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Subject: Hail, Hail Robonia, a land I didn't make up! - My initial thoughts on SeaFall rss

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Rob Stevenson
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So I am a very lucky chap, and yesterday I had the opportunity to play one of the first production copies of SeaFall that have been released into the wild. I thought I would share my first impressions, which I intend to be spoiler free. I'm afraid I can't guarantee that they won't also be trite.

Initially, I was surprised and excited by the scale. Not being the owner of the game, I had read the rules PDF to try and familiarise myself with what would be happening. As such, I had looked at the examples identifying parts of the game board, but not really processed what should in retrospect have been clear - there is a vast swathe of unexplored ocean that is not pictured in the rulebook. When I arrived my host had already set everything up, and it covered his quite substantial table. The future evolution of the game was hinted at by the legacy boxes and the unsullied space to be filled in. I am in the latter stages of a Pandemic Legacy game, and I cast my mind back to when I first saw that game. I loved my first experience of it, but I was already a veteran of Pandemic so the excitement was about how something old would become new again. SeaFall is completely new, so the thoughts I had were mirrored by the theme of the game - exploring the unknown.

I like the components. The cardboard bits are nice and chunky, the ships are ship-shape and easy to distinguish. The board and the cards are all very pleasant. The cubes are plastic. My personal preference is for wooden cubes, but that is the very opposite of a deal-breaker – they are the right size and they are easily distinguishable so they are perfectly fine. We played with cardboard coins rather than the souped-up metal ones, and they are good – I didn’t feel I was missing out.
I do have one very minor critique of the board layout. The provinces are coloured red, purple, blue, green and grey, and while the ships are vibrant and distinct, the province regions themselves are much more muted. The blue and grey provinces are adjacent and for several players they bled together in a way that made them hard to distinguish. If they had been positioned in a different order on the board this might have been alleviated. It didn’t make a discernible gameplay difference (the obvious caveat being that this could change through the Legacy nature of the game), and familiarity in the campaign will likely solve the problem, but it might be more vexing for people with vision or colour perception issues.

The rulebook seems pretty comprehensive. It is ordered differently to what I would expect, and this is signposted for you that you might want to approach it differently - “if it is easier for you to learn rules by knowing the round/turn structure first, jump to p12-13 first then come back”. I didn’t think I had a preference so I read it as printed and concluded afterwards that yes, it turns out it is easier for me to learn rules the other way round. If you also don’t know one way or the other, I recommend reading the round/turn structure first, then going back to fill out the game concepts. I ended up having to reread the first section anyway to plug in the missing bits, but I’ve no doubt other people will prefer it this way round.

Naming things is always enjoyable. Some people are creative, some people steal from popular media and some look wildly round the room for inspiration – the researcher in my Pandemic Legacy game is called Arial Boldman as a result of this particular method, and I once spent a one-shot RPG worshiping We’etabix (pronounced wayatibeesh) God of Harvests and having a Nutritous Breakfast. You get to name people, places and things from the get go and I love doing this – my head-cannon for the world I’m playing in is already evolving based on a mixture of the art; what I and the players of the other, inferior, provinces have started to call things; decisions we have already taken; and the story that is being revealed through entries in the Captains Booke (I saw a missed opportunity here to double down on the archaic spelling and call it the Captaynes Booke but that is by the by). I have found the story chunks we have had so far have been engaging and I am already invested in finding out more about the world.

I found the gameplay itself to be engaging. The format of playing a restricted prologue to set the initial world building in motion but without any campaign scoring or the full endgame procedure is a good idea to get everybody familiar with the starting game mechanics in practice. The rulebook highlights that, in typical legacy style, there are additional rules to come as the campaign goes on – some with fairly obvious developments based on how the rulebook holes are labelled, some likely to be a complete surprise. All four of us pursued divergent proto-strategies and my initial reading of how the game played is that these were all equally valid - obviously this remains to be seen in the long term, but the game didn’t immediately topple over in an imbalanced heap, so fingers crossed that it continues in the same vein.

In conclusion, SeaFall is fun and exciting and I am looking forward to diving further into the experience. Not just because I want to, or because I am committed to the campaign, but for the glory of all the proud people in the province of Robonia!


Edited for spelling.
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Matthew Bachtold
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Thanks for writing this up.
This is exactly the sort of non-spoilery impressions that I want to be reading while I wait for my pre-order to arrive!
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Brent Wilson
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I love your subject line.

You've inspired me to name someone "El Zilcho".

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Becq Starforged
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Thanks for writing this review!
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Fito R
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I plan to forbid my players from naming provinces or islands after themselves, that's just cheating!
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Becq Starforged
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Joou wrote:
I plan to forbid my players from naming provinces or islands after themselves, that's just cheating!

No Fitosylvania, then?
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Fito R
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Becq wrote:
Joou wrote:
I plan to forbid my players from naming provinces or islands after themselves, that's just cheating!

No Fitosylvania, then?


Pshnaw, Castlevania maybe.
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Rob Stevenson
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Speedyox wrote:
I love your subject line.

You've inspired me to name someone "El Zilcho".



Glad to hear it. You might also enjoy the fact that I named one of the advisers "Gumbercules".
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Brent Wilson
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rosie_187 wrote:
Speedyox wrote:
I love your subject line.

You've inspired me to name someone "El Zilcho".



Glad to hear it. You might also enjoy the fact that I named one of the advisers "Gumbercules".


I love that guy!
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Rob Stevenson
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For anyone wishing to know more, I can wholeheartedly recommend No Pun Included's first impressions video, which is spoiler free and as a bonus includes footage of me singing the Robonian national anthem.

Seafall First Impressions
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Becq Starforged
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rosie_187 wrote:
For anyone wishing to know more, I can wholeheartedly recommend No Pun Included's first impressions video, which is spoiler free and as a bonus includes footage of me singing the Robonian national anthem.

Seafall First Impressions

Wow. Robonia has a *seriously* short national anthem!

The video was really fun to watch! One thing I was having trouble with, though was gauging whether or not he actually liked the game. He seemed ... I dunno, a bit ... ambiguous about how he felt. Did anyone else get that impression?

Oh, and I'm trying to decide if perhaps the bedroom scene was slapped in for ratings...
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Brent Wilson
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Becq wrote:
[q="rosie_187"]
Oh, and I'm trying to decide if perhaps the bedroom scene was slapped in for ratings...


Either way, it was unrealistically tame. Who goes to bed with their box top on?
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Howard Massey
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gratuitous sex, ya can't getaway from it -
it's everywhere laugh
 
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Becq Starforged
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kskato wrote:
gratuitous sex, ya can't getaway from it -
it's everywhere laugh

Full disclosure: there was no actual game nudity or spieliality(*) portrayed in this video; only implied spieliality.

Even so, it's probably worth stressing that it's fine to love your games, but you shouldn't love your games.

(*) I was surprised to find that I was unable to Google a proper term -- so I adapted "bestiality"
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