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Subject: Peering in the Fridge (Arctic Scavengers, a review) rss

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Troy Adlington
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This last weekend I helped Kyle Gabhart set up a tournament for his deck-builder game Arctic Scavengers at the Dallas Games Marathon.



I knew this game from its limited first release in 2009 and had met Kyle a few times over the years.

This new version by Rio Grande deserves a look over and some information to those that are unaware of this game.


Theme Arctic Scavengers is set in a post apocalyptic (nuclear?) winter world. Where you as a leader of a rag tag band of survivors try to scratch an existence off of the meager remnants of once proud cities, whilst fending off the incursions of rival tribes.

Your beginning tribe will be a motley crew to be sure.

3 Scavengers, 4 Refugees, a Brawler, a Spear, and a Shovel



As you can see above, the Scavengers are veritable jack-of-all-trades, whilst the Brawlers are mainly there for combat.

So what can you do? Lets look at the icons along the left side of the scavenger and explain.

Each turn you may do each of the following actions once

Draw Example. Scavengers can draw one card if committed to this action. Other cards such as Scouts and Sled Teams can draw more.

Dig Cards you commit to digging in the ruins add the sum of their dig rating and pick up X cards from the junk pile. Here you will find useful tools, medicines, and well,.... junk. You may only select one card from those you draw, the remainder being returned to the bottom of the junk pile.

Hunt Cards committed here sum their hunt value so as to purchase a card from those available. Some cards might need medicine present to purchase. For example we could arm our refugee with a hunt of 0 with a Spear (+2 hunt) to purchase a Brawler for 2 food. You will notice above that Brawlers have no hunt value therefore you may not give them a spear to generate a +2

Fight Here's where this game gets a leg up on the other deck builders. After two full rounds each player may also commit cards to the skirmish. You MAY commit cards that have no fight value to 'fatten' your commitment and make your bluff look better. The first player each round looks at the top card of the contested pile. They may commit any of their cards they wish to the skirmish as do the other players until all players have had a chance. Then the cards are revealed and the fight values compared. If there is a draw (this happens often) then the amount of people sent to the skirmish is the tie-breaker. If this still leads to a draw the contested card is shuffled into the junk pile!

There was nothing as satisfying as getting some Scouts to fatten your hand and then saying "I'm all in for 7" The cards you earn here are always 'good' either being cards that are superior to those you can purchase, or families that increase the size of your tribe.

On your turn you may also trash any cards in your hand if you wish, these being shuffled into the junk pile. It is not uncommon at game start to send your refugees away much like Eskimos with their old ones.

Game end is triggered on the turn the contested resource pile runs out. The amount of people in your tribe is the measure of victory.

Most medicine and most tools also earns you a VP bonus.

For the final round of our tournament, Kyle introduced Tribe Leaders as an expansion. These add wonderful theme and can be quite fun. For myself I was the Fanatic and my martyred refugees would run off and suicide bomb the best laid plans of my opponents. Another player had the cannibal and ate his way through his worst cards gulp



Other additions allow you to build buildings and stock up your cards to allay the randomness of your card draws.

My take? A very enjoyable, and uncommonly for a deck-builder, interactive game.

I daresay with a wider release in 2009 this would have been a Dominion killer. Much more thematic and interactive, the winner take all aspect of the Skirmish leads to very meaningful game theory decisions with each hand you draw.

I rate this game an 8 Certainly worth a look to most of you.




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David desJardins
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Troymk1 wrote:
I daresay with a wider release in 2009 this would have been a Dominion killer. Much more thematic and interactive, the winner take all aspect of the Skirmish leads to very meaningful game theory decisions with each hand you draw.


That's a completely different kind of game than Dominion, so it wouldn't really affect the popularity of Dominion at all.
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Troy Adlington
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Troymk1 wrote:
I daresay with a wider release in 2009 this would have been a Dominion killer. Much more thematic and interactive, the winner take all aspect of the Skirmish leads to very meaningful game theory decisions with each hand you draw.


That's a completely different kind of game than Dominion, so it wouldn't really affect the popularity of Dominion at all.


Really?

Thinning the deck, deck acceleration, buying power, it's all there David. What's missing is the solitaire aspect.
 
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David desJardins
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Troymk1 wrote:
Thinning the deck, deck acceleration, buying power, it's all there David. What's missing is the solitaire aspect.


Those are elements of Dominion, but Dominion is primarily about choosing what to buy, and not so much on "game theory" associated with how you play your hand. So a game that places an emphasis on that is going to have a quite different appeal than Dominion. Some people might play both but you wouldn't expect one to just replace the other.
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Troy Adlington
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Troymk1 wrote:
Thinning the deck, deck acceleration, buying power, it's all there David. What's missing is the solitaire aspect.


Those are elements of Dominion, but Dominion is primarily about choosing what to buy, and not so much on "game theory" associated with how you play your hand. So a game that places an emphasis on that is going to have a quite different appeal than Dominion. Some people might play both but you wouldn't expect one to just replace the other.


Hmmm.

Choosing what to buy is an element of Arctic. But as you say it's certainly not the whole story.

I see the increased options and decision making as quite a positive. If you're saying that for some that may not be the case I will reluctantly agree.

I mean, some people drink Miller Lite against all predictors....



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David Lowry
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Since it was stated if it came out at the same time it wouldn't be replacing Dominion, it would however possibly have been the game that made deck building popular instead of Dominion. Dominion is boring for all intensive purposes. It's ok but not great by any stretch of the imagination. This game could have been the one to take the lead in deck building is all he is saying. I agree with him.
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Robert K Gabhart
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Troymk1 wrote:
I mean, some people drink Miller Lite against all predictors....


ROFL!
 
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Scott Alden
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I'm glad this is finally released ... been wanting to play this for a long time. Thanks for the report Troy.
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Troy Adlington
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Aldie wrote:
I'm glad this is finally released ... been wanting to play this for a long time. Thanks for the report Troy.


I snagged a copy so you're on.
 
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Kevin Reitz
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Troymk1 wrote:
Aldie wrote:
I'm glad this is finally released ... been wanting to play this for a long time. Thanks for the report Troy.


I snagged a copy so you're on.


I'm in too. Let's make it happen.
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Robert K Gabhart
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Troymk1 wrote:
Aldie wrote:
I'm glad this is finally released ... been wanting to play this for a long time. Thanks for the report Troy.


I snagged a copy so you're on.


Watch out Aldie! Troy is relentless as The Fanatic and has been known to blow up the best laid plans of Mice and Mercenaries.
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Jonathan Kinney
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I plate a couple of games last week and my first impressions were this:

-love the theme
-love the simplicity of the mechanics
-love the expansions
-there is some strategy there...feels like more thana deck yielding game

-not fond of the base game...I was done with it after one play through. Too limiting and I think would get boring fast
-speaking of the expansions, I could see games being heavily skewed by the leader you take...not really a con, but some dudes are very powerful
-don't really like the simply thin your deck at will option. I prefer where you have to chapel (or Lobo inDC Deckbuilding) to thin your deck.
-and I worry that there is a tendency for a runaway leader...I haven't played enough to confirm this.

But great review Troy. See you in Dallas in Novemberfor our annual Barbarossa to Berlin game. :-)
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Troy Adlington
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jonocop wrote:
I plate a couple of games last week and my first impressions were this:

-love the theme
-love the simplicity of the mechanics
-love the expansions
-there is some strategy there...feels like more thana deck yielding game

-not fond of the base game...I was done with it after one play through. Too limiting and I think would get boring fast
-speaking of the expansions, I could see games being heavily skewed by the leader you take...not really a con, but some dudes are very powerful
-don't really like the simply thin your deck at will option. I prefer where you have to chapel (or Lobo inDC Deckbuilding) to thin your deck.
-and I worry that there is a tendency for a runaway leader...I haven't played enough to confirm this.

But great review Troy. See you in Dallas in Novemberfor our annual Barbarossa to Berlin game. :-)


Surely. This time at a civilized hour WITH beer one hopes?
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