Strategicon: Demos and Brand-Spanking New Games
In addition to the prototypes that we covered yesterday, I also got to try a few advanced or demo copies of games that will be hitting the shelves soon. Chief among them, and high on my “to try” list, was Seasons. And, as an avid Resistance fan, I could not help but leap into the first offering of Resistance Avalon.
Seasons. The game teacher explained it as similar to Magic the Gathering. While I can definitely see similarities, Seasons is its own animal. The game starts with each player drawing nine cards and then drafting a starting deck with them. From there, the players gain energy (sort of like mana, though it is one time use, not permanent) and use them to cast down familiars and artifacts. Some cards are one-time use, though they remain played and take up a valuable play slot. Others have ongoing or usable effects.
But it’s more than just that. The game plays through a number of the titular seasons over the course of three game years. In each season, some flavors of energy are more common and one is nonexistant. The player rolls the dice for the season the players are in and then selects one. Players then select in turn order. The dice can grant energy, points, the ability to sell, or even extra card draws.
The goal of the game is to amass crystals: essentially victory points. Crystals can also be used to power special effects, so there is an interesting tension between amassing them for victory or using them to gain utility. Despite the relative complexity and interactivity of some of the cards, the game went pretty quickly. Our four player game lasted no more than ninety minutes, and likely much less. I think current or former CCG players will see a lot to like in Seasons. Because the cards in the game are static (at least until the first expansion), there will be a benefit for those who have played a few times and know the potential draws and combos.
I definitely would not mind another play of Seasons.
Resistance: Avalon. Avalon takes the basic resistance and rethemes it to King Arthur’s Court. But, more importantly, it also adds in variable player powers. The main one is that team Good also includes Merlin. At the beginning of the game, Merlin knows who all of the spies are. However, he can’t just claim to be Merlin and out all of the spies. See, even if team Good succeeds on three missions, the Evils have a trick up their sleeve; one of them is the Assassin. He has one chance to pick and kill Merlin. If he picks right, then Evil wins anyway, so he has to be helpful without being overt and other Resistance members need to lay cover for him where possible.
The game is played without the plot cards from the original, but the new roles actually do a lot to make up for that. In my two plays, it seems to increase the knowledge, suspicion, and paranoia without having a too-powerful card come up at just the wrong moment.
Unsatisfied with just one play, I also played another game with more powers added. The most interesting was Percival. After Merlin learns the identity of the spies, Percival wakes up. Merlin and one Evil player (Morgana) both give a thumbs up. So Percival knows two players and he knows that one is Evil and one is Merlin. This was fantastic! I was Morgana, so I spent the early game voting down all the missions with spies on them. I was also very unspecific about my reasoning. I had Percival convinced I was Merlin. And, when it came down to the wire, it forced Merlin to come out very forcefully and I had him pegged correctly as well. While Evil ended up winning the third mission, we had forced Merlin out into the open and would have won that way as well.
After two plays, I greatly enjoyed the new roles available in Avalon. Of course, I also enjoy the plot cards from the base game, so I’ll have to play a little more before I decide which is my favorite. Although the two are technically compatible, I think having both in play would really sway things in favor of Team Good. Vanilla resistance favors Team Evil. With plot cards, I think it’s closer to even. Avalon seems to be about even with the special roles. Put the roles in with the plot cards and I think it will lead heavily towards Team Good.