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Subject: Spoiler Free Ecstatic Review After My First 4 Plays rss

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James Sitz
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I've had about 9 hours of sleep and as many cups of coffee in the last three days.

Since receiving Risk Legacy in the mail earlier this week, along with Dominion: Hinterlands, I've already played 4 games of Risk Legacy. Once each on Tuesday and Thursday. Twice (in 3 short hours) on Wednesday. Even after some of my friends leave and the games are over, we all sit and discuss how enthralled we are and excited for the next game, which is always whenever we can get a quorum of 3-4 regulars around for the next game.

And all I've done with my Dominion set is arrange it in the box. It is one of my favorite games prior to this.

My original plan was to play 10-15 games before reviewing, and maybe I still will to see if my opinion remains as strongly positive. But I just couldn't hold back my excitement any longer. I've not felt like this about a game since I read a 4th Edition Magic the Gathering rulebook back in the 90s and I pulled a Shivan Dragon in my starter pack, or the time I finally beat my dad in a chess game, after playing every day for a month.

As you open the box, you'll see all of these sealed envelopes with conditions in bold letters. You tear them open when the conditions are met. But what's in them will likely be more awesome than you're expecting. I don't even want to say anything about them, because there's so much joy and anticipation in the discovery.

As you open the rulebook, you'll see that the basic premise is just like the other Risk games you've played. Nearly anyone who has played a game has played it before. You have a map of the world. Continents which give static boosts to your troop output should you manage to keep them until your next turn. Attacker rolls up to 3 dice, and the defender 2, but he wins on ties. Although high in variance and a bit dated, keeping these basic mechanics help create a framework that most people understand.

But this isn't your daddy's risk.

One of the most striking new wrinkles is the addition of five different Factions, which make this game have an asymmetric start. Many of the names come from a previous Rob Daviau Risk game: Risk 2210 AD. There's the Imperial Balkania, which likes to spread out across the board, the Enclave of the Bear which is aggressive and feral, the mobile Saharan Empire, the numerous Khan Industries, and the robotic and defensive Die Mechaniker. On your first game, each of these factions will get one of two powers, and the other power will never appear in your copy of Risk Legacy. At my house, we suddenly found a great new use for our paper shredder.

The other new thing you do before setting up the first game is take 12 coin stickers and attach them to some territory cards, making those locations more desirable to hold or invade. Unlike the territory cards in previous Risk games, territory cards here are resource cards with a certain coin value rather than the old pictures of infantry, artillery, or cavalry. They're gained throughout the game on any turn when you capture at least one territory from an opponent. If none of the territory cards showing are territories you control, you take one of the generic coin resource cards which always have a value of 1. Resource cards are traded in for troops much like the sets to get troops in classic Risk only the number of troops you get is always linked to the total value of coins you turn in, rather than however many sets have been turned in so far.

More importantly, you can turn in 4 cards to get 1 Red Star, which are the game's victory points. You only need 4 Red Stars to win a game. It happens much more quickly than you'd think because your starting Headquarters and any HQ's you conquer are also worth 1 Red Star. If you've never won a game on this particular copy of Risk, you even get 1 bonus Red Star at the start of the game. So on your first game, everyone is 2/4 of the way to outright victory. Our games have lasted between 50 and 90 minutes.

If you have won on this particular copy of Risk, you'll know because you signed your name on the left side of the board, perhaps with a motto. When my Die Mechaniker won using North Africa as their seat of power, I signed it James Sitz "AFRIKANUS" and when one of two guys named Phil won, he extolled the virtues of the "Philliance!!!!" You'll also start with a missile for each victory, which is a one-shot item that can change any die rolled into a 6, even if you aren't involved in that combat!

On your first few turns of the game, you start from one place and gradually spread out, often taking over a continent before the real battles begin. This reminds me quite a bit of Nexus Ops actually, which is a good thing in my book. This initial posturing step where you carve out your own niche on the planet is quite a bit different than the typical spread out way that most Risk versions' games begin.

After that, it's quick and brutal. Your HQ locations and defensive posturing become very important. As pointed out in the recent "Miami Dice" episode, this isn't really a world conquest game anymore. If you're the guy with two continents and no red stars, you're not the unstoppable juggernaut, you're an unwieldy behemoth who will probably lose.

Once the game ends, the victor signs the board and gets to pick from a long list of cool fun things to do. It's in the book, you can see it yourself. If you lose but aren't wiped off the face of the map, you can pick a territory that you were still occupying at game's end and improve it in some way, either by founding a Minor City (complete with name) or by adding a coin sticker to that card, increasing its resource value in future games.

And if it's not too late you'll probably play again.

One of the chief worries among naysayers who've never played the game is that you're destroying your game, and that this is a throw-away, disposable product. That can't be further from the truth. The fact that you know that every decision you make can alter the world forever lends gravity to each choice. You're not destroying your copy of Risk Legacy; you're creating it, step by step; you personalize it. (I'm thrilled as hell that I was able to win a game and name a Major City Jimbabwe in South Africa. Even when I lost a couple games, I got to put Sitzbörg in Scandinavia and Rio de Jameiro in Brazil). When you pick up that pen and get ready to mark a sticker or the back of your Faction card to say whether you won or lost, you know that you're making part of your shared history. You're helping to create a snapshot of that game so that you can fill someone in on what they missed in the last game. Many of the "pieces" that you destroy are actually garbage. They're cards that you remove stickers from. Sometimes they're one-time use cards. Do you ever cry and mourn for the loss of the cardboard skeleton that remains after you punch out the chits for your other games? Do you keep that skeleton and frame it on your wall?

What surprises me the most about a significant chunk of these critics is that the thought of the game being dead after 15 sessions scares them, but when you skim their carefully orchestrated opus of recorded plays and meticulously itemized collections, they have perhaps 100-300 games and none of them have over 10 plays. It seems that the mere thought of profaning a sacred $50 board game with a sticker gives them goosebumps. I call that sticker-shock. If I can get 15 plays with 4 good friends from a 50 dollar game, I call that a win.

If you're more a collector than a player, you should probably stay away from Risk Legacy. If you're thinking you might like this and are looking for a good beers and bros kind of game, get off your rump and get to your local game store to buy it tonight, and then play it this Saturday. Don't wait until Christmas for your big order to ship. Play it now. The worst thing that could happen is that you'll have 2 copies.
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Evan Stegman
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I haven't played but I haven't understood the whole 'You're destroying the game!' either. It has always sounded like you are creating a unique copy to me too.

Same goes with 'No more plays after 15.' Why not? Why wouldn't I want to play my unique copy ever again? Sure, it won't change any more but if the fact that a boardgame wasn't going to permanently change was a reason not to play, I wouldn't have many games to choose from.
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JoeyNine
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It is hilarious. People get upset because you "destroy" it and then get upset because it doesn't change anymore. They get upset just to get upset. great review btw!
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The Grouch
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EvanMinn wrote:
Same goes with 'No more plays after 15.' Why not? Why wouldn't I want to play my unique copy ever again? Sure, it won't change any more but if the fact that a boardgame wasn't going to permanently change was a reason not to play, I wouldn't have many games to choose from.
I wouldn't put it past Hasbro to take page from FFG's book and release expansions that let you take things beyond 15 games somehow.
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Josh Morgan
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bill_andel wrote:
EvanMinn wrote:
Same goes with 'No more plays after 15.' Why not? Why wouldn't I want to play my unique copy ever again? Sure, it won't change any more but if the fact that a boardgame wasn't going to permanently change was a reason not to play, I wouldn't have many games to choose from.
I wouldn't put it past Hasbro to take page from FFG's book and release expansions that let you take things beyond 15 games somehow.


And this is a negative because?
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Josh
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My copy has just arrived. I've only opened the box enough to see that nothing is obviously broken, and it's GORGEOUS so far.

Can't wait for the first play.
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James Sitz
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jozxyqk wrote:
My copy has just arrived. I've only opened the box enough to see that nothing is obviously broken, and it's GORGEOUS so far.


Yes, that's one thing I failed to mention.

Book looks nice, gets you into it.

Board is clean-looking.

Art on the faction cards and different plastic mini's for each faction definitely add to the visual appeal. My only gripe with playing the Saharan Empire is that if you're not looking at the pieces, their little mad maxesque dune buggies and desert babes are about the same size and shape, so you might grab a 3 instead of a 1, or vice versa.
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Therron Thomas
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rhoubhe wrote:
bill_andel wrote:
EvanMinn wrote:
Same goes with 'No more plays after 15.' Why not? Why wouldn't I want to play my unique copy ever again? Sure, it won't change any more but if the fact that a boardgame wasn't going to permanently change was a reason not to play, I wouldn't have many games to choose from.
I wouldn't put it past Hasbro to take page from FFG's book and release expansions that let you take things beyond 15 games somehow.


And this is a negative because?


Just curious.

Maybe it's just me but how did you decipher that as negative?
I immediately took it as a positive that Hasbro would extend the game by offering expansions.
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Wind Lane
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RPGs - Natures way of saying "You would never be able to do this in real life." NOT A BAD THING.
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It's just people being a bit on the defensive because there's been so much blind (meaning they'd never played the game) criticism here over this game. It's unfortunately made people wary.


EDIT: Thought I'd add that this is a great review and that I'm looking forward to getting my own copy of this game.

This thing is like scrapbooking for bgg'ers. laugh
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Mike Smith
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Maybe I am being anal, but could'nt I mount the stickers on counters and then just record how the board changed (by digital camera for instance)? The counters would then get placed on the board as per the changes in the next session. Doing this I avoid permanently evolving (defacing) my board. I also leave my game open for the 16th play, when I can customise the board the way i want it.

I hav'nt got this (yet) so tell me why this approach would not work...
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Wind Lane
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RPGs - Natures way of saying "You would never be able to do this in real life." NOT A BAD THING.
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Nobody has said that kind of approach wouldn't work. But, you'd be going through the motions, with no real meaning because you're ignoring the point - that these changes (not defacements, these were designed to be used like this - they're hardly graffiti) are permanent and alter the way the game plays from session to session in a way that truly matters because they're YOUR changes.

If this notion of real change doesn't sit well with you, the game just isn't going to be your thing.

Is that so bad?
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Dan C
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I'm kind of with mike. And why not just toss the cards under the insert instead of treating them up. Maybe you want to refer back to them later out of curiosity of new players that come in on later games or something.
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mar hawkman
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Mantuanwar wrote:
Maybe I am being anal, but could'nt I mount the stickers on counters and then just record how the board changed (by digital camera for instance)? The counters would then get placed on the board as per the changes in the next session. Doing this I avoid permanently evolving (defacing) my board. I also leave my game open for the 16th play, when I can customise the board the way i want it.

I hav'nt got this (yet) so tell me why this approach would not work...
Yeah, I might do this too. Not quite sure yet... and I'm definately not going to destroy any cards.
 
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James Jones
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Just do as the rules say and destroy stuff, mark stuff up. It is the way the game is meant to be played. I don't understand all this aprehension about playing Legacy like the creators intended. You can't go back. Once things are done, they can't be undone, no matter how much you want to save the game for yourself. People are crazy...
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Matthew Mesina
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You're missing out by ignoring "Hinterlands". Great expansion. Kingdom Builder is a great, quick game too. (My last game order, + Troyes.)

Right now, the copy of Risk I most yearn for is the Star Wars Original Trilogy version which I lost in a fire. That game rocked with 3 players, which is what I usually have. For a DOAM game, I think the D&D "Conquest of Nerath" interests me a tad more than this, but "Legacy" does look like quite an experience, with tension increased by the permanence of your decisions. My Halo Wars: Risk never made it to the table, and I've only played vanilla "new" Risk (Black Ops) once, but I'm wondering how the point system differs from the common objective system?

Have you ever seen the program "Hoarders"? There are real psychological reasons that people have difficulty with the disposable nature of aspects of this game. Not everyone, of course, but have you thought about the fine line that exists between "hoarding" and "collecting"? Some would argue that there is no difference. (I myself have some degree of difficulty getting rid of something that isn't truly garbage, which is why the empty punch board analogy you made does not impress me. And yes, I know you meant to equate "dead" cards to something equally as useless, but I think the dead cards and stickers could serve as a record of what an alternate history may have been.)

This game could easily start a new revolutionary trend in gaming, or it could be a miserable failure. It really depends on how many of us are actually "collectors" vs. "hoarders".
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James Sitz
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soberman wrote:
You're missing out by ignoring "Hinterlands". Great expansion. Kingdom Builder is a great, quick game too. (My last game order, + Troyes.)


I'm sure I'll play it soon enough. Risk has just been edging out every game save the Summoner Wars tournament I committed to running yesterday.

soberman wrote:
Right now, the copy of Risk I most yearn for is the Star Wars Original Trilogy version which I lost in a fire. That game rocked with 3 players, which is what I usually have. For a DOAM game, I think the D&D "Conquest of Nerath" interests me a tad more than this, but "Legacy" does look like quite an experience, with tension increased by the permanence of your decisions. My Halo Wars: Risk never made it to the table, and I've only played vanilla "new" Risk (Black Ops) once, but I'm wondering how the point system differs from the common objective system?


I've heard excellent things about that Star Wars Trilogy Risk, but I've also heard it's hard to get. I enjoyed 2210 a lot, but I vastly prefer Nexus Ops. I've played Conquest of Nerath once, and while it reminded me a bit of NO, I like NO better than that too. So far, Risk Legacy is giving Nexus Ops a run for its money as my favorite DOAM game.

soberman wrote:
Have you ever seen the program "Hoarders"?


I saw maybe one episode with a crazy cat lady. I don't really like TV.

soberman wrote:
There are real psychological reasons that people have difficulty with the disposable nature of aspects of this game. Not everyone, of course, but have you thought about the fine line that exists between "hoarding" and "collecting"? Some would argue that there is no difference. (I myself have some degree of difficulty getting rid of something that isn't truly garbage, which is why the empty punch board analogy you made does not impress me. And yes, I know you meant to equate "dead" cards to something equally as useless, but I think the dead cards and stickers could serve as a record of what an alternate history may have been.)

This game could easily start a new revolutionary trend in gaming, or it could be a miserable failure. It really depends on how many of us are actually "collectors" vs. "hoarders".


I'm neither a collector nor a hoarder. I'm a player. I don't view my game purchases as an optimization problem or investment. I rarely sell them, but I also very rarely sleeve cards. They're just games. What matters is the friendship and shared experiences that games bring.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a game enjoyable. And what I keep coming back to, Euro or AT, is the desire to feel as though your choices in a game matter. Legacy does this well.

What I've already been seeing from my friends is a desire to buy their own copy or get one for a relative. I'm sure that well after my copy is all marked up and 15'd, I'll periodically get to shape other people's worlds as well. This isn't that surprising though. With my thursday group, one or two people had 7 Wonders one week, and then within 6 more weeks, everyone had it. If something similar happens with Risk Legacy anywhere, you'll have no shortage of new and interesting games to play with it.
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Michael Pertl
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Great review! I got my copy last week, and I'm itching to play. I definitely had that "ruined game" attitude before I read the rules.
Jexik wrote:
... the cardboard skeleton that remains after you punch out the chits for your other games? Do you keep that skeleton and frame it on your wall?

Thought this line was funny because I actually do save a bunch of my cardboard skeletons. I use them for art stuff all the time! It's pretty nice to be able to draw little circles, squares and odd shapes quickly sometimes, haha!
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Kevin Heckman
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avgbountyhunter wrote:
Jexik wrote:
... the cardboard skeleton that remains after you punch out the chits for your other games? Do you keep that skeleton and frame it on your wall?


Thought this line was funny because I actually do save a bunch of my cardboard skeletons. I use them for art stuff all the time! It's pretty nice to be able to draw little circles, squares and odd shapes quickly sometimes, haha!


I give mine to my mother-in-law, who uses them to do various fabric art projects. Apparently all the Little Old Ladies down at the quilt shop are super jealous because they have to shell out actual money for stencils that are nowhere near as cool.
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mar hawkman
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I sometimes cut them up for home-made game peices.
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Mantuanwar wrote:
Maybe I am being anal, but could'nt I mount the stickers on counters and then just record how the board changed (by digital camera for instance)? The counters would then get placed on the board as per the changes in the next session. Doing this I avoid permanently evolving (defacing) my board. I also leave my game open for the 16th play, when I can customise the board the way i want it.

I hav'nt got this (yet) so tell me why this approach would not work...

Well, you can play poker for marshmallows, too, but it loses something.
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Aaron DeKuiper
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Awesome review James, insightful and well written.

Can't wait to try this game out!
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mike christiansen
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Mantuanwar wrote:
Maybe I am being anal, but could'nt I mount the stickers on counters and then just record how the board changed (by digital camera for instance)? The counters would then get placed on the board as per the changes in the next session. Doing this I avoid permanently evolving (defacing) my board. I also leave my game open for the 16th play, when I can customise the board the way i want it.

I hav'nt got this (yet) so tell me why this approach would not work...


You could definately do this, but I think you would missing out on some of the fun. We played our first game yesterday, and we had players who actually didn't play their "scar" card because it would permanently change the landscape of the board, and they had to weigh the consequence of doing this on future games. It was awesome.
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Stephen Schaefer
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Mantuanwar wrote:
Maybe I am being anal, but could'nt I mount the stickers on counters and then just record how the board changed (by digital camera for instance)? The counters would then get placed on the board as per the changes in the next session. Doing this I avoid permanently evolving (defacing) my board. I also leave my game open for the 16th play, when I can customise the board the way i want it.

I hav'nt got this (yet) so tell me why this approach would not work...


I don't see a particular reason why it wouldn't work but it kind of misses the point. To refer to it as a defacing implies you want to preserve the game in its original state, which in turn implies its original state is the designers' intended default setup. The final state of your game is the intended setup.

This is your own, personal, custom game of Risk, and like a fingerprint, no other copy of the game will be quite like yours. Better still, the differences between the games are not something that emerges from a combination of a few specific options, nor from an intricate system of randomization. Your copy is personalized over the course of your campaign, and the final version once you've 15'd your copy is the board game you paid your money for.

Preserving this particular game in its original state is like playing a Euro with pennies and nickels, and leaving the cardboard coins in the punch boards. You COULD do it that way but it begs the question of why you don't just direct your efforts to setting up the game with the resources and instructions provided by the designers.
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Dave Maynor
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I am hoping to find 4 people who can dedicate the time to play through a campaign of this. We have 2 pretty regular groups that get together right now, but having someone commit to 15 plays of the same game, and all 5 players needs to be there (I want 5 consistent players if at all possible) is a bit difficult. I hope to pick up a copy and start in February some time.....

This might be a game that motivates me to do running sessions reports.
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Tim Buckley
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I just picked this game up relatively cheap and had been apprehensive about "defacing" the game like others have said. However, after reading your review, I am even more excited to play it as the developers created: as an evolving game being created on the fly by its players! I will no longer feel a sense of trepidation or grief when the game tells me to destroy a card or write on the board. Instead, I will marvel at the audacity it must have taken the developers to pitch this idea to Hasbro in the first place!
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