Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 Hide
24 Posts

Phoenicia» Forums » General

Subject: So is this really better than The Scepter of Zavandor? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Asa Swain
United States
Queens
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So Phoenicia has been out for a while, and despite it's problems with the rulebook and components, I still find myself intrigued with the game. I'm a fan of similar economic auction games like Power Grid and Goa. I know Scepter of Zavandor is a predecessor, but I noticed it has a much higher ranking on BGG. I can see that it has prettier components, and perhaps a more attractive theme.

But for people who have played both, what's your favorite? Do Phoencia's engine improvements make up for it's other faults? Do you find Zavandor more engrossing? I know that BGG ranking aren't the final decider, but now that both have been played extensively I'm curious to hear the opinions of people who have played both. Thanks!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Devon Harmon
United States
Indianapolis
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I own both, and have played them both, and I prefer Scepter.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Delano
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I much prefer Phoenicia. It takes about a third the time, has all the decision making of Sceptor while removing the frivolous and confusing elements. Sceptor's theme and components are much better, and the different tracks are interesting, but not enough to justify the extra downtime.

I'd be willing to do Sceptor with 2 or 3, with more it can take forever (figure 30 minutes per player compared to 10 minutes for Phoenicia). For that amount of time I'd rather play Power Grid. It's worth trying both, if you can, to see which you prefer.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geeky McGeekface
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's time for baseball, people! Pitchers and catchers report soon and the national pastime is with us again!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think Scepter is a good game, but Phoenicia is a great one. Phoenicia contains 90% of the features of Scepter, but takes much less time. I also prefer the far lower random elements in Phoenicia.

Because Phoenicia is a much more concentrated gaming experience, the tension and meaningful decisions begin on Turn 1 and never let up. Scepter's theme always seemed pasted on to me, so for me, the themes are a wash. I no longer have any interest in investing the time to play Scepter, but I'll play Phoenicia anyplace, anytime.

I think much of Phoenicia's mediocre ratings are due to player frustration with the rules and components. And I don't blame the raters: the rules are close to being awful and the components are disappointing. But if you can get past those, the game itself is brilliant.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I prefer Phoenicia to Zeptor. It seems to me that Zeptor is laden down with a lot of extra baggage.

My true favorite of the group, however, is Outpost. It's too bad it's been out of print so long and that it's so hard to find.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Hamilton
United Kingdom
Stockport
Cheshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
For me Phoenicia is 90% of the game in 30% of the time.

At the moment I definitely favour quicker games which still retain the bulk of the depth of longer one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mikael Ölmestig
Sweden
Halmstad
Halland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
Well, I would say that both themes are pretty pasted on. Anyway, I like the smaller increments of money in Phoenica, since it makes bidding faster and it makes it easier to count. I also like how Phoenicia handles the hand limit, with houses instead of different types of gems. Phoenicia is more of a pure auction game than Scepter though and you might want the other parts. In Scepter I especially like the different tracks you can advance in and I like the components of Scepter more.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kester J
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another vote for Phoenicia being better here. It strips the game down to the auction, which is the heart of the game anyway, and removes two thirds of the playing time in the process. The parts it loses from Scepter are engine optimisation tinkering, so if you like that kind of thing you may prefer Scepter.

(Don't worry about the rulebook too much: I found it fine, but it's very example heavy, which is my learning style. If that's not your style, there is a good rewrite on BGG here.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mik Svellov
Denmark
Copenhagen N
EU
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I own both, and have played them both, and I vastly prefer Phoenicia.
In fact I won't even play Zavandor anymore.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
"Keep Summer Safe!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Add me to the pro-Phoenicia camp (FTF Plays -- Phoenicia 29, Scepter 18, Outpost 50+. Plus a few hundred online Phoenicia games).

I've noticed that those who played Outpost lean towards Phoenicia's purity over Scepters chrome. BGG raters who didn't play Outpost (which is a much bigger number, given the small print run and hard to find status) like Scepter. I think that's because Scepter is slightly more forgiving (with it's catch up mechanism) and the bidding is more what people are used to. An auction game where the bids are so tightly constrained (especially in the first few turns) seems odd to many people.

And Scepter's extra votes translate to rank quite nicely.

I personally rate Scepter an 8 (I'll play it and suggest every once in a while). But Phoenicia is a 10.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Asa Swain
United States
Queens
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for everyone's comments, I really appreciate all the feedback. The Phoenecia forums have been pretty dead recently, so I wondered if people were still enjoying the game. The Sceptor of Zacandor is prettier, but it sounds like the engine improvements in Phoenicia make a significant difference in terms of gameplay. And I do approve of shorter, more condensed, games.

I've been looking at Phoenicia for a while, wondering if it was worth buying despite the ungainly instructions and odd components, but I'm glad to hear that underneath the rough exterior there's some great gameplay to be found. Since I'm a fan of Race for the Galaxy and Goa, I'll have to put this on my shopping list.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Johan L
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Larry Levy wrote:
I think much of Phoenicia's mediocre ratings are due to player frustration with the rules and components. And I don't blame the raters: the rules are close to being awful and the components are disappointing.


Kester wrote:
(Don't worry about the rulebook too much: I found it fine, but it's very example heavy, which is my learning style. If that's not your style, there is a good rewrite on BGG here.)


Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how this could be a reason that Phoenicia is ranked lower than Zepter - I think Zepter has the worst rulebook (tied with the Neuland reprint) that I have ever come across, and it was only after reading the alternative rulebook (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/36462) that it started to make some sense.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geeky McGeekface
United States
Manassas
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
It's time for baseball, people! Pitchers and catchers report soon and the national pastime is with us again!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That may be so, Johan; it's been a long time since I've looked at the Zepter rulebook. Maybe the Z-Man version was an improvement. Or maybe we were all a bit more forgiving back then.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'd call Phoenicia 50% of the game in 70% of the time, but then, my group hasn't looked back since the lone copy of Phoenicia was traded away. Zavandor is a superb game.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Freedman
United States
Apex
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I own both and have played them many times. Scepter is, by far, the better game. In general, I find I prefer longer games; so take my opinion with that in mind.

I rate Phoenicia a 6 and SoZ a 9. Each puts out some cards for auction every turn. Each has a seperate track w/which to research and gain points/income. Phoenicia's track just seems to be too artificial. The real value is in the cards. And Phoenicia has some quirky rules around the Granary and hand-limit IMO. Everytime I explain it (discarding cards to fill Granary), people just look at me confused...seems gamey.

But I'm happy to play either.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Carvin
United States
Hamburg
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Join our Berks Boardgamers group (Hamburg, Pa) via Facebook!
badge
Ah, the diabolical Dice … a word of caution; don't throw them when you're alone. The fiends lack loyalty, and their notion of nourishment is quite disturbing.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Both are excellent games, no doubt. I have Phoenicia rated an 8.5 and SoZ at a 9.5. I consider Phoenicia a quick fix when I don't have time for SoZ, which doesn't get played as much simply due to the game length. But while I may enjoy playing Phoenicia a lot, it usually just makes me long to play SoZ. To me the game length is not an issue since I find SoZ much more satisfying to play, however many gamers don't want to commit the time and are more focused on quantity (of games played) vs quality.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul King
United Kingdom
Cambridge
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I prefer Phoenicia. In part it might be because the bash-the-leader penalty in Scepter tends to hit me :-(

But Scepter is fiddlier (especially the dust tokens, and having to remember that they have to count towards your hand limit) and much longer,

If you have a preference for simpler and more streamlined games then Phoenicia is definitely the better choice for you.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clement Tey
Singapore
Singapore
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
quartex wrote:
So Phoenicia has been out for a while, and despite it's problems with the rulebook and components...

What problems?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Carvin
United States
Hamburg
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Join our Berks Boardgamers group (Hamburg, Pa) via Facebook!
badge
Ah, the diabolical Dice … a word of caution; don't throw them when you're alone. The fiends lack loyalty, and their notion of nourishment is quite disturbing.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
While I don't care for those cheap white pawns, I don't think their were any problems with the components. The rulebook on the other hand was very difficult to follow. Lucky I tried to read the rules at the WBC and Jay (RGG's Jay) was there to explain it to us.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon W
United States
Aurora
CO
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Bankler wrote:
An auction game where the bids are so tightly constrained (especially in the first few turns) seems odd to many people.

Count me in that group. Phoenicia also lacks variability, at least enough for my tastes (seems like the exact same situations occur again and again).

But Zavandor, ugh, what a stupid theme. Why hasn't Outpost been republished?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls

Lacombe
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
Suddenly a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Phoenicia might well be the most pointless game I've ever played.

Zavandor is a bit too much of a lock-step path-driven economic-engine for my tastes, but remains an interesting game with actually-difficult trade-offs to be made, chiefly on account of the various skill tracks which add a third main arena of buying activity compared to Phoenicia's two.

I still don't understand why, if Puerto Rico and Goa rank as high as they do, Scepter isn't in the top 100 or even top 10/25. It's not necessarily that it's "that good", but that it's "that good" of that type of game [a game with an inherently uninteresting rich-get-richer theme] that BGGers en masse seem to really go for.



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mikael Ölmestig
Sweden
Halmstad
Halland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
I think I know why you are disappointed. You think that Phoenicia would be an economic game, but it really is a bidding game. I see it all the time, where this game is compared to The Scepter of Zavandor, but while they are similar mechanically, they are not very similar in game play. Again, Phoenicia is a bidding game, where The Scepter of Zavandor is an economic game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Delano
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Outpost, Scepter and Phoenicia all exercise a bid/build mechanic. Amongst experienced players the bidding determines who wins or loses. In that sense they are all bidding games. Phoenicia recognizes this and strips out as much of the non-bidding aspects of the game as it can while keeping the heart of bid/build. Scepter takes the opposite approach and dresses it up by giving you additional build options, but the bidding is still the key.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Lehmann
United States
Palo Alto
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
For what it's worth, Phoenicia is my take on Outpost, after playing it for more than 8 years and helping Jim develop the Outpost Expert Rules back in 1993-1995.

Outpost is very much an exponential growth game of balancing off different rates of investment/growth, using bidding to effectively alter the terrain.

Despite Jim's efforts to make Warehouses in Outpost matter, they are still fairly weak. In Phoenicia, I really tried to make storage matter in two different ways -- tactically, storing wealth from turn to turn to dominate the next round of bidding matters far more in Phoenicia than Outpost (in Outpost, the rate of reinvestment returns is high enough to make this a poor tactic in most rounds), plus storing wealth for the phase break really matters not only just at the end of the game (which it does in Outpost), but also near the start (for Phase II).

I also tried to make the shift from production growth to VPs a lot harder and starker in Phoenicia, again, by two different means -- by introducing more upgrades that provide VPs without production, to cut down the rich gets richer problems in Outpost, and by introducing a VP "path" that can allow a player to win Phoenicia, if they time things just right, with a far, far smaller economic base (in relative terms) than in Outpost.

The third major change is the most obvious, scaling all the numbers down and cutting out a lot of chaff, to decrease the game length by about a third. Zavandor takes the opposite approach, retheming Outpost and keeping all of its basic cost structure, while adding more sub-paths and options to the endgame.

The downside to Phoenicia scaling things down so drastically while also adding more options than Outpost has is that it's extremely "tight" and quite challenging to play -- a 1 or 2 wealth mistake in bidding is fairly significant. I personally find it more rewarding to play, but -- obviously -- your mileage may vary.
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] 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.