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BookerMaster

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9
Go to the Saboteur page

Saboteur

29 out of 29 gamers thought this was helpful

Saboteur is a simple, quick and easy co-operative game with the traitor mechanic. It is an awesome introductory game, with easy to understand mechanics and a short teaching time commitment. While the game isn’t perfect, it’s just a fun compact and not too serious bundle to pull out while in the cafeteria, waiting for a meal or chillaxing at home.

Saboteur begins with each player assuming the role of a garden gnome looking dwarf. You each receive a card which either depicts you as a relatively normal looking gnome, or as a “saboteur”; a French-English word which roughly translates to “jerk-face”. All players keep their identities hidden; the good gnomes are working to build a path using maze pieces to the gold. The saboteur’s goal is to prevent them, causing the draw pile to run out.

Each player draws a hand of cards; this will have maze pieces, player blocking cards, player unblock, cards or map cards. Maze pieces allow you to make a path, the block and unblock are pretty self-explanatory, and map cards allow you to check one of the three destination cards to see whether it is gold or not. Playing a map card allows only you to check a destination card and upon examining it, to say anything you want to your fellow gnomes. If you are a saboteur you may wish to lie, of course, you may also want to play the sleeper agent and tell them where the gold is. As a sleeper you may be able to make it appear as though someone else is a saboteur if they have a bad hand, then when everyone attacks them, WHAM! No gold for you.

The artwork on the cards is well done. There are little trinkets and fossils scattered throughout the cards to provide fun little distractions and the cards are printed on a hardy quilted paper board. The game’s real only problems come out in the scoring.

If the good gnomes win, the player who is the last person to connect gets first choice and last choice of a random hand of gold. If the bad gnomes win they get a set number of solid nuggets. The random quality of the good gnomes winning hand can seem frustrating. The benefit to it though is that it sets up a race amongst the good guys towards to end to get the best pick of the cards, a situation which sometimes causes them to kibosh each other.

In the many times that I’ve played the point distribution has been quite wide. This may be because of the relatively stilted scoring for good vs. evil sides or because of the random quality of the good guys winning deck. The funny thing is that almost every time, no one really cares because it was just so much fun getting to the end of the game.

GOOD:
Entry Level, Social / Party Game, Mobile, Solid Quality, Not overly serious (friendships will be repairable afterwards)

BAD:
Scoring seems someone iffy, Number of Saboteurs can be overwhelming (4 vs 6 is hard if you’re a good gnome)

8
Go to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords (Base Set) page
49 out of 55 gamers thought this was helpful

I Can’t Live With Or Without You Pathfinder

I have never found myself so conflicted by a game as I am about Pathfinder the Adventure Card Game. It is heavily flawed, the rule book is a mess, there are not enough options or diversity and it is bloody expensive. Yet for all of this it can be vastly immersive, engaging, interactive, and in the end left me desperately wanting more.
The game is a co-operative deck building game. Each player chooses one of 7 character decks to begin the game with, each deck consisting of 15 cards. This deck constitutes your “life”, if you ever run out of cards in your draw pile you die and permanently lose your character.

Permanent being a key word here, because one of the strengths of this game is its “building” mechanic. The game consists of “exploring” various locations as a team hunting for a target that you’ve been commissioned to eliminate. As you explore you will come across additional weapons, tools and allies that you will want to add to your hand and ultimately your deck. This is significant because as each round of the game winds down, you will get to reconstruct your deck from the cards that you’ve encountered through your journeys. You are building a persistent character deck that can be used in all future games.

The cards and characters are beautifully put together and very interesting. I have certainly seen better, but the cards are nothing to be ashamed of. Their short background stories provide a colour backdrop to draw you in and the items do very different things and creating interesting texture and strategic combinations. I do take exception to the relatively few number of character options available in such a large and expensive game; especially when considering that a four character add-on is readily available for an additional $20; but even this add-on doesn’t provide enough gender, racial and class diversity to address player interests. Additionally a few easy inclusions would easily give the game a better “bang for your buck” factor (ex. miniatures for the characters rather than cards).

The largest problem with the game is its insane use of language and its mish-mash of rules. Check the FAQ on the Paizo website to find ~100 changes to the rule-book and language on the cards. A quick examination of the character cards shows a lot of needlessly complex information. (For Example; Combat, Melee, Ranged are three designators that might be designated or recombined to mean completely different things – Ranged Combat, Combat, and Melee Combat all have different checks depending on your character) Sometimes not being aware of what other characters skill sets are make for stupid situations because THEY ARE NEVER FULLY DESCRIBED. (“Survival”, “Evade” reads I ‘I might need that’ thinks I; except silly I – this is a specific skill to the Ranger or Thief and I’m the Fighter. But I can still use my base d4 check says I. But… I have no idea what, when or where I would ever want to “survive” or “evade” – argh. Rulebook says, silly you, information is for rabbits)

But in addition to the poor layout of the rules, there is the frustrating inconsistency of the narrative. To be fair this is only a problem because the game is so **** good at drawing you in. However, once it does draw you in, it slaps you in the face with so many ridiculous and arbitrary situations owing to the random construction of the location decks.

The location decks are constructed from a set list of card types where you are supposed to randomly pick the number of cards of a certain type to add to that location deck. The mystery this adds to the decks is great, the sometimes downright drug-trips that result are not. For example you might head into town to investigate some rumours about bandits being involved in the operation of the general store. You investigate, open a closet and discover a hill giant… in the closet. Or better yet, a massive aquatic Bunyip which bites your head off. While hilarious, the game is not painted as a comedy and the experience is jarring to say the least.

Now this is not to say that I didn’t like the game. The game is in fact amazing. The problem solving, sharing and persistent engine building are absolutely fantastic. The game plays on a massive amount of chance (with dice) but allows you to manage your chance using cards and abilities. The narrative elements are truly engaging and interesting. But the entire game feels as though it should have been heavily edited, brushed and combed by someone outside the development team before being released to the wilds.

That being said, there are many things being done tame the game and to alleviate the problems of this game by both by Paizo and the community. Certain house rules regarding monster types have been proposed regarding populating location decks, gorgeous play mats are available at BGG that simplify and explain the character skills, new and interesting scenarios are being proposed and created in the forums. As much as the problems in this game are infuriating, they are not game-breaking and the game is VERY GOOD.

So in the end I am left angry at the unpolished product I have in my hands, annoyed with the extra work and rules needed to iron out oddities in the game, but also exasperated that I don’t have MORE in my box and irritated that I am almost definitely going to buy most of the expansions – because it’s just that much **** fun.

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