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Subject: No Fate But What We Make: A review of The Convoy. rss

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Scott Sexton
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The Convoy, by Ignacy Trzewiczek, is a 2 player asymmetrical card game that tells the story of an army of killer robots marching on New York City, set in the world of the Polish post apocalyptic RPG Neuroshima. Don't worry if you aren't familiar with this setting (most folks aren't) all you need to know is that it is a slightly bleaker, less ironic version of the Fallout Universe. Players can choose to play as either The Outpost, a rag tag band of human resistance fighters or the Moloch, a rampaging army of evil robots with their sights set on destroying New York City and New Jersey (which makes them evil how exactly?).

Thematically, the game feels largely derivative of the first 10 minutes of Terminator 1 & 2 (machines vs. humans in a bleak future). Mechanically, the game is heavily inspired by two popular CCGs published by Decipher, the original Star Wars CCG, and the Lord of the Rings CCG (the first one based on the Peter Jackson movies). Fans of the Lord of the Rings CCG should find themselves especially at home with this game. In The Convoy, each player is given a 35 card deck comprised of a mix of "creature" cards, instant actions, and either buildings (for the Outpost Player) or modules (for the Moloch Player) -- all of which is very standard PVP card game tropes. You use your deck as you would expect in most CCG type card games to deploy your army along the route of city cards that maps out the Moloch's march on New York. The game progresses as the titular convoy moves from city to city laying waste to everything in its path (this mechanic especially should be familiar to fans of the LOTR CCG). The game ends following the final battle for New York City. The Moloch player wins if the result of said battle causes the destruction of the city. The Outpost player wins if they are able to fully deplete the Moloch deck, draw hand, and no Moloch units remain in New York City.

Despite some claims to the contrary, I find the two factions to be extremely well balanced despite how vastly different they play. The Outpost player's goal is focused on depleting the Moloch's cards, and not necessarily on winning battles - they are fighting a war of attrition. On the other hand, the overwhelming force of the Moloch presents their player with the difficult choice of deciding when it is most advantageous to play out their various cards - they are fighting a war of restraint and strategic use of extreme force. If the Moloch play their cards too soon or at an inopportune moment, they'll wind up doing the Outpost's job for them. The Moloch player wants to play as little of their deck as possible before arriving in New York, however, they are given every temptation possible to over play their hand. The task of both players is easier said than done and it is quite a delicious brain burn. Something I find very interesting in how these decks play is that unlike the LOTR CCG, the battles in The Convoy feel much more Euro-ey. In those Decipher CCGs, combat is much more chaotic and visceral, while The Convoy feels more like I'm unwinding a puzzle. I say this as a compliment, because it conveys a sense of just how well balanced I feel the game is.

Where the game falls short is in many of the same criticisms that follow Portal's other games: confusing rules presentations and complex iconography. The English rules appear to have been written by a non-native English speaker. The structure of some sentences will force you to re-read entire paragraphs from time to time. The iconography can at times be very unintuitive, and for such a small box game, it feels overly complex. Imagine Star Realms with Race for the Galaxy's iconography and you get a hint of what I'm talking about. Even having a hand full of games under my belt, I like to have a card index at hand just so that I know what all the cards do. Additionally, this is a game that rewards knowledge of the decks. A player who has a knowledge of both decks will likely have a significant advantage over an opponent who is still learning all the cards. If both players have comparable knowledge of the cards, the game shines best.

The Convoy is a solid, although easily overlooked 2 player card playing experience. Much like Stronghold before it, The Convoy is a tremendous effort at storytelling in a game. The game by its design always crescendos with an epic final battle. The mechanics are not entirely original, having taken heavy inspiration from two CCG juggernauts. If you are a fan of Stronghold, Ignacy's 51st State series, or the Decipher CCGs of old, I believe The Convoy is a worthy addition to your collection and one that should be easy to get your money's worth from based on its affordable price point.
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Roland W. est. 1984
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The inspiration was revolver (or the original : aliens the card game) :-)

but nice review
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