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Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Thief of Time, alas. rss

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Will Hamilton
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Guards! Guards! (or, Thief of Time)

I am a great fan of the Discworld, so was very eager to give this game a go. Unfortunately, I can't say I enjoyed my play very much. I'll leave explanation of the game's mechanics to the other reviews already here, but here we go with my impressions..


Theme

What does the game do with the Discworld theme?

Well, the board is very disappointing. As others have noted, it is an abstract board: almost-entirely symmetrical, there's nothing distinguishing one part of the board from another. Technically, it's divided into four quarters - one for each Guild players can assume the role of - but the difference on gameplay is minimal and on aesthetics non-existent.

It doesn't feel like Ankh-Morpork at all.

I've nothing against abstract boards in principal, but with such strong source-material, it's a shame more wasn't done to capture it. The board is also very drab! Full of greys, dull blues and brown.


The character cards, however, are great - big portraits with matching quotes from the books. The attributes (Streetwise, Loyalty, Toughness etc.) do a good job of summarising characters from the books. Picking up a sequence of the beggars and constantly getting the Pox felt quite appropriate.. The Pox mechanic - by the way - is brilliant. I kept trying to get the other players to pass me the infected Volunteer card..


Luck

As for the gameplay, much seemed very predicated on luck. I honestly don't mind randomness in my games, but the variance of a 8-sided dice is really too much when aiming for relatively low totals.

For example, the first skill challenge only sets a target of 11, so our first player simply went straight to a spell, committed both Volunteers and promptly passed. That doesn't seem right. If luck goes your way, it's possible to power through the tasks fairly easily. That is, up until the final spell - we all found it very difficult to push up our Magic and Guild attributes, with ways to do so very limited.


Sabotage

Player interaction is what I most like in games. It seems our session was very deficient in sabotage though - only one saboteur was placed throughout the game. I think this was a failure on our part, rather than the game's. The Guild abilities are nice for messing with other players - my Alchemist's firewater took out a player's victorious roll of 8, just as they were capturing the final spell.

I would question the item/scroll-buying mechanic - looking through the entire pile before purchase didn't quite seem to work, giving too much advantage to early purchasers.


Dragons

Unfortunately, our game ended poorly.

Things took a turn for the turgid when dragons entered the game. First, a Fate card triggered the arrival of a dragon in the Assassin's Quarter. Immediately afterwards, a player revealed three members of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night and summoned forth another dragon.

We could have coped with this onslaught, but the very next Fate card produced forth a third dragon. This meant that three-quarters of the board were completely shut down, slowing the game to a crawl. Only one player was able to earn money (by passing through their Guild House), so Volunteer recruitment stalled, delaying any challenge to the dragons. This helped push our game up to the 3-hour mark, which was far too long!



To be fair, I don't think roll-and-move (granted you don't roll!) games are really my scene, but I found Guards! Guards! quite disappointing. There wasn't generally a great deal going on during the game, with players focused on the basic tasks. During the dragon siege, I had a run of 4 or 5 turns where pretty much nothing happened.

The rules really do need a bit more polishing - we had the same queries that have already been voiced here, plus a few others that I've now asked.

I feel bad giving this game a kicking, since by accounts it's a fan-made game with a long gestation, but there you are. soblue
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Barry Carter
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we played our first game last night and I do agree it took a little longer than anticipated. Also yes the POX idea works great, " can you pass me that card" was said quite a bit. as for the game I , in my oppinion have to disagree with you. We spent all night laughing at some of the combos we dumped on each other. I do agree that the first couple of spells were pick up toot sweet but once we all got into the swing of that soon slowed down. We also diddent suffer from your derth of dragons but we did have a few but we managed to see them off straight away. THe game finished with all players on 4 spells and one getting the lucky rolls to complete the fifth. Was lucky to have to collect the last spell from his own quadrent. Hard to travel long distances with the pox!! lol
Although I disagree with your own oppinion of the game I can imagine a game with the combonation of fate cards that you suffered would be very difficult to enjoy. All I can suggest is try again with the same people and see how the cards turn out this turn.
Please dont think I am just having a go, THis is just my oppinion which in all honesty is pretty worthless to anyone else and there were some points I do agree with you on.
All the Best
Barry
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Gordy Crozier
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I was lucky to have my first game with the game designers present for rule questions.
I loved the game. I found it an absolute hoot and that was with people I had only met that night.
I do agree the board is a bit of a let down but it works functionally with the game and with the various needs of the game.
I think part of the issue was with the fate deck which was a difficult draw. Also you need to use your sabatoeurs better Often it was those moments which kept the game going. Also the Pox was a great addition with my crowning moment of the night being sneaking Duckman onto my neighbours hand when he was up buying his copy of the game, only to ask in an innocent voice when he returned "Did you see my Duckman card, ah there it is in your hand, you have the pox!"
I respectifully disagree with your review.
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Ian Gill
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I thought this was a spot on review following my first (and almost certainly my last) 4 player game of this.

I was a fan of the early discworld books but, to be fair, wasn't in a rush to play a game based on that theme because I wasn't sure a game could capture the humour properly. However, as a fellow club member had bought it and was keen to play, we all sat down ready to give it a good try.

Very quickly I realised it definitely wasn't a game for me. It reminded me of early Talisman ( I haven't played recent versions) in that you have limited move choices and a fairly random set of results from any actions. By this I mean that, on my turn, it wasnt much of a stretch to pick where to move and forward planning was fairly limited in that the available volunteers, luggage position, fate invervention,etc could have changed the situation radically in the meantime. It certainly doesn't engender much strategic thinking

I played loads of sabatoeurs but that was very hit and miss and I seemed to lose any combats I tried so ended up just doing loyalty attacks.

In the end, three of us couldn't wait for the game to end. Including a lengthy rules session at the start and numerous (unanswered by the rulebook) questions throughout the game, it must have taken about 4 hours instead of 2 (and we are all experienced gamers - which might have been the problem as we had to regularly put the rules on trial). There really should have been more blind play-testing of this game as the rules are full of holes. I'm sure the designers can tell you how to handle every situation but they need to write it down so that purchasers can.
A group were playing Discworld: Ankh-Morpork next to us for the first time (without reading the rules in advance) and had finished ages before and played three other shorter games before we finally finished with "a huge sigh of relief".

Some players may find this a great Discworld game but I suspect this will be more to do with a deep love of the books, and finding their favourite characters beautifully illustrated on the cards (which are superb), than on gameplay.

I found it a basic move, random test, gathering game and no amount of theme can make it a more interesting animal.There is only so many times that being totally screwed by a random fate card will continue to be be funny.

If you are a huge fan of Discworld and enjoy a very random game then this should be a winner and dont let me tell you otherwise.
However, even if it took the recommended 2 hours next time it would be 1.5 hours to long for me (and almost certainly two others).

To give this some context, recent games I've played have been:
Excape, Ascending Empires, Shadow Hunters, The Resistance, Nightfall Martial Law, Battlestations, Stronghold, Revolution, Winners Circle and Star Trek Expeditions.
The only dull game was Star Trek Expeditions as in every other game everyone had great fun.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, even ST: Expeditions was far better than Guards Guards as at least you made tactical decisions, took calculated risks, and felt in some way that you were in charge of your own destiny.








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Barry Carter
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I am new to this forum and to be honest I am finding this discussion very refreshing. Proper grown up oppinions with out any needless name calling. If this is the standard of user then I will definately be posting more often. Cant wait to discuss stat trek: fleet captains with you all!!!
THanks again
Barry
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Håkan König
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peanut220 wrote:
I am new to this forum and to be honest I am finding this discussion very refreshing. Proper grown up oppinions with out any needless name calling. If this is the standard of user then I will definately be posting more often. Cant wait to discuss stat trek: fleet captains with you all!!!
THanks again
Barry

Welcome Barry,

I've found after nearly 10 years at this site that it's one of the friendliest communities on the Internet. This is especially true when we're in the games forum. There is some name calling and controversies, but that mainly happen in the more off-topic areas and sometime in the geeklists.

Have a nice time here and I hope you'll play many good games in the future

/hakko
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Andy Holt
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This is not the cat you're looking for - some other cat maybe?
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Last night we started a three-player game of this at 8pm and abandoned it when it was clear that we were not going to finish before "last orders" at the pub. After 2 hours each of us had completed one spell run and a Dragon was in occupation of the quadrant where two of us had our guild HQ which cut us off from a main source of finance.
(We did send lots of troops to fight the dragon ... it was a cast-iron certainty ... then I rolled a 1 - I rolled 1 on 3 of the four occasions I tried to recruit in a tavern also ... was that thunder or was it the gods laughing)
 
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Gérard Kraus
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We just finished our first play of this, a three player game.

I can safely say that none of us enjoyed it, however, for reviewing purposes we stuck with it.
The rules are a bit of a mess with things not quite clear, the action itself is repetitive, and the end-game can come down to a roll-off.
I'm certainly willing to give the game another shot, but it was never quite clear where we were going to go with it.
The board itself is another dissapointment, particularly when compared to the gorgeous, gorgeous board of "the other Discworld game".
 
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Robert Stewart
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We played a 6-player game at the weekend - all new players - and took about 5 hours. At one point, a player took something like 5 turns to get their first spell home, despite only needing to not roll a 1 each time. Another player spent what seemed like half the game trying to get from hospital to the Alchemists Guildhall - trying to go upstream against the flow of Luggage... A third player spent a lot of the game looping near his guildhall, building money and stats, but never quite got around to collecting spells. That left three of us in contention for the fifth spell - I settled in to roll, looking for a 6 and a 7 and rolling a string of 4s and 5s, another player needing 7s or better decided to go looking for stat boosts rather than keeping rolling, and the third decided to try his luck needing a 7 and an 8, and rolled them first try...

For a game that lasts an hour or two, having the whole session dominated by wild swings of chance is fine. Somewhere around the 3-hour mark, I start wanting my investment of time and energy to be rewarded with a commensurate influence over the outcome - if I want a 4-5 hour game, I'll play Dominant Species, where the chance element is dwarfed by the combined influence of the other players...
 
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