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Subject: Quick Norsaga review. rss

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Geoff B.
United States
Pennsylvania
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I playtested this game for the creator, was not compensated or coerced or anything.

Story:

You play a bard, sitting around weaving the story of your heroes saga, and to prove you have the right stuff to have pulled it off, you start telling stories of your ancestors.

Gameplay:
This game is a hard to explain, easy to learn (just play it once) card matching game. You use your hand to build pairs of cards that give your character the right colors to fulfill the goal for your Saga and win the game.

Embellishments are the meat of the mechanic, the card you pick for your character determines which Embellishment list you will use. Playing cards to your family tree with the same main color as your base hero will give you access to the more powerful Embellishments of your hero.

Learning Curve:
Once you get your first game under belt you aren’t going to have a hard time remembering how to play. The first game is a bit rough, because a lot of the mechanics are hard to explain in a rule book, but the visual design of the game makes playing it very easy.

The problem is there is a lull after you play those first few games where the game doesn’t seem to have much depth, or at least I felt that way. Then I played it some more and found there was a lot there I was overlooking.

Theme and Presentation:

I love the art for this game, I love the Saga art and titles, I love the characters on the hero cards. My game group all latched onto certain heroes that we love to have in our tree.
Beyond that the theme isn’t really relevant. It could be a game about evolution or competing production companies or rival magicians, the game has a setting more than a theme. I love the setting, but it doesn’t drive the mechanics.

That is probably the most disappointing thing about Norsaga for me, the theme is fantastic, the mechanics solid, but when I’m playing it I don’t feel like I’m spinning a tale about my great aunt who was raised by wolves, more like sitting around the barbershop debating whether Vik the axe loving berserker inherited his stubbornness from his Aunt Mora or Grandpa Fjori.

Great characters, great art, but it doesn’t explore them at all.


Who to play Norsaga with:

My 6yr old can play it, and she loves the characters, doesn’t get very deep into the competitive strategy, so my wife and I play down to her. My gaming group has done a good job of bringing out the theme, we actually read the names and titles of the hero cards played, and Theme it up a bit, like you do Gloom. It gets fun when you steal other players heroes and get to tell them that that wasn’t their grandma, their Grandma was a wussy Elf Enchanter, and no Grandchild of hers ever slayed a dragon in hand to hand combat.

What I’m saying is if your group is naturally inclined to add flavor text to their games you will really enjoy Norsaga, and probably play it enough to get the more intricate parts of the game that take a while to find. (which is when the game gets fun, and by fun I mean sneaky tricky fun)

If you like mechanics and pretty pictures, then this game is a solid game and not demanding enough to make you wish you spent the effort on something else.

If you aren’t interested in anything other than mechanics there is still a pretty good game here, but not a great one.
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Alyn Roddis
United Kingdom
Chesterfield
Derbyshire
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I was worried that despite all the awesome art and flavour this looked like it boiled down to matching colours on cards.
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Matthew Bishop
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Thanks for the review Geoff! Great summary, you should write reviews more often.
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Geoff B.
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refugeesfromreality wrote:
I was worried that despite all the awesome art and flavour this looked like it boiled down to matching colours on cards.


Honestly, it's a really good game about matching colors on cards.

The Embellishments are really the meat of the game, and eventually learning to use the Ghost cards and powers well make it much better, but that requires some good use of color matching as well.

A lot of the strategy early game is plotting where to leave empty space and where to go for pairings, with more experience it can become about getting your enemies to think you are going one way and tricking them into taking out the wrong cards in your tree.

There's a lot of subtlety that brings out a good deal of strategy in the game, but your group has to find it.

If it wasn't for my kid liking the game I wouldn't have played it enough to see the really devious side of the game, and now my wife won't play with me if I play mean.

I will warn you that if your group doesn't go after each other this game boils down to who had the right cards in their hand and went earliest in order. Because at heart this is a color matching game, just a really good one with a lot of nastiness waiting to be found.
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Rob Rob
United States
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Had our first play of the base game today and I agree with you; you have to go after each other or it becomes a color matching exercise. I went after my opponent once and won the game one play ahead of him, after maybe 6-7 turns in total.

Maybe we missed something in the rules but we didn't experience much (any) concern how to redirect our tales or how to acquire colors.
 
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