Because I’m a goober, yesterday’s early game was unwrapping, punching, and playing Pendragon.
We figured, you know, it’s a COIN game, how hard could it be? It’s kind of hard!
Mostly it’s hard because everything is unpronounceable, you know? Takes forever to find specific little hillfort locations or whatever. And the victory conditions are opaque, but that’s not uncommon in the COIN series.
So the four factions are the Dux and Civitates making up “the Britons,” and the Saxons and the Scotti making up “the barbarians.” I thought fitting Falling Sky to a counter insurgency model was a stretch but it’s just as stretchy here: at least in the short demo scenario, the barbarians are offshore invaders, not local counterinsurgents. I mean functionally the game works great, you just don’t see typical dynamics like the south Vietnamese in Fire in the Lake or the Taliban in A Distant Plain. There’s no local support, only area control.
Lots of innovations to the COIN scaffolding. The big one that jumped out at us was this political grid explaining how the Britons are ruled; eventually the island will experience political fragmentation, and the Dux and Civitates stop being pals. Nifty!
In some ways the game is simpler than other iterations. Like, the barbarian factions have a pretty straightforward move set: raid, pillage, send the plunder home, settle the mainland, and mmmaybe stage up a big fight. I like that it’s not so very opaque.
I think the only bit of the game I didn’t fall in love with is the Battle system. It’s super conditional and fussy, lots of exceptions and options and references to things that most likely only happen every few games due to card draws. It works and I’m sure it can be mastered to great effect! But fussy, so fussy.
We only got about seven cards (turns) into the game but man it looks like it’ll be good. My head wrapped around it much better than it did Falling Sky.