Patrick Wilhelmi
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It must have been almost 25 years ago when I played my one and only MoV session of the original Avalon Hill edition. The only thing I remember was that we were unable to complete the game that day...and that I somehow enjoyed the game.

It was back in the days when there was no internet and doing business with foreign countries was sort of adventurous. There were only a handful of German shops which imported foreign games and due to their hefty price tag owning one of these games made a big impression on your gaming friends.

Over the years I thought about buying an original MoV on ebay but thanks to the high prices second hand copies fetched there I went with something else. So I was very happy when FFG finally announced an upgraded reprint.

This review and session is for the standard edition only!
If at some point in the future I should be able to play a classic game I will update my review accordingly.

I won't get into the rules details as there are already several reviews doing this. I'm more interested in pointing out which things I/we liked and which parts I/we did not.

Although MoV claims to be an economics game it is not IMO. It's an adventure game in the veins of Talisman, Relic, Runebound or (the undervalued) Smugglers of the Galaxy. You fly around space, discover new civilizations, face dangers and perils, trade and buy stuff but most importantly you try to become stronger. It might be possible to end the game with your first level pilot, a ship without upgrades and just concentrating on buying and selling goods but I highly doubt that it will let you win it.

One of the nice aspects of MoV is that there seem to be multiple ways to victory. It all depends on what is thrown at you and what you make out of it. If you find an early drill license and some engine upgrades rocking through the galaxy and visiting as many asteroids as possible seems to be a viable option. Or you discover a great trading round trip with not to many hazards on your path. Or you concentrate on fulfilling missions...

With being last in our four player game I decided to skip my first movement action and to upgrade my pilot and buying a second mission on turn one. With the Biosphere and the Colony World already discovered by player 2 and 3 I could have tried discovering the Nebula Habitat since player 1 had been stopped by a pirate attack on one of its event spaces (he had a very bad first movement roll which made it impossible for him to reach any other system). But with only a 1 in 6 chance of not sharing his fate I simply stayed where I was. I knew this to be a gamble as it left me extremely vulnerable without any money left and in desperate need of a first contact.
But for whatever reason Player 3 went south after discovering the Biosphere and left me the outer left path. I made first contact with the Desert World, the Rogue Planet and the Jungle World. But it took me some time and made me go slow as no civilization wanted the goods I loaded on the Desert World. For my first contact credits I got a red drive and some ship upgrades.

Player 2 was clearly in the lead. He had some good rolls in the beginning and went quickly from the Colony World to the Giant Planet and the Multi-Generation Ship. He'd had some nice deals giving him plenty of cash to spend early which led him to buy the red/yellow combo drive. Player 3 went a bit slower looking out for some good trading routes. Being a math teacher he got somehow lost in the buy/sell calculations somehow but made not to bad in the end. The worst game was with Player 1 who never found a plan of how to win the game. He just flew around without much purpose always being laid on some upgrades or passengers.

The turning point in the game came when I made first contact with the Ice World which turned out to be my home culture - the Humans. There I was able to complete my first two missions both at the same time - getting a pilot to level three and selling two goods to the people of the Ice World (which I had in my cargo hold since the Desert World). Guess what, the first reward turns out to be the Spy Eye which eventually led to more artifacts. I got an early Archeologist and now had little trouble in completing mission after mission. This was around 1,5 hours into the game when Player 2 realized that it would be very difficult to stop me winning the game. Player 1 and 3 wanted to continue so we played another 1,5 hours before somewhere around turn 20 everybody agreed that it made no sense playing further. Player 1 and 3 had not fulfilled a single mission by the end of the game but surprisingly Player 3 went second with his tactic of spending money carefully on upgrades and instead concentrating on safe and sound trade actions.
Player 2 was thrown back by the purchase of the combo drive which left him with almost no money to trade afterwards. He also did not realize that one of the systems that he made first contact with was his home world and therefor ignored his trade bonuses. As this was our first game we did not figure out the drive/drill combo for him.

The Good:

- Like most FFG games MoV looks great and has nice components which are a huge step over the original AH version.

- Theme and gameplay work very well together.

- The distribution of dice on your ship is a very nice mechanism.

The Bad:

- The game is much too long (but almost all adventure games are).

- There is too much downtime. Distributing the dice, figuring out your route, playing out your encounters, recounting your steps and buy and sell actions take considerable time. Sometimes watching the other players doing that can be fun most of the time it is not.

- Thanks to different art of your pilot and the people on the first contact card it is possible to overlook your home system. This will most likely not happen to the humans but might happen with all other races. Since it was my game I had to explain all the rules, answer all questions and point out a thing or two. But since board and material was upside down for me I was unable to cover everything. This will be not a problem for veteran players of course.

- Although not very complicated all the special parts/rules in the game make it somehow difficult to get the overall picture. With being a four hour game MoV most likely only will be played once or twice a year in my group which means we will be almost starting from scratch again each time.

The Ugly:

- The colors of the goods (basic, high, luxury) are almost impossible to distinguish especially in bad lighting. I cannot believe that this problem went unsolved through preproduction.

- There are some players on BGG who think that Eclipse is ruined by the many luck elements involved. If you're among them DO NOT play MoV. Here sometimes the best laid plans are ruined by a single dice roll. You need a certain race to appear on the board, guess what, it will be the last to be discovered. Most of the cards are not balanced. Getting an early Spy Eye is like the original Prophetess in Talisman - an instant win. Combine it with some more artifacts and see the heads of your friends drop on the table as they realize that they will only be playing for second place the next two to three hours.
If you COMPLAINED about Eclipse but love playing MoV please see a psychologist and DO NEVER EVER say a bad word about Eclipse again!

BUT

although it appears in my summary that MoV is a bad game it is not.
I always enjoyed adventure games with a certain luck rate. The luck usually comes with lots of variables in the game which can result in epic wins and epic losses. This is not for everyone. If you prefer to develop long term strategies and follow them through, games like MoV are not for you. Here it is all about tactics. Seeing opportunities and making the best out of them. Although luck plays a certain role, Making good decisions and not too many bad ones are the key of winning these games.
On the other hand with recent game plays like A Study In Emerald, Game Of Throne 2nd Ed., Terra Mystica, Tiny Kingdoms and Eclipse, Merchant Of Venus feels a bit dated. Even with the new rules and components MoV is a look back into a time where playing games was a bit different, not always worse but different.

One final word to the publisher:
With all the components in the game it is a shame that FFG is still not able to come up with a reasonable tray/inlet or provides us with a roll of zip-lock bags to store the stuff. This is far below standard in current game publishing and a constant annoyance with this company.




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Scott Lewis
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dr.morton wrote:
With all the components in the game it is a shame that FFG is still not able to come up with a reasonable tray/inlet or provides us with a roll of zip-lock bags to store the stuff.
While this would be nice, I'm not sure that this needs to be an expectation, as it would surely raise costs (even if by a few dollars).

Of all the games I've bought, those that have inserts or trays are definitely in the minority (and usually are those that have less components rather than more). Even then, a lot of times the inserts are barely adequate, and I often don't even use them.
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Thomas Hammerschmidt
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I agree that the game is too long.

I agree that the luck factor is pretty high.

But after playing it a few times now my experience is that the game needs to be that long to balance out the luck factor.

It puts the game in a weird spot. I do like it and part of that is the interesting twists and turns the luck factor adds to the story being told. But playing the game requires setting a day a side. If you have one player in your group with a bit of an AP problem, it can really drag this out timewise.
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Darrell Hanning
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If you like the part of MoV that involves finding races, identifying who produces and demands what, but do not like the die roll element of moving, I strongly recommend Splotter's Duck Dealer.

However, be forewarned that you will need to plot several turns in advance of doing something, in this game.
 
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Joe Saul-Sehy
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Great review, and I agree with it all...especially that this is a fantastic game even though you should come in expecting all of those downsides. The game is designed to be this type of expansive thing, and you should be looking for that when you play.
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Jean-Philippe Leclerc
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I agree that the luck factor
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David Bernier
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Cthulhu Tempura wrote:

I agree that the luck factor

Euro whiner
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David Bernier
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Domino Man wrote:
Great review, and I agree with it all...especially that this is a fantastic game even though you should come in expecting all of those downsides. The game is designed to be this type of expansive thing, and you should be looking for that when you play.

Well said. Well designed long games are awesome and MoV is one of them imo. I love every aspects of it even the die rolls for movement. It's there for a reason, ton minimally control where you're going and at what speed. If it wasn't there your ship could go where it wants and it would become a diluted and lifeless fetch/deliver game.

Thematically speaking it also makes sense. You're travelling in a cluster of stars where each meter you travel can bring it's own surprise. Dice roll for movement, telegates, navigation spaces, pirates, events, it's all there for a reason, simulate a solar system filled with surprises and danger.

Sure it's not for everyone and if you can't live without complete control over everything, please run away from MoV. But if you can live with controllable luck (controllable since many upgrades help you add/modifiy your dice) and having to adapt to what you have and make the best out of it, MoV will be a sweet treat!

I love this game and if I had to bring only one game on a desert island it would be MoV.
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Diz Hooper
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I love Merchant of Venus and find Eclipse boring. I will continue to complain about Eclipse.devil
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Geoff
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You can't tell me what to do! You're not my dad!

*sticks fingers in ears* I can't hear you Eclipse is a random mess Eclipse is a random mess lalalalalalala
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Pas L
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What if you don't like Eclipse for a whole bunch of unrelated to luck reasons? What then EH?!!
 
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Silver Bowen
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imyourskribe wrote:
You can't tell me what to do! You're not my dad!

*sticks fingers in ears* I can't hear you Eclipse is a random mess Eclipse is a random mess lalalalalalala

Gack... I've failed in my duties if I haven't managed to convert you to Eclipsism. Where have I gone wrong?
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silverbowen wrote:
imyourskribe wrote:
You can't tell me what to do! You're not my dad!

*sticks fingers in ears* I can't hear you Eclipse is a random mess Eclipse is a random mess lalalalalalala

Gack... I've failed in my duties if I haven't managed to convert you to Eclipsism. Where have I gone wrong?

I'll give you a choice between a) everywhere and b) almost everywhere. Which'll it be, McGee?
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Patrick Wilhelmi
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someotherguy wrote:
I appreciate the effort and the candor, but this review is utterly misguided. The new and dreadful rules made up by FFG do make the game a bit more of an adventure game, but also make it a luck-fest and a complete waste of time (there are funner luck-fests and who decided "funner" wasn't a word?). Classic MoV ("Real" MoV, more like) is strictly a game about finance and efficiency, not an "adventure" game, and if you're having luck issues, you're pushing your luck way too far, which is just playing poorly.

As stated in my review it's for the standard game only. So far we were not able to play the classic game.

What is fun for one group of players is no fun for another. But we should all be allowed to choose for ourselves. My group enjoyed the game despite its shortcomings.

So I've got no idea what kind of misguidance you could mean?
 
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dr.morton wrote:

One final word to the publisher:
With all the components in the game it is a shame that FFG is still not able to come up with a reasonable tray/inlet or provides us with a roll of zip-lock bags to store the stuff. This is far below standard in current game publishing and a constant annoyance with this company.

What a picayune thing to gripe about. Just buy a box of small Ziploc snack bags, problem solved. Talk about 1st-World Gaming problems. shake
 
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Volker Hirscher
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MoV is MUCH better than Eclipse - in every regard! Over and out ninja
 
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Brandon Zappala
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I have to agree, eclipse has the, "lets go to combat with an ancient when I should clearly win, then get destroyed. I am now behind everyone else by two turns... I lose..."

Whereas, mov has "I got lucky and have more money. I am ahead, and now there are 25 more turns in the game to work with my subtle edge."

I have played a lot of eclipse, but only one game of mov, I am going to try to play more to get a better feel. But this is my initial outlook.
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John Correll
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When trying to get someone to play a game that remotely looks complex, giving them an arm load of zip-lock bags doesn't help matters. Surely card board box dividers and card boxes can't be more costly than my purchases of plastic organization boxes of which things, still don't always fit in the box correctly.

A drafter on staff would fix all of this.
 
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