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Subject: 5 Player Review - Through Prologue + Game 1 rss

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Travis Talaric
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I wanted to add another review to the collection for this game, as there are a lot of mixed opinions and a lot of prospective buyers still on the fence. I will make sure to tag all spoilers as best as possible. I am playing with a 5 person group and we are currently through the prologue + game 1. It may also be noteworthy that my play group tested the alpha version of this game in October 2013 (played about 5 games) and then didn’t play it again until this final release.

Description of the Play Group:

I think this is important to frame who we are, as I feel this has one of the largest bearings on whether you will enjoy the game or not.

Myself – I would classify myself somewhere between a moderate to avid gamer. I own about 15 different games. I enjoy all types of games encompassing various mechanisms, complexity, and time commitment. Typically I would lean toward a strategic competitive game with a decent them. I am a fan of Rob’s previous games, playing both Risk and Pandemic Legacy, so I am no stranger to Legacy games.

Player 2 – An avid gamer. Owns 30+ games. Will typically bring his games to our game gatherings when we want to try something new. Also plays all types of games. Prefers strategy games. Never played a Legacy game before.

Player 3 – An avid gamer. Owns 40+ games. Although he owns plenty of games, typically prefers shorter length strategic games. Owns every Dominion expansion and will typically recommend we play that. If not playing Dominion, really appreciates theme. D&D player. Never played a Legacy game before.

Player 4 – A moderate gamer. Owns less than 10 games. Statician, so he appreciates calculating odds. Repeat fantasy football champion because of this. Has played both Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy before.

Player 5 – A moderate gamer. Owns about 15 games. Typically prefers lighter games. Played Pandemic Legacy before but not Risk Legacy.

Overall – We are a competitive group. We do not forget or forgive easily. We try to engross ourselves in the thematics of the game as much as possible. We can get distracted during our games (watching the World Series games at the same time) and sometimes step away during other players’ turns.

Game Duration

Prologue: 4 rounds – 2 hours (45 minutes of instruction prior to the first turn being taken)
First game: 1 year and 1 round – 3 hours (the first 15 minutes were rehashing rules and learning about game to game carryover rules)

5 Player Disclaimer

A lot of people have cautioned against playing with 5 players due to total time and downtime between turns. So far this has not been a problem for us at all. The prologue took less than two hours to play (with 45 minutes of this just being explaining instructions) and our first game took three hours to play (which seems pretty standard). Although we don’t actually time player turns, we shoot for 2-3 minute turns per player, which we can usually obtain. My best advice I can give for game duration, is once a player has bought their advisor and is then carrying out their guild actions, have the next player review all available advisors so that once it is their turn, they can immediately make a purchase decision. Also, I really enjoyed having 5 players for the Prologue as the “reward” of the prologue is being able to name one of 4 islands, so for our “competitive” group, it was truly a race not to be last to get naming rights (I was last…).

Endeavors and "Luck"

I just watched the Dice Towers Final (Non-Spoiler) review of Sea Fall, where one of their main takeaways is the dislike of glory swings resulting from milestones and the boom or bust mechanic of endeavors. I disagree with their opinion, although I agree with some of their assessment. Yes, player glory can swing 2-3 points from achieving milestones, where those that were also aiming for the same milestone may end up empty handed. And yes, the same thought process applies to endeavors, but on a smaller scale. My group loves these mechanics as we think this is a great representation of risk and reward. Our first full game was defined by moments like a player trying to explore a 6+ site to obtain a milestone too early, sinking his ship, and trying to rebound from his failed attempt; a player on the next turn learning from his mistakes to bring an extra dice to his pool and then succeeding in obtaining the exploration milestone; and finally another player taking on near impossible odds to raid the leading players vault to prevent him from winning on the next turn, and somehow rolling 4 out of 4 successes to spoil the lead players win. Yes, dice rolls are luck based. But there is a lot of strategy that goes into maximizing your odds, ensuring you can achieve an objective before another player, and understanding when you may have to risk it all to have a chance to come from behind.

Game Carryover

We also enjoy the elements that the game allows you to carry over from game to game. In our first full game, we had a player about to achieve a milestone on the last turn, but another player went out of his way to prevent this from happening. This milestone would not have impacted who won the game, but would have a total glory impact on the campaign that would be carried forward. Although it was a crushing blow for the player who thought he had the milestone in the bag, he immediately chose to improve his guns as his game end upgrade, hinting at the beginning of a campaign long rivalry that was spurred by this sequence of events. This is the kind of gaming that my game group enjoys as we will be able to “historically” look back on this event as the start of a potentially long lasting feud that helps fuel the game’s narrative.

In addition to the glory carryover, we thought the catch-up mechanics employed seem “ok”, but will not be able to comment on this more until we play our second full game.

The Captain’s Booke

My group really enjoys the “choose your own adventure” style of the entries. Especially as your decisions do not always have a clear outcome. We do not like games where you can very transparently choose the “good guy” decision vs “bad guy” decision. However, we did not like the fact that we have identified many typos in the captain’s booke, as every typo slightly takes us out of our immersion in the theme.

Rules

As evidenced by the frequent activity on the rules forum for this game, there are many questions on rules clarification. Although a lot of this can be expected due to the fact that this game is complex, I feel like there should have been a bit more thought but into rulebook. There have been many issues that the game developers have had to specifically comment on to clarify/ apologize for an oversight. This game takes a lot of time to play, so we do not enjoy increasing that time commitment due to researching rules.

Overall Thoughts

My group really likes this game. We currently are planning for one game to be played per week, but now are trying to find an available weekend to fit in some extra games. The campaign plays out in such a way where we are left in suspense after the finish of our first full game and desire to keep pressing on to explore the seas. With that said, I feel this game could have been a bit more polished prior to its release. While the mechanics are very enjoyable, the typos and rule clarifications detract from the overall experience.
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George
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Thanks for this. I especially appreciated the 5 player comments as I am really hoping to play 5 player and had read a few comments saying to avoid 5 player. I've now read a few comments saying 5 player is fine. So good to add your experience into the mix.

(We are currently in the middle of Pandemic Legacy, so it will be a while before we embark on SeaFall.)
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Will
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I didn't have any problems with the "swingyness" until around game 6 or 7.
The things I think they are talking about have nothing to do with lucky dice rolls.
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Becq Starforged
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Thanks for the review! I wanted to comment on the following:

Tsquared025 wrote:
Endeavors and "Luck"

I just watched the Dice Towers Final (Non-Spoiler) review of Sea Fall, where one of their main takeaways is the dislike of glory swings resulting from milestones and the boom or bust mechanic of endeavors. I disagree with their opinion, although I agree with some of their assessment. Yes, player glory can swing 2-3 points from achieving milestones, where those that were also aiming for the same milestone may end up empty handed.

To be fair, I don't think you're seeing the same effect that the Dice Tower folk are talking about. You mention 2-3 point swings from milestones, but that's fairly small compared to what's possible, even as early as Game 1-2.

Using an example based only on "public" information, consider a player who starts the turn with the Renowned Builder and two structures. That player could buy a treasure (up to 2 glory), upgrade a ship (1 glory), build a structure (1 glory), claim the RB's bonus (1 glory), and claim the structure milestone (3 glory). That's ... at least 8 glory, and is achievable in Game 1. That could take you from 3 glory to claiming the game win in one turn!

Is this a contrived example? Yeah, it's probably unlikely to happen in Game 1. But it *can*. And a 5-glory version of that (ie, just completing the milestone by building a structure using the RB, without the other extras) is pretty feasible.

I'm going to put further discussion in spoilers, but it's pretty mild as spoilers go -- nothing regarding storyline or unlock details, but discusses a bit about how glory-related gameplay develops during the period between and after the first two unlocks.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
In Game 2, we had one player score roughly 8 glory in a single turn. Without going into more heavily spoiling details, this was from a combination of treasure purchase, an exploration result, and a milestone. As a result, this player won the game from being far behind -- which makes my example above feel a lot less contrived.

Note that this is extreme in our experience, but 4-glory turns without milestones are fairly common, so I expect to see more 7+ glory turns going forward. And looking over the milestones we currently have, I can't imagine a scenario for several of them where the claiming player fails to achieve 7+ glory on the turn one of them is achieved. And that's talking from an unlock 2 perspective.

Now, this is coming from someone who is really enjoying the game. But I do think that seeing single-turn swings amounting to half to two-thirds of a winning score is a bit much. And while with the milestones, you can often see them coming, there are some exploration results that seem very arbitrary!


In any case, I'll repeat again that I'm still having a lot of fun (next game is in a couple of hours), and I'm glad to see reports from others enjoying the game!
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Joel Petersen
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5 player downtime isnt bad at first, but it gets worse. Thats not the worst though. It scales really poorly regarding the milestones, since they are the same number of them in 3 and 5 player games. Also, it rewards being lucky and getting those milestones (a lot of them comes down to dice rolls or claiming the right advisor), and the lucky players will benefit in every remaining game, whole being unlucky means crawling back and spending turns doing almost nothing. I still want to explore the story of the game, but I don't give a shit about the gameplay at this point.
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Travis Talaric
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Becq wrote:
Thanks for the review! I wanted to comment on the following:

Tsquared025 wrote:
Endeavors and "Luck"

I just watched the Dice Towers Final (Non-Spoiler) review of Sea Fall, where one of their main takeaways is the dislike of glory swings resulting from milestones and the boom or bust mechanic of endeavors. I disagree with their opinion, although I agree with some of their assessment. Yes, player glory can swing 2-3 points from achieving milestones, where those that were also aiming for the same milestone may end up empty handed.

To be fair, I don't think you're seeing the same effect that the Dice Tower folk are talking about. You mention 2-3 point swings from milestones, but that's fairly small compared to what's possible, even as early as Game 1-2.

Using an example based only on "public" information, consider a player who starts the turn with the Renowned Builder and two structures. That player could buy a treasure (up to 2 glory), upgrade a ship (1 glory), build a structure (1 glory), claim the RB's bonus (1 glory), and claim the structure milestone (3 glory). That's ... at least 8 glory, and is achievable in Game 1. That could take you from 3 glory to claiming the game win in one turn!


Yes, you are totally right with this example. My thoughts broken up into pieces:

A) I specifically meant the glory swings from achieving milestones or having a milestone achieved by another player before you can attain it are 2-3 glory (or at least that's all I know of so far). Even in your 8 glory example, another player could theoretically pull off the same maneuver, but just for 5 glory.
B) For the extreme example in the first game, that would be a 22 cost treasure, and minimum of 10 gold upgrade and structure (not to mention the previous gold expended to purchase the RB advisor). So either 42 gold or 26 gold and two resource discounts minimum. So yes, that would be extreme, and therefore I would go as far to say if a player can manage to pull that off, they practically deserve the win right there (I'm sure later in the campaign this isn't as miraculous, but for game 1, my thought process stands)
C) Definitely agree with your more common example though. I still have very mixed feelings on the advisors that allow two glory for an action, as these seemed to be the key in our first game and the players who had these advisors and used them in both years received a big glory boost.

I would say that in our game an "ok" turn is where you gain 1 glory, a good turn is "2-3", and the only swings greater than that were when a player achieved a milestone on top of this. Our game took 7 rounds, and the leader finished with 13 glory (achieved 3 in the last round), so he was averaging just under 2 glory per turn. He achieved one 3 glory milestone in the game, so even if someone would have beat him to this, he would have still finished with 10 glory and averaged just under 1.5 glory per turn.
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David desJardins
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Tsquared025 wrote:
I would say that in our game an "ok" turn is where you gain 1 glory, a good turn is "2-3", and the only swings greater than that were when a player achieved a milestone on top of this.


But you've only played one game. It gets more swingy, that's what people are telling you.
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Travis Talaric
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That's fair. But I can only review what we've seen so far. Hence the title of the review being through only the Prologue and Game 1. I will comment on that when I get there.
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soak man
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Glad your 5-player game is going well. Mine is.. well... people have to work.

I have all the time in the world right now, but 3 of my 5 have very busy schedules. ATM we are trying to play weekly on Thursdays beginning at 6pm and the game last night ran until about 11:00. We only just finished the 2nd game after prologue. Glory targets get higher and I assume games just get longer.

Although I want to finish, I'm not sure we will be able to with the 5 of us. I wish, personally, that I had only invited 4. I can't very well just kick someone out to shorten the playtime now, lol.
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Travis Talaric
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GAME TWO RECAP:

Alright. Got our second full game in last night. First a quick recap of the game, and then updated thoughts.

Duration: 1 year and 3 rounds (3 hours 10 minutes - including close of game and unlocking a new unlock time)

Game glory: 13-12-11-11-11
Campaign glory: 24-20-28-27-16


We started this game with the first unlock now in play. With one game under our belts and players better understanding the mechanics/ strategies, this game was very down to the wire. In fact, the last round started with a player obtaining 12 glory, but the round finished with the last place player in the game (who happened to go last in the round) gaining 4 glory via a brilliant milestone achieved to come from behind to take the win. We had our first ship sunk this game, first 2 islands discovered, and shift in most players strategy from island exploration to a buy/ sell/ build focus (primarily due to the 4 close islands being nearly 100% explored). A very exciting game.

Immediate impressions. Everyone is still loving this game. So much so, that when we realized a player will be out of town next week, we scheduled a two game session for this Saturday to ensure we can keep advancing our campaign.

Thoughts on the catch up mechanics
Not perfect, but as good as we could have hoped for. If you are following this thread, you can see that after the first game, we had a 9 point spread from first place to last place, and now after the second game, that spread is 8 glory. It is worth noting though that the last place player coming out of the first game, won the second game. I am now currently the last place player, but definitely do not feel "out of contention" in the campaign. In fact, I feel I have a legitimate shot at winning our next game and closing this gap.

Updated thoughts on milestones and glory swings
By the second game, we had available milestones worth 4 glory. One of these were even obtained at the end of the game to achieve victory for the winning player in our last round. We still feel that the amount of glory obtained by this milestone was appropriate, even though it swung him from last to first in the last round. It was a very close game, and a great setup by him to pull this off, so we think this was deserved.

I do have one criticism though that contains a spoiler related to a milestone unlocked with the first box unlock:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
There is a 4 glory milestone with an unlock for discovering a specific type of site. As far as I know, what you uncover when you explore an island site is pretty random (you can get an idea of the different type of rewards you might uncover based off the symbol), so I don't like the idea that someone may just stumble onto this milestone instead of strategically achieving it. I much better liked the original explore milestone of exploring a 6+ site, as then this took some of the randomness out of the equation. No one has yet achieved this milestone though, so maybe it will make more sense once achieved.


Guild Balancing
After game 1, we were a bit afraid that the traders guild was under powered compared to the other three. I just wanted clarify now that we are through are second full game, that this is not true. The traders guild is just as viable as all the other guilds.

We will likely plays games 3 and 4 on Saturday, so I will update this post at the end of the weekend with how we're feeling at that point.
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j n
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Tsquared025 wrote:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
We started this game with the ship combat unlock now in play.


Might want to spoil this part?

Thanks for continuing to post your thoughts.
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Travis Talaric
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Yes, you're probably right and I'll change it. I was just on the fence as it is referenced in the rule initial rule book, so it should come as no surprise. But I guess it is a "spoiler" to know when it becomes unlocked. Thanks for your read!
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j n
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Yeah, that's what I was thinking. It's probably not *that* surprising what order some of these things unlock in, but it's probably worth hiding just in case.

Also
Spoiler (click to reveal)
discovering new islands
could get hidden, but that's even more obvious that it should come out early.
 
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Nathanaël Dufour
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Tsquared025 wrote:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
There is a 4 glory milestone with an unlock for discovering a specific type of site. As far as I know, what you uncover when you explore an island site is pretty random (you can get an idea of the different type of rewards you might uncover based off the symbol), so I don't like the idea that someone may just stumble onto this milestone instead of strategically achieving it. I much better liked the original explore milestone of exploring a 6+ site, as then this took some of the randomness out of the equation. No one has yet achieved this milestone though, so maybe it will make more sense once achieved.




Spoilers for box 3 (the one with a Temple on it)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It does actually work the same way as the original "explore" milestone. Tombs can be found in only some sites, and those need a really high level of exploration. We found one on game 2, granting one player a huge amount of glory, but that's because she overspecialized in exploration, took a huge risk, got lucky, and it STILL cost her a lot in making her an easy target for raiding.

 
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Frank Pelkofer
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Osuniev wrote:
Tsquared025 wrote:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
There is a 4 glory milestone with an unlock for discovering a specific type of site. As far as I know, what you uncover when you explore an island site is pretty random (you can get an idea of the different type of rewards you might uncover based off the symbol), so I don't like the idea that someone may just stumble onto this milestone instead of strategically achieving it. I much better liked the original explore milestone of exploring a 6+ site, as then this took some of the randomness out of the equation. No one has yet achieved this milestone though, so maybe it will make more sense once achieved.




Spoilers for box 3 (the one with a Temple on it)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It does actually work the same way as the original "explore" milestone. Tombs can be found in only some sites, and those need a really high level of exploration. We found one on game 2, granting one player a huge amount of glory, but that's because she overspecialized in exploration, took a huge risk, got lucky, and it STILL cost her a lot in making her an easy target for raiding.



More spoilers for box 3
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I believe the complaint is that everyone knows exactly where to go to explore a 6+ site. It's not at all obvious where to go to explore a tomb or find the strange map.
 
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Travis Talaric
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countertorque wrote:
Osuniev wrote:
Tsquared025 wrote:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
There is a 4 glory milestone with an unlock for discovering a specific type of site. As far as I know, what you uncover when you explore an island site is pretty random (you can get an idea of the different type of rewards you might uncover based off the symbol), so I don't like the idea that someone may just stumble onto this milestone instead of strategically achieving it. I much better liked the original explore milestone of exploring a 6+ site, as then this took some of the randomness out of the equation. No one has yet achieved this milestone though, so maybe it will make more sense once achieved.




Spoilers for box 3 (the one with a Temple on it)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It does actually work the same way as the original "explore" milestone. Tombs can be found in only some sites, and those need a really high level of exploration. We found one on game 2, granting one player a huge amount of glory, but that's because she overspecialized in exploration, took a huge risk, got lucky, and it STILL cost her a lot in making her an easy target for raiding.



More spoilers for box 3
Spoiler (click to reveal)
I believe the complaint is that everyone knows exactly where to go to explore a 6+ site. It's not at all obvious where to go to explore a tomb or find the strange map.


Correct. We have now played games 3 and 4 (review to come soon) where this milestone was achieved, and I believe that this milestone could have been much more effectively written by doing the below (reveal to the temple unlock box):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
From what I now understand, these tombs are always discovered from the skull icons on the map, so I think it would have been much more clear and felt less random to say that this milestone would be achieved once was of these "skull" sites were successfully explored.
 
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David desJardins
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Tsquared025 wrote:
We have now played games 3 and 4 (review to come soon) where this milestone was achieved, and I believe that this milestone could have been much more effectively written by doing the below (reveal to the temple unlock box)


The whole point is to NOT tell you stuff and you have to try to figure it out from some hints. If the goal of the game were to tell you what to do in advance, why have unlocks or anything?
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Will
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Tsquared025 wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
From what I now understand, these tombs are always discovered from the skull icons on the map, so I think it would have been much more clear and felt less random to say that this milestone would be achieved once was of these "skull" sites were successfully explored.
This is false.
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