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Vast: a Creativity Quest Review

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10 Jul 2017 00:12 #251054 by Matt Thrower

Dungeon crawling is the most overworked, over-produced genre in all board gaming. Even more so than impressive Renaissance nobles. It was a surprise, then, to find  one mentioned over and over when I cast about for the most innovative games around. What  could Vast: The Crystal Caverns possibly  do to revitalise the most moribund group of games at all? The answer came as quite a shock, because it's not only new for dungeon games but  for board games in general.  

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10 Jul 2017 08:03 #251055 by hotseatgames
Nice review! Does the game feel at all euro? When you win or lose, does it feel like it was because of something over which you had control?

Also, how long do you think it would take experienced people to play?

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10 Jul 2017 08:50 - 10 Jul 2017 08:51 #251058 by Matt Thrower

hotseatgames wrote: Nice review! Does the game feel at all euro? When you win or lose, does it feel like it was because of something over which you had control?

Also, how long do you think it would take experienced people to play?


Glad you enjoyed it: can't have done the best job, though, if there's questions to be asked.

It's a good mix of Euro and thematic sensibilities. Winning is often a matter of manipulating both the social and strategic aspects to "steal" a victory out of other players trying to peg you back.

Play time is enormously variable, depending on how many players and which roles you're using. Finger in the wind estimate is 30 minutes per player.
Last edit: 10 Jul 2017 08:51 by Matt Thrower.

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10 Jul 2017 09:01 #251059 by Legomancer
The different rules not only make it hard to teach, they make it hard to play. You have to emphasize that you also need to know everyone else's rules. In our game of it, no one except the Cavern player really understood how the Cavern player worked, so we were unprepared to prevent an easy victory for him. And it didn't seem like enough of us were impressed by it enough to then try again. It felt like a game designer's game, where the idea behind it is very clever but the gameplay itself was just confusing and kind of flat. We should probably give it another spin but the guy who has it hasn't been to the group in a while and no one's really been clamoring for it.
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10 Jul 2017 09:25 #251060 by charlest
Good work Matt.

I think there's elements of this game that are downright innovative, but after a few plays I came down somewhat harsh on it. It's difficult to teach every single damn time, people don't understand their roles and even when they have a solid grasp, if they switch roles next game they basically need to re-learn it. It's such a simple game that wants to move along quickly but it has accessibility problems oozing out every crevice in that cave.
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10 Jul 2017 09:52 - 10 Jul 2017 09:53 #251062 by Matt Thrower

Legomancer wrote: The different rules not only make it hard to teach, they make it hard to play.

charlest wrote: It's such a simple game that wants to move along quickly but it has accessibility problems oozing out every crevice in that cave.


Yeah, I had read all this before I went in, and I did find it very hard to learn myself. I had to watch videos of other people playing to understand it. Once I got the concept, though, I found it far less problematic than I expected. I taught it and played it with two groups, both of which had the swing of the entire game before the end of a single session and both of which wanted to play again.

It may be that I just got lucky. The reference sheets were key because they let you explain only a brief overview of each player's role and then they can read the details for themselves. And the downtime actually helps in this regard because it gives everyone space to read their sheets and to watch and understand what each player in turn is doing.
Last edit: 10 Jul 2017 09:53 by Matt Thrower.

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10 Jul 2017 09:57 #251063 by Gary Sax
Another casualty of the fact that people play their games once or twice with the same people. Then if it doesn't immediately stick, on to play something else.

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10 Jul 2017 12:08 #251066 by Legomancer

Gary Sax wrote: Another casualty of the fact that people play their games once or twice with the same people. Then if it doesn't immediately stick, on to play something else.


I have a lot of games I love and enjoy playing, and if something isn't fun right out the gate I have no problem tossing it aside. Maybe I'll miss out on the greatest game of this generation but that's okay.

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10 Jul 2017 14:20 #251069 by Gregarius
Coincidentally, I played this for the first time over the weekend. I was the only new player, but it still took us an exceedingly long time (because the others insisted on playing new roles, despite my pleas). I lost as the Cavern, due to not grasping the best strategy until too late combined with poor Omen draws. The Dragon won due to a cautious Knight and impotent Goblins. I tried to help the Knight on a few occasions, but I had to be careful not to help too much or I'd just hand him the victory instead of the Dragon. That aspect I liked; the rest, not so much. As Charles said, everyone needs to know 1) how their rules work, 2) what their best strategy is, and 3) the same things for everyone else.

This game had great potential, but they just blew it in the end.
-A dungeon crawl where each player has a unique motivation-- Great!
-And each player has their own victory condition-- Great!
-And each player's actions affects other players differently-- Great!
-And each player has a completely different set of rules-- wait, what?
-And none of the rules cross over from one character to the next-- huh?
-And some characters' rules will be really simple and quick, while others will be very complex and time-consuming-- just stop.

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10 Jul 2017 14:37 - 10 Jul 2017 14:37 #251071 by charlest
Yeah, I've noticed the biggest issues with the Goblins. People always get tripped up on how they work. I think the rules references fail because you really need part of the information out of the rulebook and part from your reference sheet. This doesn't work too well in practice.
Last edit: 10 Jul 2017 14:37 by charlest.

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10 Jul 2017 15:28 #251072 by hotseatgames
At Origins they were showing off a stand-alone expansion, something something Manor. I was going to try it out but never got around to it.

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