Note #1: This thread will be cross posted in the 1-Player Guild.
Note #2: This is a late beta version of the game, NOT THE FINAL ONE; so there are corrections on many of the components awaiting implementation, and all artwork may not be final.
Note #3: This will be a long, slow process for me. You have been warned.
Welcome to my exploration of the upcoming release, Nemo's War (Second Edition). This will be an ongoing saga, so to speak. I was one of the lucky few to receive a final beta / prototype copy of the game prior to the Kickstarter campaign expected in late December 2015. I plan to post about this game over the next several weeks, including information and my thoughts on the game’s components, rulebook, the differences between the first and second edition, as well as a few playthroughs / AARs.
I hope to give you some idea of what this game is about, how it plays, and answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability from personal experience with both the first and the upcoming second editions of the game. I’ve said this many times before, but not every game is for every gamer. However, I hope you take a close look at this one if you’re interested in solitaire gaming, games with a great narrative flow to them, and of course, a challenge that will keep bringing you back for more.
After posting them in this thread, I will link the various Topics of Discussion here for easy reference later on:
COMPARISON BETWEEN EDITIONS
Okay, I think that’s enough introductory information; let’s get started with…
Nemo's War (Second Edition)
Designer: Chris Taylor (I)
Artist: Ian O'Toole
Publisher: Victory Point Games
No. of Players: 1
In Nemo’s War, the player takes the role of Captain Nemo, the commander of the mighty Nautilus, an electric-powered submarine of great wonder and technological achievement. Based on the Jules Verne novel, Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, you will set sail on an amazing adventure, spanning the oceans of the world. You’ll have the opportunity for Scientific research, enjoy the wonders of Exploration, suppress the Imperialist stronghold, and of course, wage War upon the nations of the world.
The game uses an event deck, action point allowance, dice rolling, area control, and a press your luck mechanism to simulate Nemo’s adventures under the seas. The player may choose one of four different Motives for Nemo, which will determine the end game scoring process. This also helps to increase the replay factor of the game as each Motive focuses on different aspects of the game.
The new edition includes a complete graphic design update, as well as stunning new artwork by Ian O’Toole. There are several changes to the gameplay itself, as well, which increases the decision space for the player. Playtime should be between 60 and 120 minutes.
For those who don’t know me, I’m almost completely a solitaire gamer (I’d say 95% of my gaming is alone). I love solo gaming, and I spend most of my time on BGG on the 1 Player guild and the monthly Solitaire Games your Table geeklists. It’s basically where I “live” online, if you will. I found the hobby back in 2010 with the discovery of Carcassonne. It wasn’t long before I went down that rabbit hole we all know so well.
So, I would say I’m a fan of the game.
Here is an abridged version of my game comments here on BGG regarding the first edition:
…There is a lot of dice rolling, which I normally don't tend to enjoy, but here, the narrative of the game really shines and overcomes this for me. Even when the dice aren't seemingly going your way, thematically it comes through with Nemo's struggles with his own mental state….
As far as components, this is the older style of VPG game production, so the counters are subpar, to be honest. But this doesn't detract from the game at all. The cards are serviceable quality with great flavor text from the novel. And I really like the map. It's a simple point-to-point movement between the oceans, but there is a ton of helpful information right there in front of you.
Overall, this is a fantastic game experience...not just a solo one. With the four different paths to focus on and a great narrative flow, this is definitely a winner in my book….
As far as the novel goes, I’m currently about one-third of the way into it. This is the first time I’ve read the book, and I’m enjoying it quite a lot so far. After playing the first edition of the game earlier this year, I intended to read the book then, but other things (okay....more games) distracted me. But with the new edition of the game in hand, I was inspired to finally get reading. With that being said, obviously, I enjoyed playing the game without the added experience of having read the book, so I don’t feel that is a factor in terms of your enjoyment of the game.
Alright, that’s probably way more than you wanted to read! Sorry about that. That’s just how I roll, I guess. Stay subscribed to this thread for continued updates over the coming weeks. The first feature topic will be regarding the Components and Artwork. Feel free to comment and ask questions; that’s why we’re all here.
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- Jason C(salex724)United States
- Subscribed Great start Mo!
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- Paul Bradley(batcut)Australia
- Wow! Having browsed the images, read your intro post and Jason's review, I think that I can safely say this has become my most anticipated and desired game, even more so than Scythe.
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Thanks, Jason! (again)batcut wrote:Wow! Having browsed the images, read your intro post and Jason's review, I think that I can safely say this has become my most anticipated and desired game, even more so than Scythe.I'm sure Mr Emrich will be pleased to hear that.
I hope the rest of this thread will confirm your anticipation, Paul.
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- Gordon J(patton55)United States
MinnesotaPrint and Play Gamer
- Good job, Mo!
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Well, I should really call this Topic, “Art and Graphic Design.” As I said in the first post of this thread:
This is a late beta version of the game, NOT THE FINAL ONE; so there are corrections on many of the components awaiting implementation, and all artwork may not be final.
The prototype copy of the game I have was made in-house by Victory Point Games. As with their previous Kickstarter for Dawn of the Zeds (Third edition), the final production of NW2e will be handled by a third party. However, with that being said, the components should be of a similar size and shape as to what I currently have, and the artwork should be near final at this point in time. And what wonderful artwork it is!
But first, here’s a listing of what you’ll get:
Some of these may change (up or down) depending on Stretch Goals achieved.
(1) 17” x 33” Game Board (43cm x 84cm)
(50) Adventure Cards
(10) Nautilus Upgrade Cards
(5) Character Resource Tiles
(68) Ship Counters
(60) Treasure Counters
Dozens of other game tokens and markers
(12) Uprising Cubes (10 black, 2 silver)
(1) Nautilus piece
(1) Rules Book
(1) Setup Booklet
(1) Epilogues Sheet
I believe the highlight of the game has to be all of the ship counters. They are quite lovely. Each one has a unique piece of artwork. The ones that came in my prototype copy are approximately 1-1/8" x 9/16" (30mm x 15mm). However, Mr Emrich stated that the ship counters in the final production will be slightly larger. Here are some examples comparing the first edition’s “standard” counters to the new edition of the game:
There are several things I like about these, besides the art…they are chock full of clearly-defined information! If the counter is a warship, it has a large red sunburst (explosion?) in the upper left with the attack value. All counters have a defense value in the upper right. To the left of the ship artwork will be how many Notoriety points you gain for sinking this particular ship. And to the right of the artwork is the Victory Point value, including a blue ship icon for non-warships and a red one for warships. All counters are double-sided, with the reverse being a stronger version of the front (during some instances in the game you may have to use the reverse side).
The ship tokens are all color-coded by which Group they belong. For example, all white fronts are non-warships. Dark red ship counters are ones that will be revealed during the “A Hallowed Explosion” event towards the end of the game. While I can tell the difference, some of the color choices can be a bit hard to distinguish in poor lighting. There are two yellow groups (one brighter, one darker). There are dark orange and dark red groups that can be tough to tell apart if you only take a quick glance. Here are some more examples:
However, each ship counter also has a Group Letter on it, so if you are unsure of the color, all Letter G ships are one group, for example. Unfortunately, my poor photography skills make it difficult to see in the photo, but the Group Letter is just above the flag. I also made the suggestion to add this Group Letter to the specific box location on the game board to make it easier to place the correct groups in the correct placement holder during setup. In addition, there are some nice “add-ons” including the type of ship (bottom), a flag showing the nationality of the ship (bottom left), and the name of the ship (top). All very nice touches.
My favorite component of the first edition of the game was the game board. It may not have had a lot of artwork on it, but boy, was it informative. You almost didn’t need the rule book once you got the basics down. And I’m happy to report the same seems to be true with the new game board. Once you grasp the basic concepts of the game, you should only have to reference the rule book for more detailed explanations or clarifications. Here is a photo of the main section of the game board just after setup for an “easy” difficulty game (note that the Nautilus is being proxied by the Beagle from Robinson Crusoe):
On the game board, you’ll find (almost) everything you need to play the game: Turn Sequence, Attack Sequence, Victory Point Modifier Chart, Ship Placement Rules, Uprising Removal Rules, Action Point Costs, and a Results Chart for Actions Taken. And of course, there is the world map for movement and placing ship counters, and various tracks & holders for cards, the different resources, treasures discovered, and ships sunk. Here are some additional photos of various sections of the board:
I will admit that it looks overwhelming and busy at first glance, but by the end of your first game, you’ll love having all of that information right there in front of you. It really helps to keep the game moving along and lessen the need for the constant back and forth between the game board and the rule book. And the second edition map is quite a good size. Here is a photo of the old map on top of the new edition game board. It’s quite a difference:
The cards in the game are a nice upgrade over the previous edition as well. They now include artwork to go with the flavor text from the book. The layout has been changed to landscape which makes it easier to distinguish between the thematic flavor of the game on the left and the card action on the right. Here are a couple examples of the old and new cards for reference:
Each card has a main title in the left section. If the card provides any type of Victory Point value, it will be listed with the appropriate icon-type in the upper left of the card. Again, artwork and text from the book will be below that. The right side of the card will be what’s needed for gameplay.
There are several types of cards in the game, this is clearly stated at the top of the right section (Keep, Play, Test, etc). The player will need to make a check on the Test cards, and I like the large-sized number value inside a red circle to make this stand out. Next to that will be one or more icons showing which resources the player is allowed to “bet” for this particular test, if any. These are all very clear and will become second nature to the player very quickly. Here are some additional card examples (again these are still in prototype form, thus the white spaces and possible typos may be seen):
I know this section is getting quite long, so I’ll lump all of the remaining components together. There are several dozen other components in the game, including Treasure Counters, Treasure Markers, Hidden Ship Markers, Victory Point Markers, Stalk/Bold Attack Marker, Action Point and Notoriety Markers, Ship Resource Markers, and few others. All of them are really nice. I do not know for sure if the Treasure Markers and the Stalk/Bold Attack Marker will remain in their prototype shapes (diamond for the treasures and a bullseye for the attack). I know VPG’s laser cutting can do “funky” shapes, but I do not know if that will be the case in the final production or not. I’ll have to ask about that. But here are several examples of the various counters and markers for the game:
Two more components I’d like to highlight quickly though are the Character Resource tiles and the Nemo Motive tiles. The motive tiles are completely unneeded as the chart on the game board has all of the values listed for all motives, but the game comes with four of these tiles which you overlay on top of the chart to make it highlight just that motive’s values. Not only does this make it very clear for the player his focus for the game, but Mr O’Toole has created a different piece of art for each one. Here are a couple of examples:
The same goes for the Character Resource Tiles. In the first edition of the game, they were simply a very small, round chit. You flipped it over if you decided to sacrifice a character. In the second edition, not only do you have additional Characters, each one is a large tile with even more artwork and clearly defined actions and victory point totals. Take a look:
One other design comment to mention: Mr O'Toole did point out to me that the font choices on the prototype tiles were just a "default" setting, so the final version will have something more distinctive in nature. I just wanted to be sure to point that out as well.
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about the components…at least in terms of art and graphic design choices. I must admit that I am a fan of Victory Point Games’ laser cut components…smell, soot, and all. They are thick, sturdy, and can come in lots of cool looking shapes. I can only assume Mr Emrich and company will be sure the third party producer of the game will live up to these standards, if not exceed them. So, I cannot say for sure how the physical quality of the new edition’s components will be, but I can certainly say they will look really, really great. Mr O’Toole has done a fantastic job with all of the artwork – counters, cards, game board.
There are a few minor changes/updates that have been suggested so far, such as the ship counter Group Letters being placed on the game board, which I hope will make the final production. But as a whole, this easily far surpasses the first edition of the game, and I feel it stands up with any of the great looking, wonderfully produced games in my collection. A huge thumbs up from me.
Alright, well that brings to a close this topic of discussion. The next one will be regarding the Rule Book. I hope to keep that topic shorter and less long-winded on my part. Thanks again for following along. Talk to you soon.
So, I forgot one more component:
In my defense, my prototype copy of the game did not come with a Nautilus mini, thus my forgetfulness.
This is an example of what may be included as a Stretch Goal, not necessarily the final version. I'm pretty confident that the model will look stunning and that the Stretch Goal will be met though. (personal opinion)
Just thought I'd mention it.
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- Jason C(salex724)United States
Great job Mo!, everytime I look at the new components and play with them they seem much more elegant, literally night and day.
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salex724 wrote:Thanks, Jason.
Great job Mo!, everytime I look at the new components and play with them they seem much more elegant, literally night and day.
I did make one update to the Components post for those who missed it the first time. It's definitely worth checking out.
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Play Session #1
Well, rather than go through the rulebook again to make notes and spend a bunch of time at the computer typing up my thoughts, I decided to get in my first play to see how it goes.
This session report will be fairly short and basic. I focused mainly on the new rules and the tweaks to old ones, rather than the overall story arc of the session. So not too much in the way of a good story to report this time. That should increase over the next few plays though.
Here you go:
Final Motive: Explore
Final Score: 22vp
Final Result: Failure
I got in my first play of the new edition. Wow, was that tough. I played using all five Easy difficulty settings and still got my butt handed to me. Granted, I wasn't all that successful in my plays of the first edition, so I probably shouldn't be surprised.
I started out a little slow, getting a feel for the updated rules and layout of the board. The new edition uses an event deck in three acts, and they definitely ratchet up in difficulty as they progress.
Sinking the mighty Battleship Audacious
Overall, I thought I was doing alright the first half of the game. But after finding several treasures and inciting a couple of revolts, things went downhill very quickly. The seas began to fill up with warships. Revolts were put down. And treasures were lost in the frantic struggle for survival. I really should have switched to Anti-Imperialism or War when Act III arrived. I was a bit on the high side for Notoriety for the Explore motive, but I decided to ride it out. Besides, I had the Fog Machine and planned to knock my Notoriety back down to a reasonable level. I rolled snake eyes! Ugh.
In the end, Nemo was barely hanging on to his sanity. But we kept pushing and pushing, trying to hold off the Imperialist invasion of the seas. Eventually, it was too much to overcome. The Notoriety of the Nautilus and its unstable commander brought too much attention to the mission. The end was upon us.
The state of things at the very end.
And it was really tense at the end as I was just trying to hang on long enough to reveal the Finale card. The game ended with four cards remaining in the deck, but the Finale was next to last. The oceans were basically full. All three ship resources were basically at the end of the line. Nemo was on the verge of defeat, but I kept pushing him to sink a ship or two so I could make it one more turn. Even if I did get past the Finale, my score would have been pretty low. I had found 10 Treasure tokens but sacrificed 8 of them for various modifiers. I only found 1 Wonder. And I had four Liberation cubes on the map at the end (three turns prior, I lost 2 more due to a Lull turn).
• Tough game! For some reference, 200vp is the minimum victory level, and that's only considered Inconsequential. So yeah, I definitely do not have the balance of strategy needed to manage everything that is going on in this game. It'll take some time, I'm sure.
• The board is great. It has a ton of information on it that may seem like too much at first, but it is so nice to have right there in front of you. More games should do this.
• The game looks fantastic on the table. The ship tokens, the markers, the cards...really nice. Very happy with the update.
• My main "complaint" about the first edition was that no matter which of the four motives you focused on, combat was a major part of all of them, even though they all offer a different overall focus. That appears to be the same here still. However, it was only one game...and obviously, I did not do so well. But I'm definitely curious to see how I feel about this after several more plays.
• There appears to be an error on the map with two movement connections between Central and Western Pacific Oceans but none between Central and Southern Pacific Oceans. Need to check with Alan on this.
• I've got a few specific rule/clarification questions about a few cards and odd situations. Will check with Alan on these as well.
• Otherwise, a fun, tense time. Can't complain about that!
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Play Session #2
Final Motive: War
Final Score: 198
Final Result: Failure
I randomly chose the War motive for Nemo and rode it all the way to end. Things started out very slow, however, as I only took 5 actions in the first 10 turns.
In the first edition, you receive 1 action per turn, straight up. In this edition, you roll dice to place ships on the map (just as in 1e), but you take the difference between two of the dice to determine your Action Point Allowance for that turn (some actions cost more than one point).
The deck is built in three Acts. In Acts I and II, you roll two "action dice." For the third Act, there are three. So in those first two Acts, there is a reasonable chance you'll roll doubles and receive no actions (17% chance according to the game board). That happened to me in 4 of the first 9 turns. Act III began on Turn 10, but I drew an event that cancelled my Action Phase that turn. D'oh!
[quick gameplay note: you are allowed to save one unused action point at the end of your turn; and there are a couple of modifiers you may discard that add an action point or two; so there are ways to mitigate this luck at times]
Honestly, I was on the verge of frustration, but the game opened up from that point forward. Nemo decided to focus on upgrades to the Nautilus at first. Moving from ocean to ocean, ships were sunk without remorse. Some were left behind to rest at the bottom of the seas (for VPs), but others were salvaged to help make the Nautilus an even stronger fighting machine.
This is just before the midpoint of the game. Ah, the oceans are so calm.
Of course, sinking all these ships began to attract the attention of the world's navies. Nations' governments were becoming angry and sent out stronger and stronger warships in search of Nemo and his bloodthirsty, underwater vessel.
Nemo would not relent though. And to instigate his enemy, he began to incite uprisings and revolts around the globe. The Imperialist oppressors will not triumph! Further and further Nemo pressed.
Ship after ship were coming after him. Stronger and stronger they became. The Nautilus was taking on more damage to its Hull. The Crew was holding on, though. They stood by their commander, at the ready.
This is the end of the game. Purple = Very Bad. And that one red ship should be flipped to its purple side. Oops.
In the end, however, Nemo fell short of beating down the world's navies, the Oppressors. Eventually, they would overcome the Nautilus and leave Nemo's legacy only as rumor and a curiosity to most of the world.
• Have I mentioned this game is tough? I scored 2VP shy of an "Inconsequential" result...the first level above "Failure." I know I could have done a few things differently and scored better, though. It's just a matter of figuring out the best actions to take to match the motive you're playing.
• The other playtesters have brought this up as well. But a solo game being a strong challenge isn't necessarily a bad thing. I do wonder if the score levels should be adjusted just a bit, just a few points. I think it may be better for players new to the game if they didn't fall quite so short of even an Inconsequential "win." But it has only been two plays, so take this as you see fit.
• There are a couple of rules that I think feel a little bit like "chrome," if you don't mind me stealing a wargame term. They aren't much, but it is one more thing to remember.
One I actually forgot in this play. The Notoriety track tells you how close you are to having the whole world know what you're up to and coming after you (ie the game ends). The War motive allows the highest Notoriety before it triggers the endgame. As I mentioned in my report, each Act has you roll certain dice. In Act I, you roll two Action/Placement dice. In Act II, you roll two Action/Placement Dice and one Placement Die. And in Act III, you roll three Action/Placement dice and one Placement Die. But if you reach Notoriety 44, you have to roll a second Placement die for the rest of the game.
Now, this is clearly stated right on the Notoriety track, and yet I still forgot. At that point in the game, I'm more than two hours into it. There are warships all over the map. I'm desperately trying to hang on long enough to reach the end of the event deck. My brain is full, and so I missed that one little rule.
I completely understand the increased number of dice per Act and how they relate to the different motives. But is that add yet one more die really needed? Maybe it is for balance, and that's why it's there. But in both plays, I know I messed up the standard number of dice I was supposed to roll for a new Act at least once. Having to remember a fifth die in a special case is another thing to remember.
• This isn't game breaker for me by any stretch of the imagination. But it is interesting to see the choices made from one edition to the next (more to come on this down the road). And no matter what rules I messed up or missed, this was an exciting and tense game that went right down to the wire. I gave it everything I had to hold on long enough to reach the end of the Event deck, and at least have a shot at winning. Just getting to the end of the deck felt like a win to me! I really am enjoying this game so far, and I know that first true victory will be so sweet.
EDIT: Sorry, I removed one comment as I had smashed two different rules together when explaining it. I shouldn't have typed this up so late. Many apologies for the confusion.
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Apologies up front…this post will be very text heavy.
First, I want to give two caveats to this Topic of Discussion:
• The version of the Rulebook in my possession, just like the game components, may not be the final version. I believe they are very close, if nothing else, but I just wanted to be clear again that the game hasn’t gone to final production, so who knows what may change between now and then.
• I also want to remind folks that I was already familiar with the first edition of the game, so going through this rulebook to learn how to play the new edition was more about, “what are the differences and changes” rather than “how do I play this game.” However, I’ll do my best to think in terms of someone new to the game and give comments in that regard.
Okay, first of all, here’s what you get in the box in paper form:
Rulebook, 26 pages
Setup Instructions, 4 pages
Epilogues Sheet, 1 page
The first edition of the game came with a 6-page rulebook, the Epilogues page, and a Score Calculation page. So right away, you’ll notice a big change from one edition to the next. I think if I were a new player to this game and saw a 26-page Rulebook, I believe my first reaction would be, “Hm. That looks kinda daunting.” And it is…to a degree. But the first few pages are just informational in regards to the overall setting of the game, the table of contents, and some definitions of terms used throughout the Rulebook. And the last five pages are for Scoring and Optional Rules.
So the meat of the Rulebook is about 15 pages long or so. Not too bad, really. The original game’s rulebook was in “wargame format.” Each page was broken into three columns of text. There are Heading Numbers, Sub-Heading Numbers, and Sub-Sub-Heading Numbers, like Rule [6.6.2]. There were some scattered illustrations throughout, but it was mainly text in a straightforward, mostly mechanical description. And it wasn’t difficult to learn once you had the game in front of you.
The upcoming edition’s Rulebook is formatted into sections, with Heading Numbers, but the overall format is definitely more conversational. Instead of Sub-Heading Numbers, there are Sub-Heading Titles in the same color and font as the main Section Title but a little smaller in size. Besides the main text of each page being the rules explanation, there is a margin on each outside edge of the page that is used most often for illustrated examples of the main text. Also found in these margins may be flavor text regarding thematic choices made for the game or even a helpful hint or two about the gameplay.
Here is the basic turn structure from both the original game and the new edition:
First Edition, Sequence of Play
Second Edition, Turn Sequence
The first thing you’ll notice is that even the basic turn sequence has been altered from one edition to the next, but hopefully, you’ll see the added information and conversational tone of the new Rulebook. I think the best change between the two is those illustrations in the margin.
In this Rulebook, most sections will have an illustration that relates directly to the rules being discussed in the main text. Personally, I like having a visual reference to go with all of that information being thrown at me. Many times, I’ll read a rulebook while in bed, just before falling asleep, so I won’t have the game pieces in front of me to help see what is being discussed. The illustrations presented here are relevant and usually include helpful information to reiterate why it’s being referenced.
One thing I can’t stand in a Rulebook that uses the margins in this manner is having a rule that can only be found in the margin. I did find one of these rules in the first copy of the Rulebook that was sent to me. It was a minor rule for Re-Rolls, but I asked Mr Emrich to add this to the Definitions section as well. All of the rules need to be in the main text somewhere, and other than that once instance, I believe that’s the case here.
You’ll also see in the example above, the main text makes reference to several other Sections throughout the Rulebook. I find this both annoying and helpful, to be honest. Now, the example I posted is purposely a summary of the gameplay. It’s not supposed to give you all of the rules, just a general outline of the gameplay for your reference. All of these steps are more clearly explained in the following sections of the rules. So this section has a particularly high number of Section Jumps because of this.
However, these Section Jumps are found throughout the Rulebook. The overall flow of the Rulebook is in a manner that the player would encounter them in play. So the first section is regarding The Event Phase. It explains that you’ll draw a card from the Event Deck and follow the instructions. This card will be one of several different types, and this Section goes on to explain each type of card. I think it works well. But of course, there are random rules that may appear on these cards that require the player to reference a different section of the Rulebook for further explanation. Not that uncommon, right?
What I’ve found best when learning from a rulebook of this nature is to just read it through from front to back and not focus on the Section Jumps. As long as you’re getting a basic overview of the game during that first read-through, I don’t find that jumping back and forth between sections has helped me when learning a game for the first time. Once I get through all the rules, upon further reading, this is when I’ll find those Section Jumps more useful. Again, this is all personal experience; we all learn in different manners.
There are several font choices that help the learning process as well. Some text will be highlighted in some way to be sure the player takes particular notice of this rule and/or its potential effect on the outcome of the game. The first time a term is encountered, it is in dark red. Examples of actual gameplay are in blue text so that they stand out. There is even a complete one-page example of a Combat round showing most of the possible outcomes you may encounter.
Second Edition, Rulebook Example
As far as the rules themselves, I don’t believe this game is as complex as it may first appear from the Rulebook. There is an Event Deck which you draw from at the start of each turn. You reveal one card and follow the instructions. Some cards will need to be resolved immediately; others can be saved for later. Next, you’ll roll dice to determine where to place new ship tokens on the map. This will also allot the player a certain number of Action Points for that turn. You may spend these Action Points on eight different actions. Most of these will involve a simple die roll for resolution. Then the turn ends and you begin the process again. There is a mix of press-your-luck, resource management, and time control. Balancing these aspects is where the “complexity” comes in.
From personal experience, I’ve found most rulebooks to fall into the “average” category. They aren’t awesome, but they aren’t terrible either. In the vast expanse of the Bell Curve of Rulebooks, there are a few exceptional ones at one end, a few duds at the other end, but the majority fall somewhere in between. I don’t think that’s any kind revelation on my part or anything, and I think the Rulebook for NW2e definitely falls in the better half of that “somewhere in between” category of rulebooks.
It’s conversational. It has illustrated examples that reference the main text. Rules are presented in the order in which you will encounter them. There are gameplay examples throughout, including a complete walkthrough of a Combat round. And honestly, once the gameplay clicks with you, the majority of the rules are right on the game board itself. You should only have to reference the Rulebook for a longer explanation of a particular rule or for clarification of a particular situation when that time arises.
Finally, I’ll wrap up by commenting on the Setup Instructions booklet. It’s formatted in the same manner as the main Rulebook, with Section Headers and conversational wording. Illustrated examples are shown in the margins as well as helpful Difficulty Settings the player may use to set up the game. There are five of them, and each offer an Easy and Difficult setting as compared to the Standard setup. If you’re new to the game, I’d definitely suggest you use one or more of the Easy settings (if not all of them!) for your first play. None are overly advantageous, with the possible exception of the free Nautilus Upgrade. But they are all helpful in some form or another.
Second Edition, Setup Instructions Example
The section you’ll use the most once you’ve played a couple times is the Event Deck creation chart. As stated elsewhere, the Event Deck contains three Acts. Each of these Acts is separated, appropriately, by an Act card. It tells you how many and what types of dice to roll each turn for Ship Placement and Action Point allotment. However, each of the four Motives has you create the Event Deck in a slightly different format. All four will result in the same number of cards overall, but some Motives favor the last Act (War has 13 cards in Act 3 as compared to 6 cards for Science) while others will have a longer middle Act. The first Act will be the same for all Motives.
I wish this chart would have found its way onto the board somewhere, but in its current state, there is no more room for change. Personally, there is a small-ish score track in the upper right hand corner of the board that I don’t find useful. Scores are calculated in several different categories, some with multipliers, some with modifiers, and I don’t see using two dozen or so score chits to calculate my score. Paper and pencil is the way to go, in my opinion. But this area of the board would be a great place for this Event Deck creation chart. (sorry for the tangent)
In conclusion, the Rulebook is solid. I think a new player might be overwhelmed upon his first run through the rules, but with some familiarity with the gameplay the rules will come together rather quickly. You should be able to find what you need, when you need it. As with any game, there are going to be odd situations that come up that cannot be satisfied by the Rulebook. That’s just the nature of the hobby. And seriously, after a few plays, the board itself does such a nice job of providing information and basic rules of gameplay that you shouldn’t need the Rulebook very often.
- [+] Dice rolls
Play Session #3
Final Motive: Science
Final Score: 234
Final Result: Notable
Oh yeah! I'm Notable!! BAM!
We sunk a few ships for salvage to increase the knowledge of our Arcane Library, then used it for searching the oceans for treasures and wonders. Along the way, we helped to liberate several of oppressed peoples of the world.
The Arabian Tunnel, the Gulf Stream, and the Underwater Coalfield were all part of our Scientific achievements. And the Wonders! The Red Sea and its unfavorable reputation were no trouble for the Nautilus. The Lost Continent of Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle. What more could an adventurer want?!
Eventually, the nations of the world became scared and worrisome of Nemo's exploits. They unleashed their biggest warships into the oceans in search of the Captain and his crew of loyal men.
But alas, they would not succeed. Professor Aronnax would publish some of Nemo's scientific works many years later, lessons still being learned by sailors to this day.
• I wanted to try one of the two Motives I haven't yet and went with Science. This Motive has the lowest Notoriety threshold of any, so I really focused on keeping it as low as possible right from the start.
• Tons of fun this time. I think some of the nuances finally clicked with me in terms of controlling the Notoriety track and manipulating the placement of ships into the various oceans.
• I'm starting to see how the makeup of the Event deck really creates a level of tension for that specific Motive. It's pretty interesting to see the difference between the two extremes of the War motive in my last session and this one with Science.
• However, it does make me wonder how viable it would be to change Motives during play. When the Act III card is revealed, you are allowed that one chance to make a change. But because the Event deck is specifically setup for the starting Motive, I don't know how easy it would be to change.
• This was my favorite session yet...okay, it's only my third play, but still. And I probably should have posted this earlier, but here are the win conditions for your reference when I post a score:
Under 200 = Failure
200-224 = Inconsequential
225-249 = Notable
250-274 = Successful
275 and Over = Triumphant
- [+] Dice rolls
Apologies for the long delay between posts. The crush of the Holiday Season hit hard as soon as Thanksgiving arrived, and it hasn't really let up yet. Now back to our regularly scheduled program...
Old vs New
I want to touch on a few of the changes and updates between the two editions of the game. Quite a bit is different, actually, but the essence of the game remains…Yay! I won’t cover every detail of every change, but I’ll see if I can hit a couple of the bigger differences as I see them.
The Deck of Cards
However, in the first edition, all cards were placed in a single stack. The player would roll a die at the start of his turn, and depending on the outcome, he may or may not be forced to draw the top card and resolve it. And that was all the player could do in terms of drawing cards. Because of the way the mechanism worked, you would need to draw a card every two to three turns on average.
The second edition now splits that deck of cards into two stacks. The first stack is your main Event Deck. The second stack is the Adventure Deck. To create the Event Deck, you must look at the starting Motive for Nemo. The Event Deck is made up of three Acts. The first act will be the same length for all four Motives. The second and third Acts, though, will vary in length depending on that starting Motive. The Science Motive, for example has the longest Act II and shortest Act III, while the War motive is the opposite.
This is important because each further Act has the player roll an additional die when determining ship placements. So a longer Act II means less new ship counters for that game session overall, whereas a longer Act III means more ships. Also, this will affect the number of action points given to the player per turn over the course of the game. When rolling the dice, you will roll two white dice in the first two Acts and three white dice in the third (one or two black dice may be rolled as well, but they are only for ship placement purposes). You take the difference between two of the white dice to determine the number of Action Points for that turn. Since there are only two white dice in the first two Acts, what you get is what you get. Once Act III arrives, you’ll be able to choose which two white dice to use to determine those Action Points, so the odds are in your favor for getting a larger number of APs during Act III.
Finally, all four Motives have the same five-card Finale section at the bottom of the Event Deck. There are five Finales from which to randomly choose, so you won’t know which one is there or which of those last five cards it will be.
All cards not used to create the Event Deck (not including the Finale cards, of course) will be shuffled and placed on the board as the Adventure Deck. During the player’s turn, he may spend 1 or 2 action points, depending on the situation, to go on an Adventure. By doing so, he draws the top card of the Adventure Deck and then may decide to take on that challenge or move it to the bottom of the stack, ending that action in either case. This is valuable to the player as many of the cards will either provide you a benefit of some kind or endgame victory points, sometimes both. Of course, you must pass the test to take advantage of these benefits, and that can be risky.
So by having two decks of cards, the player now has more options as well as being able to see more “action” during the game. The narrative flavor of the cards, both from the artwork and the excerpts from the novel, are excellent, and you certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on that because your die roll didn’t tell you to draw a card.
The Placing of Ships
In the new edition, there are the same six major oceans, but there are an additional six minor oceans (each connected to two major oceans for the purposes of placing ships). As stated in the preceding section regarding the Event Deck, each further Act will increase the number of dice being rolled, increasing the number of ships that may appear on the map. For placement, the player must follow a four-step hierarchy to determine where and which type of ship counter to place or reveal. I won’t go into details of all four steps, but they are listed right on the map for easy reference: place a hidden ship counter, reveal a hidden ship counter, upgrade a non-warship to a warship, place a new warship.
This is a huge change from the first game. I don’t want to discuss strategy here as this will be one of the discoveries of learning the game, but just know that while the Ship Placement step may seem procedural and only give the player a subtle choice of how to resolve this step, it will become more significant the more you play. This is, perhaps, my favorite “upgrade” to the new edition of the game.
Tests and Combat
For example, when you resolved a Test in the first edition, you could “bet” one or more of your ship resources, as per the card, to increase your 2d6 result (except a natural 2 rolled would be an auto-fail). If you passed the test, you regained that resource and got the benefit of the card. If you failed the test, you would lose one of that resource and suffer the penalty of the card.
That same Test in the new edition now has several additional steps. You may still “bet” one or more of your ship resources as per the card, but the result of that outcome is now different. Also, you can discard one of your previously acquired Treasure tokens to add its VP value to your 2d6 result as well. If you pass the test, you regain that resource (but not the Treasure) and get the benefit of the card just as before. A natural 2 on a 2d6 is still an auto-fail. However, if you fail, you will lose either 1 or 2 of the resource you “bet” depending on the lower number of the two dice you rolled. If the lower number is a 1, then you lost one level of that resource. If the lower number of the 2d6 roll is 2 or higher, you lose two levels of that “bet” resource. Oh, and if the Nautilus is in an ocean that contains a revealed warship, you must subtract 1 from your 2d6 result. None of this is difficult, but the simplicity of this particular game mechanism is gone, IMO.
Similar changes have been made to Combat, both when the Nautilus is attacked by a warship and when the Nautilus makes an attack. I won’t go over everything as I’m already going on longer than I wanted for this topic. And again, I don’t feel it needs to be changed, but I do want to express my observations. But say the Nautilus is being attacked by a warship. In the first edition, if the Nautilus gets hit, it loses one random ship resource. In the new edition, if the Nautilus is hit, it takes a number of hits equal to the lower number of the two dice rolled. But if a natural 2 was rolled, that is considered a disaster. In that case roll a die and apply 1d6 hits to the Nautilus. But you can discard a previously acquired Nautilus upgrade card instead of taking a hit to one of the ship resources. When the Nautilus is on the offensive, there are differences as well, but I think you get this idea by now.
There are just several more steps, modifiers, and outcomes in the new edition as compared to the first when it comes to Test and Combat results. These can certainly offer more narrative and force the player to weigh his decisions a bit more, but it also takes more time, more brain space, and adds some fiddliness to a previously quick-playing aspect of the game.
In the new edition, some historical flavor has been added to the Incite action by giving Liberation both a physical presence on the map as well as naming them for an actual local revolt. But more importantly, by Inciting the oppressed locals, you take some of the heat off Nemo from the Imperialist navies by giving them distractions around the globe to attend to. This, in game terms, lowers your Notoriety level, one of the endgame triggers. This is a really nice management tool the player can use to extend the game and allow for additional actions that may have garnered too much attention previously. In fact, the revolts you incite may even be squashed on a later turn through a specific ship placement die result.
So theme and gameplay are significantly increased due to this change between editions. Well done!
And that’s not all! But I won’t go into further details of the others at this time, like the Time track is now gone and the Notoriety track has additional influence on the gameplay and... Just know that basically every aspect of this game was reviewed and looked at from both a thematic viewpoint as well as a gameplay one. Overall, I feel the first edition has its advantages, for me, in its quick play time and simplicity of rules overhead. I have no plans to try and sell it off or trade it away. There is something appealing in its “old school” nature and great narrative creation that I don’t want to let go.
But Second Edition has wonderful improvements that add decision points for the player, a thematic presentation of the game, and a complete package of art, graphic design, narrative scope, and challenging gameplay. I’m really pleased, overall, with the updates to the new edition and hope this overview was helpful to both new players coming to the game as well as those familiar with the original edition.
It appears the Kickstarter is slated for December 29th. I will try to give my final thoughts and opinions on the game and this experience so far in the near future. Hopefully, you’ll see it by the start of the KS but very soon after if not.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
- [+] Dice rolls
- Wes ErniUnited States
The "fiddly" mechanics for inflicting multiple damage, were a direct result of the original (and the first 2nd edition iteration) game mechanics that created "obvious" game solutions. Originally, the odds greatly favored always "betting" on Resources for Tests (if at +2 or +3) -- there was very little decision making once you cracked the "game math". Now, the possibility of a "double-hit" (or more at the "Captain level"), makes the decisions much less clear cut.
Similarly, combat used to provide little drama, the Nautilus could only suffer "death by a thousand cuts". Now every battle against a "bruiser" has serious risk of major damage -- befitting a submarine that must approach the surface and close to attack. A little more realism, a lot more tough decisions.
I do wish Testing and Combat were a little cleaner -- the lowest die mechanic was the simplest thing I could think of to accomplish the "mission" (that didn't involve yet another die toss). I know the additional DRM's and options will "slow" the game pace a bit, but they exist not only for the increased decision making, but to "tune" Nemo's internal balance (certain strategies and Motives would become dominant otherwise).
I am pleased you so appreciate the subtleties of the new Ship Placement procedure -- to me, that aspect alone is "worth the price of admission" (and if mastered, can literally double your score).
- [+] Dice rolls
When I first got into solo gaming several years ago, one of the main sources I used for insight into this (back then) niche within our hobby was Tracy Baker and his Lonely Meeple reviews. Those reviews were informative and helpful in influencing some of my purchasing decisions, including turning me onto the first edition of Nemo's War. The format of his reviews were easy to follow, and they hit on the pertinent information I needed to help make my own decision about the game he was reviewing; information I still look for in the games I play today.
Sadly, it seems he has been too busy over the last year or two to continue his review series. And so, without asking his permission, I'm going to bogart the later part of his review format to wrap up this series of posts. (sorry Tracy; and thanks!) Hopefully, you'll be able to use this as a resource to make your decision on the Second Edition of Nemo's War.
Are there Important Decisions
The first edition of the game has a strong press-your-luck aspect to the gameplay. You take one action and roll a couple dice to see how it worked out. Repeat. Move over here, take on this ship, bet your resource, roll the dice. Flip this card, bet your resource, roll the dice. And so on. Honestly, on paper, it doesn't seem like a game I would enjoy. Decisions were present, but many of them focused on what you wanted to bet to increase your chance of success or when to spend that one action on trying to recover one of those dwindling resources so you could bet it on the next turn.
Nemo 2e holds on to that press-your-luck feel but adds layers of decisions upon it. The Ship Placement portion of the game would have been improvement enough for me to make the decision-making in this game far superior to the original. With the hierarchy of how new ship tokens are added to the map, the player will need to make subtle, but key, choices as to their final ocean placement. This could affect several related aspects of the game beyond just combat. Placing a ship token in a particular ocean could affect Searching for treasure. Further down the line, it could help the Imperialists squelch a previous rebellion you had Incited. Or, it could ultimately be your demise as the oceans have filled, and you are unable to place a new warship.
Speaking of Inciting a revolt, what another great change to the latest edition of this game. What was once just a simple die roll for endgame VPs, the player must now decide where and when to Incite the oppressed peoples of the world to fight back against the Imperialist nations. This has a direct influence on Nemo's Notoriety level, another potential endgame trigger. The Notoriety track will need to be managed from beginning to end if you hope to be successful, let alone even see the end of the Event deck.
Even the basic concept of betting a ship resource and resolving Tests and Combat have been improved. As mentioned regarding the first edition, it used to basically be choose a resource to bet or not and roll the dice. Now, there could be one or more additional factors you may use to increase your chances of success...but which could also lead to additional penalties and losses. You'll need to weigh your options more when it comes to fighting that big battleship or resolving that Search action or even Retrofitting the Nautilus with improved technology. Treasures could be lost, additional damage could be done, or ship resources could crumble.
And I have to mention the cards before wrapping up this section...some good, some potentially not as good (hey, I'm trying to give all sides here as best I can). First, I love the two deck setup now. The Adventure deck offers an option for the player to seek additional opportunities for improving his overall chances of success and endgame VPs. But one of the big decisions that gets touted about both editions of the game involves Nemo's Motive. As I spoke about in a previous topic in this thread, the Event deck is now setup specifically to the Motive chosen at the beginning of the game. When Act III arrives, the player must choose to continue with the original Motive or change it to any of the other three.
Now, I've only had the opportunity to play Second Edition four times since receiving my beta copy...the Holiday Season is just too much for my game time to handle...so these comments are solely my conjecture. I feel that this decision regarding a change to Nemo's Motive has been neutered somewhat in the new edition. The Event deck is stacked differently with each Motive - War has the shortest Act II and the longest Act III, for example. I feel that this may have two effects on the player.
First, let's say the player is going all-in on the War Motive right from turn one. Chances are, by the time Act III is revealed, it will be difficult for the player to make a switch to one of the two Motives with a low Notoriety endgame trigger (Science and Explore) because focusing on combat would naturally (i.e. thematically) attract a lot of attention from the Imperialist nations and the world at large. Also, by having a long Act III, there are going to be a significant number of ships added to the map over that section of gameplay, which is not conducive to a successful Explore or Science Motive.
The other option I potentially see is the player trying to "game" the Event deck in the opposite manner. Perhaps he may choose one Motive to begin the game, but specifically play towards another Motive from the start, as he intends to change to that one during Act III. Again, because the Acts are specifically seeded with a number of cards based on the Motive chosen at the beginning of the game, maybe the player can find some advantage to choosing one Motive but playing towards another.
Now, neither of these do I see as a "problem." They are more of an observation on my part. In all four of my plays, I didn't feel the need, nor the desire, to make a change in the Motive I had chosen at the start of the game. There is so much going on, so many choices, so much story happening, I just rode the Motive all the way to the end each time. Maybe making a change in one or more of my plays would have improved my final VP outcome, but honestly, I don't care (more on this later).
And say you can "game" the system. What's wrong with that?! I don't see that as breaking the game in some manner...at least not in this particular case. The player will need to accomplish the goals of one of the Motives one way or the other. You will still need to play out the game from beginning to end just as if you had chosen one Motive all the way. And more importantly, you'll need to make good decisions and follow a solid strategy for it to be successful. Maybe it will work for you sometimes, but I don't see it being a consistent winner.
Again, I don't know that either of these are true from actual experience, but I can certainly see it come up in sessions of players more focused on the game's mechanisms rather that its narrative.
Is it a Satisfying Experience
Nemo's War has clear goals and a strong sense of player accomplishment, in my opinion. There are four Motives for Captain Nemo in this game. Each one provides a different focus for the player by altering the endgame scoring. One Motive may reward the player for sinking Warships, another non-warships, and another penalizing you for doing so. Treasures are important for Exploring. Science wants Wonders. And so on. The idea of giving Captain Nemo a Motive offers the player a different aspect of the game to play towards with each game session. The Adventure deck will be important in one game, while Inciting revolts will be so in the next.
There is an ebb and flow to the game as each Act progresses. Because of the varying lengths of these Acts, which are directly related to the Motive, you'll learn when to forge ahead with your strategy and when to hold back, maybe recover some losses. There are times you'll want to fight and times you'll let the oceans fill up. And in the end, you'll reach one of several outcomes for each Motive. After calculating your score, you'll match it up to that Motive's Epilogue sheet and see what your result means for Captain Nemo and his main intentions. Each Motive has five levels of accomplishment, with a complete Triumph most likely being a joyful rarity.
Second Edition is challenging and strategic, while still providing the excitement and sense of unknown from its press-your-luck backbone. The player may feel confident and strong at certain points of the game, but then come find out Captain Nemo fell short of success. And then want to go at it again. There are so many choices and paths to take, the player will find much to explore again and again. Satisfaction indeed.
Is it Thematic
Well, if I haven't made this clear by now, beginning with the first post I made over a month ago, then either you haven't been following along or I need to find another hobby to talk about. Yes, theme is not only present, it's the main draw for me. I believe I mentioned somewhere earlier in this thread that I had not read the Jules Verne novel when I played the first edition, and yet, the narrative that was produced by the gameplay was so strong, I found great enjoyment from a game I may have overlooked based on rules alone.
My experience with the first edition inspired my desire to read the novel, but to my surprise, I was contacted by Mr Emrich regarding a beta copy of the new edition of the game before I had the opportunity to get to the book. So my first play or two was still without any familiarity with the source material, and I was very pleased to see that Second Edition still created an engaging narrative that kept me interested in the game and the adventures of Captain Nemo, his crew, and the Nautilus.
I love the story this game produces. In fact, as I hinted at above, I almost enjoy losing more than reaching a success level of scoring. There is something very intriguing to see Captain Nemo not only battle the outside forces of the world at large, but to feel his decent into possible madness as his own mental state becomes increasingly unstable. The battle within himself is just as strong and meaningful to the game's narrative as basic combat and treasure hunting can be.
Currently, though, I'm about two-thirds of the way through the novel (finally! have I mentioned about the Holiday season and its affect on my spare time?). Wow! Now I see where all this theme is originating. I can tell that future plays are going to benefit from having read the novel. I will read a certain chapter where the game has already exposed me to its main event, but having the overall context is quite satisfying. However, I still don't feel reading the novel is a requirement to enjoy the game. In fact, even if you've read the book, and didn't enjoy it, I still feel this game could excite you.
The reason I feel this way is that Nemo's War is almost an RPG-like experience for me. At first, I played the game to learn the mechanisms and procedures of play, to know how it works. But once that becomes more second nature, I find I want to play the role of Captain Nemo and not just be an overseer of the movement of game pieces and rules structure. I want to make those choices as if I were Nemo, wanting to reach new heights of scientific discovery or to take the Imperialist navies head on, without remorse or sense of my own crumbling mental state.
On a more micro level, oh boy, I could list dozens of things: the cards with their excerpts from the novel and fantastic art; how Inciting revolts relates to both specific, real events and physical locales on the map; every ship token is unique with original art of actual ships from the time period; combat is dangerous and potentially disastrous, and yet a necessity. I feel like the game was built on rules which hold it together, but its thematic presence is what will make it a Wonder that will stand the test of time.
Now to be fair, I do want to mention a couple of quibbles when it comes to theme. But these are gameplay related, and I don't feel they are a major knock against the game. There are card draws and chit pulls in this game, and this will lead to randomness. Perhaps you'll draw a series of cards that feel out of order in terms of the storyline you're either familiar with from the novel or the one that's being created during that particular session. Or you may draw the Bermuda Triangle chit from the Treasure cup while you're located in the Southern Pacific ocean.
As a whole, though, I love the sense of adventure and storytelling in Nemo's War. It's why I enjoyed the original, and it's what I'm most interested in for the new edition. I actually get annoyed with myself when I start to focus too much on the endgame VPs during a session. I just want to ride that narrative wave from start to finish.
Well, do I even need to say it?
Yeah, I'm all in on this one. Now, I've made this statement many times over the years and in many threads around BGG: not every game is for everyone. I know...not very revelatory, is it? But it's true. The new edition of Nemo's War isn't going to be for everyone. There is a lot of dice rolling. A lot. There are card and chit draws that provide randomness as well. So far, I'm averaging about two hours per play. I know some of the other play testers can go less than 60 minutes, but for my play style, I don't see playing quicker than 90 minutes, if I can even get it down that low. That might not be what you're after in a solo game.
But if you are solo gamer, you have to at least give this a look. It's built specifically for you. If you're curious as to what a solitaire gaming experience can be in this hobby, this has to be one of the top games to check out. If you're into challenging gameplay, looking for big score achievements, you can certainly play Nemo's War that way, trying to get that elusive level of Triumph with all four Motives. And if you play games for the narrative they can create, the stories they can tell, Second Edition definitely has that in spades.
I highly encourage you to check out the two tutorial videos that Fellow gamer Lines Hutter has posted in the game's forum (Part 1, Part 2). They will give you a complete overview of how to play the game. There are several other threads in the Second Edition forums that also discuss the gameplay, the artwork, and what improvements have been made between the editions. Please do some research. You should hear more than just my voice in the matter. Feel free to check out Joel Eddy's first edition review to see the origins of Second Edition and get a feel for the essence of the game, which still remains.
I am not a Kickstarter guy, to be honest. I've only backed one project thus far. There are a glut of boardgame Kickstarters out there and very few of them even catch my eye, but this one definitely interests me. It's from a publisher I already enjoy. It's a game I'm familiar with. Its focus is toward the solitaire gamer. And I've seen how every aspect of the game, from art to components to gameplay to storytelling, have all been looked at, improved upon, and enhanced to provide a fun, challenging, and replayable game experience.
I'll be backing this project, and I'd be glad to answer any questions that I can for you, as honestly as I can. And again, any of the other playtesters will be happy to talk about the game and their experiences with it. Just post questions in the game's forum, and I'm sure several of us will give you a response when we are able.
I appreciate you taking the time to follow along with me as I have (sporadically) posted over the past several weeks. And I hope to hear about all the great fun everyone is having when their copy of the game arrives down the road.
- [+] Dice rolls