Reviews written by san il defanso
I like Survive well enough, but for me it has never been quite the monumental game as it is for everyone else. It is indeed mean and cutthroat, but it does it in a somewhat detached way, like it just assumes people will play dirty with no mechanical impetus to do so. In other words it doesn't force players to go for blood, and it's not much fun when people don't. My best games of it have been with my children, who take delight in hassling each other and their parents. Still, it is a fun one, and I'm glad we have it around.
I've gotten so much enjoyment out of this game over the years that I'm inclined to overlook its issues. The cards add some much-needed dynamism to a pretty austere design, but they also are a bit janky. Letting different actions be possible with a single space feels artificial, and more than anything the game forces all of the players to build the same sort of farm, rather than allowing specialization. But what is there is still really good. This is a tense and subtle game, and one of the few instants where player-punishing mechanics feel spot on.
Still the most important new design in the last 25 years, and it's not even close. The terrific combination of resource management, trading, and good old fashioned gambling isn't as cool as it once was, but it has aged quite well, and remains a high watermark in not just German game design, but game design in general.
A profoundly goofy game that brings out the liar in everyone. I'm not sure exactly why it works as well as it does, though I have ideas. It might be the one-person-loses-everyone-else-wins victory condition, allowing players to heedlessly deceive each other without too much worry. It might be the ability to pass cards to others and mutate lies into increasingly layered falsehoods filtered through numerous people. But maybe it's best to not overthink it. It's a ton of fun.
Deserves all of the accolades it has received. It recreates the tension and suspicion of the Cold War in ways that are a little unsettling. It forces the players to think like large superpowers, worried if random movement in isolated areas means larger plans, and disregarding the sovereignty of smaller nations. That it is a tactically and strategically rich game is almost gravy at that point. Definitely one of the best two-player games out there.
Everything in this design works so well with the rest of the design that it's easy to forget that none of it seems to serve very well in service of anything else. The "achievement" style of victory is well executed, though it doesn't really give a feeling of stakes for some things that really need them, like the combat. Still, it's a rich strategic game, and one that has proven enduring in a flash-in-the-pan era of the hobby. Definitely worth checking out.