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Subject: Top 100 Analysis April 17, 2018 rss

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JonMichael Rasmus
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Preempted by Des Moines.

To have just one more night with you:
(LW= Last week)
Prime Movers
LW: Rising Sun +8 #66
LW: The 7th Continent +5 #31

Falling Stars
[Six games dropped two]

Top 100 Debuts
NONE

Top Ten Trends
NO CHANGE

Top 5 Winning Movers
The 7th Continent (Third week!)
Brass: Lancashire
Le Havre
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Azul

New Highest Peaks
The 7th Continent #27
Azul #50
Spirit Island #56
Rising Sun #65
Anachrony #79
LW: Gaia Project #15
LW: Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 #35
LW: Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition #40
LW: Pandemic Iberia #92

Happy Chart Birthday
LW: Ticket to Ride: Europe (13)

For a review/explanation of the terms in this thread, check out:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Top_100_Analysis

Missed a week there and Gaia Project is no higher this week than last for the first time in several months. PL:2 moved down? 7th Continent finally started moving up again.

Have a good week.
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AJ Cooper
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I guess more copies of 7th Continent are reaching backers.

Will 7 Wonders Duel slip that last couple of ticks to drop out of the top 10 - below Castles of Burgundy?

Gaia Project is still moving up, but currently crossing a somewhat larger gap between Agricola and Puerto Rico. This will likely continue as the gaps tend to get larger near the top.
 
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Radu Stanculescu
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Interestingly enough, on Wednesday Gaia Project overcame Puerto Rico too, and it's closing in on Caverna. I've finally managed to play it with 2 players too, and though I like it better with 3 or 4, it's still good with 2. Maybe it will be the one kicking 7 Wonders Duel out of the top 10.

Or it might be The 7th Continent. It's now on 22! wow
 
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BG.EXE
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If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?
 
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Radu Stanculescu
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Yes. And I say this as someone whose favorite game is Terra Mystica.

If you still want to try TM, you can do it on boardgamearena (base game, free, only need premium account to create new game) or on the Steam/Android/iOS app (with mini-expansions, the Loon Lakes fan-made map, and Fire & Ice expansion - last one is an in-app purchase). Then you can decide if you want that one too.

Edited to add a few reasons.

Pros:
- variable map, with different sizes for 2 and 3 players. I wouldn't play TM with 2 at all.
- tech tracks are much more interesting than cults, and tech tiles are randomly associated with them, increasing variability even more (while their equivalent in TM, favor tiles, are the same every game, and always associated with the same cult).

Cons:
- only goes up to 4 players, so if you regularly have 5 people TM is better.
- GP is more complicated, takes a bit longer, but is less cutthroat.
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Bryan Thunkd
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?
Yes. They're about 80% the same game. The main differences are:

1) GP has a variable map. In TM you have a fixed map, and while the expansion gives you more maps, those are also fixed.

2) TM allows you to block players more. Namely, you can build in such a way that you can cut another player off from connecting his structures to other structures... which is relevant for the competition for longest chain and possibly for making a city. It's harder to cut someone out that way in GP. You can also terraform in TM without building which can make it harder for an opponent to build in a hex they want. You can't in GP. But this is a rarer thing to do in TM.

3) GP has a tech tree where advancing each spot on a path gives you cool abilities or goodies. In TM the cult track is essentially a race to be the furthest in each track. There's some round bonuses that tie off of the cult tracks, but that's less relevant than GP's tech tree abilities. I have played games in TM where I completely ignored the cult tracks. I doubt I'd ever ignore the tech track in GP.

Also, if solo is a consideration the automa AI in GP makes for an interesting solo game. And I don't usually play, or enjoy, games solo.
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Kasper Lauest
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?

Yes, and the reasons have already been given. I love Terra Mystica and am actually a bit sad that my copy of it and my copy of the great expansion is pretty much obsolete now. Gaia Project has simply replaced it. Much like the new version of Through The Ages totally replaced the old version, despite the greatness of the old version.

EDIT: This is also why it seems downright crazy that there's currently work being done on new Terra Mystica expansions. Maybe they didn't count on Gaia Project becoming this popular??
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HenningK
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?

I will offer the differing opinion of "It depends". While the games are very similar and GP in many ways feels like an attempt to fix the most common criticisms about TM, I'm not convinced it totally replaces it.

Here is what speaks in favour of TM:
- TM goes to 5 players
- TM is shorter and less complex (though still a heavy game)

And these can go either way depending on your preferences:
- TM can be more cutthroat, the fight for key hexes is fiercer. Getting boxed in is much more dangerous (and likely).
- TM's static map allows for more "opening theorycrafting". GP's variable map layout offers more variability, but it also heightens the downtime for thinking in "turn 0" (of which TM has plenty already).
- I vastly prefer the fantasy theme and graphic design of TM, though both are not terribly important to me.

If you are looking for a game that also plays well 2 player, GP is definitely way better than TM. If it's mainly 3 or 4 players, I'd say it depends on your personal preference which you will like better.
 
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Ryan Feathers
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?


I'm in the minority, and I know it, but I think Gaia Project is the worse game and would absolutely recommend going for Terra Mystica.

With that being said, it is a bit close and there are a few things I would say Gaia Project is better for:

--Solo gaming. There's variants for solo Terra Mystica, but I don't think any are that good. Gaia Project solo is pretty good.
--2 player games. Terra Mystica isn't that good at 2, Gaia Project does play better at 2.
--Fans of Terra Mystica who miss the freshness of figuring out how to play the various factions. Basically players that have played dozens of times but don't really enjoy deeply diving into the nuances after understanding much of the game.

The reasons I think Terra Mystica is better:

--The information design. While the cult tracks being turned into tech tracks has many proponents, I don't really like it. And the main reason is I think it makes the information flow of the game a lot worse. Now when figuring out what you can do you're looking at these tracks to determine your terroforming rate, but then your board for how many steps it takes. For your distance you look at the tech track, but then your player board for other things. Your income is now split between your player area and the tech track. There's also just that much more going on that it's all crammed and presented in a less appealing way to me.

--Aesthetics. This one admittedly is personal but I'm a sucker for the more abstracted look with chunky wooden buildings and more distinct colors and fantasy themeing on top. Gaia Project is just bleh and messy looking to me.

--Tightness/Competition. I think the game contains even less player interaction than Terra Mystica. Climbing tech tracks has less competition than cult steps in Terra Mystica with how they are set up. Sure only one person can actually reach the top now, but apart from that there's a lot less fighting and tension there. You can't really block or cut players off from planets as you could hexes in Terra Mystica. There's even more once per round power actions and new once per round action allowing for less competition for crucial actions. And while I know many don't like this aspect of Terra Mystica, fighting for the limited favor tiles there was another source of competition and tension that I find lacking when playing Gaia Project.

--This last negative is a bit hard to summarize, but loosely I just find the entire game to not "click" as much as Terra Mystica. Much more of the game is spent just determining what is happening and what the game is trying to present to me. Again maybe this lumps into information design. But in Gaia Project you can now leech project from anyone within 2 hexes, which is a bit harder to quickly ascertain. There are so many things to consider on all the various boards that you have to look many different places. Movement is so free and different in Gaia Project that there's just more to consider and take in. So less of the game is spent making those critical choices of what action is actually best in this situation compared to what is possible for me right now. And this may just be partially lots of Terra Mystica experience making that game easier to grok, but I really believe Gaia Project is much worse at communicating the board state and the possible array of actions and for that added complexity you're not really getting a richer, deeper, or more interactive experience.



I've probably babbled on enough already, even though I'd be willing to write more. Unfortunately it would seem I am in the minority though and everyone is in love with Gaia Project now, so alas. The only other thing I will mention is that Terra Mystica for now has the added benefit of plenty of ways to play digitally. For me that's a big plus too, although it won't shock me if someday Gaia gets an app or other online implementation as both designer and publisher seem quite pleased to do so.


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Daniel King
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Ranior wrote:
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?

I've probably babbled on enough already, even though I'd be willing to write more.


I don't think I'm in the minority when I say that I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the games, although that would probably warrant its own thread. I think you have some great insights. I've always been interested in owning Terra Mystica, but have never pulled the trigger on it. As someone who is usually pretty good at games, I think I've come in last or near last in my plays of Terra Mystica, making it very intriguing for me. Now with the release of Gaia Project I am weighing whether I should pick up Gaia project, or Terra Mystica, or more realistically just wait awhile to see how the reviews and receptions turn out.
 
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Oh my, nine highest peaks and I don't own any of them.

cry

I might be tempted by Azul, if it was in stock anywhere in the UK!

I do like the look of the art for the new Brass games.

cool
 
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blackmeeple wrote:
I do like the look of the art for the new Brass games.

cool

I have been looking forward to it as well since backing it. Sadly in this week's update they announced another delay, this time 4 weeks for remaking some poor quality tiles. I'm starting to wonder if I will have it before Christmas.
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Mh well, first wave second campaign and tons on Continent are reaching their home and backers losing their lives devil
 
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Having recently played my first game of GP, I'd kinda agree with Ranior. On the one hand, GP solves some of my specific issues with TM, but I'd also say that not every change makes it a better game (rather than just a different one).

For TM, my largest problem is the game being so close to solved. There are "right answers" to nearly every question, from "which race should I pick" to "which hex should I start in" to "which favor tiles should I take", and these seem driven less by the actions of other players and more by the setup of the game itself. This is partly down to the static board, which GP solves.

The cult track in TM is interesting, as you can tell that the element advancements on the favor tiles were intended to be a serious consideration, where in practice it's an afterthought. Same with the different starting elements of the races. Heck, the free movement on the cult track abilities aren't much of a consideration either... I think something needed to be done with it, and GP solves this for me too.

That said, it's not clear to me (yet) that GP doesn't have similar issues of its own. Time will tell if the tech tracks and racial boosts are at least roughly equally compelling, and QICs feel like a weird, fiddly appendix (as much as it seems based on Priests from TM).
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Kasper Lauest
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One final point on the TM vs GP debate. Gaia Project is not exactly cheap. If money is an issue you could probably fetch yourself a nice cheap copy of TM on the second hand market, as I suspect that many will sell their copies of TM after they buy GP. And TM is still a superb game (I just happen to think that GP is better). You definitely need one of the two anyway, they're too good to miss!
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BlueSwan wrote:
One final point on the TM vs GP debate. Gaia Project is not exactly cheap. If money is an issue you could probably fetch yourself a nice cheap copy of TM on the second hand market, as I suspect that many will sell their copies of TM after they buy GP. And TM is still a superb game (I just happen to think that GP is better). You definitely need one of the two anyway, they're too good to miss!


TM is on board game arena as well which lowers its value for some.
 
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Talmanes wrote:
blackmeeple wrote:
I do like the look of the art for the new Brass games.

cool

I have been looking forward to it as well since backing it. Sadly in this week's update they announced another delay, this time 4 weeks for remaking some poor quality tiles. I'm starting to wonder if I will have it before Christmas.


What started as a pretty good kickstarter campaign has derailed into the traditional campaign. With some of these campaigns where the publisher knows they're going to make it, i wonder why they don't have this sort of proofing going on during the campaign or already have it done. I'm sure there's a reason, but its not apparent to me.
 
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Spending money you don’t yet have is universally not a great strategy. In personal and business life.
 
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Dave C
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wkufan89 wrote:
Ranior wrote:
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?

I've probably babbled on enough already, even though I'd be willing to write more.


I don't think I'm in the minority when I say that I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the games, although that would probably warrant its own thread. I think you have some great insights. I've always been interested in owning Terra Mystica, but have never pulled the trigger on it. As someone who is usually pretty good at games, I think I've come in last or near last in my plays of Terra Mystica, making it very intriguing for me. Now with the release of Gaia Project I am weighing whether I should pick up Gaia project, or Terra Mystica, or more realistically just wait awhile to see how the reviews and receptions turn out.

I'd say most of his criticisms are either incorrect or very subjective. Aesthetics is really an individual thing and I can't tell someone what they'd like more on that front, but it's at least by the same artist and it shows (for better or for worse)

More competition/tightness/interaction I should note is a purely subjective preference, and despite what many people think, a game with more interaction is not better than a game with less; both types of designs have their positives and negatives, as long as it doesn't devolve into literal multiplayer solitaire (which I assure you, GP does not). The amount of competition also highly depends on the setup in GP: setups with a lot of gaia planets ("wild" planets) can see quite a bit of competition over space.

As for criticisms of information flow or "clicking," I really don't have any issues with that and I can't really relate. I think the huge amount of options you have at any point is a definite plus because I want games that have complicated and opaque strategy. It's a game that's meant to be deeply explored, not one that's necessarily supposed to be played as a one-off in a monthly gaming night.

As for advantages, gaia project has a superior official 2p mode and a solo mode, it has substantially more variability in setup, more dynamic resource mechanisms (most noticeable with how they've made adjustments to power), the research tracks which are almost unanimously considered better than the cult tracks, and, as of right now, none of the known glaring balance issues of terra mystica. Being the most generous to TM would be that the balance comparison is a wash, although I think it's highly likely that GP is a much better balanced game because the highly variable setup and the various niches that factions fall into are the best way to design highly asymmetric games (as years of competitive gaming have taught me).

There are definitely subjective reasons to enjoy TM more than GP, but in terms of design mechanics GP is a clearly superior game.
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PROJ wrote:


As for advantages, gaia project has a superior official 2p mode and a solo mode, it has substantially more variability in setup, more dynamic resource mechanisms (most noticeable with how they've made adjustments to power), the research tracks which are almost unanimously considered better than the cult tracks, and, as of right now, none of the known glaring balance issues of terra mystica. Being the most generous to TM would be that the balance comparison is a wash, although I think it's highly likely that GP is a much better balanced game because the highly variable setup and the various niches that factions fall into are the best way to design highly asymmetric games (as years of competitive gaming have taught me).

There are definitely subjective reasons to enjoy TM more than GP, but in terms of design mechanics GP is a clearly superior game.


I'm a bit surprised that you find no irony stating my criticisms are either incorrect or subjective but that your ending statement somehow isn't....

Anyhow to offer a bit more of a counterpoint again, I don't think it's all that clear, and you're certainly not being fair to Terra Mystica.

The balance in Terra Mystica is pretty good. Of the 14 base game factions 11 of them have pretty reasonable chances to win or place well in some games or set ups. Those 11 at least see some wins in the highest levels of play. There is a very noticeable turn order problem in Terra Mystica whereby the starting player is much more likely to win over anyone else, and then 2nd and so on. The tournament has a found a nice way around that still leading to a very fair and great competitive scene. But tournament like at the WBC have to use bidding for seat position or else run into big problems with the turn order. I highly suspect Gaia Project is no better on the seat order problem, but it will be mostly impossible to know unless we can get great high level play data like we've been able to for Terra Mystica.

Continuing on the faction balancing side of things, being most generous to Terra Mystica would be to suggest it may be balanced quite a bit better than Gaia Project will be. It certainly isn't fair to say it has glaring balance issues--if you actually agree with that then I have news for you, but every asymmetric game is likely to have similar "problems" whereby some factions have slightly higher or lower win rates. In Terra Mystica for the 11 reasonably good factions these correspond to about plus or minus 5 victory points over the average. In a game where experts average scores are around 140 VP's, what I'm saying is that the best factions maybe average 145 VP while even the lower bunch average about 135 VP. (Unfortunately the three bad factions probably would average around 130-125 VP). So if your glaring issue is that there are some factions which have pretty much been shown to be bad, well I'd kind of agree. Even then though player skill is still such an important factor that there's no doubt an expert playing the worst faction will still beat even pretty good players playing the best. (If you really care there is such an expert who plays as FakirsOnly from time to time on snellman and has achieved quite the success only playing this worst faction).

Ultimately my point is that really the game is quite well balanced. There are some issues and I could dive into them even greater, but the only way any of it was really found is through literally thousands of top level games solidifying and showing those results. All the factions are balanced well enough that most players need never worry about it as good play with any faction can win the game their in. It's only once you start having tables of experts that these things start to emerge. And I suspect Gaia Project is about the same.

As for the long term future of Gaia Project though? I suspect the opposite of you. The features you rejoice over I believe speak to a likely darker reality. That variable map and more variable set up I believe is going to only exacerbate the turn order and balance issue. I believe this is specifically because many factions have niches--they enjoy certain map configurations and certain set ups of round tiles and what not. Essentially every faction is going to have an expected VP score based on the set up that will vary with the setup. This is largely true in Terra Mystica as well for what it's worth. But the big difference as you note is Gaia Project has a much wider range of possible starting configurations. I believe this likely leads to greater variance in those expected VP's--a great set up for a faction may allow it to score ever great VP's. So in Terra Mystica perhaps the set up of a average faction allows you to expect it to score anywhere from 150-130 VP based on the set up, and you'd obviously prefer to grab it in those games where you think its a set up that favors that higher end. Gaia Project though with it's much more variable set up I believe will have wider bars on those expected VP's. Meaning that whomever gets 1st pick at factions in many set ups may be able to grab a faction particularly well suited to the situation at hand and have a very high expected VP.

Again, this is all speculation though. If one really cares about balance so much and wants to explore a game and find a competitive community and dive in, the answer is obviously clear: go dive into Terra Mystica. There are years of strategy articles, thousands of example games to learn from, and tons of data showing the game is quite balanced. Plus there is already an incredibly well set up tournament/competitive scene for the game. And if none of that really interests you, then what does all of this balance talk really matter anyhow if it's just going to be you and your friends playing the game a few dozen times over the years? Both games are balanced well enough that you're not going to have any issues there.

As for some of your others points, I don't disagree that Gaia offers players even more choices on their turns and is somewhat opaque. But I'm not at all convinced it's an improvement on Terra Mystica. Sure there are more decisions in Gaia, but I don't think either game ever lacks for tough choices between your decisions. Pretty much at every single decision point in Terra Mystica you won't know for sure what to do between your various options. I suspect at most points there are still several equally good options to pursue along with quite a few poor ones. Gaia has even more of both, but when you're already presented with so many does more really do anything to add to any possible skill ceiling or really create a more interesting experience? Perhaps so, but my main point is I'm not convinced. My mind is just as engaged with all the tough meaty choices, but I think it's easier to consider and read the board of Terra Mystica allowing for my time to analyze the consequences of the tough choices I have and what to go with. Gaia Project isn't an improvement in terms of my turn to turn thoughts being meaningful and interesting.


And essentially I guess that's my entire point. Gaia Project essentially offers more of everything--more set ups, more variability, more integration, more resources, more considerations, but to what end does that make it a better game? Terra Mystica is such a deep game already that you can deeply explore it. The lack of a variable map doesn't really hurt that much when there's so much variability in how the game plays out depending on the round bonuses and income tiles, much less the faction arrangement of the game you are playing in. And with so many factions, it's not even that likely to see the same faction arrangement all that often, nor the same color arrangement making a static map not that much of a concern. (Plus if you care so much there are some expansion maps you can play on anyhow). There seems little doubt that people agree Terra Mystica is a bit easier to learn and handle, so again I mostly have to ask what is the added complexity and variability actually getting me in Gaia Project? My personal answer is not much of anything--I'm getting more options to consider and sort through and wade through and a more difficult board state to take in but it hasn't led the game to seem any deeper or more full of interesting decisions to explore.

They're both good games though. I just am here to dissent from the idea that Gaia Project has so cleanly and clearly fired Terra Mystica from being a worthwhile game to purchase and pursue for many. Some may well prefer Gaia and that's fine. But I just don't think statements like Gaia is a clearly superior game hold up.
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Gary Boyd
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BlueSwan wrote:
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
If I’ve wanted Terra Mystica for like a year and just haven’t bought it yet, should I simply skip it and get Gaia Project?

Yes, and the reasons have already been given. I love Terra Mystica and am actually a bit sad that my copy of it and my copy of the great expansion is pretty much obsolete now. Gaia Project has simply replaced it. Much like the new version of Through The Ages totally replaced the old version, despite the greatness of the old version.

EDIT: This is also why it seems downright crazy that there's currently work being done on new Terra Mystica expansions. Maybe they didn't count on Gaia Project becoming this popular??


I have both games and still love Terra Mystica. Due to the modular board the two play quite a bit differently. I doubt I will ever get rid of Terra Mystica.

If the science fiction theme interests you more, you should probably just buy Gaia Project. If the fantasy theme interests you more, Terra Mystica would be the better choice. If you're not particular about theme then just go with Gaia Project. The modular board makes Gaia Project a better choice at a wider variety of player counts. Terra Mystica is best at 4-5 players.
 
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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BlueSwan wrote:
This is also why it seems downright crazy that there's currently work being done on new Terra Mystica expansions. Maybe they didn't count on Gaia Project becoming this popular??


Maybe the expansion consists of back-porting to Terra Mystica the changes in Gaia Project?
 
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Matt Brown
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Would almost be humorous to see TM get modular boards.
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James
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As a big lover of both TM and GP here's my hot take.

Terra Mystica
+Wooden Bits
+Fantasy Theme
+Balanced Factions
+Known Strategy
+Static Board
+Strong Interaction with blocking
+Simpler (relative) Gameplay
+Tense 4-5 Player game

Gaia Project
+Plastic Bits
+Space Theme
+Variable Board Layout
+More Options
+Tech Track
+More laid back Interaction
+Solo and 2 Player

The positives for either over the other are almost completely subjective. If you like Heavy Strategy Euro Games you will more than likely like either one.
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