Thursday, 11 August 2016

Complexity 4

Andrew and I didn't sit down with the intention of playing a heavy Euro game, but that's what we did.

It all began rather innocuously with a couple of games of Raptor, a two-player battle between scientists and raptors. One side is trying to capture raptors, the other is trying to eat the scientists. It's rather fun - the basic mechanic at work is the playing of cards - players compare value of cards and the person who played the higher number gets action points to spend. The person who played the lower number gets one special action. It allows for table-talk and bluffing, as well as raptor capture and scientific ingestion.

Mummy Raptor, pissed off

On a crazy whim I then suggested Nippon, which is a fairly heavy game about Japanese industry I've never played before tonight. Japan, of course, is Andrew's sweet spot, and, aided by the early hour, he was immediately intrigued.

We busted it out and tried not to be alarmed at the number of bits. The rulebook seemed fairly light too, compared to something like Eclipse, but the game was quite complicated.

stuff happening

On your turn you take a worker from the board, and in doing so take an available action. The first action we read in the rulebook (Industry) almost stopped us, but we ploughed on. And a good thing too, because what at first appeared like a unintuitive point salad (not helped by the desire to make it language-independent) revealed itself to be a neat combo of engine building and luck-pushing - trying to time your moments of 'consolidation' for maximum return and minimum cost.

I am about to consolidate

Before long we were building factories, running them, generating income as well as knowledge and coal and developing influence all over the place. There was a whole bunch of stuff that made sense. We broke a couple of rules and had a couple of do-overs, but actually the game was over quickly - we finished just after 10pm having played a longer version than the official game!

It would of course have been substantially longer than that with more players. Writing this now I'm not convinced it would be a GNN hit - certainly not one for Martin or Katy, though others with a more Euro bent (Andy, Chris, Adam...) might enjoy it.


  1. Thanks for hosting and, yes, I do like a Japanese-themed game. Nippon, though, wears its theme lightly, and felt more like a typical Industrial Revolution-type game. I almost suggested giving in near the start, but once things started moving the rules began to click together. The rule book was constantly used, though, which must have slowed us down. But the balance between quick rewards that needed to be paid for later was very well done.

    And Raptor was good, too.

  2. Oh, and Sam won Nippon by a country mile. And this despite the shock of finding out, mid-game, that there was no wine left in the house. He did well to overcome that massive setback.

  3. Maybe it is related to the wine in a slightly more physiological way...

    Either way I feel I slightly undersold Nippon last night. Unoriginal the industrialisation theme may be, but what's neat about it is the worker mechanic. Instead of placing workers you take them, but you're trying to avoid having workers of many colours, as the more diverse your workforce are the more expensive they get.

    When to consolidate (i.e., skip a turn to return your workers and take income) is really key, because a bigger workforce generates better rewards in the final scoring but inevitably means they cost you more short-term. That part is really neat.

  4. I like the sound of Raptor - Nippon sounds intimidating . . . what's WRONG with me!?

    Actually the mention of industrial revolution in Andrew's comment makes me want to play Brass, so I think I'm okay after all. Phew!

  5. Ha. Joe does it make you feel better that one of the designer's names in Nippon is 'Bizarro' ?

  6. Sort of. And then sort of not . . .

  7. I think the rulebook, weirdly, could have been slightly longer. Brevity is great but there could have been a bit more about how everything interconnects.