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Subject: Impressions after a first play rss

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Jason Foss
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Redmond
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I got my copy of The Others: 7 Sins two days ago. I opened my copy of The Others: 7 Sins two days ago. I played my copy of The Others: 7 Sins two days ago.

I never do that with a brand new game. I am a compulsive puncher, sleever, and organizer. This was a completely different experience for me. Let me 'splain... No... Let me sum up:

The Production Quality: CMON knocks this out of the park. Is there any question? I mean there are minor quibbles like the 'alternate' overlay for Karl's wolf form could be another chipboard mat instead of cardstock, but does that really change the game play experience? No.

The Theme: A not-too-distant future where unspeakable evil wants to destroy our world. Apocalyptic horrors, here! And the game does bill itself as a horror-themed one, so only if you blithely ignore the labeling on the box can you possibly buy the game and then object. For me, I'm not a horror fan at all, but playing the theme through a game as the medium is enough of an abstraction that I'm not put off by it.

The Art: The art is highly representative of the theme, which is a gruesome all-corrupting other dimensional evil that either mutates the human form into something inherently twisted and mutated or is a repugnant inhuman evil in its own right. The art is supposed to be gross and it succeeds. If you are easily put off by it, this probably isn't your cup of tea. I play Cthulhu Wars, Chaos in the Old World, and other games with some gruesome imagery without it really bothering me. For what it is, the art is very well done. I don't know if you can call it 'beautiful', but it's not really supposed to be that.

The Rulebook: The rule book is pretty well laid out. A friend and I were trying to learn on the fly before we both had to head off to our respective beds, so we missed some things, but in all it is well laid out with clear illustrations. It has one thing that I highly appreciate in a larger and more complex rule book: an INDEX!

Other Components: I could wax philosophical about the minis and express love or hate for the cardstock used, but I really don't care about linen finish versus glossy... I'm an unrepentant sleever! But it is all good in being immersive to the game play, which is what it is really all about. As an aside, the minis are impressively done. I'd love to see an about-as-likely-as-an-FFG-and-GW-makeup The Others/Cthulhu Wars crossover. How cool would that be? Sandy? Eric? You listening?

The Game Play: Now this is the MEAT of what I wanted to write here. Or tofu if you're vegan. Or maybe a juicy Portabella? Anyway... Is this a Zombicide clone? Do you just have random mob spawns and dice-chuckfests? Yes, but... Not really...?

So you do have those things as part of the game play. Monsters spawn every turn, but not randomly. And you do have dice-chuckfests, but it doesn't feel arbitrary. Random of course, but not arbitrary. That's definitive, I know. Exposition to follow...

I think that, first and foremost, having a 1 vs. many system makes it more interesting. A fully cooperative system against a 'dumb' AI can get old quickly unless you can really get on board with the theme. It took the 'Legacy' component for those of us who were 'Pandemic-weary' to perk back up again. Admittedly, attitude towards the game helps frame this quite a bit. It's like going to see a movie you expect to be bad ("XXX") and not being disappointed when it is (paper-thin plot, explosions, and implausible action sequences? CHECK!). I would put Zombicide in the category of random dice-chucking FUN when you want that. The Others: 7 Sins takes this foundation and makes it more with that simple little switch from fully coop to 1 vs. all.

I feel the net benefit is that it makes it far more of an 'action puzzle' for both sides. On the Sins side, you get to respawn a goodly percentage of your dead monsters each turn, you get to pick which ones, and can do spawn placement in a very strategic way that can help you delay the heroes and just generally mess with their plans. You have cards to play on each hero's turn, which can again mess with their plans. And best of all you have Apocalypse cards that can do mean things like permanently alter bonuses for the rest of the game (usually improving yours), or summon even bigger, badder members of the 'inner circle' of evil in the game, the Hell Club. <Insert Machiavellian cackle with concomitant chin-stroking here.>

For the heroes there's a strategic yet somewhat push-your-luck aspect to play. The first choice is which heroes do you put into play? Because you don't get all seven of the ones you start with. Do you try and build a balanced team or do you want a buff power-assault team? Once your heroes start to get in the heat of combat, there's the tension of choosing to commit a hero who may be close to death to combat because he or she is just so good at fighting. But if that hero dies, it brings you one step closer to the Sins victory condition. Do you instead wait one more round and try to heal up before fighting? Or do you take some extra corruption to give you a boost at just the right moment? Of course, get enough corruption and you are killed with the same bad end result. But delay too much and the Apocalypse track goes up which will make your heroes that much more vulnerable and probably die faster anyways. What do you do? What do you do?

"But what about the aforementioned dice-chucking," you might ask. The dice chucking is like a game I love and have already mentioned here, Cthulhu Wars. By this I mean that if you are bringing your big baddies into combat, they'll roll enough dice that you'll do something. Yes you're 'playing the odds', but that makes it fun. It makes it engaging.

So one thing I haven't mentioned here at all is a breakdown of the rules. I am not going to go into that because I honestly don't find much value when I read rules summaries prior to getting a game. I like to see it played or, best of all, play it myself before making a decision. I want to instead share my feelings about the game now that I have played it. And if you've made it this far, I think you can safely conclude I like this game. So let me break this down a bit more.

Right now: It's shiny and new. It's "Generic Winter Holiday" as a kid all over again and having that exciting gift underneath the "Generic Winter Holiday Decoration". I want to play this over and over again right now and get as much 'juice' from it as I can. I love this game.

After several plays and long-run: I don't play many games over and over again. I can see this getting played a half dozen or so times before the next new 'shiny' comes along and pushes it aside. But I think this is a game which I will periodically brush the dust off of and happily bring to the table with a bit of a nostalgic haze in my eyes. My prediction is that while the shine will wear off, it won't wear out its welcome.

To that point, I love the creative and clever things that Eric Lang does with his designs, but there are some of his games that start to rub the wrong way relatively quickly. Blood Rage was one that last year I was all aflutter about but has now been relegated to the 'maybe once a year' bin due to its runaway leader and 'pick on the dude in last' problems. Those were things that I was able to objectively identify as potential problems with that game early on and only after a couple of plays, but The Others: 7 Sins does not as of yet have any hallmarks of a game with those same sort of problems.

The Conclusion: I think this is a solid game that deserves the level of excitement it has garnered. The choice to do a 1-v-many format will draw inevitable comparisons to Descent and other 'overlord'-style games, but I think this is actually what makes this game stand out on its own merits. This is one I will be happy to own and bring to the table many times.
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Jason Foss
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Coming back and revisiting this thread, I wanted to provide an update after maybe a half dozen games, several unlogged (a task of tracking at which I am notoriously bad). I have so far only played as the Sins player, so have as yet to try out the hopeless task of the various FAITH teams.

I would say that I still love this game. My friends are great 'min-max'ers, so I have really had to approach this from the perspective of being a DM rather than expecting to 'win'. I have been steamrolled a couple of times now and I think that some of the Sins, particularly Gluttony, are much much stronger than others. There was also a stretch of probably 3 games where we were horribly mis-playing, giving the FAITH team only one standard turn token rather than the two listed in the rulebook. It felt like it took a really tight game and significantly swung things in the FAITH team favor by playing it the right way... Am I the only one who feels that way?

I also think that the map really makes a huge difference as well. Tight and easily accessible maps favor the FAITH team. Maps where the orbital strike in particular is a bit of a trek for the FAITH team allow the Sins player to do some damage early and have a chance. It is also my strong opinion that learning to properly leverage the combination of acolyte and Sin for maximum effectiveness (for the Sins player, of course) involves a deep study and understanding of the mission type, advancement/completion requirements, and inherent benefits for the Sins and any inherent penalties for the FAITH team that may be present. On the 'intro terror mission' (Assault on Haven? I don't have the box in front of me) A side, Gluttony with Corrupted Nuns was awesome as the Sins player because I was able to get ALL of my Sins card in my hand AND when the FAITH team managed to get to the only Orbital Strike spot on the other side of the board setup, I blocked it off with a Corrupted Nun after only one use. It was brilliant! Same mission, B Side, with Envy and Corrupted Doctors, not so much... The orbital strike is right in the FAITH starting place, which really helps the FAITH team clear the board each turn in a massive way.

So to conclude, I am actually still going strong on this game even past my usual threshold of 'maximum plays' before I move on. Do I think there might be some balance issues? Yeah, kinda. But it also seems to be a big part of delving deeply into the game and is quite enjoyable for me in spite of a skewed win/lose rate. This game is definitely a keeper for me. Well I'm a bit of a game hoarder, so to be more accurate, how 'bout we just say it's a "frequent replay" for me? That and I do NOT regret going all in on the Kickstarter unlike some other CMON titles I backed because they're CMON (B-Sieged, I'm looking at you!).
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reaching out from the in-between spaces...
United States
Baldwin
New York
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Love it when reviewers provide updates after more playtime. Thanks!
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Emivaldo Sousa
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Curiously, I had a complete opposite experience, with now nine plays (or ten? I am losing track) and lo losses for the sin's player (with a couple close calls). Played as a hero twice and also did not manage to win .
 
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Andrea Sparda
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Hi. I'm pretty curious. What are your win/loss ratios? With my friends we played 4 time until now, trying various sins and quests, and the FAITH team NEVER won.
Do you think the game is badly balanced?
 
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