$18.00
GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 127.84

7,570 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
47.7% of Goal | left

Support:

Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Sola Fide: The Reformation» Forums » General

Subject: Demo report - my initial mechanical/decision thoughts rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Grayson
United States
Richmond
Virginia
flag msg tools
"Gotta go slow, gotta go fast, gotta swing low when I walk past..."
badge
Turtle Cat (2/26/16) by Rachel Kremer of semicoop.com
mbmbmbmbmb
Three notes before I begin:

1) This session utilized a demo/prototype copy, and thus I will make no elaboration on components unless necessary for explanation of how to play. Also, since this was a pre-production copy, there may be changes of rules between now and publication (which would change the decision space). You have been warned.
2) This is not a review (I've played one complete game). For example, I'm not including historical notes, thematic narrative elements, nor feeling (tension, jubilation, etc) as elements for discussion. This also really isn't a session report as I'm not talking about how well we did during the game or how things played out (although, if a mod wants to move it there, have at). This is an explanation of the mechanical interplay and what I see the decision space encompassing with casual reference to his Cold War CDGs (1960/1989/TS) where beneficial in explanation. I don't have any experience with Campaign Manager so you're on your own there.
3) I will try and use terminology where possible, but what things are actually called probably escapes me due to point #1.


Background and brief rules overview (since, at the time of writing, there is a dearth of information available):

At WashingCon this year, Jason was kind enough to bring two copies for public play near the end of the con. After explanation, the full game clocked in at just under an hour. The game consists of a series of regions (this image being an example of a single region). We had 10 regions that were all face down in four levels (looking like a pyramid) and the top three regions start in place. On each region, you have an X and Y axis; circles (vertical) and dioceses (horizontal). During play you will adjust the relative control (dioceses) or position (circles) of any of the regions that are in play. To score a region and remove it from play, complete control of all dioceses is required, plus the circles position must be in the half of the region that has complete control of the dioceses. Thus, given that image example above, black would need to convert the bottom red and white dioceses to black and have the circle marker in either of the bottom two spaces. When this is scored, players will remove this from play (as it will be used to keep score for later), gain any applicable bonus point, and draw a single card from one of the four "foreign power" stacks (which are one time use and do various effects) for later use.

At the beginning of the game players will take their individual decks of 45 cards, draw the top 3 cards, keep one, and set aside the other two. Repeat this step until you have drafted through the entire deck and have two piles of 15 and 30 cards. The 30 cards will not be used in the game unless (in the very rare case) you are instructed. Your 15 card pile is now your general deck to use to draw/reshuffle for the remainder of the game. General card play is a deviation from the ops/event dynamic of any of his Cold War era games as all cards are played for the event. On your turn, you will do one of two actions, play an event card and reconcile the effect, or draw a card. Hand limit is 6 (includes foreign power cards).


Decision space related notes:

Cards fall into three categories; conversion cards (to take control of dioceses), shifting cards (to move the circles in one direction or another), and other with other being the less frequent of the three groups. The decks do have some asymmetry with the Protestant being more likely to shift circles and less likely to convert dioceses (thematically appropriate; you're trying to change someone's belief system I guess) with the Catholic deck being the opposite. In trade for some of the Catholic's more powerful cards, a die is rolled to determine whether there will be backlash against their actions that is likely to help the Protestant (or at least suck for the Catholic player). Other cards have some abilities like "draw 2 cards, fire off one, and keep the other" or "draw 3 cards" or "you may reshuffle your discard pile early" and part of successful play was to essentially "dredge" for certain cards in our small deck and time when to fire those off at an opportune moment to catch the other person off guard. There are one or two cards for each side (in the decks of 45) that are removed from play after triggering, but otherwise the foreign power cards are the only ones that are single time use.

The draft was very reminiscent of the setup phase of Napoleon's Triumph and took about the same percentage of time and similar gravitas of consequences; this is a solid chunk of what determines how well you will do in the game. I found there were a couple cards in my initial draft that were just about useless and I ended up perpetually burning them for fodder to cards that required me to discard stuff from my hand as part of the effect trigger. It was pointed out that a bad draft would sort of hamper or doom a player and I think that's accurate (we were also told that when the game ships, it will include a list of cards recommended for starter games).

Similar to his other games; there is a certain amount of card knowledge that is necessary to play well. Unlike TS/1989, and to a lesser degree 1960, where players spend a few games to learn all of the cards, playing a single game and then going back to read over all of that faction's cards should be sufficient for many folks to be comfortable with the game. Highest levels of play would require knowledge and counting of cards during the game to help optimally time when to trigger your events (ideally, when the opposing player's counter is in the discard pile and unavailable), knowing when to hold or discard events and general timing.

In terms of complexity (again, compared to TS/1989/1960), there is a lack of an ops/event dynamic, a reduction of available spaces/bits that players can change/effect (there are only 3 regions in play at a time and a limited number of conversion/shift spaces available on each region), no headline/ARs/hold card calculations/defcon, and much shorter time commitment. As such, I think this fills a different niche than those games and is a much more accessible game to bring to the table for a wide/general audience. The core strategic decision space lies in the initial draft and tailoring that deck of 15 to whatever strategic approach you wish to take. For playing a second time, questions I would ask myself during the draft, in terms of formulating a strategy; do I want to be more likely to target regions for bonus point potential at the expense of something else? Do I want to rage on conversion/shifting, but lag behind in card drawing and lack bonus point control? How flexible (but less effective) do I want to be with dredging through my deck? Would I rather go for big conversion that is targeted (and if so, where), or small conversion that is versatile? That sort of stuff.
24 
 Thumb up
2.26
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Y P
United States
Mississippi
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks so much for your report! I feel I have some sense of how the game works now.

15 cards seems an awfully small number. With such a tight restriction I assume you have to pick your strategy during the draft and stick with it since there's not enough wiggle room in the deck to throw in other cards for flexibility and tactical response. Is that so?

You mentioned that "the core strategic decision space lies in the initial draft and tailoring that deck of 15 to whatever strategic approach you wish to take". Did you feel like you had enough choice and control over the flow of the game once it started, or did the card draft and card draws during the game more or less dictate your actions?
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Grayson
United States
Richmond
Virginia
flag msg tools
"Gotta go slow, gotta go fast, gotta swing low when I walk past..."
badge
Turtle Cat (2/26/16) by Rachel Kremer of semicoop.com
mbmbmbmbmb
MentatYP wrote:
15 cards seems an awfully small number. With such a tight restriction I assume you have to pick your strategy during the draft and stick with it since there's not enough wiggle room in the deck to throw in other cards for flexibility and tactical response. Is that so?


I think one thing that factors I may not have emphasized is that his other CDGs mentioned all have events that are rather niche in scope/effect. These are more general (although, there are some specific ones), and I think that selection plays into your strategic decision making during the draft; both are like traveling down a street. It's faster to use a bike, but bikes work best on pavement compared to gravel, while walking which is slower, but more universal in applicability regardless of road. Both are functional and get you to your destination, but one might yield better results, depending on circumstances. There are some very niche events, which are also rather powerful, but you trade universal use for power and vice versa. The Protestant balances general conversion events vs powerful conversion events that only effect select named regions. The Catholic has a series of powerful cards, but they have to roll a "penalty" die of sorts to see if their actions when playing those select events backfire on them (and the populace doesn't stand for it sort of thing). Those are some of the considerations I see during the draft phase.


MentatYP wrote:

You mentioned that "the core strategic decision space lies in the initial draft and tailoring that deck of 15 to whatever strategic approach you wish to take". Did you feel like you had enough choice and control over the flow of the game once it started, or did the card draft and card draws during the game more or less dictate your actions?


So there are no operations points, so if you don't like the events you have, your sort of SOL and it's time to go drawing cards looking for events you want. The events are sort of general like "convert 1 commoner diocese" or "shift the circle toward the nobility 1 space" but it doesn't specify region or anything else. Some were even more general than that in that you could convert 1 diocese on any of the regions and either side (but you burned a turn doing 1 spot). That's why I sort of lump them into three categories (convert, shift, other).

Another thing to keep in mind that I didn't really cover was the concept of pacing in the game; as I mentioned earlier, one thing we were given the hint on was using "certain cards in our small deck and [then] time when to fire those off at an opportune moment to catch the other person off guard." We were using turns to draw almost 1/3rd of the time in addition to events that let you draw cards. So a string of 10 turns might look like: play, play, play, draw, draw, draw, draw, play, draw, play. Sometimes it would be more even and you would make incremental gains (or slowly try and prevent disaster), other times you would draw cards to get 2 or 3 really solid ones to beat on your opponent in a chain of turns. Looking for that moment of weakness where they don't have much to fight back with was part of that pacing. At any given moment, I was holding roughly 1/4th of my 15 cards. Sometimes I needed shift cards, other times convert cards. Sometimes I just needed to draw cards (which that third category "other" sort of helped with). Depends on what you're trying to achieve over the next handful of turns. It's not like the pacing found in the other 3 CDGs noted; there are no ARs and you don't hold cards across "turns" (rounds) so the thought process for pacing actions changes.

Hope that helps answer some questions.

edit:

Looking at Campaign Manager's cards, tile system, and blurb, I can see the similarities now:
As an example, many card effects are reminiscent of this example of four cards in terms of general scope.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Tagliaferri
Switzerland
Zeiningen
Aargau
flag msg tools
mbmb
This game looks interesting. I am curious to know if the game mechanics stand on their own. Is this more of a game marketed to Christians that want to play a game about Christians converting people or would this game be interesting to anyone just on the mechanics, regardless of theme?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.