Remnants, from Fireside Games, is the game that I had hoped would be the last game I had to buy in order to scratch the itch I had for the perfect post-apoc base building game. As it turns out, it's not. Despite a few really painful design choices, however, it's a fantastic little game which is fun, relatively fast, and has a ton of character. It's really not so much a base-building game as a real-time dice game with an economic engine of sorts that also has a base building element; even then, the base building isn't so much a base building element as much as a way to extend your economic engine. Still, it's a fun little game, and I'm glad I got it at GenCon.
The premise of the game is that over six rounds, players must send forth their tribe search for goodies of 8 types, deal with an occasionally good but mostly crippling event which usually contains a choice, do some dice rolling, buy some stuff, climaxing with an even-numbered round boss fight. There is zero player interaction in any meaningful way, and even the nearly meaningless interaction is sparse and random. Make no mistake: this is a four player, multiplayer solitaire game in every conceivable way but two which are that there is a shared currency pool and shared tableau of stuff to buy. Basically, you're competing with other players for diminishing resources, in real time via hectic dice rolling, and even then, only in one phase of the game, then you're competing to have the resources to buy something that someone else may want.
I'm sure that my description of the game gives many of those reading this a less-than-stellar impression of the game, and this is certainly isn't for everyone, but I will tell you that I truly adore it despite its lack of player interaction. To me, it's like a post-apocalyptic, dumbed down version of Agrcola in many ways, sans the various requirements at the end. In fact, the singular thing that I truly dislike about the game is that the constant barrage of taking and replenishing resources is kind of painful, albeit brief, and required before each of the six rounds. Beyond that, it's just a fun little 45 minute excursion into the radiation-blasted desert doing the same, easy to remember steps six times and then packing it back up.
The game comes stock with four player mats which display the now-ubiquitous "variable player powers" mechanism, but there is so little of a difference between them that it's literally of almost no consequence, and doesn't actually affect one's strategy, it's more like a 'hey, you get this group of dudes and dudettes to start' kind of thing, which I actually appreciate because it doesn't break anything and doesn't require me to spend five minutes explaining during a teaching game. In fact, that leads intoof the things I really love about this game - it's incredibly intuitive and you don't even really need to explain it much. I've found that the most effective way is to teach it in the "let's play a sample round and I'll tell you what to do and why it matters" method, and thus far everyone I've played with has caught on like wildfire. It's mechanically very simple, and even strategically, fairly simple, but the fun is found in the race to capture resources prior to everyone else, thereby shagging them out of what they want.
Its also interesting that the bi-turnual fight phases versus bosses are the main drive for the base building. Sure, each base card gives you some bonus, like a free resource of a type each turn, but the attack and defense symbols provided by them are the only things that can keep you from a devastating effect. The fights are very dumb, though, as there’s only a few bad guy cards in 3 tiers, and they’re not particularly compelling antagonists. Basically, each player adds up their attack value, rolls that many dice, and tries to beat the bad guys’ life value. If you win, you get a reward, and if not, you get pretty hosed. After third fight, the game ends and you count up the points.
Like I said initially, this game isn’t for everyone. It’s a bit lazy from a design perspective, but it makes up with it with fast, easy to learn play, and a setting that is really integral to the game which draws you in via some really evocative, high quality art. I‘m really glad that I picked this up, as it’s become a go-to game.