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Subject: First impressions rss

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András Szabados
(Fue)
Hungary
Budakalász
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I found this game in a local department store, and what a find it has turned out to be! At first I thought it was the new dungeon game from Vlaada, but then I saw that it was actually published in 2007. The real surprise came when checking BGG: I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that this is a game that the community seems to be unaware of. I guess the reason behind this is the language. I know this game is available in Hungarian, since I own a copy. It must also be available in Czech, since both the author and the publisher are Czech. It is probably also available in Slovakian and Polish, since these four languages frequently go together from a publishing point of view. However, there seem to be no German or English versions available, which is probably the reason for this game having such a low profile, despite the renowned author. It would actually be great to hear on this from the Czech guys who are more aware of the situation than I am.

Anyway, on to the game. The object of the game is to build castles. Whoever completes their castle first wins. There are three resources in the game: rock, paper, and weapons (scissors). Rock is used to build the castle by purchasing cards that show the appropriate segment. Paper is used to purchase science cards that enhance your economy. Scissors are used to purchase weapon cards that help you when you fight your fellow players. These cards are flipped over at the beginning of the turn and auctioned off at the end, after combat.

The most novel part of the game is the actual combat. Each player in turn flips a combat card and fights their neighbor. The cards show a specific number each of rock, paper, and scissors. Combat is resolved by the two participants playing rock-paper-scissors against each other. The winner gets the number of resources as indicated on the card corresponding to the winning hand. For example, if you broke your enemy’s scissors with your rocks, you get the number of rocks indicated on the card. Ties can be replayed, but after three tries, the fight is over for good and nobody gets the resources.

One interesting element of the game is that with four players, you only fight the people next to you, which makes the opposite player something of your ally. This is reflected in the rules, so that the second place always goes to whoever sat opposite to the player that completed his castle first.

First play

Based on the first play, I have to say that the game was very different from what I had expected. When reading the rules, the game seemed like a light, wild and wacky experience. Although I have to say that the rock-paper-scissor battle mechanics do provide a high element of luck, there is a lot more to think about here than it would seem at first. Also, luck is purely based on player actions as opposed to flipping a card of rolling a die. This gives the battle an element of almost poker-like experience, where you try to outguess what the other player is outguessing.

The first time we played the game was with four players: my wife, a casual to serious player (will play Through the Ages or Funkenschlag anytime, but still enjoys Bohnanza), two friends, veteran and demanding players both of them, and myself. Opinions vary greatly. We more or less expected a light but fun party game. It worked that way for my wife, who is eager to play again. My two friends found the game on the lighter side, and were dissatisfied with the amount of luck thrown in by the R-P-S mechanism. Also, the guy sitting to my right almost had it made with only one tower missing (out of the 15 or so required components), but then came to a stalemate when we realized how close he was and started to act upon it. Lacking any serious industrial investments or combat cards, we managed to stop him. I invested heavily into economy and combat, which made me something of a resource lord with no apparent castle to speak of during mid-game. All other players realized that this means that I will be able to quickly turn the resources into a castle, but were just short of stopping me. Also, as it was a learning experience, the guy opposite me screwed up, miscalculating what to put up for a bid, and I flew through the finish line. Very satisfying, although serious mistakes were made during the game by all, myself included. Strange thing is I don’t think that I won more battles outright that anyone else, I just always had a lot of combat cards to use – which of course was due to concentrating on collecting and using the weapon resource. However, the guy across me had five „counterspell” cards (also bought and drawn randomly for weapons). He managed to use two of them during the game, but just sat there with the other three as his (our) opponents were not eager to throw anything at him. But hey, it's more or less of a card game, things like this will happen, as anyone will tell you who has ever died a mana death in MtG.

I might be a bit biased for three reasons: I found a rare game, I’m becoming something of a fan of the author, and I just barely won the first game. Also, I'm no big reviewer, and am only writing this to fill a gap. At the same time, upon a single play, I think that this is a very good game, a true hidden gem, with more depth than apparent at first, clocking at around two hours. You have to keep figuring out your moves based on what is up for bid and the resources of your opponents, and battle accordingly. Very much looking forward to playing again.

Also please be aware when reading the review that I am a great admirer of Vlaada. This is the third game that I own that was designed by him, and I have to say that he surprises me every time. Too many of the recent bunch of games have been a re-mix of ideas already tried and tested. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, I will be just as happy to play Agricola anytime as the next guy, great game and all, but I do feel that the industry is starting to assume a pattern that might be familiar to those who have experienced what has been happening with computer games during the past 15 years or so. This author, however, always comes up with a mechanism that is truly novel, and still fits well with other, more familiar mechanisms. I for one will make sure to keep an eye on this designer, and also to pick up a few of his older releases.
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Robert Buciak
Poland
Warsaw
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Fue wrote:
It is probably also available in Slovakian and Polish, since these four languages frequently go together from a publishing point of view.

Game wasn't published in Poland.
 
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George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Thanks for reviewing this, I'm always pleased to hear more about Vlaada Chvatil's games.
 
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Michal Stach
Czech Republic
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This game was published in Czech Republic and was intended for Czech and Hungarian market. I've translated rules to English for friend of mine, so if any other Vlaaďa's fan wants this game, let me know
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Marcus
Italy
Torino
Piemonte
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https://bgg.cc/filepage/127266/official-rules-provided-dino

Hero the official rules in english language
 
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