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Subject: What We Know (from playing at GenCon) rss

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Big Head Zach
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* There are 6 mega-corporations: Jinteki, NBN, Weyland Consortium, Haas-Bioroid, Globalsec, and Melange Mining. Besides thematic differences, each megacorp has a special ongoing ability, a special action card (see way further down) and set of 3 skill card draws (similar to characters in Battlestar Galactica). Melange Mining stands out in that they get to choose their 3 card draws each time, provided they come from 3 different decks (like Cylons).

* The goal of the game is to maintain relative peace and stability in New Angeles (the special economic zone / megacity encompassing most of present-day Ecuador, and home to the space elevator known as The Beanstalk). The measure of the city's descent into chaos is measured by Threat, which is tracked up to a value of 25 and goes up in a number of painful ways. Failure to prevent Threat from reaching 25 will result in the United States federal government intervening to nationalize the territory, locking down any opportunity for economic exploitation by the megacorps - and incidentally, ending the game immediately in a loss. If the players hold things together for the duration of the game, they will be eligible to achieve their secret victory condition, either alone or along with others (with one exception, see below). Scoring is tracked via a track measuring Capital (VP).

* Each player receives a secret goal card from a shuffled set of N+1 cards depicting each megacorp in play, plus a Federalist card. If you draw another player's card, your win condition is to beat that specific player. If you draw your own corporation, your win condition is to beat at least 3 other players (2 in a 4 player game). If you draw the Federalist card, your goal is to cause the game to end in a failure condition, but still earn a minimum 25 Capital score, implying you have proven to the Feds that you alone are worthy of their private contract.

* So it is possible (15%-20% chance) that any play of the game may not have a Federalist player, though the game encourages play that creates suspicion at times, and players still have to defeat other players to win on their own terms. This reduces the "why contribute if I can't win / kingmaking" issue most semi-coop games create, because there is always the possibility one of the players is deliberately playing to fail (but yet must still score well).

* There are 6 rounds of core gameplay split into three distinct stages - 2 rounds of player decisions followed by a resolution phase.

* During each stage, a Demand card is drawn which indicates a certain amount of 5 different resources that must be produced by the city by the end of the stage: Credits (currency icon), Tech (circuit board icon), Entertainment (cocktail icon), Consumables (water drop icon), and Energy (atomic nucleus icon). Players also receive a secret Investment card which provides a means of scoring Capital if certain resources are at a minimum or maximum level (or any number of other game state metrics), which may be in partial or direct opposition to the Demands (and so the seeds of distrust are sown). Safe to say, failing to meet the Demand requirements results in a LOT of Threat (so in theory you could completely ignore demands, and still end in success, but I haven't the slightest idea how you might pull that off and still win your own objectives without being confronted).

* Each location in the city shows a different subset of the 5 resources that it can produce that round if android labor is present and unhindered. Some locations produce more than one resource, with an indication of which resource is the primary one. Since there are less android labor units than there are locations, the players must move the labor units to the correct locations to produce the demanded resources in time.

* Each location has several indicator spaces for certain status effect tokens:
1) Whether an android labor unit is present or not,
2) Unrest, ranging from quiet, to Protests (yellow), to Labor Strikes (red, which prevents production),
3) Boosted production (cellphone bars, which doubles production when present),
4) Outage, indicating that physical and network infrastructure is intact or it is not (preventing production), and
5) Illness (biohazard icon), which increases Threat every time the location is activated or interacted with in some fashion.

* There are 3 different types of plastic-figure units in the game: private security forces (PriSec, hulking goons in heavy armor and riot shields), organized crime outfits (OrgCrime, stylish gangsters with pistols), and Human First "activists" (guys in overalls with sledgehammers, the traditional method of retiring androids). They interact with each other and with locations (and their ability to produce resources) in various ways yet to be fully revealed, though from memory, OrgCrime will "appropriate" some of a location's production off the backs of trucks, and Human First activists can cause a location's Unrest levels to immediately spike to Labor Strikes when producing (usually the unrest increases one level, which means a location can produce twice before needing to be addressed). PriSec units act as blockers preventing OrgCrime/Human First units from entering/remaining in locations, helping to defend The Root or other locations which need to stay business-legitimate and riot-free.

* Locations are connected to each other in a tree pattern, which indicates how units move when activated by game effects. They all connect to The Root (the planetside end of the Beanstalk), and if certain units reach The Root, they cause Threat to increase and are removed from the board (think tower defense).

* The skill cards come in 5 color-suits, and each trends towards handling certain city maintenance activities, though there are multiple cards in every deck and some we've not seen:
* Labor - reallocating androids, manipulating Human First activists.
* Media - reducing Unrest.
* Biotech - addressing Illness.
* Construction - fixing Outages, though there are also means of dealing with OrgCrime and Human First activists that Elizabeth Mills likes to use.
* Security - placing and utilizing PriSec (private security) forces to deter or mitigate the effects of OrgCrime and Human First units.

* During each round of the game, a number of Asset cards are drawn face-down. This amount changes based on the results of the previous round's Event (or some set amount for the first round). The number of assets drawn controls the number of turns players will have to manipulate the game state, so much like BSG's Destination cards, if the Event card gives you more time to get things done, the Event will likely be terrible, and a good Event will leave you scrambling to make only a few tough decisions.

* Each turn of a round, an Asset card is revealed from the face-downs. Assets are individuals from the Android universe that confer either an ongoing or rechargeable ability to whoever owns them. They are sufficiently powerful enough to make you want to behave in less-than-group-optimal ways to acquire them or prevent your rivals from acquiring them.

* The current player draws their skill card allotment and then proposes one of their skill cards (or their corporation-specific action card) to be enacted that turn (the "Main Offer"). Going around the table, other players have the option to propose an alternative "Counteroffer". The first counter offer is simply placed on the table, but further counteroffers cost additional hand-discards, and replace the existing counteroffer.

* If there is a Counteroffer at the end of this, the players who did not propose either Offer may vote with face-down discards for one of the proposed actions, with ties going to the Main Offer. Whoever wins the vote (or the current player, if no Counteroffer was made) has their action card carried out, and claim the Asset for that turn. Turn then passes.

After all the Asset-turns for the round have been performed, production is assessed, followed by an Event card which usually does something unpleasant and activates either units at a location or units of a certain type, which generally moves them along the path towards The Root. It also informs how many Asset cards are drawn in the next round (counterbalancing the nastiness of the Event).

After 2 rounds, the Demand is assessed (and penalties imposed for failure, and Capital awarded for secret Investments, much to the enragement of other players, haha). Repeat this process twice more without bringing Threat to 25, and you succeed (and have a chance to achieve your secret goal, unless you're the Federalist).

The turns of proposing actions and counteroffers is where the meat of the game is introduced - all of the skill cards provide some sort of game state manipulation related to removing dangers or facilitating the production of resources to various degrees. The promise of obtaining Asset cards means counteroffers will be proposed with the best of stated intentions, and given lots of thematic spin, with everyone trying to jockey for score position. Since (according to the instructor at the table) practically every player asset is tradable (including VP), there's an enormous amount of emergent opportunities for negotiation, deals, threats, false promises (such as claiming to use an action card in one way to secure votes, then using it a different way for personal gain). The responsibility of the group to satisfy the demands and keep the Threat meter from reaching 25 (ending the game in failure), while trying to identify and "Brig by exclusion" the Federalist, combined with a more-reasonable playtime than BSG, means this is going to be a unique experience.
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But.... is it as awesome as it sounds when you play it?
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Big Head Zach
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It is. If you love wheeling and dealing and secret agendas mixed in with your pessimistic crisis management simulation, this game has those in spades.
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Ben Rubinstein

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Wow, this sounds great! So would you say it plays kind of a cross between BSG and Archipelago?
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bhz1 wrote:
Players also receive a secret Investment card which provides a means of scoring Capital if certain resources are at a minimum or maximum level, which may be in partial or direct opposition to the Demands (and so the seeds of distrust are sown). Safe to say, failing to meet the Demand requirements results in a LOT of Threat (7, to be exact, so you can earn exactly 3 extra Threat and completely ignore demands, and still end in success, but I haven't the slightest idea how you might pull that off and still win your own objectives without being confronted).


Fantastic write-up! Just wanted to add some more additional information based on what I remember from my playthrough:
- Not all private investments relate to resources. Mine actually rewarded me for the number of Human First units on the board, so that muddies the waters even further!
- The Threat penalty on Demands seems to vary, as the one in our game only generated 5 Threat for failing.
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Big Head Zach
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epilepticemu wrote:
Wow, this sounds great! So would you say it plays kind of a cross between BSG and Archipelago?


More like (and I'm quoting the instructor) a cross between BSG and Dead of Winter.
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bhz1 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Wow, this sounds great! So would you say it plays kind of a cross between BSG and Archipelago?


More like (and I'm quoting the instructor) a cross between BSG and Dead of Winter.


Really? Have you played Archipelago?

This seems foremost like a competitive game with the need to occasionally work together (like Archipelago).

Dead of Winter is foremost a cooperative game, with the need to occasionally work against other players (possible betrayer, possibly combative secret mission objectives).

But I coudld be wrong!
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Big Head Zach
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epilepticemu wrote:
bhz1 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Wow, this sounds great! So would you say it plays kind of a cross between BSG and Archipelago?


More like (and I'm quoting the instructor) a cross between BSG and Dead of Winter.


Really? Have you played Archipelago?

This seems foremost like a competitive game with the need to occasionally work together (like Archipelago).

Dead of Winter is foremost a cooperative game, with the need to occasionally work against other players (possible betrayer, possibly combative secret mission objectives).

But I coudld be wrong!


You're right in those ways, but obviously New Angeles is not about traveling to an unexplored landmass and establishing colonies, which puts it far away from Archipelago in my mind. But in terms of "crisis management where not everybody necessarily wins their own objectives after group success, and there's a chance someone is playing to fail", DoW is very appropriate.

NA is "pessimistic" enough in its approach that you definitely feel like working together needs to be the priority until you reach a personal level of comfort that you won't fail, to start angling towards personal victory.
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Thanks for the awesome write up! If I understand correctly, does the game play a fixed number of rounds or until someone wins/ all fail?
 
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bhz1 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Wow, this sounds great! So would you say it plays kind of a cross between BSG and Archipelago?


More like (and I'm quoting the instructor) a cross between BSG and Dead of Winter.


Oh.

This makes this significantly less interesting in my book.

That whole playing the card deck rather than the players has become really tired in my opinion.

I was MUCH more interested when this was being likened to Archipelago.
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ath3ist wrote:
Thanks for the awesome write up! If I understand correctly, does the game play a fixed number of rounds or until someone wins/ all fail?


You play 3 stages, 2 rounds in each stage (with a variable number of turns in each round due to Event cards). Game ends either at the end of the third stage (success = all but the Federalist are eligible to win), or when Threat reaches 25 (failure = only the Federalist is eligible to win).

So you can definitely succeed and have no winners (no one beat their secret rival / beat enough opponents), and also fail and have no winners (Federalist didn't get to 25 Capital).
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MrMT wrote:
That whole playing the card deck rather than the players has become really tired in my opinion.

I was MUCH more interested when this was being likened to Archipelago.


I guess I'm failing to understand what is distinct about the interaction in Archipelago. I know it has individual victory conditions and the possibility of a "wins when game ends in failure" goal, but maybe I'm not addressing the specific commonalities you're expecting.
 
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To be clear, you're playing against the "game" in that:

1) The demands for each stage are set by random card draw, with inversely proportional penalties for failure
2) The activity of PriSec/OrgCrime/HumanFirst units and their advancement toward The Root is largely influenced by each round's randomly drawn Event card, excepting certain player-acclamated action cards that move/add/eliminate them, typically in direct opposition to those units
3) The randomness of the shuffle of Asset, Investment, and skill card decks, which really isn't a measurable "difficulty" setting, but a means to vary strategic/tactical decisions with each play.
4) Group success (resulting in victory eligibility for most) is measured by keeping Threat below 25 for the game's duration. The feel is definitely more towards "do I win" than "does everybody else lose", which is a sticking point in many team-based co-ops.

You're playing against other players in that:
1) Your secret goal indicates you win personally iff you last the entire game's duration AND you beat a specific opponent by a minimum amount (or enough players in general) or you're simply trying to end the game early (Federalist). It's very much a thematic win rather than a mechanical one, though the game definitely encourages shrewd, subtle play in trying to achieve your goal.
2) In every turn of the game there is an Asset up for grabs, which is means of acquiring more control over the game, so there is never a turn in which the answer of which Offer to take is simply "this is the best for the group". If the urge is strong enough, the desperation great enough, a player will vote against the greater good because they are of the belief that the asset is worth the setback. Even then, the opportunity for spin and social manipulation in how setbacks / achievements are received, makes this a clever competition...
3) Every stage includes each player getting a secret Investment card which rewards VP for certain conditions that may (and often do) oppose or inhibit the goals of the group. See explanation for #2.

(Do I actually contribute cards to the vote, hoping to change the outcome, or do I rely on what I know of my opponents' supposed interests?)

(Do I propose a less-than-optimal use of an action as a genuine idea, knowing it will either benefit me personally or bring us just shy of the Demand this stage, and then I can feign disappointment and blame someone else's bad play and paint them as the Federalist?)

(Do I say "I just want the asset" when I mean "I don't want this guy having the asset because they're my Secret Rival and I'm behind on VP"?)

(Are we far enough away from 25 Threat that I can risk not meeting the demands this stage, and instead push for actions which maximize the scoring of my Investment, all the while promising to toss a victory point to a player who is behind his rival and needs the push, trusting that his rival isn't me?)
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MrMT wrote:
bhz1 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
Wow, this sounds great! So would you say it plays kind of a cross between BSG and Archipelago?


More like (and I'm quoting the instructor) a cross between BSG and Dead of Winter.


Oh.

This makes this significantly less interesting in my book.

That whole playing the card deck rather than the players has become really tired in my opinion.

I was MUCH more interested when this was being likened to Archipelago.


If it helps, I think it feels a lot more like Archipelago than DoW. You're definitely playing against the other players because your interests are generally at best tangential and at worst completely opposed to theirs, other than the shared interest (almost) all of you have in making sure the city doesn't collapse.

However, unlike Archipelago there isn't a sole winner. Multiple players can win, as long as they're beating their rivals.

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More game component goodness compiled from images and footage from Team Covenant's overview video:

MEGACORP IDENTITIES:
NBN (2 Media, 1 Biotech): 1 VP every time unrest is reduced one level.
Special Action - Sweeps Week: Reduce 4 unrest levels anywhere, 2 locations gain Illness.

Weyland Consortium (2 Construction, 1 Security): 2 VP every time an outage is fixed.
Special Action - Massive Reconstruction: Remove 3 Outages, 2 locations gain an Orgcrime unit.

Jinteki (2 Biotech, 1 Labor): 2 VP every time illness is treated.
Special Action - Mandatory Quarantine: Remove 4 Illness anywhere, 2 locations gain Outage.

Haas-Bioroid (2 Labor, 1 Construction): unknown

GlobalSec (2 Security, 1 Media): 1 VP every time an enemy unit is removed from a location.
Special Action - Ruthless Tactics: Remove up to 4 enemy units, add 1 unrest level in 2 locations not in strike or Outage.

Melange Mining (3 General): 3 VP if an event card doesn’t add 2+ Threat.

ASSET CARDS (ongoing or once-per-round, presumably):
Jackson Howard, Knows What You Want: predict the winner of a deal for 2 VP
Monica Singh, Contract Killer: If you lose a deal as active player, steal 2 VP from the winning player.
Eiko, Corporate Samurai: Force a player to vote for the main offer or they lose 1 VP.
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Hmmm... I was really excited when I first heard about this game. I love the Android universe, and the gameplay sounded fun. But it sounds a lot like BSG--a lot!

There are skill cards, crises every turn, enemy pieces that will cause you to lose the game if they get to close to what you're trying to protect, and a resource that you have to keep from running out.

That's not necessarily a problem; I have BSG with all the expansions and I love it, too. I just have limited space for games, and I don't want to get one that's effectively a re-theme of one I already have.

From what I can tell the differences are the theme, it's shorter (a big plus, so my weekly game group might play it), and the loyalty/objective is a little different.

Does it feel very different from BSG?
 
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achall615 wrote:
Hmmm... I was really excited when I first heard about this game. I love the Android universe, and the gameplay sounded fun. But it sounds a lot like BSG--a lot!

There are skill cards, crises every turn, enemy pieces that will cause you to lose the game if they get to close to what you're trying to protect, and a resource that you have to keep from running out.

That's not necessarily a problem; I have BSG with all the expansions and I love it, too. I just have limited space for games, and I don't want to get one that's effectively a re-theme of one I already have.

From what I can tell the differences are the theme, it's shorter (a big plus, so my weekly game group might play it), and the loyalty/objective is a little different.

Does it feel very different from BSG?


From what I've read in this thread, it's not going to be very much like BSG at all. Probably closer to Dead of Winter & Archipelago. It is not a Team vs Team game. It is you VS the other players. You just have to occasionally work with other players in order to end up the winner.
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supamanu wrote:
But.... is it as awesome as it sounds when you play it?


No.









It's better.


Also, I think HB's power was gaining 1 Capital whenever an android moved. Whatever the ratio was, that was what it keyed off of I think.

A few other assets I recall:

Toshiyuki Sakai: When you gain Toshiyuki Sakai, draw 10 cards. Disregard your hand limit this turn.

Sunny Lebeau: Whenever the threat level rises by one or more, draw two cards.

Fall Guy: After you propose a main offer, you may discard Fall Guy. Make a Counter Offer, then proceed immediately to the support phase.

Mister Li: End of Turn. Choose a player. That player loses 1 Capital and draws two cards.
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I remember two other assets:

Elizabeth Mills: At the end of the turn, give this card to another player. They must discard 3 cards or draw 3 cards.

Can't remember the name of the 2nd one, but it was some private security company: Choose a player - they can't play in support of the counter-offer this turn.
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I had another come up in my game that was like: "Exhaust after a player makes a counter offer. They must retract that counter offer or give you 1/2 capital."
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Battlestar Galactica seems like a better cooperative game even without expansions and Archipelago seems like a better semi-cooperative strategy game.

So what dies this have that justifies a purchase and makes New Angeles better?

Other than if someone prefers Android theme, that is.
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Slashdoctor wrote:
Battlestar Galactica seems like a better cooperative game even without expansions and Archipelago seems like a better semi-cooperative strategy game.

So what dies this have that justifies a purchase and makes New Angeles better?

Other than if someone prefers Android theme, that is.


The fact that "seems" doesn't mean "is".
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
Battlestar Galactica seems like a better cooperative game even without expansions and Archipelago seems like a better semi-cooperative strategy game.

So what dies this have that justifies a purchase and makes New Angeles better?

Other than if someone prefers Android theme, that is.


The fact that "seems" doesn't mean "is".


Being better than Archipelago or Galactica would be huge. At the time there isn't anything I can see that achieves such greatness beyond alternative theme.

Thus the reason why I asked, what would make it better than either of them? Not just 'alternative' to them.

I am still waiting to see what would make it better
 
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Slashdoctor wrote:
I am still waiting to see what would make it better


The concept of New Angeles seems more streamlined to me than BSG, it's more of a pure negotiation/social interaction game, without distraction from the flying and fighting in space, the jumps, the brig, the whole reveal-thing, the separate cylon actions, ... Not that I think that BSG is a bad game, but it does have quite a lot of 'stuff' tied to it, however thematic it all may be.

My personal experiences with Battlestar Galactica have been very mixed. On some occasions it resulted in very epic and memorable evenings, on others the whole dynamic just fell flat (even with the same gaming group). We never knew whether it would 'click' this time, so it gradually became less played.

It also happened more than once that about an hour before the end of the game, it was pretty clear which side was going to win, but you still had to go through the chore of playing it through to the end, with some people becoming tired or distracted and alpha players taking over. I can imagine that the secret personal objectives in New Angeles will keep things more tense and uncertain until the very end of the game.

Just my 2 cents atm, based on the very limited information I've read.
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Gaedr wrote:
Slashdoctor wrote:
I am still waiting to see what would make it better


The concept of New Angeles seems more streamlined to me than BSG, it's more of a pure negotiation/social interaction game, without distraction from the flying and fighting in space, the jumps, the brig, the whole reveal-thing, the separate cylon actions, ... Not that I think that BSG is a bad game, but it does have quite a lot of 'stuff' tied to it, however thematic it all may be.

My personal experiences with Battlestar Galactica have been very mixed. On some occasions it resulted in very epic and memorable evenings, on others the whole dynamic just fell flat (even with the same gaming group). We never knew whether it would 'click' this time, so it gradually became less played.

It also happened more than once that about an hour before the end of the game, it was pretty clear which side was going to win, but you still had to go through the chore of playing it through to the end, with some people becoming tired or distracted and alpha players taking over. I can imagine that the secret personal objectives in New Angeles will keep things more tense and uncertain until the very end of the game.

Just my 2 cents atm, based on the very limited information I've read.


I really love reading replies like this, so thank you for it It makes me think about the 'bigger picture' of gaming.

I think you really hit the nail on the head with the streamlined description. It makes me wonder about streamlining in general, can a streamlined game ever offer an 'epic' experience? If not, then why is it so sought after?

It makes me wonder 'Battlestar Galactica experience in half the time' comments about Dark Moon or even Dead of Winter and does it make it better? Is an epic experience better in half the time, or is it even epic anymore?

Because it is also true, as you say, that Galactica can be clunky due to the epic, complex mechanism structure of it. Sometimes it is not as epic, sometimes it can lean off balance or end prematurely and without notice.

But is the industry better by striving towards shorter experiences like this?

What if games like Battlestar Galactica are never made again because they are immediately discounted for their complexity and length?

Yet my gaming group that consists of 30 players and has hosted over 80 people over almost four years still considers Battlestar Galactica as the best gaming experience throughout this time - guys and girls alike - and offers events where seats get booked within minutes each time?

What makes experiences like this click? I don't think that time is an issue, or the whole idea that 'but I can play three games in that time'. Or is the reason why epic experiences are less sought after because epic experiences rely a lot more on how good the gamers are around you - socially and otherwise - and how good hosting is?

All of it widely off topic, but it just made me think about it.
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