Epic Resort is both a deckbuilder and a worker placement game - both of which are probably my favourite gaming mechanisms, and with some fun art and a cool theme, I was eager to get started.
I pledged through Kickstarter for the game to come along with Villain's Vacation. I have yet to play Villain's Vacation, and will do first impressions of that when I do.
This is for the second edition of the game, which is what is currently available.
First of all, the box is a nice design. Large and sturdy, and comes with a good insert with plenty of space - more than needed for both the game and the expansion (I checked). It's not the best designed, and I may do a custom insert in time, but at least there is plenty of space for everything.
The art is eye catching - a little 1990's beefcake cartoon with some soft disney edging. The theming comes across strong on first glance. The back of the box has a nice write up and image as well.
Once I opened everything I was slightly disappointed. The card designs are quite busy, and the iconography isn't clear or consistent. The art is nice but due to the amount of writing, icons and information, it gets lost slightly.
That said, the large attraction cards are nice and as part of the buy area, are always on display and help sell the theme. The skilled workers area are also always on display, and while not as pleasing to the eye, helpful to keep dibs on what is available.
The gameplay is relatively simple. Each player is given a Tiki Hut and a Beach attraction as their resort. Each attraction can have a finite amount of tourists, represented by mini meeples. More tourists at a attraction earns you more gold, which can be held between rounds and is used to train workers or upgrade attractions.
Tourists will leave when you ignore the staffing requirements of the attractions, but in turn this provides you more "flair" the second resource, and this allows you to attract more lucrative tourists or even Heroes.
Workers are the deckbuilding part of the game. Simultaneously players draw up a deck of five workers, placing them as they wish on their attractions. At the start of the game each player only has apprentices, lazy peons and street performers. Lazy peons are worthless unless the player is being attacked, in which case they can be removed from the player's hand and the crisis can be averted. Street performers can be placed in the players discard as they add +1 flair to the player's resort (they have performed their duty and entertained guests), or can be trained using the player's gold currency into a more interesting worker. When this happens, the player loses the original card, pays the cost, and gains the new card for immediate use. Apprentices can do this as well, and they are also able to be placed at attractions.
Attractions that are not being looked after have tourists leave, which eventually earns the resort more respect as more attractive tourists and heroes will be able to be lured in. But having more tourists also earns the player more gold. It's a balance that can be changed due to the player's actions, and a great mechanic.
The dock offers 6 new tourists/heroes at a time (7 if 3 or 4 players playing), but the deck also offers monster attack cards, which inform what attraction the monster is attacking. A monster card is then revealed and it instructs which player it will attack, based on variables such as who has the most heroes or tourists, etc.
Monsters constantly attack, however, the Epic Resort attracts Heroes, who rise to defend. Attracting heroes and upgrading your resort attractions are how one gains points in the game, and when the monster deck runs out, the game is over.
What I like:
I like that there are two separate deck-builder mechanics in play. You have an open static market, and a revolving one.
The art and theme. For the most part it comes across strong - and the theme is unique and fun.
The mashing of mechanics. For the most part - it works. This is both a deckbuilder and a worker placement game. You place tourists where you need to, gain the flair or coins you need, and use those things to better your resort or to lure heroes for points. It's a interesting melding that brings together two very different game mechanics.
What I dislike:
The scoring. Gameplay essentially devolves into only two scoring mechanisms, both of which are seen by all, and don't appear to change. There needs to be ways to change up the gameplay more and add new scoring possibilities.
The length. Once you get your attractions to where you need them to be, you are just playing for playing's sake. There's no surprise, you're just waiting for all the monsters to be drawn. The game is overlong.
The components. While the cards are nice, the meeples feel cheap, as do the rest of the pop out tokens. It feels very much like a game made and produced on the cheap, and while I can respect I got this at a good price, it's something to consider. I'll likely get them replaced.
The sameness. Each round was very similar to the last. There just wasn't enough going on - once we learned what we were doing.
The Harbourmaster. Most players take the same number of moves each turn, usually training one worker and luring one tourist/hero. So the first player is essentially always the same unless a player deliberately does not do an action that benefits so they can pass early and gain first player.
The rulebook. The rulebook is very difficult to understand, at least initially. Once I watched Rahdo's run-through I got a better understanding. But this leads to my next point...
The lack of player aids was a major disappointment - they really should be part of every game. They really help teach a game to new players and just allow players to keep tabs on what they should be doing, without having to always refer to the rulebook.
I know I've added more dislikes than likes, but I guess it's because the game is initially confusing. By the end of it I was already picking it apart and trying to see what I felt was at fault and what could be improved and what worked.
And there is a lot that works. While it won't compare to the best of deckbuilders, and it won't compare to the best of worker placement games, it's a fairly successful mash up of the two mechanics with a unique them, great art and some interesting play.
Worth checking out.
Are you using the new rules changes from the 2nd Edition. I don't think so.
when is the second edition coming out?