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Subject: A cold hearted review by S0laris rss

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Experience: 5x 2p games, 1x 3p games, 2x 4p
Highscore: 201

Dear Madams and Sirs I will try to write a descent review of the game. I want to be strict, but fair and do not be affected by factors like short-term excitement. Because the game has already enough praise, I will focus more on the problems that are not usually mentioned.

First impression, production quality and aesthetics.


First of all the box is huge. Personal I find it nice to have such a big box in my collection, but I can guess that if all boxes where at that size, I would have a serious problem with storing them.


When I opened it, I was impressed by insert. It is by far the best “vanilla” insert I have ever seen. There are tons of components. The cardboard ones are really thick, but the wooden ones (meeples) are not of the best quality. Actually are many of them have damaged edges.

image by user William Hunt

The game has taken a lot of praise about its artwork. While I understand that Ian O’ Toole has done a great job and I appreciate the minimalism he has used, the colors that have been used are not my kind of taste. However, I understand the majority of people like it. On the other hand, I am really keen on the fact that real works of art have been used on the tiles.

Overall the quality of production has impressed me and makes me feel the game worth its top tier prize.
 

image by user Plume_SG

Quick overview of the gameplay

I will make a medium length explanation of the rules. Not all details of the game will be presented, but you will catch the general idea.
In this game each player run his gallery (what a surprise). There are two currents in the game. Influence and money. The player with the most money at the end of the game is the winner.

Also there are four groups of actions and each group has two actions. There is:
i) The artists Colony where you can discover a new artist or buy a work of art from a discovered one and exhibit it to your gallery.
ii) The Sales Office where you sign a contract or sale a work of art of a contract you have signed.
iii) The Media Center where you can promote and artist or recruit assistants
iv) The international market where you can take a reputation tile (it gives you an instant resource bonus and money bonus at the end of the game) or bid for the auction that takes place at the end of the game.

Each round you move your gallerist-pawn (you have only one) to one group of actions (different from the one you selected before) and choose one of these actions. There is no blocking in the game, but if someone selects a group that has been chosen in the last move of a player, it gives to that player an extra move (kick-out mechanism).

Additionally there are visitor (pink, brown and white ones) and tickets (of the same colors) in the game. There are some of them on the board at the start of the game and when someone buys a work of art more will be added. You use tickets in order to take a visitor of the corresponding color to your gallery. Visitors are the engine building part of the game. Most of the actions will give you an instant bonus that can be one of the following. i)Take a visitor to your gallery, ii) gain tickets, iii) gain money equivalent to your brown and white visitors, iv) gain influence equivalent to your pink and white visitors, v) increase the fame of an artist equivalent to your white visitors. White while affect both currencies, they do so to a smaller scale compared to others.

When two of the following three happen, the game goes to the final round: i) visitors from the “bag” end ii) tickets are ended iii) two artists reach to the top fame.

Thoughts on the game

Before I bought the game I had read that it was a solid heavy euro, that implied the theme well and played well with 2 players. Also I am very keen on its theme, so it was an easy decision for me. After some plays I have concluded that not all of these are 100% true.

Solid Euro: The game has very low luck and always felt that all results were made by my decisions. The game is based on simply rules and after you have read the well written rules, you will have no problem with it. With 4 players the downtime can be big sometimes, but I am ok with that. One of the best parts is that in each round you have to make a decision, which is nice. Also there is an interaction between each and every action that is made, making the game feels like a well- crafted clock. One other aspect of the game that I love is that it is not difficult and punishing, making it fun even when you are not going so well.
Still I have some complains. I think the game does not have as many strategies one may think at the beginning. From my experience, having a lot of brown visitors cannot complete to any other strategy. However, when all players understand that, all will go start to grasp brown visitors whenever they can. But by doing that they will not be able to specialize to other parts of the game, resulting to a “make a bit of everything game” and the one who exploits best the tactical opportunities be the winner.


Implementation of the theme: I do not find gallerist more thematic than the average euro I have played (Terra Mystica for example). While more actions make sense, the instant bonus you gain from them is not. And many times I am finding myself using actions only for the instant bonus I gain. For example buying a contract for a work of art that I am not going ever to sell, just for the bonus, discover an artist that I am not going to buy a work of art from him, just for the bonus, etc. This could continue to almost every action on the game, making it feel really unthematic. To tell you the truth I do not have a problem with that and I would not mention it at all, if the game wasn’t hyped as a thematic euro.

Scalability with 2: I think the game plays enough well with all player counts. I will focus on 2 player game because usually that’s the most problematic player count with most heavy euros. I can say for sure that the pace of the gameplay works best with 2. The downtime is decreasing a lot and the kick-out mechanism works much better with 2 than with more players. Especially in 4 player games, wherever you place your pawn it will kick-out another player, making the whole decision pointless.

On the other side of the coin with 2 players it feels like the artists are too many, making the competition for a specific work of art very rare. Also the international market is less tense. Generally, feels kind to “each on his own”, but not to a so high scale as in games like Terra Mystica or Scythe.

One extra so complain: My biggest disappointment is that while there are 4 different kinds of art (painting, photography, sculpture, digital art) there is no difference between them except their names. I would like some variety.


Concluding

As I mentioned before, I have focused more on the negative parts of the game than the positive ones, but this is just because these things are not mentioned so often. I really like the game and out of the five medium and heavy euros I have played (the others are Terra Mystica, Food Chain Magnate, Scythe, Fields of Arle, Grand Austria Hotel) is my second favorite after Terra Mystica. It’s game play, while having some problems, there are minor compared to the interaction and the clever mechanism it has. I would recommend it to every heavy worker placement lover for each of the playable player counts.


8.5/10

edit: typos, missing words
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Darrell Goodridge
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Wow. That's probably the mildest negative review I've ever seen. 8.5/10 is still a fantastic rating.

Just to comment on the content though, under Implementation of the theme, taking contracts just for the bonus is legit, but keep in mind you can only hold so many contracts. If you fill up your board with good bonus ones, you'll never sell anything (or at least not your preferred type). Also, while you can discover ONE artist for the bonus, you will have to buy his commission if you want to repeat that as you can only have one commission at a time.
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Lawrence
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Thanks for the review. I enjoy your format, as everything is concise. A few comments:

Quote:
I think the game does not have as many strategies one may think at the beginning. From my experience, having a lot of brown visitors cannot complete to any other strategy. However, when all players understand that, all will go start to grasp brown visitors whenever they can. But by doing that they will not be able to specialize to other parts of the game, resulting to a “make a bit of everything game” and the one who exploits best the tactical opportunities be the winner.


I've won several different ways - rapid buy/sell of art to fulfill my art dealer bonuses, focusing on 2 pieces of art from the same artist and getting to max fame, primary focus on international market, etc.

However, my favorite strategy involves focus on the influence track, or VIPs (pink visitors). The large amount of extra kicked out actions and extra discounts I get towards the top of the track really add up. In my last 2p game, I went entirely VIPs, while my opponent went entirely Investors. It was decently close, but I will came out on top since I was able to buy/turnaround more art with my kicked out actions.

Quote:
Implementation of the theme: I do not find gallerist more thematic than the average euro I have played (Terra Mystica for example). While more actions make sense, the instant bonus you gain from theme are not. And I am finding many times to use actions only for the instant bonus I gain. Buy a contract for a work of art that I am not going ever to sell, just for the bonus. Discover an artist that I am going to buy a work of art from him, just for the bonus, etc. This could continue to almost every action on the game, making it feel really unthematic. To tell you the truth I do not have a problem with that and I would not mention it at all, if the game wasn’t hyped as a thematic euro.


We found Gallerist to be one of the more thematic Euro's we own. Just about everything has a thematic reason. Vital posted some thematic tips, which I incorporated into a Teaching Script. Understanding the thematic reasoning has an added benefit of making the game flow smoother since the rules become more intuitive.

Why does a vistior leave after you sell art? To go home and show it to his friends of course!

Why do you get an influence/fame/money bonus after completing a contract? Well, the guy who bought the art showed it to an art critic who wrote a piece about it in the local newspaper, increasing your artist's fame and your gallery's influence.

Why do you get a bonus for forming your first contract at all? The agency who hired you to find the artist just gave you a signing bonus!

The thematic connections are there if you're willing to look and use a little imagination.
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Cardboardjunkie wrote:
Wow. That's probably the mildest negative review I've ever seen. 8.5/10 is still a fantastic rating.


Thank you for reading my review. I want to make clear that this is not a negative review. I love the game, just I wanted to tell some things about the game that are not mentioned at the majority of the reviews I had read.
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Darrell Goodridge
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S0laris wrote:
Cardboardjunkie wrote:
Wow. That's probably the mildest negative review I've ever seen. 8.5/10 is still a fantastic rating.


Thank you for reading my review. I want to make clear that this is not a negative review. I love the game, just I wanted to tell some things about the game that are not mentioned at the majority of the reviews I had read.


Ok. It's just the title is "A cold hearted review" and the first paragraph says "I will focus on the problems", that may lead people such as myself to think this is a negative review. Just sayin'. Regardless, it was a good read.
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Piero Cabral
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Quote:
From my experience, having a lot of brown visitors cannot compete to any other strategy.

I have used much more the influence track with some pink and white meeples than the brown ones... Haven't seen a high predominance of just brown meeples in none of my games, actually.

Quote:
Also the international market is less tense.

You are not using the middle column in the 2 player games, right?
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mavericklancer wrote:
Thanks for the review. I enjoy your format, as everything is concise. A few comments:

...............
..............

Understanding the thematic reasoning has an added benefit of making the game flow smoother since the rules become more intuitive.

Why does a vistior leave after you sell art? To go home and show it to his friends of course!

Why do you get an influence/fame/money bonus after completing a contract? Well, the guy who bought the art showed it to an art critic who wrote a piece about it in the local newspaper, increasing your artist's fame and your gallery's influence.

Why do you get a bonus for forming your first contract at all? The agency who hired you to find the artist just gave you a signing bonus!

The thematic connections are there if you're willing to look and use a little imagination.


First of all I am glad you liked my review .
I see your point but I believe with the use of the imagination almost every game could be thematic (ok patchwork could not). I am not advocating that it is less thematic than the average euro, just it is not a super thematic game, like it is mentioned commonly in forums.
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Herr_Piero wrote:
Quote:
From my experience, having a lot of brown visitors cannot compete to any other strategy.

I have used much more the influence track with some pink and white meeples than the brown ones... Haven't seen a high predominance of just brown meeples in none of my games, actually.


I tried to focus at pink visitors in the last 2 games and I found myself doing a much lower score. Also found hard to cope up money until the final third of the game.

Quote:
Also the international market is less tense.
You are not using the middle column in the 2 player games, right?


We are not using it. The problem is that even if you come first on both colums, you gain only 8 points compared to the other player.
 
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Nicola Bocchetta
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S0laris wrote:

Quote:
Also the international market is less tense.
You are not using the middle column in the 2 player games, right?


We are not using it. The problem is that even if you come first on both colums, you gain only 8 points compared to the other player.


Yes, but only one player gets the auctioned work of art, so you should include that points as well.

This makes the international auction quite brutal.
 
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Faso74it wrote:
S0laris wrote:

Quote:
Also the international market is less tense.
You are not using the middle column in the 2 player games, right?


We are not using it. The problem is that even if you come first on both colums, you gain only 8 points compared to the other player.


Yes, but only one player gets the auctioned work of art, so you should include that points as well.

This makes the international auction quite brutal.


Well the auction for works is ok. Just the points by column feel do not scale so good.
 
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I don't like the art and the board colors either. It's a good graphic design, but it's a very cold looking board. It needs some life. The artwork sort of works but it's digitally created and not very interesting. I'd much rather have seen real works of art like in Pastiche or hire some artists on deviantart to put together some pieces with a little life to them. The digital stuff is just uninspired and mechanical in feel and for a game centered on art it's a minus. Digital art can be great but a graphic designer isn't going to be able to pull that off.

I hate to be too harsh on the game for this, but the artwork is a major piece especially in a game centered on art, and I think this digital board and poor quality digital art doesn't work.
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Macrawn wrote:
I don't like the art and the board colors either. It's a good graphic design, but it's a very cold looking board. It needs some life. The artwork sort of works but it's digitally created and not very interesting. I'd much rather have seen real works of art like in Pastiche or hire some artists on deviantart to put together some pieces with a little life to them. The digital stuff is just uninspired and mechanical in feel and for a game centered on art it's a minus. Digital art can be great but a graphic designer isn't going to be able to pull that off.

I hate to be too harsh on the game for this, but the artwork is a major piece especially in a game centered on art, and I think this digital board and poor quality digital art doesn't work.


Exactly!
 
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This game is a heavy and i like heavy games but after one play I cannot figure out if I like this game

I like Vinhos and think this game is crafted well. But I really don't know if I enjoy the procedural method of each placement I take.

It seems more like a wargame in Euro design, not to say that's bad.

But I guess my brain is not being able to figure out where to go. I guess with more plays would be able to figure it out.

Also the cards and icons are difficult for me to analyze.
 
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buseyhead wrote:
This game is a heavy and i like heavy games but after one play I cannot figure out if I like this game

I like Vinhos and think this game is crafted well. But I really don't know if I enjoy the procedural method of each placement I take.

It seems more like a wargame in Euro design, not to say that's bad.

But I guess my brain is not being able to figure out where to go. I guess with more plays would be able to figure it out.

Also the cards and icons are difficult for me to analyze.


I had the same problem too. It took me over five plays to start grasping the different strategies on this game.
 
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