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Subject: Experienced gamers: Any reason not to jump to year five? rss

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David Jones
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So I picked this up at my FLGS a few days ago and some of the Gencon videos kind of hinted that there were some "surprises" waiting as players move through the various years in the deck. So the plan this weekend was to get with my gaming friends and play years one through seven and discover the deck together.

So I pulled out year one and did some solo play with it just to make sure I understood the rules, but year one is pretty basic/boring. Since the manual suggested advanced games can start at year three, I went ahead and opened those years up, but after looking through them and reading the rules, I'm still not seeing anything earth shatteringly new. Curiosity get the better of me so I opened year four and after skimming through the cards I'm still not seeing anything mechanically that is mechanically different or surprising, but I'm really at the point where I want to stop opening boxes until I can experience the game together with my group. So bearing in mind that everyone at the table has played Dominion, Ascension, Magic, Legendary, and Valley of the Kings, is there any reason we shouldn't just jump start into year five? Obviously at some point that third enemy location on the board is going to open up, but I'm not seeing how anything new and exciting is going to develop in terms of game mechanics. I'm really beginning to think I've overhyped the "discovery" angle of this game.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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davypi wrote:
I'm really beginning to think I've overhyped the "discovery" angle of this game.

My copy hasn't arrived yet. Perhaps the "discovery" is more about theme than mechanisms?
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Antonio Tang
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After playing through Year/Game 1 with my wife, I have to agree; the game from the get-go is pretty bland. What's "new" here, I think, is the cooperative aspect. Other than The Big Book of Madness (which has okay reviews), I don't think there's another cooperative deckbuilder that's as accessible to casual gamers.
 
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David Jones
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Well, I should clarify that part of my concern here is time related. They are coming over for a 6-8 hour gaming session. I don't know that we will get through five games in the allotted time. (Odd, there is not play time printed on the box...) If the game is as easy/bland as it is in year three, I'm worried that they may get bored and not want to play through all of the years. I'm hoping that jumping into year five will ramp up the difficulty to the level of games we are used to playing and/or make the game more engaging.

Edit: I'm going to answer my own question here. I've opened the year five box and read the rulebook, but not examined the cards. There is a twist in the rules that looks fun and I think its worth experiencing as a group. That said, I don't see any reason why seasoned gamers can't start in year four instead of year three, so I think that is where our adventure will begin tomorrow.
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Adam Hostetler
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davypi wrote:
Well, I should clarify that part of my concern here is time related. They are coming over for a 6-8 hour gaming session. I don't know that we will get through five games in the allotted time. (Odd, there is not play time printed on the box...) If the game is as easy/bland as it is in year three, I'm worried that they may get bored and not want to play through all of the years. I'm hoping that jumping into year five will ramp up the difficulty to the level of games we are used to playing and/or make the game more engaging.

Edit: I'm going to answer my own question here. I've opened the year five box and read the rulebook, but not examined the cards. There is a twist in the rules that looks fun and I think its worth experiencing as a group. That said, I don't see any reason why seasoned gamers can't start in year four instead of year three, so I think that is where our adventure will begin tomorrow.


Is there no story to advance through?
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David Jones
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slydog75 wrote:
Is there no story to advance through?


Thats a bit difficult to answer. Every year you add new villains to the deck, but you don't remove the old ones. So there is a story in the sense that Wormtail doesn't show up until year three, but you don't remove the Basilisk from the villain deck either. So when you get to year four, you have to defeat all the villians cumulative to and including year four. Similarly, you add more spells/items/allys to the Hogwarts deck every year without removing old ones. So there is progression, but you also end up repeating earlier plot. Similarly, there will be a slight thematic disconnect seeing Quirrell fighting next to Dolores. I suppose you could build the villain deck such that year one cards are on top, followed by year two cards, and so on if you wanted to play through the years in book plot order. But, in order for the game to work as a whole, you need to keep growing the villain deck for the other mechanics to work; removing previous years' villains would make the game too easy. But in the end, years one through four are there to ease new gamers into the ruleset so they don't have to absorb all the mechanics at once.

The rule change in year five is plot related, very thematic, and will definitely make the game harder. It also makes sense for this rule to persist into years six and seven, but not having opened those boxes I can only guess. I was genuinely surprised by the change, so I'm hoping years six and seven will have a similarly interesting change.

Edit: I opened the year six and seven boxes because I was investigating a misprint issue. Year six adds an interesting rule. Having not read everything, I can't say if it is plot related, but it is at least thematically appropriate. Year seven has at least one rule twist that again is very thematic and is fitting to the book plot. I can see where, after completing year seven, it could be fun to rewind your game back to year four or five and run the campaign again.
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Kevin B. Smith
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4ntonio wrote:
Other than The Big Book of Madness (which has okay reviews), I don't think there's another cooperative deckbuilder that's as accessible to casual gamers.

Probably not, by that criteria.

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game and Shadowrun: Crossfire might be candidates, but both are less accessible. Star Realms and DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Crisis Expansion Pack 1 have co-op modes, but the consensus seems to be that those games are far better in competitive mode.

I'll put up Paperback as another option. It is probably even more accessible to non-HP fans (and to fans of word games). But it is obviously less exciting for those who enjoy the HP world.

EDIT: Or maybe Spellbound, if you can afford a copy! surprise

Back to the original topic: Now I'm really interested to see how my wife and I experience the game. She's a casual gamer (but has played, for example, Legendary Encounters). She's a pretty big HP fan, so I can't imagine that we'll skip any of the boxes.
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Darren Priddy
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As I sleeve the cards I went through to make dividers to separate the books. The core gameplay doesn't change that much though early games don't take that long to see the new changes. Most changes are minor like dealing with more villains or dark arts cards on a turn. However the books /cards that add new tokens & dice you might miss in the end if it combines everything. Plus depending on the cards, we found the books adding more villains to be quite challenging.

So I saw go through all the rules at least but playing the earlier books at least once wouldn't hurt going through to see the game & characters evolve.
 
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Dreadknot Knotdread
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I started playing with my wife and son from game 1. I could've skipped game 2 and just go to game 3 but I like seeing the characters evolve and the new items/spells/villains/locations that each book/game brings.

I also worry about longevity so the more plays I can get through with the family, the better.
 
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Seth Goodnight
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My GF and I played through game 5 and there aren't a lot of surprises or discoveries, but there are new mechanisms with each year. 1-3 can easily be skipped by experienced gamers (they play like they are on rails). Those games are there for the avid Harry Potter fan who has never played a boardgame before. Game 4 felt like there was actually a chance we could lose with some bad draws. It took us 3 tries to get through game 5, and I expect similar from games 6 and 7.

We've also played game 3 with a friend who has very little boardgame experience. She was able to pick up the rules quickly, and understood the basic strategies pretty easily. With two experienced players at the table we could have easily started at game 4 with no trouble.

The games also function like a difficulty setting, so I can see going back to earlier games for a lighter evening of fun.

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David Anderson
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After the final level is reached, what will replayability be like?
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David Jones
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turtleback wrote:

After the final level is reached, what will replayability be like?


My thoughts here.
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B C Z
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Despite being seasoned deck builders, my wife and I chose to start at the beginning, just as Dorothy did at the center of the spiral in Munchkinland.

Our first game was with Ron and Hermione and we breezed through it without a care, not even losing the first location. We learned the strengths of our decks and the types of cards we would favor when making purchases.

Game two had some surprises with regards to our first year studies, and as such I feel vindicated that the decision to not fast forward past that experience was the right one.


___
Edit: Typo
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Kevin B. Smith
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I just got the game, and started with a solo 2-handed playthrough of game #1. No regrets on that, and I'll introduce the game to my wife by having us play through game #1 as well.

#CenterOfTheSpiral
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David Jones
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byronczimmer wrote:
Game two had some surprises with regards to our first year studies, and as such I feel vindicated that the decision to not fast forward past that experience was the right one.


Unfortunately my experience went the other way. The people I introduced the game to (at year four) felt the game wasn't complex or doing enough with the game mechanics to differentiate it from other deck builders. (Bear in mind these are people who are used to playing Terra Mystica, Tzolkin, and Spartacus as well as other deck builders.) A couple of them felt bored and did not want to move on to year five. I'm going to have to re-sell them on the idea of trying the game again and, if I do, I will likely push past five and go straight to six.

I really think the choice to jump forward is going to depend on how eager the players are to re-explore the HP universe as presented in the game. To be clear, at no point was I proposing that people had to jump to a later year. I was simply curious if there was anything mechanically that would make jumping years difficult on the players. In hindsight, I think I could have safely started my group off at level five. If your gaming group is getting enjoyment out of discovery of the earlier years of the game, then I'm happy you are getting that extra value out of the money you spent on the game. But there are obviously going to be players that will want to get into the meat of the game without needing to piecemeal a theme they are already familiar with.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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davypi wrote:
I really think the choice to jump forward is going to depend on how eager the players are to re-explore the HP universe as presented in the game.

I agree, but would also add that the gamer-y-ness of the group is also a huge factor. I see something like this:

Non-gamers/casual gamers:
- Love HP? Do all the games in sequence
- No interest in HP? Start with game 1, but maybe skip after that

Serious gamers:
- Love HP? Start with game 1 IF everyone is ok playing a gateway game
- No interest in HP? Skip way ahead
 
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B C Z
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It helps that my wife and I prefer to savor the experience than jump into the brain-burny part of the game.

We come from playing a lot of Shadowrun: Crossfire recently, and I equate jumping to year 4 to arbitrarily slapping a few Karma stickers onto the characters in that game. There were things to learn in the first year, especially with 2 players, that are hopefully foundations we can build on.

The rest is behind spoilers for those not wanting to be spoiled.

You've been warned.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Playing Ron and Hermione in Year One, two things quickly became clear.

1) Hermione was going to be buying Spells when the Time-Turner was active, because that made them immediately available.
2) One of Ron's cards benefited from having lots of extra Allies in his deck to get extra Zots.

So going into Year Two, that was the plan. Spells generally to Hermione, all Allies to Ron, split the Items as needed.

We hadn't scanned the new Villians, just shuffled them in and prepped the stack.

Then in Year Two...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Along comes Tom Riddle

Every Ally is a negative because Tom uses them against you.

I was looking at a beautiful hand of three Allies and Tom laughing at me.

Ouch.


That's the kind of experience I don't want to lose. I feel it's thematic and teaches you new ways to navigate this deck builder. It was a nice surprise. It didn't prevent the win, but it did give us pause for a moment.

I liked it.

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