The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Poor Impulse Control

I tried Impulse, the new game by Carl “Glory to Rome’ Chudyk.

It’s clever. It’s got a some G2R “Cards do different things in different places.” It’s got a stone-dead-brilliant idea.

Each turn You play a card to the impulse track. Then a player does the cards on the track, in order (and discards the oldest card, if there are more than four). This does a few things, you want to put down an action that you can use, but that others can’t use well either because they are not set up, or because the prerequisite will age off the board. (It also nicely means that the first player only gets one action, the second gets two, etc, so it’s a balancing mechanism). And combat also relies on matching cards (color + #) with the cards in the impulse, so you can set up a turn where you are great for combat, but next time it comes to you, your hand is useless for fighting. Great.

But you can also chuck actions to your ‘technologies’ (you get to use one tech a turn), or ‘minerals’ (which, like G2R’s clients, let you boost some actions) or ‘plan’ (where you can spend all the plan cards in one turn). And if you move your transports you get the action of where you land. So a I had a turn or two where I had six actions. 9 isn’t hard (with a plan). So, you build up, you build up, and then someone does this “move/action/4 impulse actions/blow up my plan for X more actions and that scores me 12 points, I win.” (2o points is game).

Now, it’s too early to tell if that’s a problem or not. Race, G2R, and Impulse are all games where you spend your first few times just trying to grok the rules, then you stare at your position, and at some point you look around and go “Oh, yeah, they have a plan too.” Impulse may be genius.

Or it may not be.  There are something like 8 action types and we never had a research card used for an action, and barely any plan, execute or trades. You do start with ~5 cards, and when you explore a system you pick up that card, add it to your hand, and then put the card of your choice down. (Actions on the map can be used any time you move a ship onto them). So the (small) board means each game is different. Was our game typical? I had a hand with 4 builds at the starts. Seems unlikely.

Rating — Who knows? I’ll play it a few more times. But I think that there’s a brilliant, play-it-a-hundred-times game using these mechanisms. I just don’t get the feeling this is it.



Written by taogaming

July 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Ramblings

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  1. Have you played Innovation, by the same designer, and how does it compare to that?

    Eugene Hung

    July 21, 2014 at 10:16 pm

  2. The color distribution on the cards is (almost) flat, but the action distribution isn’t. It’s weighted heavily towards Command cards, then Build, Mijne, Research, Trade, Draw, Plan, Execute, Refine, Sabotage in that order.

    I’m not sure I like it better than Innovation. It’s almost without question a better 3+ player game than Innovation (not that that’s hard), but I haven’t gotten near enough plays of Impulse in to make finer distinctions. It’s primarily similar to Innovation with the first expansion, where you can create chains of cascading actions. However I think it is easier to see each player’s potential at any point, and there are fewer opportunities for luck of the draw actions that can swing the game (although when they do happen it can be just as situation altering).


    July 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    • Do you mean it’s easier to see “each player’s potential” in Innovation, or Impulse?


      July 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      • Definitely Impulse. In Innovation a card in hand can have a greater variety of impacts (and hence unpredictability) then the relatively narrow 10 actions in Impulse.


        July 23, 2014 at 8:48 am

  3. […] second game of Impulse and I’m beginning to […]

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