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Subject: A great little card game rss

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Brad Keusch
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Ann Arbor
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Innovation is a great card game that manages to simulate the building of an entire civilization using only a bareboned set of cards. It is fairly easy to learn as well, although the fact that it invents multiple terms to describe the actions available means that new players will have to pay attention closely to the rules. The cards themselves are separated into 10 different ages. Each player gets two cards from age 1 to start the game and the rest are stacked by age in a circle in the middle of the table, with a face down card from each age in the middle of the circle acting as an achievement. There are also 5 special achievements that are immediately claimable based on conditions stated on the card.

There are 4 actions you can take, and you get to take TWO actions per turn:
1) Draw: You may draw a card from the age that matches the highest top card you have on the board. If the age draw pile matching that number is empty, you simply draw from the lowest available pile above it.

2) Meld: You may play a card from your hand onto the board. Each card is one of five colors (red, yellow, blue, purple, green). You may only have one stack of cards of each color. When melding a card, you either create a new stack of that color if there is nothing on your board matching it yet, or you add it to the top of an existing colored pile. Cards that are covered up can no longer be activated, but they may contribute symbols to your total if your pile is splayed. Splaying permanently shifts a pile by one symbol width per card in one direction (left, right, up), revealing the symbols of any cards beneath it. You can only splay your piles if a dogma directs you to do so (see number 3).

3) Dogma: This is the main method by which you accomplish things in the game. Each card has at least one dogma effect on it, that is associated with a symbol. Every card also has three symbols on it (along with an icon related to its name, that is meaningless aside from the fact that it makes the card more or less valuable for certain splay directions by taking up a symbol spot). When you choose a dogma, you count up all the visible symbols you have across all the cards on your tableau, and then compare that number to every other player's total. If the dogma you are performing starts with I demand... (making it an offensive dogma) each player with LESS symbols of the associated type must perform the action. For other dogmas, all players who have an EQUAL OR GREATER number of the associated symbols get to SHARE the action, and in fact they get to perform it BEFORE you do (in clockwise order), although you get a free draw by way of compensation after you perform it last. The dogmas of some cards are VERY powerful, and there are some you may wish to show new players in advance (Pirate Code in particular seems to make new players quite upset, as it can steal scored points from multiple players). The dogmas on cards in ages 9 and especially 10 can immediately end the game, so keep that in mind!

4) Achieve: There are multiple dogmas that allow you to score cards by placing them face down into your score pile. When you have a number of points that is equal to or greater than 5x the age number of an available achievement, AND you have a top card that is equal to or greater than the achievement you choose, you may perform this action to acquire one. Claiming a special achievement may be done at any time you meet its requirements (even on an opponents turn, though unlikely) and does NOT require an action. There is a dogma that allows you to claim each of the special achievements as well, given that you meet the usually strict requirements.

Overall, it's pretty simple, as there are only 3 actions that get performed often. Achieve should always be in the back of your mind and you should always be checking the point totals of yourself and opponents to see who can claim what, though it can change very rapidly!

There are 3 ways to win:
1) You claim a number of achievements based on the number of players playing the game (2p: 6 achievements. 3p: 5 achievements. 4p: 4 achievements). This includes a mix of normal and special achievements.

2)You play a dogma effect that immediately ends the game (there are multiple, and they are late game cards). If you want to win by achievements, you should try to do it ASAP because when these cards get melded, someone may swoop in and instantly win.

3) Someone tries to draw a card from an age GREATER than 10. This is most likely to happen from someone trying to draw from an empty age 10 pile, but it can happen in other ways as well. If this occurs, the player with the most POINTS wins, with achievements only acting as a tiebreaker. This is probably the least likely way the game will end, however.

I have taught this game to gamers and non-gamers alike in relatively short amounts of time. Though the terminology may trip some people up initially, the way the game plays tends to be very intuitive. That being said, there can be wild swings in fortune based on some of the dogmas, and people in first place can be pulled allll the way back down. Conversely, even if you have been slow to develop and are lagging far behind, a few key cards can put you right back in the thick of things. The game plays fairly quickly, as while some combos are possible it is generally pretty clear what is going to be your best action on a turn.

The game plays well 2 way, although in heads up competition it seems to be my experience that when someone gets a clear edge, they are more likely to win compared to a multi-way game. It's always exciting and fun, and while the game requires a decent amount of space due to the tableaus formed, the box itself is highly portable and the fact that the only components are cards means it can be played in a wide variety of locations. Definitely recommend this one, especially now that Iello has published a second edition with greatly enhanced artwork. If anyone has played the expansions (two exist from Asmadi games) and wishes to comment on them, feel free!
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steven smolders
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To bad this game is very rare to get. I'm been looking for a copy but it seems to be OP in europe.
 
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Derek H
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wolverine1977 wrote:
To bad this game is very rare to get. I'm been looking for a copy but it seems to be OP in europe.

Wow! It must be very popular. I bought mine from there about this time last year..
 
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Derek H
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Re: A great card game
anatana wrote:
The game plays well 2 way, although in heads up competition it seems to be my experience that when someone gets a clear edge, they are more likely to win compared to a multi-way game.

Pretty much most of my games have been played 2 player and I can say that, with experience, you can find different ways to "pull back" in that situation as well ...
 
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steven smolders
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i just got it with a trade and we love this game. And making it even better the trade deal with innovation i got Glory to Rome black box edition aswel
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