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Subject: World Without Decisions - a quick 2 player review rss

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Alan Goodrich
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This game went from love-it to "meh" faster than any game ever has. At first, it seems perfectly balanced, with the event cards and semi-random nature of the income making for a fresh play every time. It soon becomes apparent, though, that there is really no strategic play here - the game is almost pure tactics. That might be fine in the 4er, where you are struggling against chance just to get something going, but in the 2er, you have too much control.

There is no pressure to do anything in particular, as the chapter-ending necessities (grain, piety) are easy enough to rustle up with 3 income choices, and the card actions limit you in terms of what you can accomplish otherwise (at best, do 2x the building or medicine actions for any real VPs). Since you can't plan for anything much (as income, even with a choice, is basically a crap-shoot), and you can't do actions more than once (or twice for one action), the order in which you do things doesn't really matter, so pretty much you do this, or do that, and no matter what you do, you'll end up in the same place. Two out of three of our games ended in either a tie or half a point away from each other! In the third game, the leader position was due to pure chance as well (a combo of turn order and lucky plague markers). And we've never been hit with penance or any other end of the turn penalty - even if you can't make one of the payments, you'd have to be a dolt not to have finagled a loyalty to take care of it.

As is, this one feels much like 2-player Cuba - seemingly a lot of options, but no pressure to do anything. Plus, the "flavor" text on the cards is pretty uninspiring (reminiscent to my fiance of the lame trappings of Candamir - Sir Ralph? Come on). This might be good for 4 (or 3) if you like a tactical struggle, but for 2, you will be bored to tears. Granted, this might not be a bad gateway Euro, but otherwise, I can't see how this one has legs, at least sans expansion.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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It was played once by me and went immediately into the for sale pile. I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth much much more.
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Justin Moore
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I liked this a LOT better than Pillars. I've only played it 4-player, but near the end of the game decisions were critical as there weren't enough resources for everyone to pay their mandatory payments at the end of chapter 4.

I will say I don't think 2-player would be particularly fun. I think this needs the full complement of 4, but as a 4 player, I loved it. So did the other people in the group I played with.

I felt like there were lots of ways to score VPs. The guy who won only added to projects I think twice in the whole game. The lady who came in second got a slow start but played strong in the second half curing plague houses. I started strong, but fell behind in the resource battle at the end.

Solid game.
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Alan Goodrich
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feydjm wrote:
I liked this a LOT better than Pillars. I've only played it 4-player, but near the end of the game decisions were critical as there weren't enough resources for everyone to pay their mandatory payments at the end of chapter 4.

I will say I don't think 2-player would be particularly fun. I think this needs the full complement of 4, but as a 4 player, I loved it. So did the other people in the group I played with.

I felt like there were lots of ways to score VPs. The guy who one only added to projects I think twice in the whole game. The lady who came in second got a slow start but played strong in the second half curing plague houses. I started strong, but fell behind in the resource battle at the end.

Solid game.


Yeah, I'd love to play it with 4 - we just rarely have that many. The upside of this one is that I think it could go over well with casual (or maybe non) gamers, as it is fairly easy to learn with a large luck element.
 
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Steve Duff
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Given the lack of rules, I find myself now scratching this off my wishlist.

Sales - 1 yet again, Mayfair. shake
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Timothy Gallagher
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cayluster wrote:
It soon becomes apparent, though, that there is really no strategic play here - the game is almost pure tactics. That might be fine in the 4er, where you are struggling against chance just to get something going, but in the 2er, you have too much control.


My wife and I are interested in this game; I showed her an image of the board and she was instantly intrigued. As we primarily play games with just the two of us, I found your review interesting. To what do you equate this problem with the game? Does the actions/decisions/variables/set-up not scale with the number of players like, for example, Agricola?

Tim
 
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Alan Goodrich
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gallaghertm wrote:
cayluster wrote:
It soon becomes apparent, though, that there is really no strategic play here - the game is almost pure tactics. That might be fine in the 4er, where you are struggling against chance just to get something going, but in the 2er, you have too much control.


My wife and I are interested in this game; I showed her an image of the board and she was instantly intrigued. As we primarily play games with just the two of us, I found your review interesting. To what do you equate this problem with the game? Does the actions/decisions/variables/set-up not scale with the number of players like, for example, Agricola?

Tim


It is the amount of "balance" in the 2er I have a problem with. In a 4 player game, you are getting to chose one income in 4, and you get one favor out of 4. This makes getting certain resources harder, and thus amplifies the importance of certain actions. In the 2er, you can get your hands on almost any resource you need one way or another, making the actions, and ordering of the actions, very boring.

I'd think of the problem in comparison to Castle for All Seasons. In that game, the 2er is different from the regular game - you get to take twice the actions. It makes the game different, and shifts the focus to timing and economization, but it still makes for tough decisions and competition.

In WWE, though, there is no shift in the number of actions you can take - you will take six exactly once (one twice, should you choose). So there is no way to use all those resources you might have accumulated beyond what you need for anything useful - that is, you can't really start hording material and build on mulitple buildings. Really, though, since there are so few actions that generate many VPs, even increasing the number of times you can take them wouldn't matter, because the big earners are either send resources to buildings or cure the sick (although it would allow you to accumulate gold in large quantities toward the endgame).

As it is, you basically store these resource away, and they all score about the same in the endgame - 1 VP for resources, half a VP for a gold. So in many games, both players will take the same actions, in the same order, for about the same VP, victory boiling down to the odd gold or resource. Now, if the game were interesting for the duration and competative - if you felt like you were responding in a meaningful way to the environment the game created - this wouldn't matter so much, but as it is, you can play this on autopilot and win (or not).
 
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Timothy Gallagher
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cayluster wrote:
gallaghertm wrote:
cayluster wrote:
It soon becomes apparent, though, that there is really no strategic play here - the game is almost pure tactics. That might be fine in the 4er, where you are struggling against chance just to get something going, but in the 2er, you have too much control.


My wife and I are interested in this game; I showed her an image of the board and she was instantly intrigued. As we primarily play games with just the two of us, I found your review interesting. To what do you equate this problem with the game? Does the actions/decisions/variables/set-up not scale with the number of players like, for example, Agricola?

Tim

Now, if the game were interesting for the duration and competative - if you felt like you were responding in a meaningful way to the environment the game created - this wouldn't matter so much, but as it is, you can play this on autopilot and win (or not).


Thanks for the quick reply. I appreciate your thoughts on this as I prefer games that play well with 2, but can scale up accordingly and still be viable.

Tim
 
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Couldn't this be fixed by pulling some of the resources off the board for a two player game? I agree that every play in a 4 player game feels far more crucial than in a two, mainly due to the limited resources vs limited turns. I think reducing the available resources might help a bit; granted you may need to increase the number of resources that are automatically added to a project at the end of the chapter. There are some great moments in this game where you plan out a sequence of moves that all dovetail together and send you ahead of the pack.

I think a little more time is needed for viable strategies to emerge; the fact that they aren't immediately apparent usually means that the math is sound.

Thanks for the review.
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Alan Goodrich
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Squatting Monkey wrote:
I think a little more time is needed for viable strategies to emerge; the fact that they aren't immediately apparent usually means that the math is sound.


I agree the math may be sound for 4, but I'm not sure what viable strategy would emerge... it's not like the problem with 2 is not knowing what to do, but knowing too well what to do. Given the limited number of actions, and the way they have to be sequenced, I just don't see a large number of strategies emerging, especially since you can't plan toward anything (as income is random). The strategies seem to be: when you can build, build, and when you can heal, heal. Try to maximize VPs on both of these (building is artificially limited in this respect). Otherwise, it's catch as catch can.

We tried limiting grain/piety for the 2er - 3 resources per player. It did make them more scarce, but it never really mattered, as you'd have to make a concerted effort to hoard those materials for it to affect your opponent, and the amount of effort needed was not worth it when you could be gaining VPs with those actions/incomes. As for other resources, I can't believe you run low on stone or wood with 4 (I could see wool or cloth getting scarce, though). At the end of the day, the amount of tinkering needed to make this good for 2 just isn't worth it. With 4, though, I could see it being fun.
 
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Bruce Bernard
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I agree that the 2-player version is completely broke. I can't imagine it was even play tested as a 2-player game. After liking it as a 3-player game, I tried it as a 2-player. After the first chapter it seemed like a rather tight game. But once we figured out that we would never be short of any duties that needed to be paid at the end of the chapter, it degenerated quickly. Many turns there was really nothing to do once everything was gone. The game ended turning on loyalty markers. Since I had the bulk of those, every time I was able to get the favor marker to the King's space, I scored a boat load of points putting the game out of reach for my opponent. Where in the 3-player game we struggled to build buildings, in the 2-player game as each building that came up was instantly built.

Perhaps it would work as a 2-player game if the available gold, grain and piety were reduced by half, more buildings were automatically available to build, the King and Bishop spaces on the favor track provided a maximum of 4 VPs, and the number of houses available to build were cut in half.

This game should have either been advertised as a 3-4 player game only or come with special rules for 2-players. Rather than playtest the game, I'll just play something else when I only have one person to play with.

All this said, I am looking forward to playing it with 4-players. My personal opinion is that it is better than Pillars of the Earth, which IMO is rather simplistic and does not compare well to say Caylus, Stone Age or Carson City. The art work is great. There are a few annoying typos such as building a house of "wool" but overall I like the game. I just wish I would not have wasted a few hours playing it as a 2-player game.
 
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