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Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar» Forums » Reviews

Subject: My Favorite COIN to date rss

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Tully Elliston
United Kingdom
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Background:

I've played Cuba Libra, Fire in the Lake and now Falling Sky.

My other favourite games are 1960: The Making of the President, Star Wars: Rebellion and the Game of Thrones board game 2nd Ed.

I don't have a nice camera, so I'm going to scatter the review with other people's images (I wont be taking the time to credit each of these because life is short, but if you see your photo here its because your photo looks great!) - images are important to any review of Falling Sky because unlike the older COIN games, OH MY GOD, THIS GAME LOOKS GORGEOUS.



Board & Components

For me, this is the most attractive board game in my collection (though I don’t like chrome/figures soo).

The various wooden pieces look and feel wonderful in conjunction with the board. Its a strange thing to be saying about basic wooden cubes, octagonal cylinders, wooden disks and blocks but the color of each faction contrasts very attractively with the board. When the game is fully deployed, it looks amazing. The board in particular is a work of art. The embossed pieces are very pleasing, and make me wish ALL the pieces were embossed.



The only part I found disappointing is, like other people, the thin-card player mats fail to keep up with the high standard of production that the rest of the components radiate. I understand the expansion will include better player mats for all the faction so kudos to the team for hearing our pleas.



I also feel that the design of the cards (both sides of) is not quite as attractive as it could be and looks a little dated compared to the setup, although the thickness of the cards is absolutely stellar and should be held up as a standard that other games should meet – these cards are not going to fall apart any time soon.



Approachability/Weight

Like other COIN games, Falling Sky is relatively simple and pleasingly fast paced once every player knows how to play - for a game with such a broad range of options in what action a player can take in a given turn, it flows well. For someone with a mind that is seduced by elegant and deep game systems this game is absolute crack, but for my ageing mother it was more like kryptonite.

Unfortunately, like other COIN games the incredible breadth of possible action and the unapproachable nature of the action sheets (dense text, which itself has been tightened down into barely legible shorthand) make teaching this game to new players very hard work.



My girlfriend (who enjoys playing 1960: Making of the President and Star Wars: Rebellion) noped out of Falling Sky after about 30 minutes, and I had a similar response from my normal group. The game mechanics are fantastic and fascinating, but are also a real hurdle to internalise (IF this is your first COIN). Approachable as the game may now look because its smaller and very pretty, its still a wargame at heart and no easy beast to teach. You will need players who are either excited enough to stick with it for 2 hours of confused learning, or are excited enough to go away and learn the game before you get together, in order to play this with a local group. The long play time is also a bitch - even the short game is hard to close off in one long session.

To be clear though, this game is totally worth it if you manage.

If I could make a suggestion to the designers, if they want to make a COIN game that is more accessible to the masses - try and make the player aids that show each factions possible actions as visual as possible (use icons for resource cost, images of pieces it affects etc) Perhaps try and make the actions themselves a little simpler. Perhaps make the order in which players perform action + special action rigidly fixed. I know that amounts to a reduction in breadth of possible action, but it would make for a much, much more teachable game.

Gameplay:

Wonderful. Elegant. Varied. Every faction by turn feels overpowered and interesting and very different (I don’t see why others felt the Gallic factions were too similar). Unlike in Fire In The Lake, I felt that there were multiple ways to play each faction, and that faction relations are not so baked in. That every faction can come to battle with the others makes things a lot more interesting than eg. the one sided relationships between VC & US pieces in Fire in the Lake. The presence of leaders allows you to have an Avatar in game, which helps with immersion. The diplomacy is real, and negotiations are constant. No runaway leaders and no player knockouts.



Compared to other COIN, doing away with LoC was a good choice. I think LoC added a lot of complexity for little gain. I also greatly prefer the simplified handling of support/opposition by having tribes instead of fiddly control makers, which I hated. I don't miss the city spaces either.

Battles are very simple once internalised but intimidating to teach. I like the mechanic a lot. I loved the way citadel/fort works.

The cards are very interesting. Everything drips with theme, much more so than Fire in the Lake. Nothing really feels 'game-ified' - it feels real.

Length and complexity are both high - in multiple-session wargame territory rather than your normal ~3 hour "heavy game" territory.

Solitair play

10/10, my favourite solitaire game to date.

Played both myself controlling all factions, and then versus the bots. Both experiences deeply satisfying and brain-churning. If you like solitaire play, this is the game you want, not Mage Knight



Conclusion

If you dislike mechanical complexity,
If you find it hard to internalise rules,
If you fall prey to analysis paralysis;

If you don't have a hardcore group,
If you don't like to multi-session games,
If you don’t like solitaire;

It might not be for you.

If you like wargames,
turn based strategy, area-movement,
elegant mechanics;

If you have a group that will put in the time to learn,
or a lifestyle compatible with solitaire play;

If you like the period,
Enjoy asymmetry,
Defining a faction with your own playstyle,
and are attracted enough at the theme to take a stab;

If you want to see the very best in the genre:

PLUNGE HAND INTO WALLET & BUY THIS GAME



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Travis Hill
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ivoryking wrote:


10/10, my favourite solitaire game to date.

Played both myself controlling all factions, and then versus the bots. Both experiences deeply satisfying and brain-churning. If you like solitaire play, this is the game you want, not Mage Knight



Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Prince of Sholai

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This is easily my favorite COIN, too! I have played Cuba Libre, FitL, and LoD.
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The Mirror
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travisdhill wrote:
ivoryking wrote:


10/10, my favourite solitaire game to date.

Played both myself controlling all factions, and then versus the bots. Both experiences deeply satisfying and brain-churning. If you like solitaire play, this is the game you want, not Mage Knight



Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



To be fair (though I haven't played Mage Knight since buying Falling Sky), they are both very compelling and immersive strategic and tactical heavy solo plays, but I do agree that this has trumped MK for me. Primarily because this game feels so thematically rich and there are a few more reward moments per play.
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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"If I could make a suggestion to the designers, if they want to make a COIN game that is more accessible to the masses - try and make the player aids that show each factions possible actions as visual as possible (use icons for resource cost, images of pieces it affects etc) Perhaps try and make the actions themselves a little simpler. Perhaps make the order in which players perform action + special action rigidly fixed. I know that amounts to a reduction in breadth of possible action, but it would make for a much, much more teachable game."

Wow, I hope they don't do this.

Otherwise, nice review! Looking forward to trying it out solo. What would you say the playtime would be? Just so I plan it right.
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Alex P
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mi_de wrote:
"If I could make a suggestion to the designers, if they want to make a COIN game that is more accessible to the masses - try and make the player aids that show each factions possible actions as visual as possible (use icons for resource cost, images of pieces it affects etc) Perhaps try and make the actions themselves a little simpler. Perhaps make the order in which players perform action + special action rigidly fixed. I know that amounts to a reduction in breadth of possible action, but it would make for a much, much more teachable game."

Wow, I hope they don't do this.


Actually, it would be pretty neat if they created a GMT COIN Series game set in a world of Gingerbread men, singing animals, errant fairy-princesses, and Humpty Dumpiztan citizens. Already you can imagine an alliance between the animals and the princesses and another between the edibles...

Yes I'm serious - why wouldn't this not be a good idea? GMT could dip their toe into the medium-weight market with something like this if Tully's suggestion was realized.
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Tully Elliston
United Kingdom
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Quote:
What would you say the playtime would be? Just so I plan it right.


Well, in the normal game every ~15 cards (30 player turns) there is a winter card, in which a player can win if they have enough victory points. If they dont win, housekeeping events happen, the NPC germans attack and then the next 15 cards are played - 60 cards total.

Playing up to the first winter card will probably take either yourself alone, or a reasonably able group, 60-90 minutes. That time will drop in future sessions once you've all internalized rules. A full game is a multi session affair unless you have a group that will play a game for 3 hours+ straight

Quote:
Actually, it would be pretty neat if they created a GMT COIN Series game set in a world of Gingerbread men, singing animals, errant fairy-princesses, and Humpty Dumpiztan citizens. Already you can imagine an alliance between the animals and the princesses and another between the edibles...

Yes I'm serious - why wouldn't this not be a good idea? GMT could dip their toe into the medium-weight market with something like this if Tully's suggestion was realized.


I dont think any theme needs to be quite that patronising

There is a very real market for a game that looks and plays a lot like this, but can be played in ~90 minutes and can be more easily taught to a group (much like 13 Days: Cuban Missile Crisis distilled the essance of Twilight Struggle into 45 minutes - or how 1960: The Making of the President uses a similar engine to Twilight Struggle but can usually be played in half the time).

I dont have a wargaming background or regular group, so for me the discovery of COIN was bittersweet - "hooray, I've found the most interesting game ever... but its too heavy for my group!"
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Alex P
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Perfect opportunity to host a specialized event for interested locals. Depends on how big your city is, I guess...
 
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Christian Nierensieb
Germany
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ivoryking wrote:
Background:

I understand the expansion will include better player mats for all the faction so kudos to the team for hearing our pleas.



Oh, where did you hear about an expansion?
 
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The Mirror
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nierensieb wrote:
ivoryking wrote:
Background:

I understand the expansion will include better player mats for all the faction so kudos to the team for hearing our pleas.



Oh, where did you hear about an expansion?


It's already made the cut on p500 https://www.gmtgames.com/p-603-ariovistus-a-falling-sky-expa...
 
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Chris McDonald
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mirror33 wrote:
travisdhill wrote:
ivoryking wrote:


10/10, my favourite solitaire game to date.

Played both myself controlling all factions, and then versus the bots. Both experiences deeply satisfying and brain-churning. If you like solitaire play, this is the game you want, not Mage Knight



Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



To be fair (though I haven't played Mage Knight since buying Falling Sky), they are both very compelling and immersive strategic and tactical heavy solo plays, but I do agree that this has trumped MK for me. Primarily because this game feels so thematically rich and there are a few more reward moments per play.


MK wins for me because there is no AI to manage. I just have to worry about my own turns.
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Christian Nierensieb
Germany
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mirror33 wrote:
nierensieb wrote:
ivoryking wrote:
Background:

I understand the expansion will include better player mats for all the faction so kudos to the team for hearing our pleas.



Oh, where did you hear about an expansion?


It's already made the cut on p500 https://www.gmtgames.com/p-603-ariovistus-a-falling-sky-expa...

Wow, how did this one get past me? Thanks for pointing it out.
 
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The Mirror
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cfmcdonald wrote:
mirror33 wrote:
travisdhill wrote:
ivoryking wrote:


10/10, my favourite solitaire game to date.

Played both myself controlling all factions, and then versus the bots. Both experiences deeply satisfying and brain-churning. If you like solitaire play, this is the game you want, not Mage Knight



Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



To be fair (though I haven't played Mage Knight since buying Falling Sky), they are both very compelling and immersive strategic and tactical heavy solo plays, but I do agree that this has trumped MK for me. Primarily because this game feels so thematically rich and there are a few more reward moments per play.


MK wins for me because there is no AI to manage. I just have to worry about my own turns.


I love playing FS as all of the factions and conversely the bots get pretty simple to control after a play or two. But it's true that there is something nice about only having one figure to control in MK. I think they're both phenomenal fun.
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The Mirror
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nierensieb wrote:
mirror33 wrote:
nierensieb wrote:
ivoryking wrote:
Background:

I understand the expansion will include better player mats for all the faction so kudos to the team for hearing our pleas.



Oh, where did you hear about an expansion?


It's already made the cut on p500 https://www.gmtgames.com/p-603-ariovistus-a-falling-sky-expa...

Wow, how did this one get past me? Thanks for pointing it out.


It actually went up less than a month ago. Didn't need to have been looking the other way for long.
 
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Tully Elliston
United Kingdom
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Quote:

I love playing FS as all of the factions and conversely the bots get pretty simple to control after a play or two. But it's true that there is something nice about only having one figure to control in MK. I think they're both phenomenal fun.


I play vs the bots at a rate of 2 cards per day - prevents burnout from all the calculating involved and gives me plenty of time to ponder my next move

In my current game as the Arverni vs the bots, I decided to focus solely on exterminating the Aedui up to the end of the first winter.

The thinking was
a) marginalising them early would stop them corroding my build up
b) prevent them re-supplying the romans with grain, so they could be safely engaged later
c) block roman supply lines to sting them on winters.

Unfortunately the Aedui are a capable opponent, and all I've acheived so far is mutual annihlation (we both have 2 ally tribes left after first winter lol, and practically no warbands). The Romans & Belgians meanwhile are squaring off with huge armies.
 
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Steffen Beck
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Quote:
The cards are very interesting. Everything drips with theme, much more so than Fire in the Lake. Nothing really feels 'game-ified' - it feels real.


I have quite the opposite opinion so far (having only played three games of FS). In Fire it feels very real to me, connected to actual events, while here the events seem somewhat abstract and a lot of the times i feel they are so faction specific that the factions ignore them, spending more time using commands. These are just my impressions, not something that i've studied heavily.
 
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Tully Elliston
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I'd agree with that statement. I think a better wording would be that the core gameplay - ops, specials, winter sequence, supply lines & diplomacy, battle - feel more realistic/less abstracted than FiTL, where many actions felt quite abstract. Fire in the Lake definately had the more thematic and memorable cards.
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Scott Godine
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Great review! I totally agree about everything except the Mage Knight diss -- they're my two favorite solo games, and pretty high on my general top 10, and I think that it's a rare gamer that would enjoy one and not the other.

One suggestion to anyone who likes playing solo over long periods of time, but maybe can't sacrifice an entire table for days or weeks -- check out the VASSAL module! It works fantastically, though you should double-check the scenario setups, I've noticed a couple errors. It doesn't come with the AI flowcharts, as per GMT's request, but you can of course provide them yourself if you've bought the game, and all the other player aids are provided for easy all-sides or online play.
 
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Sean McCormick
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Interesting take. For my part, FS has convinced me that COIN games are just not for me. I'm a huge fan of Weuro-style hybrid games like Polis: Fight for the Hegemony, Maria, or Hands in the Sea, but the COIN games just don't work for me as games or as simulations. But clearly I'm in the minority, which is fine. :-)
 
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