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Subject: Why we loved Seafall (a brief spoiler-free review) rss

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Dave T
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So for a few years, some friends have met my wife and I more or less weekly for board games, and SeaFall was our most recent game -- we finished the campaign Tuesday.

Here's the executive summary for those in a hurry: we had a great time and would highly recommend it, particularly with some house rules.

Our previous games included both Risk Legacy and Pandemic Legacy, and we enjoyed those so much that we decided to pre-order Seafall. We don't play a ton of games -- one night per week (or a little less) is about all we get up to -- so we got worried when the negative reviews started coming in, but we decided not to cancel. We're glad we didn't. Out of four players, all of us enjoyed it, looked forward to it each week, and are glad that we bought it, even at full pre-order price.

You can find rules summaries and play descriptions elsewhere. Here, I just want to talk about why we liked this game (when it seems some others didn't) and whether or not you might like it.

> We loved the themes and stories. A couple of weeks ago, after we had played through 75% of the game, I came across one of the main testers saying that he felt like Seafall was primarily a storytelling game. This was something we really loved, and we've taken some great in-jokes and shared experiences away from our play times. Because of this, the 'swinginess' of the game scores that some people have complained about didn't bother us. After all, real-life exploration is pretty swingy.

> We loved the art and look of the game. It's an attractive game, well produced, and it's a great experience, especially with a good sea-themed soundtrack playing (I recommend the Boston Pops' Masters and Commanders selections from naval movies).

> Most of all, we loved the legacy elements. Some of it was obvious and fun -- naming and upgrading the advisors, particularly -- and some of the things that happened were extremely unexpected and cool, especially in the last two boxes. I'd better not say more, but it definitely made us look at things we'd been using since the beginning in an entirely new light.


We didn't love everything -- the rules, as others have pointed out, are sketchier than they ought to be, but the excellent Captain's Log here at BGG took care of our additional questions. We decided not to play with milestone glory limits, like some others did, but we highly recommend adding a final post-game buy round in which, after the end of the game-ending round, every player can dump their goods for purchase price (3 gold) and buy one treasure and/or take one build action. This went a long way toward taking the sting out of a sudden unexpected victory by someone else. I also recommend doubling the target value of the last game's final objective, for what it's worth.

But as we put the game away after the final play, we all agreed that we'd had a lovely time, and our most experienced player (the guy who had dragged us all into heaver games to begin with) said that Seafall was his favorite board game of all time. From him, that is very high praise.


What will you think?
> Do you like legacy elements? GET IT. Do they annoy you? Avoid it.
> Is your group friendly and relatively relaxed about disputes? Nab it. Are you highly competitive, with rules disputes possibly turning into big night-ruining arguments? Avoid it.
> Does your group enjoy stories? Get it. Is your group serious and systems-driven? Maybe not your top choice.

Hope that helps, and I hope that some of the other folks out there who will love this game are able to connect with it.
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Sterling Archer
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icarussc wrote:
we highly recommend adding a final post-game buy round in which, after the end of the game-ending round, every player can dump their goods for purchase price (3 gold) and buy one treasure and/or take one build action. This went a long way toward taking the sting out of a sudden unexpected victory by someone else.


Did you find that this rewarded players for poor planning? Or hurt more strategic players?
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icarussc wrote:
We decided not to play with milestone glory limits, like some others did, but we highly recommend adding a final post-game buy round in which, after the end of the game-ending round, every player can dump their goods for purchase price (3 gold) and buy one treasure and/or take one build action. This went a long way toward taking the sting out of a sudden unexpected victory by someone else. I also recommend doubling the target value of the last game's final objective, for what it's worth.


Much appreciated! We're about to start out first seafall campaign, and I'm looking for tips to make it more fun and avoid the issues others have had. Any other houserules that you used, or just these?
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Adam Ruzzo
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jwerk wrote:
icarussc wrote:
we highly recommend adding a final post-game buy round in which, after the end of the game-ending round, every player can dump their goods for purchase price (3 gold) and buy one treasure and/or take one build action. This went a long way toward taking the sting out of a sudden unexpected victory by someone else.


Did you find that this rewarded players for poor planning? Or hurt more strategic players?


As a general rule, buying treasures is the weakest/least efficient way to generate glory. There's a very good chance that the money and/or goods that had been stored up were about to be used for something to give much more than the 1 or 2 glory gained by this move at the end. So it's still a "punishment" for not being fast enough/good enough, but it's not as harsh as the base game rules.
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Dave T
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Amnese wrote:

Much appreciated! We're about to start out first seafall campaign, and I'm looking for tips to make it more fun and avoid the issues others have had. Any other houserules that you used, or just these?


A couple more relating to Boxes 2-4:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We allowed colonies to harvest during the first winter and to use their harvest money to pay for their activation cost. I don't think we would have had more than one or two colonies, otherwise. Similarly, we allowed both 'special' islands that you conquer later to be free activation for their holder, not just the first. And finally, we permitted the final buy action to be the founding of a colony, provided that you had all goods, were at the location, and didn't require the use of an adviser or discount.


There were a number of other disputes that came up, but we mostly dealt with them as one-off rules by voting.

Best wishes for your game!
 
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Dave T
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Bridger wrote:
As a general rule, buying treasures is the weakest/least efficient way to generate glory. There's a very good chance that the money and/or goods that had been stored up were about to be used for something to give much more than the 1 or 2 glory gained by this move at the end. So it's still a "punishment" for not being fast enough/good enough, but it's not as harsh as the base game rules.


Exactly right. It's more about trying to mitigate an otherwise devastating loss. But as I noted, extremely competitive players may not wish to do this.
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ian o
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Thanks for the article. We are also really enjoying Seafall, at about 10 games in. at around game 4, I started getting really frustrated by the massive point swings that could happen. I spent an entire game trying to get a
Spoiler (click to reveal)
colony
, and the turn before I could do it, another player won by getting 8 points with a single explore action.

However, I readjusted my mindset after that, and now that I know what the game is, I am liking it much, much more.

And yes, naming the people is really fun.
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Dave T
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Exact same thing happened to me! That's why we made the house rule we did, and it went on to benefit two other players as well.

We named a huge string of advisers after characters in Muppet Treasure Island. I'll always have a soft spot for Big Ugly Bug-Faced Baby-Eating O'Brian the Bloodthirsty Scoundrel
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Ringo Stalin
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We've just finished our final game last night (17 games in total), and we had a great time. We had 4 players; there was a huge point difference between the top 2 and the bottom 2 players throughout the whole campaign, and somewhat disappointingly, that never significantly lessened at all. Fortunately, the game held our interest and provided us with a lot of laughs the whole way (especially when naming advisors), so I'd quite readily include SeaFall in my Top 5 games.
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Kevin Elmore
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icarussc wrote:
A couple more relating to Boxes 2-4:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We allowed colonies to harvest during the first winter and to use their harvest money to pay for their activation cost. I don't think we would have had more than one or two colonies, otherwise. Similarly, we allowed both 'special' islands that you conquer later to be free activation for their holder, not just the first. And finally, we permitted the final buy action to be the founding of a colony, provided that you had all goods, were at the location, and didn't require the use of an adviser or discount.



Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought that:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Waiving the cost of Patmos was free for the rest of the game. In future games, will I need to pay the 6 to activate it? I had just conquered it last game, so nothing's changed yet. I just thought that it was a free colony.

 
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Simon C
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Kuildeous wrote:
icarussc wrote:
A couple more relating to Boxes 2-4:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
We allowed colonies to harvest during the first winter and to use their harvest money to pay for their activation cost. I don't think we would have had more than one or two colonies, otherwise. Similarly, we allowed both 'special' islands that you conquer later to be free activation for their holder, not just the first. And finally, we permitted the final buy action to be the founding of a colony, provided that you had all goods, were at the location, and didn't require the use of an adviser or discount.



Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought that:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Waiving the cost of Patmos was free for the rest of the game. In future games, will I need to pay the 6 to activate it? I had just conquered it last game, so nothing's changed yet. I just thought that it was a free colony.



You're correct. The spoiler box has some slight Box 5 spoilers in, although the interesting info it gives is deducible from the contents of Box 4.

Full clarification of what I'm saying below, giving no more spoilers than are are deducible from icarussc's comment (but are more explicit):

Spoiler (click to reveal)
icarussc mentions "both" special islands. There's a second one in Box 5, as evidenced by the Unlock milestone you get in Box 4. That island has a colony which doesn't have Ker's "always active" ability and should cost the normal 6 to activate, if conquered.
 
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Becq
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jwerk wrote:
icarussc wrote:
we highly recommend adding a final post-game buy round in which, after the end of the game-ending round, every player can dump their goods for purchase price (3 gold) and buy one treasure and/or take one build action. This went a long way toward taking the sting out of a sudden unexpected victory by someone else.

Did you find that this rewarded players for poor planning? Or hurt more strategic players?

The purpose of a rule like this is mostly to provide a minimal safety net again a sudden unexpected game end -- which is often as much a surprise to the player ending the game as it is to other players. And it is a pretty minimal safety net -- by converting to gold at 3 gold per good then buying a single treasure, you're guaranteeing only the least efficient possible glory for the resources you ended the game with.

(I'd actually advise against allowing a structure to be built; they are more cost efficient and therefore always a better option! Also, I recommend against actually taking the treasure -- just gain glory as though you were buying one. Two reasons for this: First, it's unfair if the end-game scoring fix has a limited supply, and second, there are certain upgrades that could provide added benefit to someone actually claiming a treasure that isn't intended by this fix.)
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Dave T
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Becq wrote:
(I'd actually advise against allowing a structure to be built; they are more cost efficient and therefore always a better option!


Well, it's and/or. Anyone who could afford it did both.
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Charles Waterman
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Interesting Dave! (we've finished our campaign as well, but I like your house rule.)

Did you basically then allow everyone (including the last player of the game) to sell all goods and have a free Builder's Guild Turn then? I mean, they could do all three of these: buy a treasure, buy an upgrade and buy a building? (assuming they had a place they could build all of those, natch.

I think Becq's comment is a good one. Rather than actually allowing people to buy those things and block others from buying them by making them potentially unavailable, it seems like phantom purchasing would be better.

Also, when allowing this extra buy, did you allow some goods to be kept to discount purchases? Did you allow players to use current or other advisors to discount things?
 
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Becq
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montebanc wrote:
I think Becq's comment is a good one. Rather than actually allowing people to buy those things and block others from buying them by making them potentially unavailable, it seems like phantom purchasing would be better.

When working as intended (or at least how I think it was intended), the result of Dave's version is to translate resources into glory at a 10:1 ratio. It would be far easier to simply count up gold (after selling goods) and divide by ten, rather than go through the motions of purchasing structures and upgrades. And it's not just the potential for blocking. Depending on the player's faction upgrades, it's entirely possible to get 3+ glory for 10 gold if you play it as an actual structure/upgrade purchase. That makes it unbalanced in favor of specific players.

I also lean toward the slightly more exponential scale given by the treasure purchases for a simple reason: if you don't use that scale, it discourages buying treasures during the game. After all, why buy a 22g treasure during the game when you could wait until the game ends to convert gold to glory at a better exchange rate?

But it really all comes down to preferences. (Though I do recommend the "shadow purchase" option, in either case, for the reasons above.)
 
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Dave T
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Yes, a simple math transfer or 'shadow buy' would be a good option. We just didn't think of it in time!

And no, we didn't allow discounting or the use of any purchase-related advisors that were active on the last turn. Seems like that could get too powerful.
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