details afterwards and it’s in the general section BECAUSE I haven’t played it long enough to write it in the review section. Those who have already read my reviews here know that I never put a review on BGG before I’ve played at least five games.

Theme:

Long after the earth has been destroyed by a nuclear war (in quite original conditions though, I’ll let you discover that, ‘cuz I don’t remember half of it but it was a good read though) Factions that have evolved underground, separately and in directions that vary tremendously (basically, in this box: good guys VS awful zombie breeding madmen, but that description is sketchy, the reality is more subtle) emerge from their strongholds and start rediscovering the Earth. Sooo, they meet and they don’t become good friends at first glance (well, I wouldn’t be good friend with Jack Saw the zombie at first glance neither…)

Components:


Coming with a base coating (so that you don’t spoil the signs on the bases of the minis) the miniatures are outstanding! Clearly the most detailed ones I’ve seen coming out of a box. I’d add that I was eager to discover Dust Tactics the same day and was extremely disappointed with the minis there whereas those in Earth Reborn look much better than I would have thought!
Plus -and that’s not to be overlooked- they are a first door to a theme that will, afterwards be omnipresent. And what a door!

The floor tiles and the way the board is created I can’t describe here because it is part and parcel of the game and just smashing! At some point, (once you’ve spent a good 12 to 15 games with the extremely well designed and exciting tutorial) you’ll be able to create an infinite number of boards using rules that are like a game of Tetris. The potential is just incredible! And the board looks good and conveys the post-ap feeling brilliantly (and I haven’t seen all of it mind you)
True, there are tiles that carry a certain number of icons (the IPS system I’ll describe later) and can look a bit crammed with information, but just bear in mind that all the signs there are there for a purpose and that purpose is clearly to give players and enormous amount of choices, all theme-related and challenging tactically-wise.

The rules and scenario books: a huge amount of information on the background (I never saw that much before) that support a theme that is more original than just pure post-apocalyptic stuff. The rules are well written, and full of examples that are very clear.
Nonetheless, some people will faint when they see the amount of information per page in the rulebook. To that I’ll answer: please wait until I tell you about the tutorial (at the end)!

The game in a few words (This title is a lie: one can’t summarize such a game in a few words! Man: depending on the scenarios you can search rooms, use appliances in the rooms, spy your enemy, scramble their radio system, capture their minions and even torture them!! How can anyone summarize THAT!)

I’ll just try to give you a glimpse of how it all works BASICALLY:

You get command points or CP’s at the beginning of the turn, depending on the characters composing your team. As all characters have a wounded side on their card, this amount of CP can change during the game.

You activate your characters for a round and make them perform different task (move, enter close combat, shoot, search or activate something) by using square tiles (order tiles) that you’ve picked randomly in a bag. Those tiles all carry four icons (depicting the basic actions) that have a number attached. That number defines the amount of command points you can assign to an action you’ll perform: easy. The only limit is the number of command point each character can assign to the order tile you’ve chosen to give him or her.

Of course there are subtleties, but I played a game with a nice little chappy that was eleven and he got the basics right in a few minutes. I tell you easy (I becomes harder much much later, and by then I doubt any one of you lot will not want to use ALL of them rules, including… torture…)
Sooo: you can move (movement restrictions are, let’s say standard board game routine) and then you can launch yourself in bloody close combat or shoot opponents with your BIG GUN because there’s a hell of a lot of equipment that you can attach to your team characters or that come with a precise scenario.

Combat is easy once you’ve got the signs on the bases of the minis right: an inner circle for close combat, the other one for lines of sight and shooting. You can position your mini as you wish after a move and in other conditions (like when you’re intercepted for example) cause that system is central in combats. When your opponent is right in front of your good arm, it’s a sure kill in close combat; same thing if you don’t have to move the slightest bit to aim at him with that rifle of yours!
Depending on the colour of the base circle (and on the character’s ability) the amount of dice thrown and/or the damages received will vary. Fair enough.

Nothing too disconcerting. BUT:

-When you pick your order tiles randomly you then choose which tile you assign to which character
-When your opponent moves, you can “intercept” him by investing CPs in duels (invested CPs against invested CPs)
-When you’ve activated a character, you can activate it again if you’ve got CP’s left.
-When you invest more CPs in a fisticuff or in a shootout, you can get a chance to add damages (it’s called “pour it on” ;) )

I see that some of you have understood where it all goes to: a very smart system of resources management:

Shall I go all out in this fight , risking to have no CP points left when it’s my opponent’s turn to move? Will I keep CPs in case I can ambush his awful zombie over there?
A lot of choices that, in my (much too short to my taste) experience don’t lead to too much downtime because boys will be boys, and in a game that makes its theme be felt that way, you tend, after a while, to react instinctively and let yourself be overwhelmed by the sheer delight of just smashing doors and shooting that bloody zombie right through the chest ‘as long as you’ve got CP’s left though ;)! And it works!

When it becomes clear that Chris Boelinger is a madman with a plan!

All the other rules (and they are many) allow you to basically do pretty much everything.
I think the aim is to give the game a RPG feeling that no game before ever had.
I don’t want to spoil the fun for all of you who will buy it, but let me just tell you that you can search rooms, spy on your opponents, scramble their radio system, use a morale system based on completing missions, use things in rooms, torture captured enemies. And, what is good about all of that is that the mechanics behind all of these actions are clever and it is useful in the game and can be a way of succeeding in what is bound to be a “multiple path to victory” game with TWO revenges!

Did the cards you saw on BGG scare you?

They scared me too. Especially because of the amount of icons and… The strange list of icons at the bottom.
Well: it’s called the IPS for Iconic Phrasing System (if my memory is correct) and it’s not as complicated as it looks in fact: it’s just the few conditions you need to meet to use the special power of you character (or of an item or room)
Once you’ve got the summary of the rules in front of you, it’s actually crystal clear. And even more so because the aforesaid conditions usually go very well with the theme of the card where they're written.

Ever heard of SAGS?

Now that’s something that has driven me crazy and even a bit jealous, cause I’ve been trying to figure out a system like that for a game of mine for years (I myself dabble n game designing but bever finished a proper prototype).
Basically SAGS is a system that makes the game generate an actually infinite number of scenarios once you’ve finished the nine scenarios of the tutorial.

Argh, he beat me on that!!

A tutorial that is both smooth and the best introduction to a theme I’ve ever seen

After the demo, and I had read the rules, I opened the book containing the history and the scenarios and that’s when it all came clear.
Of course Mister Boelinger knew his game was so full of possibilities that no one on earth would dare learn all that in a single play.
So he designed a tutorial in 9 scenarios that seems to be both an excellent and very progressive way of entering the subtleties of Earth Reborn AND a really good way to immerse yourself in the theme: from the first skirmishes between the Norad and the Salemites to missions that will take the two factions to degrees of violence rarely seen.

A sure sign that it is good: I READ the damn scenarios, even if I had very little time left to try one of the other games I wanted to try (Space Hulk "the card game": big BIG disappointment)!

For me : a must-have

I have to admit that I entered this Paris Game Show wanting to try Earth Reborn (amongst other games which have all been BIG disappointments) and wishing it would suit my tastes because:
1)I love post-apocalyptic themes
2)I love Christophe Boelinger’s games mechanics
3)I wanted to play a game where there’s a zombie with a chainsaw-arm AND a big mecha AND a good looking girl with a sniper rifle

And I was NOT disappointed!
I hope this game will get the buzz it deserves, because it definitely IS the game I’ve been dreaming of for years and, until now, nobody has been able to deliver it.
Now it’s done!
I should have expected no less from Chris Boelinger.

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Griffin Johnson
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Thanks for the info, this is a 'must have' for me also!
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Bruno Gaia
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> Griffin: Now that I've tried it and read the rules extensively, I can honestly say that I've not been so excited about a game since... Well I don't even remember since when ;)
Jeez: girls with guns torturing zombies while their radio is scrambled by a spy and a mecha pumps shell through walls to exterminate mad doctors creating lethal strains of viruses! What MORE can you expect???

Just one question I'm asking myself: why didn't I steal that box at that bloody game show?
(answer: I'm quite muscular myself but them bloody security people were definitely trolls in disguise ;p )
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Lee Fisher
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Great write up.

Was this mainly 2p? Do you know how multiplayer works?
 
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K.Y. Wong
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Bruno, does it scale well from 2 to 4 players and does the game really plays in an hour?
 
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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> Lee: we were four at the table: two vs two (two Norad vs two Salemites)

> KY & Lee: I'd say that the way you identify with the characters you control should allow the game to host two to four players without losing it's interest for one.But I still have to try a three player game to answer that properly. Anyway, with it's two factions polarity, it's a sure thing that the game plays perfectly for 2 or 4!

> Ky: time-wise I can't say because the game is highly scenario dependent! But the game we played would surely would have been played in an hour or slightly less if we had known the rules. More meaty scenarios I can't say but I surmise that once you attack those, you don't want to play them in just an hour, so I'd say a bit more if you play the "big game" (with ALL the things to do) and players don't play flippantly.
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Lee Fisher
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brunogaia wrote:
> Lee: we were four at the table: two vs two (two Norad vs two Salemites)

> KY & Lee: I'd say that the way you identify with the characters you control should allow the game to host two to four players without losing it's interest for one.But I still have to try a three player game to answer that properly. Anyway, with it's two factions polarity, it's a sure thing that the game plays perfectly for 2 or 4!

> Ky: time-wise I can't say because the game is highly scenario dependent! But the game we played would surely would have been played in an hour or slightly less if we had known the rules. More meaty scenarios I can't say but I surmise that once you attack those, you don't want to play them in just an hour, so I'd say a bit more if you play the "big game" (with ALL the things to do) and players don't play flippantly.


That's great Bruno! Are there any types of actions you can take to aid/support your partner? Like you said, you can torture enemies, can you also aid/support allies in some way?

Thanks again for all the awesome information.
 
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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> Lee: ALL the actions involved in the game can be done by more than one character at a time, as long as you have GOLD symbols on the order tiles of the supporting characters (yep, that's also what the colours on the ordre tiles are for), and of course that involves adding all your damage dice on a target when you shoot it or stab it, as an example. That ALSO means you can have both a mad doctor and the awful Franck Einstein goon torturing the superlicious Vasquez babe in the Torture chamber.
Yep mate, that's what it means for sure ;)
By the way, have I ever mentioned the existence of a torture kit as an equipment?
I thought so... I haven't...
Well it's done now ;)
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Chris Boelinger
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lfisher wrote:
brunogaia wrote:
> Lee: we were four at the table: two vs two (two Norad vs two Salemites)

> KY & Lee: I'd say that the way you identify with the characters you control should allow the game to host two to four players without losing it's interest for one.But I still have to try a three player game to answer that properly. Anyway, with it's two factions polarity, it's a sure thing that the game plays perfectly for 2 or 4!

> Ky: time-wise I can't say because the game is highly scenario dependent! But the game we played would surely would have been played in an hour or slightly less if we had known the rules. More meaty scenarios I can't say but I surmise that once you attack those, you don't want to play them in just an hour, so I'd say a bit more if you play the "big game" (with ALL the things to do) and players don't play flippantly.


That's great Bruno! Are there any types of actions you can take to aid/support your partner? Like you said, you can torture enemies, can you also aid/support allies in some way?

Thanks again for all the awesome information.


Maybe you meant "helping others" such as "healing others" ?
If so yep it's possible with medical kit equipment, morphine serynge, and some special rooms such as the infirmary or the patient room. But the character self healing or helping a comrade has better chances if he is clever in science and not only a military strong guy

Hope this answered your question.

And thanks Bruno for such a nice preview. I'm honored by your words. I have to admit it's touching. Hope many RPG / Boardgame / Miniature players will feel the same as you do about this game. It's been so much work now I'd like some scenario designed by the players in return so it's my turn to have fun with the game without having to be the DM !!!

Oh well, I guess you'll answer me, just play the SAGS and you don't need a DM. Well I guess you are totally right, but to tell the truth, I can't wait to see what crazy scenarios the players will design with this crazy lego / modular box !
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Bruno Gaia
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Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
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> Chris: What I would be waiting for, if I were you, are people who will introduce scenarios which actually are games generated by SAGS that were such good fun to play that they'll keep record of the elements to make other player enjoy them!
And THAT would be just magnificent, wouldn't it?

Don't we have a quote in French that says: "le hasard fait bien les choses"?
I don't know (or can't remember right now) how it idiomatically translates into English so I'll just loosely translate it as: luck does things well. I like this quote a lot (maybe because it used to be the name of my first published book, who knows... Lol)

Anyway, with this brilliant system you've created, there's a good chance that such occurences will be plentyfull ;)

PS: about the "close to a review", you're very welcome: everybody here knows that I only write good things about games when I've had a good experience with them, so it's me who is thanking you for the good fun at the show and the hours of good fun I'll sure be having once that monster of a game is at home ;)
 
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Christian Marcussen
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Sounds fantastic!
 
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Lee Fisher
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Chris Boelinger wrote:
lfisher wrote:
brunogaia wrote:
> Lee: we were four at the table: two vs two (two Norad vs two Salemites)

> KY & Lee: I'd say that the way you identify with the characters you control should allow the game to host two to four players without losing it's interest for one.But I still have to try a three player game to answer that properly. Anyway, with it's two factions polarity, it's a sure thing that the game plays perfectly for 2 or 4!

> Ky: time-wise I can't say because the game is highly scenario dependent! But the game we played would surely would have been played in an hour or slightly less if we had known the rules. More meaty scenarios I can't say but I surmise that once you attack those, you don't want to play them in just an hour, so I'd say a bit more if you play the "big game" (with ALL the things to do) and players don't play flippantly.


That's great Bruno! Are there any types of actions you can take to aid/support your partner? Like you said, you can torture enemies, can you also aid/support allies in some way?

Thanks again for all the awesome information.


Maybe you meant "helping others" such as "healing others" ?
If so yep it's possible with medical kit equipment, morphine serynge, and some special rooms such as the infirmary or the patient room. But the character self healing or helping a comrade has better chances if he is clever in science and not only a military strong guy

Hope this answered your question.

And thanks Bruno for such a nice preview. I'm honored by your words. I have to admit it's touching. Hope many RPG / Boardgame / Miniature players will feel the same as you do about this game. It's been so much work now I'd like some scenario designed by the players in return so it's my turn to have fun with the game without having to be the DM !!!

Oh well, I guess you'll answer me, just play the SAGS and you don't need a DM. Well I guess you are totally right, but to tell the truth, I can't wait to see what crazy scenarios the players will design with this crazy lego / modular box !


Healing is a great example and a great idea. Thanks!
 
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Speedy Petey
Sweden
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It sounds as if Moses would have brought a board game down from the mountain - this would be it!

Keep spreading the gospel.

Hallelujah.
 
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Jonathan Harrison
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Fisher
Illinois
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So long ...
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... and thanks for all the fish.
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We just finished our first game of this.

This is an incredible game.
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Patrick SAYET
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I first saw pics of this game some time ago. Then very recently I thought back of it, and seriopusly want to get it.
I'm wondering (as the US site Ludically doesn't seem to have much activity - last add to ownload is sep 2013) if there's news about the game, like extensions or a new edition?
 
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