The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

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Memorial Day Gaming at Casa de Tao leads to two quick thoughts

Bios Megafauna — Played a few 2p “Tooth and Claw” (basic) games. Seems dominated by luck. You get 11 turns (assuming no early ending) but even in the basic (non-roller coaster) game, you can easily have your entire turn (or more) dominated by an event. For example, the TaoLing takes two mutations. Done! I take a mutation and populate. Random event causes two plus organs to degrade … which kills both of the TaoLings mutations (and mine). Two turns later a mutation roll at snake eyes kills two species. OK.

Now, High Frontier has some high variance rolls — (failure rolls), but ways to mitigate. And there’s a lot of legit planning in space mission. But getting 22 actions and having them helped or hindered by random events that do a lot more than the actions (sometimes)…. Well, it’s an experience game, you say. American Megafauna was too long, but the number of decisions seemed much higher. I do want to try the roller coaster game, perhaps so much more randomness (but with known dark heart limits, for example) makes it better.

One surprising thing — Once you know it the game goes fast. I mean, 45m for 2p seems reasonable. But teaching it (and learning) is a bear. I did really like the Heavy Cardboard walkthrough video, which I watched (the first half of) to check my rules after the first game and to pick up the roller coaster rules (roughly). If they have a video on Neanderthal and/or Greenland I’m likely to watch it.

Initial Rating — Still withholding judgement,probably in the “noble failure” subcategory for me. But I might play another half dozen times before deciding.

Tiny Towns — A clever shape tile / resource management game that I don’t love, but I appreciate that its not the same old thing (unless I’ve missed a trend on that). Only one game, but I’d play a few more times. (It seems that a relatively simple strategy of working from the corners to edges to center made it relatively easy (spatially) to avoid blocking yourself, but maybe I just got lucky. The fact that there’s a solitaire game is of interested, but is likely to puzzley and not gamey enough for me.

Also played this weekend — Bohnanza, Eclipse, Code 777, Res Arcana (may write more about that in a week or two), Sentinels of the Multiverse, Fairy Tale

Tomorrow is an extended edition of the normal monday game day, so perhaps there will be more new games…

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Written by taogaming

May 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm

…. but the second mouse gets the cheese

At some point around the turn of the millennium (I think) I read about independent designers who would make a game about their hobby — the example being dog shows — and build a game that had a bunch of interesting stuff if you were into that hobby, and had a bunch of game mechanisms straight out of monopoly, etc. Then they’d print 5000 copies and find no buyers in the game market (‘natch) and that the hobbyists would just prefer to do their hobby instead of play a mediocre game about it.

And I also remember reading about WWII playing card that had airplane types (or tanks) to teach troops how to ID them while they were playing cards. More recently, I believe the U.S. makes terrorist watch list playing cards.

Which leads me to Wingspan. This game looks like something made lovingly by the Audubon society. I’m not bird-er, but the artwork is lovely and I assume accurate. If I wanted to be able to identify birds by sight, wingspan, etc, simply a must buy game.

But — I do not.

Still, Stonemaier games is not a novice company. I haven’t loved any of their prior entries to the market, but they seem solid enough.

And that’s where I’m left with Wingspan. You have twenty-six actions over four scoring rounds to either

  1. “Buy” birds from your hand (which cost food and maybe eggs)
  2. Get food
  3. Get eggs
  4. Get cards for more birds

Birds are (again, I assume accurately) assigned a rough range, where they take slots in the food/egg/cards rows, and get cool actions that may trigger when played, when you take the action in the range you place them, or when your opponents do things. They also have a nest type and max egg count. But basically this is a resource management game where you have hundreds of different birds that may appear, you hope to “buy” 10-15 of them and score the most points. Which range you place the bird in improves your action in that type (#2-#4 above) but additional birds in each row cost eggs. Paid from different birds (?).

So, at it’s heart an action efficiency game, but with only a very small subset of possible birds appearing. There’s also bonus points available at the end of each round (determined by the setup) and objective cards that you get at the start of the game (before you have more than a few birds) or drawn during the game (when you can’t really change tacks).  Some birds give you a “Draw two keep one” of bonus cards, which are usually just a few points but could in theory be huge.

Nothing wrong with any of it (although I did actively dislike the cutesy birdhouse dice tower, because you can’t drop the dice in from the top) but nothing that attracted me.

Indifferent

 

Written by taogaming

March 4, 2019 at 7:56 pm

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Gloomhaven

Legacy games have not — to date — enticed me. I’m a fan of repeated plays, less so of commitment.

Playing the same game with the same group a dozen (plus) times doesn’t appeal. I can’t commit. No group I have is that solid, willing to dedicate the time. And unless I’m on an obsessive new-game tear (which happens) I prefer to play a game at decent intervals. But I do have one group where it’s convenient to leave a game setup (or approximately). And If I was going to play any legacy game with the TaoLing, Gloomhaven would be the one. BGG rankings are not the be-all-end-all, but earning a number #1 slot can’t be a bad sign.

So I bought it when it showed up at my local FLGS.

A long-weekend seemed time to break it out, so a review. I’m late to the game, so I suspect anyone interested has already played and formed an opinion, but here goes.

The TaoLing and I have started a campaign — we’ve nearly a dozen got a half-dozen scenarios in but (as of yet) have not retired a character, so we’re just using four of the starting six characters. (We’re each playing two, although the game works with two characters. It feels right to have a party of four).

Components — It’s a good thing I save empty game boxes for expansions….Because despite Gloomhaven‘s huge box I’m not going to try to pack it back up. So hello, Mare Nostrum Mythology box, you hold terrain. Sentinels Tactics expansion Box? You hold bagged monsters. CCG 9 count card sleeves to order the monster order cards, small bit trays for effects bits, a 50-count CCG card to hold an individual character’s deck (for the 4 active characters). Even with all this stuff I made a trip to the container store (which I haven’t done in years) to get more stuff.

I paid full retail, but frankly even at $140 I have zero complaints. That box is full.

Rules — I’d heard a little about Gloomhaven, but forgotten that the rules are surprisingly good. Each character starts with 8-12 (ish) ability cards. On your turn you pick two. Each card has an initiative number, typically an attack ability in the top half and a move ability in the bottom half (although some reverse this and some cards have special abilities). You ‘lead’ with one of your cards (to get initiative) but when its your turn to go you can pick which card is used for move and which is for attack (and in which order). If the ability you had planned to use is no longer possible (or desirable) you can always fall back on move 2 / attack 2.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of combinatorics. 8 cards give you 28 options, and each of them has 8 options on how you play them (not to mention ordering, so, 16). Each character is shockingly different in a handful of cards. Many of the cards are simple stuff, move, fit, but with a large but manageable amount of chrome rules (typical D&D stuff, shields, armor piercing, ranged attacks).

On your turn you can also rest and take back all your cards except one that you choose to lose. (You also get to heal a bit and reset items). You can do a fast rest and not waste a turn, but you don’t get any healing or resetting and the card lost is random (if you don’t like it, lose a health and pick a different one).

So this naturally places a timer and urgency. Each turn you have to play two cards or rest. If you full rest you are a sitting duck. Fast rest and you may lose a card you like or wound. Your deck dwindles (slowly at first) but with greater speed. If you don’t have two cards (and can’t rest, which requires 2+ cards in the discard) you are exhausted and out of the scenario (hopefully your party can win without you).

Tension galore.

For attacks you draw a card from your deck which mostly ranges from -2 to +2 (bell curve) but also with a “miss” and “double” (which trigger a reshuffle). The monsters have their own deck (defender never draws). Being a player character, you can also choose to ignore the loss of hit points from any attack by losing a card from your hand (or two from your discards).

The monsters have a card that tells you their base stats, bonuses, and a small deck of cards you draw from (after the players have set their hands) that tells the monster’s AI. We’ve been playing with the ethos of secrecy and discovery that RPGs (and legacy games) have, so we don’t look carefully at the monsters (or layout of the unrevealed rooms) until they show and one effect of this is that you may fight some creature for many turns and then draw their AI card and have it do something surprising. “Wait, the fish have harpoon guns! Aiie! Charge!” (A made up example). Each ‘monster’ has a deck of 8 cards with 1-2 triggering a reshuffle, so you may not see all the tactics a monster can do in one combat. And even some of the basic typical monsters have pulled some rule-surprising but thematically-appropriate cards. Again, the system is great. The Boss monster card just has a few “Special 1” and “Special 2” cards, and they just refer you to the scenario. It does feel like anything can happen.

Impressive for a game with 20-30 pages of easy to read rules.

The game does have some ambiguous (and easy to miss) rules, and typically we just handwave and look it up later.  Gloomhaven doesn’t appear to suffer for it, but there are something like 4 thousand rules threads on BGG.

Leveling up provides a few additional cards, and you can choose one to be available. But before each scenario you still have to decide which 8-12 to use. You don’t actually increase the number of ability cards you can play with! The monster and traps get harder as you level up (and the # of enemies scales with number of players, so it could play with 2 or 3 well, I imagine. (It would be faster, but for legacy games is that a bonus?) Much like Magic Realm you can actually improve quite a bit more by just getting items. The starting ones are solid, but better things will unlock (I hope).

Theme — A fantasy D&D-esque adventure game in a box. Gloomhaven spends most of its time in D&D combat time, but the campaign is by no means a throw away. Before your scenario you have a random encounter with an A/B choice. It’s fast, takes almost no time to resolve, and adds greatly to the feel. You may save a puppy, or insult a merchant. Each result may give you a small perk or penalty in the next scenario (or possibly further down the line, because some decisions add other card(s) to the deck). Your parties may have reputation go up or go down, and in the campaign you can find scenarios closed off by your choices you make in the scenario order and the achievements you’ve made. Even after just a few games we’ve already had a choice to attack either scenario A or B, and the other choice is closed forever. (Unless we run another campaign or go back to just try it later).

While the scenarios have been pretty much “Kill and loot” we’ve had variety and a grab and run has shown up.

Gloomhaven is a cooperative game, but it captures the semi-antagonistic feel of some parties. Before each battle each character picks from one of two random “objective” cards. Fulfill it, and you get 1 or 2 checkmarks. Every three is a perk, which lets you improve your combat deck a little bit. (You also gain perks by leveling up).  These perks remind my of my Shadows over Camelot variant, and you may have people doing anti-party actions to try and get some checkmarks. You get experience based on your cards, not for killing stuff, so players may also do stuff to try and squeak out a few more XP. And loot and gold cannot be traded, so there’s a race for that. So, it’s sometimes “quote cooperative unquote.”

Also, each character has a secret objective until they retire. Retiring lets you start a new character (potentially of a new unlocked class) and you get a bonus perk for having retired somebody. Frankly that feels more like how RPGs should be played than they are.

So while the theme is a formula, I think the rules do it justice. And I must admit there’s something pleasant about slowly building up the map (which has zero effect in the game that can’t just be tracked on a sheet of paper).

Balance feels good — I’ve seen comments that it wasn’t tense, but while we’ve won most of the scenarios we’ve played (not all!) they haven’t all been cakewalks. Our 3rd scenario saw three of the four characters exhausted and the last make his final possible combat draw for the win. Maybe we aren’t squeezing every advantage out of our characters (quite possible, as part of the discovery process), but if you do you can always increase the difficult (Add one to the scenario level) or lower it if you choose.

Overall Impressions –I wasn’t afraid (buying this) that the TaoLing would hate it. My big fear is that he’d love it and I would be instantly ‘meh’ on it and staring down the gun of another 20 sessions. (As parental responsibilities go, gaming isn’t onerous, but I may as well play games I like). And maybe I should have lobbied harder for one character each (the game box lists 30 min/player and while the number may vary that’s basically right). But I’m happy with it. I’m not playing it over and over to study its depths (like I often do), and it doesn’t have the quality where I think about it in my spare moments, trying to discover secrets. Gloomhaven has oodles to discover, but it can’t be really thought about ahead of time. (Until I open the box, I just can’t know what’s in Envelope A).

I can think about how to best play the Wizard, which 8 cards to pick and which combos to rely on. Which potions to buy. But I don’t think about that when I’m not playing. I’m not going to write about its strategy.

But Gloomhaven is good enough that I’m looking forward to finishing the campaign with my son (and not dreading it). It may be good enough that I’d play it as a single session game to just discover one of the scenarios we got locked out of in our campaign. I don’t know. But for the near future it will be sitting on our dining room table (and in several boxes and containers scattered around). And depending on just how long it takes us to win (or for the TaoLing to decide he’s bored of it), it might even hit fifty plays. I’ve been waiting for the day when my son stops suggesting that we play a game (like my daughter did a while ago, although she still pulls out Can’t Stop from time to time).

I’m not going to turn down a game with the TaoLing. The fact that I enjoy it? Bonus.

This is not my favorite game by a long shot, but enjoying something outside my wheelhouse as much as I do means I grok its ranking.

RatingSuggest.

Update — Often, If I play an older game that takes two hours a half-dozen times in a month, that puts me in the top few (if not the top) for the leaderboard for “plays for this month.” If I doubled my plays I wouldn’t crack the top ten for Feb! I had not realized just how popular this is. Also, I bookmarked the Gloomhaven FAQ.

Further Update — The ability to leave the game set out is valuable. Just mechanically laying out a scenario with most from the prior one takes 10-20 minutes. We’ve organized enough things that it’s 10, but that includes literally putting the monster action cards in a notebook (sorted alphabetically), and practically everything except maps sorted (and I want to sort them). Tear down is 10 minutes. If I had to box/unbox each time, double everything. After that you have some fun ‘setup’ time, as you do your random events, decide what cards to play and then how to spend gold, level up, etc.  My rating is at least a point higher because it just will live on the spare table until we have guests over. Also added a missing paragraph (detailing the rest mechanism and tennsion) and some mild edits.

Written by taogaming

February 17, 2019 at 7:48 pm

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Shards of Infinity — Relics of Future Past

I’m not in the pure “Expansions are usually bad” camp, but this expansion appears to be bad.

  1. Many new cards are cantrips that may do nothing or have a decent effect. As cantrips, they are usually OK to purchase, But the sheer number of them (30 odd) dilutes the great cards and now a player getting an early banisher (etc) just wins. (A cantrip to play is not a cantrip to buy, after all). Purchase fear (“What if I buy an OK card and a great card appears for my opponent to buy”) goes way up.
  2. There are new cards that key off which hero you have. (“X, but Super-X if you are <some guy>.”) Which just benefits that guy. Again, totally random. Ooh, I got two of my cards out and the opponent got none. Even if he bought my two cards, he likely did that as denial.
  3. The really good idea is that each player has two champions. When you get to 10 mastery (or any time after that) you can recruit one of them into your discard pile, and the other is gone forever. Fun, not-random, gives the race to 10 more meaning. And the champions are powerful.

Overall this expansion is an (anti-)testament to Tom Lehmann’s concerns about variability and deck dilution in card games. I’m giving it a few more plays before I pull the new cards and just try with the champions.

Initial Rating — Bleargh.

Written by taogaming

February 2, 2019 at 8:21 pm

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SpaceCorp review

I have now played a dozen games of SpaceCorp (one with four, four of them two-player with the TaoLing, the rest solitaire). In so doing, I have corrected a few rules mistakes I was making.

Any game I play that often isn’t a dog.

Game length isn’t as horrific as I’d thought. Multiplayer sets up & plays faster than the solitaire (if everyone knows it, assuming every is the same speed). You also go through the deck faster, that helps.

Another excellent point in SpaceCorp’s favor is that each number plays truly different. With four players you will be fighting to get six upgrade cards. With two players, getting ten is easy (a function of only seeing half as much of the deck). The contracts do scale based on number of players, but not as much. So again with a single player (or two) you often see five or six contracts finished each era, with four maybe only two or three get done.

The main downside? I stand behind my earlier criticism — the powerful ‘edge’ card feel too good. You make some easy decisions and some tough ones, certainly enough to keep my interest for 20 hours, but after that it’s basically “Oh, he played Great Card X and Great Card Y and got it.” I mean, you have a deck where ~60 cards are “Big points for one action” or “OK points for either of two actions” and some can be played once or you can take a turn to put them into your headquarters to re-use them again and again.  One action a turn. All good so far.

And then ~10 cards are “Points for one action OR Do this good thing and it doesn’t cost an action!

Some examples:

  1. Take an extra turn
  2. When someone else takes the first breakthrough (a card that lets you modify the rules or get a bonus), grab the other one of that name. (Earning a breakthrough requires three revelation points … cards with revelation points typically give one, but you can also earn a few on the board).
  3. Take all the cards a player used on his turn. In the late game, that can be a few great cards (like revelation) or 5+ cards to make a major build/move.
  4. When someone produces, just earn half of what they did, for free. (A big produce can be ~$10. I pulled off $18 in a solitaire game.  Players can earn $200 total, give or take. Much depends on how many contracts are awarded in the final era and how effectively the “produce” action is used).
  5. Name an action, nobody else can take it until your next turn.

In our last two-player game, I used the extra turn and the “Stop an action” to swing a $9 contract. I got into a position to claim the “sixteen points wroth of colonies” contract for $9, then blocked the TaoLing’s colony action, which would have put him over. I won $75-$74(ish). If I don’t have that card I’m losing $83-64. If the TaoLing draws it and can swing even $3 his way, that’s $86-$61. I also need the extra turn card, so I got pretty luck to draw them both. (Our three prior games were all runaways).

To be sure, there’s strategy on maximizing card flow and when to research (to draw cards), all of which may mitigate my criticism. And if you play poorly no card luck will save you. It’s in the nature of games with cards that among even-ish players luck decides. Some breakthroughs that help control card and tile luck. If a group thinks card/tile luck dominates, they’ll value those higher.  I just wish there were small granules of card luck. (To be fair, there are. You may random draw a “build” card right when you need it). Let’s just say the edges are a grain of sand that are irritating me.

The multiplayer game does contain the “claim-jumping” angles I had hoped for (in my last article). You may send a team to an opponents (unexplored) site, hoping that if they explore you build. This is a high-risk strategy (if they can take two turns in a row or block your build, you’ve wasted your time and will likely have to let them earn an additional card when you leave the site), but even in a two player game it’s an interesting choice. In a 3 and 4 player game I think it may be symbiotic. (I explore, get rewards, you claim jump me, I earn $2 compensation. I use your site to leave, you earn a card compensation).

And — of course — the multiplayer game is more interesting because (even assuming you card count) you don’t know what exactly your opponent can do. Do you need to jump to the Oort cloud this turn to get the “1st Beyond” marker, or do you have time to complete a contract first? You can also use your opponent’s headquarters (infrastructure cards) to give them a card draw, but if you save actions not building up your infrastructure, that can be a good deal. Time is valuable. Final scores seem to average around $100 (our last game was low scoring compared to early games), but you can spend money (in the second two eras) to boost effects, or for radiation shielding. Knowing when to spend $1-5 is a valuable skill.

There’s enough to hold interest; I’m disappointed because I hoped for more. I’m left with a decent game that I feel has too much luck for what it is. I think you need the “extra turn” or “block some actions” because otherwise you can plot out the timing due to an Igo-Ugo lockstep. The multiplayer game does help with the Time Card. You can either double the values of your move/explore/build, or you can use the value twice (for two different teams). It would have been nice if there were more ways to explode with extra actions that were another resource you built up, instead of just a few cards that give the action. Deciding when (and how) to spend your time card is a critical decision. In the three or four player game there are also some “time” cards (a mechanism I enjoy) shuffled into the deck, whereas with two players you only get the one you start with each era.

I’ll take it, overall. Our games are under 2 hours (instead of three) which helps greatly. There are enough edge cards that with a “fair-ish” distribution there’s room for skill to matter.  I am looking forward to more three and four player games. I’ll get another dozen games or so out of this, at least (probably not at the breakneck pace).

Rating — Suggest

Solitaire Rating — Suggest

Written by taogaming

December 18, 2018 at 7:31 pm

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Very rough thoughts on SpaceCorp

This is based on two solo plays (with some rules wrong, tainting my victories) and one two player game vs the TaoLing.

This is a race game. You do build an engine, but you are racing for contracts (“First to do X get $y”), and upgrades (“Adaptations and Breakthroughs”), which let you break rules (and earn some $ if you get them first). The board is just the focus. I must admit I was hoping for a more interesting free form game (ala … well, I’m not sure what … ) but you just spend cards for values (move, build, explore, rarely produce, genetics, etc) and sometimes you put the card on your HQ to re-use it (and — in multiplayer — let others use it, with you getting a reward). The mechanics are dead simple, but there is a fair chunk of variety. For example, when you build, do you want a spaceport to make movement cheaper, a refinery to maybe earn some money, a research to grab a card, etc.

There’s always a tendency to be emotionally attached in a new game. It’s new, and I spent money (and P500’ed it). And I want to play it a few more times right away, but my suspicion is indifferent (maybe Indifferent-plus) as a multiplayer game, but playable solitaire (once I fix rules). It’s too long. 2.5h solo and 3-ish 2 player. I suspect each player adds 30minutes. And fixed fun applies.

Worse, after all that you may find “Oh, hey, he drew three great planets that provide a discount for a big VP colony and I drew three mediocre ones.” Worse yet, one tile (an alien race) kicks you out, after you spent one turn going to a system and 3 turns waiting to get there. (Adaptations and Breakthroughs can mitigate, but one of the mitigating ones is arguably the best multi-player adaptation in the game, so if you get shut out of that, you are extra boned if you get them). And to be fair, there’s a stack of aliens and only 2(?) tiles that say “Draw an alien.”

None of which is a deal breaker, but at the 3 hour mark … it’s annoying. This gets back to my “I’m not sure what this wants to be.”

SpaceCorp is long enough to be an experience game, but its not, really. It’s a race game, but for the most part there’s no fluidity to the initiative. I go, you go, (he goes, she goes). Actually, in thinking about it, I suspect there’s some fluidity because if you go to X adn then I go to X, if you explore I can claim jump. (You get $2 for your troubles). So I’m hoping to be proven wrong on this. But if we’re not in a position to claim jump, if you are one step ahead in the base building process, there’s nothing I can do to catch up.

Except for — you know — the “Take an extra turn card,” or the “Name an action, nobody can take that until the start of your next turn.” And again, do I want a 3h game decided on a few take that cards?

  • I generally like the components, but the colony’s “# of players” markers are small enough even the TaoLing had trouble reading them. There is a key on the back of the rule book, but it’s annoying. There are two rule books, one for solitaire and one for MP, so if you only play one way, that’s great.
  • The rules are mostly there, but not as clear in some edge cases and vague wordings abound. Some of the rules I missed are fairly subtle, and having two distinct rulebooks threw me (since I was worried they varied more between MP and solitaire).
  • At least in the 1-2 player game, some of the contracts (“First person to do this gets $x”) seem nigh impossible. Like “Hey, get 4 asteroids” in the Planeteer (2nd) era.
  • It’s always rough to talk “broken” after a single play, but I was shocked at how good one adaptation was (that wasn’t used in solo game). But we’ll see.
  • This game cries out for an app that handles the AI card deck. That would shave 20 minutes off the solitaire game (not flipping the cards, but having to build the deck for each phase and then tear it down is 5+ minutes an era).
  • The solitaire AI is reasonable. Most cards list a place and the AI moves a team there. If it hits again they grab it, but they also cycle your deck and earn points for what you leave lying around in the draw offer. And there are a few variants (using the backs of the cards that you pull from the game).
  • Even in the solitaire game, there are a few key cards. If the AI gets a “Two turns in a row card” or you do. The “Leak” card in solo basically steals a breakthrough from the AI. Getting that early (versus late) is huge.
  • Once people know the game, I think player the 2nd and 3rd era only will be fairly popular.

I suspect I’ll still play this 5+ times over the holidays. Plenty of time for that, after all, so I’ll get my value. And hopefully the game will reveal more depths.

Written by taogaming

December 13, 2018 at 11:09 pm

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Root

I’m selective-ish when purchasing games now. It’s not the money, simply a matter of taste. In some ways I’m railing against the cult of the new. But I kept hearing good things about Root. And …. Cole Wehrle designed John Company (which I love, but haven’t gotten to play since the Gathering). While I haven’t played Pax Pamir, it certainly sounds good.

Root started making waves. I noticed.

I noticed some geekbuddies recommending. I noticed Sumo’s review.

I noticed that the rules included a “Birdsong” phase, and thought “Huh, the only game — practically the only non-Birding item ever — to use that word is Magic Realm” (something I’ve written a few words about). Reading Cole’s designer diaries, he referenced Magic Realm (in much the same way I did) and kept name-dropping other favorites of Tao — Netrunner, Titan, Eklund’s work, others. But he’d also drop in references to Foucaltian Biopolitics, The Whig Interpretation of History, the COIN system, and others. Some I knew; others were rabbit holes I’d disappear into. As I said, interesting.

And at that point, I decided that if there was any single idea capable of making me take up podcasting, it would be interviewing Cole Wehrle. (I’m not saying that’s enough, just that it currently laps the field).

While reading this TaoLing glanced over my shoulder, saw I was reading about a game (in theory) and said we should buy it. So — I sent out a little birdy to his friend’s doghouse and got a copy.

It did not disappoint.

Most of my plays of Root have been two player, which is … odd. After all, this is a multi-faction asymmetric game that relies on some amount of “balance via player.” The two player game is an excellent learning tool, but suffers from snowballing due to positive feedback. And does not help that I am apparently very bad at this. But even the 2 player game had hints that reminded me of Labyrinth (which is the closest I’ve come to GMT’s COIN system). The woods of Root could be Viet Nam or Afghanistan. The factions are birds, cats, woodfolk, but could also be monarchists, narcotraficantes, or what have you.

The woods feel alive.

I stilll haven’t played enough multiplayer (3+) to really get a feel of the game. At two players it feels like a runaway often. But I’m hoping to get to know this more.

Written by taogaming

December 8, 2018 at 11:41 am

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