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Subject: Awesome Three-Player Game rss

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Simon W.
United States
San Antonio
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When I got involved with the San Antonio Boardgamers Group ( I was introduced to a man by the name of Patrick Christensen, owner of Seaborn games and co-designer of its freshman offering – Hunting Party. While I had flirted with the idea of game design before myself, I was delighted to meet an individual who had actually pursued the ephemeral dream. Needless to say I was psyched to play HP when I first got the chance. However, I must say that the first few times I played Hunting Party, I didn’t really like it (I was definitely not a fan of Euros at the time). Fortunately enough, I stuck with the game and gave it a fighting chance until I finally “got it.” After this revelation, I was hooked. Hunting Party is a great game.

The game mechanics are highly original with the basic premise being each player is a hero out on a quest to fulfill the prophecy of the destruction of the Shadow, an evil force sweeping over the lands. Everyone is given nothing but a few gold coins to rub together and a whole lot of promises in the form of shares. The first thing players will have to do is build a party to help them on their quest since they alone will not possess all the skills necessary to defeat even a wandering Shadow agent (let alone the Shadow himself). This leads players to go to Taverns and Guilds, trying to win auctions for potential party members using shares, or a promise of the bounty for whatever one slays. Less shares on one’s hero, means less cash after a hunt. This clever balance means that resources will always be stretched thin if one is looking for the perfect person to fill each job.

To find the shadow, a player must deduce what tracking, seeking, and fighting skills are required to destroy him. Each player has a piece of the prophecy and so every time a player goes on a hunt, s/he may inquire about what it is the others know to try and clear up the obfuscation. Often this culminates in a situation where one will know what is necessary but must spend his/her time and money acquiring the right tools for the task, making the game very tense and a bit like an arms race to victory.

To add some flavor, party members can be “championed” by finding the specific piece of equipment that pertains directly to them. Usually champions will have strong abilities in addition to their base power. I know a few people who were turned off by all the variables from player powers and resultant interactions. I, however, warmed up eventually to the chaos and now find it to be indispensable.

The game length can go a bit long or extremely short on occasion but often hits a good medium stride. I wouldn’t recommend the game for any more or less than three players although it is playable with one fewer/more.

The components are also pretty decent. Patrick has had some trouble in the past with his manufacturer and so each successive wave of games that has come back seems to have improved. At the time of this writing everything should be perfect (including new laminated cards). Mine came without laminate and warped a bit after removing the shrink. The shares and money are all made from wood and are easy to tell apart by color. The rule book is exceptionally well done as it is spiral-bound, tabbed, and organized very effectively and efficiently. My biggest complaint about the game/components is the art which ranges from respectable to barely tolerable. Then again I’m not a huge fantasy fan so I guess it’s more a matter of taste.

- Player variability and customization
- Great share mechanic (party building is just plain fun)
- Good resource management and deduction element
- Good components with the best rulebook I’ve ever seen
- Perfect three-player game

- Minor incidences of card warping.
- Might be turned off by “American” fantasy theme
- Occasional freak long/short games

BUY. There’s enough here to justify and warrant a purchase. The mechanics alone are different enough from most games to be worth looking into. My rating is a 9 out of 10. I may not like the theme and art as much as some people do but I think, again, that the mechanics are solid and that’s where the game shines.
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