Recap: Salmon Run and Shattered Timelines First Impressions
This week, I was lucky enough to get a few first plays in. And both Salmon Run and Shattered Timelines were pretty darn fantastic. I was able to play Salmon Run three times in one night, so it may not be entirely accurate to call this my “first” impressions. But they remain impressions of an initial kind, nonetheless.
Salmon Run. Salmon Run is a race to the spawning pool using a deck building engine. I wouldn’t exactly call this a deck builder in the same way I wouldn’t call Core Worlds a deck builder. Salmon Run is very much about board position and moving the dreaded bears. It just creates movement and restricts choice via deck. And, unlike most deck builders, in Salmon Run your deck generally gets worse and more clogged over the game, not lighter and more efficient.
Salmon Run is an interesting racing game. The goal is to be the first Salmon to reach the spawning pool. On the way there, you’ll encounter bears, waterfalls, and eagles, all of which will add “fatigue” cards to your deck. The name of the game is in not only managing the fatigue bloat of the deck, but also swimming in a tactically appropriate manner to avoid any negative areas.
I enjoyed this game way, way more than I thought I would. Racing games aren’t typically my thing. They are all right, but they tend to all suffer from the same problems. Specifically, they have a push your luck element where you can try to go farther but there is a chance you’ll crash, take damage, hit an obstacle, etc. Salmon Run was much different. The card draw restricted choice without being overwhelming at all. And, with three to five players, it was tense and exciting. There was a lot of back and forth among the leaders.
Plus, the whole game plays in about thirty minutes. That just feels right for a racing game. Some racers drag on for quite some time – thereby losing the racing feeling. Salmon Run feels like a rush the whole way through and then concludes with a satisfying leap into the spawning pool. I’ve played three times already and don’t see my enthusiasm slowing.
Shattered Timelines. Shattered Timelines arrived and I could not wait to check it out. I already went through all of the cards and read all of the powers and flavor texts. But now it was time to put them to work. My group decided to use as much new stuff as possible. Therefore, Chrono-Ranger, Omnitron-X, the Scholar, and Team Leader Tachyon squared off against La Capitan. And it was a massacre.
Two things really contributed to the manner in which we decimated La Capitan. First, we inadvertantly brought a power team. The Scholar’s healing nicely mitigated the massive damage that the villain put out. Further, he was able to run two elements at once. Normally, each element causes you to discard a card each turn. Since you typically only draw one, you basically will run out of cards if you start playing them. But, with team leader Tachyon, everyone got an extra draw. And, by the time the second elemental came out, hand sizes were so large that there were plenty of cards to spare.
And, that got combined with poor draws for La Capitan. Cards like “Plunder” which deal damage or cause other negative effects based on how many crew are alive at the time, came out when we had just wiped the board clean. The card that revives crew from the villain trash came out when there was no crew in the trash yet. Put all of that together, and La Capitan was largely flailing in her attempt to defeat us.
Really looking forward to more plays and changing up the hero/villain composition. Admittedly, La Capitan is ranked as the easiest (or tied for easiest) villain in the expansion. So I’m excited to ramp up the difficulty from here.