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Subject: A Surprisingly Filling Filler Game rss

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Alex Martinez
United States
Irving
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I bought Melee mostly out of curiosity. A territory control game with only 4 turns (and 5 actions) that plays in 20 mins? Small, portable, and quick? Sure, why not? My expectations were neutral, but I've always loved the idea of such games. (Tiny Epic Kingdoms promises a similar idea, and works surprisingly well, so I thought it might be possible.)

Melee would be easy to classify as a "filler". It's a light game that plays quickly. Something easy to break out between more complex offerings. But I think, despite its simplicity, it has more meat than is readily noticeable.

AN OVERVIEW:

The game starts with a bidding and placement round, where players bid on special ability cards and place forces on the map. Everything costs gold, and gold is EVERYTHING in the game. Without it, you can't accomplish anything, but you need to spend it, so you're always walking a tightrope.

After the preliminary round, the next stage of the game is over four "seasons", where players do one "action", Move and Attack, Tax, and Recruit. If a player should capture any enemy castle on the map, they immediately win. Otherwise, at the end of the game, whoever controls the most territory is the winner.

A BREAKDOWN:

When summarized, the game doesn't sound like much. What can you accomplish in four turns with five actions? As it turns out, quite a bit.

The heart of the game is managing your forces and your gold. The combat system is simple. You attack an enemy space. You secretly spend gold. If your opponent guesses what you spend, the attack fails.

Upon hearing this, you might think this would make combat difficult on the defender. And it does. However, even one or two successful attacks can drain one's gold very quickly. And the less gold one has, the more easy it is to counter their attacks.

The units also add another level. Soldiers are cheap, but slow as they march across the map. Knights are expensive and fast. Camps are defensive and give you valuable money. And Catapults are high risk, high reward siege units.

To be sure, the game can be very unforgiving. You can win or lose very quickly, but the game is so quick, it really doesn't matter. I've played the game several times with both four players and two. And in all cases, the game has been a rewarding experience.

I think the game would be far too predictable if it wasn't for the genius of the special ability cards. These upgrades, bought at the start of the game, keep the gameplay fresh. Get Gold Mines and you'll have more money. Elite Knights are more dangerous. Precision makes your Catapults fearsome. And so on.

FINAL VERDICT:

Melee is fast and brutal. It plays out quickly, and it isn't particularly forgiving. Yet for such a short, simple game, there's a heck of a lot going on here. And I think it manages to bring something unique to the game table. Tiny Epic Kingdoms might have more complexity, but Melee is exactly what it promises: A battle of wits and resource management balanced with interesting choices.

And if I was unsatisfied with its length, I could easily add more "years" to the game without throwing anything off. I might even try that, though so far, the quick gameplay is fantastic.

In the end, I find it a worthy addition to my library.
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Jo Bartok
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How many players did you play your first game with?
What's your recommendation?
La Mame or Indie Card and Board Games edition?
 
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Alex Martinez
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ionas wrote:
How many players did you play your first game with?
What's your recommendation?
La Mame or Indie Card and Board Games edition?


My first game was with four players. Nobody had any problem understanding the rules, and everyone enjoyed it. (None of us had played before.)

My other games have been two player, and were fun as well. Two player can be perhaps more unforgiving (though with two the game really is only about ten minutes so you're never stuck in a losing proposition long before it's over).

I have not played the La Mame edition, so I don't know the difference. I like the presentation of the Indie Card and Board Games edition and think the pixel art style works well for small tokens.
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Rikki Tahta
United States
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ionas wrote:
How many players did you play your first game with?
What's your recommendation?
La Mame or Indie Card and Board Games edition?


I would recommend indie version. I rushed out the La Mame version last year to make it for Essen and my brother-in-law who does all our art had no time to illustrate it so I had random strangers on the internet add bits and pieces and it looks a bit home baked.

Both versions are exactly the same, but indies looks nicer.

I like three or four players best, but that's just my preference I like more analytical longer 2 player games.
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Jo Bartok
Germany
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Interaction leads to Immersion.
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Well I bought the non Indie version from you at your Essen fair booth where you played Gnome - and no where to be found is your vampire game! (btw try Vampire Empire if you want a card driven "BSG" style 2player game .

All the best and I have yet to play Melee!
 
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