Recommend
28 
 Thumb up
 Hide
14 Posts

Near and Far» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Near and Far: More than the Sum of its Bits rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Grant Helmreich
msg tools
Intro

Near and Far is an amazing game. It is not amazing because of uniquely clever mechanics, although the mechanics are sound. It is not amazing because of intriguing player interaction, although there is good interaction. It is not amazing because of a riveting theme, although it has plenty of flavor. Ultimately, Near and Far is an experience which blends all of these factors into an immersive experience that's just plain fun. It's almost like a magic-eye puzzle in which all of these elements blend into the background until something magical appears. For a well-seasoned gamer like me, it felt like I was being transported back to an earlier age when I first launched into gaming.

First Impressions

After reading the rules to Near and Far I had some initial reservations. The interlocking system of various resources, artifacts, world cards, adventurers, and party stats seemed like a bit of a tangle, and it was not immediately apparent exactly how the pieces were meant to fit together. I was also concerned by the fact that it seemed like there was very little player interaction. Both of these issues were well resolved once we started playing.

What was missing from the rules was a basic idea of the flow of the game. Once we understood that a few turns in, the functions of the resources made significantly more sense. The two core ideas are "there are many ways to skin a cat" and "pick the low-hanging fruit". You can build out your party in a variety of different ways, which will make you better at some actions than others. However, the combination of the heart system and different ways of obtaining resources mean that you can accomplish a given goal in multiple different ways. These different available paths lead to the second principle, which is to pick the low-hanging fruit. This is where most of the player interaction lies, as the different paths will get more difficult over time (threats build up, mining takes more skill, open campsites get farther away). Balancing your parties abilities with the available options left by other players is the key choice you'll be confronted with on most turns. Efficiency is the name of the game.

That's all very mechanically focused, but when actually playing the game these mechanics fade smoothly into an experience of discovery. We're normally a very competitive group, but we found our focus entirely diverted into the experience of building up our parties and exploring the odd world around us. None of us really thought about scoring until the last few rounds, but we found that scoring came naturally due to the "many ways to skin a cat" principle. Each of us were able to just go and do fun and cool things, and the points handled themselves. What made the difference was how efficient each of us were.

What Near and Far gets Right

Obviously I'm a big fan of the game. Here are the big things I think Near and Far got right:

- Mechanics and theme blend smoothly into a fun and immersive experience.
- Gameplay moves quickly with something interesting happening on most turns.
- Once playing the game is very intuitive.
- There are many ways to effectively score points, and the game rewards doing cool things.

What Could be Better

There are a few things that could take Near and Far from great to amazing:

- A better overview of the flow of the game in the rules.
- Rolling single D6's for fights/quests results in an overly wide distribution of results. Two D4's would be better IMHO.
- The game is begging for a co-operative mode. Most co-op games end up being about individual and group efficiency, making Near and Far a natural fit. This may be something that eventually comes up in the campaign.

Edit: Thoughts on Character Arcs

Having played through a campaign with four characters, I must say that I'm disappointed in their stories. The "Choose-your-own-adventure" aspect was minimal, as it turned out that most "choices" didn't end up mattering in the grand scheme of the story. At least one character has a fully linear story, with the only choices that matter being the quests with keywords. The story arcs range from reasonably compelling (supporting or quashing a rebellion against an authoritarian regime) to deadly dull (deciding how you will poorly react to the girl you secretly have a crush on). I'm hoping that the location-based quests are better than the character ones.
40 
 Thumb up
0.50
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derrick Wildstar
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a really good write up on Near & Far. I agree with everything you said except maybe that I do think the d6 work for this game, especially when you factor in the ability to use hearts to make up the difference.

By now most every game mechanism has been seen and new games are notable in the way these mechanisms are blended. This game is amazing to me because it takes some typical stuff but only uses it as a foundation for a great story telling adventure with some great art and very original feeling board game design in the atlas.

+1 on hoping for a co-op mode. While I haven't given it much thought, on the surface it doesn't seem to difficult to formulate in this game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dustin
United States
Kentucky
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To be fair, a regular 1d6 in pretty much every game results in an overly wide distribution of results. 233445 is much improved.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
dylan benton
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review. Loving this game so far. I do think a co op version would be fun but it would have to come in the form of a pretty substantial expansion. For co op to work there needs to be some sort of enemy or threat to fight against or some sort of survival mode. None of that exists in the stories as is. All the stuff in there just involves stories that lead to getting points. I do think Ryan and friends could do a co op storybook where the players progress through a story as a group. That would be fun.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enon Sci
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Medjai86 wrote:

- The game is begging for a co-operative mode. Most co-op games end up being about individual and group efficiency, making Near and Far a natural fit. This may be something that eventually comes up in the campaign.


This is a very adroit point.

Ryan would do good to heed this commentary for his next game -- focus on an epic adventure that can be shared amongst all players. After all, cooperative play is one angle I don't believe any of his 11+ previous titles have explored.

That said, I'm fine with that being the next game. Near & Far is fine as it is.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Raymond Ganancial
Philippines
flag msg tools
Click to view this gamer's page.
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Us and them would be the next in the series.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Nordstrom
United States
Emeryville
California
flag msg tools
badge
Board Games are Old School, I Be Old School
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
razzmonid wrote:
Us and them would be the next in the series.


Sorry, Floyd owns that IP.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris J Davis
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Overtext pending moderation...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
razzmonid wrote:
Us and them would be the next in the series.


I would have gone for In and Out.
2 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Nordstrom
United States
Emeryville
California
flag msg tools
badge
Board Games are Old School, I Be Old School
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bleached_lizard wrote:
razzmonid wrote:
Us and them would be the next in the series.


I would have gone for In and Out.


Again, sorry that IP is taken by a West Coast burger chain.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Schott
United States
Roanoke
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
I was thinking "There and Back Again".
1 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Nordstrom
United States
Emeryville
California
flag msg tools
badge
Board Games are Old School, I Be Old School
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
paschott wrote:
I was thinking "There and Back Again".


Jeff Beck has claimed that one too.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Haworth
New Zealand
flag msg tools
mb
Great review. +1 for Co op mode
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Israel Waldrom
New Zealand
Dunedin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
GordonGecko wrote:
Great review. +1 for Co op mode


Co-op is coming in the Amber Mines expansion.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
kos blaat
Netherlands
flag msg tools
mbmb
Exactly why I didn't buy the game.

"Rolling single D6's for fights/quests results in an overly wide distribution of results. "

that's just so cheap. But 1d6 is not 2d4: that's 2-8
Perhaps 2d6/2 rounded down would work. But if the creator can't be bothered, then so can't i.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.