First Impressions - 7 Wonders & Mission: Red Planet
The problem with writing reviews is that to get a good feel for a game you need to play the it several times. But if a game is particularly bad or you just have a bad experience with it you’re not going to be tempted to play it again. Then there are the games that someone else owns and brings to a game night and you don’t get the opportunity to play it again. I’m going to start writing a series of first impression articles covering two or three games in each. Some of these games will have full reviews later on but some may never be mentioned on this blog again.
One of 2011’s game darlings was the card based civilisation builder 7 Wonders. Although complicated seeming at first the game is rather simple to play; you take a card to play out of a deck of cards and pass the deck to the next player. Do you play a card you need or deny a card your opponent needs? The game plays like a simplified version of Sid Meier's Civilisation games and involves a rudimentary tech tree. The game is however, a faff to set up. The three decks of cards used are different depending on how many players are present. This involved a lot of looking up tables and breaking down decks. There’s also the wonders themselves. Each player represents an ancient culture based around one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The weird thing is you don’t have to build your wonder to win the game, but it helps. What you do have to do is amass a pile of victory points from a variety of sources such as science, military and buildings. The issue here is that there are so many routes to gain victory points that the game ships with a scoring pad to add up everyone’s score at the end of the game. I had no concept of what was going on during the game or how far behind / in front I was. Suffice to say I lost very badly and I still can’t work out what I was doing wrong.
Would I play again?
7 Wonders didn’t enamour itself to me as much as I’d hoped. Based on all the other reviews around the web I thought this was going to be an amazing game that I’d want to play at home. I will play this game again as I think I only scratched the surface but it will take a few goes to work out how to keep tabs of the victory points.
Mission: Red Planet
It would seem that Mars is rich with ore, ice and phleptonium (or other such nonsense) and the only solution is to stoke the coals of our steam powered rockets and mine that thing into oblivion. Mission: Red Planet is an area control mixed with role selection game with a steam punk setting. Players choose a role from their deck of cards each turn that allows them to add units to rockets heading for Mars. Victory points are awarded for controlling areas rich in mineral resource and via a series of secret mission cards. The themed art is beautiful and rich in steam punk traits but this is a game where the theme could be changed and the game would still work out the same. This could easily be about ships heading to the new world or lorries delivering to supermarkets. At first the game plodded along and it all felt a bit ‘meh’ but by turn seven of the ten turns the game rally picked up and gathered momentum. The big issue though was the hidden victory conditions and I don’t think I’m a fan of this mechanic. Without knowing what the other players where trying to aim for I couldn’t do anything to stop them and in the end it all felt a bit random.
Would I play again?
I probably wouldn't play this game again. There’s nothing terrible about this game and the theme is very pretty but in the end there are other games that do this kind of thing better.