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Vanuatu (second edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First Impressions of the Second Edition rss

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Sandy Wilson
United Kingdom
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I recently received my Kickstarter copy of the 2nd Edition of Vanuatu, and seeing as there are no real reviews of it on BGG I thought I would share some thoughts my wife and I had after one play of the game. That may well be a disclaimer as far as some people are concerned, as I see many reviews (especially negative ones) on this site slated as they haven't spent the time to get to know the intricacies of the game. If that is a criticism you have, then I do understand, however I hope that this will be helpful for some people!

Components
I have to say I'm impressed with the contents of the box. The cardboard is thick and looks durable, and the art is stunning. In fact it was the look of the game that was one of the main reasons that I backed it - there's a definite South Pacific feel to the game that I think adds to the theme.
The wooden pieces are very nice too, especially the little treasure chests! Despite saying that, there are a couple of issues. The fish pieces are rather flimsy, and I've got a couple that have little flakes falling off their tails already. Not a huge problem, and I'd rather have them as they are than as discs, but it should be noted. I also am not a fan of the pawns that are used for the tourist figures. With all the detail that has been put into other areas of the game, these seem a little 'last minute'. Now to be fair, there may have been a stretch goal to upgrade these that wasn't reached, but I didn't follow the campaign that closely so it's not something I'm aware of.

Gameplay
I'm not going to go through a 'How to Play' style section, as the rulebook is actually pretty clear (and as far as I know is available to download on the game's page!). However, I will share our impressions of how it works.
Basically the game boils down to a Worker Placement game, which is a genre that my wife an I quite enjoy. The interesting part is that you need a majority to be able to take your action, and managing this seems to be key to success. There were a few times where, as the second player, I had to wait to see what my wife did and then do the same, meaning I missed out on doing things in the order I would have preferred to do them in. Sometimes this meant I missed out on my Character bonus, but only once did I have no majority anywhere and have to miss an action.
Here's a good point to mention that we really didn't like the Neutral action tokens introduced for the two player game. We are both very nice when we play, rarely outrightly trying to screw each other over. These neutral markers felt a bit too much like a "Take That" element rather than a way to make you pay more for an action. By the end, we were just sticking them all on one space so we had more options. I think next time we will try without them.

I must say that I'm looking forward to trying this with more than 2. Having more choice in the character selection would be great, as you can try and plan a turn ahead. I also feel that the action bidding will become much more dynamic, as you will have to concentrate your markers to be able to do exactly what you want.

Issues
The biggest problem we had with the game is the iconography. It's very tough to tell exactly what each action space does just by looking at the icons, and it's the same with some of the Characters too. There are so many of them at the start of the game that a little more thought into how to represent the actions as icons would have made it much easier to pick up.
A good example of this is the Tourist action space. There were several times my wife got this space mixed up with the Build space, as the Tourist space shows a Hut. An easy mistake to make, but one that is exacerbated by the Builder Character card having the exact same symbol on it!
One other complaint is that the order of the actions on the board, and the order that they are explained in the Rulebook, is different. This may sound minor, but with the icons being confusing I found myself spending quite a lot of the first few turns looking up how things worked. If the order was the same, this would cut this time down.

It seems that the Cheat Sheet provided could have been put to better use by illustrating all the actions on the back rather than making them a different language on the back. Would have meant more copies, but would have made it much more new player accessible.


Overall
I'm certainly glad I backed this game. There is potentially a great game in a very pretty package here, one that will need a bit of thought and a few more plays to figure out fully. I do think that, if you've not played before, then you need to make sure you understand the icons - make sure you have the Rulebook to hand for the first few games as they are all explained in there.

Rating
On first impressions:
I'm hoping it will rise as I try it more!
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Wayne Hulek
United States
Galloway
New Jersey
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Thank you for a great review Sandy. I have been on the fence as to whether or not to purchase it and you gave me some great info.
 
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Marco Hoehener
Switzerland
Zürich
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Very good review.

And you are absolutely right about the iconography. For me especially the tourist action and the guide tile are not clear at all. I am actually thinking about adding name tags to put above each action spot, which already helps immensly or write on the board directly or put stickers on it (which would be a bit of a shame as it wont fit the board design)

Also the sign with the price and points for selling goods is in the shadow of the box which makes it hard to see the green cube. Also, the box with two points on it makes it not at all clear that you get that when the ship is full.

One other thing i realised is the money track is missing the 0. But i use the chair on top of the bank. Thematic wise it's like you just spend all your money to achieve something or get 5points so you have nothing better to do then hang out :-)

The board is very very beautiful and you immediately think about booking a trip to vanuatu, but i think gameplay for new players suffers a bit because of the board design.

After a few games those problems probably go away as you get familiar with the board. I am still very glad I backed this game!!!
 
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Quined Games
Netherlands
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Thank you for the great review! So for the record, when we were redesigning the board, and Konstantin was sending proposals for the board, we decided to illustrate the action itself with the main drawing you see at the top. If you watch the "panorama" if you will, on the building action, you see a couple of guys building a hut... and on the tourist spot, you see tourists being transported by boat. This is what you really should be looking at. Then, the icons show what you happens as a consequence of the action, or what you have to pay. In the case of the building action, that's why we didn't add a hut on top of the hut you already see in the drawing, but we did with the tourist, cause when you transport tourist, you get money based on the huts present on that island.

So that's the idea behind it all. But it's great to get this feedback, it can only make future games better! So thanks a lot, we really appreciate all this!
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Sandy Wilson
United Kingdom
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Quote:
So for the record, when we were redesigning the board, and Konstantin was sending proposals for the board, we decided to illustrate the action itself with the main drawing you see at the top. If you watch the "panorama" if you will, on the building action, you see a couple of guys building a hut... and on the tourist spot, you see tourists being transported by boat. This is what you really should be looking at.


Good to hear from you!

I have to say, this makes a lot of sense. However, when the main point of the spaces is to cover them with rather large wooden discs, you're only going to see half of the picture.

I don't think it's a massive issue, as once we got passed round 5 we had worked it out. However, the one that was the most confusing was the Builder character card being the same as the transport Tourist action space!
 
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Bilal Shad
United Kingdom
London
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Quined Games wrote:
Thank you for the great review! So for the record, when we were redesigning the board, and Konstantin was sending proposals for the board, we decided to illustrate the action itself with the main drawing you see at the top. If you watch the "panorama" if you will, on the building action, you see a couple of guys building a hut... and on the tourist spot, you see tourists being transported by boat. This is what you really should be looking at. Then, the icons show what you happens as a consequence of the action, or what you have to pay. In the case of the building action, that's why we didn't add a hut on top of the hut you already see in the drawing, but we did with the tourist, cause when you transport tourist, you get money based on the huts present on that island.

So that's the idea behind it all. But it's great to get this feedback, it can only make future games better! So thanks a lot, we really appreciate all this!


That makes complete sense. What the game needed was better player aids. The player aid should be double sided not with two languages on one piece of card (which I understand for cost savings) but with one side explaining turn structure and the other side explaining the actions and the bonus tiles. The player aid is where this information would have been a dream. I would implore someone at Quined to either make a one-pager summary doc that just has a small image of the action and then what the action does. We had to refer to the rulebook constantly and this was a 2p game.

An alternative could be that the turn structure could happily also sit on the back of the rulebook yes again the aesthetics would be damaged as the rulebook looks great, but aesthetics should never be considered at the cost of functionality and it would have greatly improved the gameplay experience when I played.

Definitely need to play this with more as the 2p rules are too "take-that" as mentioned above
 
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Dennis Beck
Germany
Bielefeld
NRW
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I don't have any problems with the iconography and think that it's absolutely clear. The action is picture above and the reward or cost is below. If you are having troubles with it, I recommend that you put the character cards above the action spaces as you can see in my videos in the video section (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/video/115227/vanuatu-second-ed...). That once more should make clear which action is which.
 
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