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Subject: Single play review of The Networks minus the twinkie wiener sandwich. rss

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Reed Dawley
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This George Newman simulator is a very fun game. I'll spoil my conclusion with that. You start with a little cable channel full of bad shows and build it into a station that Stanley Spadowski would be proud of. You have three time slots to fill with shows, each of which have a preferred time slot. You can add stars and advertisements depending on the show, but I am getting ahead of myself.

-Each turn you have six basic things you can do-

1) Develop a show: Some shows have prerequisites to take, you may need a star or an advertisement in your green room and this is communicated with clear icons. If it has a purple star you need a star, if it has a green dollar sign you need to have an ad and if it has grey icons they are optional. You will always be playing a show onto a spot that had another show so the old show gets turned upside down and placed in the Rerun area, these points get added at the end of the round. Then put the new show in the slot, play any prerequisite stars and/or ads from your greenroom and put a black cube on the season one spot of the show.

2) Sign a star: You have the cash, they will do the work. Take an actor card from the line and put it in your green room. Some have preferences and will draw smaller viewership if put in the wrong show. Put a stunt man in a comedy and he brings less people to the TV than he does if he is in an action show for instance.

3) Land an ad: Take an ad card from the line, put it in your green room and usually get some cash now, then when it is played you may get some cash per season. There are also promotion cards that if you pay will also bring in viewers, very cool option.

4) Take a network card: These cards do all kinds of stuff; take two ads off the top of the deck and pick one while getting money from the other one, hold a show at its current season at the end of a season or even just get 5 viewers instantly. There are a lot of different cards and they even have special effects for the one or two player game. There are cards that have an immediate power that you use when you draw it, ones that you keep in front of you and can use once then it goes to the bottom of the pile, ones that has an effect at the end of the game and ones that go in front of you and have a lasting effect on the game.

5) Attach a star or ad to a show: Your show has an icon for a star, you can play a star there and bring in more viewers, same for an ad if there is a dollar sign. There are even cards that have a half star half dollar sign and you can play either. It gives you flexibility. Get a better star later? You can discard and replace the current star if you so choose.

6) Drop and Budget: This is your basic pass the turn, play your disc on the highest space and you are done for the season. In the first round for our game this gave you cash, later rounds you can pick cash or viewers depending on your needs at the time.


-Once everyone has passed and collected their Drop and Budget cash you end the round and follow these steps-

1) Income/Expenses: Total up the red values on your shows and stars then subtract the black numbers from ads, if it is a positive number you owe the cash and have to pay, if you have the cash you pay the cash if you do not have the money keep your cash and pay in viewers. If your black number is higher collect the difference in income.

2) Score viewers from shows, ads, stars and reruns: Each card has a number on the right side for each season, add them up then add in your rerun cards viewers, there is a handy number line on the player card to keep track as you go. Add your season total to your score on the central board. (if it is the end of season one flip over the board that says flip over the board after season one)

3) Age shows: Move the black cube down one line on the show

4) Set up next season: Move your reruns to archives (but make sure you can see the genre symbols), discard all unused cards around the central board to the bottoms of their decks and draw new show(make sure they are the right season cards), star, ad and network cards and place them around the central board.

5) Determine new turn order, fewest viewers goes in the first position, then next lowest and so on. Winner goes last.

6) Move the season marker.

Once season five ends, score viewers from your Shows and Stars one last time(they will have been lowered from end of round 5, step 3) and add one viewer for each star in your green room, add this to the central board total and you have your winner. If there is a tie then the person with the most money wins.

-Genre Bonus-

Once you develop your third or fifth show of the same genre you get a genre bonus. For the third show of a genre you get a choice to either draw three stars and put one of them in your green room for free or draw three ad cards from the ad deck and add one to your green room without getting the landing bonus then collect the landing bonus of the two you did not choose and put them on the bottom of the deck. If it is the fifth show of a specific genre you get to draw three network cards and choose one to keep and sicard the other two to the bottom of the deck then you can convert money to viewers at a rate of $4 for 3 viewers, for instance if you pay $12 you get 9 viewers.

-Conclusion-

I really liked the different boards for different player counts with all the information you need on them to set the game up. The setup goes quick, it tells you how many of each type of card to put out and made it really easy to get going each round. I like the artwork and the mock shows, most of which are clever and recognizable as a parody of something on TV. We played the basic game with three players so we took out the cards recommended including the 4-5 player cards, the advanced network cards and the interactive network cards.

First off, I play red in general and the fact that I was channel 62 set me off spouting UHF quotes which were totally lost on my 15 year old nephew. I enjoyed the theme of the game a lot, I had a laugh putting Bob Ross on the Walking Dead parody show or putting a celebrity chef on The Wacky TSA agent. The game offered a lot of decisions, do I put a better show in a non optimal slot or hope for a better one to show up before I drop to one new viewer in the next season. I grabbed a stunt man and the next player grabbed the action show I wanted for my flagging 10pm slot, do I grab the 10pm comedy and throw him into it or do I try to get an action show that may be slightly better than what I already have in the 8pm slot. It was fun to see the new stuff come out and start prioritizing in what order do I need things, I was ahead all game jumping out to a healthy lead in the first season with a good sci fi show and a known sci fi actor so I went last all game and had to really make three top picks every round because I know two of them could be snapped up. Do I grab that ad to be able to afford that show or is it better to drop and budget and collect the ten million. After a lot of turns someone would say a four letter word and let everyone know they wanted that card. It was good fun, the cards out are tight with not a lot of wiggle room and not a lot of cards left on the table after a round.

We all picked up on getting shows that are dropping in ratings out and getting new shows in quickly after making sure they have the prerequisites. Network cards were ignored mostly at first then we started looking at them more closely, take the five viewer bonus network card or go out for 10 million, which gives more value, will someone else go out first? A couple turns two of us went Drop and Budget and the remaining player got carte blanche to set things up for next round. I got to snag all three network cards one round because of this and gained an extra 8 viewers and got to hold my biggest draw show (american samurai worrier with promotion ads) from aging for one round which ended up effectively giving me another 14 or so points. I did end up winning by a decent amount, 100, 102 and 130 so we'll see if they want to play again. My girlfriend, yes, my nephew, maybe.

I should add that there are special rules for solo play, two player play and three to five player play. I like options, there are some subtle differences but it uses a neat mechanism in which you flip the topmost network card and "burn" the actions that the icons on the bottom of the card represent. If it shows icons for show, ad and drop and budget then you discard the leftmost show, discard the leftmost ad and cover the leftmost drop and budget space with a black cube. I will give it a shot solo at some point as I am curious how it all works out but I think the interaction between the players is one of my main reasons for liking this and most games. Maybe it is a red snapper or maybe it is the box.

The only thing I can say that is possibly negative without playing with the advanced and interactive cards is I think the show parody cards may get, not stale per se, but with the small count the chuckle when they come out may stop and it may become more about the numbers. I think this could happen if it was played every day, which really is not how I play games so I am not too worried. Plus I can always make my own cards if it happens, use the stats and genres and make my own titles and pictures. It is not a huge concern but it was then only one I could think of. Other than that I would happily play the game again and I look forward to trying it out two player and four or five player, see how they all work. I have backed a lot of kickstarter games and with this one I feel like I found the marble in the oatmeal.


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Shaun Morris
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I too am a KS backer on this. I'm glad I did because this accelerated almost instantly into my personal top 10 favorite games.
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fightcitymayor
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There were more UHF references per square inch in that review than in anything outside of the actual film.
I salute you sir. thumbsup
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John W
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IMCarnochan wrote:

The only thing I can say that is possibly negative without playing with the advanced and interactive cards is I think the show parody cards may get, not stale per se, but with the small count the chuckle when they come out may stop and it may become more about the numbers.


I definitely thought this as well after my first game. Really feel that all the amounts for each season should have at least been double. That and I was a little disappointing with the cardboard, figured with so few cards that it would have been nicer quality for the price .
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fightcitymayor
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Wrightboy wrote:
That and I was a little disappointing with the cardboard, figured with so few cards that it would have been nicer quality for the price .
It's not FFG linen-finished cardboard, but I don't think it's too bad. The gameplay for The Networks is 90% a function of the cards, and they are really nice, IMHO.

And price-wise, we (KS backers) got the game & the expansion for $35 with free shipping. So price-wise, that ain't too bad.
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Reed Dawley
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fightcitymayor wrote:
Wrightboy wrote:
That and I was a little disappointing with the cardboard, figured with so few cards that it would have been nicer quality for the price .
It's not FFG linen-finished cardboard, but I don't think it's too bad. The gameplay for The Networks is 90% a function of the cards, and they are really nice, IMHO.

And price-wise, we (KS backers) got the game & the expansion for $35 with free shipping. So price-wise, that ain't too bad.


I have no issue with the quality for the price, I have paid more for lesser games with worse components. I feel the game was a bargain for what is in it, one could call it a double-die Denver mint penny in the rough. A crazy person anyway.
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Dave S.
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I'll echo this statement as well. Not the bit about the cardboard, but the bit about wishing there were more shows per season for some variety. Especially in season 1.

Otherwise my wife and I really enjoyed our first play through. If you're an experienced gamer, don't hesitate to include the advanced Network cards. We played with them and they didn't cause any issues with us. We'll probably leave out the Interactive ones since we're carebears, but the advanced ones were great.
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Charlie Theel
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Great review Reed! I need to give this game another look.
 
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