Participants: Jon, Gili, Mace, Nadine, Elijah
Five person game night, essentially one game.
Gili 0/2/2/3/4, Mace 0/1/1/2/4, Jon 0/0/3/3/3
The haters weren’t around to nay-say, so we tried this one yet again. Each time it’s about the same, but I don’t really know what that is. It’s not good. But it’s not bad, either. There’s too much luck and frustration. You’ve got a trading ability that looks like it was added to counteract the luck. But then you’ve got the Plague of Locusts which exacerbates it.
It’s not long, there’s a funny moment or two when luck trashes someone’s plans, but there’s no hook. Sorry.
I couldn’t get the two fields that I needed, despite trying for them through three cycles of the deck. And that’s that.
Nadine 36, Jon 26, Elijah 25, Mace 22, Gili 14
First plays for Mace and Elijah. We tend to take a long time on our games, especially the five-player games, and this was no exception. It took 4 hours. For all of that, I only felt the drag a few times.
We don’t play it often. It’s an interesting game, a strange mix of the fiddly and elegant. The essential mechanics – not too few and not too many people at any one time, how the cities steal people from each other – are elegant. The implementation, on the other hand, has lots of little pieces, and lots and lots of counting and recounting. They gave you markers to count your food production, so why didn’t they give you markers to count your people?
Even when you can count your people, you have to evaluate and re-evaluate what’s going to happen to them at the end of each turn; it’s not random, but it’s not entirely under your control. Interesting.
The action card mechanic lets you take a mediocre card only to reveal a better card for your LHO, is a bad mechanic, just like the power plant reveals in Power Grid. A better mechanic would be for each player to have a set of cards they can use, either in the order of their choosing or by picking them from a deck. This is used well in several other games.
Oh well. The positives outweigh the negatives. It’s a fun, challenging game.
In our game, Nadine stuck to the edge of the board where only I could threaten her, which I didn’t do often enough. She also had rich farmland, which spelled success. Mace and Elijah fought each other, while I trapped Gili in the middle of the board. On my last turn, on my last action, I plopped down a last castle in a suddenly open space, netting one food production and two people. I miscounted by one, however, and ended up losing one person and gaining the 5 point penalty for last round loss. Luckily, everyone else except Nadine also lost on the last round.