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Edit: I'm seeing lots of Spirit Island comparisons in the impressions threads on bgg, which is certainly intriguing
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Gary Sax wrote: Lot of comparisons of the coop game to spirit island which is intriguing.
I wonder if that's simply because Spirit Island has blown up into such a big deal so it's now a de-facto reference point for complex co-ops, in the same way that Pandemic is constantly referenced in discussions about anything that could fall under the banner of "family-friendly co-op".
I remain a little intrigued by Voidfall but man that HC teach is exhausting - here's a dozen things to know about this one part of the game and now (pause for a big weary sigh) here's the next stage with another dozen things I need to tell you before I can even start on how to play the game. This might be over-shooting my tolerance for design complexity, things like this always make me feel like the challenge is not in the gameplay but just in understanding how everything works and how to press deeply-buried levers while no-one else is noticing.
mezike wrote: This might be over-shooting my tolerance for design complexity, things like this always make me feel like the challenge is not in the gameplay but just in understanding how everything works and how to press deeply-buried levers while no-one else is noticing.
It kinda makes me think of Sidereal Confluence in that way. That game never felt like I was making hard/interesting decisions, it felt like I was struggling to parse enough of the game state to actually make A decision at any given time rather than just doing things because they were there. I think realistically for me Voidfall would be a solo game, and maybe very occasionally a coop game with 1 specific person I know. My wife would just laugh at me if I tried to teach her this.
In terms of where the time spent in the game lies, maintenance of game state seems relatively easy despite all of the dials and tracks and bits. Mostly you're exchanging fleet power cubes, moving them on the board and then moving the host fleet all of which are sensible and don't take too much time to manage. The time consuming/brain burning part is deciding how to maximise your score, choosing which agendas to go for and which cards in your hand and in which sequence playing them will get you there. I can see how that draws clear parallels to Spirit Island. When playing with people, most of your planning can happen on their turns which is how you maintain a decent pace for the game. You can see Edward is at a disadvantage in playing by simply having to manage the stream and keep narrating the game. The other time sink is the end of round arithmetic which definitely looks a bit tedious and grinds the game to a halt.
This doesn't seem like the sort of game to catch up with someone over as it is very much a deep analytical puzzle so conversation may not be particularly welcome. Having said that, all of the streams have been on more balanced, peaceful maps but they have more scenarios planned which could be very aggressive in terms of setup, forcing players to take territory from one another and deny each other scoring opportunities. In those situations I can actually see a bit of politics arising in negotiating for how to carve up the galaxy - transparent score tracking should make those decisions relatively straightforward. All in all I mostly like what I see so far!
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First, this is EVERY INCH a mathy space accountant euro. The designers were not kidding when they said they were making a resource production euro take on 4x. I cannot believe this KS is doing as well as it is if only for this reason---this game is *much* heavier than like a normal popular euro engine builder or something like that. It doesn't have like joint stock holdings or anything like that but it is that heavy vis a vis thinking ahead and engine management.
Second, the icon soup is incredible and it paralyzes you for the first twenty minutes you play it. If sornars and I had not watched people who played it a couple times before on a video go through a game, we also would not have understood the relative *mechanical* simplicity of the core action sequence and loop and we might have quit too. The core loop of this game is Runewars with a pick 2 out of 3 options on each card, basically. You only play 4-5 cards every turn with 3 rounds (cycles) of play. The core loop sans hieroglyphics translation is quite straightforward; it only takes a long time because of the absolutely crucial importance of the long term implications of what you are doing because the game is pretty unforgiving. I think the core loop works once you understand in broad strokes what each card is basically doing, which takes a lot of internalizing and I hadn't done it by the time we adjoured our learning game. Be warned this game is demanding some pretty intense perfect information future planning that it is difficult to fit in a single human mind.
I would not play this game with anyone with even the slightest hint of maximizing AP. The whole game *has* to rest on the skill of making the most efficient choices in a compressed timeframe using some amount of intuition or you could literally be playing it for 8 hours.
If I had to define this game's core quality, it is a *deep* commitment to wargame style design for effect. In the empires sornars and I played, very little was different except starting tech and a single civ specific agenda card that defines what scores you victory points at the end of the turn. That single agenda card, is, essentially, doing the work of a raft of exposition and special powers chrome in a different kind of game. My VPs on the core agenda were build "tall" in 4x terms---huge populations with highly developed sectors. There's nothing else about the side that would suggest that; you have to intuit it from the victory condition you start with. Your game and civ incentives are wholly defined by your starting VP condition and then the later agendas you pick up which give you more victory conditions---this game is *depending* on you playing to win to extract game flavor by leading you with VP incentives... I'm told later civs are very asymmetric in powers as well but I haven't tried them. This was asymmetric enough but in a very different way.
The game is completely commited to having a pretty low chrome core engine---5 types of resource developments, 2 basic types of space developments, and a couple extra ship types that aren't *that* different at the end of the day. The incredible complication comes from the action selection cards which are complex and require (important) choices and to a lesser extent the tech and agenda cards, and knowing what you are going to need and when would require thorough game system knowledge.
I think there is a chance for significant conflict but only if the map has you next to each other. Because you can see what agendas people are scoring, you could very easily bully people out of systems that would have them score a ton of points at the end of the turn. The problem is that you don't get very much for it, so it really has to be calculation about preventing their scoring. Moreover, we had a starter map where coming to grips would be very difficult.
The voidborn are a disappointment in competitive and the way the game stacks them is pretty underwhelming. I think they need a lot of work because they're going to define a lot about how fun a competitive game where you aren't sat next to each other bare knuckled is going to be.
I'm still on the fence, I had a good enough time with it to play again but I wasn't totally convinced. I think virtually no one on this website should play it.
I'm keen to try the coop game next time to see how the crises make the Voidborn feel alive but I'm not convinced it'll be enough without some further development work.
I also believe that scenario design and which scenarios you play will make or break your experience with this game. I've only played the one layout but I could clearly see how being placed even one tile closer to Gary Sax would've completely changed the value of certain technologies and strategies.
The other thing I noticed is that it's quite easy to get distracted doing things that have the appearance of being productive (generating resources, researching tech, etc.) but you really need to focus on playing agenda cards and fulfilling their conditions for points from turn 1.
I started hyped pre-launch, cooled off a bit after seeing the game in action and hearing how some folks have bounced off of this design but after playing this I want to play more. This is definitely a game that requires a few plays before you can really consider playing the game to win. I see a lot of these KS backers having a very beautiful and expensive shelf toad on their hands.
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sornars wrote: In my experience, specific planning for more than 2 turns ahead in SI is usually pointless as the board state has probably changed by then and that's where Voidfall really SI differ - SI feels alive and reactive to your actions through the invasions and event cards. The Voidborn in the competitive game felt anything but alive, I know they're tweaking the system but having them respond to players that are not adjacent to one another would make the game a lot more interesting. I'm thinking of something like the barbarians in Civ; if you go gallivanting across the universe but leave Voidborn next to an unprotected home sector I'm convinced there should be some consequences for that.
I really think having a more dynamic and map mechanical enemy might make the elaborate strategic empire resource, tech, and production planning shine. I hope they consider it, but I know it goes against their perfect information ethos. I just don't understand why heavy beard stroking euro types are more ok with the randomness of a card that determines your VPs than an unpredictable enemy that you need to invest in preparation for. Why is it not way more fucking "luck game" when the thing that decides what you score based on comes out of a 15 card deck that you won't see even close to the entirety of but rolling a die for combat resolution oh no this game is just about luck?