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A fleeting joy

Christian Heckmann
Rheinland Pfalz
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Oh crap, I totally forgot that today is one of the "Top Five Thursday"... err... Thursdays. Well, happens to the best of 'em. So since I have nothing prepared but another "On the table"-post, looks like you'll have to wait for the next issue of this for another two weeks. Sorry. Instead, today, I'm gonna talk to you about...

Board Game: Fleet: The Dice Game (Second Edition)

Fleet: The Dice Game (Second Edition). Maybe also Fleet: The Dice Game. Maybe rather Fleet: The Dice Game, because if I understand correctly, the defining feature of Fleet: The Dice Game (Second Edition) is that it already comes packed with the Fleet: The Dice Game – Captain & Trophy Expansion but we didn't use that for our game... friggin' three weeks ago? Damn. After that drought a couple of months ago, things are really crazy at the moment. I really need to catch up with my most recent endeavors, because there's a lot of interesting stuff to talk about. Ah well, I'm working on it.
Anyway, after playing Fleet: The Dice Game solo one and a half years ago (has it been that long already?), liking it quite a bit and then waiting for a long, long time to actually get my very own copy of it (which was a pretty elaborate undertaking altogether), I finally roped P. and D. into a game of it friggin' three weeks ago. Chance had it that I got a shrimp license at the start of the game, which meant that every shrimp-die I picked, I could use as a wild. So I leaned into that pretty heavily, trying to increase my shrimp-license-count as soon as possible in order to get the other advantages of using one of those, namely first of all also crossing of a star each time I use one and then finally, getting the effect of whatever I used the shrimp-die for twice. It worked reasonably well, especially after I had built the Casino and with a bit of luck was able to increase my chances of getting shrimp-dice. I also grabbed the King Crab license for buildings as soon as possible and then built like crazy, opening a Sea Food Buffet, a Smokehouse, heck, at some point I even started to work on the Fisherman's Pub, because why not? In the end, all of my effort paid off. I wasn't as good as P. when it came to fishing or as wealthy as D., but the mixture of different venues helped me to a pretty good score that won me the game.

From gallery of Harblnger

Way back when I played this game solo, I mused that I'd probably like it most with two players (and the fine folks here on the Geek seem to be of a pretty similar opinion). And yeah, my three-player-game of this reinforced this notion. Not that it's bad in any way with three. It's just such a solitairish affair that there's really no good reason to involve any more than two players in this. I mean... there actually isn't a good reason to involve two, besides the fact that the solo-dummy-player is a bit fiddly and requires just a tad too much upkeep to make this playable as smooth as it should be, so with two players, you might have a bit of downtime if your opponent takes a long time to draft their die for a round, but apart from that, you can just ignore what that yokel at the other end of the table is doing and concentrate on your very own thing.

Which is a decently enjoyable thing to do. Fleet: The Dice Game is relatively different when compared to its predecessor, Fleet. While Fleet is a decently interactive game of hand- and resource-management, in Fleet: The Dice Game, you're constantly getting bombarded with cool stuff. Not only do you get two die-faces per turn (one that you chose and one that everybody gets), but the special abilities you acquire over the course of the game (via licenses) give you even more stuff and the "roundly income" (which adds stuff to the star-track, where every couple of steps lets you just cross off whatever floats your boat) does the rest. Fleet: The Dice Game feels a lot like That's Pretty Clever! but with even more stuff going on, more tracks, more stuff that intersects, more possibilities to pull off clever moves. And the expansion(s) will probably make it even more intricate.

So it's quite good and I like it. Not as much as Fleet, though, because that's generally more my style of game. I like the hand management, I like the challenge of pulling off good moves, I like the interaction. Fleet: The Dice Game more "carefree" approach is nice and all, but it's lacking tension a bit and I also feel like it might be a tad too long (not in terms of "wall time"-length but in terms of "game arc"-length). When our game came to a close, I felt like I had already completed pretty much everything I wanted to do two turns or so ago and was just spinning my wheels. I understand that it's probably well balanced in that regard, because some strategies probably need more time than others, with a fishing-heavy approach for example being something that you can't really hurry along but need to "wait out". But yeah, while the plethora of stuff getting shoveled your way is exhilarating at first, around turn seven or eight, it starts to wear thin. I caught myself looking up from my playing-sheets at that point during our game, listening to D.'s and P.'s remarks of "Okay, then I cross of this which gives me two stars which lets me cross off that next thing on the track and then I can do this" and I was just asking myself what the fuck we were actually doing. But yeah, it's a pleasant game, if you can deal with this. Which I guess I can, but... not all the time.

Speaking of things that aren't pleasant all the time, here's a link to my Bandcamp-page. Wow, these are getting more tortured by the day...

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