The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘Hunting Party

More thoughts on Hunting Party

In addition to the games mentioned, I also played more Jambo and Bang!

I also played Hunting Party again, and I think I’m done. The reasons were pretty much what I thought they’d be. There’s a lot to remember (character abilities and items), constant “What does that do”. The randomness (which characters come out when) seems high. (One character didn’t do much except provide discounts to 4 other characters … two of which showed up over the next two turns). And the clue-like mechanism (where you figure out the skill combinations you need to fight the bad guy) just seems fragile. On my second hunt I correctly (and purely by accident) picked 2 out of the 3 skills correctly (and I had deliberately picked one wrong!) Suddenly I had a 50/50 shot of finding him, but needed two more characters to defeat him. An opponent bagged him a turn or two later.

Granted, this keeps things moving, but that makes half of the games where I unintentionally revealed larges swaths of information. Maybe I’ve been luck’s plaything, but …

It’s too bad, because I like the designer and hope he does well (he’s local), but Hunting Party isn’t to my tastes.

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Written by taogaming

February 14, 2006 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Session Reports

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Some games played

Hey, a session report! Got in some games yesterday and today. In addition to Shadowfist, I played several games of Pickomino (aka Heckmeck).
With two or three players, it’s a fine filler. 15-20 minutes, a few decisions, lots of luck. Great for when people are due to arrive. I played a 3 player game of Hunting Party, my opinion hasn’t changed much. I do think that there is a lot going on and for a simple game it rewards study for those so inclined; but you can play it as a lark and it’s fine for that, too. It should be out by BGG Con.

Finally, I played China (the Web of Power remake) twice. What a great game. I think that I like the changes from Web of Power (only scoring houses once, instead of during each scoring) but I could go back to the old way. The “Fortress” optional rule is nice. And a double sided board, to help change how easy it is to connect based on number of players, all reasonable improvements. A game I can play multiple times in a session, and did. I’ve probably gotten 20 plays in by now).

Written by taogaming

October 6, 2005 at 12:18 am

Hunting Party Preview

A few days ago, I got to play Hunting Party, the first game by Seaborn Games [Warning — Requires oodles of bandwidth]. As of this writing, I’m the only person on the geek who has logged a game (because it wasn’t listed until a few days ago, not that others haven’t played).

I played with a designer, we played a 2 player game. Using a playtest (pre-production) copy. I only saw some of the characters / items in my game. Enough caveats.

Hunting Party follows in the epic “Get a group together and hunt down the big bad” fantasy theme. Bluntly, I’m tired of this theme, and consider it a weakness. That being said, the mechanics interested me.

There are thirty six characters, and each of them have several skills (I think they each have two, see the caveats). Each character also has two abilities — minor and major. During the game, each player is one character (getting the major ability) and can recruit other characters. To recruit a character, you offer them ‘shares’, which are exactly what you think. The king has put a bounty on the big bad evil. You start with 8 shares (on your character) but you offer shares to the other characters to recruit them. Whenever you kill something, the money gets split appropriately. So if you still have two shares, your paladin has three, and three other characters have one each, you get 1/4 of the reward money offered.

One action you can take during a turn is to go to where other characters hang out (including a tavern, natch). The top character is flipped up and auctioned (using shares). The auction is once-around, and the active player can decide to go first or last. Both have advantages.

Apart from being limited (you only have eight shares to offer), shares are valuable because defeating the big bad doesn’t win the game, it just ends it! Whoever has the most money wins. In practice, this will be the same person almost all of the time.

So, to summarize the basic idea in terms of other games (never fair, but useful) — Imagine Cosmic Encounter where you started with a power and then auctioned other powers through the course of the game. Heady stuff.

As mentioned, each character has abilities. They may also have feuds — the Necromancer and the Priest bicker. The game represents this via “Hatreds” and if you get a character that hates others already in the party (or vice versa?) you have to pay them extra (beyond your bid). Apart from skills characters have abilities that break (or add onto) the rules.

So, one turn is recruiting. Another turn is gong to market, which has three stacks of items. You draw the top card from each stack and have the option to purchase them (for 1 gold each). In addition to abilities, all characters have a signature item. If you give it to them, they can now use their major ability and are so grateful that they return a share (for as long as they keep the item).

The final turn option is to hunt the shadow. This works like a quick game of Clue. There are three categories required: location, guiding, and fighting. Each one has four cards. One of each is randomly placed under the shadow, indicating where he is, how you can find him, and how you can kill him. The players are dealt the remainder of these cards. These are also the character skills. In order to hunt the shadow you have to have the right combination on the characters that go adventuring. So I can hunt “In the Mystic Vale, Using Tracking, and fighting with magic” but only if I have a ‘mystic vale’ guide character, a character with tracking and a character with magic, and send them off. [You don’t have to send all of your characters].

You then go around the table and each opponent must declare if the know that the shadow isn’t there. So, if my left-hand opponent has one (or more) of those cards, they say “Nope” and show me one of the cards I have. Then I haven’t found the shadow, but bumped into a minion. You flip the top card of the location (Mystic Vale, in our example) and fight. The minion lists what skill(s) you need to defeat them. If you have them, you get the reward (divied up, as normal). If you can’t, one character (not you!) dies. But you get their shares back.

And that’s it. On yout turn you either recruit, market or hunt. Eventually, someone figures out what three skills are needed to fight the shadow.

Since I’ve only played a two – player game, we quickly leave fact and enter conjecture. My first thought is that the game is appealing. The mechanics aren’t difficult, the auctions are good (similiar to RA, where you have heavy bidding constraints), the “Where is the shadow” game of clue allows for some inductive logic (and therefore, bluffing).

But there are downsides. There’s a lot of text. Each character has an ability. These are nicely summarized (with some icons to indicate timing and cost, as well as texts). Then you have all of the items (another 30-40 cards). And many of these cards let you make complicated turns. That’s not necessarily bad, I like complexity. And the complexity builds up … everyone only starts with their own character, so if you keep reading cards as they get played. There isn’t the Struggle of Empires effect where you are overwhelmed on turn 1. That being said you can get into complicated turns where you say “I use the theif’s once a turn to steal a gold, the paladin to reset the theif’s counter, then the theif’s ability to steal again, and I’ll discard a potion to use the blacksmith’s ability to transfer a share from the their back to me.”

I like complexity, but when you start adding in the items, each player can take lots of actions. I think most of them are either during your turn or have a specific trigger, but I don’t know. I was disappointed some powers weren’t of the “Screw with your opponent when they hit a monster” (or at least, we didn’t see any). That’s particularly odd, because the Shadow is a known factor. Once you know it’s three cards, you know the exact skills you need to defeat it, so if there’s no way to unexpectedly affect combats, everything is deterministic. Why would there be no “Take that” in combat (a core of the game and theme) when there’s plenty of take that (theif stealing gold, item stealing, etc)? Another disappointment is that the monsters differ only in skills and rewards (that I saw). Monsters are the perfect place for complexity because they show up, you fight them, and then you can forget “Oh, the Skeletons do X”.

Finally, while most of the monster cards give in the 2-8 range, the bounty on the shadow is 40 gold. This means that if you have at least a share or two left, killind the shadow will give you enough gold to win, so nobody will attempt it (for real) unless they know it’s a winner or have miscounted. Unless there’s a way to mess up planning, the victory condition is effectively “Kill the bad guy.”

Finally, while the game is from 2-5, the five player game will result in some oddness (as there are nine “clue” cards to be divided up). The designer said that two pairs of players “Share a hand”. [With two players, one three card hand is face up. Not sure how four players works.] Expansions are planned that add more characters and more clue cards, which should solve that problem.

My feelings after one learning two-player game? There are good ideas, and I’d certainly want to try this another time or two (with three or four players). But it all comes down to — are the good ideas executed well? I’m not sure that the items (which aren’t auctioned) are well balanced, but it’s impossible to figure that out after a game. More ominously, my brief game left me feeling that the combat & hunting “Clue” sub-system works; but the actual combat (once you’ve flipped up an enemy) is boring. You compare your skills. I didn’t see a single combat where an action was resolved or a potion card played (during combat) to change things.

Also, knowing the game (and combos, and items) is an advantage. If you go hunting in the Mystic Vale, knowing what the (eight or so) types of monster that lurk there can be very important. But there are handicap cards (which we played with) that can balance it out (I won).

So, I dislike the theme, like the basic mechanisms, but need to see more of the implementation. I’d play a few more times to see if it works. Given my recent experiences with fantasy quest games, that’s pretty good.

Update:
I can’t really speak on components, I suspect they’ll be good. The designer had the rules (this is being made in China) and I thought they looked very nice. You can see the character art on the website, those are the characters from the cards and on the box art. Can’t speak to component quality, for obvious reasons.

Written by taogaming

July 20, 2005 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with