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Subject: First and Second Impressions rss

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p55carroll
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Just finished my second game of NW and thought I'd take a few minutes to share my impressions.

Tough game! Or maybe I've just got a lot to learn. Anyhow, both times I ended up in utter defeat. I think my first game ran through turn 52, so I did better then than this second time, which ended on turn 41 when all the seas filled with enemy ships and I wasn't able to sink one and keep the game going.

In my first game, I chose a War! motivation for Nemo and just focused on sinking ships. This second time around, I chose Anti-imperialism and spent more time collecting treasure and rolling for liberation--things I didn't think I had time for in my first game. Well, as it turns out, maybe I didn't have time for them this time either.

For those who don't know the game, there are basically four paths to victory--War and Anti-imperialism, as noted above, plus Science and Adventure. You choose a path at the start of the game, then have one chance to change your mind during the game.

I find that Notoriety is nearly impossible to control. Maybe the Monstrous Design improvement would help. But in both games, I just ignored Notoriety and did what I felt I had to. Eventually that resulted in more ships coming after me, with better chances of their damaging me. But you can't really survive without sinking ships, and that increases your Notoriety, so--c'est la guerre.

Liberation also proved to be a difficult task. I didn't get any treasures worth more than 2 for the first half of the game, so I only rolled on the Liberation table once, in spite of that being my main motivation. Got lucky that one time and rolled a 6, but that was the most I could manage, what with all those enemy ships appearing everywhere.

The only bright side of this second game was that my resources stayed in better shape longer. In the end, I lost 15 points for Nemo becoming erratic (had to use his ability to survive against numerous warships), but the crew was still OK and the ship seaworthy. Back in that first game, I think all the resources except Nemo got low, and I had to rest and refit several times. Maybe that's why I lasted through turn 52; I wasted many weeks just doing repairs. In my second game, I don't think I did repairs more than once, if that.

In my first game, I did a lot of salvaging and refitted with the expensive Armor improvement. This second game, I opted for a cheap Periscope device instead. Then I did more salvaging but got sidetracked and forgot to cash in--so at the end of the game I had four ships in salvage boxes. Oops! But maybe I couldn't have avoided it, considering how the seas kept filling with ships so fast.

In both games, I felt pressed for time and resources--which is the point of a game like this. But the second game was especially frustrating, as I completely ran out of choices after a while: I had to sink at least one ship or suffer sudden defeat. And that went on turn after turn with barely a respite, until finally it was more than I could handle.

All in all, a good game design, though. Just enough theme to engage the imagination, and plenty of choices and variety (at least until events close in on you toward the end). I'll probably play a third game before I put it away and move on to something else.


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David Kennedy
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
...I'll probably play a third game before I put it away and move on to something else.


Wow! Is this game really only worth three plays?!?
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p55carroll
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HitchKennedy wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
...I'll probably play a third game before I put it away and move on to something else.


Wow! Is this game really only worth three plays?!?

It's worth many more, but I have SO many unplayed games queued up! The more I play NW, the guiltier I feel about putting off all those others I've been meaning to get to.
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p55carroll
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Re: First and Second--and Third-- Impressions
Just finished my third game. Used the expansion pack this time, but without optional rules.

It was my best game ever--and it still ended in utter failure.

Guess that's to be expected when you're just a beginner.

For the first two-thirds of the game, I was sitting pretty. The world wasn't closing in on me the way it did in my last game. I was clearing sea after sea, collecting treasure, and staying in excellent shape. I thought I might actually have a chance of winning.

Then the warships started appearing in greater force, and I took some hits, mainly to the hull. Nothing I couldn't survive. But then an event card put an extra ship in all the seas, and suddenly I was in trouble.

Toward the end, I had made it to the Mediterranean, where I had to sink a couple ships to get a decent Scourge of the Seas bonus. I sank three, and it was looking promising--except that I had to quickly get to the Indian Ocean, and I hadn't found the Arabian Tunnel. Had to go the long way around.

I got there with just a couple weeks to spare. There was already a face-up ironclad there, and as it turned out I might as well have just attacked it. Instead, I stalked a facedown ship, hoping it'd be an easier target. It wasn't; it was a capital ship. It didn't harm the Nautilus, but even with all the help I could muster, I failed to get the dice roll of 11 I needed.

Next turn--turn 51, the next-to-last in the game--an unlucky roll on the next-to-last turn filled up all the seas with ships. Now I wasn't just after that Scourge of the Seas bonus; I had to sink at least one ship to prevent an imperial victory!

Since the face-up ships were an ironclad and capital ship, with armor values of 10 and 11 respectively, I decided my best chance was to stalk the remaining facedown ship. The stalking bonus would at least cancel out the warship penalty. Unfortunately, another ironclad turned up. Thanks to my armor improvement, it failed to damage the submarine. But as fate would have it, I failed to roll high enough to sink the warship. My only remaining ace-in-the-hole was Conseil, so I sacrificed him for a re-roll. No dice. The imperial powers had won.

When I tallied up the score, I had 26 points after deducting 50 for the imperialists' victory. Utter failure.

Then I calculated what I'd have had if I'd managed to sink that ironclad. I would've had 87 points--failure, but not utter failure.

Well, on the bright side, NW is still very much a challenge. I prefer to win, of course, but I wouldn't want it to be a cakewalk.

I'm tempted to play again--and I'm sure I will someday. Right now, I need to put this game away so I can get to work on one of my other unplayed games and see what it's like.
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Joshua Gottesman
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Well, I think solitaire games should be tough to win. If they are too easy to win, I think its too easy to lose interest and move on to something more challenging. Reading this, I have to find my copy. It may already be packed up for the house move, and if it isn't, I may put it on the table for a break from packing.
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HitchKennedy wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
...I'll probably play a third game before I put it away and move on to something else.


Wow! Is this game really only worth three plays?!?


Let me assure you, that the game remains very interresting after 10+ games. It's a very difficult game to master, and with my 10+ games under the belt, I only have won 1 or 2 times.

Cheers, Haring
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Steve Carey
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Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
Well, I think solitaire games should be tough to win. If they are too easy to win, I think its too easy to lose interest and move on to something more challenging.


I share the same philosophy - the tricky part is making a solitaire game challenging enough without attaching an element of frustration to it.

This can be done by offering a bunch of 'decision trees', and also having 'voyages of discovery' for the player to make during play.

It's by design difficult to prevail in Nemo's War, while some other solitaire games (e.g., D-Day at Omaha Beach) I've played repeatedly - and thoroughly enjoyed - even though I never won.
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p55carroll
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Steve Carey wrote:
Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
Well, I think solitaire games should be tough to win. If they are too easy to win, I think its too easy to lose interest and move on to something more challenging.


I share the same philosophy - the tricky part is making a solitaire game challenging enough without attaching an element of frustration to it.

Indeed.

I like a challenging game provided that (1) it's winnable and (2) I can see I'm making progress game by game, getting to be a stronger player.

What totally sucks to me is that some traditional solitaire games are literally unwinnable. You deal out the cards, and unbeknownst to you, you're screwed from the get-go. Try as you may, there's zero chance of winning. So you beat your head against the brick wall till you get tired of it, then redeal or do something else. One nice thing I've heard about Freecell is that out of the millions of possible deals, only one is known to be unwinnable; many are difficult, but only that one is literally unbeatable.

At this early stage of my Nemo's War career, I'm pretty sure the game can be won. In fact, after only three games I see that I'm stronger and more knowledgeable than before. The third game was my best, and I expect to do better in future games.

Of course, the shuffle and the dice have their influence. That can also be a problem: I don't want a game to be winnable only if I get very lucky; I want it to be winnable with average luck, provided I play expertly.

I guess it'd take a lot of playtesting to verify just how winnable a solitaire game is. I don't expect a designer or publisher to do a thorough job of that before releasing each game. But I do expect a published game to be neither too easy nor impossible. NW fits within those bounds; so far, I give the game a big thumbs-up.

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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Steve Carey wrote:
Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
Well, I think solitaire games should be tough to win. If they are too easy to win, I think its too easy to lose interest and move on to something more challenging.


I share the same philosophy - the tricky part is making a solitaire game challenging enough without attaching an element of frustration to it.

Indeed.

I like a challenging game provided that (1) it's winnable and (2) I can see I'm making progress game by game, getting to be a stronger player.

What totally sucks to me is that some traditional solitaire games are literally unwinnable. You deal out the cards, and unbeknownst to you, you're screwed from the get-go. Try as you may, there's zero chance of winning. So you beat your head against the brick wall till you get tired of it, then redeal or do something else. One nice thing I've heard about Freecell is that out of the millions of possible deals, only one is known to be unwinnable; many are difficult, but only that one is literally unbeatable.

At this early stage of my Nemo's War career, I'm pretty sure the game can be won. In fact, after only three games I see that I'm stronger and more knowledgeable than before. The third game was my best, and I expect to do better in future games.

Of course, the shuffle and the dice have their influence. That can also be a problem: I don't want a game to be winnable only if I get very lucky; I want it to be winnable with average luck, provided I play expertly.

I guess it'd take a lot of playtesting to verify just how winnable a solitaire game is. I don't expect a designer or publisher to do a thorough job of that before releasing each game. But I do expect a published game to be neither too easy nor impossible. NW fits within those bounds; so far, I give the game a big thumbs-up.


Well said, Patrick. thumbsup

FWIW, I know first-hand that VPG probably playtests and develops their games better than anybody in the business today. Sure, a lot of their releases are small footprint, but look at the sheer volume of titles that they've released over the past 3 years, most of them being very good to really outstanding.

My own upcoming design approached around 160+ playtest sessions from about 30 different gamers - hard to top that, and I'm exceedingly pleased and grateful for the time and effort put into refining the game.
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