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Subject: After a few games on Board Game Arena rss

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Bruno Gaia
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Well, I'm pretty sure this post will collect some harsh criticisms but I'll post it nonetheless since I think getting opinions before you buy a game is what BGG is also about.

Seasons is a game I tried as a proto months before it was out on BGA.
I was immediately bought and sold by the art and the "freshness of the theme". The mechanics seemed smashing (they are actually, in a way)... In a word it was a must buy for me.

And then I played it on BGA...

Sooo what's my feeling so far...

Seasons IS beautiful. The artwork is really great.
Its mechanics involve card combinations and resources management plus a brilliant draft that is then split into three "periods" (years) meaning that you've gotta plan and anticipate.

What you get actually is a game that needs to be learnt, with a very steep learning curve and certainly NOT something that will do for your casual gamer friends.

So far so good.

Now what's wrong?

I'll try to summarize: what it boils down to is a game of card drawing and dice rolling.
Luck... A LOT of it. Too much.

Let me explain more clearly. My experience is that two people with the same amount of knowledge of the game will inevitably see the player getting the most luck with cards and dice win.
This feeling gets really intense after 20 or so games of Seasons.

Of course there ARE bonuses that serve to mitigate the luck factor but you can use only three and you've gotta pay for them (IMO: a very VERY weak point in the mechanics)
That means that if your opponent gets lucky cards and dice (especially stars, which allow you to summon more cards) he or she will be able to play fast and hard and you'll have to pay to creep your way behind...

It has to be said that some cards are so powerful that getting one in your hand (by sheer luck) at the right moment will nearly always make the needed difference.

Worse: in some games I've played, randomness decided that there was only one star sign every to turns, and they never came out when I was picking the dice first. It lasted for a third of the game and my opponent had the honesty to recognize that it was a very unlucky game on my side; quite the gentleman. To which I could have replied that it was no game at all since I... just couldn't play...

Last but not least, and this has nothing to do with luck: after five games or so you tend to forget about the other player altogether. Since there's basically nothing (well... not really NOTHING, but so close to nothing that compared to it RFTG core set is MTG with extra testosterone...) you can do against his strategy, you end up playing on your own (think RFTG without expansions but much, MUCH worse...)

Soooo... To conclude I'd say: give it a try on BGA before you buy.
It is a marvelously beautiful game, it's been crafted with love, that sure shows in a LOT of aspect. But it's not for everybody since:

1: it's MEANT to be hardcore (don't get fooled by the colorful box....)

2: the luck in it IS too much, ESPECIALLY for a game that shouts "hardcore gamers come here" and really needs to be learnt before you can really try to play.

It's just as if Caylus had had a die in it... Or if RFTG had next to no means of mitigating the inherent luck of card drawing...

Would that have been right?
Nope...

Thus I'll stick with BGA's version for now, and not that much come to think of it... And it's really a disappointment since I really liked the art and the theme.

PS: before the usual "you're moaning because you suck at this game" starts I'll add that I've easily beaten three players in the top twenty (and with a lot of games under their belts already) just by getting lucky cards and dice... And nonetheless: yes, I suck at it, I suck at every game that contains too much luck. I can't get into them. It's an allergic reaction I think XD
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Dave Eisen
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That was my unfortunate impression after reading the rules. Still curious to play as there are some neat things to it: but relatively abstract, involved game with too much luck is a game in search of a customer base.
 
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Anthony Harlan
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brunogaia wrote:
My experience is that two people with the same amount of knowledge of the game will inevitably see the player getting the most luck with cards and dice win.

Dude, that's every game.

... Kidding!

But I know what you mean. Depending on how strategic and tactical a game is a certain amount of luck is appropriate. Some games do have too much luck relative to their weight.
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Samantha RD
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brunogaia wrote:

Worse: in some games I've played, randomness decided that there was only one star sign every to turns, and they never came out when I was picking the dice first. It lasted for a third of the game and my opponent had the honesty to recognize that it was a very unlucky game on my side; quite the gentleman. To which I could have replied that it was no game at all since I... just couldn't play...


That's exactly what happened to me last night, playing on BGA. I thought it was just my starting strategy that was rubbish, but I couldn't get any cards out to help dig myself 'out of the hole.' I really like this game though, so it's quite disappointing to hear this from someone who has played it through a bit.

I must say, during that game, the inability to do anything at all was frustratingly similar to the feeling of being 'mana-screwed' in Magic.

Edit: Thanks for the honest opinion.
 
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Mark Gerrits
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After 14 plays, I find the luck about the same as in similar games like MtG, RftG or GtR. Getting almost no star dice seems to happen as much as drawing no land cards in Magic. Drawing the perfect cards is just as devastating as it is in RftG. Never getting the element you need feels like not drawing the card type you want in GtR. Like in those other games there are ways to mitigate luck, foremost the bonuses but also card powers that give you extra stars or let you manipulate your energies or the deck. But in all those games, if you're hosed, you're hosed.

The only slightly frustrating luck element to me is that you draw so few new cards during the game, that they become a sort of "luck bottleneck." It's annoying to see your opponent draw a chalice while you draw that cursed book. But the game plays quick enough on BGA for that to not be a big problem. It might mean I'll only play the real game with two players though.
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Thierry Camprubi
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If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ?
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brunogaia wrote:
I'll try to summarize: what it boils down to is a game of card drawing and dice rolling.
Luck... A LOT of it. Too much.

Let me explain more clearly. My experience is that two people with the same amount of knowledge of the game will inevitably see the player getting the most luck with cards and dice win.
This feeling gets really intense after 20 or so games of Seasons.

Of course there ARE bonuses that serve to mitigate the luck factor but you can use only three and you've gotta pay for them (IMO: a very VERY weak point in the mechanics)
That means that if your opponent gets lucky cards and dice (especially stars, which allow you to summon more cards) he or she will be able to play fast and hard and you'll have to pay to creep your way behind...

It has to be said that some cards are so powerful that getting one in your hand (by sheer luck) at the right moment will nearly always make the needed difference.

Worse: in some games I've played, randomness decided that there was only one star sign every to turns, and they never came out when I was picking the dice first. It lasted for a third of the game and my opponent had the honesty to recognize that it was a very unlucky game on my side; quite the gentleman. To which I could have replied that it was no game at all since I... just couldn't play...

Last but not least, and this has nothing to do with luck: after five games or so you tend to forget about the other player altogether. Since there's basically nothing (well... not really NOTHING, but so close to nothing that compared to it RFTG core set is MTG with extra testosterone...) you can do against his strategy, you end up playing on your own (think RFTG without expansions but much, MUCH worse...)


1: it's MEANT to be hardcore (don't get fooled by the colorful box....)

2: the luck in it IS too much, ESPECIALLY for a game that shouts "hardcore gamers come here" and really needs to be learnt before you can really try to play.


I agree with some of your points while disagree with others. Sure some cards are more awesome in the right situation than others, but all of the cards have their uses. Playing draft mode (IMO) kinda mitigates the luck of the starting hand draw since you have perfect knowledge of all minus 1 card your opponent chose 1st. Everything you chose to place into your deck is on you now, since technically you can gauge what your opponent's 3 cards might be and what would come up. I had games where I lost because of a temporal boots + bottleneck combo, but despite him drawing the bottleneck himself/1st I did see the TB so I can't say I didn't see it coming.

The dice though.... yeah sometimes the dice are just that bad to you. Can't argue with that. Usually when that happens it's either you use your bonus (and hopefully you did pick some cards that adds summoning gauge), or pick dice in such a way that turns go slower and you have more chance of catching up before you have 3 more cards to deal with.shake

Player interaction is more of a mix bag for me. There ARE interactions in this game, but I can't say there's a lot. Drafting is a part of interaction, as well as cards like thieving fairies if you know your opponent will go for alot of activation. However sometimes the card are dealt in such a way that there really isn't much you can do. I don't think it's worse than RFTG. I personally think that RFTG has even less, or maybe just to subtle for me to see it. However I can't say there's alot either.

I think it depends on people's perspective of the game. You think that it's shouting to hardcore players, while I don't think so.IMO it's less of a RFTG and more of a GOSU game, where playing strategically/ tactically is required but not such that I'll agonize over each and every mistake I made and the better player will always win. It is a card game, and having 100 cards means there will be luck of the draw, however I enjoy the game for what it is, and even if I lose games over to luck I still have fun

....well,except for maybe the time when everyone was at 6/7 SG while I was at 3 shake Still came in second out of a 3p game though



edit :

p/s : Personally I've only seen 2/3 cards being drawn by 1 player through dice, and there are quite alot of cards that help you draw more so unless you're REALLY unlucky, chances are if you're stuck with no cards to play your opponent would be in a similar situation as well.. assuming you didn't just give your opponent all pick on the drawing-ability-cards to your opponent during drafting, which in that case you can't really blame lady luck whistle

There's also transmuting which I seen some players ignoring early and only utilize at late game. Use it properly and you can accumulate a lot of points easily.
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Bruno Gaia
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tcamprubi wrote:
If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ? :)


Usual argument...
But not much to the point when all is said and done...
I wrote and think that you can get good at Seasons. Sure, you CAN.
But play someone who's as good as you are and you'll see "please lady luck give me strength" written all over the game.
Those people are good at it, I'm far from denying it.
But now ask them what they feel when they play the other people who are as good at it as they are and I'm pretty sure the mot honest of them will tell ya that only a couple of lucky rolls or draws have made a difference.
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Jeff C
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brunogaia wrote:
tcamprubi wrote:
If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ?


Usual argument...
But not much to the point when all is said and done...
I wrote and think that you can get good at Seasons. Sure, you CAN.
But play someone who's as good as you are and you'll see "please lady luck give me strength" written all over the game.
Those people are good at it, I'm far from denying it.
But now ask them what they feel when they play the other people who are as good at it as they are and I'm pretty sure the mot honest of them will tell ya that only a couple of lucky rolls or draws have made a difference.


I completely agree, a good seasons player will usually beat a bad one, simply because they know better how to maximize each round, but with two good players duking it out, the luckier one SHOULD win.

I say should instead of will because there are a few luck mitigating cards. For example, I won a game today against a higher ranked player despite having 4 less summons and finishing with only 8 (awful dice for me) because in the beginning i drafed 2 destroyers and got them both out by middle of season 2. i destroyed close to 50 crystals over the course of the game and won by less than 10 pts. So sometimes you can still overcome the random, just not often.

I enjoy this game a lot, but probably won't buy it in physical form without a Quarmageddon type expansion that recognizes and fixes some of the flaws.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I have only played twice and the level of luck is no greater than 95 percent of the games in my collection.
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Bruno Gaia
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rickert wrote:
I have only played twice and the level of luck is no greater than 95 percent of the games in my collection.


Being a real euro gamer at heart I'd say it's more important than 75% of mine. And those twenty five percents are usually light or extremely thematic games (also known as "ameritrash", no offense meant)
 
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Ken B.
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I once thought of a drinking game where you took a shot every time you read the phrase "too much luck" on BGG. But then I thought better of it, as I didn't want anyone to die of alcohol poisoning.
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tcamprubi wrote:
If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ?


Well if you think about that another way, you're assuming that those with the highest win ratio are "the best players" which is not necessarily true. If you had a few hundred people participate in several thousand games of coin toss, would those with the highest win percentage be better at the game?

I've never played this one (yet) but just pointing out that because some players have a better win percentage at something does not always mean there isn't a lot of luck involved.
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MillertimeRC wrote:
tcamprubi wrote:
If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ?


Well if you think about that another way, you're assuming that those with the highest win ratio are "the best players" which is not necessarily true. If you had a few hundred people participate in several thousand games of coin toss, would those with the highest win percentage be better at the game?


True, but several thousand games of a coin toss would very likely not have win percentages of 80%.
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tcamprubi wrote:
If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ? :)


One worry is that some players have a high winning % because they are playing with relatively new players. It is certainly possible for a game to have enough depth such that some players will pick the strategy up much quicker others, but lack great depth such that everyone is pretty much on equal footing (i.e. result mostly decided by luck) after sufficient number of plays.

I do enjoy playing Seasons on boardgamearena, but this is one of my worries.
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That was an extreme example and this is going kind of off topic, but someone did research with a group of people performing 300 coin tosses and trying to get heads. One person was able to get heads 68% of those 300 tries.

http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2009/12/beware_canadian.ht...

Anyway my real point is that just because people have a high win percentage in something doesn't automatically mean that there is little or no luck involved. Of course the game has meaningful decisions that can call skill, experience, or intelligence into play, the question is how much?

Personally I want to try this but couldn't figure the game out just from BGA website.
 
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dyepbr wrote:
MillertimeRC wrote:
tcamprubi wrote:
If this game is so luck dependant, I'm just wondering why some of the best players at BGA have a 80% winning ratio with about 100 games already played...
any idea ? Only luck ?


Well if you think about that another way, you're assuming that those with the highest win ratio are "the best players" which is not necessarily true. If you had a few hundred people participate in several thousand games of coin toss, would those with the highest win percentage be better at the game?


True, but several thousand games of a coin toss would very likely not have win percentages of 80%.


agreed. If someone can guess which side the coin lands on 800 times out of 1000, I'll doubt it's actual luck but some trickery involved devil

Luck plays a factor, and there WILL be games where no matter your skill level luck just goes such a way that you are destined to lose. However more often than not the game won't be that bad and would still give you space to perform your actions. It will never be PERFECTLY balance, someone WILL have a disadvantage someway or another, however in most cases the disadvantages can still be overcome by skill. You can say the same thing with Agricola and its hundreds of cards as well. Sometimes the cards come out in such a way that you can't win, but more often than not it won't be that way and the more skillful player will still win even with the worse hand.

No matter how strategical this game can be, it's still a card game with dice, so the luck of the draw and dice rolling will occur. The unlucky play is as likely to happen to you as it would happen to your opponent, it's just that more often than not the losing side will complain about it while the winning side won't say anything about it at all. whistle

Edit:
I think a lot of it has to do with expectations of the game. I expect Seasons to be a light-medium tableau card game, and went in expecting a decent amount of luck and enjoyed the game a lot including my games lost. Usually the scores in my game are quite close, from 30 to a mere 5 difference, and I usually can find myself looking into where I could've improved to score better (taking a bonus +1 star earlier sometimes makes quite a big difference). I'm just an average player and I dare not say that I've figured the game out, but hey I'm having fun, and that's the main point of gaming right?
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Bruno Gaia
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Every time we're talking luck the same arguments sure apply and maybe we could have a drinking about that, that would be funny.
But anyway, I was not pretending I could tell the percentage of luck involved, it's just how I FEEL the luck factor while playing.
Getting the wrong dice is frustrating, getting the wrong cards (Balance of Ishtar or a second Filgrim, etc...) when your opponents gets the Calice or a Syllas is frustrating, never getting the stars is frustrating.
If I summarize A LOT of things related to luck are frustrating in this otherwise good game.
For those who know it I could compare with Neuroshima Hex (one of my all time favourites) : in Neuroshima Hex, the drawing of tiles of course sometimes leads to frustration BUT, amongst the hundreds of games of NH I've played only less than 10% (I'd say) ended with either me or my partner being really frustrated by the amount of luck involved in the outcome of the game we'd played.
Whereas, no matter if I win or lose, the feeling of having a game determined by luck makes itself felt every two games in five and that's too much for me.

But, again, that's just MY opinion. And I'm glad that you enjoy Seasons the way it is.
 
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Played it today. It's basically like taking one block of Magic cards, adding dice, and pretending that's a board game.

There are good combos and there are not as good combos and there are best combos. It's not hard to figure them out, even after one play, because the rules are not complicated. So your ability to play the combos is instantly and completely dependent upon whether the dice let you or not.

If other people like it, more power to them, it's just not for me. At all.
 
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CapAp wrote:
Played it today. It's basically like taking one block of Magic cards, adding dice, and pretending that's a board game.

There are good combos and there are not as good combos and there are best combos. It's not hard to figure them out, even after one play, because the rules are not complicated. So your ability to play the combos is instantly and completely dependent upon whether the dice let you or not.

If other people like it, more power to them, it's just not for me. At all.

Ah, but we're not all as smart as you. Unlike you, we only see the obvious combos after one play and can still be surprised by a few more subtle ones later on.
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Best new game I played at GenCon without question and most innovative as well. Dice don't control the game unless you let them. You always have at least two choices of dice and you will on average make those choices 18 times in a game so a bad choice or two isn't crippling.
 
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Food for thought on this thread: notwithstanding my grudges against the part of luck I feel in the game, I'm still playing it on BGA.
Also discovering that the learning curve is longer (not steeper) than I thought.
And while that learning occurs it seems that the luck factor decreases SLIGHTLY.
Not saying that I've changed my mind altogether BUT I'd say that skill balances luck more than I thought at first sight.
Still too luck dependent IN A WAY but...
Next stop will be my review anyway (for what it's worth)
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I have submitted my review to BGG. It is also up at the newspaper where I work.

http://heraldbulletin.com/ricksrecroom/x1971511146/In-just-1...
 
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