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This War of Mine: The Board Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Will it Play?:This War of Mine rss

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Josh
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It's been a long time since I did these reviews and TWOM is a different sort of game, so while I will try to stick mostly to my bullet point question format, I may ramble more than normal. Now on with the show.

Will it play? is a review format that strives to help you decide if a game is right for YOU by hitting some of the key points in the play experience that can make or break a game for a group.

*Do you want to play This War of Mine? Not to be confused with 'Do you want to play This War of Mine?' TWOM presents in a rare if not unique fashion. As a game about War(not a wargame!) it plops you down with a small group of normal folks in a desperate situation and puts you in charge of shepherding these souls through a capricious, violent, and bleak environment. This is not a game you spring on some friend who 'Played Ticket to Ride a few times' or even old hand Euro gamers who are just looking for a little harmless brain burn to pass the time. Ask yourself honestly, is this something I really want to explore?

*Do you have the time to invest in a game? Depending on your crew a full core game of TWOM can run anywhere from 3 to possibly even 6 hours. There's a save feature, a very good one in fact, that lets you stop a game between days and resume it. The save feature comes with a detailed sheet including a schematic of the home base to make restoring your game easy, but not everyone wants the hassle. There is a second point to this question as well. 3 hours games may not scare you away, but a game of TWOM can be draining like no other game I've rolled into. Not only is there the subject matter(see above) but also the choices(see below) to wring you out and leave you needing a break in the action.

*Do you like making decisions? Some games give you a few decision points that matter greatly. Other games give you many decision points that matter little individually. TWOM gives you decision points by the bucket load and they all matter. What tasks do you undertake? Who do you assign to what? Where do you go? How much do you risk? Even each individual turn of the card during scavenging. It never lets up, and it can be exhausting in a way you might love, or simply might be unable to endure.


*Do you like Co-ops? It might seem a touch odd to place this so far down, but I think the first few questions matter even before this one. TWOM can be played Solo and is one of a Very few games I have enjoyed when played that way. So even if you don't enjoy co-ops you could possibly get enjoyment form that play style. It is an important consideration, especially with the way TWOM tackles the co-op element. The characters belong to the group as a whole. Rather than plug away yourself at your own character under your own control decisions are rotated around the group affecting the whole group. There's some powerlessness there that some will simply not enjoy. Others won't be able to resist attempting to browbeat other players when it is not their turn to make a decision. Ask yourself where you lay in the spectrum. Additionally the discussions involved tie back into the time element. Some groups will talk a lot more than others, coupled with the cascade of decision points game time can approach that 6 hour mark.

*Can you trust, and let go? Star Wars references aside; this is an important element that underlies a lot of the game structure. The Rulebook(Journal) tells you on the cover, things will be explained to you when you need them. If you can't take that at face value you'll probably be uncomfortable. Most Board games pass you a booklet with everything you'll ever need to know ever in it to be digested before the game is picked up and we all know too often they are quite wrong. The designers of TWOM took an entirely different path. The game opens up and blossoms as you play. What's this icon off to the side mean? Nothing unless you're told it does. It is a different, but I think deliberate approach(see conclusion)

Conclusion: This War of Mine is to me a difficult game to quantify by normal 'gaming' standards primarily because I believe it was designed with the same intent as the video game, to evoke a response, and through that response, teach. Situations you're put structurally in seem tailored to evoke as much as the in game situations.

You start the game not knowing all the rules. Things go on that you might find confusing, even ominous simply due to your lack of knowledge.

You have to trust your companions, success and failure rides on working together, discussing, functioning as a group. Or perhaps your group is dysfunctional and a Tyrant arises leaving the others despondent or grateful as is their inclination.

Decisions pile up one after the other, often without the oh so precious perfect knowledge we have come to expect from games, bearing down on you, leading to second guessing and fatigue.

Events come up unexpectedly, and often times are unwelcome when they do.

These are just a handful of things that affect the *players* of the game outside of the actual events in the game, yet are as much I believe a part of the message as any of the stories told within the game itself.

Within the game there are a hundred rises and falls as well. The onset of winter, increasingly violent night raids, the way you can be just as nervous possessing a successful haul of valuable scavenged materials as you can having nothing and being in need. All of these things depend on investment though as stated above. You need to want to experience TWOM. If you're just looking to play a game and win. If you worry about 'hard mode' or 'balance' then you're going to be butting your head against a wall, but take heart there are many games out there for that, but few for what TWOM brings to the table.

I don't normally post my rating in a review, but I have given TWOM one of my rare 10's. I feel it has done exactly what it set out to do both through content and execution, and done it in spades. It is up to you to decide if that is what you want on your table.
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Joan Thalamus
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Josh,

Maybe I missed it, but how many times did you play TWoM, and with how many? It's not showing up in your played games (maybe I'm blind?)

-Joanie
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Josh
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Pock_Suppet wrote:
Josh,

Maybe I missed it, but how many times did you play TWoM, and with how many? It's not showing up in your played games (maybe I'm blind?)

-Joanie


I played 2 multiplayer games, one to complete (2 and 4p) and 3 single player games 1 to complete. Time has been tight. I took time to speak with the people I played with after to ask opinions. Time is an issue to completing a game (as mentioned in the review. I do think for this game thst finishing is a goal, but not really needed to actually enjoy and benefit from the game. In fact one of the multiplayer games (with some new gamers) wanted to stop at a 'good turn' because they wanted to feel hopeful and not risk a depressing turn of events crushing the group. Yet at the same time they enjoyed playing a great deal. I find that emotional response to be incredibly validating for TWOM. Maybe I should have mentioned this anecdote, but I was trying to keep it short

As for logging plays:I don't, I did years ago but it became a pita, and after missing a bunch I just stopped.
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Richard
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Good review and a great example of a review that's not a retelling of the rule book. Thank you
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Moe45673
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Fantastic review. You had me at "capricious" and the rest didn't disappoint
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Erich Ortlieb
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Thanks for this review. It was eye opening and will provide me a frame of reference and a clear path to the properframe of mind required when this thing arrives. Also thank you for being an active TWOM BGG question answered. I am learning a lot from you!
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/|\ Roland /|\
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Great review, and summation of the experience without getting into specifics that could spoil.

I'm still working my way through my first playthrough, but I am going to hazard a guess that this game will be remembered to be as groundbreaking as Pandemic Legacy, just by not quite as many people.

The learn as you play rules, function not only to get you into the game quicker, but actually are thematic in and of themselves; the role they play is to create an aura of uncertainty. The way the rules unfold naturally are an extension of the game's tension and create an artificial fog that simulates what would be the player character's perspective of making life and death choices with limited information.

The rule system itself is groundbreaking, but could only work married with this particular theme of this particular game; and does so beautifully.
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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Very insightful review, thank you!

Since some new elements appear from game to game, I understand it's some kind of legacy game. Now, do you expect the game to remain as interesting after every new element is discovered?
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Josh
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lebigot wrote:
Very insightful review, thank you!

Since some new elements appear from game to game, I understand it's some kind of legacy game. Now, do you expect the game to remain as interesting after every new element is discovered?


I think it will take you a very long time to discover every new element. The Stories that come up don't come up relentlessly but rather occasionally, and there is a lot of game just in the game mechanics itself.

Considering the emotional weight of TWOM I have a feeling you'll be exhausted before you exhaust the game.
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David J. Mortimer
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Coren wrote:
Good review and a great example of a review that's not a retelling of the rule book. Thank you


Of course it helps there isn't really a rule book in this case
 
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Josh
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morti wrote:
Coren wrote:
Good review and a great example of a review that's not a retelling of the rule book. Thank you


Of course it helps there isn't really a rule book in this case

shake
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Gavin Scaife
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Great review. After playing several times now agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments.
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