$30.00
$5.00
$20.00
$15.00
Recommend
15 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

The Downfall of Pompeii» Forums » Reviews

Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Downfall of Pompeii) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
BOX ART



The lava is pouring down the streets of Pompeii. Who will lead the most of their people to safety outside the city walls?



QUICK FACTS:
Style of Game: Family
Play Time: 45 minutes
Theme: Escaping a Volcanic Eruption
Number of Players: 2-4
Main Mechanics: Grid Movement, Tile Placement, Hand Management, and Take That
Components: Good
Weight: Light


THEME AND MECHANISMS:
The Downfall of Pompeii does everything is can to immerse the players in the theme of a volcano exploding. There are some strange things happening in the game, but for the most part I would say the game's mechanisms do a decent job of matching the theme and making players feel like they are trying to escape. Gamers may find the game a tad too mechanical to let the theme shine but for families I would say the game has some nice touches to bring the game to life.


GAMEPLAY OVERVIEW:
Players will be placing people in the city of Pompeii and then trying to get them out of the city as quickly as possible once the volcano erupts!



The game breaks down into three phases. The first phase allows players to safely place their townspeople in open houses in the city. This is done by playing a card from your hand and then placing a pawn in the matching house.





Players will take turns playing one card from their hand of four until one player draws an A.D. 79 card. Two of these A.D. 79 cards will be systematically placed in the deck at the beginning of the game. The 7 Omen Cards will also be placed in the deck but will not become available until the second phase of the game.



Once the first A.D. 79 card is drawn play transitions to the second phase of the game. During the second phase players will continue to play one card from their hands on their turn and place a pawn in the matching house. However, during the second phase if a pawn is placed in a room of a house with any number of other pawns that player is granted the opportunity to place more of their own pawns. This is done by placing as many of their own pawns as there were other pawns in the room of the building they placed in initially.



The red player is placing a pawn in a room with three other pawns. Therefore, the red player will be able to place three other pawns in buildings all over the map that are the same color, or the tan neutral colored houses.



Players will continue to play a card and draw a card during this phase of the game, stopping occasionally when an Omen Card is drawn. When an Omen Card is drawn that player selects any opponent's pawn on the board and tosses it in the volcano.



When the second A.D. 79 card is drawn from the deck then the game will move into the third phase. During the third phase the cards will be removed from the game, the unplaced pawns should also be removed from the game, and the bag of tiles should be brought into the game. After some initial tiles are placed on the board, players will now be drawing a tile and placing it on the board, then using two action points of movement.

Tiles will be placed according to the symbol on the tile and the location of the other tiles of that type and movement will be done by moving pawns a number of spaces equal to the number of pawns that start in the square of that piece.

Symbol space on the board


Tile with the matching symbol being placed


If at any point a lava tile is placed on top of pawns those pawns are killed and thrown in the volcano.

Tile being placed according to adjacency rules and killing pawns


Once the player has placed his or her tile. The player will be allowed to move his or her pawns. A player may move twice in a turn. When moving a pawn the pawn may be moved as many square spaces as there were pawns in the starting space.

Starting Space


Pawn moved two spaces


The player may then move a second pawn, according to the same movement rules, or he or she may move the same pawn, according to the same movement rules. The goal of moving pawns is to get as many of them out of the city as possible through one of the several gates located around the city.



Play will continue like this during the third phase of the game until all pawns have been removed from the board (safely or by being killed) or until all lava tiles have been placed. In some cases pawns may still be on the board but have no way of escaping because of the placement of the lava tiles. In this case the game can end and all pawns on the board should be placed in the volcano.

The player who got the most pawns out of the city is the winner. If there is a tie for the most pawns then the player with the fewest pawns in the volcano is the winner.




ASSESSMENT


My assessment of board games is broken into three core areas: Depth of Strategy, Quality of Design, and Replayability.

Depth of Strategy

I would say that while you must be aware enough to make intelligent choices, I'm not sure there are a variety of strategies to try from game to game. There is a high level of luck in the game when considering which cards you get, which tiles are drawn, when the Omen Cards come out and who is killed. This is the kind of game that a player can be terrible at, but not necessarily great at, because you can certainly play poorly, but there are too many variables that can keep you from making the best move on the board, like if you were given more freedom in placement or movement. I'm not making the claim that there should be more freedom, I am just saying the way the mechanisms work don't allow for a lot of strategy.


Depth of Strategy:
2.0 = The game appears strategic but is really more tactical.




Replayability

The Downfall of Pompeii has a high level of replayability, for specific groups. This game falls into the family category and if the game fits the interests of a family or group that enjoys take that games and lighter games, it is going to get a lot of plays. There is a subtle charm to the game. You would think that with the theme and the mechanisms seeming to be in your face, that this game would be chaotic and loud. Strangely though, it isn't. There are moments of excitement and loudness but because the game offers a portion that is less interactive and more thought-provoking (the placement of your pawns) there is almost a calm before the storm feel. This anticipation for the excitement of the eruption and the placement of the lava tiles is what I feel keeps people coming back to the game. I like when a game offers a moment you know is coming but aren't entirely sure when it is coming so you are constantly trying to get things done before the game changes drastically. Pompeii offers that and I really enjoy playing this game any chance I get because of it. Unfortunately, I think there may be too much randomness and luck to be satisfactory for a lot of groups.


Replayability:
2.5 = Fans of the genre will likely really enjoy this one.




Quality of Design


Hand Management: The Hand Management really causes a restriction on how successful you can be at getting your pawns on the board but it doesn't seem to be massively detrimental. Also, the players and the game seem to balance this out because with more targets to be killed during tile placement, the player with the most pawns gets hit the hardest in most games.

Tile Placement: The tile placement aspect of this game combined with the Take That possibilities make the game fun. All the randomness and luck are thrown in your face at this point and the game either sinks or swims for you. If you don't like the sound of this you likely will not like this game. If you don't mind playing games for the fun, you will enjoy this part of the game, and likely the game in general.

Take That: The Take That element of this game can be focused on one person or multiple players are once so it doesn't constantly eat away at people. To me, this part of the game is what makes the game replayable and enjoyable.

Grid Movement: The elegance of the movement mechanism is this game is brilliant. At it's purest form (2 action points of 1 square each) the mechanism only allows enough movement to make escaping the lava tense and difficult. The addition of allowed squares based on the number of pawns standing together isn't complex but it is brilliant because it allows for a constant shape-shifting in the dynamic of the player's ability to escape the city. This is definitely the aspect of the game that requires the most thought, albeit, from a tactical point of view.

Quality of Design:
4.0 = A good design that engages the player for several plays.
*Note: Take this with a grain of salt because in this game I feel the luck and randomness is not a detriment but some people may.



FINAL THOUGHTS:
The Downfall of Pompeii offers a great experience if you are looking for fun over strategy. It may seem as though my assessment of this game seems as though I don't like it but that's not the case. I typically liked to be engaged by board games and have to come up with a strategy, but with this game I can recognize the imbalance between strategy and luck and that it tips toward luck in many ways but I still really enjoy it. Now, I have spent a lot of this review mentioning the luck that is involved and yet often times when I lose I have an odd feeling about the game. I feel like the game as unfolding in another player's favor and I wasn't able to see it quickly enough to try to tweak the outcome. The game moves quickly but feels as though the script progresses slowly and then all of a sudden it is apparent which player or players have the best chance of winning. I think I personally enjoy the game because I want to get better and better at recognizing that moment of clarity earlier and earlier.

Where the game solidifies its place in my collection is that it can be brought out with a lot of different types of groups. Beginners, kids, family members, even non-gamers can really enjoy this one. There is a level of fun that is hard not to enjoy unless you simply dislike take that mechanisms.

I'm not sure if this is a guilty pleasure or if the mechanisms blend just quite well enough to make this a quality game but either way I really enjoy playing this game and will continue to play it as often as I can for the foreseeable future. I have no problems with this game. There are areas of the design that I think are commonly considered "bad" or "weak" and some of the mechanisms don't make a lot of thematic sense, but I have no issues with this game. I could see some people growing tired of it but I really enjoy it.




Overall Rating -
There is a subtle flexibility of this game that allows me to play it with a lot of different kinds of groups.



If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Riley
United Kingdom
Bridport
Dorset
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review. I would highly recommend this game for people who want a quick fast moving game that has drama but is not in the least taxing on players in terms of rules or making decisions in play. If I ever had to get non-gamers to play a game this would be the one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Gresik
United States
Bolingbrook
IL
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Very nice review. I am curious about one aspect of it - at what play counts did you play?

The only reason I ask is that, while I do agree with your strategy points and the high level of randomness with 4 players, or even three, with two players (at least it seems to me) it is more strategic than at other counts.

For fun chaos 3-4 players. But with 2, the game "changes" to a more strategic one, in both phases. At least that's how I feel about it. Like you, Pompeii is a "guilty pleasure". It has just enough depth to not be a total mindless game and is just the right length for what it is.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Nikoms wrote:
Very nice review. I am curious about one aspect of it - at what play counts did you play?

The only reason I ask is that, while I do agree with your strategy points and the high level of randomness with 4 players, or even three, with two players (at least it seems to me) it is more strategic than at other counts.

For fun chaos 3-4 players. But with 2, the game "changes" to a more strategic one, in both phases. At least that's how I feel about it. Like you, Pompeii is a "guilty pleasure". It has just enough depth to not be a total mindless game and is just the right length for what it is.



That is a good question. I have played with 3 and 4 most of the time, if not every time. I can't remember if I have played with 2. I'm sorry for that. I could see that becoming true though. I am not sure I am looking for this particular game to be real strategical though. Would you consider it a large difference between 2 and 3-4?


I am glad you share in the guilty pleasure though. I just took to it the first time I played it and have never gotten tired of it.


Also, thanks for reading!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
goatleaf wrote:
Excellent review. I would highly recommend this game for people who want a quick fast moving game that has drama but is not in the least taxing on players in terms of rules or making decisions in play. If I ever had to get non-gamers to play a game this would be the one.




Completely agree. I don't feel this game is underrated or disrespected by any means, but it seems to get forgotten when discussing gateway games. The ONLY thing I have ever seen the game do poorly is that sometimes people can be a little confused by the movement rules but if you can get that smoothed out, it is soooo good for new players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.