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58 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

Seasons is a game that I always feel like I should like more than I actually do when I play. This might come down to me not being very good at it, something my BoardGameArena Track record would seem to suggest. Anyways on to the review.

Firstly no review of Seasons can get away without noting that this game is just beautiful. The colours, the quirky characters, the beautiful illustrations and most of all those gorgeous chunky die covered in iconography that just begs you to play. The game is definitely visual and tactile treat.

Somewhat at odds with the beauty of this game is how absolutely tacked on the theme is. In theory you are dueling wizards summoning spells and familiars from the elements of Earth, Air, Wind and Fire and transmuting these same elements into power crystals that are necessary for you to win the title of wizardiest wizard, and that all sounds awesome. However in reality it always seems that you are just rolling die and collecting tokens and playing cards and all of the magical stuff kinda just falls away. Now I mention this because I that for some people theme is super important, and this game just has no theme.

So now to the gameplay. I’m not going to outline all the nitty gritties because that information is available other places, I’ll just try and give a fairly succint overview and how I think these elements are implemented.

So the game starts with some card drafting, this is super important because it mitigates the fact that some card combos are super overpowered. This does of course put new players at a significant disadvantage over experienced players. However the designer knew this in advance and there are actually four starter decks recommended for beginners and I always use those when playing with someone new to games in general and often if I’m playing with someone new to Seasons in specific. That said this game is much better with experienced players.

Once you have your cards you choose the order (year) in which they will become available the game begins. Each turn you roll the colour die corresponding to the Season and then each player chooses one and takes that action. This of course allows first player to take the best die, however you always roll one more than the number of players so everyone always chooses between at least 2 and the last player gets the bonus of controlling the speed at which the game is going. I like this smart bit of game design quite a bit and it really works well in 2-player where both players are gaining asymmetrical advantages based on turn-order.

The die do various things, most commonly they give you elements that correspond to the current season (so while fire is readily available in summer it is impossible to come by in winter). Then if you have the right amount of certain elements or power crystals you can summon a card and it’s actions will come into play (you can also exchange energy for crystals, increase your number of playable cards, get new cards and other things.)

The cards do all sorts of things and are broadly sorted into one off’s that give you a one time windfall of energy tokens or the power crystals needed to win the game. The more powerful ones remain active and allow you to set up an engine supplying you with a constant source of elements and crystals. This is really where the meat of the game is, and at it’s most satisfying you can quickly build this efficient engine where every time the season changes you are stealing your opponents crystals or taking your expended one off’s back into your hand so you can devilishly play them again. However this strength, the fun of constantly triggering effects, is the book management that is therefore involved. The creators of this game did nothing to make this any easier. Actually the stupid crystal scoring board is so fiddly I’d almost say they made it harder. Now this may not be a negative for you, but it sure is for me. I feel like it just disrupts the flow for every time anything progresses, a season or year, I’m reading all my cards and figuring out that I get this but I have to give you that and then we both have to give Alice this other thing. It’s just not that smooth.

A category firmly in this games favor is its replay value. The base game comes with tons of cards. So many cards that they suggest you start out only using the first 30 and then add in the other 50 later on. There are also expansions that give even more cards (and some new mechanics I’ve heard, but I do not have them). So one thing that isn’t a problem with Seasons is you solving it, and even if you do figure out some crazy card combo the drafting mechanism at the beginning means someone else will stop you from using it every game.

Overall my view is that the game has plenty of depth and fun and interesting combo’s to explore and so many cards with so many abilities. Are you in last place? Use the Boots of Time to buy more time by moving the clock back. Does someone else have a perfect engine? Play a card that makes them return one of their cards to their hand. This game is rife with possibility and every time I think about it I want to just get it out on the table and play. The problem is, I don’t always feel that same excitement after playing.

A final note: This game is hands down the best with 2 players. I find it the increased length added by more people bogs the game down and makes it’s fun:time ratio less satisfying.

Go to the Pandemic page


92 out of 99 gamers thought this was helpful

Pandemic is a cooperative game where everyone wins or looses together. But don’t go thinking this means you will always be winning, Pandemic can pack a mean punch especially once you start playing at heroic levels.

The game works in two stages players turn and infection turns. Players each get a unique role (Scientist, Operations Expert, Dispatcher, etc) and can do four actions a turn like move, trade cards, cure diseases etc. The roles each give some special power (for instance the dispatcher can move other players). The goal for the players is to cure the four diseases which is done by collecting cards. This would be super easy if you didn’t have infection running rampant as it would appear this world has zero disease containment strategies and a whole lot of people who like contracting diseases. At first the cities are infected at random by drawing cards but as the game progresses the infected cities cards are reshuffled and put on top of the deck so the sick just keep getting sicker. The game seems to start off easy enough but if you don’t speed towards cures you’ll soon find yourself succumbing to small pox in Cairo.

Everyone will need to work together in order to ensure that Bobby can give Suzy the cure to Polio in Mexico City while Drake clears up the disease running rampant in Bangkok. This required cooperativity leads to the number one complaint people have this game which is that one person will become a loudmouth and take over the game. I have to say this doesn’t really happen with my friends and never with my family. Not because we aren’t loud and bossy but actually because we are all loud and bossy. So Pandemic becomes a fun game where everyone is yelling over each other about the best strategy and whoever’s turn it happens to be gets final say. However if you are a nice polite person who plays with nice polite people and you had the misfortune to have me present I could see how it might not be fun for you. Although I’d probably still have a good time, so that is why I like Pandemic. Alternatively people have house rules where no one is allowed to talk except when they are in the same city as someone else. That would also make the game WAY harder but maybe that’s your thing.

Next I want to mention replay value (or replayability if you like made up words). The base set comes with five different roles, so if you are often playing four players you would probably know them inside and out pretty soon. However which cities become infected can also affect your strategy. Also you can ramp up the number of “Epidemics” (infection deck reshuffling) to change the difficulty level. However if this is not enough for you there is also an amazing expansion that contains tons of new ways to die of your favourite disease.

Finally I will talk about theme. Overall its implemented well, the roles abilities make some sense with their names. You get to jet-set around the world like some awesome microbiologist superhero (side note: I took a course where we learnt that the doctors who went to Zaire to fight Ebola were called “Medical Cowboys”, so that’s what I call my friends and I when we play) curing disease. I guess I kinda wish that the players got some disease (like if you are in a city when an outbreak happens because it would keep the theme but really that’s just a geeky sub-complaint because I really do love this game and play it all the time.

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