The Rondel finally gets the game it deserves.
Antike suffered from Petty Diplomacy. Both Antike and Imperial suffered from transitioning to the end game without a satisfying mid-game. To be fair, after two games it’s too early to tell if Navegador has those problems, but if it does they are much less pronounced that in the prior games. (Hamburgum? Never heard of it…). In fact, although I’ve always been excited to try Rondel games, after one play I’m usually willing to beg off the game again. But with Navegador, I played twice today.
To be sure, the second game (with three players) felt much more scripted. I’m not sure if that’s because I’d played before or if the two fewer players mattered. In any case, I’d be willing to give it a few more plays to make sure. Without going into details, here’s what I think is (much) improved …
- The endgame. Imperial was really the worst, when it was easy to just bounce A-B-A-B-A and end the game once you had a sufficient stockpile of cash. Once that happened, the game was too easy to look ahead on. This could sometimes happen 6-8 rounds before the endgame, in my first game. In Navegador, I saw the endgame trigger will happen 1-2 rounds ahead of time. So the search tree is interesting.
- The Henry the Navigator effectively gives a bonus action and passes in the opposite direction as turn order. Once you get it, you must use it (or lose it) within one circuit of the Rondel. This adds a hard-to-calculate effect that can affects timing in odd ways, but is still strictly deterministic. It may be that extra oomph. Imperial’s investor card didn’t quite do it.
- I think the indirect conflict of fighting for resources (colonies, buildings, money) and implicit collusion of the market mechanism (colonies versus factories, and turn order effects) are suit the rondel better than direct conflict (fighting or stock ownership).
- Let’s face it, my expectations are lower.
Anyway, a pleasant surprise.
In other news — Blood Bowl Team Manager is a minor hit. We’ll see if it lasts a second week. I do think the game is a touch too long for what it is, but hopefully the time will fall now that the rules are mainly known.