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Subject: Copycat: Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v, Ctrl+genius rss

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EXTRA AVOCADO! Sonderegger
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Friedemann Friese set out to create a game using mechanics from the top 10 ranked games on BGG. As it turned out, he started with a monster, and then began chiseling away at that until he basically only used three games.

The deckbuilding of Dominion,


Somewhat familiar, eh?

the worker placement of Agricola,


No family, just campaign staff.

and the rotating card buffet of Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization.


Also, there's no map.

Read about it here!

But he did not mention how he created an incredibly innovative mechanic that I think is the real genius of copycat.


Anyway, other reviews have mentioned how, despite disparate mechanics, the game flows together well. This is true. This is crazy true- as I was able to teach my wife's barely-initiated gamer mother with no problems. If you just go phase by phase, it's pretty easy. Harder than dominion, but certainly easier to teach than the 'gric or Through the ages.

As well, the game is smooth. It flows so quickly that, when you have a game with experienced players, it can roll under 60 minutes easily.

In order, do the following:

1. Draw five cards.
2. Bid for turn order by discarding a card.
3. Place workers, one at a time, on the available actions, using any blue or purple cards you feel like using.
4. Use any gold cards, purchase a card from the display if able- picking up any toilet paper cards that are left of the card you buy, and play any green vp cards and tokens, discard any remaining cards.
5. Add tokens to unused actions, put any used cards from your "temporary clipboard" to your discard, and maybe discard some cards from the card track.

That's it really. There's only one really tetchy rule, and that's concerning the amount of times you can double something (a maximum of 2x). Everything else makes sense and it's quite intuitive. Unlike Dominion, there's no counting up scores at the end of the game, instead, you score (as noted in step four) is scored continuously, creating a race-like feel.



Don't get thrown off by this joke!

The game ends when someone score 95 pts, 11 rounds have transpired, or the last couple of special cards have been purchased.

Now, before I get to the real genius innovation of this game, let me tell you something I really loved.

The achievements.



In the bottom right, what's that? It's an achievements tracker!

The winner of each game gets to, if possible, fill out a single achievement. They get to add, in pen, a little line on a single sheet in a game. And it's great! I know it's not really affecting the gameplay, but it does add a fun little stake that drives the play. In the interest of spoilerage, I'm not going to tell you what the achievements are, but I would find this a welcome addition for any gamers who like the idea of permanent change, ala Risk Legacy, but find the thought of writing on any of the play components ABHORRENT.

See: This guy.

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Anyway, that's not really a gameplay thing, just a little touch that's indicative of the love that went into a "cynical" game.

Ok, the genius.
The simple, brain-twisting mechanic that, in my opinion, elevates it to a Feld-level of awesomeness.

The blind bidding for turn order.
...




No really!
I know it's been done before, but can you fault a game like Copycat? And besides, the twist is REALLY cool.



See those little numbers? The ones in the top left? like that 38?

That's what you're bidding with. Not some main currency or other resource, but the cards that you bought from the previous rounds. And the numbers increase as you buy better cards. But what makes it so genius, is that the card you use to bid is discarded for the turn (to the temporary clipboard), and cannot be used or resurrected till another turn.

Think about it for a moment.
The better cards, that you want to play, allow you to place workers and buy cards earlier. Or you know, you could discard a toilet paper card (which have DECREASING bid values as the game goes on), and go last, but have better cards at your disposal.

In the first game, this really isn't going to seem as earth shattering as it really is. The second game, you might start to understand the relative values of, say, the shredder spots, the copy spots, the 2x buys, or even their value relative to which particular turn it is (Yes, certain spots are invaluable during different phases of the game), and the cards themselves, turn order is going to be of paramount importance. In fact, depending on what other players bought, or what position they're in, or what's on the purchase rack, turn order can win or lose you a game. Easily- and especially if you're playing with 2 or 3 players of the same skill level. It'll get really, really heated.

And that's a part of what makes this game great. Groupthink aside, it is really fun to play against people who understand the game and are gaming aggressively. Our first game, we ended on turns. But that was the last time. After that, we got efficient, mean, and started ending on points or doctors. The bidding became something to look forward to- usually just painful in a euro (Yes, I said it), it actually became a dramatic delight.

If you like medium euros, this one is just smack dab in that middle, where it's not too taxing, but at the same time allows for exploration of a hilariously weird game system, and still rewards for repeated play with experienced gamers.

Now, before I get back to how much fun it is, there are some negatives.

1. 2p is not nearly as fun as 4p. It's too loose, and not brutal enough. Same sort of goes for 3p. Plus, reactive play is not nearly as rewarding, seeing as the same cards are out, but with less demand. Play it with four, be ruthless, have fun.

2. The iconography is... slightly odd. They're not super intuitive, but as long as in the first game or two someone's on cheat sheet duty, it's not too big of a deal.

3. After a couple of games you're not going to see much new stuff. Now this is true of a lot of games, but the games will start to follow a similar pattern. It is a volatile, fun, and really competitive pattern, but it is grokked pretty soon.

However, those negatives are far outweighed by the fun I've had playing, and I can heartily recommend it to fans of medium weight euros, and maybe even an ameritrasher or two, as the theme is hilarious, and wonderfully illustrated.

There are plenty of overpowered strategies in this game- in a vacuum (or, well, maybe a 2p game), but the high interactivity of the card purchasing and worker placement makes it both fun and furious, and those strategies are rarely allowed to trigger.


Disclaimer: Friedemann shanghai'd someone in germany to give me a yes we play pin to me when he got to the states. And I got it. And I wore it. And it was great.
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Friedemann Friese
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hanibalicious wrote:
Disclaimer: Friedemann shanghai'd someone in germany to give me a yes we play pin to me when he got to the states. And I got it. And I wore it. And it was great.


BGG Admins are not just "someone".

Thanks for the review.

Strange that nobody ever mentions the red cards in any reviews (or session reports). IMO they are the another source of replayability. Without them you just know when which card is showing up, but if these cards are just "blocked" by red cards then you have to rethink. They also have high impact on the choice for turn order, because it is always a good strategy to avoid them.
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Ben Vanzino
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Thanks for the review,

I'll definitely put this one on my games to check out list
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Kyle Baker
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Great review, hanibalicious. It's nice to see a positive review of Copycat. The other review I read was negative and it made me facepalm and yell at the screen so many times. I also laughed really hard when it said they had no idea why Puerto Rico was listed as a copied game.

friedemann wrote:
Strange that nobody ever mentions the red cards in any reviews (or session reports). IMO they are the another source of replayability. Without them you just know when which card is showing up, but if these cards are just "blocked" by red cards then you have to rethink. They also have high impact on the choice for turn order, because it is always a good strategy to avoid them.


It definitely adds to the replayability. I also really enjoyed the mechanic from Puerto Rico of adding the blocks to unused spaces every turn. Like the red cards, it will make you rethink your choices.

I'm a fan of Copycat--which doesn't surprise me since I've yet to play any of your games and not enjoy it. The only issue that came up for me was the Agricola-like setup left me expecting something really scary to come up whenever the Harvest Phase would've come up in Agricola, but that's a very minor issue--I joked that I was having Agricola PTSD. Definitely looking forward to my next Friedemann Friese game.
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Luis Fernandez
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friedemann wrote:
Strange that nobody ever mentions the red cards in any reviews (or session reports). IMO they are the another source of replayability. Without them you just know when which card is showing up, but if these cards are just "blocked" by red cards then you have to rethink. They also have high impact on the choice for turn order, because it is always a good strategy to avoid them.


they are like Quarriors! Rise of the Demons corruption dice trap, not enough to be used ever, since many of us played lots of deckbuilder games we know what´s wrong with useless cards, but greatly they could be used to be ripped for money or else giving other strategies.

Nice review that CLAPS most of the game (except for red cards whistle) i shall make my review in spanish since there are good reviews in english...
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Nick McElveen
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friedemann wrote:


Thanks for the review.

Strange that nobody ever mentions the red cards in any reviews (or session reports). IMO they are the another source of replayability. Without them you just know when which card is showing up, but if these cards are just "blocked" by red cards then you have to rethink. They also have high impact on the choice for turn order, because it is always a good strategy to avoid them.


Indeed, through four games I've already seen the red cards have some real impact on how the early stages of the game evolved.

And I love the game so far. That said, I'm already hoping that you'll come out with more cards that will allow for variation in the deck from game to game.
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steven riola

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nickmcelveen wrote:
friedemann wrote:


Thanks for the review.

Strange that nobody ever mentions the red cards in any reviews (or session reports). IMO they are the another source of replayability. Without them you just know when which card is showing up, but if these cards are just "blocked" by red cards then you have to rethink. They also have high impact on the choice for turn order, because it is always a good strategy to avoid them.


Indeed, through four games I've already seen the red cards have some real impact on how the early stages of the game evolved.

And I love the game so far. That said, I'm already hoping that you'll come out with more cards that will allow for variation in the deck from game to game.


Got in 3 games last night, had a blast. There are some HUGE combos to pull in this game. Get 7 workers on the board and the world is yours!
It was a hit all around.

A deeper variety in the Fed Building would be a great addition to the game.

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