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Near and Far» Forums » General

Subject: Playtesters...please help me decide to back (or not). rss

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Bob D
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I look at every Red Raven game as I love the art work and, conceptually, I think they all sound good. However, I haven't had much luck thus far. My gaming preferences lean towards medium-heavy and heavy Euros but I'm not biased against light and light-medium games. That being said, I do like games, regardless of weight, that have a good depth of play and offer some interesting strategic choices. Near and Far looks the most promising of all Ryan's games thus far.

Red Raven fan WARNING: contrary opinions ahead. Let me just apologize in advance.
I KSd Artifacts, Inc.. It looked good, if light, but I thought it could be fun and have some good strategic depth. For me, it didn't work. It was far too long at higher player counts (the variant does help a bit) and had relatively obvious, and limited, strategic choices. I still own it but it will likely hit the trade pile very soon.

Above and Below was...fine. Strip away the stories (some of which were really enjoyable, if slightly disconnected) and you have a rather rote light-medium Euro, in my opinion. From a mechanical gameplay perspective, there are a lot of light-medium and medium Euros that I find far more engaging. So while the story element was really appealing, it wasn't tied to a game that was deep or engaging enough to make me want to play it more than a few times.

The Ancient World was -- so far -- my favorite. I enjoyed my few plays but not enough to want to buy the game. Again, the game play was not particularly deep. I did enjoy the twist on the worker placement mechanism but that was about it.

I haven't played either Eight-Minute Empire or Eight-Minute Empire: Legends enough to have a strong opinion but they also faded into nothing except for the exceptional artwork.

Okay, so that's a lot of negativity. But Near and Far, again, looks very promising. Some things I find interesting:
1) Working your way through 11 different maps? LOVE IT
2) Character persistence? LOVE IT
3) Playing through both a world story and a character arc? LOVE IT
4) Choose-your-own-adventure that seems more integrated into the actual gameplay? LOVE IT
5) Artwork? LOVE IT (duh)

However, I'm big on mechanics. Is this game deeper, if not necessarily more complex, than past games? Does it offer compelling and/or tough choices? Are there multiple paths to victory or multiple mechanics to balance at once? The most prominent game piece seems to be around the necessity of balancing your team and parlaying that into area control on the map. Anything else I (likely) missed?

I'm so close to backing it but Rahdo's runthrough hasn't convinced me yet. I'm hoping people experienced in both this game, Ryan's other games, and medium to heavy euros might be able to chime in on the mechanical play of this game.

In summary, everything surrounding this game sounds awesome -- but strip all of that away and how is the actual gameplay itself?
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Brenna Asplund
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As one of the main playtesters, I'll weight in here with my experience of the game.

I'd say that there are both multiple paths to victory and multiple mechanics to balance at once, which lead to some tough choices.

You're "balancing your team and parlaying that into area control" is a big part of the game, and that's where a lot of the complexity comes in. You want to balance your team so that you can get a lot of resources when you build camps, but you also don't want to fall behind on ownership of whatever faction(s) you've decided to focus on. You also have to be careful who your party leader is for the same reason.

In several of our playthroughs, competition for faction ownership has gotten pretty intense, and has caused a few upsets.

You might also choose to focus on combat ability in order to gain points from defeating threats out on the board. In that case, you'd need to focus on building a party with a lot of swords, and building artifacts that grant you extra swords.

If you want to go after trade routes, then you'll need to be even more careful about your factions.

In addition to party management, resource management is a big part of the game. You need food to be able to do much when you journey, and you need coins and gems to be able to build artifacts (which grant you points and abilities, and help you avoid end-game point penalties).

Set collection is another big mechanic. The more quickly and efficiently you build all your artifacts, the better off you'll be.

An example of a tough decision you might have to make: If I recruit the 3-food adventurer, I'll be able to build two camps this journey and get more resources, and we're reaching the end game so I need to build my remaining artifacts quickly--but the 3-food adventurer is yellow and I've been focusing on the green faction. The only green-faction adventurer currently available only gives 1 food and only has a sword--so if I recruited green, then I could only build 1 camp when I went out and I'd get 1 fewer resources from that camp because I'll be losing my current 1-skill, 1-sword green adventurer. But the camp I build will give me an extra point at the end of the game. Unless Player 2 recruits too much green and steals my faction, in which case maybe I should take the green adventurer just to stop them from being able to?

One thing that I noticed in Rahdo's video: He spent a lot of time in town, moving between buildings. This isn't often the best strategy, as you can get more from building camps and going on quests then you can just from hanging around town. If 1 player spends a lot of time in town, and another leaves town frequently, the one leaving town will probably win. Most of the game is about the map. Also, Rahdo's runthrough only showed the opening game, and a lot of the complexity comes from the late game.

In summary: The 3 main paths to victory are 1) focusing on building artifacts, 2) focusing on camps, trade routes, and faction control and 3) focusing on fighting threats.

We've had winners who focused on each of the 3, but usually finding a balance of all 3 is the best way to go.

I hope this gave you a better idea of how the game plays. If it doesn't sound like your kind of game, that's fine, of course. We haven't had a lot of outside playtesters for this iteration of the game yet, but we'll be continuing to playtest and tweak the game for a while.
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Matt Simpson
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I have to do a short post, but can elaborate more later. City of iron is a great game with strong, heavier mechanics.
A&B was made to be a lighter mechanic game with the main focus being stories. I think N&F will be similar, but with more fleshed out stories. It's definitely a little heavier too imo
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Ben Rubinstein

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I'm with you on this one. I owned (and traded away) both Empires of the Void and Above and Below. Both sounded great on paper and had terrific artwork. I found the mechanics of both to be pretty lacking.
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蓝魔
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Skip it (N&F) and seek out City of Iron 2nd edition instead -OR- if you can wait that long hold out for the expansion KS and get the whole game then.
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Tahsin Shamma
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bobbyrayiam wrote:
I'm so close to backing it but Rahdo's runthrough hasn't convinced me yet. I'm hoping people experienced in both this game, Ryan's other games, and medium to heavy euros might be able to chime in on the mechanical play of this game.


I think that's your answer. No need to rush to get this as soon as it comes out. Wait for retail or wait for broader reviews.
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Phil Jurney
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Honestly, I love Ryan's games and think they provide great choices. Each game has something that it is waited towards, A&B is definitely waited towards the stories. But beyond that there is focusing on getting a lot of people or focusing on getting a lot of buildings and if you focus on buildings what kind of buildings do you get? There are a lot of choices in A&B. But the one thing I have noticed about Ryan's games is they are all very similar in feel. I've played Above and Below 9obviously), Islebound, City of Iron 1st and 2nd edition, and Ancient World and they all seem to have this familiarity between them. I assume that Near and Far will also be like that. I think you will be disappointed in the game if you back.
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Bob D
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Thank you everyone! This is all good food-for-thought.
 
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Jeroen Paardekooper
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bobbyrayiam wrote:

(...)My gaming preferences lean towards medium-heavy and heavy Euros (...)
Some things I find interesting:
1) Working your way through 11 different maps? LOVE IT
2) Character persistence? LOVE IT
3) Playing through both a world story and a character arc? LOVE IT
4) Choose-your-own-adventure that seems more integrated into the actual gameplay? LOVE IT

Not to dismiss N&F, but you should really check out Gloomhaven if you care for dungeon crawlers (with a euro mechanic).
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Jonas Vanschooren
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namrevo wrote:
bobbyrayiam wrote:

(...)My gaming preferences lean towards medium-heavy and heavy Euros (...)
Some things I find interesting:
1) Working your way through 11 different maps? LOVE IT
2) Character persistence? LOVE IT
3) Playing through both a world story and a character arc? LOVE IT
4) Choose-your-own-adventure that seems more integrated into the actual gameplay? LOVE IT

Not to dismiss N&F, but you should really check out Gloomhaven if you care for dungeon crawlers (with a euro mechanic).

To add on that, yes I think it's a good recommendation considering your likes but it's not out yet. The game is finished developing, but it's still in the early printing stage.
 
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Bob D
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I have been keeping an eye on Gloomhaven too. The art style is less likely to appeal to my wife but the game itself looks quite promising.
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Chris Montgomery
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I'm NOT a playtester for Near and Far.

I backed Gloomhaven AND 7th Continnent, then found Fallen: The Affliction - backed it. Now Near and Far is on KS -- which I backed on the strength of Ryan's other designs. And knowing nothing about him, I like him and his fledgling one-man-band company. After extensively reading and watching videos on all four games, none of which have been released/published yet -- their differences are:

Gloomhaven = legacy game, zero/low replayability, card-driven stories/events, dungeon-crawler, player-mat/card based characters with very cool (i.e. non-traditional fantasy) races, includes a modestly complicated level-up system, with incredibly diverse options for characters. Characters eventually "level out" of the game by accomplishing their "goals" and the player then has the opportunity to take on a new character. This will happen several times over the course of the campaign. Old characters can re-appear in the game as NPCs, IIRC. Characters do not necessarily have the same goals and desires. Dynamic world that changes based on your decisions. My primary interest in this game is its legacy concept - along with the many, many hours of play the game affords. Definitely more focused on combat/dungeon-clearing than the other games with a solid AI and interesting difficulty levels. Still includes a fair amount of non-combat choices and plot lines -- the level and immersiveness of which is hard to gauage at this time.

7th Continent = non-legacy game with a fog-of-war (partially hidden) map to explore made up of face-down square cards. Things about the base game have changed since the kickstarter - not sure if it's for better or worse. Exploration is the main drive of this one, along with puzzles. There is some fighting, but the game is much more like a board/card-version of the old text-adventures. While it is non-legacy, the cards will be the same if you play the game again, but you will not have discovered everything in the game in one play-through due to your successes, failures, and choices. So this game is replayable -- probably after a short hiatus to allow you to forget things. Characters don't level up, per se, but acquire items that make them more able to accomplish tasks. Less board-gamey and really more of an exploration/puzzle game.

Folklore: The Affliction = Most RPG-like of all these games, and probably the one I am most anticipating. This is a story-book-based encounter game with a gorgeous map, interesting map-based combat system, deep character development mechanic, strong plot and arcs based on character decisions, and some fighting. The game involves moral choices which affect your character. Love the setting of this game (1700s eastern european monster-hunter RPG/boardgame). Allows for player-choice to influence the plot of the game. Replayable - but only to the extent that you don't remember what you did before and/or make different choices than you did before. Probably would be a really fun game to play with different groups (or the same group?) of players to see what else could happen. There are boss fights (think, The Witcher PC game, maybe?). Combat system seems to be the most-innovative of the three games (IMHO). Probably a time-consuming game - to get through a full session might take a while, just based on the reviews/comments I've read. Many RPG/boardgamer cross-over players think this game is the closest boardgame that gives an RPG feel that they have ever played.

Near and Far = Most "boardgamey" game of all these games - toned down / lighter leveling-up mechanic (everything is on a euro-sized card, front/back), items give you access to actions/successes/points in an easily-understood boardgame format (placing cubes, taking tokens, worker placement, etc.) -- appears to have a quite a bit of narrative and story arc despite these mechanics. Many modes of play - campaign, single map, etc. Lots of replayability in this box with different groups and different game set-ups each time. Story-card and story-book driven along with quite a few boardgame elements. I am excited for this game due to the straight-forward rules (per Rahdo's review), easy to teach, can be replayed multiple times, and each stage of the game can be played in an acceptable amount of time. Every game will play out much differently since you only visit a limited number of the spaces on any given map, and those spaces reference different storylines based on the mode you are playing. This sounds awesome.
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