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Subject: Tina Tests... Yedo (Review #1) rss

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Christina Crouch
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Tadley
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Introduction
I have played Yedo three times, and would like to add my opinions on the game to BGG.

Something that I keep forgetting as I write this review is that this game is the designers first printed game. I'd like to say up front that this is a very commendable first game, and I look forward to seeing what he produces in the future.

There are a number of runthroughs of this game, including an excellent one from Rahdo Runs Through in the videos section, so the aim of this review is not to repeat a rules explanation - I will just talk enough hopefully about the game that my review might help you decide if this is a suitable game for you.

Theme and Presentation
Yedo is well presented - the board, the cards and tiles are well illustrated, and add to the theme of the game. I dont feel that the samurai / geisha combination is over-used as a theme, with, for me, only Ninjato being an obvious comparison graphically. My only complaints about the graphic design is that its easy for the actions at each part of the city to get a little blended into the background art, and not stand out. This matters in the first couple of games while you get to grip with what your options on the board are. Similarly, it would help if the 'PLUS 2's' stood out just a little bit more on the Annex and Geisha store areas, to remind you to take the points when you bid. This said, all the wooden pieces are nicely done too, and in general, the quality is good.

The seven phases of the game can at first seem slightly long winded, but all the details of the stages is printed onto each player board, and I found this very useful to run through each round in the first couple of plays. I also found it useful that things like the maximum numbers of cards of each type that can be held were printed on, and also that the functions of the annexes were too. We referred to the rulebook very little once we had played the initial game.

The rulebook is also nicely illustrated and helpfully laid out, so I found that this was a relatively easy game to get to grips with. The back page is particularly helpful for summarising how you get certain commodities, and what you can do with them.

The mission cards have a little segment of story on them. I like to read this out loud when I am playing to add to the theme of the game, particularly as there are some links between the missions in the story line.

Gameplay
Yedo is recommended for two to five cunning clan leaders. For me, the sweet spot in player numbers is between three and four. With more people, the game just runs too long, but you want enough players to create competition for the actions (although this is catered for by having more worker spaces closed with fewer players).

The game lasts 11 rounds or until the Shogun has been killed (using a mission found in the extra hard black mission deck). For me, I think the game runs a little long if it goes to 11 rounds, and I wonder whether it would have been better to wind it up at about 9 rounds.

In terms of scoring points, there is an interesting balance to be struck between gaining victory points from missions, from using the port action to convert mon to victory points, and from gaining victory points from winning certain types of actions, which keeps the game interesting. Whilst it seems like missions are the obvious line to pursue because thematically it makes sense, there are a lot of points to be gained from the port action if you can set up a good money making 'machine'.

There are some aspects of gameplay that I do not like. I played all three games so far using Geisha rather than Samurai mode having read a few of the samurai cards. I feel that the action cards and event cards add too much luck to the game considering the game length, and can seriously disrupt strategy. For instance, I had the an action card called 'double time' (or something similar) played on me one round. This advanced the guard two spaces to my space and two of my clan members were arrested. It took me several rounds to recover from this position, and once I had, there was no way to catch the game leaders. I also feel that there is some imbalance in the strength of the actions - some action squares seem quite powerful whilst other seem a bit useless. For instance, taking money from the church is often quite a good action if you are a bit Mon-strapped. But the action at the inn that lets you draw three weapons tiles and stack the weapon deck seems a little pointless unless you can immediately play a card to draw a weapon, since when bidding on a weapon you draw three cards anyway, and similarly when buying weapons from the market, generally three weapons come out. Similarly, actions such as begging by converting VP back into money are available, but these really seem an action of last resort. Other balance issues for me are that the Dojo (1 mon income and the ability to cycle weapons) and the Robudo-Ryu (cycle action cards and cheaper weapons) and the Yashiki (swap a mission and disciple acts as a geisha) are all a fair bit more useful than the Karesansui (foresight on a deck of your choice (there are so many opportunities for foresight on the board, this doesnt seem so useful, disciple acts as a blessing). There are a few opportunities for newer players to fall foul of the game in other ways. Its easy to forget where the guard are moving to if the board is not checked carefully each round. Unless you are deliberately changing the path of the guard, there is no reason to get caught, but new players forget where the guard is going, particularly if the guard has changed direction. Also, certain commodities can get consumed that you need. For example, in a game that I played, one player had the 'points for geisha' bonus card and hoovered up all the geisha. If I had not been holding the Yashiki card, there would have been many missions that I would have been blocked from completing. Whether any of this bothers the player really depends on you. If you like games like 'The Manhattan Project', or 'Carson City', you probably will enjoy these mechanics. If you prefer your multiplayer solitaire, or like a little less confrontation in your game, you may be better off with something like Lords of Waterdeep.

Conclusions
For me, Yedo is a well presented, good quality board game with good theme, and mechanics that underpin the theme. I think the game is unique in the way it works, and feels fresh. My criticisms of the game is that luck can dominate over strategy if you are unlucky with particularly the action and event cards, and the combination of this and the games length can sometimes make it a frustrating experience. The rules and player aids on the cards make this game a possibility for beginners, but it may be helpful for an experienced player to point out obvious pitfalls (such as keeping a good eye on the watch) before play begins.
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Robert Manore
United States
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Warlord beats Troll, Troll beats Elf, Elf beats Water Sprite, and basically everything else beats Enchanted Bunny.
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Great review Tina!
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Thomas Vande Ginste
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Thank you for the good and detailed review.
It s well written and very interesting.

Thanks again!
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Chris Gee
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A good review and I agreed with many of your points. However, I'd just like to shed a new way of looking at one of the issues you had with the game.

malibu_babe_28 wrote:
But the action at the inn that lets you draw three weapons tiles and stack the weapon deck seems a little pointless unless you can immediately play a card to draw a weapon, since when bidding on a weapon you draw three cards anyway, and similarly when buying weapons from the market, generally three weapons come out.


With the inn, maybe you just wanted to go there to trade with another player, and looking at the upcoming weapons tiles gives you something to do in addition to trade. Or, if you need a weapon, you can check to see if it's coming up and decide if you want to bid for weapons. With the dojo you can do the inn first, rearrange the weapon order to what you want, and then activate the worker at the dojo to switch out a weapon.
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Paul Beasi
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Easthampton
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cgee3 wrote:
A good review and I agreed with many of your points. However, I'd just like to shed a new way of looking at one of the issues you had with the game.

malibu_babe_28 wrote:
But the action at the inn that lets you draw three weapons tiles and stack the weapon deck seems a little pointless unless you can immediately play a card to draw a weapon, since when bidding on a weapon you draw three cards anyway, and similarly when buying weapons from the market, generally three weapons come out.


With the inn, maybe you just wanted to go there to trade with another player, and looking at the upcoming weapons tiles gives you something to do in addition to trade. Or, if you need a weapon, you can check to see if it's coming up and decide if you want to bid for weapons. With the dojo you can do the inn first, rearrange the weapon order to what you want, and then activate the worker at the dojo to switch out a weapon.


Additionally, the foresight actions can work extremely well in conjunction with the annex abilities. Use foresight on a deck, arrange the cards so the one you need is on top, and then use the annex to discard one of your cards and replace it with the one you placed on top. Sure, there's a chance another player's actions will spoil your plans, but it can come in handy.
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How would this play with 2 players? I mostly am able to play with 2 players currently.


Thanks for the review!!
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Paul Beasi
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I had no problem with two players. The auctions tend to be a little easier since there isn't as much competition, but there is still plenty of competition when placing your workers since you block off an appropriate number of spaces. Trading is also a little less common than in a 4 or 5 player game.

I'd say it's still worth it.
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Josette Baysdell
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Really great review. I concur with a great many of your observations. I would also like to add my kudos to the design team for an extremely well done rulebook, and in particular, all the great info included on the player Clan cards.

I waited a long time to get this game, and I was very excited to play it. We have played 4 player and 5 player sessions so far. It didn't go over quite as well with my gaming group as I was hoping. They generally liked the game, but there were things that kept them from loving it.

The heavy luck factor and random screwage was just too high for some members of our group. After the first two sessions we threw out the Event cards entirely. Several people just got tired of laying careful plans only to have nothing really useful to do because a vital district was suddenly closed or an earthquake took a building they needed that turn. There is so much going on in the game that one more uncontrolled variable seemed a bit much.

We are considering a house rule that gives everyone 1 bonus card along with their 1 action card in the beginning of the game. Given that the viability of bonus card goals can be widely disparate, it seemed that giving everyone at least a direction to work toward early on made them feel more in control of their game. In one of our games, one player got TWO bonus cards with benefits for geishas and got a large end game bump simply by having 3. (Yeah, he won)

If there are going to be many things that disrupt strategy, it would be helpful to have a few more useful actions available for players whose turns have been trashed by an event or another players action card. Another location to acquire Mon or a place to purchase or exchange bonus cards if yours are impossible come to mind.

I know that many gamers find the challenge created by games with a lot of adversity to overcome entertaining. I hear a lot of that in reviews of Yedo. The "put your big boy pants on and suck it up" kind of thing. "We are Samurai, YAH!" Well, our group doesn't play "light" games. We're pretty much heavy Euro players. We LIKE games that cover the entire table and take hours to play, so the length didn't bother us. But the luck factor did.

I think Yedo is awesome in a lot of ways. Love the board, love the detail, love the variety, love the theme. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the production of this game. It's challenging just to keep ahead of the Mon requirements until later in the game (when you suddenly have lots) and to acquire the exact weapons stash you will need to complete missions. We will undoubtedly keep playing it and tweaking things until the fun factor is higher than the frustration factor.

I think this is a wonderful first game, and I also look forward to what this team will do in the future. (Would love to see an expansion to Yedo at some point.)





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Jacob Lee
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I like hearing people's house rules, but were you playing geisha mode and did you still find the luck frustrating?
 
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Thomas Vande Ginste
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Thank you for the detailed comment! It s always good for us to hear this kind of comments.

We have no problem with any houserules whatsoever.
Our filosophy is that we made the game for people to have fun. We made it the way we like it. But if it s more fun for your group if you throw out the event deck, or give extra bonus cards, please don t hesitate!

You bought the game, so you re the boss ! And enjoy it!

And thanks again for the kind words!
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Josette Baysdell
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EmperorJacob wrote:
I like hearing people's house rules, but were you playing geisha mode and did you still find the luck frustrating?


Since we took out the Event deck after two plays, those cards are currently moot. We did play the second game with only Geisha cards in the Events, but still found the random screwage too annoying.

We left most of the Samurai cards in the Action deck because our group doesn't really mind some deliberate screwage. It's one thing when messing with another player is part of a player's strategy or a capability they have earned or acquired through good game play. That stuff you can handle because you can then look for ways to pay it back. All good fun.

It's when the game arbitrarily implodes your strategy just "because" that we find irritating. There is no risk or benefit for the game. There's no, "Well, if I mess with Steve's plans it may help me now, but I can pretty much bet something nasty will be coming my way in return. Oh, what the hell!"

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Geo
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malibu_babe_28 wrote:
I feel that the action cards and event cards add too much luck to the game considering the game length, and can seriously disrupt strategy.


That's the reason, i didn't buy it: i accept a fair amount of luck in a quick game, but not in a game that lasts 2+ hours...
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Garyp
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GeoMan wrote:
malibu_babe_28 wrote:
I feel that the action cards and event cards add too much luck to the game considering the game length, and can seriously disrupt strategy.


That's the reason, i didn't buy it: i accept a fair amount of luck in a quick game, but not in a game that lasts 2+ hours...


+1 for the above except I have bought it!

Some very good euro mechanics here but all your plans can be cancelled by a random event - what the?! Also the board is much bigger than it needs to be, the art on the board is overly detailed and bright and interfers with the icons, while the player board annex pieces are to similar and the colours very muted. Overall our group will stick with Lords of Waterdeep (especially now with the expansions) even though Yedo has a lot going for it - it just takes to long to play to have the level of chance that it has.
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Thomas Vande Ginste
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GeoMan wrote:
malibu_babe_28 wrote:
I feel that the action cards and event cards add too much luck to the game considering the game length, and can seriously disrupt strategy.


That's the reason, i didn't buy it: i accept a fair amount of luck in a quick game, but not in a game that lasts 2+ hours...


That s the good strategy! The fact that the game can hit hard is all over the fora. So if you don t like that, try to play the game ones before you decide to buy or not. And if you re sure you won t like it , don t buy and play another game.

We tried to make a game as thematic as possible. And as in real life , life can hit you hard. Or you fight back and maybe even win or you just quit and never play again

I can tell you , if you had major set backs and win anyway you will feel like the king of the world. But it can be a frustrating game, we know... But that makes winningeven sweeter!


.

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Robert Manore
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Warlord beats Troll, Troll beats Elf, Elf beats Water Sprite, and basically everything else beats Enchanted Bunny.
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GeoMan wrote:
malibu_babe_28 wrote:
I feel that the action cards and event cards add too much luck to the game considering the game length, and can seriously disrupt strategy.


That's the reason, i didn't buy it: i accept a fair amount of luck in a quick game, but not in a game that lasts 2+ hours...

The game can be brutal and some may feel slighted due to back luck when attacked by an Action card or Event, but the game length allows a player to recover and get back on track by the next round. So 11 rounds IMO is a good length.
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Josette Baysdell
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garypgary wrote:
GeoMan wrote:
malibu_babe_28 wrote:
I feel that the action cards and event cards add too much luck to the game considering the game length, and can seriously disrupt strategy.


That's the reason, i didn't buy it: i accept a fair amount of luck in a quick game, but not in a game that lasts 2+ hours...


+1 for the above except I have bought it!

Some very good euro mechanics here but all your plans can be cancelled by a random event - what the?! Also the board is much bigger than it needs to be, the art on the board is overly detailed and bright and interfers with the icons, while the player board annex pieces are to similar and the colours very muted. Overall our group will stick with Lords of Waterdeep (especially now with the expansions) even though Yedo has a lot going for it - it just takes to long to play to have the level of chance that it has.


Which is why we pulled the event cards.

I also think the annexes are similar enough to be confusing, especially the weapons school and the dojo. The garden is the only easily distinguishable one. Maybe on a future printing some more distinctive art or punched up colors would help? I disagree about the board though. It is fairly busy, but I find the detailed, colorful art quite appealing. Our group didn't have any problems telling what was where when it came to available actions.
 
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