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Subject: You may like the theme....but there is no game in here rss

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Nushura
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After trying the game at Essen I thought I owed the community to write a review of the game. The short review is: we were interested by the theme, but the game itself is terrible. Jump to the summary to see the highlights.

DISCLAIMER: This whole review is based in the first printing that could be bought in Essen 2014. I have been told that most of my issues will be fixed for the next printing. So take this review with a grain of salt.

You are still here? Ok, then prepare for a wall of text. Let me start with a review of the components.
The game comes with quite a lot of cards, although slightly low quality: since cards have black border just by removing the shrinkwrap they get dented...but it is no problem if you sleeve the cards (or don't card too much about a bit of wear in them).

The dice are great, and the artwork is very nice. It is spicy, but in a comic format perfectly within reason. Thumbs up for that. Overall, I would say you get a good amount of stuff for a reasonable price tag.

However, one big problem comes in the graphic design of the cards. In the beginning of the game you must separate the initial hand from the rest of the deck. You can tell which cards come in the starting hand because they have a borders of different colors. In this case one image is worth a thousand words:


Can you spot the difference in the cards? It took us 10 minutes to sort the cards. Worst of all, during the game these cards are shuffled with the main deck. So expect to do this before starting each game! Of course you can forget about playing this game if you are colorblind or want to play or with dim lights.


It is also worth mentioning that some cards have typos (one of which really confused us (we could not understand what was the purpose of the card). Now look at the icons in this picture.



Similarly, the icons for female dancer is very similar to the waitress icon (and close to male dancer as well). UPDATE: As Konstantinos mentioned, the background helps distinguishing the icons. We did not notice that, I apologize for that.

In any case, my overall judgement of the components is the same: the game has nice art, perfect for the theme, but a few errors in the layout of the cards. UPDATE: I got an e-mail from Konstantinos saying that this will be fixed in the new printing. I am glad that my feedback somehow helped with the game

Let's forget the form and go to the game itself. Just in case, you do not know how to play, here you have a small summary of the rules:

in each of the 5 rounds you have to serve a customer. Each customer consists of roughly 3 desires and orders.

A desire is just an icon (say, male dancer). You are only allowed to play cards that matches at least one of the 3 desires of the customer.

Orders are also a bunch of icons (say, 2 women + 1 drink) followed by a reward (in the form of VPs, or more resources). If you satisfy an order, you get its reward.

Naturally, the objective in a turn is to satisfy as many orders as possible. For that you play cards from your hand. Some cards give you fixed icons (to satisfy orders), sometimes you get dice (i.e., you roll and get random icons), and other cards are events that allow you to bend the rules.

The last resource you have is "patron's favours": they are one-time use resources that can buy you the missing icon, even protect from the opponents' events, or reroll dice.

A nice feature of the game is that here you have a time limit: we reveal the desires and orders of the customer, and you only have 30 seconds to choose your cards. Everyone does this in parallel, and then we resolve the cards one by one.

The idea sounds simple, and interesting, right? Lots of choices to manage your hand, save your good cards for customers that pay well, try to get cards of all icons, etc...

In paper the rules seemed ok, but in practice it doesn't work. All orders are very similar (sure, 1 cigar less but add 2 girls)...and what is worse: many rewards are "pick up a card you just used back into your hand", so there is no incentive in saving your good cards for later. The turn simply consists of going through your hand and picking the best 4 cards that you can play. No decisions to be done in here.

After that, each player resolves his turn in order. you roll your dice in a Yahtzee style, each time locking some of your dice. Now you have to optimize the resources you have, combined with those that you need. So, if I try to fulfil order 1 and 3 I need to roll 2 women, 1 cigar and a drink. Oh, damn. I got tons of drinks. I could go to orders 2 and 3 instead.... but wait, how many women I had already?

I understand that Yahtzee rule was added to give you more control of your turn, but it causes too much analysis paralysis. During this time your friends are completely disengaged. Hell, in the end we simply locked the best die and re-rolled dice that didn't give many resources. Once we were somehow satisfied, we would check which orders can you fulfil.

Another big problem is the snowball effect: the more orders you fulfil the more resources you get. Hence the guy that fulfilled more orders will have more cards next round, which will allow him or her to fulfil more orders, and so on.

The reverse situation also happens: in our game, one of the players had terrible luck rolling the dice in the first round. He spent his favour tokens to reroll the dice...and guess what? another terrible roll! He could not fulfil orders, and started the next round with 4 cards and no favours. He spent the whole game trying to catch up, and IIRC he ended up with fewer resources than at the beginning of the game. Indeed, the chances of such a catastrophic bad luck are astronomically low, but it can happen on a smaller scale.

As you can imagine we were very disappointed with the game. Our friend did not resell the game, but it ended in the "we will never again play this game" shelf. I have no ill-intention towards Artipia, but it is a shame that they rushed to publish the game, rather than polishing it into something interesting.

Quick Summary:
-No interaction between players.
-No decisions. you just shove the best cards each turn.
-Snowball effect: If you start losing you will never catch up
-Completely pasted theme: cards are fun to see once, but then the fun is gone.
-Analysis paralysis. Too much time doing math and matching icons.
-Game overstays its welcome for what should be a light filler.
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Craig C
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So you spent a lot of money on something that sounded really appealing but ended up giving you no satisfaction?

Sounds like it perfectly captured the essence of a strip club.
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Nushura wrote:

-Completely pasted theme: cards are fun to see once, but then the fun is gone.


So what you're saying is that this has a gratuitous sex theme?
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Konstantinos Kokkinis
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Hello,

Allow me to comment on your quick summary.

Nushura wrote:

-No interaction between players.

Event cards, Special cards, Fun rules that force players to react on opponents' actions are the ways that add interaction.

Nushura wrote:

-No decisions. you just shove the best cards each turn.

Which cards to use, which cards to keep for later. Which Staff to use. Push your luck dice mechanism. Resource distribution on orders. Plenty of options.

Nushura wrote:

-Snowball effect: If you start losing you will never catch up
New players may have a disadvantage. This is why we suggest that players either play the game for a couple of Rounds and then re-start, or completely ignore the FUN rules for the first play. As long as all players understand the game, not being able to catch up is no different than most games. You can catch up. A bad Round won't bring you down.

Nushura wrote:

-Completely pasted theme: cards are fun to see once, but then the fun is gone.
I'm not sure what would be considered a less pasted theme on an erotic dancing related game...

Nushura wrote:

-Analysis paralysis. Too much time doing math and matching icons.
This may vary from game group to game group. In general after a couple of plays, doing assignment of symbols to orders is much much faster.

Nushura wrote:

-Game overstays its welcome for what should be a light filler.

The game has two modes. Fun rules or no fun rules. The amount you want this game to spend on the table depends on how serious you'd like your game to be. You may use the fun rules and play a lighter version where people will focus more on having fun instead of making the best possible decision, or ignore the fun rules and play a meater game.

Thank you


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Konstantinos Kokkinis
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May I also add that despite the very bad lighting of your photo that doesn't do justice to the cards, both cards belong to the blue player's starting hand.

Also, one of them clearly is a female dancer and the other a male dancer. (artwork, symbol, background color)
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Mathias Heilmann
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While I like the game, I think the OP has a point here. It can be hard to distinguish the starting player hands form the rest of the deck, especially when the lighting is not perfect. I solved this for me by adding a note to the game, listing what color starts with which cards.
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Nikos Chondroulis
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Heilz wrote:
While I like the game, I think the OP has a point here. It can be hard to distinguish the starting player hands form the rest of the deck, especially when the lighting is not perfect. I solved this for me by adding a note to the game, listing what color starts with which cards.
There should be many ways to just set the game before the play.
During playtime there is no need to distinguish any card.
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Duncan Idaho
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3pod wrote:

Which cards to use, which cards to keep for later. Which Staff to use. Push your luck dice mechanism. Resource distribution on orders. Plenty of options.


All of which he addressed in his review.

I like Artipia and your games, but the review is more convincing than this rebuttal.
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Alison Mandible
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3pod wrote:
Nushura wrote:
-Completely pasted theme: cards are fun to see once, but then the fun is gone.

I'm not sure what would be considered a less pasted theme on an erotic dancing related game...


For those of us who haven't actually played it-- how are the mechanics and the theme integrated? (i.e. Which mechanics would make less sense if the game were about people buying groceries or real estate instead of lap dances?)
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grasa_total wrote:
3pod wrote:
Nushura wrote:
-Completely pasted theme: cards are fun to see once, but then the fun is gone.

I'm not sure what would be considered a less pasted theme on an erotic dancing related game...


For those of us who haven't actually played it-- how are the mechanics and the theme integrated? (i.e. Which mechanics would make less sense if the game were about people buying groceries or real estate instead of lap dances?)


I think this is the crux of it. From what I can tell, Konstantinos' point is that he can't imagine another theme working better. Nushura's point was that there's no integration between the theme and the mechanisms.

To put it in perspective based on another game, in Among the Stars, you need to build around a power source. While other themes would work just as well as a space station there, the integration of the mechanisms (you must build close to this one square) with the theme (you need to power your building) creates a non-pasted-on theme.

In short, the theme doesn't have to be the only one that works to avoid the "pasted-on" label. The theme just has to have some reflection in the mechanisms.
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Alexander Lauck
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Have to write a few lines. I still own this game (sorry Nushura, couldn't trash it, looks good next to Busen Memo and Project Pornstar whistle). The picture he uploaded is the wrong one (should describe the differences between male and female characters, 3 of 4 players had some problems to recognize it in a darker room, we made sooo many pictures at the setup shake), but its hard to divide the player colors.
After this game I was really pissed (spent much money on a game I will maybe never play again), it felt like an untested prototype (with a not so good card quality, looks used after one game) but it was by far the best game we had at Essen, because every 5 minutes there was another detail we found and felt it was just wrong or unbalanced or... just funny...
But in the end the game is just yahtzee with symbols and a runaway leader problem (as he said: you get a reward for rolling good and a penalty for rolling bad, some very good cards could be taken again and again and so on).
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Alison Mandible
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Idaho11 wrote:
In short, the theme doesn't have to be the only one that works to avoid the "pasted-on" label. The theme just has to have some reflection in the mechanisms.


I guess it's a matter of semantics. It's true that there are games where the mechanics don't reflect the theme at *all*, and Lap Dance's theme is clearly not pasted on in that sense. But to say "what theme could be LESS pasted on than this one?" is making a strong claim-- that the theme and mechanics are as integrated as they could possibly be. That's what I'm skeptical about.
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Cracky McCracken
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Gee. Lap Dance sucks. What a shocker.

Thanks for the review OP!
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Nushura
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Hello Konstantinos,

First of all, apologies for the mistake I did with the cards. When I took the pic of the two cards was because I had mistaken the two icons. On an afterthought they are very easy to distinguish (and as you say, the background helps). However, the day we played we did mix them up. In any case, as you said they are of the same type. I fixed that.

Now, as for your comments on my summary:

3pod wrote:

Nushura wrote:

-No interaction between players.

Event cards, Special cards, Fun rules that force players to react on opponents' actions are the ways that add interaction.

This one I did not mention in my review in detail. Event and special cards are indeed the only "gaming" ways to interact with the other players. What essentially happended is that a player would have such an event, and while he was explaining how he was affecting the other player..he would be interrupted with a "Sorry, but I spend a favor token on this guy to prevent your card".

IIRC there are 3 slots for the blocking action (with 4 players), and due to the limitation of 4 cards per player rarely we saw more than that. In the end, we played events to the guy without favor tokens, no on whom you really wanted to target.

Indeed, you have other interactions (like the fun rules), but this review focused on the gaming part of the game. Surprising it may seem, some of us are only interested in that part

As for your other comments... I think that the review argues enough why I think that way. You are of course allowed to disagree, but my overall opinion is the same: more playtesting and polishing would have created a gem. As it is now...I will spend my money somewhere else.

grasa_total wrote:
3pod wrote:
Nushura wrote:
-Completely pasted theme: cards are fun to see once, but then the fun is gone.

I'm not sure what would be considered a less pasted theme on an erotic dancing related game...


For those of us who haven't actually played it-- how are the mechanics and the theme integrated? (i.e. Which mechanics would make less sense if the game were about people buying groceries or real estate instead of lap dances?)


The theme itself comes from the art and the special fun rules (say, when you deliver an order you must sing a song). You may find the special rules fun or not, but this review focuses in the game.

A client is represented with two groups of icons (desires and orders). You play cards with the same desire icons, and try to gather the icons needed for the orders. You can perfectly well adapt this to a regular bar (change the pole dancers for music icons and you are done), or anything else. In all honesty, I think a more adequate theme would be shopping in a supermarket. At least it is how I felt when trying to optimize the resources I have to satisfy the orders.

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Richard Ham
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Nushura wrote:
This one I did not mention in my review in detail. Event and special cards are indeed the only "gaming" ways to interact with the other players. What essentially happended is that a player would have such an event, and while he was explaining how he was affecting the other player..he would be interrupted with a "Sorry, but I spend a favor token on this guy to prevent your card".

Is that right? I thought that to use the bouncer, you have to be pre-emptive... that is, when its your turn to play an event card, it's at that moment that you can place a heart on him to ensure that one event's effect won't be able to hit you (or rather, it could hit you, but you'd be fine and ignore it). So you're only protected from players who go after you, not players who've gone before you.

Which is why it's a *huge* advantage to go first, because you get first access to vlad if you look around and see a lot of attack events on the table Which is why the speed round of the game is not supposed to be a hugely complex gameplay sequence... it's supposed to be one that's primarily devoted to rewarding the player who can most quickly identify which cards they should play.

Are you sure you were playing the game correctly? Or have I got it wrong here?

EDIT: turns out I've got it wrong! Oops. So basically, since anyone can use Vlad at any time if they've got the hearts, I guess the strategy as the attacker with an event card is to choose who you're going for, to deny them hearts, since you'll be forcing them to give one up, which will hurt them in their full turn. So better to hit people earlier in turn order, to minimize the advantage they get for going first (being first to be able to use employee cards)... all the better if you're a slow player and end up last in the speed round, which hurts your chances of getting to use employees you need...
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Marc
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Speaking for my part only, I am not sure if we played the game correctly (but I played a totally "different" game anyway, so it could just be me
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Tassos Grigoriadis
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rahdo wrote:
Nushura wrote:
This one I did not mention in my review in detail. Event and special cards are indeed the only "gaming" ways to interact with the other players. What essentially happended is that a player would have such an event, and while he was explaining how he was affecting the other player..he would be interrupted with a "Sorry, but I spend a favor token on this guy to prevent your card".

Is that right? I thought that to use the bouncer, you have to be pre-emptive... that is, when its your turn to play an event card, it's at that moment that you can place a heart on him to ensure that one event's effect won't be able to hit you (or rather, it could hit you, but you'd be fine and ignore it). So you're only protected from players who go after you, not players who've gone before you.

Which is why it's a *huge* advantage to go first, because you get first access to vlad if you look around and see a lot of attack events on the table Which is why the speed round of the game is not supposed to be a hugely complex gameplay sequence... it's supposed to be one that's primarily devoted to rewarding the player who can most quickly identify which cards they should play.

Are you sure you were playing the game correctly? Or have I got it wrong here?


Hi, although I understand why you were leaded to that conclusion (and we shall fix this with clarifications and/or interventions on cards if necessary) the Bouncer is not used in pre-emptive way but as a reaction to an event that was played AGAINST  you.

During this reprint we are doing some adjustments/corrections that will address the issues mentioned in OP's post. Replacement material will also be available for those who already own the game and have pledged to receive the stretch rewards of our campaign on KS.
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Nushura wrote:
Quick Summary:
-Completely pasted theme:


    Could somebody please point out the missed opportunity for a killer double-entendre in this? It's almost criminal that it wasn't included in the original review.

             S.

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David Tolin
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3pod wrote:

The game has two modes. Fun rules or no fun rules.


Waitasec...

There is a "no fun" mode?
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David Oldster
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DavidT wrote:
3pod wrote:

The game has two modes. Fun rules or no fun rules.


Waitasec...

There is a "no fun" mode?


Yes. You drink no tea during it.
 
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Greg Gresik
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So if we actually don't like the theme either...
 
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    I am really looking forward to the ads for this thing falling off of BGG's web site. It has that Sham-Wow feel to it.

             S.

 
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