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Barnes on Games- Evolution: Flight in Review, XenoShyft, even more Knizia Hobbit stuff

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23 Jul 2015 16:58 #206835 by mikecl
I have had Darkest Night and the expansion, With an Inner Light, for some time now and what I first loved about it was the variety of characters and their powers. But the more I play it the more I see its simplistic shell. The reason why it's got all these expansions is the game developer kept "fixing" his game with them.

There's not much strategy beyond searching your location. In fact, characters didn't used to move from their locations so they had to make an expansion (Fix #1) with Quests (Inner Light) to give people a reason for moving around. The game is all about searching for keys by rolling 3 or 4 or more depending on the location and it's on a timer to artificially ensure you barely have time to compete it.

The blights are a neat idea, but there's virtually no reason to fight them when you could be searching until they start reaching critical mass and threaten to end your game. I can see why it fell flat on its face in a gaming group. There's few choices and not enough for each character to do. Even solo, it's a frustrating puzzle if the random events and die rolls don't go your way.

In the end, the game made me feel like a hamster on a wheel. If you get lucky with rolling, you make it. If you don't, you don't. Maybe the other expansions offer more variety?

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23 Jul 2015 17:53 #206842 by Michael Barnes
I actually kind of agree with you about the "fix" expansions, which may be the one big ding against it. There are four add-ons, and all of them sort of feel like that- as if development never actually finished. The new one is really significant because it does away with the keys altogether. Instead, you uncover these "mysteries" any time you would get a key and these five you clues as to the whereabouts of the relics. You have to have ten to get one of them. It's MUCH better, IMO, but then you've still got these key icons. And some of the mysteries have key spaces on them to track effects. But in all, it feels like what SHOULD happen is for a second edition to come out that eliminates the keys altogether. But that's not really tenable, or even advisable.

It took me a couple of games to realize a key thing about the game...don't fight the blights unless you just have to. The point of the game, interestingly, is not the usual "battle the bad guys" thing. It's "stay hidden from the bad guys until you are strong enough to fight them. Stealth and searching are more important than combat, and a lot of the characters aren't even combat focused in any way. Last night I ran the new characters- Alchemist, Conjurer, Tamer and Bard. They have SOME combat powers, but they were definitely not intended to go head-to-head with the blights.

It really depends on which four characters you use as to how it unfolds. There's more depth there than just searching the locations, especially once the Necromancer is on your trail and you've got to figure out an escape. The expansion that adds the quests changes things considerably too because it adds some additional priorities other than the main adventure.
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23 Jul 2015 19:04 - 23 Jul 2015 19:07 #206851 by Deleted
i hate being misquoted.

I never said Onirim was the worst game I ever played.

I said it is the worst game I've ever played, in this life and any past lives, or in any alternate reality.

And in the second location, I am heretofore claiming dibs on Darkest Night during the esteemed Mr Barnes' upcoming "Great games I am now offloading like smallpox blankets" sale.
Last edit: 23 Jul 2015 19:07 by Deleted.

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23 Jul 2015 19:20 #206854 by Michael Barnes
Who is to say that all of those games I've sold all of you over the years don't have a little something "extra" like those gifts that Europeans gave to the Native Americans?

I can totally see why you hated Onirim. In fact, I can see why most people would hate it. It is definitely not something everybody is going to like.

Darkest Night will likely stick around since it solos so well and it won't fall into the "someone else I know owns it" or "no one wants to play this with me" brackets.

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23 Jul 2015 19:25 #206856 by Deleted

Michael Barnes wrote: Who is to say that all of those games I've sold all of you over the years don't have a little something "extra" like those gifts that Europeans gave to the Native Americans?

You silly white people!

I can totally see why you hated Onirim. In fact, I can see why most people would hate it. It is definitely not something everybody is going to like.

Darkest Night will likely stick around since it solos so well and it won't fall into the "someone else I know owns it" or "no one wants to play this with me" brackets.


Well, be that as it may, even now that you're making Miniature Market bucks, your need to feed your kids and slaughter racoons will change this fact, maybe. I'm just saying that I'm first in line,

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23 Jul 2015 21:47 - 24 Jul 2015 13:44 #206877 by mikecl

Michael Barnes wrote: It took me a couple of games to realize a key thing about the game...don't fight the blights unless you just have to.


I agree, but that was my point. They're beautifully rendered. They're an interesting idea, but they're really just another wasted resource although I suppose they restrict player movement, and are of course a factor toward the end of the game, but that's it. Without them being much of a factor, the game needs more than just searching for keys. I guess I'll have to look at the expansion that eliminates the need for this? First I heard of this by the way. Is that the last expansion?

As well until the introduction of Quests which still feels tacked on and can be ignored unless you're using the variant with the Necromancer's Pall of Suffering, you really hardly even had to move.
Last edit: 24 Jul 2015 13:44 by mikecl.

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24 Jul 2015 01:45 #206887 by ubarose
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24 Jul 2015 11:09 #206929 by Grudunza
Evolution was just meh for me, and I was excited to try it, so that was disappointing. But I really need to give it another chance.

Xenoshyft is pretty cool. I traded my KS copy, but only because there's a good iOS version coming soon.

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24 Jul 2015 15:02 #206962 by Michael Barnes
Yeah, I was actually going to wait on the IOS version but I found a local seller going cheap in the sales on it, I couldn't resist...a solid IOS version may very well kick it out of the collection. Don't tell my buddy.

On Darkest Night- yes, there is a new expansion "In Tales of Old" that does away with the keys. The blights are interesting because the concept combines physical opposition (monsters) and more environmental/psychological effects. The big impact they have, I've found is that they either a) restrict mobility or b) make it difficult or impossible to park in a location and perform tasks. Now, effects a and b working together in one or more locations often results in tough, risky decisions. I find it really interesting that when you mandatorily fight an "enemy" blight at the end of a turn, all you are basically doing is fending it off. If you want to actually defeat it, you have to spend an action AND lose stealth to take a chance on battle. There are some really neat things going on this game, some subtle design elements that make it more interesting than I expected it to be.
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25 Jul 2015 17:29 #207051 by mikecl
I missed the part of your post on the Knizia Hobbit games from Cryptozoic. These are actually really well done for a dice game and fun to play. My wife likes them both too which is a bonus.

There's definite strategy at play in how and when to commit resources to influence the odds. And you can keep scaling the difficulty as you get better. Attractive artwork too. I'm guessing they didn't release the third one because the third movie sucked but that's just a guess.

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