Monday, August 4, 2014

Zeppelin Attack! Review

I actually had a Kickstarter arrive on time, so I got to play Zeppelin Attack! over the weekend

We had a lot of fun, and aren't sure whether the few snags we hit were intentional or whether we just had poor strategies. Reactions around the table went from "When can we buy this?" to "I probably won't ask to play it, but I will happily play it again." So I will call this a win for my need to pick up more games that are lighter in mental load than what I generally enjoy playing.

My wife and I played with another couple, and all of us are regular board gamers, and we get together regularly to play games - everything from Firefly to a bunch of smaller games. Being the new game in the house, I explained the rules (as best I understood) and we were off.

The first few rounds were frustrating - none of us could reliably attack (Snag #1), and the mercenaries for purchase were relatively expensive - I think the cheapest was a 7 or 8 (Snag #2). This meant that we had several rounds of desperately trying to find the two Fate Point cards that would allow us to buy stuff (Snag #3).

As noted, there were a few snags, and whether these are issues baked into the design or just us playing the game for the first time, I'm unsure - we'll be playing again, so I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Snag #1: None of us could reliably attack. I went into the game expecting to land hits reliably, and discovered that it was going to be rare for me to do so. It seemed like unless we ganged up on one player, there were enough spread defense to ensure that attacks just didn't land often. Or we just had bad luck in picking who to attack.

Snag #2 and 3: Probably could be the same snag - we start off with one 3-point and one 4-point Fate card, the currency that allows us to buy cards. Unfortunately, unless you manage to pull them both together, you'll have one sitting in your hand taking up space while you wait for another card - and the two operative cards that allow you to generate more cards were relatively slow to fill.

I think this is where our inexperience with the system bit us - even if you want to play a more aggressive deck, you need to buy a fair number of operative cards to generate sufficient Fate points to purchase - and being as the Fate cards range 2-5 points, and the cards generally run 4 (rare) to 6-8 (normal) to as much as 9 or 10 (rare). So you need to have a good engine for obtaining those cards.

Like you do in any deck building game - it is just that the variance obtaining the points is a bit higher in Zeppelin Attack!

My only other critique of the game is the rule book - it is generally fine; however, the back page is an ad, while the "Summary of turns" is inside the front cover - this meant that at the table I had to constantly open the book to reference the book. Big deal in the end? Nope. Annoying? Yup. I'll probably be printing out, or modifying the summary page from the online book for this purpose.

While the game ran long, everyone had fun. My wife wasn't having as much fun, and then she had a single turn where her massive 4-zeppelin armada wrecked destruction across the table and her sounds of delight could only be heard by bats and other small animals.

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