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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...
1) What is it?
Vineta is a quick-paced game mixing simultaneous action selection, partnerships, hidden goals and a whole lot of "take that" moments.
In Vineta players are angry goods wanting to destroy the city of Vineta, sinking it into the sea. But every God has a tribe he or she wants to secretly protect and a region (probably where os located his/her sancturary) of the city to keep above the waters. Both of these are tough to do, as the others will most definitely not want the same thing as you - and only one region, of nine, will remain at the end. The odds in favor of Vineta and you aren't that great.
Vineta plays fast: eight rounds of three turns each (it can be less or more than 3 turns, depending on some action cards), and the choice of cards to use is done simultaneous - the activation isn't, starting with the first player of the round and going clockwise.
The game not only allows but also thrive in partnerships among the Gods in order to send waves to sink a region of the city, or to prevent one from going under (be because you want to keep houses/tribes of your color in the city, or to defend the region is dear to you). And to do this there is a metric ton of take that cards, in which wave cards are swapped or discarded, houses change spots - some sent to destruction, others to safety -, Destiny cards that make huge differences in the force of the waves, Quarentines that prevent houses/tribes from leaving a place, and other effects.
If playing with 5 or 6, the chaos is almost total: there is no way to predict what will be revealed or to try to strategize or antecipate what your turn will be like, as so many things can happen before you play. With 3 or 4 the game is more manageable, and while it is still more tatical than strategical, there is more room to predict the choice of the others and remember what they already played.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed Vineta more than expected.
2) How do you play?
At first, each player receives one token showing which color she is trying to protect and another token showing which region she wants to keep afloat. Both these informations are secret until the end of the game.
In each round (there are 8 during the whole play) the player starts with 7 cards. Each player, simultaneously, picks a card and put it on the table. The first player of the turn reveals her card and use it. Then the next player will reveal her card and use it. And so on, going clockwise, until everyone has played a card.
The first player marker will pass to the next player in clockwise order. Every player will draw 1 card, and will select another card to be played. And the same proceedings of the turn will occur again. The round will, normally, end once everyone has played 3 cards.
The cards are of two types:
- Waves: these go from 1 to 4 in value, and are the cards that sink the regions of the city;
- Action: have several different effects, such as moving houses from one region to other, changing wave cards from no stack to the other, and so on.
Wave cards are put next to a region, indicating that it is threatening that region. Each player can only start one attack, but can participate in several. Players can add Wave card in any stack (either her own or one started by someone else). At the end of the round, the region which has the highest value in Wave cards will sink - leaving play. The houses in that region will be divided among the players that put Wave cards in that region - the pick of which house to take will follow the order in which the cards were placed, and it goes until there are no more houses left, which means players can receive more than 1 house from a single card.
Once the eight round is over, occurs the scoring. Players receive 1 point for each house they gathered of colors that they didn't want to protect, 2 points for houses of the color she was protecting, more points if the region she was trying to keep afloat was left in the end, and 3 points for each house of the color she was protecting still left on the board.
The player with the most points will be the winner!
3) Which are the decisions made during play?
Which card to use and how best to use it. The player must consider the state of the board and:
a) how to take more houses, specially of the color that it is worth more;
b) how to protect the region you want to remain above the water;
c) how to prevent others from doing A and B.
4) What are the good things in the game?
- The art is very nice, and done in an old style, like that in Troyes and Tournay;
- Plays fast, with little downtime, even with playing with 5 or 6, as the actions are short to be executed;
- Language independant (but getting used with the effects of the Action cards may need a couple of plays);
- Offers a good amount of decisions in a small frame of playing time;
- It is very pretty on the table at the start and the way the island is constantly being taken apart helps a lot to convey the theme of a sinking city.
5) Which are the bad news?
- Too chaotic when playing in 5 or 6;
- There is the luck of the draw - as some cards might only show when they can't be fully used;
- Little strategy - almost only tatical decisions;
- Can suffer from some bashing the projected leader (even worst than the bashing the actual leader).
6) How do you feel while playing?
Surely noticing how helpless the people from Atlantis or Vineta were, as you will try, and likely fail, to keep the region you want and the people you favor afloat. It is like swimming against the tide, struggling in quick sand - made worst when the people around are more interested in seeing you sink.
Vineta most likely won't be a hit with everyone, as the take that nature of the game is a big turn off to many, and the ever changing environment of the game is the heart of it. Still, the game is short enough to not overstay, the downtime is small and the pace of it expeditious to the point of the take that seem more like a bothersome nuisance than a truly hurtful manoeuvre coming from pure evil. In the end, Vineta was more fun than I antecipated.
Image credit: PCOrbanes
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