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Neuroshima Hex! Dancer» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A gift to believers. rss

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Alex Brown
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Aesthetics

The Dancer is orange. It’s functional. I’m somewhat colour blind - I suspect it’s more of a colour muting; it’s only red/green I struggle with - so I’ve always appreciated the clean and bold presentation of the base set. As more and more armies are brought to market, there was always going to be a need to move into more of the blended colours. Overall, it’s neither here nor there for me. The orange is soft where I’d prefer stark, but it works.

Unfortunately, I feel the vividness of the blue, yellow and red chosen for the three aspects of The Dancer could have been brighter. Ultimately, it only takes a few games to connect each colour to its unique tile (blue - melee, red - ranged, yellow - net/healing), but given how many new rules you have to manage in your first few games with The Dancer, anything to improve the in-game functioning of the tiles would have helped.

The tiles themselves are thin. I enjoy the heft of the Z-Man tiles. I think Z-Man has said they will release all official armies on their own timetable. I imagine this will take place over years to accommodate the new art style of 3.0. Until then, the tiles work, they just feel a bit cheap. If the choice is between new official armies coming out, or better quality tiles, I don’t think there is anything here that argues for the latter. It would be nice if the tiles were thick, but it’s insignificant for the gameplay.

Beyond the tactile, The Dancer is integrated seamlessly into the Neuroshima Hex world. Where the Objects may have been highlighted for game purposes, the art has rendered them natural to the universe. The notion of experimental science leaving an unfinished, somewhat-sentient biological weapon on the loose makes perfect sense in Neuroshima. The division of labour among the Objects creates a unique identity to the army but also cuts nicely across the core methods of offense in the game: melee, ranged and netting.

Metrics

Of all the armies, The Dancer moves the furthest from the basic architecture established in the rules of Neuroshima Hex. Instead of an HQ worth 20 hit points, there are three Objects worth 10 hit points each. The Dancer can escape Nets. The Dancer has it’s own Action tile. On the first readthrough, these new rules seemed cumbersome and amateur. After several games they feel honed and focused.

The Dancer can outlast an opponent with higher HP, but must contend with the dominant opposing strategy being to isolate and destroy a single Object. The Dancer can be freed from Nets, but the damage is a larger proportion of it’s whole than other armies and the further apart the Objects become the weaker they get. The Action tile can create some large damage or remove a lot of enemy Units at once, but your opponent is never put under pressure on their turn because the pressure of a full board is theirs to decide.

After some experience, the effectiveness of the playtesting shines. The Dancer only has Push, Mobility, Battles and it’s unique Action tile. It needs all of them to open avenues of attack and to protect itself. The Dance, a seemingly cute add-on, is critical for to the overall maneuverability of an army that is transparent from the get-go. Giving up a whole turn to simply re-orient and swap tiles is not as great as it sounds (except for first turn). The Healing action, which seems so good upon reading, is very difficult to set-up, and is compounded by the quick realisation that the yellow Object is the least likely target of your opponent.

Upon the initial reading, The Dancer seems to do a lot of unfair things. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The metrics have been carefully managed to create a unique experience within the Neuroshima Hex system, but also with respect for that system and the perspectives the other armies already offer. Expansions that begin life in the mind of a fan are nearly always overpowered; credit to the design and development here as The Dancer pushes the boundaries yet doesn’t corrupt what was already within.

Dynamics

The Dancer forces a very different dynamic upon the players than armies past. In many ways it is a credit to the core system that it can handle The Dancer and still provide interesting gameplay. However, it also goes to the limits of what could be considered an equitable slant on how each player impacts upon the game state.

The reality is that The Dancer is so different that the various flavours of opposition tend to become homogenised against it. Always playing first and with a limited tile set, The Dancer is strategically predictable. After a few games, regardless of army, the default is to try and destroy a single Object and to play for separation of The Dancer. The Dancer has a hard time when space becomes cramped, whether by Nets, lack of mobility or simply facing an enemy expanding in number.

This in itself is not so bad, but it does tend to dictate terms. The game becomes much more tactical. Small advantages in tile orientation and timing are key, though these come at the expense of strategic concerns of other matchups like whether or not a specific tile - like Mobile Armor - has been played. The Dancer tends to be all-or-nothing; if you can suffocate it, it will become trapped and wither. If it clears space it’s reach and mobility are unparallelled strengths.

Still, it’s hard not to appreciate how this in itself realises the narrative supposition of a rampant medical travesty needing to be restrained. When you play The Dancer you teeter at the edge of control, trying to hold on to whatever advantage you have; playing against the Dancer you respect its reach and hope to find the Units to constrict and finally corral. The only blot I would make against this abstraction is that with less tiles and more hit points, often it is optimal to outlast your opponent with defensive play. For you, this might make sense.

Analytics

I think it would be hard to appreciate The Dancer without being experienced with Neuroshima Hex beyond the base set. I’d suggest if you enjoyed the more extreme designs of Vegas or Neojungle, you will love The Dancer. Where those armies are more strategic, or at least require you to remain cognizant of your tile set for optimal play, The Dancer is more of a procedural army that doesn’t hide anything from anyone. If, like me, you adore the story behind Neuroshima, and the articulation of the armies so far within that setting, you will admire the efforts both design and development have made to keep this radical army within the flamboyant imaginings (and fascinating gameplay!) of that realm.
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Rustan Håkansson
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I'm glad you like it!
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dusty crispy
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Great review and congrats to Rustan!

Can wait till these three bundles of joy hit the iOS !

Only down side is, they have been " coming soon" for like the last 5 months now.

With no release date set, I keep waking up thinking ...mabey today! ...and it never is....for 5 months
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Rustan Håkansson
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dustyhex wrote:
Great review and congrats to Rustan!

Can wait till these three bundles of joy hit the iOS !

Only down side is, they have been " coming soon" for like the last 5 months now.

With no release date set, I keep waking up thinking ...mabey today! ...and it never is....for 5 months

Thanks!

My guess is that the release of these are tied to the redesign of the app.
 
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Tyler Rose
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dustyhex wrote:
Great review and congrats to Rustan!

Can wait till these three bundles of joy hit the iOS !

Only down side is, they have been " coming soon" for like the last 5 months now.

With no release date set, I keep waking up thinking ...mabey today! ...and it never is....for 5 months

I'd imagine you know by now but they are out!
 
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