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The Downfall of Pompeii» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [Review] More fun than it has any right to be... rss

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Seth Brown
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North Adams
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WHAT IS IT?
A two-part game, where the first half consists of moving people into houses in the city of Pompeii, and the second half consists of trying to help them escape the city before the inevitable lava flows over them and kills them.

COMPONENTS
The new edition has 120 standard tiny wooden barrels (30 each in 4 colors) to serve as player pieces. A good-quality board and deck of good-quality cards for each numbered building, as well as a few omen cards and two volcano cards. Cardboard lava tiles of acceptable quality. One bag of low quality. And, of course, a volcano, which in the most recent edition is a small plastic semicircle which when folded in on itself makes a rudimentary but sturdily serviceable volcano.

GAMEPLAY IN BRIEF
Each player is dealt a hand of four cards, each of which has a number corresponding to a building on the board. Buildings, sometimes divided into two halves, each have a certain number of spaces for people.

On your turn, you play a card, and place one of your people into the appropriate numbered building. If that half of the building already has occupants, you may place an additional person for each prior occupant. These additional people must be placed in either other buildings of the same color, or into neutral un-numbered buildings. After playing a card, you draw a replacement card. If that card is an Omen card, you may pluck any person from the board and toss it into the Volcano. If that card is the second Volcano card, Phase 2 begins.

In phase 2, your turn starts by drawing a lava tile and placing it on the board adjacent to any lava tile with a matching symbol, or on the appropriate lava start space if it is the first tile of its symbol. Any people where lava lands are thrown into the volcano. After placing lava, you may move one of your people one space for each piece on its starting space. You then repeat this action. Any people which exit the town via a gate are considered saved.

Once all the lava is places, whoever has saved the most of their people wins, with ties broken by fewest volcanoed people.


GOOD POINTS
*Throwing other players' pieces into the Volcano is sort of fun, especially if you make the lava hissing sound when you do it.

*Good card design. The cards are not only of good quality, but at a glance show you not only number and color, but how many spots that number has for people, and whether it's split, so you can know without looking at the board.

*Melodramatically but quietly screaming "Aiyeeee!" when your pieces are thrown into the Volcano is also pretty fun.

*Very quick to learn and play. Teaching this game to new players takes no time at all, and the game moves at a good clip. As a 4-player game, it went a lot faster than I expected.

*Inexplicably enjoyable. Everyone we played this with seemed to have a really good time, including us in the 2p game.

BAD POINTS
*More a combination of randomness and kingmaking than skill. Between the random omen cards and lava draws, and the ability of players who get those draws to simply decide who to kill, the choices you make of where to place and move your people pale in comparison to the other factors.

*Deproved components from previous edition. My only big complaint here was that there were not enough barrels of a single color for our 2p game, without borrowing barrels from unused colors. Apparently the prior edition had 36 barrels of two colors. Other complaints I've heard in regards to de-proved components from the previous edition include the flimsy bag (which, indeed, frays annoyingly), issues with punching out tiles (which I had no trouble with), and the thinner box material (which is true but didn't strike me as a problem.)


CONCLUSION
This review was titled "More fun than it has any right to be" for a reason. The game is not a terribly complex one, and the decisions probably play less role in your eventual chances of victory than the combination of random draws, and the good graces of others. But in spite of all this, the game ends up being pretty fun to play -- especially if you scream when people are thrown into the volcano.

IS IT FOR YOU?
If you are a serious gamer who demands serious games that are all about strategy and making important choices untainted by random chance and kingmaking and whatnot, this game probably just isn't for you.

But if you think you might enjoy a light, easy-to-learn game where your friends will smile as you all make noises when you viciously drop each other's people into the volcano, Pompeii is pretty fun, and moves at a good pace.

*review copy provided by publisher
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Andy Andersen
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My wife's favorite game. She loves chucking me into the volcano. Thanks for your thoughts.
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zombie homer
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Osirus wrote:
the game ends up being pretty fun to play -- especially if you scream when people are thrown into the volcano.


thumbsuplaugh this should be mandatory under the rules!
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Sam Peavy
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We love this game, and play it often. I am sorry to hear, however, that there are issues with the components of the reprinted version. You would think that there would be improvements, if anything. I now feel fortunate to have the original edition of the game.
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Quote:
Melodramatically but quietly screaming "Aiyeeee!" when your pieces are thrown into the Volcano


Who said anything about quietly?

Good short review of the game, like you say, this is no heavy strategy game, it's a light game, but, a very good very fun light game indeed.
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Seth Brown
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zombie_homer wrote:
Osirus wrote:
the game ends up being pretty fun to play -- especially if you scream when people are thrown into the volcano.


thumbsuplaugh this should be mandatory under the rules!


It really does make the whole experience delightful. And I used to be such a die-hard strategy-only theme-is-irrelevant gamer... but fun is fun.

speavy wrote:
We love this game, and play it often. I am sorry to hear, however, that there are issues with the components of the reprinted version. You would think that there would be improvements, if anything. I now feel fortunate to have the original edition of the game.


Yeah, I've been reading component complaints in other threads on here, a result of their decision to make this edition more affordable. As I said, as far as I'm concerned the only real issues are the lack of enough pieces to play the 2p game without color replacement, and the bag fraying instantly. (I had no trouble with the tiles or box.)
 
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Alex Yeager
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The improvement is that there are 30 of all colors, meaning that you can play any of the four colors (the previous editions had 36 of two colors, 30 of a third, and 25 of the fourth). We felt the compromise of requiring dipping into the unused colors for the 2-player game that goes a bit long to be sufficient tradeoff for both the cost and the large number of unnecessary pieces for the more typical 3- and 4-player games (we really wanted to bring this in at the $35/$10 cheaper mark!).

Alex Yeager
Mayfair Games
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David Tolin
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AlexYeager wrote:
The improvement is that there are 30 of all colors, meaning that you can play any of the four colors (the previous editions had 36 of two colors, 30 of a third, and 25 of the fourth). We felt the compromise of requiring dipping into the unused colors for the 2-player game that goes a bit long to be sufficient tradeoff for both the cost and the large number of unnecessary pieces for the more typical 3- and 4-player games (we really wanted to bring this in at the $35/$10 cheaper mark!).

Alex Yeager
Mayfair Games


This is a really weird solution. It's mildly annoying that the original version limited your choice of what colors were available in games with fewer players, but how is it an improvement to require mixing of colors? I can't imagine there is anyone out there who would rather play with a mix of two colors, rather than a single color that may be different from the color they're used to.

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Liam
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I love this game but this compromise is worse than the original 'solution'. Strongly recommend this game but this is a very odd decision.
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Greg Cornell
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AlexYeager wrote:
The improvement is that there are 30 of all colors,


I just received a copy of this game this past week in the mail and I found 30 reds and blacks but only 27 yellow and 19 blue pieces!

I sent Mayfair an email and they responded with an Out-of-Office reply due to everyone being in Essen this week. Hopefully I'll hear back from them soon.

I do love the game, though.
 
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River Song
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While it is certainly not a heavy game by any means (which is why I like it so much), I disagree that it is more luck-based than strategic. For the 2-player game, yes, luck plays a stronger role, particularly with the omen cards, which can give one of the players an advantage. But I play a lot of 3- and 4-player games and find that meeple placement and strategy of which meeples to move out of the city and when are critical, regardless of the fact that you can't predict which lava tiles will turn up when. When playing with experienced players, good players will regularly do better.
 
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John Doe
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In my experience with the game: the 2 player game is more strategic than lucky, 3 players 50-50, 4 players more luck than strategy.
That's why I preffer with 3 or 4.
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