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Subject: POSTHUMAN (KS + Defiant) REVIEW - is it any good? rss

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Maciej Krok
Poland
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POSTHUMAN REVIEW




Welcome, guys, to my first review on BGG. I became a kickstarter backer for Posthuman with Defiant expansion, received my copy a few days ago, played 4 times with different player counts and I'm ready to review it. So let's get to it.

THE BOX: 9/10. This was the biggest surprise about this game for me: a smaller than standard size of the box, very sturdy, linen – finished and with a nice feel to it. It is literally filled with components: cards, tiles, tokens, pawns and dice (again, KS edition + Defiant). The insert is very functional and even though it's not the best insert I've ever seen, it does it's job very well.

COMPONENTS QUALITY: 8/10. Very good looking board, being literally just a progression track, but it adds to the thematic side of the game, reminding everyone that this game is in fact a race and not just one big solo game. Player boards are a little bit too thin for my taste, and it wasn't easy to punch out all the holes without damaging them here and there. They are still functional, but that's one downside. The cards are sturdy enough for my taste, linen – finished and have a good feel to them. Very good quality dice with clear symbols, they also have nice weight and balance on them. On the downside, it's not that hard to roll 6 blue dice in this game and it only comes with 5, can't really understand why.

GRAPHICS & DESIGN: 7/10. Graphics are... let's call it functional. You can't say they're good, but you can't say they don't work either. Characters, enemies and items are mostly middle row, with enemies being a little more colorful than you would expect from inhabitants of post – apocalyptic environment. Some weapons look cool, while skill cards and some encounters have no graphics on them at all, just symbols and text. I understand that cards are small and so it's hard to fit graphics on them, but it makes this thematic game look too raw. On the flip side, graphics look better when they are tiny, and it is almost always the case in this game. The cards have VERY tiny text, you sometimes have to hold the card right in front of your nose to read it, and there is no chance other players would be able to read it comfortably while it is put on the table. The graphic design is actually a very strong side of Posthuman: clear, logical, color – coded symbols which became intuitive really quickly. Lots of icons almost anywhere you could possibly put one, to remind you about almost every little rule. Cards are color – coded, have their sections clearly separated with the same type of info being in the same place no matter what the card. Sure, icons and other marks are still tiny, but in this case it's not really a problem.

RULES & RULEBOOK: 7/10. There is a ton of rules in Posthuman, with a lot of iconography. Luckily, rules are logical and intuitive for the most part, which gives you a chance to someday play through a game without making a single mistake (it happened to me, but took me 3 games to get there). Rules are reasonably well written and are clear enough to be understood, but exceptions to the rules are not highlighted in the rulebook and too few examples in the rulebook makes it hard to digest. Weight mechanisms seems counter – intuitive and overly complicated for what they're for, I'm already house ruling these. Maybe it's just me, but I have found icon chart at the back of the rulebook almost useless in my first game and completely useless in subsequest games. I would gladly welcome some rules summary there instead.

GAMEPLAY: 9/10. The most important part of every game for me, and while not flawless, I was satisfied with Posthuman. This game is basically a combination of a race, an adventure, push-your-luck mechanisms and character development, much like in „Talisman” or „Runebound”, but with more theme and better mechanics. And those mechanics work really well together. Walking around your own map feels solitary, but players have possibilities of trading and affecting one another with skills, which helps a lot. The entire social aspect of the game, while mechanically very neat, is totally dependant upon the group of players and while sometimes very strong, it can be almost non – existent in other games. The race aspect keeps you focused and forces you to push your luck from time to time. Your encounters are mostly combat – oriented, but there is a chunk of encounters that require you to test your mind or speed, which aren't really combat stats. And the theme is strong in this game: travelling, exploring, struggling to gain food, conserving ammo and hoarding equipment, either for you or for future trading, developing your character and progressing through skills or keeping XP cards for the late game, where you can use them to get rid of mutation scars. And when first player becomes a mutant, the game automatically hits a higher gear: you can feel a lot more tension around the table, game doesn't feel solitary any more and other players are suddenly more willing to trade with you and help each other out. It's a perfect change of paste and I love it, it also speeds up the game end one way or the other. On the downside, this game is really random, and I'am not even talking about die rolls, even though I have seen 3 X's rolled twice in a row in my game, resulting in player's death. I am talking about luck of a card draw: If you happen to build your character as shooter/melee, randomly draw a good shooting/melee skill during character creation and randomly get a good gun/melee weapon as your first card – you're set for the entire game and if you don't do anything stupid, you're probably going to win.

PLAYER COUNTS & GAME TIME: 7/10. Posthuman is playable solo, which is a good way to test our understanding of the rules, but it misses a lot of neat elements when there is no other player at the table. Two players are better, but trading happens only ocasionally and you have a feeling of helping your only rival as much as helping yourself. Plus, turning mutant doesn't change anything: you had one rival, and now you still have the same one rival. Where this game really shines, is 3 and 4 player counts: more frequent tradings but with tendency to leave the player who is winning out of trading opportunities (which is a good way for players to balance the game), more interaction (both positive and negative), and the turning point is absolutely sweet here: now you have two teams at the table, one which only wants to stop you all from achieving your goal, which ties the rest of the humans closer together. In a 4 player game, when there are two mutants, human players practically stop being rivals to one another and concentrate of keeping the other one alive, which is awesome. Now, about game time: my first game, solo, took me about 90 minutes and I was consulting the rulebook a couple of times, and I am certain it can be done in about 60 minutes without rushing it. Two player game took me 2,5 hours with other player being new and with some rulebook consultation; three player game took a little bit over 3 hours with one player being new and rulebook used only once. Four player game, with 3 players being new to the game, took us solid 5 hours, with a lot of paging through a rulebook. After that, I have decided not to test 5 and 6 player variants, since it would take forever to finish the game. In my opinion, the game is a little bit too complicated for what it is and I wouldn't mind some elements being cut off (like inventory management, for example) for more streamlined and a bit shorter experience.

OVERALL: 8/10. Posthuman is fun, thematic, adventure – like game with some nice twists and turns. I really like it, and I consider myself a part – time gamer with amerithrash/thematic euro taste. It was also well received by non – gamers in my group, both males and females, because it's not a heavy game and there are only few choices that are valid each turn, usually between: playing it safe and slow or pushing your luck. Social aspect is there and helps balance the game. Mastering the rules takes time and you should be prepared for mistakes and playing sub – optimally in your first games. Game time, when you finally get the rules right, should be around 60 minutes per player. On the downside, I am not sure this game will satisfy the tastes of hard core gamers: it is random, decisions are few and pretty obvious for them, plus a weaker player can pull a better player down with him after turning mutant. There is also a possibility for this game to become broken IMO, because rules say that mutants win collectively besides the last person turned, so when there are only 2 humans left, one of them can decide not to continue the journey, intentionally do something stupid to gain scars, turn mutant ASAP and join the winning team, ruining the experience of the last human player and killing the best moment this game has to offer: when there are only 2 humans left and they have to cease rivalry in order to have a chance to survive.

And now, I'm going back to play Posthuman some more, with houserules suggested by Randy from Board Game Corner. Thank you guys for your time and have a great day out there ;-)
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Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
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Maciej Krok wrote:
Game time, when you finally get the rules right, should be around 60 minutes per player.


So, with players who don't know the rules, you're looking at more than 60 mins per player? 3-4 hours for a 3 player game? 5+ hours for a 4-player game?

That is waaay too long, I fear.
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mike christiansen
United States
Beaverton
Oregon
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We played our first game of this last night with 4 players and it took four hours. It felt too long, but we were struggling a lot with the rules. The rules recommend players pairing off to do each other's move actions. We didn't do that. I hope to get the game to under 3 hours. If we can't, this game will become unplayable at my house.
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Maciej Krok
Poland
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I'm affraid 60 minutes per player was pretty accurate. I just finished two solo games this evening, and the combined time for them was an hour and 40 minutes, so about 50 minutes for solo game. It was shorter than the last time (no rules consultations) but solo game also has the fastest paste, because there is very little time to do anything other than moving. I would say 45 minutes per player is doable in 4 player game if someone turns mutant early (which no one did in my group, but it's possible), then players are rushing to the finish line while mutant is killing one by one. Mutant turns are also shorter than human turns, they usually just resolve one card per mutant, so more mutants at the table = shorter delay between human turns.

And Mike, pairing is only possible if you have two sets of dice. I don't.

ps. now, when I think of it, those 30 minutes per player printed on the box is a big, fat lie. In order for someone to win, you must get 10 journey points, so it's a minimum of 10 turns. Plus some camping, some foraging and some scouting, so really 15 turns to get there is actually super fast. Which means 2 minutes per turn, and that is just nuts. Sometimes you can have two or even three combat encounters per turn, sometimes with more than one enemy at once. No, it's definitely not possible. Maybe with short game variant rules, but normal game is not even close to 30 minutes per player.
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Mark Turner
United Kingdom
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Oh dear. Unless something changes, I fear this will become a one-play wonder. There is no way this should have been allowed to become a 4+ hour game.

My other concern is that it becomes a multiplayer solitaire dungeon crawl, with significant downtime between turns, where the winner is largely determined by luck. I have been struck that players cannot cooperate on encounters, and only ever 'meet' in a rather abstract way.
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Howard Massey
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I don't think I'm going to panic whistle

I guess games just are not worth taking the time to learn anymore.. ...to bad.

Game ordered !
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Franz Borg
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We've played the game 4 times now, 3 times with 4 and once with 3. It took 4 hours the first time between 4 players. It took a while to get our heads around the rules (A let's play video would be really helpful). However, on the 3rd play-through we finished the game in 2.5 hours after set-up. Things go MUCH faster once you know the rules. The turns are fairly quick aside from multiple enemy encounters which are not very common.

The 3 player game was awesome. We finished it in just under 2 hours and was tense till the last turn.

Maciej, 15 turns is a comfortable run for the win. And it's 2 minutes per player per turn. I'm not sure how you guys are playing it, but considering scouting, camping and foraging literally involve taking a single card or moving a stat up, that's a few seconds worth. And please note that these are done simultaneously - there's no need to wait for other players. Combat takes longer but often you're done after one or two rolls max. How is that taking you longer than 2 minutes to do????

Overall it takes longer than the 30 minutes per player I think, but not by a lot. Maybe it's 45 minutes per player. And come on, even a 3 hour game is fine for a solid sitting and with the variability this game has, I think it's totally worth it.


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Howard Massey
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franzborg wrote:
We've played the game 4 times now, 3 times with 4 and once with 3. It took 4 hours the first time between 4 players. It took a while to get our heads around the rules (A let's play video would be really helpful). ...



Yea, It would be nice if Gordon could borrow Rahdo' 'video studio' and set up a few rounds
showing examples of 'trouble spots' people are having with the rules.
And clear up the misunderstandings

But I'm making inconvenience & work for others. devil
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Maciej Krok
Poland
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franzborg wrote:
Things go MUCH faster once you know the rules.


This is very true, and I'm getting there slowly. In my last solo play I've won after 40 minutes of playing. Still not 30, but a lot better than 60.

franzborg wrote:
scouting, camping and foraging (...) these are done simultaneously


Not in your first couple of games, when you have to control what new players are doing. And that's the main reason why my first 4 - player game took me 5 hours. And yes, I do know it's gonna be a lot shorter for the same group in subsequent games.

franzborg wrote:
scouting, camping and foraging (...) that's a few seconds worth


With all due respect, I disagree. You are only scouting when you have 2 or 3 exits, and you have to decide which tile goes where, assuming you're not using skills here which allows you to discard tiles or draw even more. Foraging is usually pretty quick, I agree, and not really skill dependant. Camping can be quick, but if you're using skills that affect other players, you have to negotiate terms first. And, while we're at it, trading takes time too: you're offering, others are thinking, you get one or two counter - offers, you're thinking... It all takes time.

Let me rephrase my opinion: 30 minutes per player is not likely in solo game and is not doable with other player counts. But I want to make one thing clear: if You guys understood my review as beating down this game because of how long it is, I assure You that wasn't my intention at all. I like it, I'm keeping it and while it's a little bit too long and a little bit too complicated for what it is, it's still worth playing very much.

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Jason
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It's worth pointing out that there's a Short Game variant mentioned on Page 10 of the rule book.

Instead of starting at the beginning of the Journey Points track, you start at the last level 1 on the track. They also emulate what might've happened to your characters up to that point by giving you 2 scars and a draw of weapons / equipment.

And like normal, you can choose to select Level 1 encounters – and not progress up to Level 2's on the Journey Points track – so you can collect EXP and clear tiles for foraging.

It's not uncommon for nowadays – especially the longer ones – to add short variants. Spartacus is a great example, as it suggests a starting Influence (first to 12), which influences the game length.
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Ashley Baumann
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Norcross
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My game group played our first game last night and although I enjoyed the game itself, we decided to throw in the towel after 4 hours of playing (there were 3 of us) since we had screwed up way too many rules(this was after all of us had read the rule book at least twice). I would LOVE it if someone would post a video showing the correct way to play through this game (the ones from the Kickstarter are just not helpful at all). I'm hopeful that we figured out a lot of our mistakes and that our next game will go a little quicker but like others have said I think this game is a solid 45-60 minute/player game even when you know the rules.

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