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Subject: An Average Joe review rss

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Rick Struve
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Average Joe reviews are aimed at the average gamer. You know who you are!

Those of us who:
1) Know what ‘Eurogame’ and ‘Ameritrash’ means.
2) Know that enjoying the game is more important than winning.
3) Don’t own more than 50 games.
4) Don’t consider their FLGS a second home (maybe a 3rd or 4th though).
5) Like to read a review without being overloaded with information.


Lifeboat is a card game that could easily be passed over at your local game store. It's cover is unassuming, it's in a small box and there has been next to no word-of-mouth here on BGG about it. So let me try to encourage you to slow down when browsing games, and give this one a second (or third) glance.

I won't bore you with game instructions, as you can find those elsewhere on the Lifeboat game page. Let's just jump in the boat and see where it takes us, ok?

Art:
First off, I love the artwork. Very simple bold lines, and yet so Orphan Annie-esque. It adds a great 1920's-1930's feel to the cards, which really appeals to the artist inside me.

Components:
Yeah, cheap plastic things... but honestly, who cares? There is no need for anything fancy here. Plastic blue chips and plastic yellow gems, works for me! The cards are the star of the game, not the plastic...

The Rules:
For the most part, the rules are fairly easy to pick up on... with just a quick overview to teach the game and then a couple rounds before everyone will be able to understand how it works, and what needs to be done. Sadly, the rules could be better written... and maybe a little more thorough. There were several times when a rule check didn't really explain well what needed to happen, or what to do - luckily, we just role-played some rules that didn't exist.

The Game:
The game is truly fun! The mechanics are unique, and the guesswork of who loves you and who hates you is quite ingenious. You are on a lifeboat, not much to do but fight and steal as some people try to get the boat to land before they die. What a riot!

Downtime:
The game plays fairly fast, and keeps everyone involved with next to no downtime between turns... mainly because on other player's turns, they may be picking a fight with you... or asking you to help them beat up someone else! There is also little reason for long-term strategizing (I love that word), it is pretty simple to figure out what you need to do next. Analysis Paralysis is next to zero.

Game Length:
To be truthful, the game can be a little long - at least an hour depending on how quick people want to get to shore and who will let them get there quick. I would like to have seen this dropped to more of a 30 minute game. But the time isn't too bad.

Finish:
The ending is a little anti-climatic. You will usually have the winner figured out when the game is 3/4 completed... as many will be dead, and the others are hanging on by a thread. So for more than half the people playing, it's just sitting around waiting for the game to finish so they can maybe get some points. The game is more fun for folks if the lifeboat makes it to land quicker with not everyone dead.

Pros:
Fun game
Easy to understand
Plays well with 4-6 (6 is best)

Cons:
More info in rules
Nothing for dead players to do but wait
Need at least 4 to make game good

Big Con:
I have mentioned the lack of info in rules. One BLAZING example of this would be the lack of explaining what the 3 yellow gems are for that come with the game. There isn't a single word in the rules about these three gems... so for the first 3 games I played, they sat in the box. It wasn't until I checked BGG and found someone else explaining these are to indicate the birds that appear as you get closer to shore. It was one of those 'duh' moments... made perfect sense. But then, why couldn't a single sentance in the rules that come with the game point that out?

Overall:
We truly enjoyed this game - even my brother who was playing The Kid and died in the first 15 minutes of the game. It will make it to the table again in the near future.

I give it a 7/10
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Yoki Erdtman
Sweden
Södertälje
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Re: A Unique Little Card Game
Nice review Rick.
 
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Re: A Unique Little Card Game
Great review! Lifeboat is one of my favorites -- highly underrated here IMO.
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Jeff Siadek
United States
Hawthorne
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Thanks for a great review.

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to acquire or fit the glass beads and plastic chits in the box so I left them out of the rules when I went to press. They are a bonus gift for tracking stuff. In retrospect, I should have had more confidence that I'd be able to get them in and included that in the game rules.

If you have any specific rules questions that came up, please email me and I'll be happy to answer them.

- Jeff Siadek
Game Designer
Lifeboat

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Roland
United Kingdom
Sayers Common
West Sussex
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I just played this for the first time, and it was OK. As mentioned in the review there are some things missing from the rules, such as:
- People who die going overboard, do they lose all their possessions and at the end of the game they only get their love/hate points? Or do they still get their valuables points even though they are at the bottom of the ocean?
- If no-one rowed, you just take the top navigation card, but if you have a compass you get an extra navigation card - so if there are no cards in the rowing stack, you're navigating, and you have the compass, do you get to take one navigation card or two?
- Does the life preserver cancel out ALL damage caused by going overboard (i.e. does it protect against shark attacks)?

It seemed like the game went on a bit too long, next time we might take out a few non-bird navigation cards to speed things up a bit. We played for like 1.5 hours and only ever got 2 birds (and no X-ed birds), although to be fair people weren't rowing much. Most of the turns were beating people up (First Mate), pinching cards (Kid), or shuffling positions. Also some drama was removed by coincidentally 3 out of 6 players getting the same character for their love/hate cards, which was a bit rubbish (not a fault with the game though of course).

Something that did endear me to the game was that it ended with everybody going overboard with very little health left and a bucket of chum being thrown, so everybody died. We assumed that this meant the boat never got rescued (no-one to row and navigate) so the only points that mattered where the love/hate cards - thus the player who hated the First Mate won.
 
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Jeff Siadek
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Hawthorne
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Thanks for your kind words. I'll do my best to answer your questions.
Quote:
People who die going overboard, do they lose all their possessions and at the end of the game they only get their love/hate points? Or do they still get their valuables points even though they are at the bottom of the ocean?

People who die overboard don't get back in the boat. They and their stuff sink to the bottom. The player gets no points for their stuff.

Sharks will still damage Frenchy or a life-preserver wearer. (This means you could float away dead if sharked for your last point while unconsious in a life preserver. In such a case, you, your stuff and the life preserver will all float away.)

Quote:

- If no-one rowed, you just take the top navigation card, but if you have a compass you get an extra navigation card - so if there are no cards in the rowing stack, you're navigating, and you have the compass, do you get to take one navigation card or two?


The compass card says "Add a card to the navigation stack" so if there are no cards in the stack it becomes the only card in the stack. The navigation rules say, "if there are no cards in the stack, just turn the top card of the navigation deck." Thus, having the compass is of no value unless somebody rows.

The game will go quicker with subsequent plays. I strongly reccomend against removing cards. Instead, here are my 2 quickplay versions:

Fast
Add one damage to each character and start with one bird.

Superfast
Damage each character by half (round down) and start with two birds.
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Mark Ogilvie
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This is one of my favorite games and it's very popular in my gaming circle. The fact that it's running with a 6.38 on BGG is criminal.

That said, I agree with pretty much everything you said in your review, Rick, both the good and the bad (though I think dropping it to a 30 minute game would be a bit much). I will say that the more plays you get in, the less necessary the rulebook is and the cons from it being a bit vague fade away. I'm also conflicted on the end-game, as on the one hand it rewards extremely sneaky play and can cause exciting/hilarious upsets a great deal of the time, but on the other hand, particularly for new players, the game often ends with someone wondering what the hell has just happened. The last bird often seems to just cut off the game rather than feeling like a natural ending.
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Ken Chadwick
United States
Yonkers
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I've only had the chance to play this once so far, but I thought it was a lot of fun - even if (as the kid) i was the only one not to survive... And my calls for help to the players who might have been able to help me went unanswered!
 
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Anton Tolman
United States
Orem
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That is too bad -- if you were the kid, someone loved you and should have protested child abuse!

I've played this once, and we had a blast. I found that the cards were delightful.
 
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