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Subject: Review of the Preview - A Play-testers Thoughts rss

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Chris
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OK It has been a bit since I wrote a review of a game. So long in fact I had to go back and read a few I did in the past. So excuse me if I am a bit rusty.

DISCLAIMER: This review is based off of a playtest copy with prototype components and rules. This is subject to change as further development happens.

Components
OK lets start off by just coming out and saying the artwork is stunning. Ryan has done an amazing job in this department. The prototype we played has a few cards with no artwork and a few with duplicate artwork. As I have seen in the revised rulebook posted here a lot of that artwork has been updated.

The cards are laid out well and are easy to read and distinguish what the card does. I really can't go much more into the components as they are all subject to changes and in my games played we used poker chips for money / science / VP.

Gameplay
So I was asked today "What game is it like?" Man I tried to answer that several times but just sat there looking at my screen. I then went to my collection here on BGG and looked trying to come up with a game to compare it to. I said Well it has Cards and "Deck Building" like Dominion and Thunderstone and so many others but it is NOT a deck builder nor does it play anything like a deck builder so that is out. It has a building track like Through the Ages but again not a lot of similarity there. I was stumped.

So I decided to explain the game a little and just say it is City of Iron.

This review will be from the point of view of a complete 3 player game but we did not use the racial abilities. To be honest I do not find them balanced enough to use at this time. Be aware that we are playtesting them and we use them but the majority of my games to date have not used them and they are subject to more change. If your interested in the way they play as of this moment please read the rules. Ryan is constantly tweaking them and you can see his thoughts in the playtest thread here on BGG

Lets go over a few key points of the game. There is a deck of buildings that has 3 score cards in it. There are really 3 decks an A, B and C deck with a score card between A & B, B&C and on the bottom of C. So in the game you will see all the cards of that deck. These cards are laid out on a track and a set amount come out depending on the number of players. As you take cards the track moves down to fill in the blanks. At the end of each round the last 4 cards are discarded and the track is filled in to the player number. So depending on the amount of cards taken the games pace is changed either being sped up or drawn out. This aspect can be nerve-wracking as you may need that extra turn before a scoring card comes up.

Each player has a player board and two decks of cards. A military and a civilian deck. A number of these cards are drawn each turn and can be drawn as a action (which we will speak about shortly). You can then play these cards to do various things. You also have a large deck of cards that you will go through each turn and make purchases. (The "Deck Building" aspect of the game).

There are territories that you can explore to found new cities and build new buildings at. There are established towns that you can conquer and take their goods and add them to your production 9but beware these towns are subject to being conquered by rival players).

OK So here is an image of a three player game.



Again remember PROTOTYPE components.

So the first thing you do once the game has been set up is bid for turn order. There is a turn order track and in bid order (determined randomly at the start of the game) you place your cube on the price you are willing to pay to go in turn order. The first in has to set the starting point. Dan (as seen above taking his turn) always bid on the rightmost 0 cost mark.

So as you can see in this image Dan took a card from the card track as his first action.

What Action you say?

Well each player has 3 action tokens. Again there have been suggestions on a track on the board for the actions. I think it was mentioned somewhere that the first in turn order would move the action token down a 3 action track each turn. But that was a suggestion somewhere. You can do one of a few different actions. You can Build, Store a Card, Play a Card, Tax, Buy a Science, Conquer a Town or Draw a card. There is also something called a free action and doing one of those (A card will say when it is a free action) will not count as your action.

So lets look at the actions.

Build. You take a card from the row and build it. Well how might one do that you ask? OK well you pay the cost shown on the card and if it is the first building of that type you build then you need to pay the science for that card. Each building of that type you build in the future will not require the science cost (this is a point that we tend to overlook quite a bit in our games). You then need to place it in a city that can support the land type of the card. Each territory has a set of land types that it can support. These cities when build also get a city marker (of which you have 4 of) and the city markers limit the amount of buildings you can build (your starting city can hold 5 buildings). When you build it you increase your goods produced and income if the building produces goods or you gain the effect of the other building types (i.e. Reduced building costs or additional card draws and such).

Draw a card need not really be explained but here you go. You can draw 1 card from either deck. It is important to note that you start the game with a Civilian card and have no way of drawing military cards at the start so this action is the only way to get them.

Play a card means just that. Play a card. Cards have costs associated with some of them and one of the major cards is the explorer. He will allow you to play additional cards to found a new city and expand your nation. Read the rulebook for more information on this but know that it is VERY important to expand and found new cities.

Conquer a town is not to be confused with exploring. By conquering a town you can add specific goods to your production and increase your income but the downside is that they can be taken by other players 9although at a tougher defense) and do not allow you to build additional buildings.

Tax means to take 1 coin form the bank.

Store a card is just that. Take a card from the card row and store it in your hand for later building or to deny another player that card.

You can buy a science token for 4 gold. At the start of the game you have no science and developing science is not easy.

So each player takes and action and then the next player does one and so on until all players have taken their actions. Then the end of round happens and you prepare for the next round. If a score card comes out then the NEXT end of round you will score VP. This will happen 3 times in the game and the game is over.

OK so I am only going over the rules in very brief paragraphs but I think it is enough that if you are interested in learning how to play you will run and download the rules.

This is a image of the game at the first scoring round



OK as you may have noticed the game has a HUGE footprint. Ryan has been discussing some options in the playtest forums so go ahead and make your ideas heard.

Conclusion

Well let me start by saying I LOVE this game. The game play is fast and heavy enough for me. The game takes about 30 minutes per person and as you play you will get faster at it. I love the artwork and the theme. The mechanics fit the theme amazingly well and the game is tight. I mean super tight. It often comes down to a few bonus points at the end of the game that you need to set yourself up for.

that being said I am not too keen on the individual player powers. They seem to be very situational and unbalanced and I would like to see them be more pronounced and utilized in the game but balanced at the same time (Again I have only played with them a few times so take that into account). They are just not very balanced. The Toadmen seem very under-powered along with the humans but the scientists have a huge advantage and it seems that they will be overpowered. The Hogmen could basically funnel you into a single direction which limits your choices. Again these are subject to change so take my concerns with a grain of salt.

Also as I said above the footprint is HUGE. This will definitely limit the places you can play the game and even limit sales of the game as it will not fit on the average dining room table.

Again this is a review of the prototype of the game and everything is subject to changes and considering we all actively playing the game I am sure more things will be ironed out.

Overall I would HIGHLY recommend you go grab this on Kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/953146955/city-of-iron?r...

This is a game that is very worthy of a place on anyone's gameshelf.
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Brian Blad
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I'm in on the kickstarter. Hoping it turns out to be as awesome as it sounds!
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Tom Grant
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Three reviews of the same unpublished, unfinished game in the same day have the opposite of what might be the intended effect. I'm less likely to fund it on Kickstarter, and less likely to buy the game if it's published.

"Be aware that we are playtesting them and we use them but the majority of my games to date have not used them and they are subject to more change. If your interested in the way they play as of this moment please read the rules. Ryan is constantly tweaking them and you can see his thoughts in the playtest thread here on BGG"

"Again this is a review of the prototype of the game and everything is subject to changes and considering we all actively playing the game I am sure more things will be ironed out."

"This is a game that is very worthy of a place on anyone's gameshelf."

This is, at best, a session report of a game under development. It's not a review, because there's no finished game to review. Ditto for the other two reviews.

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Aaron Cappocchi
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Kingdaddy wrote:
Three reviews of the same unpublished, unfinished game in the same day have the opposite of what might be the intended effect.


Totally agree. I am keeping an eye on this game, but all these reviews going up today made me think "Oh, someone's trying to get attention for the Kickstarter project", not "Here is useful info about the game."

And they also drew my attention to the fact that it's unfinished. I'd rather not help fund a gamble. I want to back refined, well-tested games with final rules, so I know what I'm getting.
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Chris
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Again this is a review of a prototype that I have. It is not a reviews of the finished product. What I have been playing and what the main playtesters are playing may not be on the same version number.

Not sure if you noticed or not but there were no reviews until the kickstarter went live. And I am sure the reviews you see here may have some differences in what we are playing. Again this preview is no different from a Dice Tower preview. Take it how you may. I know that the people you see in that picture are my friends and as friends I wouldn't recommend something that was bad or not worth buying. Both of those guys are kick starting the game based on our plays of the prototype.

As for the race powers. My opinion on balance may not be yours. Read the rules...I did provide a link. See how the racial powers are. The latest update of the racial powers has yet to be played at my house so I may be talking out of my ass (as I made sure to mention above).

The game is very polished and finished IMHO. Could there be more? Sure. Could it be better? Sure. But show me a perfect game. There are none. What makes a game perfect is a matter of personal opinion. I do enjoy the game and it is finished but minor tweaks do not make it unfinished. I am glad he took the time to playtest outside of friends and family unlike say Miskotonic School for Girls or other truly unfinished games. In the next 49 days this will get tweaks sure but it can only get better. I for one will be wringing my hands in anticipation for when my copy shows up as will the two people in at picture above.
 
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Tom Grant
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Correction: Six reviews of an unpublished, unfinished game over a two-day period.
 
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Scott Lewis
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agentzen wrote:

And they also drew my attention to the fact that it's unfinished. I'd rather not help fund a gamble. I want to back refined, well-tested games with final rules, so I know what I'm getting.

The "unfinishedness" is pretty much referring to the components, not the gameplay. While there may be some MINOR tweaking to gameplay between now and publication, the game itself is (and has been) very solid, and that was what at least I was trying to emphasize in my review, and I assume the same goal for this review and others.

I don't expect the published version is going to be wildly different from the game I played/tested, and I think my personal review after release would not be much different.
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Chris
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sigmazero13 wrote:
agentzen wrote:

And they also drew my attention to the fact that it's unfinished. I'd rather not help fund a gamble. I want to back refined, well-tested games with final rules, so I know what I'm getting.

The "unfinishedness" is pretty much referring to the components, not the gameplay. While there may be some MINOR tweaking to gameplay between now and publication, the game itself is (and has been) very solid, and that was what at least I was trying to emphasize in my review, and I assume the same goal for this review and others.

I don't expect the published version is going to be wildly different from the game I played/tested, and I think my personal review after release would not be much different.


My thoughts exactly. thumbsup
 
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Anthony Gambatese
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Kingdaddy wrote:
Correction: Six reviews of an unpublished, unfinished game over a two-day period.


Wow ... You need to settle down a bit ... Don't buy the game if you don't want it ( your loss). I played it and it's great ... Seems like a in depth REVIEW to me. But like everything on BGG it's just my opinion.
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Dave Blanchard
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It is kind of stupid to be critical of game testers giving impressions when no one else can. Seems being critical of having an almost done game being kickstarted. I would rather that then justy concept and no game.

geez some of you like to reach to sound all high and mighty.
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