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Subject: UMCR Commissioned Review: It's a Great One! rss

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Nick Van Dam
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Anderson
Missouri
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I discovered this game thanks to Sam Healey of the Dice Tower and his review of Religiously Themed Games. (link below)

(Note I had to substantially update my review after some of the other scenarios)

I like to get games with themes that connect to other interests I have. Fresco, because I like to paint, Um Reifenbreite, because I love cycling and Triathlon (I haven't found a good Triathlon game yet), and Commissioned because of the Religious and Historical theme, I am a Methodist Pastor in the process of being commissioned (a step in our ordination process), so this game immediately sparked my interest. With few good games with a religious themes I has hesitant but hopeful for this game.


Components


Overall the quality of the game is quite good, everything from the box to the bits shows no signs of corners being cut.

- The Box, it is a good standard size, it is an appropriate size for the contents as well. The Art on the box has been criticized but I find it charming.
- The Board, is double sided, and it is clear that effort went into the art, modeled after a Roman map of the region is is thematically rich. For me the art doesn't grab me. It doesn't cause you to pause and investigate if you see someone playing it.
- The bits, the church members are white wooden cubes, the Apostles are colored wooden pawns, and there are wooden missionary meeples. All are of good quality and are functional. I like the missionary meeples and am hopeful in any expansion Apostle Meeples may be made available.
- The cardboard (all of it) is of a nice thickness. The player boards are thicker than I would have expected (which is quite nice), the chits are nice and of manageable size.
- The Cards, the Trial cards are of standard size and good/ok quality, the symbols on them can sometimes be difficult to interpret, and some small text might have been helpful there. As it is during the first few plays we had to consult the reference in the back of the rules a lot, as some were not intuitive.
The player decks are the smaller sized cards (like ticket to ride). These are of good/ok quality as well. The symbols on these have the same learning curve as the trial deck.
- The Rule Book, has a few problems wording and clarity, but with BGG and some tutorial videos these are overcome easily.


Game Play

I have played the first three of the five Scenarios.
Acts of the Apostles is recommended by the designer as the one to start with.
In Acts of the Apostles, the object is the have Churches in every city on the board and all of the Books(cards) of the New Testament collected.
How you lose - you don't accomplish these things before the trial deck is exhausted, or 5 churches are extinguished.(lose all them members)

This is accomplished through deck building and player movement.
During each round players draw the top 6 cards of their deck. A trial card is revealed and comes into effect. These can be anything from loss of church growth to a church is extinguished.

Then the prayer phase where each player offer 1 or 2 cards (depending on player count) to the player whose turn it is.
Then a die may be rolled to determine if there will be conversation (this can be good to stop an alpha gamer, but with the difficulty of the game already high we have never used the die).

Following the implementation of 2 of the prayer cards comes the movement phase.
The player can perform 2 moves, when moving to a space without a church 3 pieces are required with at least 1 missionary meeple or apostle pawn in the group.
Then churches are grown, when 1 church member cube may be added to any church with 3 or more pieces present. (this is an interesting balancing act as you can run out of cubes if you are not careful)
Then this process is repeated a second time after which the remaining 2 cards in each persons hand are used to buy a new card(s).
Then the turn passes to the next player.

Our Experience

Being our first deck building game this game had quite the learning curve. This combined with the sometimes challenging symbols, and a game play style that is all it's own this game initially came off harsh.
During our first game we fell into the trap of not expanding quickly enough and lost rather badly.
After a few more plays the game got better, and ultimately I really enjoy this game.
After playing the next two scenarios I strongly disagree with the designer that Acts of the Apostles is the best to start with. It is by far the longest and most challenging scenario I've played so far. For experienced gamers it may be the best, but as a gateway game Peter's Journeys is a much better choice of scenario, with Paul's being a nice next step.

Pros.

- The theme, it is well integrated. The Trial cards, and the difficulties make sense. The risk taking, and the resource management of the church members plays into the theme well. The answered prayers that help the church are also thematic.
- The components are good quality.
- The Mechanics are sound, and interesting. It doesn't feel like any other game I've played, and I like that.
- Replay-ability, Variability in difficulty (easy and difficult deck), and several scenarios to play.
- Resources to use this game as a historical teaching tool.

Cons.
- It is hard to grock(fully grasp)
- In a two player game thinning your deck can be problematic.
- The game doesn't look greatly appealing.
- The length of the game, and time between turns can be a bit long.

Responses to Cons.

- This is really only a big problem when starting with Acts of the Apostles, if you start with Peter's Journeys the game is much easier to grasp.
- Familiarity with the Trial deck does come after repeated plays, but this too is a barrier to new players.
- Both John and Peter are good choices for a two player game of Acts of the Apostles as Peter can buy a card that allows thinning of the deck and John's special ability is to thin the deck.
- While the game may not be a head turner for those walking by it is greatly thematic. Once you have gotten the players to the table the Art does a fantastic Job of immersing players in the theme. The Art also works (is functional) which deserves mention.
- Game length, while turns can last a long time, having the prayer phase helps players to stay engaged even when it is not their turn.

Final Thoughts
Commissioned is a good game. It has the best theme of any Judaeo-Christian game, going out and making disciples is pretty fantastic. This theme is implemented well, and there can be a lot of depth to this game.
However the really fantastic thing about this game is the time put into the scenarios which are so richly thematic. They tell a story, and create a fantastic experience for the players.

I particularly love the game now that I've found scenarios that allow me to play it with more casual gamers as well as serious ones.

I rate this game an 9.5/10





I want to thank Chara games for taking the time to design a good quality game with interesting choices and a well integrated Christian theme.
I see on BGG talk of an expansion, I look forward with excitement to see what comes next!

I also want to thank Sam Healey for taking the time to introduce me to my two favorite Judaeo-Christian themed games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVXRqVyvRlE

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Bob
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Is the Religiously Themed Games link you mentioned in the video?
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Nick Van Dam
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Anderson
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I guess the link to the video didn't work, so I replaced it with a link to the YouTube page. Thanks!
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