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Subject: Emergence of a weird review/session report from Solo perspective rss

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Disclaimer: This review was typed up March 1. I played the base game solo, and played a couple BGG user variants. The review is from that perspective. The first half is sort of more like several brief sessions reports of me getting into the game and trying things out. The second half has my conclusions. There are two (perenthasis) paragraph that were typed on 9/14/17 which is stated.




Preamble
I’ve never reviewed a game before. I have no idea why I felt like reviewing this one. Anyways, if you are on the forum for Emergence Event, you are one of the few. There is not much interest in this game, and not much activity on the forum for it. I guess that is why I’m doing a review. Why review a game that has thousands of posts and 20+ reviews already?

Back Story
You can see my other posts about this game all within the last couple of weeks. It all started with the question https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1768868/game-good
Is this game good? It was not a very wide conversation as most of it was a response to my less than kind original title of “Does this game suck?” I meant no harm by it, I just thought that maybe a game on BGG that has been out for a few years and had around 50 posts in that time period, might not be so good. I only posed the question because I was interested in the game afterall. I was more or less looking to be convinced. After hearing some stout defense of the game and watching the playthrough video on youtube, (there are only like five videos about the game) I decided to give it a shot. But, only because I got an unpunched copy on ebay for 25 bucks delivered.

First Impressions
The game looks pretty cool. The box art is great, the galaxy tiles look really good, and I like the captain boards. Using cards to get around can be a lot of fun. (2 month addict to Mage Knight) I love the ships that do a great job looking like capital ships. My apprehensions were that they game would play too slow, the exploration idea of the game would fall flat, and that every encounter with a planet would be exactly the same as the other planets. I was also a little worried that the captain powers and attack tiles would be lame. Who wants to lose resources, take damage, or lose VP’s just because some ship on the other side of the universe flipped over a square tile that says “screw you!” ??? But, I bought the game hoping that once I get into it that it would be fun enough and a pretty cool little game. Let’s see how it goes.

Open Box
Everything looks great. I’m liking it. The cards feel incredibly flimsy. Love the artwork. Great capital ships.

First Play
The rules are clear enough. There are a few things missing. I did a 2 player setup and just played one captain by myself. During the movement phase I moved the turn timer 2 spaces for the second player each turn. Trying to figure out what I’m supposed to accomplish was a little confusing. Is this game more complicated than I thought? Or, maybe the game is much simpler than I thought, and I’m trying to make it too complicated? The cards all have many stats available, engineering, tactical, science, etc. Well, I can go take a planet, asteroid, or discovery… I don’t care, I guess I’ll just go do the discovery. Two thoughts… “I can do anything I want!” OR “It doesn’t matter what I do.” During the game I was mostly just focused on getting the rules right. I got to the end of it, and I didn’t feel like I did all that much. I had taken 2 planets, 2 asteroids, 1 discovery, 1 open space encounter, and revealed 4 galaxy tiles. I think I had 5 upgrades. When I lay it out like that, it seems like a decent amount of stuff, but it didn’t feel like much. Let’s see what happens in the second go-round when I don’t have to focus so much on rules and I can enjoy the exploration.

Second Play
Again I set this up for 2 players and played one of the captains. I chose a different captain and started into it. I know the rules, I know what to expect, I’m prepared. This time I’ll really go out there and explore the universe! Well, this felt about the same as the last one. Conquering the planets always felt the same. I conquered the much tougher station, but the rewards for that actually seemed worse than for planets and asteroids. For planets and asteroids you get a reword tile or resources or something, AND a reword roll. The station has one option that lets you roll twice for the reword and just keep the best roll. So that is ONLY a reword roll. The other two options give you a temporary boost and a reward roll. None of these are as good as grabbing some resources or artifact shards AND a reword roll. Not to mention the annoyance of constantly rolling a 2 or 3. Overall, not really feeling the exploration theme here. Felt kinda good to get so many more resources and upgrade my ship while actually understanding how the upgrades work. Pretty cool. And at least I accomplished more, um around the same amount of stuff as my first play when I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I’m feeling comfortable with the game, so the next play will be better.

Third Play
Again I set this up for 2 players and played one of the captains. I don’t know if I just had really bad luck the last two times, but this was much better. Cards just seemed to line up for me. I was able to complete my 3 act discovery, which was cool. The other times I never even revealed tiles from the same act. I took 3 planets, 4 discoveries, 1 station, and 1 asteroid. I did maybe 10 upgrades. I revealed well over half the universe. By the end of it I was TDD jumping all over the place. And the best part is that I had fun. It was fun. Buuuutt… you should probably forget everything I’ve typed for my first three plays. This is not a solo game! It was not made for that! This should be played with 2-4 players! So, I will play a 2 player game with my wife. (still hopeful that the game will be cool)


(Time warp to 9/14/17… I never did convince my wife to play it. I also had a hard time getting any friends to play. I had one friend who was willing, but honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to put this game on the table when any other option was given. So I played other games and didn’t get in a multiplayer experience with this at all.)


Giving the variants a try…
I like variants, mostly ones that let me play a game solo or turn a competitive game into a co-op game. So, thank you Gattsu and B. Hester for making these variants. I feel there is a lot of potential in this game. Let’s see how the game plays with a little help from these great BGG’ers.

Gattsu Variant- Emergence Event Solo Exploration
This variant is setup so that you can play the game solo. It focuses on a random universe and lots of exploration. You don’t even know where your home system is! You have to go find it. To win the scenario you have to complete a story arc (one of the best aspects of the game) and then find your home planet while defeating an elite open space encounter (maybe liberating your people?). That sounds pretty cool. I’m excited to play this!

I enjoyed playing this variant. It was a lot of fun. I only won at the very last turn possible. I was unlucky in my discovery draws in that I had to finish the game doing act 2, act 3, and taking my home planet for my final 3 turns. I liked the idea of rolling a die to determine how much the movement track would progress for the “other player”. However, I rolled a “1” about 75% of the time, which also included an attack tile against me. That was really annoying. And for more than half the reward rolls I rolled a 1 or 2. I think the reward rolling mechanism is quickly becoming my least favorite part of the game. All in all, playing this solo variant was better than playing the base game as a single player.

B. Hester Variant- Homeworld
This variant is a solo or co-op game. You and your allies setup on one side of the universe, the remaining ship and irredeemable home system of the vile so and so’s is on the other side. You can play with the galaxy tiles face up or face down. To win the game your team must eventually enter the enemy system and combine stats to conquer their planet. The enemy ship randomly moves from galaxy to galaxy via die roll and “attacks things” in that galaxy. I’m really excited to try this one too!

I played this as a solo game. It really felt just like playing the base game as a 1v1 setup but playing by yourself like I started out doing. And just as those earlier games didn’t do much for me, this was more of the same. I like the idea of conquering the enemy on the other side of the universe, but it was just getting 12 diplomacy target number. That’s really just like a space station. The enemy spaceship moving around is interesting, but we never interacted. Maybe if we were in the same area and it felt like each turn I was hoping for a lucky roll so it didn’t come onto my tile, then it might have been interesting. So, I thought that this might just be a lot more fun as a co-op instead of solo. But, then I realized there is nothing in the victory conditions that keeps you from just flying straight across as a team (or solo) and just hitting the target number for the end game. There needs to be a couple things added to this variant that makes you explore and conquer some of the locations before you can just go over there and finish the game. Also, the target number of 24 in a 3 player game is way too low, because that is just 8 each, which is as easy as a planet. This has a lot of potential, but as it is, you could just say there is a final space station you have to beat.


EE Single Player Rules (Official)
I read this before I played my first game. At that point I had no interest. I thought it was weird that they basically changed the entire way the game played, and eliminated a ton of stuff from it. This seemed weird to me considering all the people that said the game was like multiplayer solitaire. Why would they need to change that much if it’s already really close to a solo game? Anyways, after playing a few times I’m actually encouraged to see that so much was changed and let’s see how it goes.


Conclusions


3X Game?
This game is said to be a 3X, so I’ll include that in the ratings.
Explore
The aesthetics of exploration are definitely there. You’re in a ship in space and you move to a galaxy tile and flip it over. I really like the die roll to show which way to flip it. The galaxies look great! Artwork is very good in this game. So, it feels like you are crossing galaxies and finding new things. However, the gameplay itself doesn’t feel like exploration. The planets, asteroids, and stations are all identical and known in advance. The discoveries do feel like it, but you might play the whole game and never find the act 2 for you to continue the story. Open space encounters are also exploratory and unknown, but they feel sometimes punishing and a risky gamble if you want to win the game, so are often avoided. So, the two exploration aspects are either hard to do or often avoided.
Expand
Not even close. I mean, you do move your ship out of the home system and flip over tiles moving away from where you started. And you gain control of planets. But what does that mean? You end up with 6-10 of your tokens on places you’ve been, but it’s not like expanding your empire. You don’t “own” territory. There isn’t a benefit to controlling any of this stuff unless you go back and upgrade in that location. When I think of expansion I think of risk or Twilight Imperium. You gain systems and planets expanding your territory in the galaxy. When you do this it increases your wealth and political influence. You have to defend this new area. You can increase your production and fleet. That is expansion. Not just marking that you took something at one point.
Exploit
Again, not even close. I don’t even know what to say about this. You get random reward rolls and some other rewards. You aren’t gaining resources, money, power, influence based on colonies/mining/etc. I’ll just stop now.

3X Conclusion
So it’s really a 1X game or 1/2X game, but that doesn’t really matter. Games don’t have to be 3X to be good games. Lots of games don’t include any of those things. Again, I just addressed those categories because people often refer to this game as a 3X game.

Obligatory Comparison to Mage Knight (MK)
Let me say this… I didn’t want this to be Mage Knight. I didn’t think it would be like MK. I’m not disappointed because it isn’t MK. Just a lot of people have made the comparison, so I feel I should give my thoughts.

A lot of people compare this to MK. MK lite, MK Jr. in space, MK in space with more exploration, etc. Here are the similarities… You control 1 single captain ship/hero. The game tiles have hexes. You have a deck of cards. Here are the differences… EVERYTHING ELSE! Sure the cards have stats, but they don’t play similarly at all. MK is a finely crafted work of art. The MK cards are extremely balanced and it is incredible how much thought went into them. Your starting deck had a couple attack cards, some move cards. Some range attack cards. A heal card. Some boosting cards. And 1 card called Improvisation that let you use it for basically anything you needed. Emergence Event has a deck of cards like Improvisation that are just covered with stats. This card has 4 of the stats. This card has all 6 stats. This card has 5 stats. You start with a captain board giving you 6 stats at once, and then your 4 cards give you some of everything, each and every turn. And then all of them give movement. It would probably take a year for the designers to figure out exactly which stat or two they should put on each card. But, they didn’t do that. They just put several stats on each card, gave them all movement, and said good enough.
Let me talk about exploration and variety in comparison. In MK there is a lot more variety on the tiles. This is just a space thing though. If you play any strategy games on the computer, you will understand that space “terrain” just can’t have that much variety from map to map. Certainly not like a game on the ground. So, I can’t knock EE for that. However, in MK each time you want to conquer a Keep, there is potentially a different guardian that has different attack, different block, different other features, and different rewards. Did I need to keep retyping the word “different”? Yes… yes I did. Because in EE nothing is different. This planet is the same as that planet is the same as the next three planets. In MK, if I go into a keep, what I have to overcome is different every single time. All of the locations and the variety ends up with hundreds of different encounters. In EE it is more like 5 types of encounters. To be fair, the Open Space encounters and Discoveries do have some variety, but you do these much less frequently than the planets, asteroids, and satellites.
Some people will love MK and hate EE. Some will love EE and hate MK. And some will like both. The point is that these games are not similar at all.

Variants
The variants I played were more fun than the original game. Kudos to the guys for that. I had the most fun with the first one, but I don’t know how many times I would want to play that. Maybe not much replay value because it would get pretty repetitive. Still, not knocking it, I had fun playing it and liked it a lot. The second variant I can see being really good with a few changes and playing co-op. Again, it has a lot of potential and I can see this as becoming the best way to play the game, but it needs some additional creativity juiced into it.

Positives
The game looks pretty neat.

Negatives
The reward system has the potential to break the game. If you are playing 1v1 and you both conquer something on your first turn, this can be huge. You roll a 1 or 2 on the die, and your buddy rolls a 6. You could get 1 resource to their 3 + a tile. If this happens once, you can recover, but if the first 2 or 3 rolls are low for you and high for the opponent = game over.

Is this game fun?
Meh. A little bit.

Would I encourage someone to buy it?
Nope

Constructive Criticism
• I really, truly, honestly hope the expansion comes out and makes this game really interesting. After reading the rules and watching a video I would buy it in a heartbeat if it added enough variety and made some big changes to the game.
• If the planets, asteroids, and stations were a smaller part of the game, then their identical nature wouldn’t be that bad. They make for a good foundation for a solid exploration game. If they could add some more interaction and some other cool events and such, then it might be good.
• The game could really benefit from planet tokens. If each time you revealed a planet it would have a token that gave it variety from other planets, then that might fix the game. Same for asteroids and stations.
• I think I’ll play that the reward table starts at 3. If you roll 1, 2, or 3, you get level 3.
• If you are creative and like to mess around with your own variants and house rules, I think this game has a lot of potential to be very cool. You could add some great flavor to the game.
• There needs to be more interaction in the game. The last time I said this someone read that to mean pvp conflict. “Interaction” doesn’t have to mean conflict or fighting. Co-op games have a lot of interaction. I don’t see how you make a game with zero interaction except for a random “screw you guys” given by the captain powers and attack tiles. Either there should be conflict throughout the whole game along with these attacks, or I think the attacks should be removed. Maybe they could turn them into trade tiles that let you trade with other captains?
• This could also be a great game if they came out with a second edition that made it significantly better. Heck, they might just be able to release a completely changed ruleset and use all the same components.
• I randomly think about making my own board games and these components would be great for me to play around with and see if I can come up with something.

To those who love the game and the designer/publishers, no hard feelings. This might seem “mean” to the publisher, but hey, I don’t think it wouldn’t be very nice of me if I didn’t try to help educate people about to spend 40-50 bucks on a game that will likely disappoint. And of course the board game community as a whole doesn’t benefit if poor and mediocre games get high sales, thus encouraging the board gaming industry to continue to make mediocre games. Save your money and at least wait to see if the expansions makes this game a lot better than it is.

(Time Warp 9/14/17… After the fiasco of a release of the expansion, I feel like I really owe an apology. I’m sorry I didn’t send out this review earlier and maybe save at least a couple people from buying into the game. Sincere apologies. Also, back to my perspective. I didn't actually play this game as intended, as a multiplayer game. However, this appears to be one of those games that is mostly multiplayer solitaire. So, give the review whatever weight you feel like.)

Thanks for reading!
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Benjamin Hester
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re: Homeworld variant. Fair review. After hearing N F's earlier feedback, I did agree that there were some potential situations that allowed an early/easy resolution to the endgame objective. Probably does need some tweaks, most notably increasing the stat requirements for victory.

Megacon has utterly burned their last bridge with me over their mismanagement of Emergence Event: The Awakening KS project though, so it is unlikely I will return this game to the table and fix the bugs in the variant. Anyone else interested should feel free to do so and make the variant their own, they have my blessing.
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Howie Zil
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BenjaminHester wrote:
re: Homeworld variant. Fair review. After hearing N F's earlier feedback, I did agree that there were some potential situations that allowed an early/easy resolution to the endgame objective. Probably does need some tweaks, most notably increasing the stat requirements for victory.

Megacon has utterly burned their last bridge with me over their mismanagement of Emergence Event: The Awakening KS project though, so it is unlikely I will return this game to the table and fix the bugs in the variant. Anyone else interested should feel free to do so and make the variant their own, they have my blessing.


Definitely have the same feelings about Megacon, only kickstarter I regret so far. Was pleased with the base game, but the multiple issues with expansion and add-ons has left a bad taste and made me not want to play it or fix the issues to make it playable. I doubt anyone would buy it in the second hand market for a fair price.

Only way to save this boardgame would be for Megacon to release the artwork and files for keen DIY gamers to create quality solutions and variants, as this property is pretty much dead.
 
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