Mechanics Breakdown is intended to be a series that strips down games into mechanics and feats and analyzes the implementation, what is original about it, make comparisons to other games that have the same or a similar mechanic (where expertise is existent), analyze the goods and bads of this mechanics and feats and the ways they interact to each other.
It is not my intention to go over the rules of a game. There are better sources for that which I am sure are far more enjoyable to read and/or watch that what I can write.
Today I will talk about Seasons, and as a disclaimer I will make the following observation. In terms of terminology, this games uses cristals for VPs, energy for Resources and Power Cards for, well... Cards. I will be using the standard terms known by everyone just for purposes of ease-of-read for people that are unfamilliar with the game.
At the begining of the game, players are dealt 9 cards. You can either choose to play with the easy variant in which everybody keeps their 9 cards, or with the advanced variant, and draft the cards. (I highly reccomend drafting it is way more fun). The way draft works is similar to MTG Drafts, or 7 Wonders. You look at the 9 ceards you were dealt, choose one then pass the rest of the deck to the left and receive the deck from the right. And you keep going until all decks are depleted.
After the draft is over, you will be aranging your 9 cards in 3 stacks of 3. The game takes place over a period of 3 years, and you will choose one of the packs to start the game with (in hand) and the other 2 stacks of 3 cards shall be placed aside with a token on them depicting which 3 cards you will receive when year 2 starts and which 3 cards you will recieve when year 3 starts.
Basically you will be drafting cards in order to realize various combos and in the end get points. The drafting part is very fun as it allows you to strategize your picks along the lines of combo-ing and the fact that you actually get to choose what cards you get when eliminates the frustration you get when playing something like Race for The Galaxy or Republic of Rome and are highly dependent on the card draws.
2.Dice driven action selection
The games has dice. Each year is divided into 4 seasons and each season has a set of dice with various facets that represent actions that you will take. You always play with dice equal to the number of players +1. First player takes the dice, rolls them, and chooses one. In turn order everybody chooses and then you get to the action executing phase.
This seems a bit random at first, as you are a bit constrained by were you are seated and what action you get to take, but in reality, the fact that even the last player gets to choose from two dice and the fact that basically the actions are "what resource am I getting in conjuction with what other effect", it never feels like you are highly disadvantaged. You are last, you don't get to take the resource you needed for casting a card this turn, you get something else and set up your game for future turns. No big deal.
Overall, a nice mechanic, keeps the game flowing, adds a bit of randomness and is (I think) well suited for this game. Nothing spectacular, gamebreaking or something like that. Just functional.
3.Various number of turns
Each of the die, in addition to the actions, has on every facet a number of pips from 1-3. The number of pips on the leftover die (the one not chosen by any player) depicts with how many months the calendar advances. A nice mechanic, as you can work with it too in a strategical manner. Sometimes you pick a lesss usefull die just so the calendar doesn't advance too much, so the season doesn't change because that is (for various reasons) more advantageous to you. In a simmilar manner
you will want to take less usefull dice just to rush to the end game.
Overall a nice mechanic, gives you some aditional things to work with, but again this is not game ghanging. It is more of a situational thing.
This is the meat of the game. The cards (or power cards as they are called in Seasons) have various abilities that you will be using during the game. Some are instants, you put the card down and benefit from it's effect, others have triggered abilities (at the end of each season, at the end of the turn, each time you play a power card, etc...) and others have actions on them which can be activated on your turn.
On your turn, after resolving the mandatory dice actions, you get to play cards from your hand and activate ONCE every card effect that has an action symbol on it. This actions can be beneficial to you or detrimental to your adversaries. As an example, one card lets you pay one resource for each adversary to lose 4VPs. One beneficial action is "trade 4 resources of the same color for 3VPs each".
Another interesting thing about cards is that you are limited to the number of cards you can have in your display by something called "summoning gauge". This gauge starts at 0 and it increases when you get die with a star symbol on them and through various card effects.
As for mechanics go, I think I covered everything. I find this game to have a solid design, and being very good at what it is intended to be: a transitory game between light family to more strategical games which require planning.
It has dice, it has cards, the graphic design is absolutely stunning (as we are used with Ludically games), it plays pretty fast and forces you to strategize a little, but no that much as to making it inaccessible to play with your family.
- Last edited Mon Feb 4, 2013 12:35 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Feb 4, 2013 11:53 am
Congrats for a very nice and concise review
Loved this review. Most reviews I read and people write the rules and the whole time I just get impatient, like "why am I doing this. What do I care if this chit is on this space. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?"
Your review told me everything I need to know about the grand scheme of things. It seems like a really cool game that I can hold off of right now, because I just bought Summoner Wars Master Set which is about all the card-driven combo power I can handle at the moment
Very nice review! It is actually the review that convinced me to finally get the game