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Marty Hoff
United States
Austin
Texas
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There's a new game in town. It's not really a Euro Game, but it is to my liking. So here's my first stab at a review, after playing the production version for the first time.

I must admit I'm a little biased toward the game from the start. I know the designer, Bill Crenshaw, from the WBC game conventions (as well as Avaloncon that was). Also, the game is meant to be a follow on/at least be inspired by Age of Renaissance which has been my favorite game for some time. (I'm one of 2 on the 5/10 lists who played it 5+ times last year and 10+ times the year before that.)I originally got to play a prototype at WBC several years ago. Manifest
Destiny has been on the P500 list for some time since then and has finally shipped. I wasn't sure what had been changed/massaged since I played back then. I must admit I liked the game even back then, and I think it has gotten better since.

My one major complaint with the game has to be that the board for the game is not mounted. It just folds up. That might not be such a problem, but since you spend a lot of time putting out wooden cylinders and blocks that tend to slide off certain spaces, it is at least a minor problem.

There are a significant number of rules for the game. I highly recommend reading them thoroughly before attempting to explain the game. The game also comes with an extensive example of play book that answers quite a few questions about how things work. The rules themselves seem to be understandable, but as I said from the start, there are quite a lot of them.

Since it had been so long since I had played and the other folks hadn't even seen the game before, we had to muddle through the rules and setup. This took most of an hour, maybe a little more and by then we were itching to get going. The first round of the game went a little roughly as we were still feeling out the mechanisms, but many things fell into place as we moved into the subsequent turns.

Here's a brief overview of the turn order:
1. Choosing turn order, based on an order established from the previous turn.

2. Playing cards, in turn order.

3. The investment phase. Here you get several different actions, performed all at once in any order by each player in turn order.
a) purchase tokens -- tokens are used in myriad ways
b) purchase progessions -- these basically advances like in Age ofRenaissance or Civilization; these are also the main source of victory points in the game
c) purchase pioneers, cities, and/or cards using tokens purchased in phase 3a
d) research breakthroughs -- these are also worth victory points and provide you and advantage over other players. only one or two players may own a breakthrough

4. Expansion phase -- place new control markers over territories and/or attempt to wrest control of a territory from another player. Each territory produces at least one commodity, important for card play.

5. Ajustments phase -- adjust income level based on territories won/lost, give out new cards to each player, collect income

The game is very card driven. Most of the major events and money in the game come from the card play. There are two types of cards in the deck. First, there are Destiny cards. Only one Destiny card may be played during a turn, with a few exceptions. These cards provide an event and a commodity payout at the same time. The other cards are called Progress cards. These provide an event or a leader (discounts to the Progress advances). Some also provide for a commodity payout. These cards may be played either for the event on the card OR for the payout, but not both. Some cards are multi-era cards that are recycled into the deck for later eras and some cards are used once and out of the game.

Cards come marked with what eras they may be used in. There are three eras in the game. Once an era ends, cards for that era may no longer be used. If they are in your hand when that happens, you are mostly stuck holding them. As is usually true, there are progress advances or research breakthroughs that augment/allow you to break these rules.

The game will end at the end of a phase when someone reaches 30+ victory points or if the 3rd era deck gets exhausted.
The game box claims 3-4 hours for the playing time. I think experienced players should be able to play it in 2.5 - 3 hours. Our game clocked in at slightly under 4 hours but we fumbled about in the first round quite a bit.

Everyone in our game seemed to enjoy it and looked forward to trying it again (well I'm certain 3 of the 4 did, I'm not sure about Brad) now that we have gotten the basic mechanisms down. We did come up with some questions for clarification but they might be answered in the examples rule book.

In any case, I would give an initial rating of 8 for the game. My feeling is that will rise to a 9 once I get comfortable with the game. Overall, I
recommend the game if you don't mind the length and complexity and appreciate a card driven mechanism.

Marty

(I hope this isn't to incoherent since it is late and I'm tired, but I wanted to get my impressions down right away.)

 
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Doug Cooley
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Me rocking out with my band, which you can hear at www.raindriver.com
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Re:User Review
martang (#457407),

"the board for the game is not mounted. It just folds up. "

This is common with GMT games, and indeed most wargames these days. It's just too expensive to mount, at least in the US given the expected sales of around 3000 units.

It's easy to deal with, though. Either get a sheet of plexiglass at your local Home Despot or similar, or buy a large poster frame (I got mine from WalMart for $10). Most maps fit into these very nicely, and the poster fram has the advantage of allowing you to pick up the entire game and move it if necessary. And you can use them for most games you have with unmounted boards.

Doug
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Jason Johns
United States
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Re:User Review
dcooley (#460277),

About not being mounted, I also sometimes get my maps laminated like at a Kinkos or Staples or something similar. Of course, now they can't fit back in the box, but I have a bunch so I have a container for them.

Jason
 
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Christian Letourneau
Canada
St-Lambert
Quebec
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Re:User Review
martang (#457407),

I for one have my GMT maps laminated and mounted on 1/8 inch masonite. It is expensive but when I know my game is going to get some mileage, as this one will, the result is outstanding. The only drawback is that you cannot fold the map back into the box!

Christian.
 
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Patrick Havert
United States
Brandon
Florida
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Re:User Review
dcooley (#460277),

The boards which are mounted also have a tendency to warp if they are not in a dry place.
 
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David Wilson
United States
Carsoin
California
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Re:User Review
martang (#457407),

Although billed as a Card-Driven Strategy Game, it is NOT. In fact, the cards hardly matter in the game at all. Oh, sure they provide discounts, and the person who played the highest number card in the previous round will get his choice as to turn order, but other than providing a combat bonus of one sort or another, they game is not driven by them.

Rather, the game is driven by tokens.. how many you can afford, how many you can have, etc.


Granted I wasn't expecting Paths of Glory, but I thought it would at least use cards in a similar fashion as one of GMT's previous Card-Driven games. Instead, they appear to be an after-thought.

The game is also extremely Ahistorical. This is not a matter of history bending to fit a game situation, for example, like Custer beating the Indians, or D-Day failing miserably, but rather, this is a matter of a nonsensical game. Telephones? C'mon...

The game is a good game, but its theme detracts from the game itself. The idea of making it seem as if it is a territory capturing game (which granted does play a part, but is most certainly not the goal). It is a building game, much like Puerto Rico.

There are some other problems with the game:

1) Pioneers - what a stupid name for researchers! Even the art on the player mat shows Daniel Boone types.

2) Pennsylvania and Canada - What's with putting those two starting points so close together.

3) What's with the cheap stickers to put on the tokens?


David "the preacher" Wilson
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George Vriese
United States
Newberg
Oregon
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Re:User Review
dcooley (#460277),

*YOU* buy at Wal-mart?!??!??

Doei! yuk
 
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