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Cyclades» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Cyclades - Power Grid done right! (duck) rss

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Emivaldo Sousa
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To me, Power Grid is an auction game. It wasn’t maybe supposed to be just an auction game, as you have the board and the market and so on, but I think that the auction is, after all, the dominating aspect of the game. I will not elaborate further on this as I have already discussed it on my review of that game, but that’s my impression about Power Grid.

When I started playing Cyclades and saw that the auction mechanism was responsible for your actions and turn order, it became clear that the auction in Cyclades would be an important feature, so important that the whole game would revolve around it and I thought: can it work?

My worries were based on the fact that I think Power Grid is a mechanically sound but ultimately boring game, and the auction mechanism is kind of an overused feature to force interaction mostly in Eurogames, but sometimes in Ameritrash games as well.

And while to me Power Grid fails when it adds math to its auctions, I think that Bruno Cathala made a good call when choosing to add even more interaction and open conflict to the auctions in Cyclades.

This is nothing new, of course, and, to be honest, Cyclades is not terribly original in any of its mechanisms:
1. Combat is Risk style: throw the dice and add the number of units. In a smart move, the dice variation goes from zero to three.
2. Special powers (a.k.a. Mythical Creatures) are bought on a track that changes every turn.
3. The auction is exactly the same as in Amun-Ra.

But what it lacks in originality it compensates in production values: the theme comes through and resists bravely against the euro mechanisms and the artwork and playing pieces are nothing short of fantastic.

What Cyclades has that is genius is that the conditions to victory are so easy to achieve that, if a player is left unmolested, the game will end in 15 minutes, so while the various systems do provide ways of winning the game, they are even more efficient in negating the victory of someone else, especially when players work together to block someone’s path. Before you know it, you are looking for a situation in which every player has the chance to win in the same turn and you have to find an answer for the question: "what are you gonna do about it?".

What follows is usually tense, cutthroat gameplay that very few games are able to provide.

Continuing with my weird analogy, Power Grid has a catch up mechanism that artificially makes the games very close. Cyclades puts this power in the hands of the players: the games will be close because the players will make it so.

The forums here are filled with people that think that the game might be broken or too random. Random it is, broken it is not. When the players work together it is way more difficult to someone come up with an easy Zeus victory. I’ve seen a game in which the Poseidon action was denied to a player for 10 turns straight.

And a final word about the random thing: in one play, I managed to roll five zeros one after another while rolling the dice for combat. Annoying, but I still had two clear shots at winning and in one case, the other players spent about ten minutes coming up with a solution to kick me out of my metropolis by the end of the turn. In that game, I forgot to pick up 1 coin for my income once, and I think that one coin had an impact much greater in my game than the 5 zeros in combat.

The randomness is there, this is a combat game, but a lucky win will be something increasingly rarer the more you play. It will still happen from time to time, of course, but this just adds to the tension of the game, which I think is a plus.

What I don’t like in the game?

1. I think the Zeus power is kind of gamey and can be annoying to defend against. If you don’t know, Zeus allows the player to cycle through the decks of Mythical Creatures (special powers). If a player hoards money and gets his hand on the Zeus Power he can "work on the deck" to find the creature he needs for win.
In fact, the power is so strong that I think that’s why the game is called Cyclades. Get it? Cycl... OK, I’m sorry.
In any case, it is not that strong, just, as I said, gamey (for the lack of a better word).

2. The chimera card, the one that reshuffles the deck every time it is discarded, is a necessity (because of the Zeus power), but I don’t like that it automatically puts two cards of the most powerful monsters on the deck. I understand that this kind of gives a "no one is ever safe" vibe to the game. But sometimes, when the game is not finished quickly, it is tiresome to be prepared for everything every time - it would be good to see some options fading away and have to adapt accordingly.

Great game.

Top notch components, most of the time quick (but I’ve seen 4 to 5 hours matches), tense, lots of table talk and backstabbing and a proof that even old mechanisms can still bring excitement to the table, at least in the eyes of this old skeptic.
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Julio

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Very good review, enjoyed reading it. What was that of the Cycl?
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D P
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jrescan wrote:
Very good review, enjoyed reading it. What was that of the Cycl?


Add an 'e' to the end

Cycle, as in cycle through the deck. The whole circular theme was definitely built into the game, to read the blogs by the designers. Look at the fact that the islands are in a circular pattern, the "hex" system is circular, etc.

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Emivaldo Sousa
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Yeah. It was cycle because Zeus cycles the deck. Bad, bad joke , you are not loosing anything

Thanks you all for reading it.
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zinho73 wrote:
most of the time quick (but I’ve seen 4 to 5 hours matches),


surprise

Wow, I can't imagine a game of Cyclades lasting that long! You clearly have a group that really works together to prevent each other from winning!
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Cameron Chien
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One poor guy was denied Poseidon ten straight turns. That takes teamwork.

Cameron
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Emivaldo Sousa
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squash wrote:
zinho73 wrote:
most of the time quick (but I’ve seen 4 to 5 hours matches),


surprise

Wow, I can't imagine a game of Cyclades lasting that long! You clearly have a group that really works together to prevent each other from winning!


Most games are quicker because sometimes there is really not much you can do. But when everyone is "in the zone" we make fewer mistakes and actually plan against each other, sometimes several turns ahead. Then paranoia kicks in because the conspirators still have to watch each other.

But the game offers so many powerful ways to win, like Pegasus, the giant, Zeus and Athena, that I think that, at times, it actually plays more like a race: first one to get Pegasus wins! Those kind of games are really fast.
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