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Subject: Seasonal allergies? How Seasons plays with an AP prone group. rss

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Adam Kazimierczak
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This review is not a comprehensive summary of how Seasons plays, nor is it a 100 play detailed analysis of the game and its place in the universe. A lot of reviews have warned against playing Seasons multiplayer or with AP (Analysis Paralysis) prone players. I avoided purchasing the game for quite some time due to this warning but eventually threw caution to the wind and bought it anyway.

I rationalized the purchase by telling myself I wasn't going to play this with my usual game group and only play it as a 2 player game. So it sat on a shelf waiting for such an opportunity until one day someone noticed it there during a game night when only 3 players showed up.

AP Friend #1: "Hey, what's that game?"

Me: "Oh, that's only for 2 players."

AP Friend #2: "No it isn't. It says 2-4 players on the box."

Me: "Uhhh, well we don't really have time to start it right now. How about..."

AP Friend #1: "Hey, it says 60 minutes on the box. Perfect! It looks like a cool game, let's play!"



So we played.
This is our story.


Part 1: The First Game


Amazingly the rules explanation went relatively quickly. We sorted out the recommended starting decks and set up the (rather small) board and crystal scoring track and were ready to go in 15 minutes or so. So far, so good.

A few comments on the rulebook and components:

1. The crystal (VP) scoring track is a bit too small for the euro-cubes provided for score keeping. Cubes easily bump into adjacent numbers. The same applies for the Power Card track. Minor quibble.

2. The art is abso-freaking-lutely aMAZing! Personal taste, I know, but it blows many games out of the water.

3. It is a little strange that Wind tokens are red and Fire tokens are yellow. We stopped calling them Wind and Fire and just said Red and Yellow because it was confusing to be bucking the element color stereotypes.

4. The rulebook is nice and clear EXCEPT that the game winning conditions are at the very end AFTER all the card descriptions which look like an index of cards. This became a slight issue later on. Also there was one rule that wasn't very clear in the rules, and we stumbled upon it halfway through the game (see below).


After all the trepidation and BGG angst about Seasons and AP the verdict for us was:

IT'S NO BIG DEAL.

We had a blast. Sure there was some thinkiness and card reading, but that's all it was: reading cards for the first time. We finished after under than 2 hours (not like the horror stories of other posters in multiplayer games with new players) and the player downtime wasn't that much worse than Agricola or a standard euro.

Unexpected!


Now as for the 2 rules we screwed up:

As I alluded to, one was the winning conditions. It wasn't until the end of the game that I flipped to the last page of the rulebook and confirmed that cards in your hand subtract from your score. Oh well.

A bigger gaffe was 6 turns into the game we still didn't know what the little pips on the bottoms of the dice facings were. I flipped around the rulebook and couldn't find them. Oh well, can't be too important...

Well, then we find out that they are the number of spaces you advance the season turn track according to the die nobody picks! surpriseblush D'oh! We just added on 10-20 minutes to the game right there!


Anyway, I highly recommend Seasons for 3 players (maybe not 4). It was fun, played quickly and had a good amount of strategy for a group used to light to medium weight euros. And that's without drafting and the advanced cards.


Part 2: Two Players For Better or Worse?


Then today I played Seasons 2 player. It is a different beast one on one. First it plays faster: we finished in about an hour counting set up. Second it feels....less interactive somehow. I guess I'm used to playing Android: Netrunner 2 players, but Seasons with 2 players felt like multiplayer solitaire much of the time. It doesn't make sense because the interaction should have been the same as with 3 players, but just having that third player made a big difference tactically and increased the value of the attack cards (which tend to drag everyone else down).

Again, AP was not a problem. The decisions are manageable and you can do a lot of thinking on the other player's turn (very little worry about sabotaging your plans).


The Verdict


Seasons is a great game. In my group, analysis paralysis is not a problem with this game. For reference, we usually have AP problems with 7 Wonders, Agricola, Lords of Waterdeep, Rex, Small World and Biblios (among others). So this was a pleasant surprise.

3 players was more fun than 2 players. I think this is my go-to 3 player game now, as there are no "gang up on the leader" issues and it hits the sweet spot of mild interactivity and fun combo/engine building.

Just don't miss out on this gem because you're afraid of AP. In my group at least, Seasons works like a mental decongestant!





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Sky Zero
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Just ordered this one and am looking forward to my first play. Thanks for the review and insight!
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Alessandro Maggi
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Great insight! If my gf didn't already had solved my doubts about this game buying it without me knowing, this reading would have been a blessing.
Our first game of Seasons had a similar outcome as far as length and AP-annoyance, and it was a 4 players game (well, actually a 5 players game, with me and my gf playing as one). To be fair, I already knew the rules and had a decent background on the cards, while we also had a second player that played few games of it on BGA, so that surely helped.

For the 2p evaluation, I think it depends on what you consider "interaction". Most familiars give you less benefits and apparently do less damage, but ultimately to me interactivity is how much opposing player's actions can influence my game, and damaging the opponent scoring is only one element of the whole picture. During a 2p draft is easier to spot a possible course of actions the opponent will take, so you have to take this into account both while drafting and after, deciding when to play your cards and if/when to crystallize or draw. I agree that the interaction is on the mild side overall, but my perception of the "intensity" is very similar no matter the player count.
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Igor Larchenko
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The 2p game is worse variant: you know all but 1 cards of opponent.

The 4p game is the best: players deal with more cards.

Speed of game depends of experience - after 2-3 games (especial on BGA) you know most of cards and use it very quickly.
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Kim Williams
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Nice review.

My husband is normally exceedingly A.P prone, but similarly to your experience this hasn't been an issue for us in Seasons.

Pard wrote:
The 2p game is worse variant: you know all but 1 cards of opponent.


Personally I really like this aspect. This gives me more to take into account - and I love having a head full of game!

If I know my husband's got Amsug, I can plan on getting a card out early which will take advantage of it; If he's got the card which gives 20 extra crystals for having the most power cards I can try and out power card him, etc.

The extra tension comes from wondering what his first card of the draft was, and what subsequent cards he's picked up, which adds in just enough chaos.
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Mike Putrino
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Pard wrote:
The 2p game is worse variant: you know all but 1 cards of opponent.


Just deal out 9 cards, and skip the draft. Sounds logical, I think.
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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Nice review. In my experience, I've had no serious problems with AP in a more than 2-player game with first time players.

I do have a question - if you weren't using the pips to advance the months what were you doing? Advancing 1 month per turn?
 
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Igor Larchenko
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BlueTegu wrote:
Just deal out 9 cards, and skip the draft.

No! Draft is the most interesting part of the game!
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Charles Washington
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NEVER SKIP THE DRAFT. No matter what happens. THe chance of someone getting a power deck is too strong and then the group gets steam rolled.

Plus, not knowing 9 cards in the game is a recipe for disaster, in a normal game you know all of the cards save for the 1 - 3, depending on player number.
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Daniel West
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I'll jump on the "don't skip the draft" side for this debate. What I love about this game is that during that draft, players can allow their gaming personalities or at least their gaming personality in that moment, to come out based on the cards they choose. Few games do that nearly as effectively and seamlessly as Seasons.
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Andrew Garttmeyer
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Plus, if you really dislike the draft they give you a few decks to start out with. When introducing the game I definitely use the starter decks because it is a somewhat 'level playing field'.

I have a friend that was told by a gaming buddy that is all this game is about is the draft, after that there are no interesting decisions to make, so my friend has stayed away from this one. I disagree with this comment and wonder, when you take away the draft, does the game play itself...absolutely not, which makes the comment...rather silly imo.

I look forward to experiencing some good drafts with players that are familiar with the game, but until than I will introduce a few more friends to the starter decks before jumping full into the draft.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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We played with the starter decks for our first game and it worked well, especially since we didn't figure out the "power combos" until halfway throuh the game anyway. As an ex-CCG player I see the draft as a big part of the fun once you know the cards, and if you let someone draft a power deck then it's your own fault.
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Kelly Overholser
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I haven't played the game myself at all, but for a 2P game, would it work if you gave each player more cards (say, 15), and each player picks one card to keep and one card to remove from the game, without showing either of them to the other player, before passing the pack on. Continue until 6 cards are removed from the game from each pack, then go back to drafting one card as normal.

That way you still have some idea what cards your opponent drafted, but there's enough unknown thanks to not knowing which cards were kept and which ones were removed.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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Sethala wrote:
I haven't played the game myself at all, but for a 2P game, would it work if you gave each player more cards (say, 15), and each player picks one card to keep and one card to remove from the game, without showing either of them to the other player, before passing the pack on. Continue until 6 cards are removed from the game from each pack, then go back to drafting one card as normal.

That way you still have some idea what cards your opponent drafted, but there's enough unknown thanks to not knowing which cards were kept and which ones were removed.


I don't see why that wouldn't work. I'll give it a try my next game.
 
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