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Subject: A comparison of Black Angel and Troyes rss

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Ben Jackson
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I have now played 2 games of Black Angel; I have also played Troyes 4 times, all in the past year. I would like to do a comparison of the two games for those who have perhaps played and enjoyed Troyes and would like a rundown of how the two games differ, as clearly they are siblings.

TL;DR
1 The game state in Black Angel is easier to read because the game has 3 single-use currencies (ships, resources, debris) and one multi-use currency (robots).
2 Black Angel has a lot more going on in terms of upkeep/fiddliness.
3 The end of game timer is harder to get a read on in Black Angel as the game moves forward in many small irregular steps instead of a few regular steps.
3(b) The current score is much more clear: Black angle has a score track whereas Troyes has private scoring tokens. Black angle has face-up end of game scoring tiles that score linearly, whereas Troyes has hidden scoring that scores non-linearly.
4 Black Angel has a technology tableau which provides a bit of engine building that did not exist in Troyes (outside of banking future actions)
5 Troyes' core action selection mechanic is more interesting than Black Angel (choosing up to three dice vs. exactly one).
6 In Black Angel, even though the missions and technology are abstract, the theme feels more integrated into the mechanics.

Edit: After three plays, I can am beginning to feel that the sum of the differences between Black Angel and Troyes result in a game that feels more wide-open. You often feel like you have a number of good options on your turn; Black Angel feels like exploration, whereas Troyes feels like mitigation.

Activities vs. Missions
Troyes: Activities come up randomly, you see only 25% of them each game. Activities may be purchased (with coins) and you get to do the activity the first turn you place a meeple there. They can be selected by all players, but those who come first get victor point bonuses. One you buy-in, you have access to that activity for the remainder of the game, unless you choose to abandon it to reuse that meeple. Some of these are immediate effects, and others give you the potential for stronger actions later in the game. The suits (yellow/white/red) have very different focuses and personalized artwork. Activities each feel very unique.

Black Angel: Players draft missions and hold them in their hands. Those missions are either one time or ongoing. They then play them out onto the conveyor-like space board. The ongoing missions all have immediate effects when activated, but must be activated on a separate turn after playing them out. Most are time-limited (will eventually fall off the board). When they fall off the board they may be worth 2 points at the end of the game (if you attach them to the right scoring tile). One-time missions activate when they fall off of the board, but you do not need to invest any more actions into them.

The suits (yellow/green/grey) are symmetrical feel kind of "samey"; Missions do not even have titles or artwork. Players own missions and gain a benefit from other players using them (for ongoing missions). Missions are limited (only two players can dock ships with them at one time). Missions must be paid for with "ships" as well as robots.

Meeples vs Robots
Troyes: Meeples are drafted with Influence, a common currency that is also used for dice manipulation. Meeples give you access to dice and to activities. Meeples can abandon their posts at any time to be used in a different capacity.

Black Angel: Robots are added through specific actions in the game, choosing to draft more robots via missions or technology activations. Robots are used to gain more dice and to work at missions. Robots in workstations (where they give you more dice) must be moved to the "breakroom" before they can be assigned to missions (this doesn't really happen). Robots in ships may be flown between missions to change what actions you have available.

Dice Manipulation
Troyes: Can flip up to three dice for a high cost, or reroll one at a low cost. Uses a common currency for dice manipulation and drafting new meeples (Influence). Influence can score at the end of the game, but only if the secret scoring card is in play. You can only manipulate your own dice.

Black Angel: A separate currency (debris) is used for dice manipulation. The manipulation is always deterministic (one cube flips one die). This changes a 0 to a 2 or a 1 to a 3. Debris can score at the end of the game if you draft the appropriate scoring tile. Generally, you can only manipulate your own dice. There are also one-time-use powers on each technology tile that allow you to manipulate other players' dice (for that one time). You then flip the tile over to its backside.

Patrons vs Black Technology
Troyes: Each player has 1 of 6 possible end of game scoring conditions, and these are secret. The end game scoring tends to be punctuated (there are thresholds you need to meet in order to get the next level of scoring), and it is also non-linear. Part of the game is figuring out what end of game scoring is happening.

Black Angel: End of game scoring tiles are drafted; are personal rather than shared (although two copies of each scoring condition exist and can be purchased by the same or different players). They are also linear and convert resources at a 1 [thing]: 2 VP ratio. But they are capped at 4 points by default, with the possibility of increasing some of those scoring categories to 6 or 8 by tucking missions that have fallen off of the board.

Dice Buying Mechanic
Troyes: Dice can be used in groups of 1,2, or 3. Purchasing dice from other players costs much more if you create bigger groups of dice. This makes the decision space very large around choosing which dice you will use and how big of a group you will build. Buying dice from other players shares a currency (coins) with buying Activites and paying for the dice you roll.

Black Angel:You always use exactly one die on your turn. The dice buying currency (gems or "resources") is used only for this purpose, so you can easily see who has the option of doing so when reading the game state. You may also spend a gem to lock (protect) a single die when your roll; this die can then not be stolen.

Thematic Integration
Troyes: Beautiful customized art on every card and card names. However, the theme quickly melts away as you play the game and the game becomes solidly abstract.

Black Angel: The space board really keeps the theme front and center. Sadly there are no unique card art or even mission and technology names. Perhaps this is acknowledging that the game is complex enough without these distractions. Despite this, the theme is much more integrated into the mechanics of the space board and ravager attacks, in my opinion.

City Events vs Ravager Attacks
Troyes: City events have an effect that fires immediately and then periodically thereafter; they target specific parts of the city. The events take multiple actions and investment to combat, and give you both points and influence (dice manipulation). There is a bit of an area majority mechanic for scoring.

Black Angel: Ravenger attacks target specific parts of the ship. They have an immediate effect and a different ongoing effect that is only triggered when the player uses the affected part of the ship. Fighting off these attacks let you run your technology engine which in turn gives you more resources and possibly points. It also gives you debris which is used for dice manipulation.

Dice economy
Troyes: There is a fixed number of dice rolled a fixed number of rounds. All players roll at once. Players jockey for position in that fixed dice economy and must pay for the dice they roll. They can steal the opportunity to roll a die from another player by spending an action to displace them from the city leadership (using meeples). Some dice can be allocated to a neutral pool that must be purchased to be used.

Black Angel: The game starts with 6 dice in reserve. Players can get more dice to roll by assigning their robots to a workroom. There is no neutral player. There is no "displacement" of other players, however players "reset" only their dice when necessary, and if they cannot gather all of their allocated dice at that time, they forfeit those rolls.

Future Activites vs Technology
Troyes: You spend actions on activities to create potential to power up future actions. These activities use the "activites" mechanic (require a meeple and money to buy-in). This creates a bit of a mini engine.

You can also spend actions to score incremental points and influence via the cathedral. This is not an activity and doesn't require buy-in or a meeple.

Black Angel: You spend actions to gain technologies and inject them into your grid, to be activated in the future. The technologies are not missions and do not require robots or ships. You may have up to 9 active technologies that can be activated up to 3 at a time. Black tech cannot be activated but gives you a way to score incremental points at the end of the game but also require you to bank up specific resources. The technology grid and how you activate it is integrated well with much of the game: (missions, fighting off ravagers, repairing the ship).

Decisions
Troyes
1 Decide which activities to buy-in on as they become available.
2 Decide how many dice you will use and the value of actions vs cost of buying other players dice.
3 Decide if you will spend your influence on dice manipulation or additional workers.
4 Deduce the secret end-of-game scoring that will be shared.
5 Decide how valuable the non-immediate powers are to your plan.
5 Decide when to spend actions on protecting and/or expanding your personal dice pool.
6 Identify combos and synergies among the activities cards.

Black Angel
11 Decide which of the two mission cards to draft into your hand.
12 Decide when to spend your one-time powers
13 Choose when/if to lock a die that your roll
14 Choose which missions to make available to yourself and other players from your hand.
15 Choose which black scoring tiles to draft and when.
16 Play the technology tile minigame (inject/eject/activate)
21 Choose which technology to power up with your debris cubes
22 Choose how many ravager attack cards you want to pull when placing missions.
23 Do you want to spend a card in hand to activate technologies or as a mission?
24 Do you want leftover resources to score (which end-of-game trigger do you push for)?

I haven't fully formed an opinion of Black Angel. It has quite a few mechanisms that need to be figured out before you start to play the game efficiently; I think for me the game is a bit less *obvious* than Troyes, not that I was so amazing at Troyes after only 4 games. Black Angel has quite a bit of potential.
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beachgirl pcola

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Thank you for posting this. I really , really like Troyes, so am keenly interested in Black Angel.

“They are restricted (cannot be selected by all players).”

One small thing, In Troyes, the activity can be selected by all players, but only one meeple per player on each. The third and subsequent players just don’t get the bonus victory points.( Page 6, top left, 4th bullet point under remarks hidden in the example).

Great review comparison, thank you so much!
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Ben Jackson
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Hey thanks. I guess I've been playing it wrong. I will update this post later. For sure in Black Angel the missions have limited slots, so that is a difference.
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Steve
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I get the impression that Sweet Black Angel is a lot less interactive.
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Terry Bailey Sr.
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While Troyes was ok for me, I much preferred Tournay. Hopefully there will be a spiritual successor to it.
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Steve
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Skyjack wrote:
While Troyes was ok for me, I much preferred Tournay. Hopefully there will be a spiritual successor to it.
Do boardgames have spirits? Asking for a friend.
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Renaud Eloy
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stevepop wrote:
I get the impression that Sweet Black Angel is a lot less interactive.
I think this is a false impression
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Paul Imboden
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ElRen wrote:
stevepop wrote:
I get the impression that Sweet Black Angel is a lot less interactive.
I think this is a false impression

SECONDED
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Thomas Moon
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I come to this site for this reason primarily. Great insights into gaming!!
 
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Mark Wilson
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That game wasn't half bad...
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...no, it was ALL bad! Dohohoho!!
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Thanks OP, cool comparison. I really like Troyes, so this actually solidifies my non-interest in Black Angel. Not because it sounds worse, but because it doesn't sound different enough to scratch an appreciably different itch. Even if a game is marginally better, these days I'll trend toward games that I and many friends already know and love instead of trying to get a new one to catch on that will ultimately fill the same role.

Skyjack wrote:
While Troyes was ok for me, I much preferred Tournay. Hopefully there will be a spiritual successor to it.

A Tournay fan in 2019?! I'm with you, I think it's a good game (with one fatal flaw that likely killed it with larger audiences), but I'm not sure there's much hope for this. It crashed and burned pretty hard after its 2011 release.
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Alexander Liu
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I've played Troyes more than a dozen times. and black angel a couple. It's significantly less interactive with bumping removed. Also less competitions since barbarians are gone and the aliens are extremely simple.
 
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Eric S

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Troyes is one of my top games of all time, like top 5. Black angel was my most anticipated game of 2019 other than Snowdonia. Check this out. I didn’t even finish black angel because I was disappointed, but that’s probably because I was excepting it to meet the bar tha Troyes set. I want to like Black angel but it felt too easy to get everything that I wanted to get. I don’t appreciate games that give you so many different options to get the same 3 things and then you use more of those 3 things to get the same 3 things. I appreciate the design, however, the rules are way too complex for what the game is. The game feels bloated to me and the biggest letdown and what could potentially have totally changed my mind was buying dice from opponents or the neutral player. At one point my wife owned and had a ship on an ejected card that gave her 6 resources straight up. That means she can take 6 dice from other players and by the time she runs out, could use the other 12 ways to get more resources and never have to worry about buying dice again. Troyes made it super difficult to buy dice because money was always tight. Black angel gave you everything you want and need on an over complicated platter. I just felt unsatisfied and there was little to no interaction at all. Sorry, but I’m disappointed. But maybe I’ll lower my bar and give it another go.
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David desJardins
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EMSQUARED2013 wrote:
At one point my wife owned and had a ship on an ejected card that gave her 6 resources straight up. That means she can take 6 dice from other players and by the time she runs out, could use the other 12 ways to get more resources and never have to worry about buying dice again.

What if you don't have 6 useful dice for her to buy? There are a lot of ways for you to control that.
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Kidney Cart
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EMSQUARED2013 wrote:
At one point my wife owned and had a ship on an ejected card that gave her 6 resources straight up. That means she can take 6 dice from other players and by the time she runs out, could use the other 12 ways to get more resources and never have to worry about buying dice again.

What a weird quibble. Wouldn't it mean that you could then "take" dice likewise after she bought dice from you? Wouldn't that be fair? Or I guess you mean she was exploiting the neutral dice in which case you should get resources too there are the other 12 ways to get resources.

And then to call it low interaction!
 
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George Shafer
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I only managed to come in third place when I played this, and I had tons of resources.

Buying dice can be of limited use since you don't have the option to use debris to flip them. You're really almost in better shape if you roll low so people don't spend the resources on your dice.
 
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Alexandre Santos
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I wonder if Troyes/Black Angel will have the Agricola/Caverna schism of tightness/plentifulness feeling?
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