Jay M
United States
Greenville
South Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
[Edit: Title changed] Having played three times at different player counts (max and min), I'm ready to declare this game a complete success at what it aspires to be (which is the yardstick for any game, in my opinion).

MECHANIC: THE CORE THING THAT MAKES IT SPECIAL.

The game centers around a fascinating rondel, action selection on your turn, whereby the action pawns of the action you choose are distributed clockwise, strengthening future actions you will take. There is some real planning and choosing in what to do and when to do it. You have the ability to customize your power -- building buildings and upgrading rondel tiles in a way that more permanently expands your capability to fight, to build, to move, and to influence.

THEME: WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?


We are Crusaders, rapidly spreading across medieval Europe, fighting foes and building buildings on a hex map. Players do not fight each other -- they compete to score objectives on the map first. (This is a race game, no question).
The game is both highly abstract and highly thematic -- the fighting, winning, building, and scoring victory points is purely cost/strength based. The success of each action depends on the number of action pawns on the rondel, and the number of symbols you have uncovered that correspond. Yet still, it feels exciting and adventurous. The left-to-right movement across the map feels urgent, and full of jeopardy.


PRODUCTION QUALITY: A NICE EXPERIENCE?


I have the non-Kickstarter, retail version of the game, but it didn't suffer much in the translation to its lowly state. The cardboard for the player mats and tiles is thick, the chipboard influence tokens (instead of metal) are bright and distinctly shaped diamonds, and I actually prefer the wooden buildings to the plastic miniatures. Everything feels custom even in the retail version. The color design is a blast -- a deep orange base design color, with interesting colors for every faction and token.

BUT IT IS FUN?

Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done is a rare achievement: a fantastic ratio between the mental investment it requires and the gameplay payoff it gives. Easy to learn, fast to play, good at all player counts. Yet there is a solid game here. At first you think it's going to be an engine builder -- uncover the right buildings, combo them with the right emphasis on actions (you can take some more than others), and find one of the so-called "multiple paths to victory" to explode in points. Will I concentrate on fighting heathens? Building buildings? Taking the "influence action" more (which direct awards victory points)?

But as it turns out, you not only need a balance of all these pathways, but the real path to victory is racing your opponents -- snatching things before they can. Defeat a Slav before they can, and drive the price of the next Slav victory up and out of their current ability level. Swoop in and build a building on an available spot before they could. Ask yourself "What is he or she accumulating action pawns to try to do next?" If you can do the thing your opponent(s) were "building up" action pawns to do, it really throws the momentum your way.

It's a race game that feels fast and urgent. That's huge. It's a game where there is almost ALWAYS something you can do (that's good), but choosing is difficult (also good). There is no randomness or hidden information -- the board state is for all to see, and the players create the game state with their individual rondel actions.

This not a meaty game for your heavy game group. This is a great one for a weeknight. This is a great one to teach someone who'll have a fun time his first time playing.

I follow the BGG descriptions on ratings -- this is an 8/10 for me. It will be a go-to for my game nights.
36 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Evan Scussel
United States
Longwood
FL
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Review: Thy Will Be FUN
Jay, I completely agree with you. Great review. This game has hit on all cylinders for me and my group.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: Review: Thy Will Be FUN
Reviews like this are always a joy to read! I'm so glad you're enjoying Crusaders

Thanks for posting this!
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls