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Subject: Initial Seafall impressions and tips for enjoyment [2 games + prologue, NO SPOILERS] rss

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James Kohli
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We wrapped up our second full game of Seafall yesterday, so I thought I’d type up some impressions.

I’d seen a few lukewarm reviews posted, so was a bit nervous about trying to sell Seafall as an experience. I’m playing with three other friends, but we aren’t a regular game group. We’ve played a number of light/medium games (Cosmic Encounter, Skulls and Roses, and Bridge mostly), although not usually with the same configuration of people, and somewhat irregularly. I’m not sure any of them have played a eurogame before. A couple of them play D&D on the side, so I thought they might enjoy the campaign aspect, but I’ve never played D&D and wasn’t sure how it would translate. In the end, I decided to push ahead due to selfishness… I really wanted to give it a shot, and figured even if everyone hated it and abandoned it I could get some enjoyment out of opening up the boxes and seeing the game design (as recommended by SU&SD).

Shockingly, after two and a half games, I think this is the most fun any of us have ever had with a board game. After finishing our first game and realizing we wouldn’t have time to get together again any nights the next week, everybody decided to show up at my apartment at 9:30am on a Saturday with coffee and bagels to get another round in (I would recommend this, by the way). After the second game, I got texts asking if we could go for longer and get two rounds in the next time. I even had someone ask if I could send them a photo of all the ship upgrades and buildings we’ve unlocked so they could plan for the next game.

I’m trying to figure out why our experiences have been so different from everybody else’s. It’s pretty clear from the public reaction that this isn’t a game for everybody, but it’s certainly a game for us! I’ve got a few theories:

1. It helps that we have no Eurogame fans. I’ve seen descriptions of Seafall as being a kind of plodding Eurogame, but I think it’s better described as an unusually deep Ameritrash game. Each game has been defined by some “go big or go home” moments, where players pulled off something they had no business doing. As an example, in our first game, a player won by pulling off an endeavor that should on average sink their ship (which would give -1 glory as it removed a ship upgrade). Instead of sinking, they raided successfully (+1 glory), got an upgrade from the raid (+1 glory), and claimed a milestone (+3 glory), pulling off a totally unexpected 6 point swing. Some people will see that and think “That’s dumb, it’s suboptimal gameplay and totally luck based.” But our group reacted by saying, “That’s awesome! This was a unique situation that will never be seen again (milestones are only achieved once), and the fact that someone put himself in a position to succeed, swung for the fences, and pulled it off means they probably deserve to be covered in glory! Now we get to unlock some cool new stuff for everyone, and this kind of thing will all average out in the long run anyways.”

2. The fact that we aren’t game reviewers or a regular gaming group plays in our favor, I think. We tend to occasionally get a new game and play mostly that for a while. That means there’s no pressure to play some new hot game instead. It also means the system of playing the same game, but with some additional twists and a history of what we did before is very appealing, as that’s essentially an enhanced version of what we do normally anyways.

3. We’re an enthusiastic group! A lot of what you get out of Seafall depends on what you put into it. When you’re discovering islands and reading exploration text, you could could come to the conclusion that a lot of the text passages are pretty similar and most lead to adding resource to the board. OR, you could dramatically read the passage out loud, reflect carefully on the choose your own adventure style choices based on what you think your leader and nation stand for, and inadvertently wind up doing a bunch of worldbuilding that both helps you reinforce what your leader stands for and accentuates the differences between the province you’ve built and those of other players.


Anyways, we’re only two and a half games in, so I’m sure I’ll have a new set of thoughts in another couple months. I'll try to do a deeper dive on the gameplay to dig into the best parts, as well. But so far, this is a two and a half hour game that feels like 45 minutes, and it has been a huge hit.


Some bonus tips to increase your enjoyment:
-Make sure someone knows the rulebook INSIDE AND OUT. Watch the Watch It Played video three times. Play out a few turns on your own before anybody gets there. Be able to recite every intricacy of how enmity works in your sleep.

-Don’t correct every rule! It takes a while to set up a plan in Seafall, and there are some small rules that are easy to miss. Banning somebody from doing something they’ve spent 3 turns planning because they misunderstood something is a good way to turn them off quickly, and because it’s a long campaign, the impact of somebody doing something wrong once is minimal. We had one player who didn’t realize you couldn’t buy multiple treasures at once, and had set up a turn to unload a bunch of gold via treasure purchases. It’s much better for flow to say “Nice move, I think you can only get one in a turn, but that’s admittedly a small rule so let’s just play with that in mind going forward.”

-Don’t look at any decks, ever! And don’t look at any new cards you unlock, including the individual event cards you get from milestones. Just shuffle them into the decks. So much of the fun of Seafall comes from not being sure what’s around the corner, and it’s more exciting when every card that comes up is potentially new.

-Don’t push it in one day! One game is fun, and leaves everybody wanting more. Two games is long. It’s always better to end too early than too late.
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Tilou
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Cool review. It's nice to see your group enjoying the game that much. A deep ameritrash sounds very good to me. Can't wait for my copy arrrh

Have you played Risk Legacy? If not, you should right after Seafall!
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Thomas Robb
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Well done James!

It would be very helpful if you would write up a quick review, (it certainly does not have to be as long as this one) let us know how play is progressing (without Spoilers), and how the players are feeling abut the game.

Once again, well done (or should I say well played?)

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Kain W.
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Many thumbs up and many thanks for posting that review .
Got a bit unsure by the lukewarm reviews.

Currently (while waiting for the game to arrive) I put think it is a combination of two things you mentioned:
Quote:
2. The fact that we aren’t game reviewers or a regular gaming group plays in our favor, I think.
and
Quote:
-Don’t push it in one day!

As reviewer you need to be one of the first to get attention, and you need to review one or two games a week. Rob has stated you should savour the game. It is impossible if you are under pressure to be fast...basically they forced by their role as reviewer to push too much and spoil their fun.

Apart from that I think having some guys with role play in their CV helps the game a lot.

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Joshua Stevenson
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Having played this to game 7 (and HATING it), I can easily say that this is by far the BEST suggestion I've heard regarding this game:
JamesKohli wrote:
Don’t correct every rule! It takes a while to set up a plan in Seafall, and there are some small rules that are easy to miss. Banning somebody from doing something they’ve spent 3 turns planning because they misunderstood something is a good way to turn them off quickly, and because it’s a long campaign, the impact of somebody doing something wrong once is minimal. We had one player who didn’t realize you couldn’t buy multiple treasures at once, and had set up a turn to unload a bunch of gold via treasure purchases. It’s much better for flow to say “Nice move, I think you can only get one in a turn, but that’s admittedly a small rule so let’s just play with that in mind going forward.”

The other suggestions might be useful... but MAN, getting your teeth kicked in by a rule oversight will absolutely ruin this game. The fact that it is a competitive legacy game combined with rule mistakes/oversights resulting in multiple wasted games (yes, the entire game was a waste for certain players)... there was just so much resentment about this game in my group. There are just TOO many rules scattered around (some rules are actually NOT in the rulebook and will only be read ONCE).
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David desJardins
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itsgottabeodin wrote:
There are just TOO many rules scattered around (some rules are actually NOT in the rulebook and will only be read ONCE).


I'm not sure what this refers to. All of the rules are in the rulebook and you can read them whenever you want.

I do agree it sucks when people spend several turns planning something that turns out to be illegal. And that's happened in our games. However, just letting them go ahead with it when everyone else has been following the rules would give them a huge advantage---that doesn't seem right, either.
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James Kohli
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Quote:
Have you played Risk Legacy? If not, you should right after Seafall!


I have not, but I suspect I'd like it. Despite its reputation I really enjoy risk... the only piece I don't like is how long it takes to finish after the winner is all but determined, but it sounds like the legacy version fixes that.


Quote:
It would be very helpful if you would write up a quick review, (it certainly does not have to be as long as this one) let us know how play is progressing (without Spoilers), and how the players are feeling abut the game.


Will do!

Quote:
I do agree it sucks when people spend several turns planning something that turns out to be illegal. And that's happened in our games. However, just letting them go ahead with it when everyone else has been following the rules would give them a huge advantage---that doesn't seem right, either.


Yeah, you'll have to use your best judgement, of course. If it was something huge (using multiple advisors in a turn or actions from multiple guilds or something) then I'd probably put a stop to it. But there are a number of unintuitive rules that you wouldn't necessarily know without studying the rulebook closely, and I'd much rather have people spend less time nitpicking rules and occasionally get something wrong than slow the game to a crawl.

Another example: we had someone who'd been counting on rearranging goods at sea, when you can only do that at land. But whatever... those rules are finicky, and who really cares? We let him make his move, clarified the rules going forward, and everyone was happy.
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j n
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DaviddesJ wrote:
itsgottabeodin wrote:
There are just TOO many rules scattered around (some rules are actually NOT in the rulebook and will only be read ONCE).


I'm not sure what this refers to. All of the rules are in the rulebook and you can read them whenever you want.


I'm not so sure this is completely true.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

There's at least one sticker I currently have on my province board that is not explained in the rules. It's pretty intuitive, but we did have one rules question on it when it arrived (handled by judgment call).


EDIT @James, I think it's a judgment call (and a playgroup call) about rules violations. If someone tries to buy three treasures in a turn or something, that needs to be kiboshed more than an "oops can I rearrange my goods" moment. There's room for some compromise especially early on.
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David desJardins
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There are certainly rules that are missing altogether, or just plain ambiguous.

But I don't think there are any rules that are "read once" but then no one can ever see them again. At least, not in what I've unlocked so far.
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j n
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I mean, the rules for the component I'm talking about was "read once" and unless I remember which entry of the Booke it was on, I won't be able to look it back up for clarifications. (It's not a big deal for this one, but if there are any others like it there could be problems).
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David desJardins
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lactamaeon wrote:
I mean, the rules for the component I'm talking about was "read once" and unless I remember which entry of the Booke it was on, I won't be able to look it back up for clarifications. (It's not a big deal for this one, but if there are any others like it there could be problems).


OK, that makes sense. But you could write down the entry number, for reference.
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JR Honeycutt
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Thanks for posting this, and for playing! I was JUST saying how I think folks here are perhaps approaching this too much like a Euro - I think it's absolutely great at creating those big moments you're talking about.

We had an advisor in one of our playtest campaigns called, "Ol' No Eyes" who gave +7 guns and could be dismissed for an additional +2 (or something like that). He warped our entire campaign - it was constantly a battle to have control of him and his mastery of combat.

It was awful sometimes (because who wants to get their ass kicked by a dude with no eyes?) but also amazing, and looking back on it created this incredible cinematic narrative that I still laugh about with the friends I played with.

Even Pandemic Legacy didn't create those kinds of moments for us, and that's probably the best experience I've ever had playing a campaign-style game.
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Kain W.
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Quote:
Quote:
Have you played Risk Legacy? If not, you should right after Seafall!


I have not, but I suspect I'd like it. Despite its reputation I really enjoy risk... the only piece I don't like is how long it takes to finish after the winner is all but determined, but it sounds like the legacy version fixes that.


It does -
and it also speeds up the games quite nicely
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Edward Haag
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Stubentiger wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
Have you played Risk Legacy? If not, you should right after Seafall!


I have not, but I suspect I'd like it. Despite its reputation I really enjoy risk... the only piece I don't like is how long it takes to finish after the winner is all but determined, but it sounds like the legacy version fixes that.


It does -
and it also speeds up the games quite nicely

Yes, in Risk Legacy, you're not trying to conquer the entire world, you're just trying to get 4 victory points by taking over the other player's HQs, so it wraps up way faster.

Also, your own HQ counts as a VP, so everybody starts with 1 already. And until you win a game, you get an additional bonus VP at the start for reasons, so until everyone in the group has won a game, they go by extremely fast.
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lucus Trout
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EdHaag wrote:
Stubentiger wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
Have you played Risk Legacy? If not, you should right after Seafall!


I have not, but I suspect I'd like it. Despite its reputation I really enjoy risk... the only piece I don't like is how long it takes to finish after the winner is all but determined, but it sounds like the legacy version fixes that.


It does -
and it also speeds up the games quite nicely

Yes, in Risk Legacy, you're not trying to conquer the entire world, you're just trying to get 4 victory points by taking over the other player's HQs, so it wraps up way faster.

Also, your own HQ counts as a VP, so everybody starts with 1 already. And until you win a game, you get an additional bonus VP at the start for reasons, so until everyone in the group has won a game, they go by extremely fast.


This is a bit of a digression but I'd like to mention Risk 2210 deals with that problem from original Risk quite well (the game has a limited number of rounds). I recommend Risk Legacy wholeheartedly as well.


More on topic, thanks for the review! I think its going to fit well with the two friends I want to play this with. If only they weren't rudely getting married and going on their honeymoon next weekend we could actually get this started. PRIORITIES PEOPLE!
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David desJardins
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jayahre wrote:
We had an advisor in one of our playtest campaigns called, "Ol' No Eyes" who gave +7 guns and could be dismissed for an additional +2 (or something like that). He warped our entire campaign - it was constantly a battle to have control of him and his mastery of combat.


What do you mean by "battle"? It doesn't seem like there is any way to compete or battle for control of advisers: whoever has it can keep it as long as they don't win a game, and if they do win a game then it's going to go next to whoever happens to have it come up when it's their turn.
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j n
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DaviddesJ wrote:
What do you mean by "battle"? It doesn't seem like there is any way to compete or battle for control of advisers: whoever has it can keep it as long as they don't win a game, and if they do win a game then it's going to go next to whoever happens to have it come up when it's their turn.


Have you guys never raided each others' council rooms?

I'm already sorely tempted to steal Colors of the Windmaster from another player next game.
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David desJardins
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lactamaeon wrote:
Have you guys never raided each others' council rooms?


No! I, for one, overlooked this possibility entirely. Thanks for pointing it out.
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j n
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DaviddesJ wrote:
lactamaeon wrote:
Have you guys never raided each others' council rooms?


No! I, for one, overlooked this possibility entirely. Thanks for pointing it out.


Glad to help :)
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The Chaz
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DaviddesJ wrote:
lactamaeon wrote:
Have you guys never raided each others' council rooms?


No! I, for one, overlooked this possibility entirely. Thanks for pointing it out.


Well it's right there in the rulebook, and you can read it whenever you want! arrrh
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Becq Starforged
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In fact, it's even theoretically possible to use a particular advisor multiple times in a single year as a result of council room raids.

(unlock spoiler)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
...and it's possible that future unlocks might offer other ways to use advisors multiple times a year
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Rick Baptist
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Would my 12-year-old enjoy the game?
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Melissa

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Quote:
I'm already sorely tempted to steal Colors of the Windmaster from another player next game.


I heard that.
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j n
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BattleKitten wrote:
I heard that.


whistle
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Becq Starforged
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SlikkRikk wrote:
Would my 12-year-old enjoy the game?

I think it depends on your 12yo:

How long is his attention span? This is a fairly long game -- depending on players it can be up to 3+ hours per game, then multiply that by 15 or so games in the campaign. If he plays and enjoys longish games, then you might be ok.

How well does he react to player-vs-player raiding? Inter-player "piracy" is definitely a thing in this game. Hypothetically, you could minimize it for your game, but I'm not sure how well the game would play if you did. (The game design assumes that players will go after each other to at least a small degree.) But if he plays and enjoys games with player-vs-player "take-that" mechanics, then you might be ok.

How well does he react to being behind in score, and/or how competitively does your group plan to play? This is a very competitive game; for some kids, being down in score for several games in a row might be demoralizing. (Note that there are some fairly strong catch-up mechanisms, but that may or may not be enough to outweigh that low score staring back at him.) If he tends to take a licking and is determined to make a comeback in the next game, then you might be ok.

I'm fairly sure my 12yo daughter would lose interest fairly quickly; although the basic concept of exploration would interest her, this isn't her type of game. Your experiences may differ. Hope this is helpful!
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