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× Talk about the latest and greatest AT, and the Classics.

Empyreal Spells and Steam

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20 Mar 2020 22:33 #308392 by Gary Sax
This is a newish Trey Chambers level 99 joint, guy who made Argent. Always interested in odd games and, yes, I know this one is super expensive and I know there is a crowd here who doesn't like long expensive games with a lot of pieces. That's cool, glad you feel that way and I validate you in your preferences!

Ok, now for the rest of you still here. Very little talk about Empyreal around here but ---anyone tried it? I'd love to hear your impressions. So Very Wrong About Games had some good but puzzled things to say about it, which is a good sign. I've also seen some solid buzz from Dan Thurot ( spacebiff.com/2020/02/21/empyreal/ ), who tends to have at least somewhat similar taste to me.

It looks like a completely fucking weird one and up my alley. I can't tell if it's like a management game or a routes/pick up and deliver game... anyone have any input on this? What's the general game flow?

It's also another one of these kickstarter games with a product line that is therefore extremely difficult to parse.

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21 Mar 2020 12:50 #308395 by cdennett
Replied by cdennett on topic Empyreal Spells and Steam
I've only played this one time, so can't say my opinions are fully formed, but I'll give you an impression. If I had to categorize the game, it's more of an action efficiency game with your own tableau, with the central map being where you interact the most. It starts off with a medium amount of asymmetry, with each player getting a unique Captain (with their unique power) and a slightly different player board (basically one upgrade/action that is different then others). The goal is to get the most points, which you primarily get by delivering goods to one of the cities. Deliver enough at one time, and you get a demand token (bonus points) and when someone gets enough, the game end is triggered. While you're putting your presence out onto the main board, it's not really a route building game as your pieces need not be physically adjacent to be "connected." Cue lots of crazy powers and other things to get your train pieces in the right spots.

The main puzzle of the game is your player board which is a series of columns that you move your pawn across, and then can do the actions in that column. You can skip spaces, but it costs more mana. You can do more then one action in a column, but it costs more mana. How do you get more mana? Skip a turn and refresh, get to the "end of the line" and choose to refresh the mana instead of get upgrades, or some special power. And you build out these column of actions through upgrades throughout the game. You can also pick up specialists: one that refreshes with your captain, one that gives you a once-per-game awesome ability (mine was to take two turns in a row, which nearly won me the game), and one that gives you a passive ability. So you're building out your tableau of actions, picking up specialists, but all while trying to deliver goods scattered across the map to the cities. It's efficient to move one space at a time and take actions, but are you delivering enough? Should you skip ahead and be forced to take the refresh action to get your abilities/mana back? All the while you are competing to get the goods from the map before someone else nabs them from you. Oh, and there are global achievements to fight over, which are worth a lot of points (and how I ended up losing), and they really changed our strategy in the game. Interaction is moderate (about on par with Argent), where it's more about annoying people, though your plans can be ruined by others quite easily.

The game was pretty quick, only really bogging down when dealing with the specialists (as, while the iconography is alright, you still need to look them up: print out the aids people have made on BGG). The game accelerated rapidly at the end, and our 4 player game, including rules, was well under 3 hours (and keep in mind, we are generally slow players). The top three of us were within a few points of each other, even though we followed different strategies (I delivered more goods with higher demand tiles, they chased the achievements). You don't really need the expansion, though having more captains and train company options are always nice. The box size is stupid, as are most of the insert bits. I haven't decided if I'm ditching most of them yet or not. Not sure I can modify the box...

We liked it quite a bit. You could see the Argent DNA in it, but in no way are they the same type of game. I still like Argent better, but that's still in my top 5 games, so it's not a slight on this one.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax

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21 Mar 2020 12:55 #308396 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Empyreal Spells and Steam
Your thoughts are *greatly* appreciated, cdennett. I'll ask any other questions I have as we go. I'll probably be on the lookout for a full KS copy at a reasonable price just on designer rep and that my spouse really likes these sorts of games (and loved Argent!)

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