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New Salem First Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First Impressions after 6 plays rss

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Edward Woods
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I have played 6 games of New Salem,all with five players and so far it has been quite hit. New Salem is a hidden role game with the players taking the part of either Puritan settlers or Witches. Both sides are trying to build a village by playing cards that represent buildings. The buildings themselves are broken into suits and sets which score points for the players depending on their individual victory conditions.Building also may produce either hope or despair. The Witches need to have a certain amount of despair cubes in play by the end of the game to win, if they fail to do so the Puritans win. Once a team has won each member of the team counts points to see who is the individual winner.


Let me say briefly why I think this game works so well.

First
The game is short, none of our sessions lasted longer than 30 minutes. Now, brevity itself is not necessarily a quality I highly value, many of my favorite games are quite long indeed, but it is important that a game does not outstay its welcome. New Salem does not. The game has a fixed number of rounds after which the characters are revealed and points scored. The turns are quick as players are drafting their cards in a manner very similar to Seven Wonders. Also while in the events phase of the game while negotiations did happen they never seemed to get to bogged down. Each Event card has a hope (resource) cost and if you can pay that cost yourself, you can temporarily call stop, pause the action and buy the event. If you don't have enough hope, you need to get another player to give it to you, but here is the catch you can request the hope to do a specific event, like cleansing to remove despair cubes, but when you have the hope in hand use it for a completely different purpose.

Second
I like traitor/hidden role game where you can deduce through the game mechanics who is who and not just get sucked into the psychological metagame ala Werewolf. This is made a tad more complicated however by everyones individual victory conditions which can either put you at odds with your team-mates or make them suspect your allegiance.

Third
The game is very funny. In one of our game the two Witch players put each other on trial in a case of mistaken identity. Much hilarity ensued.

Fourth
The Art and design really appeals to me. Each set is made up of three building cards which when placed next to one another make a lovely panorama. The character design is also both attractive and thematically appropriate. Halloween is my one of my favorite holidays and this seems like a natural for a Halloween themed game night.

My only concerns about the game is its suitability for fewer players, although as I have said I have only played with five. I really look forward to trying this with the full 8 player roster as I think it will be a blast.

If you are looking for a fast and entertaining hidden role game, that combines card drafting and set collection I recommend you try out New Salem.


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Chris Taylor
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I've played a about 5 times now, with different groups and I agree, it is a lot of fun. It has gone down very well. I've always played with 6-8 players; I've deliberately kept away from lower player counts.

I think that the first time a new group plays, it is an easy win for the witches, as people underestimate the amount of despair that can come in at the end, especially, when the Puritans have kept a lid on despair and then try to go for points at the end. However, I played a game today with a group that had mostly played before and we had our first win for the Puritans.

The trust issues that are created by not being able to share hope to buy stuff, but instead, having to give the hope to someone who can then decide to spend it on something else, works really well.
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Edward Woods
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So far we are even with wins each for the Witches and Puritans, but I agree there are some strategies that seem to favor the witches that less experienced players may ignore. Witches who can arrange for a non Witch to be put on trial have a huge advantage, of course you can make a mistake and put another Witch on trial with disastrous consequences! Another Witch strategy was to hoard enough hope to be able to preemptively pardon oneself . I think as the Puritan players get more savvy these are harder to accomplish however, but in a five player game when there are 2 Witches they still may have a slight edge as, like you say, sometimes in the last round you may have no choice but to play a despair as a Puritan or take your chances with a blind draw.
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