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Subject: Chaos in the Old World: A Euro in Ameritrash clothing rss

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Nate Merchant
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If you're anything like me (don't be!), the premise and contents of CitOW are too good to be true. Warhammer + FFG? Go on... Did you say Chaos? Warmer. Wait, what? All four players are expected to play foul, pestilent Chaos gods? No one is leading the trite forces of Good? No paladins or Sigmarites? Just bad guys, and not just bad guys, but the worst there is? You can play cards like "Rain of Pus" and summon Major Demons to do battle?? Sign me the f*** up! Take my money, FFG, and if need be, my first-born for your desecrated altar.

Ah, but not so fast, Natus! The premise is good, the bits are bound to be stunning, but is the promise of four-player depravity kept? And the answer is yes: CitOW doesn't pussy-foot around; it Goes There. Some of my favorite moments in art are when an artist Goes There. I love Patrice Chereau's La Reine Margot because, among other reasons, he Goes There with the St. Bartholomew Night's Massacre. Peter Jackson Goes There with the Helm's Deep battle. Cormac McCarthy Goes There. Richard Wagner Goes There, incessantly. And some games Go to an almost unbearable extreme. That Wallace's Liberte, Petersen's TI3, and Nepitello, Maggi, and di Meglio's War of the Ring Go There is debatable, perhaps, but not CitOW. It Goes There, with relish--the players are vying to ruin utterly the Old World--and that is the initial appeal of the game.

However, that would all be window-dressing if the underlying design weren't so sound. Ameritrash it may look, but apart from the Exploding Sixes (berserker frenzy!), Euro is how it plays. Which is not to say it's staid or boring...quite the contrary! The Victory conditions are clear and simple (win by the dials or by VPs, or lose when the last Old World event card is resolved) and the methods are even simpler: corruption, killing, and domination. In true Euro fashion, the powers are given Power (action) points with which to place units and play cards, but rarely as much as they need during a turn. Players will be loath to spend their Power points first and thereby "go out", leaving the field to their competitors. Thus each turn usually presents agonizing decisions and player moves prompt a good deal of demonic table talk.

What sets CitOW apart from the Euro crowd, however, is not only its theme but its lovely asymmetry. The followers, the cards, the upgrades, the attributes, and the dial win conditions of each Demon Prince are very different, and they combine to make the game deliciously thematic and engaging. Since the Ruinous Powers are so unique, while having some of the same units and unit abilities, replay value is huge and players can actually create strategies around the strengths of their Ruinous Powers, since they are not equal and hardly even balanced. Echoes of other games proliferate in the design, but CitOW is without a doubt its own game and will, I'm sure, attract a large following.

There are some blemishes on the game's leathery hide, of course. The sculpts of the Cultists with their inspiring but impractical staves and the board with its counter-hiding map are, for FFG, inexcusable and easily-avoided blunders. A FAQ has just been issued, making the dial win conditions of each power (among other things) more viable due to printed mistakes on the board. I've played two games and have yet to have Peasants actually score, and the Old World "figures", being simple counters and Events, tend towards blandness. More plays will tell, but I'm worried that players in the mid-to-endgame can accumulate a fistfull of cards and more power points than they can spend, which makes the game less tight and nail-biting for those with the surplus. Lastly, the game CAN end (by player auto-win or by the Old World deck being exhausted) just when the slower Powers are starting to surge. However, I'm going to predict that designer Lang calculated the desired game length pretty accurately, and that I and others just need to play those more subtle powers more efficiently. Time will tell.

Already there are murmurs of an expansion, but a testament to this design's solidity is that many players don't want one! Imagine, an FFG game without an expansion to fix or enhance it! A sign of the (Warhammer-ian) Apocalypse? But I'm in the opposite camp...I'd like the designer to flesh out this doomed world even more, with perhaps a fifth player leading the Old World against the verminous pests. Sigmarite Priests, Flagellants, and Witch Hunters? Be still my rotten heart! I've not been a fan of Lang's LCG's, but now I think they deserve another look. And this is the first game in a long time that, after a furious match with the preferred compliment of players (four), I have rushed out to buy. Keep me impoverished, FFG! We all know where Lang picked up the mechanic of infernal corruption.


Edit: speling

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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That is a damned fine review, Nate! I don't agree with all of it: I'm OK with the board and cultists, have no worries about the end game, and think an expansion would do more harm than good.

But you gave a superb description of the game's strong points, and got to the heart of why it works so well. And I truly love reading a review that reads like a review, not like back-of-box ad copy. That's all too rare nowadays.

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Jim Cote
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Natus wrote:
There are some blemishes on the game's leathery hide, of course. The sculpts of the Cultists with their inspiring but impractical staves and the board with its counter-hiding map are, for FFG, inexcusable and easily-avoided blunders. A FAQ has just been issued, making the dial win conditions of each power (among other things) more viable due to printed mistakes on the board.

They have great art and (usually) decent components, but they seriously need to hire a graphic designer and a rules writer. I don't think they ever get these 2 aspects of their games right.
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Anselmo Diaz
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Natus wrote:
A FAQ has just been issued, making the dial win conditions of each power (among other things) more viable due to printed mistakes on the board.


As far as I know, the only printed mistake is in one of the Powers's cards, not on the board.
Will check the errata from FFG's website, to see if it has been updated or something.
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Don Kim
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I agree that it can be kind of hard to see the chits on the board and to remedy that I slide most of the non-corruption markers towards the lighter-colored center of the region at the beginning of the summoning phase.

It's funny you say that you didn't score for any peasants because that's how my wife almost won Via the "Plunged Into Chaos" card coming up more than once.

I've only played once but I can tell the game is balanced nicely. I played a three player game between my non-hardcore gaming wife (Tzeentch), my Captain Ameritrash best friend (Khorne) and myself (Nurgle). Through the whole game Nurgle and Tzeentch were close on VPs and Khorne was only two dial turns away from victory. I ended up winning with my wife at 48 and me at max due to ruining The Empire. We played through seven of eight rounds.

If you play in the spirit of your god and occasionally work with another god to gang up on the leader it should be very close.

Also, I think the only god to be modified for their dial turn condition was Slaanesh. I just used a small sliver of post-it to cover the one and wrote "2" on it
 
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brian
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Echtalion wrote:
Natus wrote:
A FAQ has just been issued, making the dial win conditions of each power (among other things) more viable due to printed mistakes on the board.


As far as I know, the only printed mistake is in one of the Powers's cards, not on the board.
Will check the errata from FFG's website, to see if it has been updated or something.

There is only ONE error on one god's card (Slaanesh). No errors on the board or any other component (except a few mistakes in the examples of the rules).
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Josh P.
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Any word on getting fixed replacements for the Slaanesh card?
 
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brian
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joshp wrote:
Any word on getting fixed replacements for the Slaanesh card?

I doubt we will get replacements. We may get an offiical pdf on the site someday but I am not sure it is worth the trouble.
 
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mateo jurasic
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joshp wrote:
Any word on getting fixed replacements for the Slaanesh card?


yeah, get a pen, scratch out the 1, write a 2

do you really need another card?
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Changing a '1' to a '2' on a single player mat was no big deal to me. It took 10 seconds to change it, and I haven't noticed it since.
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Calavera Despierta
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This is a great review, but I wanted to comment on the title... This game continues to get labeled as a "Euro" disguised as an "Ameritrash" game. I don't know why but this rubs me the wrong way. Is it because of the smooth game play? Is it the area control mechanic? The mix of card-driven game play and action-point expenditure? In my mind these are all qualities of Dune, and it's the great grand-pappy of Ameritrash. Dunno, just thinking aloud, but maybe it's time we set aside these labels and just call a good game good. Says MScrivner. The Ameritrash fan.
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brian
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MScrivner wrote:
Says MScrivner. The Euro fan in Ameritrash fan clothing.

Fixed that for you.
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Nate Merchant
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Matthew,

Dune now, except for its length, would be called a Euro. And yes, CitOW plays like a Euro, especially something Wallace would design. And if that's so, why not say it?

We could dispense with labels, but sometimes labeling things can be very helpful for prospective buyers and players. I've already noted some low ratings for this game from AT'ers who expected a brainless gore-fest. Shame that the elegant design ruined the experience for them.


Edit: language
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Calavera Despierta
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I agree labels are useful. Ergo the existence of language. Except when it narrows our perspective.

Twilight Imperium has role selection linked to variable phase order, voting, negotiation, a sort of resource management, all strong Euro mechanics, but no one is about to call it a Euro.

In strange times like these maybe we just need a better word, something like the term "Waro," a term that captures the emerging design hybridization between previously distinct game genres. Eurotrash? I know CITOW is not the only recent game to fit this category. Android is also Eurotrash (though perhaps far less elegant.) Space Alert and Galaxy Trucker are Eurotrashy. Smallworld is a Euro slut all dragged up in Ameritrash lipstick and high heeled boots. Etc.

O hell. I absolutely deserve to be teased by Brian above. I do like elegant games. So long as the elegance does not enforce ludicrously arbitrary restrictions on my choices as a player (obligatory shudder & spitting on the ground at the thought of another game of Le Havre or Caylus). Indeed, I think the best games are elegant--so long as that elegance facilitates direct conflict. Diplomacy tops my list. And like Dune, if it was released in this day and age, it'd probably be a Euro. Or at least Eurotrash.
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Ben Williams
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This game is not a euro - there are no wooden cubes. Without wooden cubes it is not a true eurogame.

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Roland Wood
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MScrivner wrote:
Twilight Imperium has role selection linked to variable phase order, voting, negotiation, a sort of resource management, all strong Euro mechanics, but no one is about to call it a Euro.


Except the designer himself in the design notes at the end of the rulebook. To be perfectly fair he called it a hybrid game but I wouldn't say that nobody would call it one if the designer created it as a combination of both euro and ameritrash...

Look, this is a good thing. When your Euro loving friends want to play a game just tell them you've got just the thing and give them a choice between TI3 and CITOW....
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Jason Cawley
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This review actually sucks, I can't believe it got rated this highly. It did not tell me a single thing about this game. "Gosh, this is cool, cause the theme is being evil", was all the man actually managed to say. That's pathetic. Rating it highly is even more pathetic.
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Joel Fournier
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JasonC wrote:

This review actually sucks, I can't believe it got rated this highly. It did not tell me a single thing about this game. "Gosh, this is cool, cause the theme is being evil", was all the man actually managed to say. That's pathetic. Rating it highly is even more pathetic.


well give us a better review Jason.
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joel4nier wrote:
JasonC wrote:

This review actually sucks, I can't believe it got rated this highly. It did not tell me a single thing about this game. "Gosh, this is cool, cause the theme is being evil", was all the man actually managed to say. That's pathetic. Rating it highly is even more pathetic.


well give us a better review Jason.


Ignore him, Joel. He's been trolling the CITOW reviews for a while making such comments.
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Sean Franco
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Natus wrote:
Edit: speling



Ha!!

Good review, tho'. It's nice to see some quality reviews that don't do rules summaries (but both are needed in one way or another...).
 
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