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Subject: A Pro-Wrestler's Review: Milestones rss

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Stuart Platt
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Originally posted in MY BLOG

Fire and Dice this week saw me get the newly purchased 2012 release of Milestones to the table for a full 4 player game (Matt, Peter, Vicki and myself). Co-designed by Stefan Dorra, I picked this up on his name and the fact that the game looked to boast some interesting mechanisms. I love For Sale and have sung its praises in an earlier blog post., and was looking for a similar 'lightness of touch' and elegance in his most recent mid-weight Euro. Does it sound like there's a but coming?

There it is

Well, Milestones is indeed a mid-weight Euro game with some interesting mechanisms. It all works. Points are duly earned by doing stuff. It's just a shame the whole process is a horribly dull, soulless and solitary experience.

Players start with a single meeple on their individual play mat / rondel which will allow them to choose their actions. Initially that board is seeded with tiles that feature a pair of resource spaces.



Each of those resources can be claimed by moving your guy, in a clockwise direction, around the board landing on the resource you want (from Sand, Wood, Stone, Grain and Money). Any marker of the same type that you pass on your way to that destination also generates one more of that resource. Clever placement of the tiles is therefore key to maximise your income.

On the row after the resource tiles are buildings that allow you to buy more tiles, exchange goods for cash, and then spend those resources on roads, markets and houses. Those are placed on a communal central board in various ways to score points.



As everyone has access to all of the options, you are - in theory at least - trying not to set up your opponent. It also means that there is often a really obvious move to make. That's right, none of that pesky decision making stuff to be found here...

The signature gimmick for the game at least feels fresh: As you reach the Castle space, the starting spot on your rondel, you HAVE to stop each time and discard down to a maximum of 3 goods in your supply. You also have to cover one of the resource spaces with a blank tile. This offers an imperative to keep adding to your tableau. In addition, players earn a valuable extra coin when landing on a specific space ONLY IF the numbered resource tiles on your tableau are in numerical order from left to right. Not exactly hard to do, but it guides your hand on tile placement. I do like this idea. Like I said, it works, but I hope a better game implements the idea in a more engaging way.

The components and board are fine. Graphical design is clear and unobtrusive. So what didn't we like about this game?

It's so mind meltingly boring!


So who wants to play Milestones...

Everything is so calculable: "I'm going to put a road down, because I need to score, and I need to spend my cubes before the castle forces me to discard - but that sets you up to get double my points...so I'll wait" and waiting is not fun.

Your own little puzzle game is initially interesting, but soon becomes a chore: Your turn could be 10 seconds long - literally as short and simple as 'get 2 resources' - whilst opponents have 5 minute turns min/maxing their victory point options.

If you get behind or make a mistake, you only drift further back: The player who builds their tableau well have an engine that keeps getting points. There is no Catch-Up mechanism.

There is ZERO interaction: besides trying to NOT set up scoring for your opponent.

I could go on. This was a HUGE miss for our group. With games like Québec going down so well - and filling that similar mid-weight Euro slot, I can't imagine Milestones reaching our table ever again.

NOTE: Quite why the otherwise reliable Stronghold Games have decided to publish this in the US (it's first Euro game) is beyond me.

Stephen Buonocore
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What are you thinking?

Milestones earns a mightily disappointing one GAVEL out of four - and a trip to the eBay pile.
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jood shine
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hmm gone on the backburner - thanks for this..great to have some info on it
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Martin (Hairy) Hatfield
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Great to finally see some detail about this game, but there's plenty in your review that still makes me want to check it out.

The fact that every player has a different rondel, and that you're building on a central shared board sounds fun to me.
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Stuart Platt
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Yeah, and this is what prompted me to take the plunge... Interesting ideas, but we found the whole to be terribly soulless and dull.

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Jimmy Okolica
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I've just read the rules and I see the solitary aspect of it. However, can you say a little bit more about the central board and why there aren't any interesting choices there? It looks like you can build a market and then branch off. With enough markets built, I'd think there'd be some interesting decisions on what to build next. Why isn't there?
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Wolf Wittenstein
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Stuart´s expectations were not met, he and his mates apparantly did not enjoy their first try. That´s a pity, but perfectly correct and fair to state. Thank you for your review, Stuart.
Taste buds are individual and different. Milesstones does have these solitary aspects. In a way having your own farmyard board in Village has some solitary aspects, too.
English rules to Milestones can be found on www.eggertspiele.de and everybody can dive into it and judge for themselves.
Stronghold´s Stephen should be given a break.
Publishing decisions are risky business, depending on personl liking, too, and he ventured to bring to you a foreign game. I reckon this should be appreciated, even if you do not like the game.
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Stephen Buonocore
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Stuart,

I will agree to disagree with you... Milestones is an excellent Eurogame...

The "personal rondell" is very nice, which gives you control of your own production, while providing you with the timing mechanic, since you lose resources when you reach the castle on the circuit.

The building portion is the interactive part of the game. You have to time your building correctly, gaining the most VPs while denying the greatest amounts to others. You are building with other players on the same map.

Also, there are a ton of bits in the game (over 250 pieces of wood and tiles), making this a great value for your gaming dollar.

So, it surely might not be your cup of tea, Stuart, but it is quite an excellent game for the Euro crowd. Stronghold Games is broadening its market by entering into this publishing agreement with Eggert-spiele, and we'll continue to do this with other great European publishers.

Enjoy!

Thanks,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games LLC
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Bruce Murphy
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evilone wrote:

Stronghold Games is broadening its market by entering into this publishing agreement with Eggert-spiele, and we'll continue to do this with other great European publishers.


To point out an unintended consequence, by are making agreements exclusively for North America, you're actually making it harder for folks in other English language countries to get hold of these games, since you've taken a significant chunk of that global market, possibly enough to discourage publishers from doing their own english language distributions.

B>
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Wolf Wittenstein
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Bruce, just for your information: since the day Pegasus started to distribute Eggertspiele each newly published game by Eggertspiele in Germany will have automaticly both rules, a German and an English rulebook, in the box. So if you do not live in North America, you can get it wherever it is conveniant to you. And Pegasus has a tightly net of international distributors/customers, too.
I do not know with whom they are working in Down Under, but they will tell you.
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Jimmy Okolica
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evilone wrote:

Stronghold Games is broadening its market by entering into this publishing agreement with Eggert-spiele, and we'll continue to do this with other great European publishers.


Please! I am awaiting CO2 with baited breath and I am crossing every appendage I can think of that it will be available right after (if not before) Essen.

As far as Milestones goes, I've been digesting the rules some more and my concern is that with 4 players it will be very chaotic. Since I haven't played it, this is all conjecture, but I would think that with 2, it'll have a very Chess/Caylus-like feel to it. However, with 4 the board space will change so much in between building opportunities that you won't be able to set things up for your next time around the board.

I'm very much looking forward to trying it at Gencon to see if this is a game that differentiates itself sufficiently to add to my (already bloated) collection.
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Paul Lister
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evilone wrote:


I will agree to disagree with you... Milestones is an excellent Eurogame...

The "personal rondell" is very nice, which gives you control of your own production, while providing you with the timing mechanic, since you lose resources when you reach the castle on the circuit.

The building portion is the interactive part of the game. You have to time your building correctly, gaining the most VPs while denying the greatest amounts to others. You are building with other players on the same map.

Also, there are a ton of bits in the game (over 250 pieces of wood and tiles), making this a great value for your gaming dollar.

So, it surely might not be your cup of tea, Stuart, but it is quite an excellent game for the Euro crowd.


As part of the 'Euro crowd' I am sorry I think it is no more than an average Euro at best. However, it comes to personal preferences. In theory the personal rondel and map interaction are interesting mechanics - in practice the 3 out of 4 players in my one game found them rather dull. My issue with personal rondels is that to you need to know where other players are in their production cycle and therefore the ability to build on the map - hence I am not just looking at the board and my rondel but three other 'boards' - five in total in a four player game. The castle 'tax' mechanic feels like a design force to make players build and to push the game on. The interaction on the map is a lot less interesting than 'Incan Empire'. The game is nicely produced and I'd agree is very good value for what you get in the box. I might be missing something but I traded my copy straight after the first play. This is not a bad game - it's just an average one in a crowded market of very good to excellent Euro games.
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Stephen Buonocore
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thepackrat wrote:
evilone wrote:

Stronghold Games is broadening its market by entering into this publishing agreement with Eggert-spiele, and we'll continue to do this with other great European publishers.


To point out an unintended consequence, by are making agreements exclusively for North America, you're actually making it harder for folks in other English language countries to get hold of these games, since you've taken a significant chunk of that global market, possibly enough to discourage publishers from doing their own english language distributions.

B>


The Eggert-spiele/Pegasus edition has English in the box, and their edition will make it globally.

Thanks
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games LLC
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Jimmy Okolica
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[q="Sorp222"As part of the 'Euro crowd' I am sorry I think it is no more than an average Euro at best. However, it comes to personal preferences. In theory the personal rondel and map interaction are interesting mechanics - in practice the 3 out of 4 players in my one game found them rather dull. My issue with personal rondels is that to you need to know where other players are in their production cycle and therefore the ability to build on the map - hence I am not just looking at the board and my rondel but three other 'boards' - five in total in a four player game. The castle 'tax' mechanic feels like a design force to make players build and to push the game on. The interaction on the map is a lot less interesting than 'Incan Empire'. The game is nicely produced and I'd agree is very good value for what you get in the box. I might be missing something but I traded my copy straight after the first play. This is not a bad game - it's just an average one in a crowded market of very good to excellent Euro games. [/q]

Paul,

I realize you only played the one game, but do you have any thoughts on 2 vs. 4 players? With 2, I would think you could have much greater influence over the shared board position. Is Milestones perhaps better with lower player counts (as opposed to Incan Empire, which I believe doesn't even support 2 players)?

I couldn't tell from your post whether you were one of the thee that found it dull. If so, did you feel like there was not really any opportunity on the shared board for clever play? What about the possibility of shifting up your production mix in the middle game?

I completely agree that the market for medium/medium-light Euro board games is overcrowded and I don't know if I'll end up picking this up or not; however, it does look like an interesting mechanic. Do you find it too similar to other games (and if so, which ones)?
 
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Paul Lister
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
Sorp222 wrote:
"As part of the 'Euro crowd' I am sorry I think it is no more than an average Euro at best. However, it comes to personal preferences. In theory the personal rondel and map interaction are interesting mechanics - in practice the 3 out of 4 players in my one game found them rather dull. My issue with personal rondels is that to you need to know where other players are in their production cycle and therefore the ability to build on the map - hence I am not just looking at the board and my rondel but three other 'boards' - five in total in a four player game. The castle 'tax' mechanic feels like a design force to make players build and to push the game on. The interaction on the map is a lot less interesting than 'Incan Empire'. The game is nicely produced and I'd agree is very good value for what you get in the box. I might be missing something but I traded my copy straight after the first play. This is not a bad game - it's just an average one in a crowded market of very good to excellent Euro games.


Paul,

I realize you only played the one game, but do you have any thoughts on 2 vs. 4 players? With 2, I would think you could have much greater influence over the shared board position. Is Milestones perhaps better with lower player counts (as opposed to Incan Empire, which I believe doesn't even support 2 players)?

I couldn't tell from your post whether you were one of the thee that found it dull. If so, did you feel like there was not really any opportunity on the shared board for clever play? What about the possibility of shifting up your production mix in the middle game?

I completely agree that the market for medium/medium-light Euro board games is overcrowded and I don't know if I'll end up picking this up or not; however, it does look like an interesting mechanic. Do you find it too similar to other games (and if so, which ones)?


I was one of the three who found it dull. There is opportunity to steer the buildings towards higher or low value point areas, and I suspect in two player you have more control as there is only one other player to leach of your road/market building or to send it off in another direction. Richard Ham, who usually plays 2 player only, rated the game a 7. You have to change your production mix over the course of the game as you cover up worker spots and buy new tiles, also because you will, hopefully, be exploiting the markets after a few rounds. And this is where personal taste comes into evaluating the game - I just felt a bit annoyed at having my building 'strategy' circumscribed by the castle tax - others might like it. The conversion rates of cubes to gold and Gold to cubes forces you into either building or recruiting, if you don't you are throwing away resources.. I felt like the end result was less than the sum of its parts - but I thought the same of 'The village' (took me a few games to get there though) and 'Rapa Nui' - both recent Euros that have cool new mechanics and have a lot of fans. Theme wise its got castles and cubes, which makes it similar to a million games. Rondels are fairly ubiquitous, though customisable ones not. Scoring points by building stuff on a board - more common in tile games though. Without analysing why the game felt a bit like 'Welcome to Walnut Grove' (of which I am not a fan).
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Stephen Buonocore
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I completely respect your opinion on the game. Not every game is for everyone, and even those in a genre that one normally likes may not be right for you.

I would like to point people to this "Milestones Gameplay Walkthrough" video by Richard Ham, who just posted this on BGG and his YouTube channel. Richard is in Europe and is playing a copy of the E-S edition of the game.

This is an excellent video walkthrough of several turns of the game, and it shows the game's simple elegance and tough decisions that must be made. Enjoy!




Thanks,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games
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Stuart Platt
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Thanks for everyone's comments - it's good to see reasoned debate coming from a negative review as opposed to frantic fandom.

The biggest problem with the central play-board for us was that as you were limited as to how much you can build on a turn (as the Castle forces you to discard down to 3 goods) when you build a market, say, or even a road, you are potentially setting others up (probably the next player to build) to score more points than you just did.

Plus it was really, really dull...
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Paul Incao
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I have not played the game and have only seen Richard Ham's great video, but to me the game looks clean, simple and elegant which makes it very approachable to all types of gamers. The game looks to have some good interaction, with competition to claim workers along with a spatial area control dynamic. Since players must sacrifice a worker and excessive resources each time they travel around their board I do not see there being a run away leader problem.

The game to me is my favorite type of euro where resources are tight, decisions are limited and players must focus on building their own engine while keeping their opponent in check (keeping an eye on what they are going)....which in a multiplayer game means owning up to the responsibility of keeping the player to your left in check.

This a must buy for me.


-Paul
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Wolf Wittenstein
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The English rules to Milestones can be found at www.eggertspiele.de
Stephen with his mother-tongue probably will optimize it and then post it on BGG.
 
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Clyde W
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Richard's video makes the game sound great! Grumble grumble now maybe I'll preorder...
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Paul Lister
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clydeiii wrote:
Richard's video makes the game sound great! Grumble grumble now maybe I'll preorder...


Its funny that I agree, his enthusiasm is infectious - however I have played the game and did not enjoy it all.
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Sorp222 wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Richard's video makes the game sound great! Grumble grumble now maybe I'll preorder...


Its funny that I agree, his enthusiasm is infectious - however I have played the game and did not enjoy it all.
I've often found attidue the single most important thing going into playing a game.
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Paul Lister
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clydeiii wrote:
Sorp222 wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Richard's video makes the game sound great! Grumble grumble now maybe I'll preorder...


Its funny that I agree, his enthusiasm is infectious - however I have played the game and did not enjoy it all.
I've often found attidue the single most important thing going into playing a game.


I agree - if you go into a game feeling positive and receptive it helps appreciate the qualities of the game, and your enjoyment of it. I have revisited games I did not like on first acquaintance if I had played them when tired or distracted and often enjoyed them the second time around
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