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Subject: Why I fear for Tournay's success. A review of the issues holding this game back. rss

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Mark Johnson
Canada
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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Well, the first thing I can say is that after two plays I enjoy it enough that I wish to continue exploring it. It did well at Essen (in that it sold out) but it seems not to have had such a good reception at BGG Con. I'm guessing there are a number of reasons for this:

-As Essen, people probably just wanted to get Tournay based on the rave reviews Troyes received the year before

-People have taught Tournay wrong at BGG Con. I don't know how wide spread this was but have read about people teaching the game with an error regarding the game end that would significantly hinder my enjoyment of the game. This is forgivable as it can happen with any game.

-People probably didn't know what would be the optimal way to play it. In the box you can play the basic game or the advanced game. Beyond that there is an expansion included in the box. So, in addition to playing basic or advanced you can replace the base game cards with the expansion cards. It also says you may mix expansion and base cards together and randomly add a set number of cards from this mixture. As you can see there are a lot of configurations for this game. How did I play? For both games we just mixed expansion and base cards and used the set amount. So, I can't really say how much the expansion cards enhance or complicate the game compared to the basic cards. For the first game we played basic. The second game we played advanced. I feel the advanced game is much better than the basic. I think most people at BGG Con probably would have played base game with the non-expansion cards, meaning what I would consider most people to have played a less than optimal game experience. Here are the differences in the two versions:

In the Base game you start with 2 of each meeple and less money than in the advanced game.

In the Advanced game you start with 1 of each meeple, more money and addition turn option of purchasing meeples.

The issue with having more meeples means you have access to to lvl 2 and lvl 3 cards faster, which speeds the game up considerably. By speeding the game up you are giving less time for players to exploit combos which is what Tournay is all about. In addition, the reduced time and lack of an assured way to get meeples in the basic games means that luck of the card draw becomes a bigger issue.

-There is errata... There is at least one error in in the English rule book (Example about combating events is using a yellow meeple to combat a red event). There is also at least one error in the player aid (In the event description about players gaining money based on meeples, the player(s) should get 2 money as per the icon when it states 3 money). In addition to that the iconography is wrong on at least one of the expansion cards (lvl 1 Abbey should provide lvl 1 cards instead of lvl 2 based on the icon). Finally either the rule book or icon is messed up for the expansion card the Courthouse (either the icon is wrong and players pay 4 based on the the rule book or the rule book is wrong and players pay 3 based on the icon). I'm guessing the rule book is wrong instead of the icon. Finally, the rule book mentions an lvl 1 Red card from the expansion set called Lordship. My game didn't come with a card called Lordship, but instead one called Seigniory that has iconography match the mechanisms of Lordship. Seignory and Lordship mean basically the same thing but they didn't keep the names consistent between the rule book and the card.

-Beyond errata the iconography could be a little better... it's not terrible but I think I find iconography to be pretty intuitive (ala RftG) so it didn't both me too much. What did bother me was the player aid. The player aid could have been waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better. Here's an example:



This icon means: [first icon]When a person places a character card of any color in the row or column of the Councillor, [icon after the arrow/greater than symbol]that player will receive two money.

If you are looking to figure out this card you might look for the card name on the player aid first. There are only card names for the lvl 3 Prestige Buildings. Next, you might look for the icon on the player aid and would probably look for the whole thing. Right? You wouldn't find it. Next you would probably at least look for the first icon before the greater than symbol/arrow. Right? You wouldn't find it. Why? Because the player aid provides a random example with generic explanation that you need to decode using the key in the player aid. Let me explain, for figuring out the above icon, the example in the player aid is a white card with a face and red arrow under it. So, essentially to decode the card I've provided, you would have to match the first icon on the card with the icon example and know that grey from the player aid key means any color and how that relates to the icon. That doesn't sound hard but it's sure as hell not intuitive.

Oh, did I forget to mention the the icon example in the player aid for the icon in the card I pictured above isn't even on an actual card? Why would they use it as an example! Also the card that I've shown is a little easier to discern because you only have to decode the color and not the symbol & color like you would with some of the other cards in the game. Oh, and did I forget to mention that there are no examples on the player aid to help you decode the iconography for the expansion cards? They are available but they are in the rule book! In addition to that, the expansion cards aren't consistent with the normal cards in that the rule book for the expansion cards are just listed by name and it explains what it does. They really should have just did this with every card in the game/expansion and put it on a player aid. I'm making this sound more of a headache than it actually is. It was a minor annoyance for me but I could see it being a MAJOR detractor for other people.

-Finally, I think people were hoping for Troyes the Card Game but a lot of people have expressed that it isn't. I can't understand why they would think like this but I personally will refute that. Why?

-Both have a similar art style.
-Both have Red, Yellow, and White cards representing Military factions, Civil factions, and Religious factions. The theme to what these factions are good at runs mostly concurrent in both games.
-Both have events that mostly harm you that you are not required to but can optionally choose to combat for a benefit.
-Both have money. Beyond that it's used for the same thing in both games: gaining access to special abilities and it may also be given to other people to use their non-monetary resources for triggering your own special abilities.
-Both can have hidden goals that all players will get points from at the end of the game. In Troyes, it's an actual hidden goal. In Tournay, you draw Prestige Building cards which give you and other players VP but people won't know what specific one you have until you play it which may not happen until the bonus simultaneous final building option before final scoring which doesn't exactly give your opponent time to react.

In the end, Tournay has admirable qualities that I look forward to enjoying in the future. The issues that Tournay has are easily fixed (ie correct the few erratas, make a new player aid using only card names and explanations, and make the advanced rules the standard game and the basic rules as the optional blurb near the end of the rule book for a quicker game). It is my hope that Pearl Games reads this review and gives Tournay the opportunity to shine by simply fixing these issues before it's distributed in North American. It may have already been successful in terms of it's European release but I worry that won't be the case with it's North American release. Maybe Tournay will not shine as brightly as Troyes regardless of whether the issues are fixed or not, but it's irrelevant that's a tough act to follow.

I hope you found the review relevant despite the lack of explanation of game mechanisms.
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Curt Carpenter
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The Z-Man edition of Troyes had vastly improved English rules. I'm hoping the same will be true here.
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Richard Ham
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CLICK THIS BEAGLE if you're looking for in-depth gameplay video run-throughs! :)
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+1 regarding the iconography and the awful player aid. Playing this game made my wife furious at the obtuse cards, and ultimately we had to play with open hands to work together to figure out what did what. Considering trading this one away, I have to admit, because I doubt she'd be excited to go back for a 2nd try...
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James Keith
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"Watch, but do not govern; stop war, but do not wage it; protect, but do not control; and first, survive!" - Cordwainer Smith
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Wow, you articulated every single nagging issue I had with the game at BGG.CON. As you say, I think it's a good game that's hindered by a clunky player aid and rules. It definitely took us a few games to get all the rules straightened out, and even then we flubbed a few of them.

Very well written!
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Mark Johnson
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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I was thinking on doing a player aid which would have all of the non-Prestige Buildings in alphabetical order with specific descriptions of their functions. The Prestige Buildings would be at the bottom sorted by color as they are the goals and it's nice to know what goals are in what color. If I did make it, it would be completely plain looking and probably done on notepad =P

Let me know if there's any interest.
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Luc VC
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Eeeville wrote:
Let me know if there's any interest.


I'd be very interested
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Mark Johnson
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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I'm actually in the process of doing it now. Hopefully later tonight or tomorrow the file will be submitted.
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Bruce Murphy
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curtc wrote:
The Z-Man edition of Troyes had vastly improved English rules. I'm hoping the same will be true here.


In contrast, the Z-Man Teutonica english rules did not improve things.

B>
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Jason Reid
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thepackrat wrote:
curtc wrote:
The Z-Man edition of Troyes had vastly improved English rules. I'm hoping the same will be true here.


In contrast, the Z-Man Teutonica english rules did not improve things.


Given that Troyes' and Tournay's original rules are written in the same source language, I'd suggest that the Troyes translation serves as a better predictor than the Teutonica translation. There's a chance that Z-Man can use the same translator as for Troyes, which is a big ingredient of the final quality.
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Bruce Murphy
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Perhaps. HT wasn't the first Z-Man German translation, though, just an unusually bad one. Looks like it varies.

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Mark Johnson
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
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Download the Z-Man rulebook and there will be a nice player aid on the back page. The expansion explanations seem to be fixed but they are still not on the reference itself... it's still in the rulebook. That should fix most of the issues with this game. Good on you Z-Man. Yay for us early adopters shake I wish we could at least get an Abbey card with errata'd iconography meeple
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Chad Urso McDaniel
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Eeeville wrote:
Download the Z-Man rulebook and there will be a nice player aid on the back page. The expansion explanations seem to be fixed but they are still not on the reference itself... it's still in the rulebook. That should fix most of the issues with this game. Good on you Z-Man. Yay for us early adopters shake I wish we could at least get an Abbey card with errata'd iconography meeple


Wow, that reference page is great!
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