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01 Oct 2020 21:26 #314736 by Andi Lennon
I was actually lucky enough to find a local distro that was carrying it so the postage wasn't as devastating as it may have been otherwise. And yeah- the minis are fabulous. Largely superfluous but great flavour and satisfying chunky to move around the board.
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04 Oct 2020 00:33 #314816 by Jackwraith
Had a couple other friends over today. They've been isolating because both are out of work as a COVID consequence. Everyone stayed masked up and we played on our screened-in porch, to try to minimize risk for a couple hours of games.

We played Cosmic Encounter, as it was a first for one of them and they said that they'd often heard my usual refrain ("It's the foundation of modern, non-German board game design.") It was Host vs Pacifist vs Sycophant vs Horde (me.) This was only Host's second game and she was a little overwhelmed by trying to figure out the best times to use Flares that she'd never seen before. In contrast, 7 of the 8 Flares dealt into the deck from alien selection ended up on the bottom of said deck and never saw play. Pacifist used her power a couple times and Sycophant tried to keep buttering people up but, in the end, it was a shared victory for Pacifist and Horde, as we squeezed the other two out after only a couple trips around the table. I only ever generated one Horde token for getting a ship back at the start of my turn. Once we get back to regular gaming, I need to schedule a CE Day, where we do nothing but try to acclimatize some of the locals to what CE can really be, because a lot of them seem to end up with "meh" responses because of very limited exposure, like today.

Then we turned to Bargain Quest, which they had brought with them. I'd played once before and was kind of muted on it. I like the meta atmosphere of it for old-timey role-players like me and there are certainly a lot of important decisions to make. The question is whether they're interesting decisions. It's pretty easy to draft a handful of cards that have absolutely nothing to do with the roster of heroes in front of you. One odd thing was that I was the only one regularly spending money on upgrades until late in the game. Having the extra Storage seems like a no-brainer to me, since it allows you to manipulate your stock much better in later rounds. I snagged an Errand Boys for free during an upgrade phase, too, which gave me even more options. This game turned out similar to my first game: I somehow won (15-14-14-12) while questioning my path in getting there. I'm still pretty lukewarm on the game.
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04 Oct 2020 09:49 #314817 by Gary Sax
Man, do I feel you Jackwraith. I have had Cosmic on my shelf forever and have played like 2 or 3 completely one-off games like 3 years apart and it has consistently gone over like a lead balloon.
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04 Oct 2020 10:25 #314818 by Jackwraith
The interesting thing is that two of the most legendary board games of modern times- Cosmic Encounter and Dune -were made by largely the same group of guys (Bill Norton was not involved with Dune.) That's a really impressive accomplishment. By the same token, I'd argue that both games are actually more limiting in terms of audience than many more recent releases because they virtually demand a social involvement. I mentioned a Reddit thread about Wingspan a while back and about how people were saying that one of the high points of the game for them was BECAUSE it was multiplayer solitaire. Anyone can play that kind of game, even if they don't really care for it (like me.) But it actually takes a certain level of boldness and willingness to extend oneself to play Dune and, often, to play CE. Aliens like Sycophant don't really work without a willingness to engage. (Thankfully, our Sycophant player was the most forward among our group of four, other than me.)

Given that the modern board game audience has a large contingent of people that might otherwise be considered "socially awkward", games like CE don't really lend themselves to widespread acceptance among that group and, thus, as much as you might expect to the audience as a whole considering the rather brilliant variety and possibilities contained within the system. This has long been my argument about Dune, as well. Yes, it's one of the best games of all-time, blah blah blah, but it also really requires a certain kind of group to shine and, if you don't have that group, it won't even approach the level of "classic".
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04 Oct 2020 10:37 - 04 Oct 2020 19:14 #314819 by hotseatgames
Two people in my group don't like CE. Unfortunately, they are also the two most likely to show up.

My boys and I played the new kids' intro to D&D, The Adventure Begins. At their age (14), I was playing the real thing, but I also grew up with no internet, so I get that it's a tough sell. You start by picking one of four bosses, setting up the dungeon area boards, and picking characters. Characters get a couple of choices, but as far as I can tell, everyone has the same required attack rolls. Some enemies are stronger vs. weapons or magic.

It's cooperative, and each player takes a turn being the DM as well, either reading an encounter card or attacking with a monster. Any time there is a choice, the party is generally deciding between A or B, then the outcome is told by the DM. In the cards we saw, it seemed like usually both outcomes were bad, just in different ways. Not always, though.

The game is engineered to be won, and we did win. One of my sons did manage to get himself killed 3 times, but my other one and myself never died, and managed to level up. You can go from level 1 to level 2, which is highly recommended since you end up doing extra damage. The final boss has 20 health so it can survive a few rounds of combat.

So after one play.... I like it. It really does give a feel for the kind of impromptu nonsense that can take place playing the real D&D. The DM role is pretty weak though; in general you just roll a d10 and read the outcome. No actual decisions are made by the DM, at least on the admittedly few cards we saw.

I like that each of the 4 boards has its own encounter deck of 24 cards. In general you will only see about 5 of those cards per play. I hope that this game is successful, because additional boards would be nice for variety (well really you only need additional decks, since all of the board layouts are identical).

While it is certainly more kid-friendly than one of the adventure system games, I think this is much closer to the genuine article. I'd rather play this.
Last edit: 04 Oct 2020 19:14 by hotseatgames.
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04 Oct 2020 16:35 #314821 by Greg Aleknevicus
If you're introducing new players to Cosmic Encounter, keep it simple. Get rid of the flares and limit the aliens to those that are mandatory and require no decisions from the player (e.g., Macon, Virus, Void, etc.). Even with these changes, CE is a chaotic affair and can easily overwhelm a newbie.
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04 Oct 2020 16:39 #314822 by Jackwraith

Greg Aleknevicus wrote: If you're introducing new players to Cosmic Encounter, keep it simple. Get rid of the flares and limit the aliens to those that are mandatory and require no decisions from the player (e.g., Macon, Virus, Void, etc.). Even with these changes, CE is a chaotic affair and can easily overwhelm a newbie.


Yeah. That's fair advice and something I've considered for my "all CE day" I mentioned above. I've just usually been introducing it to very experienced gamers; the type of person you'd expect to adapt quickly to varying mechanics. But that's not always a sure bet, either, as even regular gamers absorb stuff in different ways, like any person.
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07 Oct 2020 14:58 - 07 Oct 2020 14:59 #314887 by ubarose
Taught the Spawn Agricola last night, or as she calls it, Star Dew Valley: The Board Game.

I haven't played it in ages. I realized that the biggest obstacle to making the game accessible was how they packed 2 different games into the original version (family version and normal), then loaded on the different decks to choose from, and loaded those with different cards for different player counts. So now that we have the game sorted to play 3 players I feel like we need to play the game a couple of times to make all that time spent sorting the cards worth it.
Last edit: 07 Oct 2020 14:59 by ubarose.
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07 Oct 2020 15:34 #314889 by WadeMonnig

ubarose wrote: Taught the Spawn Agricola last night, or as she calls it, Star Dew Valley: The Board Game.

I haven't played it in ages. I realized that the biggest obstacle to making the game accessible was how they packed 2 different games into the original version (family version and normal), then loaded on the different decks to choose from, and loaded those with different cards for different player counts. So now that we have the game sorted to play 3 players I feel like we need to play the game a couple of times to make all that time spent sorting the cards worth it.

I picked up the Family version for 15 last weekend on a MM in store special. I'm stealing "Stardew Valley: The board game" to get every last one of my kids on board to try it.
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07 Oct 2020 17:38 #314900 by mc
From memory the family version is like a hardcore absolutely no luck variant, right? I mean the family version in the original box. Adding cards adds an extra layer, but it loosens things up a bit?

And I think the recent family version that is sold seperately is s actually a bit more friendly.

In any case my kids really like Agricola.
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08 Oct 2020 04:55 #314903 by Erik Twice

Jackwraith wrote: y the same token, I'd argue that both games are actually more limiting in terms of audience than many more recent releases because they virtually demand a social involvement. I mentioned a Reddit thread about Wingspan a while back and about how people were saying that one of the high points of the game for them was BECAUSE it was multiplayer solitaire. Anyone can play that kind of game, even if they don't really care for it (like me.)[...]

Given that the modern board game audience has a large contingent of people that might otherwise be considered "socially awkward", games like CE don't really lend themselves to widespread acceptance among that group and, thus, as much as you might expect to the audience as a whole considering the rather brilliant variety and possibilities contained within the system. This has long been my argument about Dune, as well. Yes, it's one of the best games of all-time, blah blah blah, but it also really requires a certain kind of group to shine and, if you don't have that group, it won't even approach the level of "classic".

I always say that there's a cost to fun. Games are an interactive medium and our qualities as players have a large impact on the resulting experience. If we want truly great experiences, we need to become better players. And by that I don't mean being better strategically, though it's part of it, but also being more open-minded, more willing to put work in and accept the ocassional bad experience.

I don't think it has much to do with social awkardness. Most people in the hobby are not socially awkard and, in my experience, it's not a factor that shows up too often. What shows up more often is an unwillingness to do poorly, to accept you lost because you made mistakes, that greater experiences require greater efforts.

To make a comparison, Cosmic is a bit like Mullholland Drive. You can go into a Marvel film and get a stable experience. But to watch Mullholland Drive you have to put a lot of effort. And if you don't or can't, the film will be incomprehensible to you. But, at the end of the day, Mullholland Drive is a much better film than any of the Marvel titles.

Asking more of us doesn't mean a game is greater, but greater games tend to do that.So if we want to play the best games we need to become better players.
---

By far the most important lesson I've learn when introducing Cosmic to new players, even those that are experienced gamers, is to limit aliens to the green ones. People will stumble with powers like Seeker, Philanthropist or Merchant. Even Antimatter gets the short end of the stick. It might seem they are fine but, trust me, they aren't. Host is a yellow power yet it trips people like there's no tomorrow.

In my experience, the only people who understand Cosmic very fast are card game players. If you have played Magic or Netrunner or whatever, things get much easier to you.
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08 Oct 2020 08:02 #314904 by Nodens
Thank you, that's the best post I saw in a while (and there were some great posts).
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08 Oct 2020 08:02 #314905 by mezike
You guys are making me want to track down a second hand copy of Agricola. Haven't played it for years but my kids are now at an age where they could understand all it's complex little levers so it might get some play. I dunno though, I always thought it was perfectly fine to build up a little farm and bake some bread and whatever, I was even okay with the worker placement even though it's very 'gamey' and makes little sense, the bit I just couldn't get past was the really dull incremental point scoring at the end where the game grinds to a halt while everyone maths out their endgame point-salad. I doubt that my kids would play that way though which is why it might work for us, just build a farm and do what feels right then get an irrelevant score at the end. The aim for us is to be entertained, not to assert our egos on others. Then again, Fields of Green fills that quaint farm-building space already.

A friend gave me the newer family edition a while back but it didn't work for us, it was very dry and strategically one-dimensional whereas the original full game at least has all those little card-combo strategies that you gain satisfaction by piecing together.
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08 Oct 2020 10:48 #314908 by Gary Sax
Just imo, but if you want to enable creative off the path play in a worker placement, I would go with a different Rosenberg. Those actually actively facilitate the big giant menu "which path do you choose?" gameplay; Agricola is a much tighter game trying to put you to your limit on what you can accomplish in a very limited time. Much more like Le Havre than Feast for Odin, if that makes sense.

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08 Oct 2020 11:28 #314911 by ubarose

mc wrote:
In any case my kids really like Agricola.


I find it interesting how Agricola is now a game we play with kids. When it first came out it was positioned as this complicated, strategic gamers game. Just looking through the old rule book it is clear that they were really concerned that people wouldn't "get it," so they have so much verbiage explaining how to play, plus the boards with all the explanations on them (which I don't know if anyone actually every used).
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