Time for yet another edition of "Who can Tygo offend now?" That's right, buckle up kids.
I present to you a 2-4 player game with no wooden cubages, no overproduced plastic figures, and no dice.
Before the Wind.
Its a game, with an admittedly craptastic and forgettable name, and you're a -get this- European Merchant in ye olde times, shipping goods and trading items to be the best merchant of the day.
Now, before you wander off in search of the cheetos and the remote, let me stop you and tell you that I give this game a 9/10 and love it, despite the lame name and theme, so bear with me. (And the game)
So beyond the outer vestiges of mediocrity, what's the good part?
You are a shipping magnate, and you own a warehouse that holds 8 goods. Boat cards are laid out (# varies on # of players) and you work towards loading these ships up and sending them on their merry way. There are 3 face down decks of cards (Shipping, good and warehouse cards) and the start player selects one card per player - 2 maximum from each deck and they go up for auction.
Your ultimate goal is to gain goods cards into your hand, transfer them into your warehouse, and from there ship them out on the boats. Boat cards have items listed, and a victory point value. You ship goods out with the shipping cards, claiming the boat card as your own and scoring those victory points. First player to a certain amount of VPs wins, depending on the number of players.
The fun bit comes in each player in turn, choosing one of the cards that were flipped by the start player as the one they want. You may choose one from the unchosen pool of cards, or you may choose one that another player has already chosen. Once you chose a card that an opponent has chosen you must name a number of dollars you are willing to pay for that card. It is strictly I cut you choose bidding, none of this 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc garbage. Other players who haven't chosen may also offer money (it may be more or less than your bid) and the player owning the card may accept or deny any one of the offers.
If you accept someone's offer they pay you that much money, and you give them the card, and you are both removed from further card bidding that round. If you reject an offer, you must pay that amount of your money to that particular player and you are both removed from future bidding.
Extortion is a major part of this game, if there are no cards you want, you try to get pretty close to naming whatever that player is willing to pay for a card, so they pay you to keep it and you stock up on cash.
I will say that normally a game such as this one feels like "Screwage", such as Intrigue. However the game is so brilliantly designed, everything feels like business, and not personal. You're never required to pay anything you don't want to, and the agony comes in deciding what things are exactly worth to you, and what others will pay. You will swear, you will agonize, but you will never be upset by the game. All in all its a gleeful fun kind of agony filled with difficult decisions.
There is also a time pressure, as you will all be competing for the same ships and racing to fulfill the orders. Once the number of ships falls to 2 from the initial 7-8 boat cards, all the boats are discarded and all goods in hands are also discarded. Goods in warehouses will rot and be discarded as well. More boat cards are dealt out and play continues.
Now, I will admit that this game is an overblown card game in a large Mayfair box. The only non card items are the start player token and the warehouse tiles which are completely unnecessary. However this game is crazy good bang for your buck at $25-ish, once you get past the card game bit.
At a price point of $25 I guarantee you won't go wrong with this one, unless you don't like games with lots of interaction and hard decisions. I think this is also one of the rare games that is better with 3 than it is with 4, but it is also sufficiently excellent with 4. I have yet to attempt 2.
I have introduced ameritrashers and eurogamers alike to this one, and it oddly seems to go over slightly better with the ameritrashers than the euros, but all have stated a genuine enjoyment of the game. I suspect this is because of the non-solitaire human element of the game.
+Fun to play
+Thought provoking gameplay bookended with difficult decisions
+Cheap, in the grand scheme of new essen games
+Original gameplay, this game does I-cut-you-choose better than any other I've seen.
+Easy to teach
+Not too light, not too heavy
+Short game time - 90m
+Good with 3 or 4
-Overdone to death Theme
-Overpriced for a card game
-Convincing jaded gamers to give it a try can be difficult
This game is what my definition what hits the "sweet spot" for me. In the face of so many games that are so "solitaire" and "Cube pushing" this game is refreshingly different.
I have played this game several times and it just keeps getting better. Before the Wind, despite the title and theme has earned a permanent place in my game collection.
I rate this an as promised - 9/10
- Last edited Wed Feb 6, 2008 2:37 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Wed Feb 6, 2008 2:53 am
I rate this an as promised - 9/10
A Negative 9!!! That's harsh
Nice review. Now I gotta find this game too! And right after I visited that game addiction thread (www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/288776) I'd be interested to hear a 2 player verdict (if you ever play it that way).
Thanks for this.
This is a really good game.
Second that, a wonderful game for 2, 3 and 4 players!!!
Yup, excellent gamer's game, plus some very original stuff in here that makes it really stand out amongst the current flood of wooden cube logistical efficiency exercises.
Don't let the downbeat packaging (which I think looks good, just in an understated way) prevent your jaded eyes from settling on this one....
I enjoy this game as well.
Me too. Dont know why it hasnt hit the table more than twice so far.
I like this game a lot... HOWEVER... it makes a big mess on the table with all the card stacks, discard piles, money, ships, etc... I soon understood why most of the cards are of the "mini" variety. Adding to the visual chaos is some cryptic symbolism on each card to describe how it works, and a drab color scheme which makes identifying which card belongs to which pile more frustrating than it needs to be. It's a beautiful looking game that could use some streamlining for playability's sake. I love the agony of choices this game presents. Good fun!