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Comments on Saturday 27 November 2004:
Board game review - Blitz Und Donner, which is also Hera and Zeus, nothing to do with reindeer after all, is quite good. It's a bit similar to the ill-fated overcomplicated Magic-The-Gathering-like "Netrunner", but minus the annoying 'collectible' factor, and with most of the overcomplication removed. (Netrunner is better than Magic, by the way, if you can endure the initial learning curve. Much more of its strength is in the play, instead of in the deck-choice and luck of the shuffle.)

Unlike Netrunner, the game is symmetrical, in that both players have essentially the same deck (though with some cards having different names), so there's no concern that maybe one side has an advantage. I'm uncertain whether going first is an advantage; the designers seem to think so, since the rule is "whoever lost last time goes first, or whoever's playing Hera does if you've not played before". Sexism! Hera also has the advantage of having quite a nice face on the token, where Zeus has a stupid curmudgeonly face.

The game would be improved by having the special powers of cards printed on the cards instead of a lookup table - presumably this is not the case so as to make internationalisation of the game easier. Also, the rules have a tendency to be written more complicatedly than necessary - the victory conditions include four specific ways the 'hostage' card can be attacked, for example, instead of letting the 'hostage' card behave like any other card (which it does) and having the victory condition being simply "the hostage card is put in the discard pile". To show how much the rules are gibbery as a result of this, here is just one of the four unnecessary victory conditions: "When a player uses Pegasus to challenge a card from his opponent's hand, selects Pandora, and his opponent also has the hostage card (Io or Argus) in his hand, the player wins." (Pegasus challenging Pandora in-hand has already been explained to mean the whole hand is discarded.)

That said, the variety in the victory conditions is clever, similar to Magic - running out of valid actions, losing your last card-in-play, or losing your hostage, three things which balance nicely. Playing too forcefully is likely to mean you run out of cards; playing to minimise card-consumption will likely leave your hostage unprotected or leave you with too few cards in play. And the action limit victory condition (you only go through your deck once) nicely limits the length of the game to about half an hour, even for people new to the game looking up the rules for cards repeatedly. The biggest weakness in the game is that the hostage card is completely safe until you draw it, which puts a bit of a strong luck slant in - that one player might draw their hostage on the first turn, and the other player might have it safe in their deck right up until the end. [13:02]

chelsea
high there
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