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Subject: Seafall Review: No Spoilers, 7 Games in, 4 Players rss

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Grant Rodiek
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Hi! My group has played 7 games of Seafall, all with 4 players, and I wanted to write a quick mid-campaign review. Our games tend to last about 2 hours in length. The score is very close for two players, third place is just a little behind, and fourth place (me) is a bit behind.

At a very high level, I would compare the game very strongly, and positively, to Merchants and Marauders, which is one of my favorite games. There are many similarities, including:

-A variety of ship upgrades
-PVP and PVE combat, the former of which an be painful and damaging
-Multiple paths to victory: merchant, scoundrel, explorer
-Global Events that change thing
-Economy based on transporting goods, scarcity

Also, the pacing is very similar. In Seafall, your turn is choosing to hire an advisor or buy a treasure (typically the former), then you take two actions from a category. Some of these actions need to be resolved, you might discover something so there are follow up effects. Merchants and Marauders gives you 3 Actions. Basically, between both there are many things that can happen, so if you're playing with four or five players, there will be a little downtime.

Know about it, bring a beer, sit with people you like, or join in on the story.

If you like M&M, and like the idea of it being a legacy game? You will like Seafall.

I really enjoy many of the Legacy elements in Seafall. You're going to slowly upgrade your ship stats, improve your income, cards will be removed and improved for all, islands will be discovered with a variety of gameplay, economic, and story consequences.

The game seems to have a nice "catch up" mechanism, but once you get a bit behind you might stay behind for a bit. I won games 6 and 7, finally, so perhaps I'm on the rise now? It's a marathon, not a sprint. But, some key things you should know:

1. I don't think this is a good game for the super competitive. I don't think it's why you should play this game. I think the game is fair, and it seems balanced. BUT, because it is a campaign, losing hurts emotionally more. Also, sometimes the game will just screw you. You might get very unlucky exploring something, your friend might raid your ship, or someone might complete a milestone out from under you. Take a breath, keep playing. Enjoy the story and the world you're building together.

2. The game will emotionally affect you. I just want to repeat that. You will lose sometimes. You will have something stolen. It sucks. I think that is purely the Legacy element. Thankfully, karma rolls around and it'll eventually take care of you. Or it should. But, you might get frustrated sometimes, I have been, from this game.

There are some things I really like about the game:

1. The endeavor system is elegant and flexible. This is how you resolve conflict, whether you're attacking a friend or exploring an island. You roll dice based on stats and modifiers. X successes determine your success and various demerits will inflict damage. It grows with you in challenge and output, and it's shared, so you don't need to learn 8 different systems.

2. I really enjoy the story book. I think it's fun.

3. The game is effectively a group worldbuilding exercise. I think that's the heart of this game. Again, I think that's really fun.

4. Naming things is always a hoot in a Legacy experience.

5. At 2 hours, I think games feel both substantial and relatively short. We can knock out two games in a game night if we get started on time, maybe three on a marathon Saturday.

So, who is this game for?
-Storytellers
-Friends who don't mind fighting each other
-People who know how to mitigate, anticipate,and deal with fortune

Who should avoid this game?
-People who are really AP. It's a Legacy game, don't overthink 30 hours of gameplay. Everyone will hate you.
-The hyper competitive. Some of the poor fortune resulting from story moments or PVP will upset your plans and you'll rage quit.
-The person who won't get off their phone. There's a little down time. Don't be that gamer!

If you have questions, feel free to ask!

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David desJardins
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I like M&M and like the legacy idea but I don't particularly like SeaFall. I feel that M&M did a much better job with careful development and rules writing. It's more clear and more balanced.
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Grant Rodiek
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I like M&M and like the legacy idea but I don't particularly like SeaFall. I feel that M&M did a much better job with careful development and rules writing. It's more clear and more balanced.


*shrug*

We've had zero rules issues.

I've found that both M&M and Seafall screw me over equally.
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Nathanaël Dufour
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I agree with most of this review !
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Jason Pisani
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I'm surprised you had no rules issues. We've had a few debates and had to go back to the book several times in our 5 plays.
Good reveiew.
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Grant Rodiek
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iamthepisani wrote:
I'm surprised you had no rules issues. We've had a few debates and had to go back to the book several times in our 5 plays.
Good reveiew.


We've always felt the designer's intent was clear.
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lucus Trout
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HerrohGrant wrote:
iamthepisani wrote:
I'm surprised you had no rules issues. We've had a few debates and had to go back to the book several times in our 5 plays.
Good reveiew.


We've always felt the designer's intent was clear.


This might be where you are doing better than my group and some that I've read about on here. We tend to like a solid answer and somehow one of us always disagrees on the designer's intent (not always the same person, just in many situations we often have a dissenter). Luckily the 3 of us that are playing Seafall tend to be able to work those issues out quickly and are enjoying the game, albeit with some grumbles about the rules.

I really appreciate your section on "who would like this game". I wish I had seen one of those before purchasing. I think I would've purchased it but might have suggested it to a slightly different subset of my normal gaming group.
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Grant Rodiek
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lucusvonlucus wrote:
HerrohGrant wrote:
iamthepisani wrote:
I'm surprised you had no rules issues. We've had a few debates and had to go back to the book several times in our 5 plays.
Good reveiew.


We've always felt the designer's intent was clear.


This might be where you are doing better than my group and some that I've read about on here. We tend to like a solid answer and somehow one of us always disagrees on the designer's intent (not always the same person, just in many situations we often have a dissenter). Luckily the 3 of us that are playing Seafall tend to be able to work those issues out quickly and are enjoying the game, albeit with some grumbles about the rules.

I really appreciate your section on "who would like this game". I wish I had seen one of those before purchasing. I think I would've purchased it but might have suggested it to a slightly different subset of my normal gaming group.


So, I tend to not game with hyper competitive rules lawyer types. They tend to suck the fun out of everything.

Also, 3 of the 4 of us are game designers (professionally) and one is a game developer with me. So, we feel comfortable talking about games and arriving at a logical destination quickly.

For example, I'm in dead last, and I try not to wield that as a cudgel to get calls in my direction. In the same way I think flopping makes soccer unwatchable, people who argue over every rule...are just tiresome.
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Kain W.
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HerrohGrant wrote:
iamthepisani wrote:
I'm surprised you had no rules issues. We've had a few debates and had to go back to the book several times in our 5 plays.
Good reveiew.


We've always felt the designer's intent was clear.


Agree very much on this.
From my very limited view currently I have the feeling that Seafall is a long story - and not a competitve game which is made for rule lawyers and ultra balance.
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Becq Starforged
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I'm not sure that I agree that SeaFall is "not a competitive game"...
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Grant Rodiek
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Becq wrote:
I'm not sure that I agree that SeaFall is "not a competitive game"...


I think you should play to win. I think you should try. I think you should be excited by victory and saddened by defeat.

I don't think that's the main joy to be found from this game.

I also think if you tie yourself solely to that end you may find yourself more disappointed than, say, a game of Concordia.
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Kain W.
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HerrohGrant wrote:
Becq wrote:
I'm not sure that I agree that SeaFall is "not a competitive game"...


I think you should play to win. I think you should try. I think you should be excited by victory and saddened by defeat.

I don't think that's the main joy to be found from this game.

I also think if you tie yourself solely to that end you may find yourself more disappointed than, say, a game of Concordia.

Thanks - that is what I wanted to express. It is not a game to play WAAC or have your optimal opening builds like Terra Mystica for every Race.
It is more to enjoy the world and make the best out of it - and aiming for the win.
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"-The hyper competitive. Some of the poor fortune resulting from story moments or PVP will upset your plans and you'll rage quit."

I wouldn't say I'm hypercompetitive. For me it's perfectly natural to be upset when I get a story moment that results in the death of an adviser vs a story moment that results in 8 VP. Those fat tails in the probability distribution without that many ways to mitigate the chances is the death knell to any sort of strategy I could hope to have. Go ahead and try and plan more than two turns in advance and see what happens. The legacy concept, as it is currently implemented in the two competitive legacy games out, existentially cannot coexist with long-term strategy.

"-The person who won't get off their phone. There's a little down time. Don't be that gamer!"

HA! I'm in a group of 4, and I get to do a turn once maybe every ten minutes due to the game board changing every turn due to random BS events or two people exploring and having to read an entry from a book. And heaven forbid you go from first or second turn to third or fourth during a winter.
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Wade Broadhead
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"Basically, between both there are many things that can happen, so if you're playing with four or five players, there will be a little downtime.

Know about it, bring a beer, sit with people you like, or join in on the story."


You sir are my hero, one of my favorite lines on BGG. I'm loving any game that forces me to hang out with my best friends every other week!
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Grant Rodiek
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denverarch wrote:
"Basically, between both there are many things that can happen, so if you're playing with four or five players, there will be a little downtime.

Know about it, bring a beer, sit with people you like, or join in on the story."


You sir are my hero, one of my favorite lines on BGG. I'm loving any game that forces me to hang out with my best friends every other week!


Glad you liked it!
 
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Karl Kindt
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This review is suspect because of the comment "There's a little down time." There is a ton of down time. Most of the game is down time. You will spend most of your time on this game waiting for others to do things while you have no chance to plan anything because of the nature of the game. If you spend 30 hour playing this, you will spend about 8 of those hours actually thinking about and playing the game itself. The rest is spend repeatedly looking up rules that are not very well written and wishing you could check your social media without fellow (bored) players yelling at you for looking at your phone (which probably has way more interesting things on it than this game has in it).
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Grant Rodiek
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karlkindt4 wrote:
This review is suspect because of the comment "There's a little down time." There is a ton of down time. Most of the game is down time. You will spend most of your time on this game waiting for others to do things while you have no chance to plan anything because of the nature of the game. If you spend 30 hour playing this, you will spend about 8 of those hours actually thinking about and playing the game itself. The rest is spend repeatedly looking up rules that are not very well written and wishing you could check your social media without fellow (bored) players yelling at you for looking at your phone (which probably has way more interesting things on it than this game has in it).


That's not my experience. Hence, I wrote the review I wrote.
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Nathanaël Dufour
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karlkindt4 wrote:
This review is suspect because of the comment "There's a little down time." There is a ton of down time. Most of the game is down time. You will spend most of your time on this game waiting for others to do things while you have no chance to plan anything because of the nature of the game. If you spend 30 hour playing this, you will spend about 8 of those hours actually thinking about and playing the game itself. The rest is spend repeatedly looking up rules that are not very well written and wishing you could check your social media without fellow (bored) players yelling at you for looking at your phone (which probably has way more interesting things on it than this game has in it).


You obviously had a bad experience playing. I personally loved the game, and in my 4 player campaign we don't have much downtime either.
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Grant Rodiek
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karlkindt4 wrote:
This review is suspect because of the comment


I find this comment alone just ridiculous.

"This review is suspect because..."

You find MY OPINION suspect because MY OPINION is different than YOUR OPINION? Come on dude!

Lighten up.

You can disagree. You can offer counter-points. Leave out the insults.
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CRC

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Sounds like you are having a generally positive experience. Thumbs up!

Our group plays with 5 players. We are 7 sessions in and have done a good job of mitigating downtime.

Minimizing the downtime isn't rocket science; everyone just makes sure they don't wait until the last second to plan their actions. We all stay attentive and have 80% of what we want to do figured out by the time it gets to us. Of course there are circumstances that might alter things i.e. you get raided or your ship gets sunk, but pretty much we stay proactive.

One challenge we have had is that two of the five players are hyper competitive and focus hard on hitting the victory point objective as fast and efficiently as possible. Between the two of them, they have won every session we've played except one. That has given them some significant advantages in province/leader upgrades. They are also the only two that have colonies so far. With the rest of us wanting to explore and advance story, it's created a situation where we are playing catch up pretty hard.

No one wants to be "that guy" raiding the top two provinces to keep them in check, but we may have to collectively do that.

It would have been nice if the story unfolded a bit quicker and if the designer had done a better job of making sure the 4 play styles (Explorer, Raider, Merchant, Researcher) remained engaging and rewarding at every stage of the game.

So far we are sticking it out in the hope it gets better, but I'd say generally our group is pretty "meh" about Seafall.
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Grant Rodiek
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Bomanic wrote:
Sounds like you are having a generally positive experience. Thumbs up!

Our group plays with 5 players. We are 7 sessions in and have done a good job of mitigating downtime.

Minimizing the downtime isn't rocket science; everyone just makes sure they don't wait until the last second to plan their actions. We all stay attentive and have 80% of what we want to do figured out by the time it gets to us. Of course there are circumstances that might alter things i.e. you get raided or your ship gets sunk, but pretty much we stay proactive.

One challenge we have had is that two of the five players are hyper competitive and focus hard on hitting the victory point objective as fast and efficiently as possible. Between the two of them, they have won every session we've played except one. That has given them some significant advantages in province/leader upgrades. They are also the only two that have colonies so far. With the rest of us wanting to explore and advance story, it's created a situation where we are playing catch up pretty hard.

No one wants to be "that guy" raiding the top two provinces to keep them in check, but we may have to collectively do that.

It would have been nice if the story unfolded a bit quicker and if the designer had done a better job of making sure the 4 play styles (Explorer, Raider, Merchant, Researcher) remained engaging and rewarding at every stage of the game.

So far we are sticking it out in the hope it gets better, but I'd say generally our group is pretty "meh" about Seafall.


I focused on exploring earlier and found it wasn't very viable for victory. I didn't win until our...7th game? And I didn't use exploring to do it. Exploring is dangerous b/c you can get hit with events that are not predictable. I DO wish exploring was a bit more viable, but later on when certain things happen, the rewards do ratchet up.

I'd say exploring should be a supplemental path, not the main one.

I think my biggest frustration is that playing immorally, aka raiding, doesn't really seem to have that many penalties. My friend Matt has soaked the region in blood against players, NPCs...and it never seems to bite him. Yes, there's an island or two he can't use, but...so many others he still can!

I always tried to make the moral, good choice and...it doesn't seem to pay off? Maybe I've played too many Bioware RPGs, but that is maybe my biggest frustration.
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I'm in the same boat as you. I have upgraded my larger ship to max Raid and have an adviser that not only adds 5 raid dice but also nullifies 2 enmity.

Realistically, I can raid the crap out of islands and my fellow players with few repercussions ... but ruining other players fun and causing a negative play experience isn't my idea of fun.

Guess I got my hopes up for a game of exploration and compelling narrative and so far Seafall has fallen a bit short. Then again we have a couple boxes yet to be opened so ...... *fingers crossed*
 
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j n
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Bomanic wrote:
I'm in the same boat as you. I have upgraded my larger ship to max Raid and have an adviser that not only adds 5 raid dice but also nullifies 2 enmity.


I mean, this is still the kind of thing that shouldn't be lasting forever. For one thing, if you win a game the other players shouldn't be letting you keep that advisor.

And I mean, even if you don't win, they're allowed to steal him from you.
 
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Jeff M
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I like M&M and like the legacy idea but I don't particularly like SeaFall. I feel that M&M did a much better job with careful development and rules writing. It's more clear and more balanced.


David, I see you currently rate SeaFall a "9". Has that changed?
 
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Wes M.
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I'm curious how you get screwed over? My game group is 3 games in (+ prologue), and we've had a great time. Each player has lagged behind in each game, which tells me that the game is doing a good job balancing. Players with lower scores get a small boost, while players in top ranks don't necessarily have any advantages or disadvantages, or at least any advantage comes with a disadvantage. It does a great job of preventing players from getting the "benefit snowball" effect.
 
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