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Subject: Demo play at Essen rss

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Harvey O'Brien
Ireland
Dublin
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It's very quiet here, so I'll chime in.

I played this at Essen with two other people, demo-ed by a Queen Games helper. Demo games were restricted to three turns, which ends the action just before the first scoring round, but it's enough to get a sense of the game. I bought it afterwards, though it hasn't been to table yet for a full session.

Like any Queen Games production, it is designed to look nice and play pretty quickly in a Euro mould. It's handsome (though it also sets out to be designer-ugly with the theme as it is) and chunky with sturdy components. The action tokens are meant to look like chap on the cover with the mask on, but actually look like Pac-Man ghosts, but if you can get over that joke and get past making Pac-Man hands to chase them, you'll be fine. The rest is chunky cardboard, coloured meeples, and decent cards. All good quality, as you'd expect.

The theme is building your settlement in a post-apocalyptic setting: gathering resources, defending against raiders, and building more and better resource buildings and defences. But we are in Euro territory here, so no Defenders of the Last Stand combat or Post Human encounter cards. It's a worker placement version that emphasises good choices and some flexibility in planning. Your workers come in different varieties with different 'strengths' (thematically) like soldiers, who are good at fighting raiders, engineers who are good at repairs, etc, but in essence it is about their 'trade in' value (making them more like currency than workers per se) to pay for the things you need to do a you assign them to tasks. You need to bid each round for the right to take actions first, though, and you also spend workers to do that, so some flexibility in your plan is good. In each of the categories of action, there are bonuses for top bidder and punishment for lowest, which means that you will get hosed by something each round.

Yes, this makes it a dry rendering of the theme, but that's not to say it's not thematic. You certainly feel under pressure from raiders all the time, and spending time on repairs is vital and costly, particularly before you get better defences and more soldiers to actually use them. In our game, the raiders seemed overwhelmingly powerful, but we had really only just got going, and our little settlements weren't well set up yet. One fun element is that when you draw maples from the bag to place on resources that you scavenge from the wasteland each round, some are actually raiders, meaning you have to take them into your pool with the useful people, kind of like one has followed you home and broken through the lines. You then have to add them to your raider level for the round and deal with that by taking more damage. Sometimes taking extra raider trouble is worth it to snag the resource you need, particularly if you're chasing your personal goal (which will be something like having a certain number of key resources at game end, or having 'built' certain structures or vehicles (having cards)). Yes. Dry euro, as I said, but I went with it and it worked for me.

As I said, this was a demo play, but I came away wanting to play the game again, and I picked up a copy. My impressions are of another well-rendered Euro game from Queen, so if you like their style, you'll likely enjoy this one. It's not as light as Escape, but not as heavy as Lancaster (relatively speaking, guys, I'm not saying Lancaster is a heavy game). Mind you, again, a full game could be a bit more involved, and I'll report back when I do get it in full session. I just wanted to say something about it because no one else has.

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BC Wendel
United States
Alexandria
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Sounds like they took a cool theme and added a boring game to it.

But some people love those! And some people love little wooden men, too. Different strokes.
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Matthias Mahr
Austria
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hob69 wrote:
You certainly feel under pressure from raiders all the time, and spending time on repairs is vital and costly, particularly before you get better defences and more soldiers to actually use them. In our game, the raiders seemed overwhelmingly powerful, but we had really only just got going, and our little settlements weren't well set up yet. One fun element is that when you draw maples from the bag to place on resources that you scavenge from the wasteland each round, some are actually raiders, meaning you have to take them into your pool with the useful people, kind of like one has followed you home and broken through the lines. You then have to add them to your raider level for the round and deal with that by taking more damage.
I agree on that, up to a point, where I would say, while the mechanisms of this games are auction, worker placement and set collection, the game itself feels more like tower defence. But soldiers do not give you any benefits, as long as you don't have slots in your buildings for them. This is the main thematic flaw for me. I wonder, why the did not allow, using blues in green action spaces for defence, too.

Quote:
Sometimes taking extra raider trouble is worth it to snag the resource you need, particularly if you're chasing your personal goal (which will be something like having a certain number of key resources at game end, or having 'built' certain structures or vehicles (having cards)).
I'd say, fighting back raiders will be your main source for VPs in this game, so there is no real disadvantage in taking them. In particular, if the card fits into your hand. But in the one (full) game, I had, card collecting seemed really weak (there are just to many different sets, you end up with lots in small or medium numbers, netting you zero to a not really fancy amount of points), levelling up your people and worker placement underwhelming (as roughly 2/3 of them are used just for bidding anyway), most of the game is just fighting red dudes, and building houses for the others. Occasionally, you can spend an extra meeple for either getting 3 VP directly from the action, or another card. And what of the two is better, is completely random. You can either get the third medipack (whoot, 8 points instead of zero), or another useless spare part for a car, you don't have. So, like KevinMask I'm not as sold on the game, but not for thematic reasons.
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Harvey O'Brien
Ireland
Dublin
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Update:

We got this to table at Gaelcon, the Irish gaming calendar's biggest meet, last weekend. We got a full game in in a couple of hours, and everyone enjoyed it. Definitely the demo had a few rules askew, and I found the raider culling much more a question of point scoring, as commented on above, and not so overwhelming. We had four players, and differing fortunes for each to generate a sense of story. There's a touch of multiplayer solitare to it all the same, but then, given the auction is the key bit of interaction, the usual auction brinksmanship applies, and when people are expressing their horror at the latest disaster to befall their settlement, there's a bit of banter. Overall, it's a perfectly solid Queen Games game: a very playable and well produced euro, and satisfying to play with folks that enjoy the genre.
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Felix L.
Germany
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Our gaming group played Armageddon yesterday night and found it to be gorgeously illustrated, well produced and highly playable.
Your little colony is constantly threatened by marauders and the destruction they bring. And so you're pressed to cope best with the situation the game presents to you in each individual round.
I had the personal goal to get as much beer as possible and managed to get 7 beer cards worth 7*4+15+1=44 points! But my colony was that damaged and under such threat of the marauders, that I lost almost embarassingly. blush
All in all a great game with lots of possibilities, high replayability and even one of us who normaly dislikes strategy games had good fun playing and just missed winning it by 1 point
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Daran The Great
Netherlands
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Zuid Holland
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I also had the pleasure of playing a demo of this game at Essen. We must have hit the table at a somewhat quieter moment, as we were able to play a lot more than 3 rounds (me, a friend of mine and two friendly and competitive Danish chaps).

The core of the game is an elegant but also rather brutal bidding system. In turn players make a bid (or allocation of workers) on one of three tracks: exploration for equipment, construction of a new building or working in your city. The exploration track is of special consideration as each card comes with a random mix of marauders and settlers. You can only bid on each track once and bids cannot be adjusted. Ties are resolved in favor of the player that made the earlier bid on a track.
With only one bid allowed you have to carefully weigh the importance of each track. The earlier bidders are of course at a information disadvantage, but this is compensated by the fact that ties are resolved in their favor.

With 4 competitive players at the table the bids were quite high and we soon found out that we had too few people left to work in and defend our cities. Mad max style chaos descended while leaders tried to scrape together victory points. A very satisfying outcome for a post-apocalyptic setting.

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