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We have reviews of Horrified, Kingdomino Duel, Dragon Market, Flesh & Blood, and Rolled West. "Why Do I Own This" and "Beyond the Veil" returns. And more TBA

Barnes on Games- Valeria: Card Kingdoms in Review, Baseball Highlights, Cruel Necessity, Pax Porfiriana

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31 Mar 2016 17:20 #225080 by Michael Barnes
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31 Mar 2016 18:28 #225081 by Gary Sax
Stick with Pax, it is excellent despite it Eklundism.

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01 Apr 2016 04:11 #225088 by qwertymartin
Pax Pamir is fantastic too. Enough of its own game, and with much more professional graphic design and rules (different designer).

Totally agree about Baseball Highlights - easily my favourite of 2015.

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01 Apr 2016 08:02 #225090 by JEM
The only way we could figure out how to balance Valeria was to only let players immediately right and left of the active take resources. That locks resource gain at a three player level. They didn't go even that far in the mid-kickstarter rule change, so the P&P is being stripped for sleeves.

We did have fun with the very first iteration of the game, strictly with three or four players. It feels like they broke it pushing for stretch goals and five player support.
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01 Apr 2016 08:43 #225091 by Sagrilarus
The entire English Civil War in 60 minutes? Sounds suspicious.

I'll be interested to hear your take on Imperial Settlers, especially if this is your second pass at it. It's not a game that you have figured out after your first play.

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01 Apr 2016 08:57 #225093 by jay718
"Dr. Bronner style graphic design" is the most apt description of those cards I've heard yet. All-one!
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01 Apr 2016 09:14 #225095 by charlest
Very surprised you gave Pax another shot as you've been the most vocal hater on this forum. Good for you though.

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01 Apr 2016 12:54 #225104 by ThirstyMan
Warfighter, Thunderbolt etc are definitely NOT good stuff they are kinda tedious resource management games.

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01 Apr 2016 13:14 - 01 Apr 2016 13:15 #225107 by Michael Barnes
But that kind of management-y pseudo-wargame is GREAT for solo play...even some of the best of the best solo wargames, like Navajo Wars, fit that description.

Charlie, I never hated Pax...I kind of just didn't get it. And the Dr. Bronner thing was a nuisance.

I played it solo last night and I think I FINALLY get it. I'm still not QUITE sure what the fuss is, but it is a good game...and I can see where with other players shit can get knives out. Lots of opportunities to just mess with people, cool combos, tight decisions...OK, I guess I can see where the fuss is coming from. Pamir...better than or as good as Porfiriana?

Sag- the first ECW is about an hour or so. If you do the whole thing, it's probably 3-4 hours. But I don't know if I'd want to do it all at once, these games can get kind of repetitive and the good ones tend to end right when you start to feel it grind.

Jem- You know, I think the bigger issue with Valeria is actually that there is no geographical/logistical limitation in the numbers you invest in. In Catan, you are limited by where you build. When you put down a settlement, you are betting on three numbers to hit with a rough idea of how often they'll hit. So you wind up with "golden" numbers as well as resources that have a natural scarcity because some doofus put the 2s and 12s on all of the brick hexes. And that leads to shortages, which leads to trade. But if you take away those things, and enable players to invest in ALL numbers with only three (and not five) payout types and then you give them a roll every turn on top of bonuses...you wind up with 30+ resource tokens by the time your turn comes around. Last game, I had something on EVERY number. Whereas in Catan, I might just have three or four payout rolls.

I think the designer's train of thought on this was that it was more "fun" and accessible for players to pick cards rather than be limited by a tight budget. It's like they said "hey, it's fun in Catan to get something even when it's not your turn" and then quadrupled that. I've seen the argument that is more about what you pick than how you spend, that's bullshit. Because by the second half of the game, you can buy anything you want and the combinations tend to just give you MORE resources. And the scoring is full of option A=1vp, option B=1vp logic.
Last edit: 01 Apr 2016 13:15 by Michael Barnes.
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01 Apr 2016 14:19 #225115 by charlest
Hmm for some reason I thought you hated it and vaguely remember a couple of very negative comments. Searching your old stuff it appears you always thought it was very good. My bad.

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01 Apr 2016 15:59 #225123 by JEM
In the original P&P of Valeria, we were tight on resources. They changed the citizens mid-kickstarter and we were suddenly swimming in so much income it was Supermarket Sweep. Before those changes, everyone who played it enjoyed it and were happy to find a Machi Koro style game that wasn't broken.

That doesn't take away from your observation, even so.

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01 Apr 2016 18:29 #225127 by CranBerries
I had Greenland for a year, knowing I would never play it. I ended up trading it for Android Netrunner and an expansion. But I am so enamored of the setting for Pax Pamir and that entire era, and keep hearing so many great things about it, but I can't imagine every playing it with my family or talking any of my current gaming acquaintances into playing it the 4+ times it would take for the mechanics to disappear into the background so that the game could really shine. I think I've said all this elsewhere on this site. Someone called Pax the closest thing to Dune as a portable card game. Also, I love the term "Eklundisms". I think he's a climate denier too (making him more Dr. Bronner-ish).
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01 Apr 2016 20:02 #225129 by wadenels
It takes a half-dozen or so plays for the mechanics of the Pax card games to fade into the background, but when they do the games are damn good. It helps a lot if one player knows the rules inside and out and can operate almost at the gamemaster level for the first couple games. That player is always me, because we just don't play them regularly enough for the mechanics to fully fade. They're worth the effort though.
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02 Apr 2016 09:51 - 02 Apr 2016 17:15 #225135 by Gary Sax
The Pax games are not games that one would think are great playing by themselves. The basic mechanic in Pax that works is that all the players are sitting at the table and not only can they affect other players with take that, or by messing with them, but they can actually manipulate the game state itself to their own advantage. So the messing with other people thing is pretty common, but the ability to change the game everyone is playing to, say, make it so the player with all the expensive property and huge army is at a DISadvantage is the brilliant part. You can strangle a table with the right tableau if you tank the economy into depression. If they're successfully playing city builder (loyalty), for example, you can put together your own win by plunging the table into depression and/or anarchy and just killing off your own cards and liberating their plantations.

I feel like I wrote this up on the site somewhere but maybe I'm just hallucinating.
Last edit: 02 Apr 2016 17:15 by Gary Sax.
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02 Apr 2016 10:33 #225139 by Legomancer
I haven't played a LOT of Pax Porf, but I just bought the Collector's Edition (which has a much better rulebook -- though it coudn't get much worse than the original). This is a game in which I think the theme, while carefully researched, overwhelms. It kind of obscures the gameplay, which is a fairly straightforward tableau builder. The card design and the amount of superfluous detail in the explanations make it seem far more complex than it is. If someone made a "themeless" version of the exact same game, I think it would be cake to teach and learn, but the game presents itself really opaquely.
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