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Spider-Man Does Whatever a Spider Can

Bo

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Over the long decades of Spider-Man games that have come and gone, the quality has varied wildly. Some have been really good games for their time. Some had a great idea carrying poor gameplay. More often they were plain bad. No matter the quality, though, one thing they all struggled with was the fundamental issue of capturing the feeling of Spider-Man.

The first Spider-Man on the Playstation was an excellent game. It was also limited in how much it could put Spidey’s real power in the hands of gamers. Maximum Carnage has many nostalgic fans, but it was just a side-scrolling beat-em up. The Spider-Man 2 movie game had terrific web-swinging, but was average or bad at everything else. Often the problems were technological. Other times they were an issue with developer skill or budget. Whatever the case no game really made you feel like the guy you read in comics.

And even more than the actual mechanics of being Spider-Man, games struggled to craft stories of the type that made Peter Parker and his crime-fighting alter-ego so iconic. Ultimately it is the relationships between Peter and his friends and foes that make him so popular. You feel an earnest connection to the conflicts driving his stories. Again, some of the failure here for his gaming adventures involves technology. Spider-Man gaming fell off significantly early in the Playstation 2 lifecycle, and gaming storytelling made significant leaps in that time. More often, though, those games just didn’t try particularly hard.

So how fares Insomniac’s attempt to finally give games a true Spider-Man game? How did they approach these problems? Were they ultimately successful? As an Insomniac Games fan since Spyro the Dragon some 20 years ago, I’m happy to say they made the best attempt yet.

Does Whatever a Spider Can

I’ll start with a pretty definitive statement here; no game has ever, ever had Spidey gameplay coming close to what Insomniac managed with this game. Not only that (and I admit this is purely opinion), Spider-Man has taken the Batman: Arkham formula and completely outdone it.

I won’t pretend the game doesn’t blatantly take the Batman formula. The combat certainly does. It’s the same directional, combo-focused, dodge-and-counter style I enjoyed across four Batman games. Thing is, it also addresses many of the problems in those games. Spider-Man’s enemies do not patiently wait as he beats down their friends. They jump in to stop you. They don’t point their guns forever like they forgot how to fire them. Those suckers get unloaded constantly. Spidey doesn’t gravitate from enemy to enemy like his fists have Bat-magnets pulled towards baddie faces. If you’re caught out of position, you’ll flail stupidly and someone will probably smack you for it.

While certainly inspired by Arkham, Spider-Man has a much more aggressive feel that perfectly suits the more agile, frantic, and plain capable nature of its superhero. Spider-Man isn’t a normal human being with crazy ninja training like Batman. He’s a true superhuman. You dodge bullets and rockets flying all over the place. You web people up, throw stuff at them, or even throw them if they’re properly restrained. Spidey flies around combat zones taking advantage of huge amounts of gadgets and suit abilities. His enemies have armor, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, whips, swords, shock gloves, and sometimes even support vehicles.

It makes for a very fast game with more challenge than I expected. The random baddies you find on patrol are perfectly capable of stomping Spidey into the ground. While nothing close to unforgiving, the game does demand the player get a handle on the combat and understand it. Even when you have your trusty standby style and gadgets, optional challenges encourage you to try the many options in ground and aerial combat. You’ll need to in order to acquire the combat tokens used to upgrade the suits and gadgets you like.

Thankfully, this challenge has nothing to do with poor controls. Spider-Man plays like a dream. The controls are smooth, responsive, intuitive, and quickly become second-nature. This allows the player to effortlessly transition between all the tactics needed for late-game encounters. It’s no problem at all to unleash a combo, dodge someone, counter, duck through a shielded opponent’s legs, web up to an aerial enemy, and unleash a special suit move restraining them all with your web.

In fact, the random baddies can be so surprisingly tough that the boss fights feel almost disappointing. Don’t get me wrong; they play well and usually have properly sizable scope. After hours of beating on upwards of like 50 thugs at a time, though, focusing on only one or two supervillains feels almost tame. Especially when few of them try anything particularly innovative in the combat system.

(The highlights are definitely the 2 fights involving Spidey going solo against 2 supervillains. One keeps the Spidey in the air at all times, while the other involves extensive use of the environment.)

But what about the method of traveling between all these fights? How exactly did Spider-Man manage the always important web-swinging mechanic? We all remember Spider-Man 2 and want something matching it, I know. And I won’t say the physics behind Insomniac’s Spider-Man matches its PS2 predecessor.

You know what? I don’t care. Rather than go for something “realistic,” Insomniac went for fun. Give me this any day.

The most important part of the web-swinging, in my humble opinion, is to make you feel like Spider-Man as he zips around New York City. This game manages that and then some. Besides the obvious swinging from building to building, Spidey can zip to ledges and points, vault off them, dive-bomb to pick up speed, and shoot quick webs to propel him forward and maintain speed around corners. He can run up and along buildings with ease. Transitioning from one move to another really lets players keep the speed up with ease.

Insomniac definitely went for accessibility over depth. The right-trigger button puts the player in something of an automatic parkour mode, and you can basically hold it down as you go and pull off what looks like complicated web-swinging and city traversal. However, this won’t make the most of the web-swinging. There’s a learning curve before you find the groove making the most of the speed and flow the web-swinging is capable of.

While the physics may not match what Spider-Man 2 did, don’t listen to anyone who says physics play no role. You can’t swing if there’s nothing your webs can attach to. Where your webs do attach determines the speed and momentum of your swing. Combined with the zip-lines and quick webs and wall running skills, you’ll need to make the most of all these mechanics and physics to become a truly gifted web-swinger. Especially if you want to complete the various challenges and missions.

Within the story missions, Insomniac blends these gameplay elements with well-placed quick time event button presses to create impressive spectacles. Spidey swings from helicopters and stops falling cranes and smashes through glass ceilings while beating on villains. The scale of these events makes for highly memorable moments after the various side content available between them.

Spider-Man’s open world certainly tries nothing new. You stop random crimes, pick up collectibles, activate towers that fill in the map, and take photos of various landmarks. Nothing about it breaks the mold formed by dozens of open-world games before. Where Spider-Man tends to avoid monotony, though, comes from the speed of these tasks. In the time it takes to scale to a viewpoint in Assassin’s Creed, Spider-Man lets you stop a crime, collect a backpack, activate a tower, and be on your way to the next objective. None of these typically mundane tasks feel mundane because of how quickly you complete them. None of these tasks feel lazy or boring when it’s so easy to check multiple items off the list in like 3 minutes. Thus, Spider-Man’s web-swinging adds a fresh new dynamic to the familiar open-world formula.

Like with the combat, it is this speed that defines the game. If you have an aversion to this kind of open-world repetitiveness, I can’t promise this game will overcome it. If one can, though, this may be it. Besides the brisk nature of these tasks, the game also does a good job pacing them. Right when you might be sick of picking up collectibles, enemy strongholds are revealed. You get sick of that and the challenge missions show up. You get sick of random thugs and the research stations unlock.

Overall, Spider-Man takes advantage of its namesake’s abilities, along with some excellent design, to avoid a lot of the flaws in open-world gaming design. It’s a fresh, updated fusion of Batman and Assassin’s Creed. Almost everything about it plays fantastically. If you have any interest in Spider-Man or open-world games, I can’t imagine feeling dissatisfied. Even if you don’t, I think you’d enjoy this game.

Now It’s Personal

But what about the underlying story and characters driving all this gameplay? After all, who cares about gameplay if I feel no motivation around anything? If you’re a Spider-Man fan, I think you’ll be more than satisfied. Insomniac has a GREAT grasp on what makes Spidey and Peter Parker so appealing.

The game takes place 8 years after Peter acquired his powers, bypassing a lot of the “learning to use your powers” stuff we’ve seen and played a thousand times. This allowed Insomniac to build a rich history of what Spider-Man has already done, what kind of relationships he has with those in his life, and how exactly he lives his life. Insomniac uses this basis to build a story and world operating as a love letter to Spidey comics new and old.

From the beginning, we see a familiar picture: Peter Parker struggling between his personal life and his superhero responsibilities. He has a tense post-relationship dynamic with Mary Jane Watson. He helps Aunt May at a homeless shelter. His professional life takes place in a lab with Otto Octavius, who feuds with Mayor Norman Osborn. Peter isn’t the unsure kid facing these difficulties for the first time. That doesn’t mean he fails to struggle. Early in the game, he even loses his apartment after failing to pay rent on time. Said apartment is cluttered with late notices and makeshift gadgets.

To be honest, I think this is the best version of Peter Parker anyone has ever managed, even in comics. He’s a perfect blend of the struggling, responsible dork and super-capable superhero veteran. He blends effortlessly between cracking jokes and dramatic moments. One moment he’s stopping masked thugs, the next he’s freaking out over a text message MJ took the wrong way. Spider-Man never shies from leaning into these moments and letting the emotion and drama of a moment speak for itself.

Peter’s personal relationships lay at the center of the story. Both of the major villains are mentor figures to Peter. Aunt May and Mary Jane feature prominently, including in gameplay. Miles Morales is introduced during one of the game’s big twists and becomes a prominent character afterwards. A pre-Wraith Yuri Watanabe plays a Commissioner Gordon role, and the banter between her and Pete make for some of the game’s funniest moments. Even the lesser supervillains have a history with Spidey that come into play when he confronts them.

Everything is so steeped in personal history and Insomniac does a terrific job relaying that history.

One considerably controversial piece of storytelling occurs through the occasional stealth sections putting Mary Jane Watson and eventually Miles Morales in the player’s hands. Some dislike these sections for interrupting the Spider-Man gameplay with comparably weak content. I actually like them. They’re easy, forgiving, and typically do a great job giving MJ and Miles a key role in the story. They also serve as a perfect example of something I mentioned earlier: the excellent pacing keeping the open-world Spidey gameplay from becoming monotonous.

These gameplay segments are also used to great effect in some key story moments, making you really feel the tension or tragedy of the moment. Plus they do great things for player investment in those characters. Investigative journalist MJ is easily my favorite MJ ever.

The same can be said of the lab puzzles you perform for Octavius. All of the puzzles are pretty easy, quick, and give useful rewards. They help immerse the player in the shoes of Peter Parker, not just Spider-Man. Not everyone likes them, and I get it. Insomniac does, too. They let the player skip them completely while also receiving the rewards for them. It’s the storytelling purpose of these segments that matter and are why they exist.

Overall the story doesn’t hit any particularly groundbreaking beats. Does it matter when they hit the familiar beats so well? Seeing the degradation of some relationships alongside the rehabilitation of others makes for some fantastically well-told moments. Insomniac succeeds with storytelling no Spider-Man game would attempt 10-20 years ago. Some of the more dramatic plot points rank among some of my favorite video game moments in recent years.

And when it all finally comes to an end, the game pulls no punches. The final boss has all the emotion you’d expect after hours of build-up, and afterwards, Peter is forced to make one last decision perfectly representing the idea of “with great power, comes great responsibility.” In fact, the ending can be seen as a direct rebuke of an infamous Spider-Man story from the 2000s.

Overall, like with the gameplay, no Spider-Man game has ever captured his life this well. Insomniac chose to create a Spidey game for a reason, and I think their love for the character shines in every second of this experience. I wish I could delve into a more spoiler-y summary of it to make this opinion more clear.

Perhaps myself or someone else will eventually, because I think Spider-Man deserves it.

Final Thoughts

I won’t say this is the best game of the year. Not with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey currently receiving hype as the best game the series has put out in years, and definitely not with Red Dead Redemption II releasing this month. You also have to consider God of War, Monster Hunter, Dragon Ball Fighterz, etc….it’s a hard slog to proclaim Spider-Man the best of that bunch.

As a Spidey fan, though, I can’t imagine anything besides Red Dead possibly competing for the title of my favorite game this year. This is the best Spidey game yet.

There’s certainly room to improve. The game kind of bogs down in the final act, with an excessive amount of armed thugs lying around. The open world stuff could be more imaginative. Improvements can be made to the web-swinging. I’d also love to see inspired boss fights taking full advantage of the combat’s depth. Also, no symbiote suit? Really?

Considering the obvious sequel setup this game ends on, I’m sure we will get these improvements and then some. Insomniac knows how to do sequels. Just look at the sequels to Spyro the Dragon or Ratchet and Clank.

For now, though, I prefer to bask in the many, many things Spider-Man does right. I was skeptical this game would be anything more than solid, and feared the worst. Years of Spidey-related disappointments trained to temper my expectations. Instead I got something very, very good, but just short of great. But it was great enough for this Spidey fan.

You can bet that for once, I’ll be ready to pre-order a sequel immediately.


Images Courtesy of Sony Entertainment

Bo

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and continues drifting wearily through the slog of summer TV.

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Gaming

Facade’s ‘Tortuga 1667’ Packs A Lot of Piracy Into A Small Package

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Piracy comes to your table with Tortuga 1667 from Façade Games. Tortuga is a social bluffing game for 2-9 players, each game lasting between 20 and 40 minutes. Players belong to one of two (or three) sides: The British or the French. In games with an odd number of players, there is a solo Dutch pirate. Players do not know who else is on their team, and they are likely not part of the same crew.

Set up is fairly simple, thanks to Façade’s design: lay out the map, pass out starting vote cards, and set up the event deck. Most importantly, players starting locations, and therefore roles, are chosen randomly by choosing meeples out of a bag. This randomization mechanic is becoming more popular, and I love the way it streamlines set up. Also given out randomly? Your loyalty cards.

Crew members receive their role based on their position on deck. If you are at the front of the line, congratulations, you are now the captain of that ship. The person behind you, assuming there is one, is your first mate. Ideally, you trust them. The person at the back of the line is the cabin boy. This might sound like you’re low on the totem pole, but you are the only one who can move treasure once it’s been placed. It is possible to be the captain or first mate and the cabin boy, if your crew is small enough. The captain of The Flying Dutchmen goes first.

There are five locations players can go to during the game. Two ships (The Flying Dutchmen and The Jolly Roger) two row boats, and Tortuga. The titular Tortuga is where players will find themselves marooned if they are kicked off their ship. The rowboats allow access back on board either ship, but can only carry one player at a time. Similar to the ships, Tortuga also has a track with meeples filling in from top to bottom. Are you the first player on the island? Welcome, Mayor! Everyone behind the mayor has the same role: a voting member on the island.

The victory condition for Tortuga is to get the most treasure for your country by the end of the game. If you are a solo Dutch pirate, your goal is to make sure both the French and the British have the same amount of treasure at the end. The game ends when the Spanish Armada card is revealed to all players. This mechanic allows game time to fluctuate: less cards in the deck means a shorter game. It also means no one knows quite when the end will come, providing tension as the deck grows smaller.

What does play actually look like? For us it was a lot of cooperation at first. We all wanted to get treasure, regardless of which side we were on. The only way to get treasure is to work together—a captain with no crew cannot win a battle. We exchanged vague plans and preferences, hoping to come to an understanding without revealing confidential information. Eventually, people started to decide who to trust. People were kicked off boats. The mayor of Tortuga ruled over quite a few brawls. My captain betrayed me. It was a wild journey, full of cannons and mutiny.

Tortuga is a quick, dynamic, and beautifully historic game with high replayabiltiy. The packaging is stunning, as is a hallmark of Façade Games. If you have always wanted to deal with scurvy, mutineers, and stolen goods, this game is for you. If the idea of lying to your friends, marooning them on an island, and leaving them for broke makes you seasick, seek different waters.

I give Tortuga 1667 5 out of 5 Dubloons.

 

 


Images Courtesy of Facade Games

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Gaming

Vampire The Masquerade Fifth Edition Does More Than Update Its Setting

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It’s a bad night to be a vampire; it’s a great night to play a vampire. Vampire the Masquerade V5 is not a reboot, it’s a continuation of the Vampire storyline within the World of Darkness. These nights, the human world poses more of a threat to vampire survival than the other way around. The gameplay mechanics have changed to reflect that tension, while allowing for more of a narrative driven story.

So let’s take a look at the biggest changes seen in the new edition of Vampire the Masquerade:

The Second Inquisition

Our world has changed, and the World of Darkness has changed with it. Gone are the days of waking up, dead, and being able to go by a new name in a new town. We have cameras now, everywhere. They’re in the pockets of every possible meal. Those cameras come with facial recognition software. Someone is going to know if your face shows up but you’re dead. That someone is The Second Inquisition.

The Second Inquisition is the Big Brother vampires we never thought to fear. Major intelligence agencies around the globe have discovered the existence of “blank bodies”: individuals who do not show up on a body scan. What does this mean for players? First and foremost, your vampire character should avoid the internet. And cameras. And flying. Be wary of who you trust and ally yourself with. The Second Inquisition are not the only ones watching.

 The Beckoning

Vampiric society is hierarchical. The older you are, the more powerful you are. V5 allows for players to create characters between the 10th and 16th generations. The Elders, those of the 6th-9th generations, are experiencing something they call “The Beckoning.” We just established that you won’t be playing an Elder, so what does this matter to you as a player?

The Beckoning is calling those vampires of the 9th generation and older away to the Middle East. This means that the leadership of most of the vampire society is leaving. Younger vampires have the opportunity to move up in the world. Not only has this changed the politics of the vampire world—the Camarilla and the Anarchs are no longer at peace—but it means even the Thin-bloods can find a place in the night.

Story Over Dice

One of the goals of the developers for V5 was to prioritize the story over the rules of the game. The core rulebook is filled with suggestions on ways to enjoy more narrative driven sessions. These suggestions are based around the idea of pacing. Does rolling dice add to the tension or take away from it? That decision can be made scene to scene or session by session.

The rules of the dice themselves have changed as well. Vampire is still a d10 system, but the mechanics have been streamlined. Successes are now determined by a 6 or above for all rolls, instead of looking for a target number. Combat requires one roll per engagement, and that could be social or physical.

The Hunger

One set of dice, however, are more important. Hunger dice in V5 supply a constant threat. Narratively, these dice represent not only how badly a vampire needs blood, but they also dictate the will of The Beast—the personification of the feral hunger at the heart of vampiric existence. The higher a vampire’s Hunger, the more of their dice pool becomes hunger dice. These dice carry the threat of messy critical and bestial failures.

Normally, a critical success is the best type of roll a player can see. However, if the critical is scored due to a player’s hunger dice, it becomes messy. The goal of the roll is still achieved, but it is achieved by a monster. Bestial failures are even worse: you fail at your objective and you still make a mess. In the age of The Second Inquisition, these messes need to be dealt with, and quickly.

Tensions are running high for vampires everywhere, but as players that just adds to the excitement. Will you play as a Camarilla agent desperately seeking to protect the Masquerade? A Thin-blood vampire seeking a way up in their new nightly world? Or maybe an Anarch seeking to embrace this new reality? The night is yours to explore.


Images Courtesy of White Wolf

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Reviews

Barbearians: Battlegrounds Is A Fitting Addition To Greenbrier’s Eclectic Catalog

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When I first saw the logo for the Massachusetts-based Greenbrier games, I sort of made a snap judgement for what sort of company I was about to meet with. Bloody and apocalyptic, it makes you think that Greenbrier will tap into the darker side of gaming. So it was quite the surprise to arrive and see their newest game be a little strategy game starring adorable little bears.

 

Much cuddlier in person

After speaking with VP and COO of Greenbrier Julie Ahern, I learned that Greenbrier has an incredibly diverse stable of games for a company its size. Their philosophy, I was told, was simply to make games that are fun to play. And while some of their games like Zpocalypes (their first and no doubt inspiration for their logo) and Folklore: The Affliction are certainly as dark as one might expect, they also can see the lighter side of things. Examples include the card puzzle game Burger Up, the dice battle game Ninja Dice, and their newest game released in collaboration with Leaf Pile Games: Barbearians: Battleground, a game who’s rather cutesy appearance belies a surprisingly deep level of strategy.

A Bear There Was! A Bear! A Bear!

Go ahead and groan. That pun is just the tip of the icebearg

Barbearians: Battlegrounds came into being during the development of Champions of Hara, a sci-fi adventure game released this year. While putting together that game, the developers  started messing around with wordplay involving the denizens of the world. One thing led to another, and they ended up turning the aliens into bears and developing a whole new game around the little fuzzy creatures.

The game is a “simultaneous secret-action, dice-puzzle, worker placement game”, where up to four players square off to make their clan of bears the most powerful in the forest and cement their place in the legends. Each player gets a a village board and a clan screen that correspond to their chosen bears: the nordic seafaring Ice Bear Clan, the Ewok-like Forest Bear Clan, the dark and industrial Fire Bear Clan, and the nomadic Desert Bear Clan.

Your clan screen also acts as a “cheat sheet” for gameplay so you don’t have to keep scrambling for the rulebook

The boards represent the places in your village where your clan’s bears do their work, whether it be warrior bears off to raid the neighbears or honey bears tending the village hives. These bears are represented by dice of which each player gets three to start, but that number can be increased to five throughout the course of the game. Players also receive Glory Tokens, the ultimate resource in the game: first to seven wins. Finally, players get a Trial Card, a card that essentially acts as a “quest” for them to complete that earns them one or more Glory tokens. Some of these are easy, like generating 5 resources in a round, while others are harder, like fending off an 11 strong force of bears attacking. As the game goes on, successful completion of these trials are vital to leading your clan to victory.

Barbearic Battles

The game proceeds through a rigid series of four rounds: Plan, Brawl, Gather, and Build. Half open and half secret, the Plan phase is probably one of the unique parts of the game and where a great deal of the strategy comes into play. Players actually roll all of their dice together, meaning that each clan will know what their neighbear’s bearpower will be going into the next round. An unlucky clan who rolls many ones might be a ripe target for a raid, while one with higher numbers would prove to be a formidable foe.

These numbers also can give you an idea of what resources a clan might gather, as low numbers  let a clan gather honey and high numbers let them refine ore at the Forge. Any number can be used to gather Faith, though a six placed here can either double your faith or make your glory untouchable by raiders. The players then place their dice where they want, hidden from the others by your clan screen. Then, either all together or in order, the players pull their screens back and reveal their plots.

You can actually see your village develop over time as you add specialists to the board

The Brawl phase is where you send your bloodthirsty packs of adorable bear warriors to raid and pillage the enemy clans (or pray to the Bear God that the bears you put on defense will keep your honey safe). This is pretty straightforward, with the larger army (represented by the numbers on the dice allocated for attack) defeating smaller ones. But victory in the field is not enough to get to a clan’s riches. Your diminished forces must then contend with your rival’s defenses, should they have them. If you still have the bigger army, or they are defenseless, than the world is your honeypot and your bears can walk away from the enemy village with two resources or  a glory token (should they have any that are unlocked).

Then comes the Gather phase, when players simply count up what their industrious bears have done while their friends were off doing murder-theft. These resources are then spent on the final phase: the Build phase. Here, you can spend your resources on Specialists, which give +1 to resources or defense depending on their type, Reinforcements, which permanently adds another die to your pool, and the Grand Offering, where you give your gathered wealth up to the Bear God to gain a new glory token. Finally, you may buy Upgrade cards, special buffs you can attain to help your bears during the game, most of which are centered around truly glorious puns. My favorite was “The 2nd Amendment,” which increases your ability to empower your bears and which has arts of bears wielding an assortment of weapons. Yup, its the right to arm bears.

Not all of the things in the Marketplace are for the Build phase exclusively, however. Two of them occur during the Plan phase: Hire A Mercenary, which add special purple dice to your pool and increase your bearpower for that turn, and Change Fate, which allows a die to be rerolled. The Empower ability is bought and used during the Brawl stage, and it allows you to give +1 power to your raiders or your defenders, depending on where it’s needed.

You thought the puns were over with?

Ursome Game or Teddy-ous Chore?

 

I really enjoy this game. Strategy games are some of my favorite to play with friends, but it’s hard to cordon off the 38 hours needed to do a full game of Risk or Eschaton (as much as I love that game). Barebearians: Battlegrounds lets you scratch that strategic itch in under an hour. It’s something that is much less common than you’d think: a strategy party game. The easy to understand rules and adorable art means it also is a great gateway drug for people new to the genre. The mixture of hidden choices and open roles means that there’s also a deduction element thrown in as you try to guess your opponents moves even as you plan your own. They also allow for multiple playstyles, meaning you also have to get a feel for if your neighbor is trying to become a raiding juggernaut, a hero of the Trials, or something even more powerful.

If there is a downside to this game, its that it tends to snowball pretty quickly. While all players are equal in the beginning, a few successful rounds can put rival clans at a disadvantage that is very difficult to overcome. A lot of this comes down to the Trial cards, which add an element of RNG to how rapidly you accumulate glory. As an example, one player in my test game got lucky with a few easy trial cards that let them get close to victory very early. In fact, the other players didn’t even get a chance to finish their own trials. Even as players get more and more powerful, that extra buffer of Glory means the lucky player has much less work to do to win.

The other problem, albeit one I’m sure Greenbrier can easily remedy, is the rather small scope of the game. Maxing out at four players seems overly limiting considering the fun and accessible it is. Bumping the player max up to six or more would definitely open the game up to really become something that could be great for parties.

Despite a few minor issues that really don’t spoil and of the fun this game provides, this was a big surprise for me coming out of GenCon. It is very much a hidden-gem and a must have for anyone who loves strategy, deduction, and of course, bears.

It gets 4 stars (or honeypots if you like) out of 5

 

 

BarBearians: Battlegrounds releases this fall and will retail for $24.95. For more information on this game and others, you can visit Greenbrier’s website. And, as always, keep an eye on the Fandomentals for updates and reviews on the latest games and more from Greenbrier Games!

 


(Big thanks to GreenBrier Games and Julie Ahern for the review material and the images used in this review)

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