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Subject: I should like these games, but... rss

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David
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I love the idea of nerdy, brainy, science-y games.

Which is why I have bought several Phil Eklund games. Funny thing is, I have yet to play any of them. High Frontier (3rd edition) has yet to hit my table, because it's going to take a full day and a bunch of committed heavy gamers. Pax Pamir looks like the same, except in a smaller box.

I just received my KS pledges for Bios: Genesis and Bios: Megafauna (Second Edition), and while I haven't opened the latter, I did open the former, hoping to give it a playthrough, and....

My gods. 52 pages of small print for a game that fits in the palm of my hand. It read like an organic chemistry exam in boardgame form. I don't know if I will ever get anyone else to play that.

So, someone sell me on these games. I like thinky games, but my SO and my gaming friends are usually not heavy gamers, they like something, if not light, then at least accessible. If it takes half an hour of complex rules explanations then it's going to be tough to get it on the table.

I know this seems like an odd position to be in - "I have four games by this designer that I haven't played yet! Should I buy two more?" I'm going to try to get one or two of them played soon to give myself a better idea. But basically, I am trying to gauge whether these are games that should be added to my collection. (Yes, I do already have a rather large Shelf of Shame. Hence my hesitation.)
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Ron Gilbert
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For Genesis, I leave out the science details initially and just say red does X, blue does Y, etc. I also don't worry about explaining how to create organisms until someone has created a bacteria - other than to say eventually we'll create organisms (pointing to those cards).

Eventually I get into the science, but not until everyone understands the gameplay mechanics.
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Ron Gilbert
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I think High Frontier and Pax require a heavy gamer group, so no advice on those (other than to say I don't care for Pax, but High Frontier may be my all-time favorite game).
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Brett Christensen
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This problem is easily solved:

1. Pledge for Neanderthal, Greenland and the add on board.

2. Immediately get a new SO and group of friends who are really into Eklund games so you can play what you have without delay. There has already been TOO MUCH DELAY.

3. Learn how to Phil.

OR

1. Pledge for Neanderthal, Greenland and the add on board.

2. Embrace solitaire gaming.

3. Learn how to Phil.

Actually, Greenland is the 'easiest' so you're going to need that on the shelf!

Also, print some living rules, watch some videos - maybe try to get an advanced degree while you're waiting for the KS to arrive. Learn how to chant "One of us, one of us..."
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Will H.
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I've easily played High Frontier (2nd edition) 20 times; mostly solitaire, but I played it every year at my local'ish board game convention. I have also taught some friends that are into science and games how to play and made a day of it. We actually borrow some space at a local Thai restaurant. We get lunch, then play, then order dinner to take home to our SOs. Everyone is happy.

I have played Greenland a few times solitaire, but given the choice, I'd much rather play Neanderthal solo; and have over 30 times. It is a great solitaire game.

I have also taught non-gamers BIOS: Genesis and they enjoyed it, including the theme. It is honestly not as scary as the rule book implies. Watch some YouTube videos to learn how to play.

Lastly, my daughter adores BIOS: Megafuana so it is something we can enjoy together, and she was very proud to know how to play the game and understand the scientific concepts at age 12!

If you like the theme, and dedicate some time to these games, I think it will be very rewarding for you. If not, that's ok, too, right? This is supposed to be fun.
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Andrej Kojic
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I think you answered your own question. Play one of his games. They all share a general ambiance. You'll get the feeling after a few plays. BUT never forget the rules... I emphasis the NEVER... because relearning the rules is like shoving an elephant into a neutron. The rule book is sandpaper for the eyes, but once I got through it, neanderthal became one of the most thematic and engaging games I've ever played.
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Morten K
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High Frontier won't take all day. It's not a long or particularly difficult game. I recommend you start by leaving out a lot of the rules and variants to learn how to get around, land, take-off, re-stock and build stuff. Then you can add more rules as you go along.

Pax Pamir is not by Phil Eklund but by Cole Wehrle - but it's heavily inspired by Phil's excellent game Pax Porfiriana. And that's the Phil Eklund game I'd start with. You can play it for free on yucata.de and there are two very very good videos explaining the rules available here on BGG. After that, let your interest in the setting and theme drive your choice of what to play. You need that to sit through the rulebook and your several learning games.
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Lior A
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You can play the basic module of High Frontier.

It takes max two hours and I'd rank it 2.5-2.7 in complexity. Shouldn't take more then 10 minutes to teach and it is light years more simple to grasp than Neanderthal or any of the Pax games.

P.s. Also you can just pledge for Neanderthal. It is the better game, an did you already have 4 unplayed Eklund game, you really don't need 6.
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Martin G
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Honestly, it sounds like you either need to play these solo or find another group to play with, preferably one that can teach you the rules. Stop buying them until you've found that!
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Ben Wickens
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Sierra Madre games all take a bit of learning from the rule books. Normally when you read a rule book you can see "oh that is exactly as it is in x game" where as Sierra Madre games tend to go their own way in terms of trying to represent the science or history behind the games reason for being. Then there is all the science and history and game created terms all add to the challenge. All games can be learned by playthrough videos etc. so you have options to learn them. They are fairly complex to learn but not too complex to teach.

I think the Greenland System (Bios Genesis, Greenland etc) suits solo play well. They could be seen as complex dice games and the combination of brutal events and rules overhead might make them a bit on the complex end for your regulars. As you can play multihanded and solo rules you could have mileage in them. They tell a great story and are hugely thematic. They hold onto their value well so once you have played them a bit you can always trade them on.

Bios Megafauna with tooth and claw variant is really quite straight forward although I do not think the rule book helps a science shy player to learn the game. I am trying to do a rules rewrite and think the game could be taught in 15 minutes as long as the players are happy playing something a little different (each hex can have a prey and predator, prey/predator competition rules) I would not rule it out. Will they like the interaction? Will they like the theme? Will they like a Dark heart roll on a mutagen event making some of their species extinct? Thats for you to say. I think it is satisfying to explore solo as well.

Pax Pamir is an easy teach. Once taught also players will really have the rules fairly clear. Probably can be taught well in 15 minutes. You can do things to simplify the game (play weak states) and then the game will play pretty quick. The problem with Pamir is not the rules but managing the challenges of what to do and u why. Do the wrong thing and you could pay for it the rest of the game. For instance if you do not get a Spy card and spend all your money you could feel your choices are very constrained. Games can run over 2 hours for learning games but if play just to the first successful topple it could be much less.

There are lots of amazing games with low rules overheads and a lack of complexity in the play - you do need the right games for the right groups. Sierra Madre games though offer something that I find more memorable even if I cannot get them to the table as often. On top of that each Sierra Madre game then competes with each other for table time so bear that in mind.

Were I you would I get the new Kickstarter? Thats for you to decide. I had first edition Greenland, played it a good chunk then traded it and was very tempted to pick up Neanderthal. If I had more disposable income I would buy it, probably though for solo and solitaire play rather than to introduce to others.

I am certainly getting Pax Emancipation when it comes out...And will be very tempted by a lighter version of High Frontier if that happens.
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Andrew B C
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Learn the rules for yourself first, play it by yourself, and then you can explain it to other people in a way that is a lot more friendly. Also, try to find any player aids online as they are usually helpful.

Neanderthal is easier to learn than Bios: Genesis IMO, though that may be because I played Neanderthal after B:G. modest
 
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Jose Smith
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I guess it comes down to what you are looking for in a game. I am able to get Pax Porfiriana, Pax Pamir, Pax Renaissance to the table because they play pretty quick. Once you learn the pax system it only takes a few minutes to explain why this one is different. I really enjoy each of them as it gives a rich experience of manipulating the current game environment and trying to ensure your engine survives the changes.

High Frontier (3rd edition) is a different beast as you are now talking about something that is going to take all day to play if you do it with full points and colonize. I have not had a game go less than 4 hours, but each of those 4 hours were great as we would stare at that wonderful map and figure out how we are going to make it to our next objective.

Neanderthal, Bios: Genesis, and Bios: Megafauna (Second Edition) play more like simulations. I enjoy them just for the fact of playing through an interesting thought experiment. They all play pretty quick once you get passed the 30 minute rules teach.

If you are looking for a table that will be able to run through these titles you can message me. Though one third of our plays are on tabletop simulator as we can't get everyone around the table at the same time. To give you an idea of how popular these games are with this group, we each picked up all of Phil's available games and pledge his kickstarters.

 
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