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Subject: Review after two games rss

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Michael Eustice
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I was able to play this twice today. Both games were with 4 players and took about 3 hours. There was a lot of rulebook referencing and some AP. I'm sure the game can be completed in 2 hrs or less with players that are familiar with the game.

Brief gameplay overview: The turn structure is simple. You take two actions. You can either move, buy if you're at a trading sector, deal (obtain more work from the likes of Badger and Niska), or work a job. Each of those choices further breaks down into various sub-structures with a fair amount of associated rules.

From a macro-perspective, the game is a race to complete the main objective. Each game scenario can have a different main objective (card driven). In order to complete that main objective you need to build up your ship's strengths and abilities by completing smaller jobs, earning cash, hiring crew and buying upgrades, and so on. Most jobs are completed by executing a skill-check, in the form of rolling a six-sided die and adding your modifiers which come from your crew and ship upgrades. It is a bit of multi-player solitaire, with some interaction due to opponents occasionally controlling the Reavers and the Alliance cruiser on your turn.

Pros: This game is saturated in theme. I felt as if this game simulated running jobs, hiring crew, and traveling the 'verse as well as any game possibly can. This game also does well at providing plenty of options for ship upgrades and various crew with abilities. There was definitely a thrill of hiring that perfect crew member to unlock abilities, traits, and add more skills to my boat.

Cons: This game was lengthy. I again have to reiterate the fact that we were playing a four-player games with new players. However, I feel as if there are aspects to the game which make it unnecessarily long. For instance, every time you move (literally every single space) you need to draw a card from a deck and possibly deal with an event. Most of the cards are “blank” (they say Keep Flying), but I would say about 40% of them have some form of thing that needs to be dealt with. This tends to add time to each person's turn. Some of these cards can stop you completely, essentially causing you to “lose a turn” if you get stopped out in the black.

Also, there are some pretty nasty cards in this game. If they hit you, they can set your game back pretty far. The player to my right had a good shot at winning but was hit by reavers and lost most of his crew. I was next in line to go for the main goal, but I drew an evil card that wiped out most of my crew as well as the jobs I was working on. The randomness of the card difficulty is severe and the consequences can be steep. After several more turns a third player finally had enough built up to win.

My Take Away: I want to play the game with two or three players to see how this game flows. I think I will enjoy it more if the pace can be increased and the game shortened by trying it with less players. I'm on the fence with this purchase, but I did have fun.



UPDATE: I was able to play this two more times. The first time was two player and I did prefer that over four player. We were able to finish in 1.5 hours. I would probably enjoy 3-player as a maximum. Also, by the fourth game I had an early game strategy that helped mitigate the card risks a bit. Basically I would start in Silverhold, dump all my money into buying guns, crew with guns, and cards that have keywords on them. The keywords are essential to avoiding many disasters. For example, a card may wreck you unless you have a "Transport", or some other thing.

Also, in the fourth game we played with the major disaster cards (one in each movement deck) face-up on the bottom of the two shuffled piles. Once the deck went through its first cycle, then those malicious cards got shuffled in for a potential pull. This helped the players get a bit more ramped up before dealing with uber-nastiness.

One last note on "why don't you just mosey". Most jobs are delivery in nature. They are somewhere between 6 to 12 spaces apart each I would say. You do not want to spend 10 turns moving one space each turn to complete one job. Remember, you can't do the same action twice, so it would be: move one space for my first action, do nothing for my second action since I'm out in space (a few exceptions). With one full burn you can move five spaces, usually swinging by another useful planet along the way, accomplishing that job in two turns.

The second two games improved my impression of the game due to two major factors:

1. I would definitely play with a nerfed variant similar to the way we played the fourth game. This is the one where we delayed the super-destructo cards by placing them on the bottom of each deck first.
2. It took about two full games to develop an early game strategy which prepared me for the risks of space travel. Keywords are really important. Spend all of the starting money on getting crew and keywords before galavanting around the board.

I'm still not thrilled about pulling a card for every movement space. By the fourth game, however, players will recognize each card at a glance and not have to read and think through each one. "This is the card that does this, that's the card that does that, etc."

Hope this helps!
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David Bate
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Stephilmike wrote:
It is a bit of multi-player solitaire, with some interaction due to opponents occasionally controlling the Reavers and the Alliance cruiser on your turn.


Sound hopeful for a possible solitaire fan-mod for solo players.

Thanks for the review.
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Andrew H
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I got the strong impression that even one of the cons in this game - the event cards - would make the game even more thematic. The fact that most of the black is wide open space and nothing eventful happens is realistic. The possibility of almost unstoppable predators lurking in the void also heightens the tension of drawing the cards I'm sure.
This may make it less of a strategic game but it probably enhances the atmosphere of the game.
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Philipp Ottensamer
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Stephilmike wrote:

Cons: This game was lengthy. I again have to reiterate the fact that we were playing a four-player games with new players. However, I feel as if there are aspects to the game which make it unnecessarily long. For instance, every time you move (literally every single space) you need to draw a card from a deck and possibly deal with an event. Most of the cards are “blank” (they say Keep Flying), but I would say about 40% of them have some form of thing that needs to be dealt with. This tends to add time to each person's turn. Some of these cards can stop you completely, essentially causing you to “lose a turn” if you get stopped out in the black.


From what I've heard, you only draw cards from the deck if you choose to fly more than one space on your turn. I find this a great idea to kinda "get out the last bit of the machine" and go farther, but at the risk that something "weird" might happen.
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Prasant Moorthy
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Got a worry this will turn out for me like gf9's spartacus did. Rules look great but some wildly imbalanced cards kill the game totally. Draw card A and last place can win in a turn or draw card B and first place player can be wiped off the board.
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Brandon Ferrer
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Sounds pretty much in line with what I thought after reading the rules. I think I'm ok with that. As far as the length, are different scenarios shorter than others? Would that even effect the time considering the Nav cards seem to be where the game bogs down.

Thanks for the review, by the way. Really nice to hear impressions of the game. I have a copy being sent to me next week (thanks to the kindness of an online buddy)and I'm really excited to get my hands on it. I'm actually really looking forward to trying this out solo.
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David Pontier
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I played this at GenCon also several times and I will write a review for it soon when I get back home, but a quick point about the wild swings possible in this game: Did anyone see the TV show? Or better still, the Movie? Characters dying suddenly is nothing new to this franchise. Having the Alliance steal your extremely valuable cargo a move before you deliver it is extremely accurate to the source material. Having reavers kill your crew without notice is par for the course (again, anyone see the movie?). If you don't want a game dripping with theme and prefere a Eurogame where things are more predictable, then this game might not be for you. But if you want to feel like you are in the TV show or movie, this game is amazing.
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Josh
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Piqsid wrote:
I played this at GenCon also several times and I will write a review for it soon when I get back home, but a quick point about the wild swings possible in this game: Did anyone see the TV show? Or better still, the Movie? Characters dying suddenly is nothing new to this franchise. Having the Alliance steal your extremely valuable cargo a move before you deliver it is extremely accurate to the source material. Having reavers kill your crew without notice is par for the course (again, anyone see the movie?). If you don't want a game dripping with theme and prefere a Eurogame where things are more predictable, then this game might not be for you. But if you want to feel like you are in the TV show or movie, this game is amazing.


What makes good television doesn't necessarily make a good board game experience. I think the real challenge of turning any IP into a game that will be enjoyed by board game hobbyists is to successfully recreate the atmosphere and flavour of the source material within a game framework that gives the players interesting strategic decisions to make without any wild swings of fortune that might make those decisions ultimately pointless (as "thematic" as they might be).

(How well Firefly: The Game accomplished this is something I can't comment on.)
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Jay Levy
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I have to agree - if I'm playing a 3 hour game, I don't want a single random event to completely undermine my entire play session - and I like push your luck & random dice games. But, there is a difference. Those games usually take 30 mins to an hour -- a trading simulation that takes significant investment, then you just lose because the game says you lose isn't very fun. Heck, with dice, at least you feel like you're in control - it's a false feeling, but you're doing something ... to lose to a bad card being drawn, that's the game.
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Jordi Ros
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Game-wise, is it like a "Merchants and Marauders" in space?
(Call me browncoat, love the theme, i am asking about game mechanics and "feel").
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Matt Shinners
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Funkypea wrote:
Got a worry this will turn out for me like gf9's spartacus did. Rules look great but some wildly imbalanced cards kill the game totally. Draw card A and last place can win in a turn or draw card B and first place player can be wiped off the board.


If that happened to you, you either left yourself open or underestimated the person with the lowest influence's actual position in the game (or, likely, both). It's not a game of steady increases in influence until you win. It's a game of building board strength until you can, in one turn, unexpectedly show you were in control the last few rounds.

Sounds like the same thing here. Once you know those cards are in there, you don't press your luck if you can't deal with them. Though I obviously haven't played, so I could be way off.
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Jason Webster
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It sounds like an easy house rule fox if the cards are too extreme. Take out some cards to balance play. Leave only one very bad event and keep the ones that cause minor fluctuations good or bad.
So far sounds like a good game too me.

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Josh
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Dnasearchr wrote:
It sounds like an easy house rule fox...








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Jay Levy
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... I want a house rule fox.

Anyway, yeah, that may very well fix it - or maybe it doesn't need fixing, I haven't played the game yet I just understand how it could seem too punishing. If the comment about not having to draw when you move slower is accurate, then I don't have an issue with that kinda of dangerous mechanic, because it's your own fault if you get slaughtered lol
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Bob
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Thanks for the review Michael! thumbsup

Sounds very thematic and as for balancing game play, that may come with more experience and house rules as desired. Can't wait to get my copy. If there are balance issues, GF9 might address them down the road.

GF9 has already mentioned expansions are in the works. cool

GF9 Response
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SnipedintheHead
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desper_taferro wrote:
Game-wise, is it like a "Merchants and Marauders" in space?
(Call me browncoat, love the theme, i am asking about game mechanics and "feel").


This. If I hadn't just traded away my version of M&M I would be furiously working to redo my board into planets and buying ships and revamping the captains. Why hasn't this been though of before?
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K S
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Twyker wrote:
Stephilmike wrote:

Cons: This game was lengthy. I again have to reiterate the fact that we were playing a four-player games with new players. However, I feel as if there are aspects to the game which make it unnecessarily long. For instance, every time you move (literally every single space) you need to draw a card from a deck and possibly deal with an event. Most of the cards are “blank” (they say Keep Flying), but I would say about 40% of them have some form of thing that needs to be dealt with. This tends to add time to each person's turn. Some of these cards can stop you completely, essentially causing you to “lose a turn” if you get stopped out in the black.


From what I've heard, you only draw cards from the deck if you choose to fly more than one space on your turn. I find this a great idea to kinda "get out the last bit of the machine" and go farther, but at the risk that something "weird" might happen.


This. If you choose to move and move doing the "Mosey Along" you simply move one space (Sector) boom done that's it. If you choose to do a full burn, you draw cards every sector and resolve it.
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David Ausloos
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Another way to approach this is drop the whole idea of drawing a card for each space, which sounds somehow unappealing.
As an alternative, it would be cool to have 3 or 4 event decks, with a decrease in toughness/challenge.
A player could move extra spaces, but the higher the additional number of spaces he moves, the tougher the potential event. For example example: if the player chooses to move 3 extra spaces, he takes a card from the event deck level 3. This deck has less empty sectors and more tough challenges than level 1 and 2.

That said, having not played the game...I have no clue how much this event-system lengthens the game.

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James Fung
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jayntampa wrote:
I have to agree - if I'm playing a 3 hour game, I don't want a single random event to completely undermine my entire play session - and I like push your luck & random dice games. But, there is a difference. Those games usually take 30 mins to an hour -- a trading simulation that takes significant investment, then you just lose because the game says you lose isn't very fun. Heck, with dice, at least you feel like you're in control - it's a false feeling, but you're doing something ... to lose to a bad card being drawn, that's the game.

Maybe people are coming to the game from the wrong perspective. Do people play Tales of the Arabian Nights trying to win, or trying to create an interesting narrative?
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Jason Reid
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fusag wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
I have to agree - if I'm playing a 3 hour game, I don't want a single random event to completely undermine my entire play session - and I like push your luck & random dice games. But, there is a difference. Those games usually take 30 mins to an hour -- a trading simulation that takes significant investment, then you just lose because the game says you lose isn't very fun. Heck, with dice, at least you feel like you're in control - it's a false feeling, but you're doing something ... to lose to a bad card being drawn, that's the game.

Maybe people are coming to the game from the wrong perspective. Do people play Tales of the Arabian Nights trying to win, or trying to create an interesting narrative?


To be fair, ToAN is a storytelling game, not a strategy game, and never pretends to be otherwise. It's not as simple as the Game of Life, but it has a relatively simple rule structure supporting it, and it barely offers even an illusion of control to the outcomes of players' decisions.

Ultimately, I think it's those illusions that people find frustrating (when they exist...dunno if that's the case with Firefly).
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Jason Webster
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My house rule fox is really cool ;-)
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James Fung
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*twitch*

Dnasearchr wrote:
My house rule fox is really cool ;-)


Sorry, mentioning Firefly and Fox in the same thread does something to me.
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aaron belmer
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fusag wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
I have to agree - if I'm playing a 3 hour game, I don't want a single random event to completely undermine my entire play session - and I like push your luck & random dice games. But, there is a difference. Those games usually take 30 mins to an hour -- a trading simulation that takes significant investment, then you just lose because the game says you lose isn't very fun. Heck, with dice, at least you feel like you're in control - it's a false feeling, but you're doing something ... to lose to a bad card being drawn, that's the game.

Maybe people are coming to the game from the wrong perspective. Do people play Tales of the Arabian Nights trying to win, or trying to create an interesting narrative?


This.

Also, i played last night, incredible gaming experience!

Two legit ways to cut length (if thats all you have time for):

1. Player with mosg money after x minutes wins.
2. Just complete first two goals instead of all 3.

I really like the cards for flying, but another respectable house rule would be once you get a 'bad one' then you fly free the rest of the time.

Awesome amazing game. This is the game i'd hoped merchant of venus would be.
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Andy Pickard
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desper_taferro wrote:
Game-wise, is it like a "Merchants and Marauders" in space?
(Call me browncoat, love the theme, i am asking about game mechanics and "feel").


I look at this as Fire and Axe in Space. Which is no dis. I LOVE Fire and Axe. Can't wait to get my copy.
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Josh
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weirdboy_1 wrote:
desper_taferro wrote:
Game-wise, is it like a "Merchants and Marauders" in space?
(Call me browncoat, love the theme, i am asking about game mechanics and "feel").


This. If I hadn't just traded away my version of M&M I would be furiously working to redo my board into planets and buying ships and revamping the captains. Why hasn't this been though of before?


If "Merchants & Marauders in space" is what you're after, you REALLY need to check out Xia: Legends of a Drift System when it's released next year. (If you're familiar with Merchants & Marauders, a quick look through Xia's rulebook will reveal just how much of an influence M&M was on that game.)
 
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