I don’t do reviews because I think the blog and podcast markets are overloaded with some wonderful authors that have great articles reviewing various games. Nevertheless, I decided to make a small contribution with a personal though on game feeling, which is a quality I find fundamental on all boardgames. Game feeling is, for me, the set of sensations that the player will experience during the gameplay that are directly related with the game. This means that if I play a game like Magic: The Gathering, I won’t usually feel anxious or theatened, because the game doesn’t set a scenario for those emotions. Of course I will still experience some frustation if I don’t have enough mana for that awesome spell or regret if I can’t cast the creature I want. Nevertheless, when I face a game, I like to feel like I’m about to have a great time.
Now to bussines. With the renovation of the Star Wars franchise, it seems that Disney has loaded stores with lots of games set in the new (yet old) universe. Now, not all of the games have an original and unique layout, in fact, most of them are old but good games that have a new version with a Star Wars design. This past May (the) 4th I had the chance to play Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars Timeline and Carcassone Star Wars. Here are my thoughts on them.
Star Wars: Rebellion is one of those games that benefits from a unbalanced setup to provoque conflict from the start. We were four players, but I feel it works best with 2, by far (less drama). If you play the imperial forces, you will be fine until almost the very last turn or whenever you loose the first (of many) Death Star. Imperials have enough troops to get by, great reach to control the board and the advantadge given by the liders abilities, specially regarding the capture of rebel liders. Being an imperialist gives you all the security you need to know that you will be controling the game for the most part.
If you play the rebels, you are fucked. Simply put, you will have the constant feeling that you are about to loose the game until the very last turn . Think of it as a game of cat and mouse where the cat has a rocket launcher and interrogation skills learned in the freaking KGB and the mouse is one-eyed and has an awful sense of orientation. I like a challenge, and love strategy games, but this game had me on my nerve 99% of the time. Every move of the Empire meant a step closer to know where our base was, and we couldn’t control enough planets to maintain a steady production of troops. Rebels only get a decent chance at winning if they conquer and maintain Mon Calamari (or the ablity to produce troops from there) and have enough luck to obtain the only card in the game that allows to destroy a Death Star if you can survive the first wave of a space battle against the Empire. I only could go pee in peace after destroying the first Death Star, all my other bathrooms breaks (the game lasted 5 hours) I had that anxious feeling you get when you know you will lose and there’s nothing you can do about it. The game was fun, though, we lost by mere luck of the dice and we could have won until the very last phase of the battle of the very last turn. Nevertheless, it will be a while before I play that game again.
So, after everybody shaked that nervous feeling, we though that we could settle a more confortable mood playing Star Wars Timeline. It’s like every other Timeline edition but the movie problem is resolved with a storyboard solution. You basically have to remember if a secene happens after or before the ones that have already been played on the table, and you’ve got to be cautious with the movie it is depicting, since this edition covers Star Wars IV through VI. It’s a good game if you are a low or medium level Star Wars fan. If you are a hardcore fan, this game won’t mean a challenge, and if you don’t like or haven’t seen the movies, you shouldn’t be playing it (you should be at home dying of regret and realize that you need to reconsider your cinematographic culture, for God’s sake!). It’s a filler, and I always though a filler shoul have two qualities: be quick to play and serve as a palate cleanser in between games. Nothing too intense or mentally challenging, just a simple and plain game that allows for some laughter and let us forget that we wanted to kill each other on the previous game. Star Wars Timeline is a good filler in that sense.
After I beated everyone senseless thanks to my vast (yet surprisingly unhelpful for finding a job) knowledge of the Star Wars franchise, we jumped onto the new Star Wars edition of Carcassone. It is basically the same game. The only difference is the new method for resolving which player get the points when more than one share the space that is punctuating. I consider this game yet a simpler edition of the Carcassone, and although the theme is completely pasted onto the mechanics, it’s a good game to conmemorate May (the) 4th. Nevertheless, I’ll take my regular edition of Carcassone during the rest of the year. The main reason I like this game is because it’s a quick paced tile game that allows for multiple strategies, so usually every player has a chance at winning until the very end turn. This means that you will not have that awful feeling that you get when you know there is no chance in hell at winning, so you can choose between turning yourself into a Kingsmaker (a person that helps another player win) or throw a tantrum and finish the game loosing friends (done that, not pretty).
I know it’s hard, and it’s even harder if you have a very strong competitive side on your personality, but remember that playing is all about feeling good and having fun (however that line sounds like I’m a soccer mom trying to stop my son from crying after loosing a game).
Fuck it. Win, you deserve it, you wonderful geek!