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Subject: A Brief Review of the Forge War Print and Play rss

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Jake Smith
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I am writing this brief review after two plays of the print and play.

I like the theme of the game, and find it is reflected fairly well in playing. The artwork and rules book are still a bit rough, but that is to be expected of a game in the process of being kickstarted.

The resource collection is an abstract minigame. It provides the most interesting decisions in the game. Unfortunately, it also feels quite apart from the other phases of the game and, being so abstract, is really reaching for thematic justification.

The market phase falls flat. Sometimes there is something you must do, so you do that; other times all the options are equally mediocre, so you do whatever. The once around nature of the phase prevents it from ever developing the tension of taking the action you really need now versus taking a more opportunistic action and praying the former will still be available next time around the table that drives the decisions in the better worker placement games.

Similarly, I found the questing phase rote. You must immediately start any quest that you select, so you are limited to taking quests that you have the resources on hand to complete the first stage of. Combine this with high turnover in the quest selection queue, and once again there are few actual decisions to make. You take a quest you can complete or maybe hate draft a free quest, push a few resources onto in the combinations allowed by your weapon designs, and head back to the mine phase.

The game Forge War most reminds me of is At the Gates of Loyang. You collect resources, manipulate them, pay off contracts, and repeat, hopefully making enough profit off of the loop to gain some VP. Unfortunately for Forge War, I prefer Loyang's engine building style resource collection to Forge War's abstract jumping game, Loyang's card drafting to Forge War's once around worker placement, and much prefer Loyang's more lenient contract system to Forge War's rigid "pay now or you fail" system.

Overall, I found this iteration of Forge War to be a solid but unremarkable game. If you prefer light to midweight euros and are drawn in by the blacksmithing/questing theme then there is a lot for you to like here. If you prefer medium to heavy euros, however, the decision density is not here.

I am doubtful of the ability of full version of the game to address my issues with it. While some of the added elements appear to raise the complexity of the game a bit, there is nothing in the base mechanics presented in this print and play version that makes me want it to play three times as long.
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Darryl with one "R"
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Thanks for this review! I wish there were more reviews of ongoing Kickstarers -- there's no doubt in my mind it would help people decide whether or not to back.

I also like reviews where the reviewer compares a game to another game: "Playing it feels like X, except with/without..." So I appreciate your comparison to At the Gates of Loyang.

I am surprised by your description of it as a light-to-midweight Euro. The designer has stated that he considers it to be on the heavier end of the Euro scale, and that's also the impression I've gotten from most of the discussion about the game.
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Jake Smith
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To clarify what I mean by "light to midweight", the game is of similar weight to Stone Age, Belfort, etc. More complex than Carcassonne or Settlers, less complex than Puerto Rico or Castles of Burgundy. While there are a few mechanisms working here, the decision space for each individual action is typically very restricted, which makes it play lighter than it would appear at first glance. I think fans of games of that complexity level will find a lot to like here.
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Isaac Childres
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Jake, thanks for the review. You are correct that the basic game can feel a little, well, basic. That's the point - it's purpose is to introduce you to the mechanics of the game while giving you a complete game experience. You don't have to worry to much about building up a good combination of market cards for the long haul. Most of the quests you can take will get finished in short order. There aren't too many resources to think about.

All I can tell you is that if you want to judge the entire game, please check out the digital version on my website first. There you can play the full epic game and experience whether the decision-making there is still basic.
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Rob P
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nbread wrote:
The designer has stated that he considers it to be on the heavier end of the Euro scale


Definitely not.
I suppose if someone really went through the effort to figure out the nifty little puzzle that is the mine, there might be something there. But there aren't enough decisions and opportunities for planning very far ahead for me to consider this "heavy" in the slightest.
 
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C B
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I have to say that one of the detractions in this review - the fact that the quest and market cards all clear at the end of each round - makes for a player decision right there, "everything that is not bought is out of the game."

Games with this technique of buy it or lose it simply offer a different form of strategy to games where the cards hang around a while.

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Jake Smith
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From the rulebook, the longer game adds some chrome and a longer treadmill to run up, but the fundamental decision making structure is unchanged. You still take one market action a turn; you still take one quest a turn; you still must meet the requirements of each quest every turn. The decision space for these phases remains relatively constant over the course of the game.
 
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Chris Torres
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Disclaimer: I have only played 2 three player online games to completion (the epic version).

I think the OP has accurately described the first level of the game (the basic version), but has severely underestimated the complexity of the 3rd level. By then you are not just handling one or two quests, but rather 4-6 (probably more once you get good). Determining the optimal timing on ending each of these quests is crucial to maximizing victory points.

Saying it will be the same thing, with just more is like saying juggling 8 oranges is no more challenging than juggling 2. Obviously the quantity of combinations to consider will always have a direct effect on the decision space within a game.

But I can see how you would arrive at this conclusion based off only playing the first level. Up until we reached the 2nd level we were quite unimpressed with this game.

And that brings up the issue we have with this game: the first 30-45 minutes of the game are not really all that interesting. The entire first level feels like it was designed to introduce players to the game. Which is a fine thing in a tutorial, but definitely not what you want to go through every time you play. The 2nd and 3rd levels are certainly fun, but I shouldn't have to sit through 30-45 minutes of a game before I can start making interesting decisions.

I know the designer will include a way to play the 2nd level as the basic game, but then you would miss out on the 3rd (and most interesting) level. Why not have a mode where you skip the first level and play through the rest of the game?
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Dan Licata
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@TRez5000 You can always continue from the second stage to the third stage in the quick mode play.

I found early decisions in the first stage can greatly affect later stages. If you don't set yourself up correctly in the first stage you can have a tougher time later.
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Isaac Childres
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Chris, Dan is correct. You can use the fast forward mechanic to either play just the 2nd stage or play the 2nd and 3rd stages together.
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Chris Torres
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Cephalofair wrote:
Chris, Dan is correct. You can use the fast forward mechanic to either play just the 2nd stage or play the 2nd and 3rd stages together.


That's great news!

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