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Subject: Merlin vs Castles of Burgundy rss

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Steve Dee
United Kingdom
Gloucestershire
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I am completely mystified as to why Castles of Burgundy is in the top ten games of all time, but Merlin cannot even make the top thousand. Both are by the same creator, Stefan Feld, and both are great games, but for me, Merlin is by far the superior game. Castles of Burgundy was great at the time it came out, but the board game industry, and Stefan himself, have come a long way since then, and I think Merlin reflects that.

Like Castles of Burgundy, Merlin is a point salad game, with a mechanism where you all your roll dice at the beginning of a turn, then select dice one at a time to perform actions. The choices available in Merlin though, are for more interesting than the ones in CoB, and each selection you make potentially affects selections you will be able to make in the future, especially if you use the apples to change a dice roll. Finding ways to achieve your plans using the resoources you have is a fascinating puzzle - like putting cogs together to make a machine work.

The components are gorgeous. Everything is gloriously tactile - we have meeples, cubes, cylinders - the only cardboard tokens in the games are thematic shields to repel the traitors and flags to wave for special powers.

Yes, there really is a theme. CoB is really a game (a good game) with a theme tagged on, and you could argue that is also true of Merlin, but the theme is everywhere, and the supporting artwork is so convincing, that you get swept up, and buy into it. The player boards are castles! You hang your flag tokens off them! Traitors come at you over the battlements! There are carboard Excaliber and Holy Grail figures, and the first player marker is a 3D crown.

At it's heart though, this is an area control game. Yes, there are lots of ways to score points, but the biggest two ways are in the "environs" and the influence cubes actions, both of which are area control. My group had a great time trying to out-manoevre each other in these, and trying to steal the grail from other players, to break ties.

My only potential negative is that it does take a while to set up and put away, but I quite enjoy that.

In short, this is the game that I wanted Castles of Burgundy to be. I recommend it to anyone.

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Jack Francisco
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Cumberland
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Feld used to be an insta-buy for me. The last couple of years have seen some lackluster titles that haven't even tempted me a little. This one falls into that latter category.
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Bryan Thunkd
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senorcoo wrote:
Feld used to be an insta-buy for me. The last couple of years have seen some lackluster titles that haven't even tempted me a little. This one falls into that latter category.
Yup. Same.
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Robin Zigmond
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I agree with the 2 posters above - although Merlin is the first Feld I've played which really doesn't do anything for me. His previous release, Oracle of Delphi, is still a good game - although I admit nowhere near his best.

But I kind of agree with the OP in one thing - CoB has always to me been one of Feld's most lacklustre games. It's still good, perhaps even very good - but not a patch on his best games (Trajan, Aquasphere, Luna, Amerigo and too many more to name).

But it's still at least 10 times as good as Merlin, which just seemed about as "meh" as a game can get, and not like Feld at all. I hope he returns to form soon.
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baboon baboonov
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Merlin should rise in rating once it is available in retail (worldwide); though i don't believe it would be at the top 100.

CoB and Merlin don't have a lot in common and feel quite different (at least for me).

Moreover, don't forget that Feld didn't design it by himself, the game was codesigned with Rieneck. This, it may not be your typical "Feld Game".
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f s
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Merlin is a terribly confusing game where it is very hard to see what a sensible move might be. Plus it is one of the most analysis-paralysis inducing games I have ever played.
Overwhelming in a bad way.
Production is nice, but has a few flaws as well. (An apple reminder on the grail would be nice. I find it very hard to see where I can jump on in the roundabout in the middle. Orange and brown are very hard to tell apart on the cards. Etc.).
And you would really have to compute your opponents moves as well, which I find impossible in Merlin.
Theme is a joke in Merlin.

Burgundy on the other hand is an elegant design with a nice flow and mostly obvious decisions, with just the right ammount of truly game-changing decisions. Watching the opponents is very possible - you can know what they most likely will want.
Theme is thin, but I am ok with abstract kingdom building style games.

I find Burgundy vastly superior.
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Bill Kunes
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I've played Castles 100+ times and currently rank it my #3 game of all time. I played a demo game of Merlin last year, liked it and was open to it potentially being one of my favorite Felds. It's price and availability are a bit problematic to me getting it at the moment.

As for the more recent Felds, I've liked them all as middle to upper-middle Feld titles in his portfolio. I appreciate that he is/has been trying to do some different things and still find them enjoyable. I think as huge fans, many of us want them to continue to get better and better, which I'm not sure is a realistic expectation.

meeple Keep playing...
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Ted Morris
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I haven't had the chance to play Merlin yet, but it's one of the rare Feld games I have no interest in...so far. Reviews have been pretty luke warm and the playthroughs I've checked out just aren't getting me juiced up at all.

Nothing will ever touch CoB or Macao as my favourite Feld games. That's the great thing about prolific designers...there's bound to be something for everyone!
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Alan
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Interior de São Paulo
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Steve_Dee wrote:
Castles of Burgundy was great at the time it came out, but the board game industry, and Stefan himself, have come a long way since then, and I think Merlin reflects that.


Yes, of course, all the new enhanced 3d dice rolling graphics, and the new improved vertex shader pawn technology, allied to a wonderful light and shadow tile effect, besides the extra memory for textures and minis, which, by itself demands more RAMDOM memory......

Common, this is not software/hardware/app industry ....
 
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Arthur Rutyna
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Castles of Burgundy is probably the better game. However, I enjoyed my 2 plays of Merlin. I'm looking forward to more plays of it in the future.
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Kathy Sheets
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We really like Merlin. (We got tired of CoB but we did play it a lot.)

Of course, Macao is our all-time favorite and I never tire of it.
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Steve Dee
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Mamadallama wrote:
We really like Merlin.


Hurrah! It's not just me!
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Brian Hughes
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For me, Merlin is a very good game and it is great to see Feld/Rieneck doing something new (roll and move) and not getting into a rut by repeating previous successes. I am not always in the mood for one of the heavier Feld classics.
Brian
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Damien Cosgrove
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I also like Merlin and every group I've taught it to has enjoyed it.

A lot of initial reviewers slammed it, which dampened people's views, mainly because it was a roll and move game and that was some sort of heresy. It has a decent amount of dice mitigation and given that 3/4 of your moves each round are not impacted by other people's moves, then people who suffered AP on it would be doing much worse on almost any worker placement game I've played. For me, it;s light and fun, not at the level of MAcao / CoB, but still a very playable game.

I think it's also become a victim of Queen game's new approach to availability, which is a KS, then minimal sales outside their website / convention sales.
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Bryan Thunkd
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feign wrote:
A lot of initial reviewers slammed it, which dampened people's views
feign wrote:
I think it's also become a victim of Queen game's new approach to availability
These might be reasons why it hasn't done well, or it might be...
feign wrote:
it;s light and fun, not at the level of MAcao / CoB, but still a very playable game.
...that even the praise I see for it is lackluster. I mean just looking at your comment "light", "playable" and and "not at the level of Macao/CoB" are all things that make me think it's not for me.

The strongest praise you offer is that everyone you've taught enjoyed it. But then again I know people who enjoyed Oracle of Delphi, CoB Card Game, Amerigo, which are all games I didn't like at all.


 
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Marlene Thornstrom
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baboonov wrote:
Merlin should rise in rating once it is available in retail (worldwide); though i don't believe it would be at the top 100.


I thought that it is only available from KS or ordering directly from Queen?
 
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Enon Sci
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Tikatoy wrote:
baboonov wrote:
Merlin should rise in rating once it is available in retail (worldwide); though i don't believe it would be at the top 100.


I thought that it is only available from KS or ordering directly from Queen?


It's getting a retail release, and the price will be significantly less than the kickstarter, from what people have been discussing.

Should be out later in the year.

edit: https://www.miniaturemarket.com/qng20031.html <-- US based pre-order ($42.59).
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Katrina
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I adore both!! Finally got to try Merlin at GenCon last week & as I love Feld and Rieneck (World Without End is my favorite game) I had high expectations. They were met, and exceeded - and the separate map has a Castles of Burgundy feel to it. Love Menzel's art as always, theme is in the details, and so many options on a turn. The only Feld so far I haven't loved is Oracle of Delphi partly due to the race aspect; but I've only played AquaSphere, La Isla, and Pillars: Builders Duel in addition to the above.
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Gabriele Pezzato
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I like Castles of Burgundy as a 2-player game, but I find it to be too tedious with 4 players. Merlin is much more interesting and tense as a multiplayer game. My only concern with Merlin is that in order to mitigate the luck of the roll you have to waste a lot of turns hoarding flags or trying to get apples via the grail. Otherwise you could potentially be at the complete mercy of the dice.

For reference, my favorite Feld game is Bora Bora, where dice manipulation is much easier and satisfying and player interaction is deviously compelling. But all in all I really enjoy Merlin.
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