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Board Games 5522
Moxie, a Burlap Sack, and a Wizard-Beating Stick
Rating 
 
4.5
After a weak-willed impulse buy at my FLGS and a single play, I'm impressed. The attention to detail on the physical design of the box and bits is breathtaking; the insert, especially, is a work of art. Everything has a perfect place and comes out of that perfect place exactly the way you'd expect it to—in other words, you reach for the thing and touch it and it hops out of its slot and into your hand. This, in itself, is brilliant. Like an amusement park for opposable thumbs.

As for those bits themselves, they are wonderfully tactile and gorgeous, like the gold pieces which, while unusually shaped (squares for singles and larger crescents for fives, all with a hole punched in the middle), are also double-sided with heads and tails having unique, baroque designs. The card art is very good and goes a long way to immerse one in theme.

This is the first worker-placement/trade-crap-for-other-crap "Euro" that fulfilled my need for a li'l somthin' extra, namely to not get stuck thinking in terms of grinding for nibs to trade for nobs and then scoring for dinguses. The "take that" cardplay is fun in a way that anal retentive geniuses cannot countenance; fair enough, but when I played "Free Drinks!" to lure a critical wizard away from another player's tavern and into my own I learned the folly of wizards too fond of the bottle—a return play of "Arcane Mishap" caused him to detonate during a "spirited" demonstration of magical power. I was cleaning innards and singed beard bristles out of the crevices for weeks.

On the mechanical side the game is quick and breezy, with occasional bursts of multi-ply puzzling to keep it engaging. I've only played once, doing very poorly until the endgame where I managed to crawl into second place by paying attention to chaining opportunities while simultaneously dropping tactical turds into various punchbowls. I enjoyed this very much.

There is a huge potential for variety in future plays, with more cards and buildings than opportunities to put them into play, as well as having them come out in a novel order each time. Lucky synergies in one game could well be absent or significantly altered in the next. How it all hangs together remains to be seen, but the obvious care, thought, and detail packed into it makes it an easy 4 stars for now.

UP-UPDATE: The second play had us all over the VP track coming into the final stretch; final score was 95-94-92-90. Love it!

After 11 plays: Still going strong. Yes, the "secret" scoring can be swingy, but really, it's not that secret (if you pay attention to what kind of quests your opponents are completing) and bank on all competent players getting somewhere around +30 points at the end. Playing this with the same people means all our games have been annoyingly close... so much so I am getting sick and tired of LOSING BY ONE POINT.*

*Especially when there's a bunch of table bumping and bag switching going on with the VP markers: "Oh, I'm sorry—you're blue? Where were you again?" And BANG lose by one point.

After 15 plays: Bumping this to a well-deserved 4.5 stars. There is an enormous and non-obvious storytelling element lurking beneath all the mechanical meeple-swapping... Open yourself to it. And then send those poor bastards to their DOOM.

After 21 plays: MANDATORY QUESTS AIN'T A THANG

I have won plenty of games where I was dogpiled with Mandatory Quests... of course, I've lost just as many, too.

The only reason they make your forehead veins stand out as you poop yourself a little is because you didn't plan for them. Always assume Mandatory Questage and prepare for it, whether by salting away materiel or factoring an action/turn cushion into all of your plans—especially the critical ones. Ending up in the embarrassingly pantsless position of only having exactly what you need to pull off that 25-pointer at the very end and getting royally hosed by a single small Mandatory Quest is not a design flaw or a moral failing of the person who played the card—the fault is entirely your own.
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