Thumb up
2 Posts

Before the Wind» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Seriously Good Game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
United States
New York
flag msg tools
Sitting down to play Before the Wind, I knew nothing about it and expected much less. The first thing you notice when you set up the game is how dank and depressing your warehouse is. This is pretty terrific, and I assumed it would be my favorite thing about the game, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a game that I really ended up loving.

This is not a game for those that like to feel like they've accomplished a lot in a short period of time. This is a shipping game with no extraneous elements. There are some goods, and there are some boats, and you're going to spend up to 2 or 3 hours (hopefully less if your group plays faster than mine) figuring out how to get a handful of goods on to those boats so you can win the game.

There are four goods: apples, cheese, spices, and towels. You start the game with 2 of these, your choice, and 22 guilders. Guilders, which are available in four denominations (10,5,2,1) and goods go into your hand and have the same card backs, so everyone can tell how many cards you have, but not whether they are goods or money or what kind of each.

The game is pretty simple. There are three decks of action cards. The cards in the goods deck allow you to take goods into your hand. The storage deck lets you pay money to move goods from your hand to your warehouse, and the shipping deck allows you to either match goods in your warehouse to available ships, which score you points, or to take money.

In a four player game, there are 7 ships available each round, 4 large ships with a capacity of 4 goods, and 3 small ships with a capacity of 2 goods or sometimes 1 good. The large ships are worth from 12 to 20 points, and the small ships are worth from about 2 to 8, I think. The point value of a ship is dependent on the goods required to ship the ship, with apples worth the most, spices and cheese the same, and towels the least. The small ships are worth proportionately less points than the large ships, for example, a large ship with two spices and two cheeses is 16, and a small ship with one of each is 6. A round ends at the end of a turn when there are two or less ships remaining. If at the end of a round, anyone has 50 or more points, then the game is over and whoever has the most points is the winner. If the round doesn’t end, then goods spoil: you all goods from your hand, and all of the apples and half the combined total of cheese and spices from your warehouse. A 4 player game will most likely take three rounds, but could take less.

The game turn is a simple, yet brilliant innovation on drafting that turns this somewhat humdrum exercise into something marvelous. The start player flips over one card for each player from the 3 action decks. He chooses which decks to flip from, but can’t take more than two from any one deck. Then, in table order, everyone drafts an action card. However, everyone after the start player has the option of either taking a card outright, or making a bid on a previously taken card.
If a player makes a bid, then the other players who have not taken actions yet may also make counteroffers, which can be either higher, lower, or the same. The owner of the card up for bid must then decide whether or not to take someone's money and give up the action, or pay one of the bidders to keep the card. A card which has been bid on in this way is flipped over and not available for bidding on again, and anyone who has been paid money does not get an action card for that turn. This simple system offers up a whole game's worth of difficult decisions and delicious player interaction. If you really need a card that someone else has selected, you have to figure out exactly what price point will make them give it to you without breaking your bank, or if you need money, you can extort it from players that really need to keep a certain card, by making a bid just low enough so that they’ll give you the money rather than the card. Selecting from the three action decks is also a great mechanic, as you need to balance not offering up cards that will help others with offering enough good options so that the other players won’t extort from you.

To complicate matters a little bit, each deck has two types of special action cards in addition to the normal actions. For example, in the goods deck there is a preservation card that lets you save 1 or 2 cards from end of round spoilage (by making apple preserves, etc. Unfortunately, since towels do no not spoil, there is no way to make delicious towel jelly). The shipping deck has a card that lets you sell goods from your hand or warehouse for money. Special cards can be saved to play for later turns, in combination with regular actions, but no more than one per turn, and you must use a shipping action before a special action (to draw goods directly into your warehouse, for example). There are two special actions in particular that are particularly valuable, and can be used to particularly hose other players (perhaps even too much so). One of these cards lets you exchange 1 or 2 goods either between your hand and your warehouse, or between your warehouse and another player’s warehouse, and they can’t do a thing about it. The other allows you, during the action drafting phase, to claim an action and prevent others from bidding on it, or to steal another player’s claimed action, which gives them 5 guilders from the bank. Both of these cards can be seriously bad if people who are not you get them, but then, they are up for bid themselves just like anything else.

Before the Wind is a terrific game. It has simple, clean game play, which is rife with direct interaction without the arbitrary meanness of take-that games. Though others can mess with your plans quite effectively, you almost never feel out of the game. The art is well done, and wonderfully dank. I’m not sure I’d want to play it many times in a row, but it’s great as the occasional game you pull out a few times a year. The learning curve is extremely gentle and at $30 MSRP it’s at quite the right price point. The title of the game, well, it is what it is. Perhaps your friends are less inclined to flatulence-related commentary than mine.

I give it a 9 and I think it's one of the best games to come out this year. Highly recommended.
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
P@xt0n $chw@rz
United States
flag msg tools
Thumbs up for towel jelly
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.