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At the Gates of Loyang» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Lighter Than Le Havre and Less Fun Than Agricola rss

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J R

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Disclaimer

I would like to preface this review by saying that I have played this game 1.5 times (we had to stop the first game in the middle) with four players each time. I am the kind of gamer who likes to play a lot of games a few times each - if a game doesn't grab me in the first couple of plays, I am unlikely to give it too many more attempts. For those who prefer the opinion of someone with many more plays, please feel free to stop reading this review.

Introduction

Ordinarily, I think games should be reviewed on their own merits, and not be held directly comparable to other games. However, as Loyang is the third game in the "Harvest Trilogy", and as the other two are held so highly by the boardgame community, I thought I spend some time discussing how this holds up against them.

Please note I will not discuss the rules - those can be found in many other reviews.

Components - 4/10 (Not an Average)

Form - 7/10

The main pieces of Loyang are:

1) Very nice looking vegimeeples
2) Decently think playing cards
3) A questionable player board in the shape of a T
4) A score marker for each player

The vegimeeples look really nice, especially when placed in a field. They give a lot of theme to the game. The customer cards look very nice as well. The worker cards are okay.

Function - 3/10

The vegetables and fields work very well. However, I think that a couple of design mistakes in the components are extremely detrimental to the game.

This is a game of subtle player interaction. While there are some cards that directly affect other players, the main interaction is in the card selection phase. To truly play this phase well, you need to anticipate which cards other players will want to take. The sheer amount of text on some of the cards makes this extremely difficult to do unless:

A) You have played enough to know what most of the cards do by sight - this will probably happen for those who like to play a game repeatedly.
B) You slow the game down to pick up each card.

Even once you do know what the cards do, you still need to evaluate what is in front of each player. This will require either asking them each phase, or getting up and walking around the table frequently.

A more icon based approach to workers (with larger icons) could have avoided this well. As it is, I prefered to ignore lots of available information rather than slow the game down by checking it - to me, having to change the way I play due to design limitations is a huge negative.

The other negative people mentioned is the scoring track. Everyone scores on their own board with a marker that can easily roll. You frequently play with your hands above your scoring marker, and I would expect it to be knocked over on occassion. Since the game tends to end with a spread of less than one point, losing track can ruin the whole game.

These functionality issues have done a lot to ruin my experience of the game.

Gameplay 7/10

The game plays over nine turns. In early turns, you have fewer things to do, but this changes by midgame. I found the high point of the game for me was the midgame. Here my early strategizing paid off - I had many fields to harvest and was able to feed both regular and casual customers. If the game ended after turn 5 or 6, I may have raised my rating higher.

The endgame, however, seemed to be more of the same. Regular customers and fields were completing, so it felt like I was holding steady rather than building. I suppose if I had a slower start, the endgame could have allowed for some catchup. As it stands, I was about 10 coins ahead in the midgame, and won by about 10 coins - so I didn't feel like the last hour added much.

The two by two simultaneous gameplay for four players was interesting. It allowed the game to go a little faster, but also added a bit of confusion. If you play with people who care which cards they draw from a facedown deck, it can add some confusion as players want to go as soon as their partner is finished - but others want them to wait so they don't take their 2-pack "out of order". (As an aside, the phrase 2-pack hurt the theme for me - maybe poor translation?) These are minor issues.

Complexity 6/10

While this is an extremely tight game, I didn't find the complexity to be very high. I managed to satisfy one casual customer a turn for 8/9 turns, seven times of which I got the 2 coin bonus. I also satsified my regular customers every turn expect the first they came out - satisfying two a turn for most of the game. This left me with 17 points and 11 coins leftover.

While there were some tradeoffs, I felt that most of the time it was pretty obvious what to do. Were the game not so tight, I would have rated the complexity lower.

I suppose with better functionality of the components. I would spent more time anticipating my opponents needs and trying to thwart them - but as mentioned earlier, it would have been too frustrating.

I'd say it's complexity is on par with Agricola (maybe even a bit lower), and far less than Le Havre which requires management of many more things over longer periods of time.

Fun Factor 6/10

I differ from those that I played with in that I saw a mathematical puzzle where they saw a thematic game. For me, unlike both Agricola and Le Havre, I feel like the theme could have been a hundred other things without changing the rules. It was simply a resource management game where resources are converted into a variable number of victory points (money). It felt very similar to Caylus, which while a good game, isn't a very fun game.

Agricola just screams theme. There are screwage opportunities abound for those who like that. This felt a little flat.

Overall 6/10 (not an average)

Loyang is a decent game. It's not great like Agricola or Le Havre. It may not even be good. For a Euro, I felt that the poor components really hampered what could have been a much better game. I'd play this again, but I won't be buying it (and I but 10 - 20 games a year).
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ode.
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Hi!

Nice and well written review! Thanks for that!

But, as you might have guessed, I think that most of the things you criticise will vainish, if you play the game more often.

Let me explain:

Form: Why is the player board questionable? I find it quite unusual and interesting. Would you prefer giant player boards that have a place for every card you might want to place in your playing area?

Function: Off course will the helper cards be more clear in further games. But your point was, that you will always have to look out for the cards, even walk around the table. That's nonsense. Normaly there will be 2 or 3 helper cards per player. And not every card is interactive. You just need to look out for the purple lampions (in my opinion a symbol that is not visible enough - I already said that to Ralph) and check the function of that card. After two plays you know the function, when you read the name of the helper card. It's quite intuitive.

I agree with the complaints about the scoring marker. I touched it quite often myself. But I learned to watch out for it very fast. You might consider using a small cube for that (or like in the prototype a glass gem).

Gameplay: Please, do not set your opinion on that after one and a half plays! You will learn to plan your 9 rounds better. The thing is to get not all the money in the midgame, but to hold your income high, when you have reached the top! And let me tell you: 17 points and 11 coins is a good result. But not for a experienced gamer... That happens to players, that can not afford steps on the path in the endgame, because they already harvested their fields down in the midgame...

The simultaneous play is a quite new style of playing. You have to get used to it, it's not that intuitive. The confusion will go away. I think, that style of playing makes the game unique.

Complexity: I think you're right. It's not that complex, you know what to do. But you have to get there. And that's not always the same and you will not manage to do it so well like you expected every time... That's the thing about the game! I think it's really well balanced and that makes the game so strong. It musn't be more complex to be good.

Thinks...ode.
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Richard Dewsbery
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I find only two flaws in Loyang; the score track is too easily misplaced, and the green beans should be a lighter shade. That is all. There is nothing wrong with the layout or iconography of the cards.
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Jonathan Morton
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Quote:
Even once you do know what the cards do, you still need to evaluate what is in front of each player. This will require either asking them each phase, or getting up and walking around the table frequently.


I'm thinking Le Havre has the same issue. Is it more of a problem here?
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Richard Dewsbery
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Less. As there is less interaction. You generally only care what other people have if they have a Helper card that can affect you (and many cannot), or if you have a Helper card that can affect them. There is a bit more involvement in the card drafting phase, but even there you can only affect one of the two cards that an opponent will pick during the phase.
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Stephen Radcliffe
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RDewsbery wrote:
I find only two flaws in Loyang; the score track is too easily misplaced, and the green beans should be a lighter shade. That is all. There is nothing wrong with the layout or iconography of the cards.


I have been looking at a Dulux paint chart to find the correct colour for the beans. One cannot brook the presence of an ill-shaded meeple!
 
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Bryan Maxwell
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Jonny5 wrote:
Quote:
Even once you do know what the cards do, you still need to evaluate what is in front of each player. This will require either asking them each phase, or getting up and walking around the table frequently.


I'm thinking Le Havre has the same issue. Is it more of a problem here?


When we play Le Havre I always have my own buildings facing out away from me so the others can read them easier.
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Ralph Bruhn
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RDewsbery wrote:
I find only two flaws in Loyang; the score track is too easily misplaced, and the green beans should be a lighter shade. That is all. There is nothing wrong with the layout or iconography of the cards.
Score marker:
We saw this "danger", that's the reason why we make this marker quite small. But we didn't want to use a small disc like the starting player token for this or a cube. We preferred to make a "nice" marker. And in all my testgames it never happened once that one player misplaced his marker. By the way: This is a problem that almost every game has, where you can't count your points at any time of the game. Just one example: Caylus.

Bean colour:
I agree! I wanted to have them like they are printed in the rules. But -hm - sometimes - hm - things doesn't work exactly as planned ...

Iconography:
We discussed this too - but the functions are so special that you just couldn't explain them by icons. So basically I agree with J R - I prefer cards with icons to cards with long texts. But in this game it's just not possible.
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Richard Dewsbery
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On the bean colour issue, I didn't think that it was your fault. I thought that you'd almost certainly picked colours for the various components so that they would match the printed cards, an things simply didn't turn out quite right. It happens. Sometimes even a large and experienced publisher can have similar problems crop up. I'll repaint mine if I ever come across a pale green spray paint on my travels.

The score track? Well, part of the problem is the size of the scoring piece, and part of it is the location of the track, but I don't think I've played a game yet where someone hasn't displaced their scoring marker at least once (and we're up to 7 games now). My solution would have been to have the shop on the vertical part of the T, and the score track horizontally across the top. But sometimes those sort of tweaks aren't obvious until you start playing the game with the actual components (by which time it's probably too late).

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J R

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Mr_Nuts wrote:
Jonny5 wrote:
Quote:
Even once you do know what the cards do, you still need to evaluate what is in front of each player. This will require either asking them each phase, or getting up and walking around the table frequently.


I'm thinking Le Havre has the same issue. Is it more of a problem here?


When we play Le Havre I always have my own buildings facing out away from me so the others can read them easier.


It's an issue with Le Havre, but less of one for two reasons:

1) Once a building comes out, it's there for the whole game. So even if it moves, once you are aware of it, you know it's still somewhere.

2) Le Havre's cards rely more on icons. It's a bit easier to identify buildings from a distance.
 
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J R

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barandur wrote:
RDewsbery wrote:
I find only two flaws in Loyang; the score track is too easily misplaced, and the green beans should be a lighter shade. That is all. There is nothing wrong with the layout or iconography of the cards.
Score marker:
We saw this "danger", that's the reason why we make this marker quite small. But we didn't want to use a small disc like the starting player token for this or a cube. We preferred to make a "nice" marker. And in all my testgames it never happened once that one player misplaced his marker. By the way: This is a problem that almost every game has, where you can't count your points at any time of the game. Just one example: Caylus.

Bean colour:
I agree! I wanted to have them like they are printed in the rules. But -hm - sometimes - hm - things doesn't work exactly as planned ...

Iconography:
We discussed this too - but the functions are so special that you just couldn't explain them by icons. So basically I agree with J R - I prefer cards with icons to cards with long texts. But in this game it's just not possible.
As some people have pointed out, this is less of an issue for the gamer that likes to play a game many times. For me, I would have preferred less complex workers but more easily read cards. This would allow me to spend more time "playing" the other players.

For those who say the interaction is limited to the workers that affect other players, is the card round less important than I figured? I put in a lot of effort trying to not drop a good card for a specific player until he was done. I also tried to keep two cards several times (and succeeded once).
 
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Scott Agius
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barandur wrote:

Iconography:
We discussed this too - but the functions are so special that you just couldn't explain them by icons. So basically I agree with J R - I prefer cards with icons to cards with long texts. But in this game it's just not possible.


It doesn't matter either way, complex cards either need sufficent text or complicated iconography, i prefer the text myself, after a few plays, you get used to them. Same as if they were symbols, some people would be complaining they are too complicated to understand (i.e RFTG). Both are preferable to overly simple helpers who do very little because you didn't want too much iconography or text.

Whenever I play a game that involves text that everyone needs to be aware of I just read it out aloud, when you put the helper in the middle, say this is the such and such, it does this, saves everyone squinting in the middle trying to read it. Same as if you put it in your area of the board without it being in the middle, just read it to people if they are new/don't know what it is.
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Joe Schlimgen
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I haven't seen the game yet, but couldn't you just place the score marker on its side to make it more difficult to bump?

Edit: Never mind. I looked at the pictures and there's no flat side. Oh well.
 
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