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I received a copy of PWU for Xmas and have played twice since then, due to the long time it took to paint up the miniatures and my OCD nature of needing to finish painting before playing
Both times playing, the wife and I each started with 8 puppets (including the master and two side kicks) and it took us more than 2 hours to complete the game. The first time was due to frequent stops to consult the manual and check the rules, but since the gameplay is relatively straight forward, I was surprised that it took us almost 2 hours to finish the second game...
So here's my question- how can the box claim that gameplay takes 15-45 minutes!? I think about an hour would be normal after we play a few more times, but less than 20 seems impossible. My fear is that I am either 1) misinterpreting the rules that one can only win by tearing about their opponent's master OR by claiming all work benches or 2) both the wife and I are seriously devoid of strategy.
The playtime will vary greatly depending on the strategy and experience of the players. Even with 8 puppets, it doesn't mean they will all be put on the board. If an adversary was to try rushing his opponent with only 1 or 2 puppets, a game could theoretically take less than 20 minutes.
Last time I played, we were 3 players and 2 hours is about the time it took us to finish, and still we had to look a few times in the rules for clarification.
I'd say a 2-player game could take on average about 1 hour, give or take 30 minutes. Not that far from a game of chess. The setup is a bit longer though
Picked this one up myself and the game will speed up as you learn tactics and correct building of armies and deck management.
This is due to the fact that once you get a feel for what cards to use and which to discard after each turn your puppets will act more frequently etc.
Also the different ways to win can effect play time quite a lot.
Capturing the opponents workbench can end the game in pretty short order.
Also having to many puppets early can be a mistake and cause your to lose focus. But too few and you leave yourself open.
There are many things to consider in this great game and also it is very flexible so by all means alter the rules to suit you or have the workbenches closer together,or smaller battles.
Having said that 45 mins at the outside is crazy although I have seen many games won in about 30 mins.
I try to filter puppets in only when I need them or I see a hole in my defences.
Also try to choose puppets that complement your boss and try to have at least one of each suit out.
Also don't be afraid to use exhausted puppets.
A rule a lot of people miss is also that moving wont exhaust a puppet its taking an action that does so puppets can move each round of a turn to capture those benches. Important as those extra couple of benches can almost double you actions if you own them
So use those loc number AST movers to expand quickly.
It's not that easy to tear a puppet part if you have a couple of good high numbers to dodge with
So in summary.
Capture one or two benches quickly
Try to have multiple suits of puppets out but don't crowd yourself.
Build your army around your boss (obvious I know).
Pay attention to what cards your opponent plays.
Move the low number puppets up fast to get those benches then sit a tank on them to hold them.
LASTLY THINK VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE EXPOSING YOUR PUPPET MASTER ESPECIALLY IF
BETTE NOIR OR THE HOODED RIDER ARE NEAR BY.
Hope this helps bud.