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Subject: Why I Imported This and Exported Glory To Rome rss

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Christian K
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What's this?
This game is branded as a mash up of Glory to Rome and Container. I have never played container, but plenty of Glory to Rome, and being a huge Carl Chudyk fan, I had to check this game out. It seemed to be the same style (though not made by him).

So what is the style I am talking about? The game has a ton of cards (100 to be exact), all with different special powers. You can build (or in this game, ship) them to unlock their power. During the game, you get access to more and more cool stuff, while earning money. I like cool stuff, so I had to try the game.



So.. what do you do?
Try to get 50 money asap.
The rules of this game feel extremely close to Glory To Rome. This is what you do:

On your turm, you put a single card down. The cards are in 5 different colors, and the color of the card dictates the action you want to do. Each other player has the opportunity to put a card down of the same color (alternatively they can draw). Then, players who played the card perform the action is order.

So, what are the actions?
Contract: (start construction) Put a card down from your hand to one of your two ships to start a shipment of that. Each card needs a bunch of containers for the shipment to complete (done by Load or Pirate actions). When your shipment completes, you get money and a new special power (juicy!). Your ship with the containers on it go to the center of the table, and you cannot ship new stuff unless you have a ship in your harbour (you have two ships total)

Load: Take a card from your hand and put it onto a shipment.

Pirate: Take a card from the center(remember, this is where the ships go after you finish a shipment), and load it into one of your shipments (when ships in the center are emptied, they return to you so you can start new shipments).

Supply: Okay this one is kinda different. You can sell a card to the place called 'supply Island' for money. Alternatively, you can take a card from the supply island and put it into your imports. Card in your imports give you extra actions when you play or follow a card (again, as in glory to rome).

Import: This is the most interesting action in the game in my opinion. In this action, everyone who followed participates in an auction of a ship in the center. You bid money in hand secretly. The winner pays their bid and takes two cards from the center. These can go to your imports (more actions) or to your goods. What are your goods? It is the area on the right of your player board. These give you points at the end of the game (and even more points based on majorities). They also give you tech points. So what are tech points? It turns out that you cannot just contract any shipment. Shipments have tech requirements, and you can only contract shipments if you have the sufficient goods to fulfill their tech requirement.


The Flow
So thats it, you keep going until someone has collected 50 money. You will send shipments to the center, pirate them and bid on them and keep loding ships faster and faster. The flow and planning ahead is extremely crucial here. You want to be able to keep contracting shipments and loading them all the time. It is easy, if you are not careful, to for example get stuck with both your ships in the center of the table. In this case, you need to start auctions on them (using import) or pirate them yourself, to empty them out and make room for new shipments.

To illustrate how crucial flow is consider this situation: You spend your turn finishing a shipment and sending it to the center. You feel good, you got a new power and some money. But you didn't plan ahead like the others. What happens now?

On the next player's turn, that player contracts a shipment, but since none of your ships are left, you cannot do it, so you draw a card. Everyone else contracts a new shipment.

Now it is the next player again, who plays a Load action. You don't have a shipment contracted, so you do nothing and draw a card. Everyone else starts loading goods into their ships.

The player after that plays a load or pirate action. Again, you don't have any contracted shipments to load. Everyone else finish their shipments and get cool stuff.

You can see, how it is very easy to mess up the tempo and get far behind here (though at least you are compensated with a couple of cards). In Glory to Rome, this was not the case, as the roles who 'contracted' a building there were the same who allowed you to 'load'.

Is this a good or a bad thing? I am not sure. It means that you need to plan a bit more and be more careful. It also probably means that you should, to a larger degree, consider the position of the other players.

And this made you sell your Glory To Rome?
Yes. Here are a couple of reasons why I consider this game awesome:

Bits that make me smile: Yes, this is not so sophisticated, but I really like the production. I love the theme. Shipping is something I normally consider boring, but the art and graphic design (and even shape of the box) just makes this a fun package. Whenever I look at the box, it makes me want to pull it off the shelf and play or just touch the bits. It is among the only of my only games where I felt like I did not need to rubber band (or bag) the cards, as everything fits super neatly in the box. The money tokens are great, I love handling them while I play.

Tech Tree Extravaganzaaa!!: This game has a tech tree. It is not noticable at first, but once you start playing you discover it. Because each card has goods requirements, not all cards can just be build (shipped) at the start of the game. You need to collect the appropriate goods though auctions. The is something very exciting about cards, which are hard to get, but provide you with awesome effects. Most games of this type have a 'flat' structure, where every card is available to build all the time.

Interactions: One weakness of this type of combo card game is that they can get quite multiplayer-solitaire. This game has more interactions than most. Consider the tech tree mentioned in the last post. To fulfill tech requirements, you actually need to win auctions against the other players.

Cards, cards, cards, cards:
This is the most important part of this review, and why the game is so great.
This game has a huge deck of cards, each with unique powers. The unique powers are what makes or breaks this kind of game. If they are indeed unique and fun, the game will be awesome, if not, it will suck. This game delivers!! No duplicated cards, no overly complicated cards. Each card has a simple effect (at most two short lines of text). They are generally meaningful, impactful and exciting. When you look at your hand, you think "oh this power is great", "oh, I must get that", "man, these two would be awesome together". After you finish playing, you will talk to the other players about how awesome some of your cards were and how you would have totally won if you had just managed to do this and that. The powers are easy to understand in most cases, but if you have trouble, the rules have clarifications for them. Did I mention how much I love that all the cards are unique?

Unique player powers
This game has unique player powers in a way I highly enjoy. Your unique power is just a color and you start with 1 tech unit in that color. So if you are the red player, you are able to more easily ship Illegal Goods for example. This is simple easy and efficient and it makes you feel a little bit special.


Anything bad about it?
Yes. I have a few nitpicks about the game, things that could be better.

Graphical consistency and clarity Look at the player board in the second picture of this review (click to enlarge). On the top left it says 1:1, this means that you may at most have 1 import for each shipment. On the right it says 2x because you may have at most two goods for each shipment. Why not 1:2? This inconsistency seems weird to me.

Another slight issue to mention here is on the player board, the left side says IMPORTS in the exact same font as the left side of the cards. So if an opponent has two cards tucked there with 'IMPORT' written on them, it will look as if they have three additional import actions.

The smallest currency is 2 Yes, the game has two money tokens. The smallest one is 2 and the large is 10. So when the game instructs you to take 4 credits, you should just take two of the small one. This was very counter-intuitive to me (because it is different from all other games), and it is extremely easy to take too much money by mistake.

I am guessing the choice was made because otherwise, some goods would give you half a points. Well, I would love to have half points instead of these weird 2 money tokens and no 1 money tokens.

Unforgiving Flow This will surely be a minus for some players, so I should mention it here. The game is somewhat unforgiving if you don't plan ahead as you can easily be locked out of a couple of actions. It does compensate you with a few cards when it happens, but in general I consider it more unforgiving that you would expect with this type of game.

Sub-par Rulebook The rulebook is not that great. It is not terrible, but it has some unclearness considering throwing away partially completed shipments, and in general I think it could be structured better.

Inconsistent wording: Some of the cards are not worded in a consistent way, and I feel that the production could have benefitted from better 'templating'. As an example, many shipments have an instant effect that happens when you ship that card. Some of them say, 'when shipped' after their effect. Others don't. I would prefer not to have this inconsistency. I consider this the most serious negative in this review.

Thematic weirdness: I love the theme, but there is some weird stuff going on thematically. So you contract a shipment, you want that type of good. You load your ship with containers (makes sense). When you ship it, you get the good yourself which gives you a new power (why?), and the rest are on a ship. They can be bought by the competition but they do not gain the power.

What exactly do you goods and imports represent? You import good from the other people's ships, but they just allow you to build more advanced stuff. Your imports give you more actions, why? There is much stuff that I do not understand thematically which, if it made sense to me would make the game easier to explain. To be fair, this is often the case in this genre of games.


So is it good?
If you are asked that question you probably did not read the rest of this review, you just skipped to the conclusion. It is okay buddy, I do that sometimes too who has the time to read all that crap, am I right?

Yes, the game is really good. Really really good. In fact so good that it made me, a Carl Chudyk fanboy, sell my treasured Glory To Rome Blackbox edition (yes I know, blasphemy ).

Too much of this review has been spent comparing it to Glory To Rome, I apologize but it is very hard not to when it owes so much to the DNA of that game.

Import / Export has a ton of cards, all with unique powers, a cool tech tree, more interaction that you would expect, unique player powers, a fun box and bits, and playing it releases all sorts of nice endorphines from my brain. The cards provide a ton of variety and you will experience something new, different and exciting in each play.

The reason why this game succeeds is not because of the things inspired by container in my opinion. The shipping stuff and interaction is great, but the real reason for the success if the amazing cards. Their unique, interesting and cool effects makes playing a pleasure every time. You feel so special, when you complete a shipment for a card with a tricky tech requirement.

The game is a small team production as far as I know (maybe just one guy?) and it shows in a couple of places (see the negative section). I feels like a passion product but not quite as polished as say, the latest hotness from Asmodee.

In conclusion, in a genre which does not get as many new games as I would wish for, this game can stand up there with the best of them.

(I was provided with a review copy from the publisher)





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Chris
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Re: Why I sold my Glory To Rome Blackbox
Nice review.

It may sound silly, but I just can't get over the thematic break in this game of gaining powers from completed contracts. It makes. No. Sense to me. But that's me.
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David Janik-Jones
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Re: Why I sold my Glory To Rome Blackbox
I approve this review 100%.
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Morten K
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Re: Why I sold my Glory To Rome Blackbox
After trying I/E I seriously considered selling my Black Box Edition GtR but nah, I can keep both. Similar on the surface but the flow and feel of the two are quite different.
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Christian K
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harmonicaman79 wrote:
Nice review.

It may sound silly, but I just can't get over the thematic break in this game of gaining powers from completed contracts. It makes. No. Sense to me. But that's me.

It is not just you I wrote about this is the thematuc weirdness section. I enjoy the theme but a couple of things do not really make sense to me. In Glory to Rome, I bouht the idra that buildings give you abilities and poeple gave you actions.
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Jordan Draper
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Awesome review Christian!

You gave some really great insights into the graphic design and potential gameplay improvements, which is very useful for me. For the record this project was 100% made by myself, design, graphics, artwork, kickstarter, manufacturing, the whole deal. So some things were bound to slip through the cracks. I love reading reviews like this because they help me to gain insight into something I've spent way too much time with, which will make all of my future designs that much better.

Thank you for being so constructive on all fronts, good and bad.
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Christian K
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Hey thanks, I am happy if it was of any use. I am very impressed with this as a one man project, but as I mention it does show in a couple of places
 
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C&H Schmidt
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Great review -- one of the few I actually read in their entirety, and not just the Conclusion section.

I am so looking forward to trying my copy when I get home for Christmas!
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Christian K
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CH Scmidt, thanks a lot

It is always hard to know with written teview how much people actually read, you thinkk maybe it should be shorter, but I feel very happy that someone took the time to read it.
 
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Morten K
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harmonicaman79 wrote:
Nice review.

It may sound silly, but I just can't get over the thematic break in this game of gaining powers from completed contracts. It makes. No. Sense to me. But that's me.


Yes and no. It makes sense to me that you get some benefits out of a completed contract. For instance you get extra money out of shipping more food in the future after doing it successfully once. But that taking an Import to give you more actions makes very little sense to me.
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Thomas Petty
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Well-reasoned review with a terrible click-baity title. I'm surprised also that there was no mention of how odd the end-game can feel sometimes. Of our three games, only once did someone say "YES I DID IT!" The other times, someone just didn't need to bid on any containers for their contracts, shipped 3 ships and was like, oh i have 50, kinda by accident. Luckily, the game is quick.

I enjoyed this game and won't be selling Glory to Rome anytime soon.
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Christian K
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TC: "Man owned Glory to Rome and this, you will never believe what happened next"

We didn't experience the end game that way. When people get sorta close, they started counting. I will agree that it is not that fun to count out if you are indeed ahead and should end the game, there could be some hidden end game info (as in Mottainai)
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Brian Bankler
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TheCrippledWerewolf wrote:
Well-reasoned review with a terrible click-baity title. .


12 Reasons why import export is better than G2R. Number 7 will shock you!
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Mus Rattus
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Muemmelmann wrote:

... They can be bought by the competition but they do not gain the power.

...

You import good from the other people's ships ...


Is that what you've found? In my one play, we found players generally imported off of their own ships. I scoured the rulebook for anything forbidding that, but came back with nothing.


What do you think about the terminology? I found "Shipments" "Imports" and "Goods" to be very slippery terms. They can almost be synonymous. One can easily imagine referring to a shipment of imported goods.
 
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Chance Rushing
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Muemmelmann wrote:
Import / Export
Thematic weirdness: I love the theme, but there is some weird stuff going on thematically. So you contract a shipment, you want that type of good. You load your ship with containers (makes sense). When you ship it, you get the good yourself which gives you a new power (why?), and the rest are on a ship. They can be bought by the competition but they do not gain the power.

What exactly do you goods and imports represent? You import good from the other people's ships, but they just allow you to build more advanced stuff. Your imports give you more actions, why? There is much stuff that I do not understand thematically which, if it made sense to me would make the game easier to explain. To be fair, this is often the case in this genre of games.


This was an easy reasoning deduction.

Shipping industry along with many other industries having a reputation good or bad can make the way business with a handshake can improve your efficiency.

So Shipment Powers are representing influence and power that you have with the Goods companies that your shipping goods for.

The Import actions are the influence and power that you have with the government "officals" that oversee the workflow of the ship yards.

And Goods Section are for deliveries to receivers on your end since there are always two ends to a shipped delivery, successfully shipping gets your paid the most, but receiving and delivering also get you paid later.

Well at least this is the way I see these specific items.
 
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Christian K
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Mus: importing your own goods is fine as far as I know (we often initiated auctions on our own ships ti clear them out to contract new stuff).

Chance: that makes sense (maybe except for the goods stuff ). I would maybe have been useful if the game used that terminology instead. Because yeah, good importanand shipments do not seem that easy to differentiate.
 
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Stefaan Verscheure
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Muemmelmann wrote:




The smallest currency is 2 Yes, the game has two money tokens. The smallest one is 2 and the large is 10. So when the game instructs you to take 4 credits, you should just take two of the small one. This was very counter-intuitive to me (because it is different from all other games), and it is extremely easy to take too much money by mistake.

I am guessing the choice was made because otherwise, some goods would give you half a points. Well, I would love to have half points instead of these weird 2 money tokens and no 1 money tokens.




Great review,

and yeah the 2 currency is the thing in the game that annoys me the most.

The game has been very well received in my groups.
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Justin Rizzo
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Any comment towards the criticisms that the game is too constrictive? For example, you only have two boats.
 
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Chance Rushing
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JustinRRizzo wrote:
Any comment towards the criticisms that the game is too constrictive? For example, you only have two boats.


Nope that is part of the game system, it would lose tightness and challenge adding additional boat.
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Justin Rizzo
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I've just been reading that it can feel too tight and restrictive compared to GtR, which I just printed and have yet to play.
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Chance Rushing
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Its not a GTR clone, compared to GTR it might be?? I haven't played GTR, but judging on its own merits it was not.
 
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Christian K
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JustinRRizzo wrote:
Any comment towards the criticisms that the game is too constrictive? For example, you only have two boats.

I touch on this in the review, but I believe it is a matter of preference. You can get quite screwed in this if you do not plan a bit ahead and some players certainly do not enjoy that.
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