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Subject: Meeples Review - Emergence Event rss

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Note: our group started a 6-player game but only made it to the second epoch. Judging from the pace at the time, I’d say we made it through half of the game. However, the game was starting to drag on and everyone was at their limit. If we ever play this again, I will update my thoughts on the game. I will also be staying away from the components. There is plenty of discussion going around and the game has probably received enough flak for it. If you cannot look past these issues (which is understandable), just stay away.

Emergence Event is a space exploration game for 2 to 4 players, and up to 6 players with the Awakened expansion. Players will play the role of captains who are trying to explore the galaxy and overcome any challenges it may hold. The captains have different strengths and weaknesses so players will have to play accordingly.

Overview: Conquer the Galaxy

Looking at the content of the box, Emergence Event looked amazing; a modular board, asymmetric captains, different tech trees. What looked like a deep, complex game turned out to be disappointingly simple. The problem is the incredibly dull mechanic: target numbers. All those stats on the player sheets? A sham! You would think a race with high Diplomacy would play differently than one with high Tactics. Nope. Encounter cards will tell you what skills to use and a number range it must be at in order to succeed. If your base stat isn't high enough, you can play cards from your hand to increase the check. You succeed if your number is within the range, taking one damage card for every point under the max. Once you complete the encounter, you get some reward that ultimately makes it easier to complete even more encounters. As the game goes on, skill checks become harder (multiple stats/higher skill level) but in the end, it boils down to a bit of mental math. Draw back to your hand limit and repeat each turn – not exactly fun to do for hours.

There isn't much else to the gameplay. You have a deck of cards but there isn’t much card management going on. Some cards are slightly more powerful than others but there is no consequence on playing more cards than needed just to bump up the skill check to the maximum target. If anything, you would be in a worse position for holding onto a card and taking damage. Damage cards take up space in your hand or deck and when no more can be given out, players will lose victory points for every pair of damage cards they have. Just play the card, the deck is small enough that you'll get it back in no time. The negative power of the captain cards I thought were completely unnecessary. The captain cards generally have pretty useful positive effects, ones that you want to make use of during the turn. But for whatever reason, a quick take that was tacked on. I’m all for conflict in games but this didn’t feel right.

Looking past all that, Emergence Event does offer some interesting ideas. The game is all about space exploration and I really liked their take on it. Players do not start with any personal missions. Instead, you have Discovery Encounters scattered across the galaxy and the Act I of each story line is up for grabs. Completing the Act I will start a quest to find Act II and Act III which will spawn randomly as galaxy tiles are revealed. This ties in nicely with the time track. For every movement that player makes, the time track will go up by one. At the end of the first and second epoch, open space encounters become more difficult. And at the end of the third, the game ends. The whole point of the game is to travel to all these Discovery Encounters, stopping at different locations on the way. This creates a nice sense of urgency as players are trying to travel faster than their opponents.

Final Thoughts

Emergence Event nailed it in terms of theme but the game itself was mediocre. Charting out my path was satisfying but my enjoyment abruptly ends there. When I play games, whether I win or lose, I feel like I achieved something in the end. I got no sense of accomplishment here. Maybe it’s because we didn’t finish the game? I don’t know, I don’t see how another hour or so of meeting target numbers would do it for me.  For a game with such simple gameplay, it goes on far too long. Perhaps my view on the game would have been a lot different had the game played in 30 minutes instead.

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Sid Rain
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It's like they were trying to boil down Mage Knight, and boiled it down too far. It's an oversimplification of all the things that made Mage Knight great. Using your hand to get things done? In MK, it's a puzzle figuring out how you're going to string together your cards to do something. Even something as simple as moving one space and attacking an Orc turns into a whole process and it feels like you did something big, despite it usually just being a small part of the game.

In Emergence Event, it's all just numbers, there's no feeling to any of it. Nothing really makes any one card stand out from any other card, they all just feel generic. "Oh, this one has a higher diplomacy or whatever, I guess I have to use this one." Basically all you use your cards for is movement or encounters. In a sense, the same is true for MK, but many of the cards behave different enough that you can actually do vastly different things depending on how you use the card and you can work up combinations of cards. The only combos in EE are bumping up your skill checks or moving farther.

You also can't really do anything to improve your deck in EE, just repair damage maybe.

In MK, the map seems like it's teeming with things to do and they all behave slightly differently or confer different bonuses or promise different sorts of battles. In EE, they're just different target numbers to overcome. Again, MK is essentially that, but they feel like different enough encounters and they confer different enough bonuses that it provides you with real choices. Monsters on the board are obstacles and potential sources of treasure. In EE, you've got planets, asteroids, space stations, and empty space, but its universe is just empty & dead, there's nothing else on the board to interact with apart from target numbers and maybe another player (solo rules are also pretty paltry compared to MK).

Even the leveling up process in EE is inferior, despite the apparent multitude of options. In MK, you level up as you get victory points, it's a natural consequence of doing things, no matter what you're doing. In EE, you have to collect the right amount of resources and purchase some bonus, but none of the leveling up stuff feels like new, special powers or anything.

The story act cards are actually the one area it felt like it could've had something over MK, but once you've read the small bit on the card, that's it. The cards are totally unconnected to anything else. Again, there's no feeling to any of it, no sense of an epic space opera, no feeling like you're taking part in a series of connected missions in a campaign.

There was alot of potential with this game, but none of it really added up to anything.
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