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Subject: Kraftwagen - An I, Geek Four-Headed Dragon Review rss

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Makis
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Desperately attempting to never take ourselves too seriously for both our own sanity and the greater good! Enjoy our debut review!


Brian
Pros:
This game uses the same time/action selection mechanic found in Matthias Cramer’s other game Glen More. The action selection mechanic works great here. Skipping way out ahead to take the tile you want/need really puts a tough decision on you. By going too far, multiple turns by other players before you go choose again can be devastating. By just taking single moves, you risk not getting what you really need. I never felt this conflict in Glen More as it always seemed worthwhile to go get the tile that would get you the most points. I also enjoyed the aged look of the board. Many say it’s too muted and dull looking, but I think it fits the theme really well. It’s classy and elegant, and when you see all the different classic bodies of Mercedes, BMW, Maybach and Bugattis, it just fits.

Cons: So many extra bonus points for being first to complete an event (Complete a racing lap, be the first to build a 7 engine, be the first to build a 7 chassis, etc). Normally, this wouldn’t bother me. However, since everyone starts out with different starting stats that all lead themselves to helping you complete one of these things, a majority of the time, it feels like you are just being handed 7 points because you started out ahead. It just doesn’t feel like there is much competition from other players to actually race to complete these things. We didn’t play with it, but I’ve heard from many sources that the V6 edition chips are also OP and too game changing.

Summary: Although I missed it upon its original release, I’m glad I discovered it. I enjoyed it so much, I played it twice at BGG.Con 2016 and purchased it in the BGG Bazaar (formerly the Flea Market) when I saw it for sale. It will probably replace Glen More for me.

Rating: I give it a solid 7/10


Mark
Pros:
Much like Glen More, also created by Matthias Cramer, the role/activity selection mechanism works very well in Kraftwagen. You can essentially choose whatever role/activity you want but the farther on the track you go the longer you’ll have to wait until your next turn. It works very well here. The game is simply wonderful as it offers so many different options. While there’s probably only one real path to victory, the multitude of options certainly makes the game feel wide open, which can be freeing when compared to other similar role/activity selection games like Agricola. That’s not to say this game is a “point salad” like so many Felds. In the end, while you can still gain points through a variety of avenues, the main crux of the game comes down to the market and the cars you sell therein. It really flows nicely and to be blunt, it just works.

Cons: The aesthetic is about as blah as you can get. As a matter of fact, I’ve picked the box up numerous times before at my FLGS and put it back down after seeing the game on the back. It’s pretty much 90% gray with muted browns everywhere else. This isn’t a huge issue, though it did turn me off of the game on multiple occasions and took the gaming mind of Rikki Tahta (Creator of Coup, Melee, and Gooseberry) to convince me I should give it a go.

Summary: Easily one of my favorite games of the last year. The only game that tops it over this last year is Vital Lacerda’s The Gallerist.

Rating: Not sure what to compare this to. Glen More is such a different game, it doesn’t really fit here in my opinion. I would assume The Gallerist fits best as a comparative game with a variety of roles and avenues to victory. As I rate that game a 9, I’ll give Kraftwagen a solid 8/10.


Lee
Pros:
Game play is brisk for a game with such divergent avenues of scoring points. There’s a good amount of angst involved in action selections including choices of whether to take a desired action farther ahead on the track at the expense of potentially giving opponents more selections, whether to take an action to deny its benefit to others and whether to take a risk on waiting for an action to still be available when your turn comes around again. Though not played in teams, often temporary cooperation between players towards a mutually beneficial outcome encouraged social as well as strategic play.

Cons: I found the inclusion of V6 expansion cards overpowered, especially when providing large leaps in the tech trees. For a game which encourages specialization to build up different areas of technology in order to compete for bonus points, being able in just one turn to advance past others who spent several rounds building up significant tech leads seemed unfair. The artwork is particularly drab and uninspiring which is what partially lead me to overlook this game initially. The soft, muted tones could use a punch of color both to liven up the game’s atmosphere and to make the graphics stand out better. The iconography on action track spaces required a bit of study to distinguish one from another from across the table when better use of colorization could have helped with that.

Summary: Kraftwagen was a pleasant surprise for me. I dismissed this game upon first obtaining it due to its heavily discounted price and unappealing artwork. It languished on my shelf as little more than trade fodder for the better part of a year. Now that I’ve played it, I’ve taken it off my trade list and given it a proper place in my collection. I thoroughly enjoyed Matthias Cramer’s action/turn selection mechanic lifted from Glen More. That coupled with the timing of when to send cars to market in the hopes of turning a tidy profit provide plenty of interesting decision points in this enjoyable efficiency engine of a game.

Rating: I’d rate it a bit higher if it had better artwork, but as is I rate it a 7/10. It’s definitely a good game worth playing.


Sten
The fourth head of this review dragon, Sten, was unable to get a game of this played while at BGG.Con 2016, due in large part to playing other lengthy games at the same time. He’ll be contributing to future reviews for sure.
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Darcy Dueck
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Respectfully, I don't understand how any action tile in the game, V6 expansion or otherwise, could be over powered.

Preferred action tiles get jumped ahead to sooner, thereby skipping a number of other actions and handing all those actions to your opponents. I believe the challenge of the game is to determine how many actions to give to your opponents when you jump ahead to any given preferred action. This determination is self balancing, similar to an auction mechanism.

Or is there something else that I haven't considered?
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Makis
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I tend to agree with you Darcy. In my plays I never really thought anything was over powered. Brian and I didn't play with the V6 extensions in the game so I can't speak to that, though I think Lee may have.

I won't speak for Brian or Lee, but I think they may have been talking about the initial starting tiles. Brian in particular seemed to be talking about how those starting tiles are almost guaranteed to end in you receiving one of the high valued 7pt bonuses for no other reason than you picked that starting tile and it gave you a decided advantage out of the gate. Correct me if I'm wrong Brian.

At least that's my take.
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Brian Griffin
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Yes, that's what I was getting at Mark regarding your starting advantage in a certain attribute. I believe Darcy is referring to the V6 options. Like I said, I never used it, just heard from +3 people at the con that they thought that and we should play without them. Perhaps we can give it a go and see for ourselves.
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Serious? Lee
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Darcy, I feel the benefit of some V6 tiles provide too great a leap for players who ignore certain tech and then are able to catch up to others in one move. For example, an opponent who was able to improve their size 1 racing engine to a size 6 by selecting a V6 tile at the same time I and others had been increasing our racing engine sizes incrementally over several turns literally jumped ahead in racing to claim several bonuses we had worked hard at attaining. Regardless of the missed turns taken by my opponent to reach ahead and grab that V6 tile in the action selection process, this seems an unfair advantage since a similar benefit to increase our tech in a other areas to make up for our lost initiative was not available.

So as it played out, my opponent specialized in areas besides racing to gain bonuses elsewhere while I specialized in racing. He gained two 7 point bonuses through his efforts of specialization, and then after acquiring that V6 tile was able to jump into the race for another 7 point bonus (plus additional lap bonuses) in an area of tech he had previously ignored and in which others at the table had dedicated time and effort in advancing. For that reason I'd prefer to play with just the base game.
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