The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Innovation Revisited

To update my status on Innovation. Now that the game is out, there are several local copies and whenever a game appears, I find myself scanning the other tables searching for options. To be sure, having newer games is always an option, but I’m not convinced you have any meaningful control. Who knows, perhaps I was just intrigued by playing the game before everyone else and now that the masses have it, they are all just bandwagon posers. Or I’m a hateful cynic. Innovation now joins Amun-Re as my go-to example for a title I can’t decide if I like or hate or am indifferent towards. Um, congratulations!


Written by taogaming

October 17, 2010 at 10:39 am

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with

18 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Would it matter if you learned that a skilled player could beat you 75% of the time? Would that make you like it more? or less?

    Eric Brosius

    October 17, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    • It would make me respect the game more. I’m not sure I’d play it any more. If “Skilled player” takes 25+ plays, I’m not signing up for that journey. Race has skilled players, but I enjoyed my first few games, then my next few, etc, so the path was easy.

      But, while I’ve seen people making the claim that skillful play matters in Innovation, I’ve seen no evidence in the first ten games by myself, or in games I’ve been near. Even among insanely complicated games (like Go) you can often point to what you did wrong after the fact, or focus on some skill to work on.

      “He won because he did X and Y” or “I lost this fight/exchange, so lost” is typical after many games. For Innovation, nobody can point to what they did wrong. If people can’t understand their mistakes, they aren’t likely to improve quickly or enjoy it.


      October 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  2. Even with all its chaos, i find the game strangely alluring. Bringing it tomorrow for game night .


    October 17, 2010 at 5:46 pm

  3. Innovation left me with this weird unfulfilled desire for a relatively quick civilization-building card game which A) launched me into a week of playing Keldon’s Race for the Galaxy AI every available moment, and B) caused me go track down a copy of Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation in a BGG math trade (Uruk is in the mail as we speak… just had to give up my once-played Wings of War).


    October 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    • It’s probably the copy I traded away 6 months ago, twice removed.


      October 17, 2010 at 9:02 pm

      • That good, huh?


        October 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    • No such luck. My copy was new in shrink.


      October 22, 2010 at 1:31 am

  4. Yeah, I’m with Brain on this. I don’t exactly dread it, but I’m looking for other options. Including Race and Glory to Rome, which I don’t play enough.

    Jon W

    October 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

  5. Interesting. I assume you all know that Innovation and Glory to Rome were designed by the same person.


    October 19, 2010 at 11:54 am

    • Yes, but Glory to Rome has Opaque mechanics and a relatively obvious strategy/tactics. Innovation reverses that, to its detriment.


      October 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm

      • It seems to me that straightforward mechanics and opaque strategy seems like a good thing. Games with straightforward strategy tend to get played out pretty quickly.


        October 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

  6. I don’t think you’re a hateful cynic, just a Grumpy Old Gamer. (I give you permission to rename your blog to this, no royalties attached)

    The strange thing is that Brian really likes GTR and RfTG – I’m not quite sure where the indifference to Innovation is coming from.


    October 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

  7. A few thoughts:

    4 player isn’t that good. Partnerships is ok, but it isn’t nearly as good as 2 or 3 player.

    It has a bit of the Roma effect, where a good number of games will be unbalanced and someone will win in 15-20 minutes with little you can do. It is a longer than Roma though, so slightly less forgivable.

    I can point to mistakes I’ve made, particularly with pacing. It’s important if someone jumps to an early lead to try to slow things down as much as you can so they can’t get to the higher achievements, even if you have to make less powerful plays for a while.


    October 20, 2010 at 11:21 am

  8. Re: JeffG

    It depends on why it’s opaque. If planning is somewhat effective, but overwhelmed by randomness, then there’s not much obvious feedback. At a novice level, Bridge Chess and Go all have obvious simple (but incorrect/incomplete) strategies. As you get better, deeper strategies are revealed. The earlier strategies aren’t opaque, but there’s lots of fine print in a language you can’t read yet.

    Putting a blurring filter over it (to continue with the optic theme) doesn’t improve the game.


    October 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    • Oops, I replied in a new thread, sorry.

      Doug Orleans

      October 21, 2010 at 11:34 am

    • Too much randomness can be an issue, though it works to make some games accessible. Look what it’s done for Poker. I wouldn’t call too much randomness “opaque;” to me, “opaque” means “can’t easily be seen.” That is, to the beginner, there appears to be no strategy. That seems about right as a term for Bridge or Go. (Chess beginner strategy seems far more obvious: move forward, control the center, get your pawns promoted, protect your king, etc.) You’d be amazed at how baffling Bridge and Go are to rank beginners. Many of them not only have no idea what they are trying to accomplish, but no idea what to do first. That’s one of Bridge’s biggest weaknesses. Fortunately, one hour’s study will overcome that hurdle. It’s pretty interesting that many gamers will happily listen for an hour to the rules for a new game, but wouldn’t consider reading a short book or taking a class for an hour to learn Bridge.


      October 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

  9. I think there are some obvious simple strategies in Innovation, e.g. draw until you get cards that let you score, and then score until you can achieve. It’s true that Innovation is much more tactical and situational than RFTG and GTR, so much so that I don’t think it’s really fair to put them in the same category. But, experience and skill still play an important role in success on average.

    Doug Orleans

    October 21, 2010 at 11:34 am

    • Personally, I think Go’s draw is that (up to a point) the more you study it the more opaque it seems. When I was a rank beginner, the strategy was “Win the fight.” Which didn’t work out well strategically, but it provides motivation.

      Contra Doug, Innovations basic strategies (“Draw! Score! Meld!”) seem to work well or not based on things outside your control. As compared to Go, I can’t point to why I win or lose a fight.

      People don’t dislike randomness (Poker is a good example), but people in the mood for Chess dislike Poker and vice versa. I don’t know where I got the idea that Innovation was a strategic game, but I keep thinking it should be closer to chess than poker.

      Perhaps part of the problem is that unlike G2R or Race, the “15 draw 2 play 1” feels less fluid than “110 draw 6 keep 4” from 110, so I feel like I’m at the mercy of the early deck.

      And honestly, any heavy card game in the 30-45 minute is fighting for game play space against many of my favorite games.


      October 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: