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Subject: Flawed, but Still Underrated rss

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jbrier
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Aventura
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I think Verrater may have passed under the radar of its target audience being that it's packaged as a card game when in truth it plays like a middle-to-heavy weight boardgame. I think if it were produced as a boardgame and were published in English, it would have caught the attention of alot more people and probably been at least in the BGG top 150.

This is one of the best implementations I have seen of the role selction mechanism, as it really offers very difficult decisions owing to the many things one needs/wants to do as well as things one wants the other players NOT to do... in fact, Bruno Faidutti admitted that the role selection mechanic in this game was what inspired the same mechanic in his most popular game to date and a BGG favorite Citadels. Who is to say that Andreas Seyfarth didn't also take a cue from one of these games...?

So in Verrater, there are two factions at war with each other. In the 4 player game, there start out being 2 players affiliated with each faction, but it is possible for a player to switch factions during the game so it isn't so much that players represent the factions but rather they simply earn VPs when the faction they presently belong to is victorious at battle.

Each round a battle occurs, and resolving it consists of just comparing numerical values. Firstly, each territory involved in the present battle has a numerical value. Players then choose role cards (one for each player) which confer a number of different abilities, some of which add points to the numerical value of their faction- this adds an element of uncertainty since roles are chosen semi-secretly a la Citadels and are not revealed until after players have all committed additional forces to the battle by playing resource cards, these which also have numerical values.

Sounds like it would be dry, but the selection of role cards including the speculation about what everyone else chose is really what spices the game up. There is strategy in the form of a predictably rotating start player (which means better choice of roles in certain rounds and not in others), and some roles that if chosen confer recurring advantages but that are not as immediately (if at all) useful.

This would really be a solid 9 if it weren't for the rigid scoring opportunities - these make it easy for a player to be in a position where s/he cannot make a comeback from a devastating loss. It also has alot to do with the fact that the bulk of points in a round are awarded to all players in a faction that wins a battle, so being in last place means that you'll have a hard time getting into the lead since you'll usually need to share the spoils of victory with at least one other player who will consequently remain ahead of you. I also don't like the granularity of possible allegiances, i.e. the battles will either be 2-2 (most balanced and interesting but will not remain this way forever since a player who is behind his "partner" will be encouraged to switch sides), 3-1 which makes the battle mechanic a little too lopsided, and 4-0 which is just silly for everyone to stay in except the player in the lead.

Also be warned: Verrater may not be *understood* by persons hung up on loyalty or that are too non-confrontational, as after all it does mean "traitor" in German. But I think that in terms of offering high fun factor via meaty and tense decisions complimented by heavy psychological factor and deductive speculation, Verrater is a solid game worth owning because of its low price.
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