MissJekyll has already done a great job with her session report. I won't go through the game description to save time.
I am a high school engineering/technology teacher and while I teach with games and teach students about crafting PnP, I also run a lunch time game group with about 4-7 students. These students are new to the board game scene. I've been slowly introducing them to the classics one at a time each session (Power Grid, Dominion, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride). I have now decided they're ready to try something more challenging. At the same time, obtained from designer, Philip duBarry, a set of his files for Spirits of the Rice Paddy.
PnP Game Construction:
There's a lot to print in this game. Which in turn will make a lot to get in the final release of the published game. Setup cards, Rain cards, Two decks of event cards for drafting, a set of cards for solo play, a reference/play mat, individual player mats for each of the up to 4 players, cubes for people (I hope they use Meeple), cubes for livestock, weeds, fertilizer, and pests. Tokens for water, magic water, rocks, and planted/grown fields. Sticks for walls and for gates. Oh, and something to count up points/currency which is in the form of Rice (we used poker chips). All in all, it took me a while to gather all the materials.
I ended up designing and 3D printing tokens for the water and magic water to look like that illustrated in the rules. Glad I did. They worked great for stacking and passing around and were easy to distinguish with the rest of the components. I think next week, I'll do the same for rocks instead of using black wooden discs. Bring out the realism.
We had a lower turn out of three students, which with me in the mix made our table of 4. Since we play during lunch (25 effective minutes), we spent one day with setup and rules overview and one round. We had a few questions about component distribution after we drew our setup cards. Philip was quick to reply to all of our questions via Twitter.
The next day we started over and finished up half the rounds and then finished up the game on day three. All in all, about 90 minutes of playtime. Since this was our first time through, we played the recommended beginner game which limits rounds from 1-7 to 1-3 & 7 and also eliminates the achievements. After the rule clarifications and our own learning curve, the rounds went much faster. I could see a full game easily taking 90 minutes.
Game Play & Outcomes:
Feels a little like Puerto Rico. Manage workers, build fields, grow crops. However, the added benefit of the drafted Spirit Cards brings a nice player interaction component. Plus, there is the rainfall effect. I haven't played a game with anything like this yet. The rain card tells you how much rain will fall, you try to drain your fields to do your work anticipating how much rain will ultimately make it your way in player order (determined by the numbers on the Spirit cards). Excess rain from player 1 goes into the reservoir for player 2, etc until the last player puts any excess into the 'sea' or bank of water tiles. Very clever.
I think the rainfall amounts might need some reductions. We never ran out of water. One of our players did get a Spirit Card that gave them two Magic Water tiles which gave them two permanent waters throughout the game. That might have been why.
We ended up changing our round 3 to be round 6 in anticipation of jumping to the final round so everyone would have a change to grow their fields. I might recommend this addition to the rules. It increased our total rice and made it more competitive. Final count: I ended up in close second with 37 rice, First was taken with 39 rice, Third had 26 rice and last came in with 17 rice. A fair distribution of points in my opinion. Everyone felt 'in the game' and had a fair shot at winning.
One student asked to borrow it for the weekend to play with her family. A good sign of a fun game! However, knowing I'd be meeting with my regular gamers this weekend, I took it home myself. We'll play the full game and I'll post an update soon. I only wish I had taken some photos!
Thanks to Philip duBarry for a very creative worker placement/resource management game. I look forward to seeing what APE Games does with the final version.
Thanks for the report. Glad you guys are enjoying it!