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This has become one of my top 5 games. At first, I thought it was poorly balanced but, after more plays, I began to see the various strategies for each of the factions. This is a simple game mechanically but very challenging strategically and tactically. Each faction plays totally different and you must play them a few times to even begin to exploit their strengths in order to be competitive. I love how quick it plays for a game with such strong strategic choices. My one complaint is that I almost feel it is too short, especially if someone jumps out to a big lead. At times, I feel like I'm just getting my machine humming and then the game ends. Maybe that is what keeps me wanting to come back and play again (so is that really a complaint...I'm not sure). As I understand it, the expansion will provide an option to eliminate the catch-up mechanism that shortens the game so my one "complaint" may be alleviated. This is one of those games that leads to post-play dissection and discussion about what could have been done differently to do better next time.
The components are typical Portal...excellent in every way. The box is great, art is great, minis are not CMON quality but still very good. The board is also very well designed and eye catching. When you see this one the table, you are drawn to it. I love the fact that they did a double sided board for the two player game. The acrylic crystals could have just been cardboard or cubes but they went the extra mile and it makes the game just that much more thematic. I also love how the player boards all fit together like a puzzle. Again, this was not necessary but just showed that little extra attention to detail that takes this game over the top.
If you like dudes on a map games I highly recommend this one. Just be aware going in, you have to commit to sticking with it even when you might get stomped in the ground a few times. There is a steep strategic learning curve for each faction but it is so worth it once you master one (if that is even possible). Cudos to Grant and the folks at Portal on a great one!
PS. For a head start on learning strategy, read the faction strategy guides that the designer wrote. They help a ton.