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Freedom: The Underground Railroad» Forums » General

Subject: Would someone who really gets into themes like this? rss

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Joshua Davis
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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So I get really into the theme of games. To the point where I had trouble playing Jack in Whitechapel because I didn't want to kill the women even in the game's world. Or Dead of Winter (which I love), I can only play once in a while because it emotional drains me. The first time the betrayer won, my mind was blown, I loved the game, but I was also a bit shaken.

Now would sometime who gets that invested in themes like Freedom?
I know I will like the mechanics and gameplay. I really appreciate how the designers handled the theme (and I've studied that period a bit, so I am interested in it). I think it's masterfully handled. However, I am thinking of the time that I'd have to let someone be captured by a slave catcher. I know that will leave me distraught, and I will make suboptimal moves to prevent it. I love learning about this period, but I don't know about playing this period.
So will I be able to handle this game?
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Osprey
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West Virginia
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Yes. The game is done very well. And if a game can evoke any kind of emotional response from you, hasn't it done its job?
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Kevin Duke
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Wynne
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I am not going to rush to say yes, based on a careful reading of your post.

A number of other people have cited exactly the point you raise, about the slave catchers. They say that they really resist "letting" any of the slaves be caught. But they realize that the mechanics of the game absolutely require "risk"--frequently--and even sacrifice.

Since the slave catchers have a random move, you will sometimes be faced with having to park escaped slaves where, if X happens, the block will be caught. X might be 1 chance in 6, and the permutations and game play set up things so that you can easily be in a situation where, "If X happens, this block is caught, but if Y happens, THAT block is caught, but if A,B,C, or D happens, no slaves are caught this turn. Avoiding the risk of X or Y wil shut your game down.

Also--fascinating for strategy but an even worse dilemma for what you describe -- since slave movement triggers slave catcher movement--right then-- there are times when the best thing you can do--in terms of freeing slaves and winning the game-- will require moving slaves to intentionally draw slave catchers away from a route you need to open. Now, remember, winning represents not just a lot of people escaping to Canada but actually ENDING legal slavery, so a very worthy goal. Can you "sacrifice" one or a few blocks so that dozens more escape? And--big picture--so that the blocks left behind in the plantations (because you don't move all of them in the game) are eventually freed also? And their future children?

It is a big picture question with the theme wonderfully established, and major doses of history woven all through it with event cards (the critical path to winning or losing). Some of the names and episodes you will have heard of, but many will be new to you--another bonus to the game.

It is a remarkable game, but does that sound like something you can handle? Because even when you win it all--the morality prize of the 19th Century-- some of your blocks will be lost along the way.
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Dick Butler
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Paynesville
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Get the game. You may never play a board game that is more thematically immersive and satisfying. And it is bound to keep your sensitivity on this issue sharp and motivating.
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Jay
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Freedom I find to be a really emotional game to play, and the only game that's made me cry. It's not just the decisions you have to make that's emotional, but also reading the flavour text on the cards which captures the historical reality. But still Freedom is one of my favourite games, because of how well they handle the theme sensitively whilst not hiding the reality of the time period (plus solid mechanics).

When I play I never deliberately choose to "sacrifice" a person, even if it is sub-optimal. But I don't think this is that much of a handicap. Such situations where there is such a clear benefit to letting a slave be captured don't come up that often - the cost of having more slaves be added to the slave market is not insignificant and you will have already spent actions moving the slave who is captured which you then need to spend again. Trying to avoid placing any person where they at risk of the slave catchers random movement would make the game harder - though you role two dice so usually the chances of someone being captured is less than 1 in 6, which I can live with. The random catcher movement is more about making the board state less predictable, rather than a particularly effective mechanism for catching slaves.

But the game does more often feels more like having choosing between lots of really bad options without anything being obviously optimal. There are times when no matter what you do, somebody is going to be captured or be at risk. I find these decisions to be the toughest part of the game emotionally, and something not everyone is going to enjoy. I think that's the crux of whether or not the game is right for you. If that's the sort of game you'd enjoy, then you don't need to worry too much if your playstyle would be sub-optimal, especially as it's a co-op anyway.

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