J'ai une âme solitaire: Solitaire Boardgaming Megathread!

My copy hasn’t arrived yet but I’m experiencing significant buyer’s remorse having seen your post! I also saw someone saying setup takes 60 minutes…

Although I am still unfeasibly excited by those cute mini maps of the world’s hot spots to the right so maybe the game really is for me :)

I’ve been away for most of the month so hoping to get some proper boardgaming in this weekend. Yesterday I managed a game of Resist! and an aborted one of Black Orchestra.

Resist! is delightful and it seems like there is a fair amount of game there. You launch missions against Franco’s regime with your maquis and hope to cause enough damage to score well before things turn against you and the resistance becomes less effective (you have to burn your best cards to score well, so you eventually run out - there are ways to mitigate this but I haven’t found them yet after one game).

Black Orchestra is the game where you try to assassinate Hitler. It seems mechanically pretty simple and so should be easy to get to the table without worrying about rules refreshers. My game ended prematurely when I launched an assassination attempt extremely early in the game as I did not quite understand the odds, but that also gives me pause a little. There are seven ‘phases’ where Hitler and his cronies wax and wane in power, and it is easier for the player to kill him if he is weak (ie at the start or the end of the game). So I may have an issue with the fact that you likely have to mark time for a good portion of the seven phases, waiting for an opportunity and keeping your guys out of trouble (you play two-handed in the solo mode). I dunno yet.

(Game board at start; I forgot to take a photo later).

So in this first foray into boardgaming, I’m loving the mechanical aspects - seeing how real world events are translated into game mechanics etc. But I haven’t connected with the thematic elements of these games at all - I am totally playing them from a mechanical/mathematical viewpoint, adding up my attack points without considering for a moment how my poor resistance fighters and their families are being ground under Franco’s heel :) Similarly, in Black Orchestra, I am basically just moving counters around, not really connecting anything to the theme (which is pretty great). I wonder how to do this, or if it just comes naturally after a while. Maybe I need to just take a moment before every action and think about what is happening - Isabel is taking out this Counter-Guerrilla so that her village remains safe rather than Attack +2 - I dunno.

I have Mr. President set up on my table (and a desk, and a side table…) and am about halfway through the first turn.

Two caveats on the 60 minutes for setup:

  1. This is first-time only. Mainly driven by the scenario setup telling you to “set X to Y” and you having to find the appropriate marker and then find the right track. I imagine setup time will be cut to a third of that once you know the markers and the board.

  2. Some of the setup involves determining the current domestic/global situation, so is more akin to gameplay than setup. For example, you need to draw chits to set public issue priorities, draw chits to set your cabinet, draw chits to set your supporters and opponents in Congress. All of these change the game dynamics, so while they are technically setup, they are also a bit more engaging and interesting than simply setting markers on the board.

That said, there is an awful lot going on in this game. The recommendation in the rulebook is to set up the sandbox scenario and then use the flipbook to work through the turn sequence before you read the rules. Being halfway through the first turn doing just this very thing, I have to say that I will absolutely read the full Governing Manual (core rules) and reset the scenario as soon as I’m done with Turn 1.

Without understanding how the different game systems interact and how actions and events impact the board state, you can’t really make meaningful decisions on what to do with your actions. I would recommend playing through one turn making relatively arbitrary decisions about actions (Presidential, Domestic, Diplomatic, and Military) just to see how the systems work, where markers go, and how the basic flow of the game works over the course of a turn.

It will definitely take some deep reading and repeated play to truly understand how everything works…and I would be skeptical of any “reviews” of the quality of the game until someone has done just that.

But, so far, I’m very intrigued and impressed. It’s a table hog, but there’s clearly been an enormous amount of effort put into designing this game.

I have Resist! High on my gaming wants. I just backed the witch one as well

Mr. President looks absolutely nuts. I can’t wait to get it to the table, but I also have reservations about it being a viable game, mainly because it’s the designer’s first solitaire design and I’m not convinced he knows what he’s doing. :)

I watched an obviously sponsored video that tried to explain the rules, and it eventually just confessed that you shouldn’t bother trying to learn the rules; instead, you should just follow along in the books and enjoy the ride, oh yeah, don’t read ahead and try to figure things out, because it will only spoil teh fun! Whee!

What a weird take, especially if that’s how GMT is marketing this wacky thing. If I wasn’t getting Mr President in a trade, that video probably would have steered me away for making the game sound like it’s supposed to be played like some dumb No Exit Escape Room narrative, in which the only value is being surprised by the scripted events for the first (and only) time.

I don’t think that’s what Mr President is – my concern is that Mr. President itself doesn’t know what it is – but it does give me even more reservations about this crazy thing.

Whee! Just push buttons and pull levers and see what happens! And maybe if you’re really lucky your mom will put a quarter in the machine! :)

I look forward to reading more about your and @Pedro’s experiences with it.

I came really close to breaking my “no new games” moratorium for Resist, but in the end decided against it for my own (possibly silly) reason: I don’t like that the characters’ actions don’t seem to line up in any thematic way with their identities.

For instance, from your picture, consider Ricardo. He can draw a card when Hidden, and he can halve the defense value of a mission when Revealed. Okay. Why? Who is Ricardo that he can do that? Why does he play differently from Celia and Pilar?Am I supposed to infer something about him from his name, abilities, and artwork? Or are those elements – name, artwork, hidden ability, and revealed ability – just arbitrarily clumped together to create a game component?

It seems to me it’s the latter – characters are just a pair of arbitrary abilities – which robs the game of an important narrative hook. Namely, that when Ricardo appears, I should have an opinion about who he is and what he can do. These characters are, after all, the protagonists! But without any thematic justification or explanation for their abilities, they’re reduced to just another puzzle piece with meaningless names and faces slapped onto them.

I watched (part of) the two videos GMT Games created with Gene Billingsley and found both of them, well, unhelpful. After a decade of designing and developing the game, I think Gene is the last person they should have presenting introductory content.

Again, I think it’s going to take someone playing the game intensely over multiple playthroughs and/or delving deeply into the rules and chart books to really get a grasp on the design.

Things returned to normal with Final Girl today. Same map. Same 1st event where I got the orphan. With her I thought I would quickly rescue the victims… But my first terror card panicked the orphan to the trash compactor which crushed her, sent my horror level to the red and left me with an uphill climb that ultimately saw me clawed to death.

I definitely like how Final Girl plays like a crazy story generator, even if sometimes the stories are anticlimactic or unsatisfying. The one you described yesterday as a dud was pretty interesting!

Mr President looks like a glorious mess and I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments there. It feels like the kind of thing I would have tried to put together when I was 16. I’ll have this marker to track that, oh wait, I have to track this state too so I’ll just shove this little track over here for that. It’s going completely against elegance of design. I love it’s ambition but yeah I am very concerned. There’s no way I can get this to an actual table at my place but they do have a vassal and Tabletop sim module to help with that. I’m glad you’re getting a copy. Not that I think you’ll ultimately like the game but I am curious to what your experience will be and if there is a compelling story that comes out of it.

Yes, it does create great stories. Today’s action was great as various ship things happened. Reminded me a lot of Nemesis in a good way

Thanks for the detailed post and impressions! It sounds like a lot of the initial fun will have to be derived from figuring stuff out, which I’m ok with ;)

I forgot about the witch one so thanks for the reminder; I just backed it based on what I’ve seen from Resist! (just two plays now, but it’ll be seeing a lot of action).

Re: Resist!

You have a very valid point here, and there is a fair bit of shoehorning together of characters and abilities. But! I had a quick look through the deck and it’s not always true - just that the more abstract abilities such as hand discards etc often don’t get matched to a character.

For example, here’s a pic of three cards, most of which work:

Benigno is some kind of waiter or bartender - his ability is to reduce the health of the enemies on the scene of the mission, which you can see him doing by putting something in their beer :)

Ramona is doing something in the left panel which doesn’t relate to the described ability, which is one of the abstract ones. It’s really just establishing her profession for the right panel, where she is breaking a new recruit out of jail (which ties in to the text).

Paquita is some kind of mata hari or bohemeian host, so she has the inside line on what enemies are going to be guarding the commandant or whatever that night. Then she transforms into a zorro-like knife thrower, who can take out two enemies but can’t add any other firepower to the mission (the ‘0’ on top right).

As a counterpoint, here are the three folks you mentioned, who just happen to be pretty weak in the thematic department:

The left hand panels are all pretty weak in their relation to the abilities, and only one (Pilar) really sets up her right hand ability, which is to negate the negative effects of the mission success (via sabotage of some sort, I guess). But in general these three cards seem to work against the theme. I think it is telling that every ability here is one of the more gamey/abstract ones, but nevertheless, they seem to have just backfilled these roles with random villagers, and it looks bad based on these three :)

So it is uneven, and the artwork is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. There is a lot of establishing the character in the left panel solely for the reveal in the right panel.

As mentioned above, the theme of these games seems to boil up and evaporate very quickly for me, and I end up looking at numbers/effects only, but if I was scoring this game it would definitely knock a point or a half point off the final score. Say from an 8.5 to an 8, or 7.5 ;) Would you be harsher than that?

One last thing, look at this guy! It’s hard not to love him, and I definitely wouldn’t chance stealing his stapler!

Aw, those are great! Nicely called out, @Pedro! If that had been a template for how all the characters were designed, I’d probably be all over Resist. But as you pointed out, it’s inconsistent.

Even just a verb for their abilities would have done the job. Something like “Poisoned Drink” for Ricardo and “Metalworking” for Romona, or whatever. Then when the artwork can’t quite get me there, I’ve got an assist from the verbiage. Of course, that would make Resist more language-dependent, so the publishers would have to invest more in localization. Is it worth it just to avoid annoying Tom Chick? Probably not. :)

Well, for starters, I wouldn’t be grading the game like a schoolteacher grading her students’ essays. :) But, yes, fumbled theming in a modest game like Resist would be a major drawback for me and it could easily spell the difference between whether I liked something (three stars!) or not (two stars…womp, womp).

I recently picked up One Deck Galaxy after some of y’all posted about it in the thread, and while I really really like the gameplay, the actual artwork and writing – the theming – is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’ve sucked it up and played through several games, and I especially like how the mechanics are far more varied than in One-Deck Dungeon, but I just cannot abide the nonsense and childish babytalk theming where the sci-fi should be. I’m making myself cringe just thinking about it.

Contrast this with Resist, which at least manages to abide by the low bar of “do no harm” with its theming. Sure, it might fall short, but at least it doesn’t actively alienate me.

5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Mr President: Is GMT’s solitaire boardgame unimpeachable or a one-termer?

19 posts were merged into an existing topic: Mr President: Is GMT’s solitaire boardgame unimpeachable or a one-termer?

I ordered a copy this week as well, but not sure when it is coming. Seems like a fun one to have in a collection that i can pull out every once in awhile. And I don’t have anything nearly of this weight… but as a solitaire game there i no pressure to be perfect with things.

There’s a (lightly-attended) thread about it!

And then got sick of it and played some Exobase instead: Fun tight little placement game.

10 posts were merged into an existing topic: Mr President: Is GMT’s solitaire boardgame unimpeachable or a one-termer?

The Resolute Desk, indeed! Looks great. My copy was due to arrive today but got pushed out to Monday. From reading bits and pieces, it seems it’s more ‘generic’ than I was expecting (eg you pass an ‘immigration bill’ but it’s left up to you to fill in your own mental details as to what it says, rather than pushing you left or right. That makes sense, I guess, and I’m definitely interested in seeing what it says while being apolitical to a degree. I’m guessing all the maps on the right mean you can’t play an isolationist US at least :)

In the meantime I have been playing Black Orchestra (won one game on Easy, rage quit a second on Standard) and a mini game called Belisarius’s War. The eponymous Roman general fights the Vandal barbarian Gelimer for control of the Mediterranean (though after seeing the crimes against counter clipping below, I’m sure there’ll be no doubt about who the real barbarian is).

It’s not strictly a solitaire game (you play both sides) but the only hidden information is what your stack contains under the top counter so no biggie.

Cards have special events (this card seemed really overpowered) and here I was able to remove the garrison at Forum Traiani and smite them with my main expeditionary force at Caraus:

But then the routed enemies joined their brethren at Carthage and the massed forces were too much to take out.

The whole thing came to an end when the Roman forces were making a desperate bid against the clock to reach the last Vandal fortress in Septem (Gibraltar), but suffered a catastrophic event in the Balearics which halved their forces. At the same time, their allies, the Huns in Hippo Regius, defected to Gelimer, meaning that the Vandal victory conditions (leader alive, two fortresses under control) were achieved in one fell swoop:

I wasn’t expecting much from this, but apart from butchering the rules on my first playthrough, it was pretty good! I can see loads of strategic possibilities and scenarios to try for my next few playthroughs. Very impressed with what is a pretty simple game.

All the components are tiny, with the counter text really hard to read. Even the event cards are only the size of about 4 old-timey postage stamps.
The victory conditions need your leader to be alive, and the combat is so severe that you really need to keep him out of battle, which is a shame. So my guys both cowered in their home fortresses for the duration of the game. Might need to house rule this (though I guess there might be some strategy involved in keeping them safe).