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Bridge Troll» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Cute concept, but ultimately unsatisfying rss

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Zoe M
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Disclaimer: I've only played this game twice, so my opinion may still change. But since there are so far only a couple of other reviews, both fairly positive, I hope this review will still be helpful to some people, premature though it may be.

I think the main draw of this game is its amusing theme: You're a troll living under a bridge. Travellers pass over your bridge, and you can either eat them or charge them a toll to let them pass. With the money you earn from tolls you can buy building supplies to improve your bridge, and with the energy you gain from eating the travellers you can actually construct these improvements. The troll with the best bridge wins the game.

Unfortunately, the gameplay itself isn't nearly as entertaining. Bridge Troll is based on a bidding mechanic: The number of travellers to pass by on any given day is determined by the weather (a roll of the weather die), and players bid boulders from their supply to determine the order in which they get to take travellers. Each player secretly chooses an amount to bid, and the bids are revealed simultaneously. A bid of zero means that your bridge is closed for the day, and no travellers will come by. Players select travellers in order from highest bid to lowest; if any travellers remain after all bidders have taken one, then the highest bidder takes another, and so on, until all travellers have been chosen.

Once you've taken a traveller card, it goes either on the food side or the money side of your bridge. At the end of the day, you can trade in food and money cards together for bridge points. If you use an unequal amount of food and money (say, one traveller with a food value of 3 and one traveller with a money value of 4), the lower value determines the number of points earned. If your bridge was closed for the day, you can make up the difference by paying boulders, but otherwise the difference is wasted. Bridge points can be exchanged for upgrade cards, which are worth one more than their face value.

I'm not entirely satisfied with the way the game and the theme fit together. Sure, each player gets a nice representative troll image, but when it comes to things like bridge upgrades the theme is almost non-existent: you pay a certain number of points to take a card with that number on it. If you get more points, you trade them for another card. The two cards are identical, except for the different numbers, and there's no sense that they actually mean anything for your bridge. The travellers also seem pretty lifeless, since all travellers with the same profession are identical ("Oh, there's another 7/7 Fat Merchant"). And there are little rule issues that don't quite make sense: Why, in terms of theme, does money obtained as a toll from one traveller have to be spent or saved all together, with no option to use a bit now and keep some for later? In a game with such a promising theme, I'd like to see the theme used to better effect.

These complaints about the theme may seem minor, and they would be if the game itself offered something more. But I actually found the gameplay pretty tedious: the game goes on too long for what it is. The main problem, as I see it, is that there isn't really any scope for long-term planning. You deal with the travellers as they come up. While you're waiting for the other players to decide on their bids, you're pretty much just waiting, not thinking ahead to future moves.

I also found the bidding system unsatisfactory, because the results just seem too unpredictable. This is largely due to the fact that some of the travellers are actually bad, and will free someone else from your food supply or steal your money. But since all the travellers have to get taken, with the highest bidders taking the rejects if there are more travellers than open bridges, it's often, say, the third-highest bidder who ends up in the best position overall. But in a one-step secret bid process with six potential participants, where the number who will actually bid is unknown, and therefore the bid rank that you're aiming for is also unknown, is it really possible to make an informed decision about what to bid?

Maybe you'll devise some great strategy that's somehow eluded me. Or maybe you'll bid almost randomly and hope for the best. If your opponents choose the second option, what does that do to your plans? Personally, I managed to come in second in a six-player game (missing first only on the tiebreak) by bidding one or two boulders almost every single time. I didn't feel like I was making deep or interesting decisions, but it seemed to work.

So maybe I'm missing a lot in terms of strategy, or maybe not. I think the more important point is that this game didn't grip me enough that I particularly want to explore it further, to try out different approaches and see what works best. It hasn't managed to convince me that it offers deep gameplay, and it also hasn't wowed me with a well-implemented theme. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a horrible game. But there are certainly better ones out there.

To Bridge Troll's credit, I do have to acknowledge that it's cheap. Cheapness, though, isn't the main criterion I consider in choosing a game to play.
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Neil Cook
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I'd agree with everything you were saying, if only you were right...
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Have to say that after one play here, I'm inclined to agree with what you've said here.

My group had been looking to play this for a couple of weeks, so I bought a copy and we took the plunge (6 players). Whilst none of us especially disliked the game, we all shared the same opinion that it fell flat somewhat.

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Howell
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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The game sounds very simple, which may be a good thing. Also, I think it may be safe to say that the game just doesn't work well for 6. Not many games do. I'd be curious to hear how it works for 4 or 5. I think 4 would probably work reasonably well. 6 may just be too chaotic.

Despite the negative review, I think this sounds like something I'll enjoy.
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Phil Kilcrease
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Oio. Decent review. Couple of quick things:

1. The game does suffer with six players. If that is the only way you've played it, try it with four or five.

2. Remember with the robber, knight, etc. that you can throw boulders at the offending card equal to the value of what is being stolen to drive them away and keep the card. I forgot about this rule for the first several plays and agreed with the statement of 'Oh, well this bites.' It allows for a bit more planning when collecting boulders.

Regards,
Phil
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Mike Spoto
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Pallet Ranger wrote:
Have to say that after one play here, I'm inclined to agree with what you've said here.


I have to agree with you on this one. After one play with four players I had to say too tedious and too long.

I was thinking of writing a review for this one myself, but I grew up with the old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Glad you spoke up on this one Zoe.
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Sean Flinn
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Just gave this game a go, over lunch, with 3 players. Ultimately I agree with everything in this review. The theme definitely felt under utilized; the bidding strategy was lack-luster and in general, it came off very unenthralling.

While it didn't take long to get into the groove of the turn mechanics, the game did run about an hour long. All told, it didn't feel like it dragged on, but I could see that being the case with 4+.

It may be better with 4 or 5, but with 3, it was rather unsatisfying. I always tend to give a game the benefit of the doubt and will play it a couple times, shifting the player count or such... though this game may not make it that far.
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Zoe M
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Quote:
I was thinking of writing a review for this one myself, but I grew up with the old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Glad you spoke up on this one Zoe.

I guess I just wasn't raised properly . I actually did feel bad writing a negative review of this game, but I told myself that if it was useful to other people then it was worth it.

Quote:
Remember with the robber, knight, etc. that you can throw boulders at the offending card equal to the value of what is being stolen to drive them away and keep the card.

I did forget this initially, but we remembered fairly early on in the game--I had only lost one traveller to the Dragon, and no one else had lost any. Since we remembered the rule very soon after, my opponents kindly allowed me to pay my boulders and take my traveller back. So I don't think this had too great an effect on my enjoyment of the game, though it's possible that I would have approached things differently if I had remembered the rule the whole time.

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The game does suffer with six players.

Quote:
After one play with four players I had to say too tedious and too long.

Quote:
with 3, it was rather unsatisfying.

So, anyone for 5?
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James Mathe
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I'll throw my hat into the ring here as well... I too was attracted by the theme only to find the upgrading to be almost pointless and meaningless.

The bidding is nice but not when the high bidder typically gets the junk/bad guy and also screwed out of boulders for the next day.

Anyway, I agree completely with this review as well.

James
http://www.JamesMathe.com
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Zoe M
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Okay, I tried it with 4 people last night, and I have to say, I'm still not impressed. It wasn't especially long and it didn't seem as unpredictable as with 6, but I just didn't find the game play all that interesting. I was glad when it ended and we could move on to something else.
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kirby g
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same here, the artwork on the bridge cards was cute. but gameplay just wasn't there. I wasn't a fan of the bidding process, just seemed too random. The travelers cards were fairly pointless too, maybe got a laugh or too the first few minutes on the cards but after that it could have just been a blank card with the money and food value listed on it.

The bidding process in fist of dragonstones i prefer more, because you know each player only has a set amount of bidding power each round, and what you bid on is more useful.
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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    I'm surprised that you've indicated it goes too long. I played a four-player last night and we were out of people long before the point cards, and it seemed to end very abruptly. It lacked story-arc because of that, and the next game I play will be very tactical -- not a lot of room for investing in future turns. If you want the best card showing bid the house, because next turn you'll bid nothing and get a pile of bidding rocks in return.

    There seemed to be more than a few ways to inadvertantly snooker yourself, much of which is out of your control. I found myself trying to decide how high a bid was needed to only come in second or third, and that's just screwy. It's also damn-near impossible. What remains is just throwing some number of cubes out there and then thinking on your feet when things turn out. I like thinking on my feet, but the decisions available weren't terribly gripping.

    I personally found the theme screwball. Some parts of it made no sense. But it was serviceable I suppose.

    I think there's a game in here struggling to get out but hasn't quite made it yet.

             Sag.

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Zoe M
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I think it's possible to go on too long while still ending abruptly. Especially in a six-player game, we always seemed to be waiting for the last person to decide on their bid (not the same person every time), and it was especially noticeable because there wasn't really any thinking ahead to be done in that time.
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