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Subject: The Purge: # 58: Defenders of the Realm: Pandemic with a different theme? rss

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Conclusion: I like Pandemic, I like Fire Point, and I like Defenders of the Realm. When all is said and done, I do like playing games solo as I like the mental battle against the board (although I don't like real, real abstract games). Games I like have to have a theme as it will draw me into the game.

This game plays a lot of like Pandemic with dice rolls, a fantasy theme, and a few other changes. Overall, I find this game really fun, it has a lot of pressure, rolls of the dice, and best of all I can play it solo. To be honest, I haven't played this game with more than just me as this is a game that I would play just by myself. I don't like co-op games for more than one players (except traitor games, ala Battlestar Galactica). This is the sort of themed game I like to solve by myself so, this review is focused on this. This game will be kept and won't be purged; even so, I'm going to go out and find the expansions.



Components: The board is big! The board is big, has good art work, and is very useful to use. Some boards serve no purpose, this game is great to use and looks great! The bits look great and the dragon looks fantastic. Overall, the components are top notch. I was able to upgrade to painted minis and I'm so glad I sprung for it. Each hero is different, as is each evil general, but the hordes of minions are all the same (unique only to color; so each color looks the same but are different molds for each color).

The dice are pretty standard, but of very good quality. The cards have nice gloss and should stand up to many plays. All the bits fit the game (especially when painted!) and look great. I am very happy with the parts for the money.



Rules: The rules are laid out pretty good and do a good job of explaining the rules. I always like a quick overview of a turn and then more details. This game does not do that and that just might be my personal taste. The book isn't thick so you can pick this up after one read through (then just play with the book). After a while, you will be able to play without the book. Some player aids would have been nice. The back of the book as a quick reference for movement, they should have included the dice roll to kill each color of minion (only information really missing from this "player aid").

Overall, the rules are very good and help explain the game well.



Flow of the Game: I'm not going to explain all the rules, instead I'm going to let you know the flow of the game.

1. There are four generals moving towards Monarch City. You are trying to prevent this. In addition, the generals have minions that are trying to reach Monarch City.

2. You lose if a general or 5 minions make it to Monarch City.

3. There are different "players" you can be that have different abilities and they do play differently.

4. On your turn, your have a set amount of actions (depending on your character) and you can move, fight, heal, draw more cards, etc.

5. There is a different type of minion for each general with some being easier to kill, some harder, some appear more, others less. This mixes things up quite a bit.

6. After you take your move, you then draw 2 more hero cards.

7. Then, minions are added to the board and the generals move closer to Monarch City (i.e. you lose the game if they reach it).

That is the game in a nutshell. The players are playing against the board, so they are rewarded for fighting and working together. In my humble opinion, playing together is the only way to win this game. This is great how you are rewarded for playing together.

You can also fight the four generals, but as you kill them the game becomes harder (more minions enter the board at the end of each turn and the generals move more times). This creates a tension that keeps building and some much needed strategy to when to kill a general and which one to kill (and in what order).



Should I buy this?: Yes, especially if you like Fire Proof or Pandemic. If you only moderately like those, then this might be an improvement (or the dice rolls may bother you). You know who you are. If you are big fans of those game, then this might be more of a good thing (this is where I fit in).

The game has a tad more luck (dice rolls and card draws). This will turn some people off and some people won't mind (or like it). This means some games will be harder and others easier depending on the roll of the dice. Yet, winning and losing may fall on how well the group works together.

In the end, I really like this game and rated it an 8.5. This will survive the purge and I highly recommend this game if after reading this review the game sounds like something you might like.
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Thanks for the good review!

I like fantasy and dragons much more than a stupid virus! Pushing little cubes over an ugly game board vs. cool looking minis in shapes of villains and dragons ... it's Defenders for me, every time meeple
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I'm right with you on this one. Excellent game.
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I have to say that, for whatever reasons, I simply don't enjoy Pandemic but LURV DotR. A lot of it is theme, for sure, but I think the quest cards as well as the expansions really make this game a lot of fun for me. The only drawbacks for me is, as you have noted, the ginormous board.

Thanks for this series of light reviews!
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Ian Allen
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I not only love this game and have played it solo 8 or 10 times as well as many plays with a full group, but also pimped out my copy - replacing all the little plastic guys with more impressive pre-painted figures and the generals with cooler pre-painted big figures. I should post some pics of my set - it rocks!

Once again I agree with you completely.
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glookose wrote:
I not only love this game and have played it solo 8 or 10 times as well as many plays with a full group, but also pimped out my copy - replacing all the little plastic guys with more impressive pre-painted figures and the generals with cooler pre-painted big figures. I should post some pics of my set - it rocks!

Once again I agree with you completely.


Please post pictures!

On topic, I much prefer Defenders over Pandemic by far. It feels like you have a bit more control in Defenders, all be it very little control still! It seems a bit odd saying this with a game that has dice versus a game that doesn't, but then again I am use to playing tabletop wargames in competitive environments so I know how to change my strategy to work with the dice.

I feel that theme does have something to do with it, but there are also some sutlej differences in the mechanics of the games that also help put Defenders on top for me.
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Pros vs Pandemic:
Dice make things more interesting to me than just picking up cubes with no risk/reward.
Theme probably better for most geeks (it's not my thing, but I think I'm in the minority)
More characters/roles than Pandemic
Longer playtime = more engrossing

Negatives vs Pandemic:
Board locations can be difficult to find (main reason my copy's up for trade.....and yes, I did try using the player aid that lists the location spots)
Longer playtime might mean it doesn't get to table as often
My daughter hates the use of comic sans font (I used to laugh at the folks on BGG who complained about it and then my non-BGG 14 year-old daughter noticed it and went into one of those comic sans-induced rants. Wow.)
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David Knepper
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Keep the game, get a new daughter.
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PzVIE wrote:
Thanks for the good review!

I like fantasy and dragons much more than a stupid virus! Pushing little cubes over an ugly game board vs. cool looking minis in shapes of villains and dragons ... it's Defenders for me, every time meeple


I'm a big fan of Pandemic, but I do tend to agree. I like the virus theme (I do pretend they are zombies though). But this comes to life with the theme.
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dochogan wrote:
I have to say that, for whatever reasons, I simply don't enjoy Pandemic but LURV DotR. A lot of it is theme, for sure, but I think the quest cards as well as the expansions really make this game a lot of fun for me. The only drawbacks for me is, as you have noted, the ginormous board.

Thanks for this series of light reviews!


This game has a "little more" than Pandemic. With quest, more powers for the characters (Pandemic you just have one), but the dice will be a turn off for some. Not for me though.
 
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glookose wrote:
I not only love this game and have played it solo 8 or 10 times as well as many plays with a full group, but also pimped out my copy - replacing all the little plastic guys with more impressive pre-painted figures and the generals with cooler pre-painted big figures. I should post some pics of my set - it rocks!

Once again I agree with you completely.


I went on Ebay and also pimped out my set. My "minions" are not pimped, but everything else is. It really adds to the game and I highly recommend buying these on Ebay while you can.
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kjpw_88 wrote:
glookose wrote:
I not only love this game and have played it solo 8 or 10 times as well as many plays with a full group, but also pimped out my copy - replacing all the little plastic guys with more impressive pre-painted figures and the generals with cooler pre-painted big figures. I should post some pics of my set - it rocks!

Once again I agree with you completely.


Please post pictures!

On topic, I much prefer Defenders over Pandemic by far. It feels like you have a bit more control in Defenders, all be it very little control still! It seems a bit odd saying this with a game that has dice versus a game that doesn't, but then again I am use to playing tabletop wargames in competitive environments so I know how to change my strategy to work with the dice.

I feel that theme does have something to do with it, but there are also some sutlej differences in the mechanics of the games that also help put Defenders on top for me.


Other than the dice, the biggest difference to me is the Darkness/Pandemic cards (forgot what the pandemic cards are called). In Defenders, there are a bunch of cards that bring minions and move the generals. You never know how easy or hard it will be. In Pandemic, each city has a card and the cards used (i.e. that have cubes placed) will be put back on top of the deck so they get hit often, hard, and you know it is coming. That is a huge subtle difference to me.

In Defenders, you might get general movement for a general that is out of the game or a general may not move at all (this is very likely). In Pandemic it seems like you are always moving closer to being killed.
 
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kjpw_88 wrote:
glookose wrote:
I not only love this game and have played it solo 8 or 10 times as well as many plays with a full group, but also pimped out my copy - replacing all the little plastic guys with more impressive pre-painted figures and the generals with cooler pre-painted big figures. I should post some pics of my set - it rocks!

Once again I agree with you completely.


Please post pictures!



Yes, please!

Here is my own take on customization options:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/811802/some-simple-custo...

This is my favourite of the purely co-op games, and the ongoing designer support with several downloadable scenarios makes it nearly endlessly re-playable.
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william4192 wrote:
glookose wrote:
I not only love this game and have played it solo 8 or 10 times as well as many plays with a full group, but also pimped out my copy - replacing all the little plastic guys with more impressive pre-painted figures and the generals with cooler pre-painted big figures. I should post some pics of my set - it rocks!

Once again I agree with you completely.


I went on Ebay and also pimped out my set. My "minions" are not pimped, but everything else is. It really adds to the game and I highly recommend buying these on Ebay while you can.


You're not alone. I went on Ebay and scoured for some of the recently discounted D&D figures to replace the generals. My favorite general....the Orc I found wielding an axe and holding a human head laugh Much more intimidating than the provided Gorgutt.
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William Hunt wrote:
This is just a shameless copy of Pandemic with a fantasy tagged on imho. Certainly a good game but a copy remains just a copy. It's much harder to design something original and innovating than to take ideas from another designer. It's a blatant Pandemic rip-off imho, just like Thunderstone is a Dominion rip-off.

That is a ridiculous accusation, not to mention rude and inflammatory.

Pandemic was clearly the inspiration for the DotR design, but the points of divergence are many and varied. Game designers borrow bits and pieces from one another all the time, as do writers, painters, musicians, film makers, etc. Assembling previously used elements in new combinations and presenting them in different ways is precisely how most good designers work.

Listen to Steve Jobs as he quotes Picasso on the subject:


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William Hunt wrote:
This is just a shameless copy of Pandemic with a fantasy tagged on imho. Certainly a good game but a copy remains just a copy. It's much harder to design something original and innovating than to take ideas from another designer. It's a blatant Pandemic rip-off imho, just like Thunderstone is a Dominion rip-off.


Defenders was inspired by Pandemic (and other games), just as many other co-op games that have been released since (such as Flash Point: Fire Rescue) have been inspired by Pandemic (and other games), just as nearly every game in existence has been inspired by games that came before it. To accuse Defenders of being a copy is really very silly (to put it politely ninja ).

Here are the designer's own words on this matter:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/4764180#4764180
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William Hunt wrote:
@ Sphere, is having a different opinion as you ridiculous, rude or inflammatory?

I never suggested that, but "shameless copy" and "blatant ripoff" are fine examples of rude and inflammatory statements.
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William Hunt wrote:
It's not rude if it is considered to be true.

You should stop while you're behind. Ever been asked "do I look fat in this"?

William Hunt wrote:
Besides: a rip-off or a copy can still be a bloody good game. I didn't comment on the quality of the game, just on the fact that the rule book was 'inspired' by Pandemic.

If you had said the game was inspired by Pandemic, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
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William Hunt wrote:
This is just a shameless copy of Pandemic with a fantasy tagged on imho. Certainly a good game but a copy remains just a copy. It's much harder to design something original and innovating than to take ideas from another designer. It's a blatant Pandemic rip-off imho, just like Thunderstone is a Dominion rip-off.



They are very similar to me. With that said, a copy can be very good (even better than the original). I want to judge this on how good of a game it is, not if it is just a copy.
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William Hunt wrote:
It's not rude if it is considered to be true.


Quite the contrary, self-proclaimed truth-speakers are most frequently the rudest people you will meet. They lack something the rest of us refer to as "tact." laugh
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Getting a bit tired of all the 'ripoff' discussions, but I can understand people feel this way, there are too many similarities not to compare the two and accuse the other of 'stealing' ideas. Still I have pandemic and the expansion and I have Defenders of the Realm with the expansions incoming, why not like both? Pandemic gets a advertising in this way anyway, it also has its positive side effects.
For one, DotR feels completely different for me and I have played a lot of pandemic. Since I have DotR I want to play it again and again and again. I want to try out everything, create new variants, create campaigns, it's on my mind all the time. I didn't have that with pandemic, so for me DotR is heavily superior. It adds so much flavor and room for creativity while that's minimal with pandemic. I will keep pandemic though because it's more controllable and shorter.
I had the same with Dominion and Thunderstone but in a more extreme way. Dominion is plain boring, almost abstract while in Thunderstone you really have the feeling of doing something. Yes they cloned the core mechanic but they made it better, so why not?
Though I think in cases like this there should be at least some form of thank you to the designers of the game they used a lot from.

I also have this 'I can do this better' feeling with a lot of games, even with DotR itself, and I can understand at some point someone actually makes a better game, and imho that should not be rewarded with flames and insults.
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There is a difference between borrowing and making better and stealing. If you can improve on it, then perhaps you are bringing something different to the table.

With that said, you want to protect someones intellectual property.


Leto2626 wrote:
Getting a bit tired of all the 'ripoff' discussions, but I can understand people feel this way, there are too many similarities not to compare the two and accuse the other of 'stealing' ideas. Still I have pandemic and the expansion and I have Defenders of the Realm with the expansions incoming, why not like both? Pandemic gets a advertising in this way anyway, it also has its positive side effects.
For one, DotR feels completely different for me and I have played a lot of pandemic. Since I have DotR I want to play it again and again and again. I want to try out everything, create new variants, create campaigns, it's on my mind all the time. I didn't have that with pandemic, so for me DotR is heavily superior. It adds so much flavor and room for creativity while that's minimal with pandemic. I will keep pandemic though because it's more controllable and shorter.
I had the same with Dominion and Thunderstone but in a more extreme way. Dominion is plain boring, almost abstract while in Thunderstone you really have the feeling of doing something. Yes they cloned the core mechanic but they made it better, so why not?
Though I think in cases like this there should be at least some form of thank you to the designers of the game they used a lot from.

I also have this 'I can do this better' feeling with a lot of games, even with DotR itself, and I can understand at some point someone actually makes a better game, and imho that should not be rewarded with flames and insults.
 
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dochogan wrote:
I have to say that, for whatever reasons, I simply don't enjoy Pandemic but LURV DotR. A lot of it is theme, for sure, but I think the quest cards as well as the expansions really make this game a lot of fun for me. The only drawbacks for me is, as you have noted, the ginormous board.

Thanks for this series of light reviews!


You are welcome. Thanks for joining me for the ride.
 
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Regarding the original post, I do disagree regarding your comparisons to Pandemic. Pandemic is one of my favorite games and this is one of the few games I actually refuse to play I dislike it so much. Pandemic is very much like an action optimization puzzle, especially if you play with six epidemics. In that game you often can't afford to waste a single action. I found this game to be way too random. The deck is huge and here is no way to anticipate or plan for what is coming. A few bad card draws and a boss is bearing down on Monarch. without the proper cards in your hand there may be nothing you can do. Alternatively, I had games where 11 or 12 dice were not enough to kill a boss and the effects of that single dice roll were crippling. This really sucks when you have over an hour invested in the game. This game never seemed to have tension building like Pandemic, just random stuff all over the board. I wrote my review to this effect and of course some agree and some disagree. I do think it is a mistake to say that if you like one of these games you will like the other. They are fairly different and I bought this based on a comment to that effect. We'll written review. Thanks for contributing to the community.
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Guillyberto wrote:
Regarding the original post, I do disagree regarding your comparisons to Pandemic. Pandemic is one of my favorite games and this is one of the few games I actually refuse to play I dislike it so much. Pandemic is very much like an action optimization puzzle, especially if you play with six epidemics. In that game you often can't afford to waste a single action. I found this game to be way too random. The deck is huge and here is no way to anticipate or plan for what is coming. A few bad card draws and a boss is bearing down on Monarch. without the proper cards in your hand there may be nothing you can do. Alternatively, I had games where 11 or 12 dice were not enough to kill a boss and the effects of that single dice roll were crippling. This really sucks when you have over an hour invested in the game. This game never seemed to have tension building like Pandemic, just random stuff all over the board. I wrote my review to this effect and of course some agree and some disagree. I do think it is a mistake to say that if you like one of these games you will like the other. They are fairly different and I bought this based on a comment to that effect. We'll written review. Thanks for contributing to the community.


I don't disagree. The dice rolling will always bring this. That is the main difference from Pandemic and changes it from a puzzle to a "game".

The things you complain about also bring some excitement. I'm really glad you included your opinion because I think it makes my review stronger (having two opinions).

Thanks for reading!
 
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