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Subject: Great Western Trail vs. Terraforming Mars vs Feast for Odin? rss

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Ryan Kamemoto
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Hi All,

This has been a great year for boardgaming. Two of my favorite games this year(and maybe in my Top 10 all time) are Terraforming Mars and Feast For Odin.

How does Great Western Trail compare to these? I enjoy worker placement/action selection games quite a bit.

Much Regards!
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Sergio Perez
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Those are two of my favorite games from this year as well, and I put GWT about half a step ahead of either of them so far. I think it's my favorite game of the year right now. I will say that I prefer Mombasa slightly over GWT, but that was my game of the year last year. Pfister has really been knocking it out of the park lately.
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Chris Smith
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I think for me, order of preference:
1. A Feast for Odin
2. Great Western Trail
3. Terraforming Mars

They're all fantastic, but are also all quite unique and all have a place in someones collection. The former is probably my favourite, but I have only played the others once, and my current most 'want to play' of them is Great Western Trail.

Feast (Played ~5 Times) is a great worker placement game with an interesting tile-placement mechanism. For me, I totally love that part, particularly as you can get treasure tiles that are odd shapes and get you thinking on how to use them effectively. There's lots of different paths to victory and you can have quite a different experience each game.

GWT (Played Once) is quite an interesting experience of interlocking mechanisms. You have the 2 major things of trying to build your cattle deck for good deliveries, and figure out the best way to time things (Since you can move slow and take lots of actions, or fast and deliver many times). Super excited to play this one some more.

Terraforming Mars (Played Once) is...ok. The card part is really fun, but the awards feel like they were slapped on top of an otherwise finished game. I do really like the cooperative (Despite being competitive) feel of working towards making Mars habitable, which certainly has me wanting to place some more.
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Robert
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darkangel23 wrote:
Hi All,

This has been a great year for boardgaming. Two of my favorite games this year(and maybe in my Top 10 all time) are Terraforming Mars and Feast For Odin.

How does Great Western Trail compare to these? I enjoy worker placement/action selection games quite a bit.

Much Regards!
I've played two games of Terraforming Mars so far, and 3.3 games of A Feast for Odin (the 0.3 was at the fair in Essen, where a slot lasted only 1h15m including teaching whistle), so my opinion on these is less reliable than my opinion about GWT (and I feel I'm still only scratching the GWT surface ).

All three are great games, and all involve more luck than complex games normally do:
In Terraforming Mars, you may draw great cards, or you may not. In my first game I had some beautiful cards at the beginning which gave me an early income boost, whereas in my second game it took way longer to ramp up my engine while my opponents already had great income on titan etc.
In A Feast for Odin, hunting and pillaging require the roll of a dice (heresy! ), and in one game one of my opponents was extremely unlucky with his rolls so that his strategy totally fell apart.
In GWT, you can influence the probability of a good herd in your hand, but there's still quite a bit of luck involved. In my fifth game or so I didn't get decent herds for delivery on any of my first 3-4 cycles (despite taking the "change cards" auxiliary action), I never had the fitting cattle to get 2$ for the cattle or worker market etc. Very frustrating...

Timewise, I feel that GWT is the fastest of the three games. AFfO is the closest to "worker placement", GWT is more "worker movement" and TM has nothing of it.
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Sergio Perez
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DocCool wrote:
All three are great games, and all involve more luck than complex games normally do:


This is quite true. It's the year of adding random elements to Euro mechanics, it seems, but each of the games has some degree of mitigation.


DocCool wrote:
In Terraforming Mars, you may draw great cards, or you may not. In my first game I had some beautiful cards at the beginning which gave me an early income boost, whereas in my second game it took way longer to ramp up my engine while my opponents already had great income on titan etc.


Yup. That was the very first irritant I experienced during my first play of Terraforming Mars as well. Playing the draft variant helps a good deal. In fact, after playing the draft variant, I wouldn't even want to play the game the old way. I disliked the luck of the draw element THAT much.


DocCool wrote:
In A Feast for Odin, hunting and pillaging require the roll of a dice (heresy! ), and in one game one of my opponents was extremely unlucky with his rolls so that his strategy totally fell apart.


You do get 3 rolls and several mitigating factors, but yeah, sometimes the unlucky roll is a pain in the ass. The consolation prizes are helpful, but your strat can be set back a tad if the die is not in your favor. It's the one element of A Feast for Odin that I moderately dislike. I absolutely love the rest of the game though. It's amazing!


DocCool wrote:
In GWT, you can influence the probability of a good herd in your hand, but there's still quite a bit of luck involved.


There is. Over time, there are a few mechanics that really help you tune your deck and avoid bad deliveries, but early on you can be at the mercy of your draws. I don't think a few suboptimal deliveries early impacts the mid to late game too significantly, but I really need a few more plays before I arrive at a more definitive opinion.

DocCool wrote:
Timewise, I feel that GWT is the fastest of the three games. AFfO is the closest to "worker placement", GWT is more "worker movement" and TM has nothing of it.


GWT is definitely the fastest of the three, and it is the easiest of the three to get to the table, at least for my group. With seasoned players, I can definitely see four player games ending in less than 90 minutes on a regular basis. Also, about halfway through my first GWT play I had an epiphany. It's essentially a rondel.

Ranking wise, GWT and AFfO are #1 and #2 for me right now, and the latter may overtake the former with more plays. Terraforming Mars is solidly third of those three, even playing the draft variant.
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Jonas Vanschooren
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Haven't played terraforming Mars, but love both Odin and GWT.
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Steven Durst
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I disagree on the luck from dice in Feast for Odin being bad. It is about mitigation. If you go whaling with a single whaling ship and no harpoons you deserve everything coming to you when you can't roll a 1 on a d12. However, if you prepare for those dice rolls, you'll be alright.

Also, you can go the whole game without rolling dice if you are really against it.
 
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Curt Frantz
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I've played GWT 1x, Odin 3x, and TM 5x. They're all very different, so it's hard to make direct comparisons. I find that GWT is probably the longest of these games (maybe similar to Odin, once everyone is familiar) and has the least payoff at the end. I still think it's an enjoyable game, but it just doesn't feel like I'm doing as many cool things during the course of the game. It's very methodical and feels long for the sake of being long. The game/mechanics are interesting and unique, but it feels rough around the edges from a practical standpoint. It's going to take 30-45 minutes to teach and 3.5ish hours to play with new players. It's simply not going to get played much in my groups. My order of preference is:

1. Terraforming Mars (BGG scale: 9)
2. A Feast for Odin (8.5)
3. Great Western Trail (7)

I don't find the dice to be a problem in Odin. As pointed out above, it's easy to mitigate the rolls, and the game is very forgiving if you happen to fail. I've not seen a player significantly hampered by failing a roll. It's a very euro-gamey way to integrate dice.
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Mathue Faulk
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I haven't played TM, but I've played GWT 3x, and Odin 2x (all 2p). As others have said, it's difficult to completely compare the games since they are quite different, but I can give some generalizations between Odin and GWT.

From a first game perspective, the two games were quite different experiences. The rules explanation took A LOT longer in GWT than Odin, and the it definitely seemed more intimidating to my wife at first blush. As we started playing the games, however, GWT became a much smoother and less intimidating game. Odin, on the other hand, was still pretty intimidating even on a 2nd play. Turns are quick in GWT, and for the most part, the game isn't that AP prone. Odin, on the other hand, was definitely more prone to AP from start to finish even on a 2nd play. Note that my wife is very susceptible to AP so I may be hypersensitive to that aspect in games (i.e. haven't really looked at Five Tribes too much because it just screams AP to me). The first half of our first game of GWT took a long time, but the game definitely became quicker down the stretch. Odin, however, was pretty slow the entire way through. Our 2nd play of Odin was faster, but it still took 2.5-3 hours. Our 2nd and 3rd plays of GWT took less than 1.5 hours.

From a gameplay standpoint, both games are point salad games, but they are point salad games that make you work for points. Some point salad games give you points for breathing, but neither of these games are like that. Players earn their points. Both games are lower on the interaction scale, but I'd argue that there is a bit more interaction in 2p GWT than 2p Odin...although I could see an argument either way. There is luck in both games, but I don't think the luck overshadows skill or depth of play in either game.

I personally prefer GWT for its smoother gameplay and unique mechanisms. It just feels fresh, and I find myself thinking about strategies often. The pacing is better, and the game doesn't drag due to AP in our group. It's easier to get to the table for us. I had Odin on the table ready to play this week, and I was tempted several times to tear it down in order to setup GWT. We actually played Odin last night, and I immediately setup GWT for tonight hopefully. Having said that, both games are great, and I may change my mind a month from now. It's kind of a shame that they were both released at the same time, because they're fighting against each other for table time even though they're both excellent games.

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Robert
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Wario83 wrote:
I disagree on the luck from dice in Feast for Odin being bad.
It requires luck, and that's heresy for a Uwe Rosenberg game!

Wario83 wrote:
It is about mitigation. If you go whaling with a single whaling ship and no harpoons you deserve everything coming to you when you can't roll a 1 on a d12. However, if you prepare for those dice rolls, you'll be alright.
You forgot to mention the mitigation with iron... Also, you cannot mitigate against really bad luck (e.g. three 1s/2s/3s in a row), and if you compensate with tons of harpoons, your mitigation potential will be non-existent next time, forcing you to completely rely on the luck of the dice.

Wario83 wrote:
Also, you can go the whole game without rolling dice if you are really against it.
Bleh - hunting/whaling/pillaging is a core strategy choice of the game, so "don't use it" is like saying you should play Chess without castling.
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David Janik-Jones
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DocCool wrote:
Bleh - hunting/whaling/pillaging is a core strategy choice of the game, so "don't use it" is like saying you should play Chess without castling.

I prefer king-side, because the other way means I've moved my queen earlier than I normally like.
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Michael Zehnal
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Having played all three at least a few times apiece, I would rank these as follows:

1st Great Western Trail - theme is great, love the random game set up, game is replayable and your strategy changes as game board develops. Would like to see more objective cards on the table to choose from rather than just 4 (so dependant on timing of when you can take and the choices can be all wrong for particular players). Have not seen people utilize the hazard trails much.

2nd Terraforming Mars - feels like Mars, diverse cards makes every game unique and the game end conditions are great. Not sure I really like the attack cards. Also, you may have trouble drawing cards that fit your corporation, I don't think drafting helps much (since players should just keep cards that benefit other and it slows down the game as you should determine what other players need).

3rd Feast for Odin - theme is not as strong. Fun and replayable. However, I find filling in the puzzle on player boards is fun but goofy. Dice can be brutal.

Nonetheless, all are good 2016 games along with Lorenzo.
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Loren Cadelinia
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I just finished my first game of Great Western Trail, I feel I can now weigh in on this thread. All of these plays were with two players.

Terraforming Mars: This one is my favorite of the 3. This is probably the most intuitive of the 3, which is great for me when I teach this games to new players. I love the theme and the theme integration with the mechanics. The card play is just fun (tons of cards and combos) and the engine/tableau building is quite satisfying. Turns are quick and the pacing is good. There is a little bit of spite on some of the cards, but plenty of nonagressive intraction to make this game feel tight and every decision agonizing (racing for tile placement, awards, milestones, global parameters).

I like the interesting mechanic of being able to do 1 or 2 actions on your turn... more good decision agonizing, playing chicken, and paying attention to opponent goals/resources. I always like it when games have the option for asymmetric starting powers. My nitpick, as many others have complained about is the player boards being bumped. I purchased the acrylic overlays- I think they are a great addition, reduce the fiddliness, and make this game even more amazing, but at an extra cost. There are 4 expansions planned, super excited to see what directions they go!

Feast for Odin: This is my wife's favorite of the 3. We both love the variety of actions and the puzzle element. We are both fans of Agricola and Ora et Labora. Feast scratches several new itches, while still giving us some semblance of ramping up actions/feeding from Agricola, and the spacial aspect of Ora. We both really like the use of dice, as it provides some extra excitement. There is plenty of modifying, push your luck x2 (3 total rolls), and not the worst thing to fail or choose to fail.

There's some good brain burn constantly deciding between surrounding bonuses vs covering up bonuses for income. We both agree that the theme is least integrated in this game -"Why are we laying this crucifix and treasure chest on the ground?". Win or lose, your creation is worth admiring at the end of the game (one of our favorite things about Agricola and Ora). There is so much to explore in this game!

Great Western Trail: Only played this once, and my wife and I enjoyed our play. The interplay between the deck building and racing around the rondell is very clever. It has a unique pacing and timing to it - stalling for improving your hand, while racing in competition for the right workers, cattle market, train station bonuses, and not falling too behind on the engine track so as to not take advantage of leap frogging.

It does feel the most point-salady of the the three games. The artwork is probably the best of the three. Our game had quite a few crafstmen (relative to the cowboys and engineers). I know now there is a variant to reduce this in a two player game, so I'll have to try it again to prevent this. We still had an awesome experience and look forward to more plays.



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