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03 Nov 2021 13:34 - 03 Nov 2021 14:41 #327669 by Jexik

Gary Sax wrote: God I want to play some Oath. How are you liking the game, Jexik? I don't remember if I ever heard your Take on it.


I like the very flexible nature of using your advisers to develop a strategy and game plan, and I like the immediacy and threat of the victory conditions. I broadly compared it to Red7 which is both apt and at the same time way off the mark, heh. It has the "James Cyclades problem" of me honing in on a victory condition and being the first and most obvious person to go for it, and then getting dogpiled and left in the dust. In the previous game I got the vision for People's Favor and bought it for 3 or 4 early, but just made myself a target.

Like Cyclades, I do like the game despite losing most of the time. I really do feel like winning is done with the permission of other players, or by carefully carving out a very strong position, as I did in this last game.

That d6 is fickle as fuck though. Ours seems to always end the game when rolled.*

*The other players blame me for this, as in one of our post game discussions one guy said, "Yeah, but then I'd have to roll a 6, and we know how hard that is." I said, "Oh yeah, I'll show you how hard it is to roll a 6!" And I did. I figured it had a 1/6 chance of being an awesome moment, but instead I created a mystical lucky die.

I also really like the action economy (which they call Supply). There are so many cards that break the flow of it, but it is a neat system. You can very rarely do everything you want, which is why I planned ahead this last game.
Last edit: 03 Nov 2021 14:41 by Jexik.
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03 Nov 2021 13:46 - 03 Nov 2021 13:55 #327671 by sornars
Oath reminds me of Mario Kart in how you need to win. Coasting in second until the last lap or dropping back to get better items is a legitimate strategy in that game and so is it in Oath. Managing your appearance and tempo such that you're not the most threatening person at the table is as important as positioning yourself for a win.

This falls apart when the other people at your table have difficulty reading the threats at the table which is why I suspect Usurper wins are rarer with less seasoned players.

Edit: The supply system is brilliant. I love the tension it forces between being nimble or mustering warbands. As a chancellor you start to understand how important the number six is for supply - four to move to the hinterlands and two to start a campaign.
Last edit: 03 Nov 2021 13:55 by sornars.
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03 Nov 2021 14:10 #327675 by Gary Sax
It takes a little while to realize that the number one power of owning sites is access to supply free actions.
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03 Nov 2021 14:14 #327676 by Jexik
Yeah, it took me awhile because I usually didn't hold many sites. Heh. That chancellor had an iron grip with those ramparts for awhile.
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06 Nov 2021 11:50 - 06 Nov 2021 11:51 #327741 by DarthJoJo
A few quick games with my wife. Scored 77 in our first round of Lost Cities and promptly followed it with a 13-point outing with no negative scores because I decided to play for all five colors.

Still haven’t won a round of Combo Fighter. I think it does a marvelous job of creating unique characters with an absolute minimum of text, but the core rock-paper-scissors seems weaker than alternatives because there isn’t enough differentiation in the core options. Your choices in what card to play feel more random than Yomi because there’s minimal difference in what the colors do.

Played our first level two match of Fox in the Forest Duet. Should have lost because I didn’t realize we had fewer forest tokens than level one but just barely dragged the victory anyway. What a great game.

Finally played the original Fox in the Forest and destroyed my wife in three hands, mixing up humble and honest victories. Thought I had a good grip on how to play the special cards pretty quick and had a great time.
Last edit: 06 Nov 2021 11:51 by DarthJoJo.
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09 Nov 2021 12:10 #327818 by Jackwraith
Played two hours straight of The Crew last night. I was playing with a couple friends of varying dispositions toward games in general and co-op games in particular. One, Mike, is fine with any type of game, as long as it feels like it's mechanically coherent, and he's more interested in the social aspect of it because he doesn't get out much (middle school teacher, even more burdened than usual with having to teach in-person and remotely, simultaneously.) The other, Brian, is really only interested in more complex games with lots of moving parts and tends to disdain co-op games as "solving a puzzle" and little more. He and I are kind of on the same page there, as I generally don't have time for co-ops, either, and only have two or three of them in the house; notably, Spirit Island and, of course, The Crew.

But after the first few missions, Brian's opinion was that The Crew was the first co-op game he'd played where winning actually felt like you were accomplishing something and felt exciting (He hasn't played Spirit Island.) Both of them really liked it, which is the almost universal reaction I've gotten from the times I've been able to get it on the table. We played to mission 18 before Mike had to leave and only had to re-do failed missions a couple times in that run. It ran the usual gamut of social interactions, where you're trying to lead someone in a particular direction and they may or may not follow your line of thinking. I think the best ones in that streak are the pair of missions where you can't win any tricks with a 9. It was better than I thought it would be three-handed, as I'd only been bringing it out for four players, which we thought we'd have before one player had to bail. There were some missions that were straight walks that were done in seconds and I'm left wondering if they would've been that easy with four or if it's more difficult with a lower player count. Dunno.

Anyway, still a brilliant game and one of the few SdJ winners (or even nominees) that I've really enjoyed in a long time.
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09 Nov 2021 12:24 #327819 by Michael Barnes
I really want to get the new sea version of The Crew.

All I want to play right now is Battletech. I rebought the box set and the new Clan Invasion set. I’ve been soloing it and it is such a refresher. It’s a deep, complex game with tons of options and things to explore. Yet you can play it like a one off board game and all you need are 8 minis or stand ups, dice, paper maps, and paper/pencil.

Like I said in the review a couple of years ago, it’s really pretty streamlined and it has 35+ years of refinement behind it. It plays smoothly even though shooting is a formula. It has just the right amount of detail.

Solo is a challenge but it’s not unmanageable to run 8 mechs, manage heat/ammo and so forth. It’s all pencil and paper so you can mark shit up, take notes, or whatever. And it’s so easy to pack up to continue later- mark the hexes, throw it in a box.

It’s amazing how, in todays gamin age, the game is all in the rules and just a couple of pieces. Not in a ton of junk. Sure you can go overboard and get tons of books, minis, etc. but this is such a pure game.
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09 Nov 2021 12:50 #327820 by Jackwraith
There's an interesting juxtaposition there, in that a lot of the appeal of the those big games with tons of stuff is visual, right? You don't need elaborate minis to play Rising Sun, but it's cool to see them on the table in the same way it is for two 40K players to be playing with fully- and nicely-painted armies. So, if you have the 8 minis that you need for Battletech, you have that visual appeal AND you you don't need extra stuff, I guess. Might look nicer on a map with some terrain, but the real eye-catcher is usually the minis and, if that's covered...
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09 Nov 2021 18:11 #327822 by Sagrilarus
Heck, you can use Lego guys if you like. The game is on the heads-up sheets. The minute you let your inner child free games become a lot more fun.

I'm playing one of its cousins bigly right now -- Talon. FASA goodness modernized for matches that last 90 minutes tops. I have two non-wargame friends that keep setting up new games!
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09 Nov 2021 19:30 #327825 by Erik Twice
I thought I had written about Unfathomable here before, but it seems my message didn't make it. Either way, I've been playing it quite a bit and I think I should share my first impressions with you.

First, this is better than I expected. It does combine and improve on Battlestar Galactica and its expansions. There's less crud, the Cylon fleet board has been integrated in a superior way into the game and it no locker locks some players into a one-dimensional pilot role. Balance is better and all those useless spots on the board have been doing away with or improved. The board, while flawed in some ways, is also far more readable than the original. Revelead traitors stay on the ship instead of being sent away and overall it feels more cohesive than the first one was.

Still, it's not such a large change that it makes the old version look much worse in comparison. If I had the original game, I don't think I would spend the money to upgrade. The experience is not that much improved, it's just better made. For example, Executive Orders were the most powerful cards in BSG. Now they have been rebalanced and are just middling. This is an improvement, but not one that will make you jump out of your seat. In fact, most stuff is directly translated over, even character abilities are copied.

On the negative side, I have the nagging suspicion the game is less player-focused. There seems to be less effects that target players and, hence, less effects that rely on loyalty. So far I haven't seen a crisis that sends players to jail and fewer that discard cards or that require you to target one another. This means the game is less political and more focused on actions. This is a concern and I do think it might reduce the overall appeal. But given how much was copied, I won't know until I see the full deck. I have noticed the Magical Tome (which replaces the Presidency Quorum cards) has no actions targeting players. I distinctly remember several Quorum cards which could send people to jail.

Lastly, the new setting just doesn't fit the game as well. I've never watched the BSG show, but it seemed to work well and gave the game an interesting angle. The core of the issue is that BSG is a political show while the horror of Lovecraft is personal. The scary part of Insmouth is not fish people passing as humans. It's the fear of becoming subhuman. Even if you ignore the inherent racism to the concept it just doesn't work in the context of the game, which is inherently about other politics and trust.

FFG tried to overcompensate by creating a "diverse" cast including non-binary, deaf and albino characters. Most of them have backstories that touch on racism, colonialism or bigotry to some degree. But this makes all characters outsiders of some kind, not examples of the status quo or those that attempt to subvert it. To be honest. I think trying to make a "progressive" game based on Lovecraft is a fool's errand.

So that's pretty much it. Let me know what you think.
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09 Nov 2021 19:39 #327826 by Gary Sax
Great post, thank you
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09 Nov 2021 20:39 #327829 by Andi Lennon
Still alive, still playing games. Getting sober (again) and working on new gaming content but have played plenty of great titles (and a few not so great).

Kemet- Worthy of its many accolades. Super tight and cut-throat, absolutely the way Amerithrash should be. The action selection and player upgrade mechanics are some of the best-in-class. Also giant scorpions.

Axis & Allies Europe 1940-
Fiddly as hell, took us two hours to set up, and then a further eight hours to complete. I absolutely loved it. Once you get into the rhythm it’s entirely engrossing. My opponents near aneurism when I took Moscow was one of the gaming highlights of the year. Definitely file this under ‘occasion games’ but it has me pumped for when ‘War Room’ lands on my doorstep.

Cuba Libre- Yeah I went and ordered three more COIN games after this. Superb asymmetry, agonising choices each and every turn, negotiation and betrayal, well stitched thematic dressing on an incredibly interesting series of events. I wasn’t even pissed off when we overlooked the cartel slowly turning Cuba into a Kleptocracy for the win. Gandhi is up next and we have high hopes.

No Motherland Without – Takes the familiar CDG formula of ‘Twilight Struggle’ and affixes it to an absolutely fascinating examination of the last 70 odd years of North Korean struggle. Asymmetric objectives and the addition of thematically appropriate ‘Defection’ and ‘Missile Test’ mechanics helps it further stand apart from similar offerings. I struggled to garner interest in this one amongst my regular troupe as it appears dry and dark to the uninitiated but I absolutely adored every minute of feeling really bad about myself in this one. Simple to learn, masterful in execution, plenty of moral quandaries to chew upon for both factions and an insightful glimpse at one of the most mysterious societies in modern history.

Conflict of Heroes, Awakening the Bear- They have a strange idea about what qualifies as a ‘hero’ here. I’m more about grand strategy or abstraction than I am squad level tactics, and this one is super mathy which doesn’t help but despite all that it was an engaging experience. The balance seems firmly tilted in favour of the Germans (at least in the early scenarios we played) and I suffered for trying to combine it with whiskey. One to return to when my beard fills out a little more.

Dual Powers Revolution 1917-
One of my favourite periods of history and a super tight abstract area control game with fantastic components (even if the ‘hand of the people clutching a hammer’ token totally looks like a dinosaur). Light but excruciatingly tense- the ‘calendar’ mechanic adds a refreshing twist that always catches me off guard.

878 Vikings- Another solid title from the Academy Games ‘Birth of a..’ series. I was really excited for this one after ‘1754: The French and Indian War’ became one of my favourite titles of the year. This one doesn’t quite scale those heights, and the plastic minis are a poor replacement for the nice wooden cubes of the other titles in the series. Still, accessible yet engaging and a nice evolution of the core system. The proprietary dice combat and bag-pull turn order still offers a tonne of swingy surprise.

Crusader Kings – I absolutely have to echo the popular sentiment that whilst this basically succeeds as an ‘adequate’ strategy game, it absolutely shines as a narrative experience. Marrying off your clubfooted heir to a rival bound for the crusades and desperate for a successor, or poisoning their spouse to prevent their siring of an offspring is utterly delicious, nasty fun. If your group likes embellishing the narrative beats of their games as well as being an absolute cunt to one another then you’re going to have a great time here.

Dark Ages: Holy Roman Empire – This offered fun but kinda plodding grand strategy 4X nation building that has a great action selection mechanic but suffers from something of a glacial pace and a firm disincentive to actually clash with your opponents. Comes with about eleventy six optional modules to stack atop the base game so I’ll withhold judgement til we get to try them out.

There were others: Napoleon Returns, Scythe, Reavers of Midgard, Rise of the Necromancers, Victory & Glory, Time of Crisis, Battle of the Five Armies, Frostgrave, War of Whispers, 1066 tears to Many Mothers, The King is Dead, but the day job is kicking my ass so I’d best get back to it.

Apologies for my radio silence. I'm content to lurk for now. Life has been a lot.

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09 Nov 2021 21:09 #327831 by DarthJoJo

Erik Twice wrote: FFG tried to overcompensate by creating a "diverse" cast including non-binary, deaf and albino characters. Most of them have backstories that touch on racism, colonialism or bigotry to some degree. But this makes all characters outsiders of some kind, not examples of the status quo or those that attempt to subvert it. To be honest. I think trying to make a "progressive" game based on Lovecraft is a fool's errand.

I like that Fantasmodee Flight isn’t too good for obvious references, so in the tradition of William Yorick, the deaf engineer Jeanne Lefarge exists.
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10 Nov 2021 05:49 #327839 by Erik Twice

DarthJoJo wrote: I like that Fantasmodee Flight isn’t too good for obvious references, so in the tradition of William Yorick, the deaf engineer Jeanne Lefarge exists.

I don't know what the characters are references to, other than the Mathematician being Lovelace and stuff like that.

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10 Nov 2021 06:40 - 10 Nov 2021 07:04 #327840 by sornars

Erik Twice wrote:

DarthJoJo wrote: I like that Fantasmodee Flight isn’t too good for obvious references, so in the tradition of William Yorick, the deaf engineer Jeanne Lefarge exists.

I don't know what the characters are references to, other than the Mathematician being Lovelace and stuff like that.


Shakespeare (Hamlet specifically) and Star Trek respectively; done with all of the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Thanks so much for that post on Unfathomable, it aligns with my expectations after watching a few playthroughs; the game core looks pretty solid and even slightly improved but much of the theme and tension has been drained out. The insight that the game is less player focused is interesting; the one observation I made and I think it's related to your point about the lack of politics, is that titles seemed kind of inconsequential in Unfathomable. It didn't seem like you had the opportunity to mistrust a Captain or Keeper of the Tome so it seemed like the titles kind of hung around all game rather than being a source of tension. Anyways, this is all theoretical, I'll need to give it a play and find out for myself.
Last edit: 10 Nov 2021 07:04 by sornars.
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