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Subject: First Impressions- First Martians- Disappointing Intro Mission rss

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My wife, best friend and I played the introductory mission for First Martians yesterday, and unfortunately we were all disappointed. I was ecstatic to play the game and desperately wanted to like it. This game has a lot of hype and hails from a well-known and respected designer/publisher. That said, there are several reasons why our experience fell flat that I will cover in detail below.

Before we dive any further, know that none of us hate the game, but none of us had any interest in playing again. Also keep in mind that these opinions are based off one play through of the first/introductory mission. There is a lot more content in the box. And finally, keep in mind that I would much rather do a positive review for a game I pre-ordered and genuinely wanted to enjoy than write a negative review, which are typically not received as well as positive reviews.

In this post, I will cover my thoughts on-

1) My Personal Story
2) Unboxing and Rules
3) The First (Introductory) Mission Details/Objectives
4) The Phases of a Round
5) The Gameplay/Actions
6) The App
7) My Conclusion

If you want the too long, didn't read option, simply scroll down to the my conclusion section for a quick recap.

Here are our first impressions-

1) My Personal Story

Cooperative games are easily our favorite type of board game. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island always peaked my interest as I'm a fan of the designer, the reviews were phenomenal, and the theme looked great. I held off because of the steep learning curve and poor rulebook. Some of this was mitigated by the recent 2nd edition, but by the time of its release, First Martians was already announced, so I decided to hang tight and wait for it.

The Martian is one of my top 3 favorite books of all time. Each of us has read the book and watched the movie, and we all THOROUGHLY enjoyed both. Furthermore, we all love Mansions of Madness: Second Edition, largely because the app improves the game dramatically. With the theme of First Martians drawing heavily from the Martian and the mechanics drawing heavily from Robinson Crusoe with a touch of Mansions of Madness 2nd Ed, my excitement level for this game was extremely high.

I pre-ordered the game, which is more-or-less the equivalent of kickstarting a game, and I almost NEVER kickstart games. I paid full retail price- $75 for game + $10 for shipping to ensure I received the game early with only a handful of small, (in my opinion) insignificant add-ons. $85 is a decent chunk of change to shell out for a game, but I felt confident in my decision.

All of this is important to note because confirmation bias, genre bias, theme bias and many others factors were impacting my opinion of this game for better or for worse.

2) Unboxing and Rules

Everything started to fall apart from the beginning. Upon opening the box and laying out the components, I immediately felt like the graphic design was uninspiring. The game has a functional graphic design that is intended to make you feel as though you are controlling the panels and switches of the various units on your Mars HUB station such as solar panels and oxygenators. However, we all felt the tiles and board were little more than a glorified Exel spreadsheet with rows, columns, numbers and letters. There is very little artwork on the components, and what is there is subdued rather than front and center like it is with Robinson Crusoe. There is a substantial difference between the quality of artwork found on a Region of Interest (ROI) tile in First Martian compared to the island tiles in Robinson Crusoe.

After setting up the board and components, I read the rules which were a chore. They aren't necessarily poorly written. Like the game board, the rules are functional, but they lack examples and context. I felt as though I knew all of the rules, but I didn't necessarily feel as though I knew how to play (or more importantly, what to do). That's a key point of concern because later on I will talk about how the introductory mission has 6 mandatory objectives and 2 optional objectives, and it can be difficult to explain to new players not only the substantial amount of rules but also explain how those rules will be used in order to complete the objectives.

I'm not a stranger to complex games, though I will admit they aren't my first choice typically. We have played and enjoyed Eldritch Horror and Mage Knight Board Game before. First Martian's "heaviness" is somewhere inbetween those two.

I ended up watching Rodney Smith's Watch it Played tutorial twice to ensure I was up to speed on how to play the game, and I will say this is a big saving grace for the rules.

The rules are not bad, but they dampened my excitement for the game, and if it weren't for the Watch it Played video, I think we would've been more frustrated than we were. At the end of the day, we only experienced a couple rules questions in our first game. The important thing to note here is that my experience with First Martians was something of a snowball effect where one negative experience led to another which led to another.

On a quick side note, it's a mild annoyance that the game doesn't come with enough colored cubes for certain moments in the game.

3) The First Mission Details

There are 6 standalone missions and 2 campaigns in the game. The standalone missions, especially the first mission appear to have only the framework of what I would call a "story."

The first mission tasks you with several objectives, which include-

1) Building a back up solar panel
2) Building a back up oxygenator
3) Building a back up farm
4) Planting a seed
5) Searching new regions on the map
6) Gathering spare parts from those regions
7) Repairing the HUB
8) Improving conditions to 100%

There are a handful of additional rules listed on the scenario card in addition to these objectives. It's an eye sore and a bit overwhelming. For example, in order to improve the conditions to 100%, you have to repair the backup farm. When you build the backup farm, all of the components are broken. When you fix components on the backup farm, you draw a research card which has a number value on it, and you move the condition track up by that percentage. For an introductory mission, it seemed a bit too convoluted.

That said, we successfully beat the mission by the end of sol 5 and found it to be fairly easy, but things were going from bad to worse quickly. We definitely didn't want to stick around any longer as everything was starting to break.

4) The Phases of a Round

There are 6 phases (if memory serves me right), and many phases such as the event phase, production phase, action phase, and malfunction phase have sub-phases within them. For example, during the production phase you have to produce energy and oxygen with your solar panels and oxygenators. Those facilities then fuel all of the other facilities you need to execute actions. You also have to feed your astronauts, manage the stress level of the group, and so on.

Of these phases, you primarily only participate in the action phase. One of my biggest complaints about Arkham Horror was that I spent more time playing for the game and handling upkeep than I did going on adventures with my character. Unfortunately, First Martians struggles with the same fate. While many of these phases are quick to execute, the problem is that the total time it takes to do all of them equals or exceeds the amount of time it took us to do most of our action phases.

Mansions of Madness 2nd Ed alleviated a lot of this by having the app control a ton of the work for you. When you did need to resolve something for the game such as a monster attack or an event, the app did a phenomenal job of incorporating a story to further immerse you into the game and make the "chore" of playing as the game much more enjoyable.

The biggest problem, however, is that you typically only have 2 pawns to use for actions, and they can either be used together to successful execute 1 action or spent separately to potentially do 2 actions. I'll talk more about this in the next section, but the reality is that there are a maximum of 7 sols (rounds) in the introductory mission, which means you could theoretically do 7 actions or less during the whole game. This results in a feeling that you have little to do during your action phase, and therefore little impact on your overall performance.

Meanwhile, the board/game gets to resolve an event (which is typically negative), it gets to increase the malfunction in a block, it typically gets to roll malfunction dice and resolve malfunction cards and so on each round. It almost feels like the board gets more actions than your team.

And a perfect example of how this can be detrimental is when an event instructs you to lose morale and then you have to immediately increase the malfunction track by 1 in a specific block afterward. During the action phase, you could spend 1 pawn to then increase the morale back up by 1 and another pawn to reduce the malfunction block by 1. In this case, you have spent your entire turn simply negating the negative effects of the event phase of the game, which is unrewarding. I don't want to suggest reversing the negative effects the game throws at you is the optimal move every time, but what I do want to convey is that there was a sense that we were REQUIRED to do a specific, unfulfilling an action in order to succeed with the overall mission. Kind of like the game forced our hand.

This is odd because the game throws so many objectives at you that we felt like it was both too open ended (at least for an introductory mission) while also too constrictive (based on immediate needs and amount of pawns) at times.

5) Gameplay/Actions

I believe there are 9 unique actions that you can take, and they must be executed in a specific order. Most of them are straight forward such as resting in a quiet place to gain a moral token or using the control center to reduce the malfunction level of the different blocks. But quite a few of them are more interesting and allow you to explore Mars or gather samples from regions of interest or build and repair facilities.

Put simply, the actions that only require 1 pawn are typically dull and uninteresting. In a game such as Pandemic this is fine because you have 4 actions per turn. Removing 1 disease cube isn't all that interesting by itself, but when you can do it 4 times or mix-and-match it with other actions, it is much more interesting.

On the other hand, the actions that require 1 or 2 pawns are far more engaging as there is a risk associated to them. If you place 1 pawn, you will have to roll the dice to determine whether or not you succeed, go on an adventure, or take a wound. Of course, you can place both your pawns which guarantees success, but you won't always want to do that as the situation worsens and forces you to spread yourselves thin.

In this sense, First Martians can be compared to Ghost Stories where you're only able to move and perform one action such as using the special power from the tile you are on or fighting an enemy. There's a substantial amount of weight to what one action you will do in Ghost Stories. Most importantly, there are serious ramifications for failing. Same is the case in First Martians. You can risk doing two actions in one turn, but if you fail, you could potentially put yourself in a deep hole.

Again, the problem and main difference here is that in Ghost Stories both the player turns and enemy turns can be done in a matter of seconds. Before you know it, it's your turn all over again. In First Martians, it can feel like you're waiting an awfully long time before you can do your one or MAYBE two actions again. And if you placed two pawns on an action, there is no suspense or excitement. You KNOW you are going to succeed, so now you've spent your entire turn on something that was guarenteed.

Our gaming group doesn't struggle with the alpha player issue, but since you assign all of your actions simultaneously, I could see this being an issue for certain players/groups.

On a small final note, First Martians is basically a worker placement cooperative game. In most worker placement games, it's crystal clear which designated spots on the board are used for a specific action. If you place your meeple on space X, you are going to take action X. In First Martians, there is a build/repair tile, but rather than putting your pawns on that tile, you will instead put your pawns on the tile or card or other component that you want to build/repair. It's not that clean of a system, and while it's a really minor complaint, I can tell you that on a couple occasions, we had to ask each other which pawns were being used to build vs which pawns were being used to repair vs which pawns were being used for some other miscellaneous action because there's no way to specifically denote what action you're doing unless you put your pawn on that specific action tile. Same is the case for the explore and gather actions.


6) The App

This is probably the biggest disappointment of all. It brings almost nothing to the experience.

The events are lackluster. For example, a character may denote in their journal that there were 2 problems today, but he was only able to fix 1. But there's no story around it per se. Or another player may say they heard an explosion in the living block, but that's it.

We ended up creating our own narrative. My best friend's event said he was overworked, so he ended up taking a wound. Later he received a condition that caused him to eat one extra food each turn, so we said that he was binge eating in order to cope with the stress of being the only engineer in our HUB. And it was because of his eating habits that we were required to build a back up farm and plant a seed.

We all felt as though we were injecting our own stories (role-playing, if you will) rather than having the game tell us a story. This is disappointing coming off the heels of Mansions of Madness 2nd Ed which not only told a good narrative with each scenario, but also told smaller stories with each encounter. A monster may be lurking in the darkness hissing at you and following your every motion with its beady, yellow eyes. Test your agility and if you fail, the monster uses this opportunity to swipe at you with its talons dripping with blood.

First Martians doesn't need to go so heavy on the theme as Mansions of Madness 2nd Ed, but what's there right now is as bare bones as it gets.

The app also doesn't manage much for you other than execute an event each turn and randomly generate the adventures you go on when rolling dice for actions. It's a huge missed opportunity. There are three malfunction decks- one for each block of facilities- that you will need to draw and resolve cards from when malfunction levels get too high. Think of it as outbreaks in Pandemic. I'm not sure why the app isn't capable of generating these malfunctions cards for you just like the events and adventures.

Similarly, why doesn't the app act as the sole tracker for what phase you are in during a round rather than moving a token down a track on the board?

Why doesn't the app track how much energy, oxygen, and food you are generating and automatically resolve the production phase for you? As it currently stands, you need to add up the amount of each that you produce then subtract that number by the amount of facilities you need to provide those resources to. Then if you have a surplus, you divide the surplus in half and round up and then add that to your supplies. It's really easy math and doesn't take too long, but it seems like a missed opportunity to streamline the experience and allow me to do more of what I want to do which is my character's actions and less of what I don't want to do which is playing for the game.

The app has a few sound effects that it incorporates, but nothing like other game apps I have played which have much better productions for background noises or atmospheric music. Likewise, the graphic design of the app is small and difficult to read even on an iPad. There is no visual fidelity or flare to the app. It's just a simple text guide basically, and I feel you could have easily played the game without an app by simply adding an adventure and event deck.

My ultimate point here is that the app is not an essential element to the game and adds almost nothing to the overall experience.

7) Conclusion

I almost never write negative reviews. They're typically not well-received, especially if its for a game with a lot of hype from a renowned designer and publisher. Sadly, I'm on a roll recently as both this game and my most recently reviewed game- Dark Souls- have been disappointments. It reaffirms that I need to be extremely cautious about pre-ordering/Kickstarting games, because I ended up selling both of these.

First Martians disappointed all three of us playing the game despite biases that should've influenced my opinion of the game in its favor. I paid a lot for the game, love the theme, and am a huge fan of coop games, but First Martians didn't do it for any of us.

The reasons for this are-

The aesthetics of the components are uninspiring, and the rules are heavy and lack solid gameplay examples. This leads to a poor initial impression.

The introductory mission is a bit too complicated for what it's worth given how many objectives and additional rules it injects from the beginning.

There are a ton of phases to each round, and we felt as though you ended up playing more for the game/board than you did taking your character's primary actions.

This is worsened by the fact that there are a maximum of 7 rounds, and each round you will typically only be able to do 1 or 2 actions, which means you could potentially only do 7 actions or less for the entire game. This leads to a feeling that you accomplished very little.

The app is not an essential element to the game and also lacks visual fidelity. It is a huge missed opportunity.

None of us hated First Martians, but none of us enjoyed our time with First Martians. It is the very definition of a 4 or 5 on the BGG scale, which is to say-

5- average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it
4- not so good, it doesn't get me but could be talked into it on occasion

This is a TREMENDOUSLY IMPORTANT distinction because it would appear as though I hate the game, which isn't true.

The game didn't captivate or inspire us in any way. It is functionally sound, and nothing is "broken." But in looking back on our experience, what did we enjoy?

Each of the three of us playing yesterday had the exact same criticisms, and we all agreed that we did not have interest in playing the game again. This is unfortunate because we may not have given the game a fair shake. There are plenty of other scenarios and even a campaign that could've improved the game. The app could be updated and improved in the future, which would also change our opinion of the game. And I'm sure there will be a TON of people who love this game. Robinson Crusoe is unbelievably well received, and this game has much in common with it. For us, however, First Martians fell flat, and I hope this criticism helps illustrate the flaws we saw in the game.

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Daniel Sherman
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I'll take your copy off your hands save you the trouble of playing it again
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imtylerdurden wrote:
This is unfortunate because we may not have given the game a fair shake. There are plenty of other scenarios and even a campaign that could've improved the game.


You need to give this game a fair shake. My first impression was extremely negative as well, but as I got a better handle of the rules, and PLAYED other scenarios, I began to see the beauty of the game. Never, ever judge ANY game with just one play. I promise you, if you give this game a chance, you will see the elegance and fun in it. You will appreciate the different challenges the other scenarios bring as well.
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Pohrawg wrote:
imtylerdurden wrote:
This is unfortunate because we may not have given the game a fair shake. There are plenty of other scenarios and even a campaign that could've improved the game.


You need to give this game a fair shake. My first impression was extremely negative as well, but as I got a better handle of the rules, and PLAYED other scenarios, I began to see the beauty of the game. Never, ever judge ANY game with just one play. I promise you, if you give this game a chance, you will see the elegance and fun in it. You will appreciate the different challenges the other scenarios bring as well.


You're probably right. Who knows, we may play it again some day. Maybe when someone brings it to a game group or when there's a deep sale or a second edition. I wouldn't mind playing it again, but I knew it wasn't getting played anytime soon with the people I played with, and I'm not a big solo gamer.
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sherm21al wrote:
I'll take your copy off your hands save you the trouble of playing it again


Haha I probably should've mentioned it's already on it's way to a new home, and I genuinely hope they enjoy the game. My opinion is probably in the minority on this game anyways.
 
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Andrii Chabykin
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SeaFall 2.0? (Great designer, hype, boring game).
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Chabster wrote:
SeaFall 2.0? (Great designer, hype, boring game).


That's a good comparison. I would say there's a fair chance this game's reception could be similar to seafall. I don't think it'll be quite as dramatic because it does share so much in common mechanically with Robinson Crusoe, though.
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The game design just looks rushed! like Portal games were in a rush to release it.

Where's the spend on the artwork? For the hefty price tag - I would expect a lot more effort on game design/artwork.

Mechanics are sound cuz Igancy is a great designer no doubt. But such a drag experience.

Where's the appeal to replay it? When you have so much competition & brilliant games out there!

Sorry, thumbs down from me. Wish it was better!
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Funny, I watched the play through on Jon Gets Games and had the same response. I was particularly surprised that the much trumpeted app, about which we had so much controversy many months ago, seemed exactly what people feared - an annoying intrusion.

I'm sure like most games it gets better with more plays, but am amazed the first impression is, well, a bit dull.
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Ovaldo wrote:
The game design just looks rushed! like Portal games were in a rush to release it.

Where's the spend on the artwork? For the hefty price tag - I would expect a lot more effort on game design/artwork.

Mechanics are sound cuz Igancy is a great designer no doubt. But such a drag experience.

Where's the appeal to replay it? When you have so much competition & brilliant games out there!

Sorry, thumbs down from me. Wish it was better!


This. 100% agreed. The game feels like it is in a solid alpha phase of a game. I even felt like the box art looked cheap way back when I first pre ordered. It gave me my first cause for pause. The app and board feel very much like they are prototypes. Good enough for demoing at a con, but lack the polish of a full release.
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Brian Long
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I'm still waiting to form my opinion of the game as a whole, but I will say, the event cards being in the app is definitely a big step back from Robinson Crusoe right now IMHO. There was something so palpably tense about shuffling a card back into the event deck, knowing that it would come back to bite you in the ass later, and remembering what lead to that consequence in the first place. In FM, the events resurfacing via the app felt very "yeah, yeah, click through it" and I found myself just skimming them for the important quantitative information. I get that with the app, the possibility for new content exists, but in practice, I find myself ignoring the flavor of the event and really just disconnected from them thematically, only interested in the numbers.

Maybe the malfunction cards would have been the better choice to be based out of the app rather than the event cards. Because the malfunction cards are almost purely quantitative in the first place, the flavoring is very low.
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First off, thanks for a long, well considered review. I haven't played First Martians much but I have played Robinson Crusoe a lot and I'm pretty sure the same thing is going to happen - the first few plays are a chore, as you get used to the flow and all the things you do. But then the process will fade into the background and the story can then be told. I just don't believe a single play can give you a feeling for how it will work. But, to each their own.

That being said, I do have a few nits to pick:

Quote:
It's not that clean of a system, and while it's a really minor complaint, I can tell you that on a couple occasions, we had to ask each other which pawns were being used to build vs which pawns were being used to repair vs which pawns were being used for some other miscellaneous action because there's no way to specifically denote what action you're doing unless you put your pawn on that specific action tile.


Not really true. For all the actions you do that put you outside of the space you're doing the action for, you should have an additional bit that goes with the action pawn. For instance, if you're repairing, you'll have the repair part on top of it. If you're replacing, you'll put the replacing bit on top of it. Again, much like Robinson Crusoe, it becomes second nature before too long.

Quote:
Why doesn't the app track how much energy, oxygen, and food you are generating and automatically resolve the production phase for you?


The app can't keep track of all the energy and oxygen produced and generated without a ton more bookkeeping. You'd have to enter in how many spots you currently have and be sure to track it every time it changed in the app. Then the fiddlyness just goes to the app. You don't have to do any of that with the board. You just glance at the current state.

The rules definitely feel off some how, but I can't put my finger on it. Too many things don't seem to be in the right place, or at least not where I'm looking for them. I'm hoping that, much like Robinson Crusoe 1 ed, the player aids will come out that will fix this.

I've heard this complaint in other games about "only x number of actions in the whole game!" about a few other classic worker placement games (like Vinhos) and to be honest, I just don't get it. To begin with, you have at least 2 other action pawns (the rovers) and, if you're playing with less than 4 players, the AOMs each add one. It just means each action does and means more, I guess.
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Jason "J.T." Taylor
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I've played through three full scenarios (first two solo, second co-op). The first time playing through was a chore. The second time I unknowingly selected the hardest mission and got destroyed by the 5th round (and loved it!)

The third time I played, I had a friend over who isn't an avid gamer, and because I knew the game I was able to help him through the rules in about 15-20 mins and I helped deal with the intricacies as we met with them. He REALLY enjoyed the game, would've played another scenario if time permitted, and the decisions we had to make were tough. By that time, the slog I found having to deal with all of the clean up /etc from all the phases went by pretty quickly this time and we were able to roll through the intro scenario in about 60-75 mins.

I own Robinson Crusoe. However, because of how bad that rulebook was in the 1st edition, I have yet to play a full scenario without giving up. So I don't have any love for RC but I haven't tried the new rulebook either. With that said, it seems like the folks I've come across that don't like this game are folks that loved RC and expected this to be RC on Mars. That might be a fair expectation to have.

So this is an honest question, do you think you might have had a different opinion of this game if you didn't have RC as a reference?
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jt4jc wrote:
I've played through three full scenarios (first two solo, second co-op). The first time playing through was a chore. The second time I unknowingly selected the hardest mission and got destroyed by the 5th round (and loved it!)

The third time I played, I had a friend over who isn't an avid gamer, and because I knew the game I was able to help him through the rules in about 15-20 mins and I helped deal with the intricacies as we met with them. He REALLY enjoyed the game, would've played another scenario if time permitted, and the decisions we had to make were tough. By that time, the slog I found having to deal with all of the clean up /etc from all the phases went by pretty quickly this time and we were able to roll through the intro scenario in about 60-75 mins.

I own Robinson Crusoe. However, because of how bad that rulebook was in the 1st edition, I have yet to play a full scenario without giving up. So I don't have any love for RC but I haven't tried the new rulebook either. With that said, it seems like the folks I've come across that don't like this game are folks that loved RC and expected this to be RC on Mars. That might be a fair expectation to have.

So this is an honest question, do you think you might have had a different opinion of this game if you didn't have RC as a reference?



I don't think OP has played Crusoe, as the review reads:

Quote:

The biggest problem, however, is that you typically only have 2 pawns to use for actions, and they can either be used together to successful execute 1 action or spent separately to potentially do 2 actions.


which is of course entirely unchanged from RC.
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jdarnold wrote:
First off, thanks for a long, well considered review. I haven't played First Martians much but I have played Robinson Crusoe a lot and I'm pretty sure the same thing is going to happen - the first few plays are a chore, as you get used to the flow and all the things you do. But then the process will fade into the background and the story can then be told. I just don't believe a single play can give you a feeling for how it will work. But, to each their own.

That being said, I do have a few nits to pick:

Quote:
It's not that clean of a system, and while it's a really minor complaint, I can tell you that on a couple occasions, we had to ask each other which pawns were being used to build vs which pawns were being used to repair vs which pawns were being used for some other miscellaneous action because there's no way to specifically denote what action you're doing unless you put your pawn on that specific action tile.


Not really true. For all the actions you do that put you outside of the space you're doing the action for, you should have an additional bit that goes with the action pawn. For instance, if you're repairing, you'll have the repair part on top of it. If you're replacing, you'll put the replacing bit on top of it. Again, much like Robinson Crusoe, it becomes second nature before too long.

Quote:
Why doesn't the app track how much energy, oxygen, and food you are generating and automatically resolve the production phase for you?


The app can't keep track of all the energy and oxygen produced and generated without a ton more bookkeeping. You'd have to enter in how many spots you currently have and be sure to track it every time it changed in the app. Then the fiddlyness just goes to the app. You don't have to do any of that with the board. You just glance at the current state.

The rules definitely feel off some how, but I can't put my finger on it. Too many things don't seem to be in the right place, or at least not where I'm looking for them. I'm hoping that, much like Robinson Crusoe 1 ed, the player aids will come out that will fix this.

I've heard this complaint in other games about "only x number of actions in the whole game!" about a few other classic worker placement games (like Vinhos) and to be honest, I just don't get it. To begin with, you have at least 2 other action pawns (the rovers) and, if you're playing with less than 4 players, the AOMs each add one. It just means each action does and means more, I guess.


I agree with you that my criticism about the build action is minor and maybe even unnecessary. Maybe I'm not articulating my thought fully either. Like you, I'm probably not putting my finger on the right spot. Because I really just feel that the action system is just a little to...scatterbrained? Maybe a little too loose? It just didn't feel clean or streamlined. It's hard to explain, and the best example I could come up with was the one where we had multiple pawns on the same backup facility, and we were trying to figure out who was going to do what.

This is definitely the weakest point to my entire post which is why I made sure to label it as a minor problem, and I'm glad you brought it up.
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jt4jc wrote:
I've played through three full scenarios (first two solo, second co-op). The first time playing through was a chore. The second time I unknowingly selected the hardest mission and got destroyed by the 5th round (and loved it!)

The third time I played, I had a friend over who isn't an avid gamer, and because I knew the game I was able to help him through the rules in about 15-20 mins and I helped deal with the intricacies as we met with them. He REALLY enjoyed the game, would've played another scenario if time permitted, and the decisions we had to make were tough. By that time, the slog I found having to deal with all of the clean up /etc from all the phases went by pretty quickly this time and we were able to roll through the intro scenario in about 60-75 mins.

I own Robinson Crusoe. However, because of how bad that rulebook was in the 1st edition, I have yet to play a full scenario without giving up. So I don't have any love for RC but I haven't tried the new rulebook either. With that said, it seems like the folks I've come across that don't like this game are folks that loved RC and expected this to be RC on Mars. That might be a fair expectation to have.

So this is an honest question, do you think you might have had a different opinion of this game if you didn't have RC as a reference?


Evan Sparks is correct. I have not played Robinson Crusoe.

I have watched the 45 minute Watch it Played tutorial video, watched the entire gameplay play through, and seen plenty of reviews for the game, so I am familiar enough with the mechanics to make a few comparisons, but I definitely did not want to bring up Robinson Crusoe too much because I can't fairly judge the two.

Since I have not played Robinson Crusoe, I was largely judging the First Martians on its own merits. Keep in mind that I actually passed up on buying Robinson Crusoe's second edition because I wanted to wait for First Martians.

Interestingly enough, I have been more tempted now to go back and snag a copy of Robinson Crusoe as I believe the production values are significantly better, and it also seems like the event deck tells a better narrative than what I've seen so far in First Martian's app.

But as yet another disclaimer- I have not played the First Martian's campaign, which may have changed my opinion on certain criticisms such as the lack or an interesting story/narrative.
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Garry Rice
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Appreciated your thoughts...however note that each person only gets 1-2 actions each round in Robinson Crusoe as well, so First Martians is much the same in that aspect.
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Jason "J.T." Taylor
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imtylerdurden wrote:
jt4jc wrote:
I've played through three full scenarios (first two solo, second co-op). The first time playing through was a chore. The second time I unknowingly selected the hardest mission and got destroyed by the 5th round (and loved it!)

The third time I played, I had a friend over who isn't an avid gamer, and because I knew the game I was able to help him through the rules in about 15-20 mins and I helped deal with the intricacies as we met with them. He REALLY enjoyed the game, would've played another scenario if time permitted, and the decisions we had to make were tough. By that time, the slog I found having to deal with all of the clean up /etc from all the phases went by pretty quickly this time and we were able to roll through the intro scenario in about 60-75 mins.

I own Robinson Crusoe. However, because of how bad that rulebook was in the 1st edition, I have yet to play a full scenario without giving up. So I don't have any love for RC but I haven't tried the new rulebook either. With that said, it seems like the folks I've come across that don't like this game are folks that loved RC and expected this to be RC on Mars. That might be a fair expectation to have.

So this is an honest question, do you think you might have had a different opinion of this game if you didn't have RC as a reference?


Evan Sparks is correct. I have not played Robinson Crusoe.

I have watched the 45 minute Watch it Played tutorial video, watched the entire gameplay play through, and seen plenty of reviews for the game, so I am familiar enough with the mechanics to make a few comparisons, but I definitely did not want to bring up Robinson Crusoe too much because I can't fairly judge the two.

Since I have not played Robinson Crusoe, I was largely judging the First Martians on its own merits. Keep in mind that I actually passed up on buying Robinson Crusoe's second edition because I wanted to wait for First Martians.

Interestingly enough, I have been more tempted now to go back and snag a copy of Robinson Crusoe as I believe the production values are significantly better, and it also seems like the event deck tells a better narrative than what I've seen so far in First Martian's app.

But as yet another disclaimer- I have not played the First Martian's campaign, which may have changed my opinion on certain criticisms such as the lack or an interesting story/narrative.


That's what I get for trying to do too many things at once! =)

Thanks for the clarification. I'm sorry it didn't click with you. No game is going to be for everyone and it's hard to want to play anymore when you are already soured on the game. It's supposed to be fun not a chore. =)

Thank you for taking the time to give you thoughts and write out a very detailed review (that apparently I need to re-read.) =)
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John B
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Sorry your dad sold your bike.
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johnb4bgg wrote:
Sorry your dad sold your bike.


Were you the one that bought it off eBay?
 
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Nope, my Dad had to lower the price of my bike to compete with yours
 
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I've already read a few negative opinions about the app and the "story text" but I have to say one thing.

If the story text is so bad in this game that it makes Mansions of Madness look acceptable...that's not OK. Mansions of Madness' writing is pretty terrible and the stories barely coherent.

My expectations for this weren't super high because of the hideous design and what seemed to be a desire to make it hard-science space stuff rather than fun adventurey space stuff, but the app reviews so far are killing me.
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I think part of the problem is that to make them worthwhile, these apps take far more work than people think.

It's like if some computer game developers decided to stick a board game component into their new game.. would you expect that to be good?
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Gergely Kovacs
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"The day we stop exploring is the day we commit ourselves to live in a stagnant world, devoid of curiosity, empty of dreams." - Neil deGrasse Tyson
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My main gripe with the game is its lack of atmosphere and theme. I've played two missions and never felt that I was exploring Mars or managing a research station. It was just a few hours of exrtemely boring cube pushing. Part of the problem I believe comes from game design. The other reason is the artwork, which is (to me) was bland and boring. We are on a research station on Mars. The creators had a great opportunity to visualize the station and Mars with gorgeous artwork and make the game interesting to look at. Yet what do we get? Plain tiles with text on them. There may be more to this game than what my brief two missions allowed me to see, but my first impression was quite negative, and I am reluctant to give this game another chance. It is a huge disappointment for me.
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David Villa
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Thank you for such a deep and honest review. It was a pleasure to read and it added to my consciousness about this game, as I decide if it is for me.
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