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Joe V
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For whatever reason, when Spyrium premiered on the market, it also premiered on Board Game Arena which, honestly, I think panned out for them. Because I learned the rules to Spyrium, played a couple games on BGA, and I intend to buy a copy of the game this coming Saturday.

The game is another worker placement game that borrows from some other worker placement games by incorporating an "individual" player's space where he has his own buildings and can do actions without interference. I would say the main source of its novelty comes from the fact that you don't place the workers ON anything, but in BETWEEN cards. Though I'm fairly certain I've seen that concept before. That being said, the game accomplishes what it sets out to do with aplomb: It provides a worker placement game with incredibly easy setup, simple rules, intense strategy, and replayability.

I am reminded by this of one of the most popular games, and arguably a worker placement game in a way, Puerto Rico. Now, I like a good game of Puerto Rico. It's one of those games, like Power Grid, that you can play with hardcore gamers and really talk with each other about specific mechanics and moves and a person's best potential moves. It almost becomes a game of seeing how well everyone can play the game, because at some point everyone knows that everyone at the table is an excellent player. A shortcoming of Puerto Rico, that I think this game handles very nicely, is that a game of Puerto Rico is more or less indistinguishable from any other game of Puerto Rico. The largest difference is going to stem from whether the person on your left is a craft-happy idiot. Most games of Puerto Rico you're going to be doing pretty much the same things in slightly different ways. Spyrium, as you'll see, has great variability from game to game.

That introduction being settled, I'll give you a very basic rundown of the game. Each round, players go around the table performing actions until they pass. Now, there are going to be two phases that players perform actions in: The Placement Phase, and the Activation Phase. The bizarre bit is that players CHOOSE when they move to the Activation phase.

The placement phase is the only time you can place workers.

The Activation phase is the only time that you can remove workers from the market and build the associated buildings/perform the associated actions as well as activate buildings in your personal neighborhood. You can use the turn's event (which is essentially a randomly selected quid pro quo deal that you can utilize if you wish) during EITHER of these phases.

Now there are going to be nine cards in the "market" at any given time. The three types of cards are Buildings, Techniques, and Characters.

Buildings are bought by you and built in your neighborhood immediately. They then become yours. They typically have victory points associated with them, but not for some types of buildings. Mines are used to obtain Spyrium, the second resource of the game, besides money. Factories/Workshops/Laboratories convert Spyrium in addition to the labor of your workers into Victory Points. Universities give you victory points when you build them and can be used each turn to garner more victory points with workers alone. Working Class Neighborhoods grant you another worker/meeple to place each turn. Residences allow you to perform a "Residence Action", which consists of moving your pawn upwards on the Residence track (values two to seven, skipping six), or score for your location on the Residence track (equal to the value you are at). The residence track also dictates your income each turn.

Techniques are efficient ways of getting victory points for the money you spend on them, plus they give you an advantage for the duration of the game, AND they give you a special way of scoring at the end. You typically can't win the game without at least one Technique. "Crane" is easily the most overpowered card in the game. Not only does it give you a discount on every building you build after your first, but it gives you a point at the end for each building in ADDITION to the points it gives you by the virtue of your having it. Throughout the course of the game it could save you ten money and garner you eleven-thirteen victory points total.

Characters are simpler. When you activate them, you get what is on the card, often in exchange for something you need to turn in.

Now, when you activate a worker on the market by removing it, you have the choice to activate one of the two cards it is adjacent to or remove it for money. Both of these are affected by the number of other meeples adjacent to the card(s) your worker is adjacent to.

Removing it for money is simplest. If your worker is next to a card that five other meeples (they can be yours) are next to, and you remove it for money, you get five money.

If you want to activate a card, for instance a building, the cost is increased by one for every other meeple besides the one you are removing (again, yours included). There is a technique that affects this.

So it's interesting to see how other people's worker placement will impact yours. What happens is that little bubbles are created where, if there's a bunch of workers around one card, more people will put workers around that card until someone says "You know what? I'm done.", goes into activation phase, and starts removing workers for money. At which point more people will start going into activation phase and removing workers. There's a lot of strategy to deciding when to go into activation phase. Frequently, especially if you have buildings that require workers, you'll go into Activation phase before placing all your workers which might allow you to edge someone out of a building or buy it before people put their workers around it and it gets too expensive. Some event cards will also impact when you want to go into Activation phase.

Like I said before, I like this game. I think it's a success. I think it's better than Caylus (Attia's other game), because the strategy is just more diverse. In Caylus you always wanna just rush to the castle so you can not only get more victory for yourself, but hopefully force your opponents to LOSE victory. And then you get royal favors that advantage you further. In this, there are diverse routes to victory. In my first game I won without building a single mine or factory. In my third game, I won by focusing entirely on mines and factories. You're largely going to dictate your strategy based on the opening layout and what other players do.

I give this game:
4/10 for theme (I'm sick of Steampunk. It's just an overused theme.)
9/10 for strategy
10/10 for replayability
9/10 overall (because who cares about theme, anyway?)
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Einmal ist keinmal
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I agree about the theme being overused lately, and one that is uninteresting. But, luckily, it isn't very thematic in the first place. I like the game as well.

terminus467 wrote:
"Crane" is easily the most overpowered card in the game. Not only does it give you a discount on every building you build after your first, but it gives you a point at the end for each building in ADDITION to the points it gives you by the virtue of your having it. Throughout the course of the game it could save you ten money and garner you eleven-thirteen victory points total.

Really? What do you mean by "the points it gives you by the virtue of your having it."? I think it only scores points at the end. Most of the Techniques I saw maxed out at 7 VPs.

Also, I think I read in another thread that the max discount offered by the Crane is 3 pounds. Not sure though.
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Nate Walker
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Each time the player constructs a building in a new space, they pay £3 less (to a minimum of £0) for that space.

End of the game: the player scores 1 point for each building owned. (Max 7 points)
 
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Joe V
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Desiderata wrote:
I agree about the theme being overused lately, and one that is uninteresting. But, luckily, it isn't very thematic in the first place. I like the game as well.

terminus467 wrote:
"Crane" is easily the most overpowered card in the game. Not only does it give you a discount on every building you build after your first, but it gives you a point at the end for each building in ADDITION to the points it gives you by the virtue of your having it. Throughout the course of the game it could save you ten money and garner you eleven-thirteen victory points total.

Really? What do you mean by "the points it gives you by the virtue of your having it."? I think it only scores points at the end. Most of the Techniques I saw maxed out at 7 VPs.

Also, I think I read in another thread that the max discount offered by the Crane is 3 pounds. Not sure though.
Forehead smack. Now I realize why BGA and I disagreed on end game scores. I misinterpreted the rules.
 
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Played Spyrium for the first time over the weekend and also played with the wrong rules. We had played that you could tap the buildings that give you extra workers/income once every turn! We quickly realized that this was breaking the game, discovered our error in the rules, and reboot the game. Overall, I thought it was just okay. I need a few more plays to get a final opinion.

In regards to your comments about a sole strategy in Caylus, I heartily disagree. Just a few strategies that come to mind in Caylus... pound the favor track for easy VPs, build the crap out of the castle, build every building you can, convert cash and gold into points, build the crap out of blue buildings, get quick points and rush the game, screw everyone that builds near the provost, maintain a position in the building that lets you always place a worker for 1 gold (I forget what it's called) and drop all your workers every turn, etc. I've seen all of these strategies win.
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Peter Schott
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Good overview, but I'd disagree on the Steampunk theme being overdone. (Or maybe I'm just missing it because there haven't been a lot of great games with the theme.) Now had this been a Zombie theme, I'd agree - but only because it seems that almost everywhere I turn there's something coming out that has Zombies!!!!!! *sigh*

Still, this game looks interesting and I'd argue that the Steampunk theme is barely there in this. It could just as easily be sci-fi or fantasy (excepting that it was published as "steampunk").

I'd also read about Crane being overpowered, but it seems that the rules interpretation is a bit tricky for that one. Several threads seem to have touched on it and in each there was some misreading of the card/rules.

I appreciate the review. I plan to play this sometime soon - either on BGA or just buying a copy.
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Roger Fawcett
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Thanks, great review. Now I am intrigued more than ever. Caylus, Puerto Rico and other slightly heavier worker placement games are my favourites. I would really like to try this new way of managing the worker placement concept. It reminds me a little of Hermagor in that you place your meeples between market tiles, but that is an area majority rather than a worker placement.
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Bill Kunes
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terminus467 wrote:
Forehead smack. Now I realize why BGA and I disagreed on end game scores. I misinterpreted the rules.
Don't feel too bad, I do this with a good number of games multiple times before we ultimately land on the proper rules. We're still having fun, I guess that's what matters.

meeple Keep playing...
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Chris Linneman
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I agree with your rating for theme (actually, it's a little high) but because it's completely pasted on, not because it's steampunk.

I disagree that the Crane is overpowered. In order to score fully for it you have to build SEVEN buildings. That's more than one every round! It's very hard to afford that, even with the discount to building spaces (which is 0/1/2/3/3/3/3 since it can't reduce a cost below 0).

I found the one that lets you modify the value of a blue token and scores for used blue tokens to be much better. It's a lot easier to use seven blue tokens during the game since they are much cheaper to use than buildings are to buy. Additionally, you are often getting two extra spyrium or VPs or saving $2, which is at least as good as the crane discount for most of the game and a lot more flexible too.

In our 5p game the one that lets you ignore the additional cost for meeples around a card once per round seemed good too.
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Joe V
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paschott wrote:
Good overview, but I'd disagree on the Steampunk theme being overdone. (Or maybe I'm just missing it because there haven't been a lot of great games with the theme.) Now had this been a Zombie theme, I'd agree - but only because it seems that almost everywhere I turn there's something coming out that has Zombies!!!!!! *sigh*

Still, this game looks interesting and I'd argue that the Steampunk theme is barely there in this. It could just as easily be sci-fi or fantasy (excepting that it was published as "steampunk").

I'd also read about Crane being overpowered, but it seems that the rules interpretation is a bit tricky for that one. Several threads seem to have touched on it and in each there was some misreading of the card/rules.

I appreciate the review. I plan to play this sometime soon - either on BGA or just buying a copy.

Dude. Mission: Red Planet, Planet Steam, plus several games that involve airships whose names I can't remember. It is not quite at Zombie-status, but it is hot on its heels.
 
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I agree with your rating of theme, but not that the steampunk theme is overdone. It's in a few new games, but really this isn't one of them. This is a worker placement game with some steampunk pictures on it. Dominion has more theme.

Not a good or bad thing in of itself. Lighter themes tend to be more accessible for people who arnt in love with the theme. But I also personally have a harder time getting into a game where the mechanisms don't have much to do with the theme.

Buying and using buildings make sense in Spyrium, but none of the other metaphors in the game feel like what they are called. Techniques? Characters? How is Residence track Steampunk. What the heck is a Residence track anyway? The winning condition, points that are only vaguely connected to Spyrium itself.

It's all borderline abstract, which is fine, especially if the steampunk "theme" isn't interesting for you.
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terminus467 wrote:
paschott wrote:
Good overview, but I'd disagree on the Steampunk theme being overdone. (Or maybe I'm just missing it because there haven't been a lot of great games with the theme.) Now had this been a Zombie theme, I'd agree - but only because it seems that almost everywhere I turn there's something coming out that has Zombies!!!!!! *sigh*

Still, this game looks interesting and I'd argue that the Steampunk theme is barely there in this. It could just as easily be sci-fi or fantasy (excepting that it was published as "steampunk").

I'd also read about Crane being overpowered, but it seems that the rules interpretation is a bit tricky for that one. Several threads seem to have touched on it and in each there was some misreading of the card/rules.

I appreciate the review. I plan to play this sometime soon - either on BGA or just buying a copy.

Dude. Mission: Red Planet, Planet Steam, plus several games that involve airships whose names I can't remember. It is not quite at Zombie-status, but it is hot on its heels.



If by "hot on the heels" one means look there are 6 or so new games with this theme compared to more than 40 Zombie board games in 2013 alone.
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johnjon wrote:
Played Spyrium for the first time over the weekend and also played with the wrong rules. We had played that you could tap the buildings that give you extra workers/income once every turn! We quickly realized that this was breaking the game, discovered our error in the rules, and reboot the game. Overall, I thought it was just okay. I need a few more plays to get a final opinion.

In regards to your comments about a sole strategy in Caylus, I heartily disagree. Just a few strategies that come to mind in Caylus... pound the favor track for easy VPs, build the crap out of the castle, build every building you can, convert cash and gold into points, build the crap out of blue buildings, get quick points and rush the game, screw everyone that builds near the provost, maintain a position in the building that lets you always place a worker for 1 gold (I forget what it's called) and drop all your workers every turn, etc. I've seen all of these strategies win.


I agree. Saying there's only one strategy in Caylus means you probably haven't played it a lot.
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Ganybyte wrote:
If by "hot on the heels" one means look there are 6 or so new games with this theme compared to more than 40 Zombie board games in 2013 alone.


And I think that was kind of my point. It's nowhere near as overused as the Zombie theme. I was tired of the Zombie theme years ago - seems every sci-fi/fantasy show has to have at least one zombie episode, there are quite a few movies, and it always seems like every 5th game on Kickstarter involves Zombies. :-/

To each their own, though. I don't mind the Steampunk theme and am still waiting for one that really feels Steampunk. Just having airships or pictures of people w/ excessive brass accessories doesn't really convey that theme to me. Yes, there have been a number of games with steampunk art, but I guess I'm missing the feel.

Anyway, I appreciate the review. I don't want to get sidetracked on the one point with which I disagree. That's a pretty minor point. Knowing that it's out there on BGA to play against others is really valuable and reading how it played out for you was helpful as well.

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Vincent Lalyman
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About the theme - it's not as much "steampunk" I find boring here, than the "mining and industry" theme. THIS is an overused theme for games. Spyrium could have been about something else entirely without changing the mechanisms - why not about magic, for instance ? Or soul collecting, or whatever - anything but mining and factories I know it's the favorite theme for many "serious" gamers, but this game could have seduced far more players if the theme was not so ... "unintriging".
Please, make good gestion games with something else than industry and agriculture !

End of rant. You can go back to your normal activities
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reddish22 wrote:
johnjon wrote:
Played Spyrium for the first time over the weekend and also played with the wrong rules. We had played that you could tap the buildings that give you extra workers/income once every turn! We quickly realized that this was breaking the game, discovered our error in the rules, and reboot the game. Overall, I thought it was just okay. I need a few more plays to get a final opinion.

In regards to your comments about a sole strategy in Caylus, I heartily disagree. Just a few strategies that come to mind in Caylus... pound the favor track for easy VPs, build the crap out of the castle, build every building you can, convert cash and gold into points, build the crap out of blue buildings, get quick points and rush the game, screw everyone that builds near the provost, maintain a position in the building that lets you always place a worker for 1 gold (I forget what it's called) and drop all your workers every turn, etc. I've seen all of these strategies win.


I agree. Saying there's only one strategy in Caylus means you probably haven't played it a lot.


It isn't *too* far from the truth if you've only played Caylus as a two-player game. It's a great, great two-player game, but strategically broad it ain't.

With more players the statement is just plain false.
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dkeisen wrote:
reddish22 wrote:
johnjon wrote:
Played Spyrium for the first time over the weekend and also played with the wrong rules. We had played that you could tap the buildings that give you extra workers/income once every turn! We quickly realized that this was breaking the game, discovered our error in the rules, and reboot the game. Overall, I thought it was just okay. I need a few more plays to get a final opinion.

In regards to your comments about a sole strategy in Caylus, I heartily disagree. Just a few strategies that come to mind in Caylus... pound the favor track for easy VPs, build the crap out of the castle, build every building you can, convert cash and gold into points, build the crap out of blue buildings, get quick points and rush the game, screw everyone that builds near the provost, maintain a position in the building that lets you always place a worker for 1 gold (I forget what it's called) and drop all your workers every turn, etc. I've seen all of these strategies win.


I agree. Saying there's only one strategy in Caylus means you probably haven't played it a lot.


It isn't *too* far from the truth if you've only played Caylus as a two-player game. It's a great, great two-player game, but strategically broad it ain't.

With more players the statement is just plain false.


To be fair, of the six or so games I've played, three were two player. But I've won every game by doing the same. Exact. Thing. I've heard about focusing on residences and buildings for VP, but I've not seen it done effectively. You can more or less ignore building things (I tend to build one or two buildings) and win, but I've never seen anyone ignore the castle and win. Perhaps everyone I'm playing with is an idiot; I doubt it, though, they're solid gamers. Like, I understand what you're saying, but at some point my first hand experience is going to outweigh what people tell me without clear and convincing evidence. If I'm capable of winning six games by going "Castle. Castle castle. Castle castle castle." then I'm inclined to believe that focusing on the castle is the way to go. But you're right, I don't play Caylus a ton simply because I enjoy variety. People bring very diverse games where I boardgame so why would I play the same game week to week? So, like I said, there's every possibility that I could be completely wrong, but I have enough first hand experience to the contrary that I'm going to need something other than "You're wrong." to convince me. Explain to me a clear strategy besides collecting resources for the castle and then spending as many as you can in one shot each round at the castle that I can use to win Caylus. Do you just focus on buildings? Do you try and monopolize the buildings that you can use to get victory points? What do you do? What are my options?
 
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terminus467 wrote:
Explain to me a clear strategy besides collecting resources for the castle and then spending as many as you can in one shot each round at the castle that I can use to win Caylus. Do you just focus on buildings? Do you try and monopolize the buildings that you can use to get victory points? What do you do? What are my options?

If only there existed a place where people discuss Caylus strategy...
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tumorous wrote:
terminus467 wrote:
Explain to me a clear strategy besides collecting resources for the castle and then spending as many as you can in one shot each round at the castle that I can use to win Caylus. Do you just focus on buildings? Do you try and monopolize the buildings that you can use to get victory points? What do you do? What are my options?

If only there existed a place where people discuss Caylus strategy...


It does exist! it's right here!

B>
 
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terminus467 wrote:
dkeisen wrote:
reddish22 wrote:
johnjon wrote:
Played Spyrium for the first time over the weekend and also played with the wrong rules. We had played that you could tap the buildings that give you extra workers/income once every turn! We quickly realized that this was breaking the game, discovered our error in the rules, and reboot the game. Overall, I thought it was just okay. I need a few more plays to get a final opinion.

In regards to your comments about a sole strategy in Caylus, I heartily disagree. Just a few strategies that come to mind in Caylus... pound the favor track for easy VPs, build the crap out of the castle, build every building you can, convert cash and gold into points, build the crap out of blue buildings, get quick points and rush the game, screw everyone that builds near the provost, maintain a position in the building that lets you always place a worker for 1 gold (I forget what it's called) and drop all your workers every turn, etc. I've seen all of these strategies win.


I agree. Saying there's only one strategy in Caylus means you probably haven't played it a lot.


It isn't *too* far from the truth if you've only played Caylus as a two-player game. It's a great, great two-player game, but strategically broad it ain't.

With more players the statement is just plain false.


To be fair, of the six or so games I've played, three were two player. But I've won every game by doing the same. Exact. Thing. I've heard about focusing on residences and buildings for VP, but I've not seen it done effectively. You can more or less ignore building things (I tend to build one or two buildings) and win, but I've never seen anyone ignore the castle and win. Perhaps everyone I'm playing with is an idiot; I doubt it, though, they're solid gamers. Like, I understand what you're saying, but at some point my first hand experience is going to outweigh what people tell me without clear and convincing evidence. If I'm capable of winning six games by going "Castle. Castle castle. Castle castle castle." then I'm inclined to believe that focusing on the castle is the way to go. But you're right, I don't play Caylus a ton simply because I enjoy variety. People bring very diverse games where I boardgame so why would I play the same game week to week? So, like I said, there's every possibility that I could be completely wrong, but I have enough first hand experience to the contrary that I'm going to need something other than "You're wrong." to convince me. Explain to me a clear strategy besides collecting resources for the castle and then spending as many as you can in one shot each round at the castle that I can use to win Caylus. Do you just focus on buildings? Do you try and monopolize the buildings that you can use to get victory points? What do you do? What are my options?



That is not nearly enough games for your opinion to really carry much weight. Go to BGA and play an expert and see how your strategy holds up. I've seen some of those players pull off some very strange combinations in 2 player games that will leave you wondering what the hell just happened. The strategical choices in Caylus are more divergent than you realize at any player count.
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I just played Spyrium tonight and I won by two points over the owner of the game and we were a fair distance ahead of the other players.

I only built 3 separate buildings and one tech tree. I upgraded my mine, factory and meeple building once each and I built the "Mining" tech tile early on. So basically my strategy was Spyrium Hoarding where I used some for the factory, kept 7 for the endgame points and used the rest on the characters who converted 1 for 4 points in bulk.

The owner of the game had the fabled Architecture tech and ended up getting some nice buildings cheap, but I still beat him and I only built 3 separate buildings. Only had 8 victory points for buildings, the rest of my points came from Spyrium and from in-game points.

It seems like a cool game from my first impressions. Caylus however was also quite a cool game, however I do agree that getting the favours is key to winning.
 
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