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Subject: Disappointing First Playthrough rss

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Evan
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So, my regular game group got together last night. We play about once per month and vary our games for each session so that all players can get a flavor for different styles. I wouldn't consider us hard core, but we are experienced players who prefer the fairly popular middle weight style games. Blood Rage seemed like a perfect entry point to the area control/Ameritrash style. This is the first game we have played like this. We tend to play more cooperative titles like Dead of Winter or Pandemic. We also play a lot of light weight strategy/deck building games like Splendor, Dominion and 7 Wonders. Everyone was excited to play BR.

After the first age, things were going along fine. I think everyone thought they could have done things a bit differently (me especially), but the results were fairly even and everyone seemed to be on an even playing field going forward in terms of upgrades/horns.

Here's where things get a bit disappointing. There was a pillage in Yggorasil initiated by another player in the first half of the second age. Of course, everyone can bring whomever they want into the pillage so I entered in. By the time we were about to play battle cards, it was pretty much a two person battle between myself and another player. I had all my most powerful troops in there, including my leader, a 4 STR monster, and a couple of warriors for a STR of 9. My opponent's strength was 8. I had a +6 battle card in hand, so I felt like my position was secure. Remember, this is the first time any of us had played the game, so we didn't know what cards were in the deck or what all the powers were.

At the flip of the cards, my opponent played Heimdell's Watch while I played my +6 battle card. He immediately got 6 glory points for my battle card. Then we were forced to discard those cards and play another card. I didn't have any remaining battle cards, nor did I have the upgrade that allows you to play a quest card for +3 strength. He played a +2 battle card on his second reveal and won the battle.

The loss was devastating to my chances to win the game. But when I tried to take my +6 battle card back, my group argued that Heimdell's Watch says that all cards are discarded, so even though I lost the battle, I also had to lose my best battle card in the process.

Imagine how a new player will take to a game when A) their opponent gets +6 glory based on what I threw down, B) they get the pillage reward in Yggorsil which raises all their stats by one, AND C) I don't have the benefit of using my battle card on a subsequent action.

While I had some rage left, I had nobody on the battle field, so just bringing them on the board would cost all my remaining rage. I couldn't pillage as I wasn't strong enough and there were warriors in just about every territory. I had no battle cards left in my hand. I was STUNNED that Eric Lang would design a card so powerful that it would eviscerate another opponent if played (I have subsequently learned that there are even more powerful cards in the game). In the end, the guy who won that battle ended up winning the game with over 150 points. I finished with 51. It was a slaughter. That experience created a bit of discourse in our group. There were a few heated moments because the rule book doesn't cover these types of situations very well. Later in the game, I lost another battle later on when I played a card that eliminates all text from another player's battle card, only to watch that player put down a quest card that turned his quest card into a +3 Strength (due to a previous upgrade) and beat me again. It seemed like no matter what I played, this guy had a card that always gave him a slight advantage. Had I known how powerful these cards were, I probably would have picked them when drafting, but how was I to know how these things stacked?

In the end, I played poorly. I admit that. There are strategies that are certainly more effective and in hindsight it appears I played fairly randomly. But I agree with those who say the same is unforgiving when you make a mistake and it's easy to build an insurmountable lead. It's hard to bring a game to the table when you know that someone could fall drastically behind and will have to virtually go through the motions just to stay involved. In the third age, I was just trying to save face and I was picking quest cards that gave me victory points for dying because I knew I was so weak that I wouldn't be able to pillage the board given how small it had become due to two Ragnarok's and my relative strength disadvantage to every other player.

I am not giving up on the game. We will certainly play it again and I think it can be far more fulfilling than this first taste, but I can't remember being more disappointed in a gaming experience since I got into this hobby hard core about two years ago. All the wind came out of my sails after that battle.

Thanks for listening to me vent.
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Joey Nazzari
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Once you play a few times you learn not to throw all you eggs in one basket. And I have been down many times in similar situations and still came back and won in the 3rd age. You learn better drafting, age strategies, etc.
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Richard Derr
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Yeah this was very similar to my first play through. You have to play a few times and get a feel for what cards out there in each age.

I'd go as far as to print a cheat sheet that shows the cards for each age what they can do.

Once you get a feel for the game it's a lot of fun, but it does need to be played a few times.
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Kevin Rush
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rderr27 wrote:
I'd go as far as to print a cheat sheet that shows the cards for each age what they can do.


Here is a compiled list of all the cards and their abilities.
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1464105/complete-card-refer...

Heimdall's Watch is nice, but not a top tier card by any means. Used well, as it was here, it is devestating, but the same can be said for most of the cards in the game. Also Tyr's Domain/Wrath, the clan upgrades to change quests to +3/+5, are actually fairly low tier cards - at least in my somewhat statistically backed opinion.
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Barry Miller
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GoingTopShelf wrote:
...and it's easy to build an insurmountable lead.

Unless you're part of a dedicated group that plays this game together regularly (how many of us fall into that category, really?), this is my same sentiment!

Case in point... There's a certain sub-group within my larger weekly Meetup, that everytime I've played with them for the past two years, I lose. Lose every game (or at least I don't win any). I'm fine with that. I show up only to have fun.

Then I brought Blood Rage to the table. In our first four player game with the same group, I won by over 130 points! My only win against them since joining the group, was, Blood Rage. Go figure.

 
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Randy Espinoza
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I got whooped on my first play. Loved every minute of it.
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Reed Dawley
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Espinoza wrote:
I got whooped on my first play. Loved every minute of it.


I don't even remember if I won or lost the first game I played but I remember having a blast. I introduced three people who had played some lighter games to it and they all loved it. Not knowing what was in the deck and also having this be their first drafting game made it swingy and strategy was limited but by the second or third game things started making sense and people got a better idea of how things went but I did win with the Loki loss strategy at least once, I told them outright after the game, if you see these cards, grab them, even if you don't use them they are very good for someone who knows how to use them. Even with all this they loved moving the pieces around and causing havoc. Most games are light on strategy in the first couple to few games due to a lack of understanding what is important and valuable.
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Evan
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rderr27 wrote:
Yeah this was very similar to my first play through. You have to play a few times and get a feel for what cards out there in each age.

I'd go as far as to print a cheat sheet that shows the cards for each age what they can do.

Once you get a feel for the game it's a lot of fun, but it does need to be played a few times.


You know, I thought about doing this, but this gaming group is two couples. Me and the other husband are pretty competitive, but the wives just play to have a good time. I feel like "researching" this game defeats the spirit of what we try to do. I admit, it's somewhat oxymoronic to talk about a gaming group where you try to win, but not too badly, but that's an adequate description of us. In honesty, I'd like to find a slightly more serious group to play this with on a more regular basis. I can imagine that experienced players who regularly get together could really have some great play sessions.
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Alexander
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I had the same experience on my first couple of plays, which is why I even posted a thread, asking whether I am the only one experiencing an extreme snowball effect, just the way you describe it.

The thing I dislike most about the design of the game is that the winner takes all and more annoyingly, the looser loses all (except the battle card in most cases). Usually in similar games there is an exchange of blows and BOTH parties loose a couple of units during a battle. In Blood Rage however, the winner does not lose any unit at all, while the looser loses all of his. I personally feel like this creates too much of a discrepancy. Like you described, after having lost all units, it gets extremely difficult to catch up it seems. Loosing a battle like the one you described is especially frustrating, since you have not really done anything wrong. You feel punished for nothing.

This is what player may experience, who do not play and learn one single game on a regular basis (casual gamers?). In other games the score is closer, while in Blood Rage you can pretty much double or triple your opponents, which is simply not fun, I agree. It can be hard to retry a game after such a bad experience. I can only assume that it's true what the more experienced Blood Rage players say, that it'll get better with more plays, but I am not one of them. So far or scores have not been close.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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I don't doubt that you'd like Blood Rage more with subsequent plays when each card isn't such a surprise, but it might not be the best bet for the group you've described. Blood Rage is extremely in your face and punishing. Since you have a mix of competitive and light players, something with randomness would even the playing field. Shogun or Cyclades as examples.
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Tyrell Wood
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I have to agree with the first time playing. Not knowing what the cards do makes it harder to counteract another's strategy. Now that I have played it a bunch of times it is fun to see that guy with that powerful card crumble because I planned on it happening to me. Keep playing. It gets way better the more you play.
 
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Richard Derr
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GoingTopShelf wrote:
rderr27 wrote:
Yeah this was very similar to my first play through. You have to play a few times and get a feel for what cards out there in each age.

I'd go as far as to print a cheat sheet that shows the cards for each age what they can do.

Once you get a feel for the game it's a lot of fun, but it does need to be played a few times.


You know, I thought about doing this, but this gaming group is two couples. Me and the other husband are pretty competitive, but the wives just play to have a good time. I feel like "researching" this game defeats the spirit of what we try to do. I admit, it's somewhat oxymoronic to talk about a gaming group where you try to win, but not too badly, but that's an adequate description of us. In honesty, I'd like to find a slightly more serious group to play this with on a more regular basis. I can imagine that experienced players who regularly get together could really have some great play sessions.


Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I honestly was never going to play this game again after my first play, so don't blame anyone who does the same. I only kept playing because I got continually dragged into games.
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Evan
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TyDeL wrote:
I don't doubt that you'd like Blood Rage more with subsequent plays when each card isn't such a surprise, but it might not be the best bet for the group you've described. Blood Rage is extremely in your face and punishing. Since you have a mix of competitive and light players, something with randomness would even the playing field. Shogun or Cyclades as examples.


Cyclades is on my current wish list. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
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Evan
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tyrellrwood wrote:
I have to agree with the first time playing. Not knowing what the cards do makes it harder to counteract another's strategy. Now that I have played it a bunch of times it is fun to see that guy with that powerful card crumble because I planned on it happening to me. Keep playing. It gets way better the more you play.


All I had to do in my situation was play a dummy card, like a quest card or something and Heimdell's Watch would have been almost played for nothing. Then I could have played my +6 battle card on the second pull and won the battle. There is definitely a bit of poker bluffing in Blood Rage. I'm not blaming the game. I admit I played poorly, but it was hard to sit through the last hour of game play not only realizing I couldn't win, but not even having enough power to execute cool maneuvers like adding Monsters to the board or pillaging.

At one point early in the third age, I had no horns on the board, while all three opponents had nearly their full assortment of horns out there. The board had shrunk to a point where even finding spots to put my guys was a challenge. I didn't even have enough rage to get all my troops to the center just so I could lose the inevitable Yggrassil pillage and get my four troops to Valhalla to qualify for the quest points. Very frustrating!
 
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Evan
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Tito Rehse wrote:
Pardon the directness: Your write-up resembles quite a pool of tears for targeting the very first runthrough lost. Taking it easy and maybe going through the cards a little would have done it. Who judges a game by one such experience these days? And teachers should teach and not crush their students for their inferior experience.


Hindsight is always 20/20. I feel like I lamented a fair amount, yes, but also took ownership for my poor play. I never said I would stop playing the game, only that this was my first gaming experience where one of the four combatants got dusted.

Earlier in the night we played 7 Wonders. The winner had 47 points. The worst person at the table had 40. Everyone thought they were in it right to the end. I'm not saying that a game where the winner beats a losing player by over 100 points is necessarily bad. I'm only saying that it was a shock to my system to experience that. To this point, nothing like that has ever happened.
 
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Kevin Rush
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GoingTopShelf wrote:

At one point early in the third age, I had no horns on the board, while all three opponents had nearly their full assortment of horns out there. The board had shrunk to a point where even finding spots to put my guys was a challenge. I didn't even have enough rage to get all my troops to the center just so I could lose the inevitable Yggrassil pillage and get my four troops to Valhalla to qualify for the quest points. Very frustrating!

You did have the fire giant which leaves quite a few different avenues for you to recover in the third age. Dropping that on the person with the largest force would definitely slow down the pace of the last age and allow you more time to get some warriors and your leader down to at least get 4 figures into Valhalla.
 
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Reid
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LX1986 wrote:
I had the same experience on my first couple of plays, which is why I even posted a thread, asking whether I am the only one experiencing an extreme snowball effect, just the way you describe it.

The thing I dislike most about the design of the game is that the winner takes all and more annoyingly, the looser loses all (except the battle card in most cases). Usually in similar games there is an exchange of blows and BOTH parties loose a couple of units during a battle. In Blood Rage however, the winner does not lose any unit at all, while the looser loses all of his. I personally feel like this creates too much of a discrepancy. Like you described, after having lost all units, it gets extremely difficult to catch up it seems. Loosing a battle like the one you described is especially frustrating, since you have not really done anything wrong. You feel punished for nothing.

This is what player may experience, who do not play and learn one single game on a regular basis (casual gamers?). In other games the score is closer, while in Blood Rage you can pretty much double or triple your opponents, which is simply not fun, I agree. It can be hard to retry a game after such a bad experience. I can only assume that it's true what the more experienced Blood Rage players say, that it'll get better with more plays, but I am not one of them. So far or scores have not been close.


This is a strong contrast to all the threads I see complaining that this game is easily won by players intentionally losing battles. There are many avenues to victory in this game, and superior strength can be countered when you know how. You have to appreciate the learning process for this game and what intelligent opponent ts can teach you about it.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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GoingTopShelf wrote:
All I had to do in my situation was play a dummy card, like a quest card or something and Heimdell's Watch would have been almost played for nothing. Then I could have played my +6 battle card on the second pull and won the battle. There is definitely a bit of poker bluffing in Blood Rage. I'm not blaming the game. I admit I played poorly, but it was hard to sit through the last hour of game play not only realizing I couldn't win, but not even having enough power to execute cool maneuvers like adding Monsters to the board or pillaging.


If it's one thing I've learned playing Blood Rage, there is never a clear winner. There are some insane point swings with the game as people learn the different combo's. I've come out wildly ahead playing almost completely passively, grabbing a bunch of quests, playing the Clan Upgrade that makes quests worth double, and just planting figures down in already pillages locations to fullfill quests. Quests also each net you a clan upgrade, they're the best way to keep in the running if you're having a poor time winning locations, also being able to play the card that lets you steal Glory from the person who won the battle. Or the Ship Upgrade that nets you 12 Glory just for your ship getting destroyed, then use the power that lets you deploy from Valhalla, just as some suggestions. If it's one thing Blood Rage has, it's ways to win by losing. Don't get so discouraged next time by simply losing one battle
 
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Evan
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TyDeL wrote:
GoingTopShelf wrote:
All I had to do in my situation was play a dummy card, like a quest card or something and Heimdell's Watch would have been almost played for nothing. Then I could have played my +6 battle card on the second pull and won the battle. There is definitely a bit of poker bluffing in Blood Rage. I'm not blaming the game. I admit I played poorly, but it was hard to sit through the last hour of game play not only realizing I couldn't win, but not even having enough power to execute cool maneuvers like adding Monsters to the board or pillaging.


If it's one thing I've learned playing Blood Rage, there is never a clear winner. There are some insane point swings with the game as people learn the different combo's. I've come out wildly ahead playing almost completely passively, grabbing a bunch of quests, playing the Clan Upgrade that makes quests worth double, and just planting figures down in already pillages locations to fullfill quests. Quests also each net you a clan upgrade, they're the best way to keep in the running if you're having a poor time winning locations, also being able to play the card that lets you steal Glory from the person who won the battle. Or the Ship Upgrade that nets you 12 Glory just for your ship getting destroyed, then use the power that lets you deploy from Valhalla, just as some suggestions. If it's one thing Blood Rage has, it's ways to win by losing. Don't get so discouraged next time by simply losing one battle


Believe it or not, but my only feeling of discouragement was that we finished our game at 1am and didn't have time for another go around. I plan to bring the game into my work on 9/1 and play it at lunch with two co-workers. I'm definitely going to try a different strategy the second time around and see how things play out. I've certainly not given up on the game.
 
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Tyler DeLisle
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Cool, people are probably overly trying to persuade you. The game isn't as magnificent as I was hoping, for my tastes, I prefer more board-play than card-play. Just wanted to make sure you knew that it's really not a game that should be judged on first play.

The first game, maybe even two, is always going to be frustrating as you realize how many counters there are within the cards. Then you learn to sort of, fish for those cards, hold back your big power moves until people are running out of cards.

Then you see a really broken combo and you wonder how the game could have passed QC with something so obviously broken in it. Then you there are actually dozens of seemingly broken combo's. Then you figure out that it's actually a race to grab those combo's as soon as possible, and become aware of what other players may potentially be going for.

Finally you reach the stage where it's a game of wits and mindgames. Admittedly I'm barely there myself as I haven't played with the same group enough times.
 
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Barry Miller
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TyDeL wrote:
... as I haven't played with the same group enough times.
This is the crux of the issue, isn't it?

Some players play with the same enthusiastic group all the time. Other players need to bribe family members to play a game, or hope their game is selected as "one to play tonight" at the local weekly meet-up.

So it would seem that this is a good game for the former. Not so much for the latter.

 
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mike sieder
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Who cares what games casual gamers like? Lol. Well, elitism aside, the fact that this man who said he had the worst gaming experience of his life wanted to play the game again immediately. Wants to bring it to work. Sought out a forum to discuss the game. Can't wait to try some new strategies, tells u that this game is awesome?!?!?! My nephew is a casual gamer, his brother way more serious and strategical. He told me he gets beats every single time, but can't wait to play again. How many games do you know like that? This game rocks.
 
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Seth Dodson
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Ah, the big gambit in Yggdrasil loss that screws you over for the rest of the game when you lose. It's happened to the best of us!

Yggdrasil is a nice fat target in the middle of the board, but often times it's not worth getting involved with when someone is of equal strength to you, unless you have an ace up your sleeve like he did. When someone makes that move you need to realize that 90% of the time they have something that guarantees a win (or they're really really confident it will), the other 10% they're bluffing and hope you don't call them on it.

Play it again! It's a great game.
 
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In terms of screwage, the biggest one I've experienced is taking a first age leader upgrade, starting the second age with full complement of cards for him, and then having the leader, who was residing by himself in an edge province, smashed to bits with a Fire Giant. I couldn't do much that second age.
 
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