Because I’m a goober, yesterday’s early game was unwrapping, punching, and playing Pendragon.

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.

33 thoughts on “Because I’m a goober, yesterday’s early game was unwrapping, punching, and playing Pendragon.”

  1. One of the features that really stood out to me was the foederati. I’m going to power up my thing by giving a future benefit to my enemy. Don’t worry…that benefit will be small…inconsequential…you’ll hardly even notice…

  2. Ralph Mazza yeah! I love that. We didn’t make it through an Epoch and it looks like that’s where the rubber meets the road. I think we saw an event card as well.

  3. Trevis Martin conventional wisdom usually says Cuba Libre, because the map is small and it’s essential COIN, without any of the widgets that have appeared since then. It’s pretty compact!

    If you have experience with wargames, assuming you don’t trip over the lack of hexes and chits, I’d recommend A Distant Plain. It’s still my favorite, mostly because of the subject matter and because the conflicting asymmetrical victory conditions are most delicious.

    I’ve played the most of Liberty or Death but it’s the first one to really stretch the counter insurgency model of the engine. It also adds a lot of widgets. But, as an American, the map and the ideas were immediately understandable and that’s a huge help imo. It takes a nontrivial amount of bandwidth to navigate maps covered in foreign terminology.

  4. Neil Robinson in the States “goober” us usually meant as a lighthearted not-quite-insult along the lines of “you’re such a dweeb/dork/goob/goober”. (Or it was where i grew up.)

  5. Neil Robinson oh yeah doofus is right there adjacent to goober. Chucklehead too. Nerd used to be more mean but we’ve reappropriated it. Dweeb implies physical frailty. Goofball implies comedy.

  6. Neil Robinson so about unpronounceability: there’s a super handy pronunciation guide at the back of the Playbook (they always include supplemental stuff like design essays, history about EVERY CARD, etc.).

    It’s goofy! Civitates is kee-wah-tah-tis WHAT? I might just be an uneducated colonial, though. We used to say “vitae” vee-tay in my Vampire/Mage/WoD days.

  7. In high school, kids would look at me funny when I would use the pronunciation I learned in Latin class for stuff in, say, history class. I’d go, “Ew-leeus Kai-sar” and they’d be all “WTF is wrong with you?”

  8. Sometimes people pronounce Ars Magica as “Ars Ma-gee-ka” instead of “Ars Ma-juh-ka” and we have to say, yes we know that’s technically correct but this is the 13th century

  9. Hans Messersmith‚Äč, I actually have my copy of this game and have walked through the tutorial! After we finally play Cuba Libre, I plan to try and tempt you and Derek Smyk‚Äč (and hopefully one more person) into a game!

  10. All Latin words to be pronounced phonetically based on current English pronounciation standards. If the Romans wanted their words pronounced correctly they shouldn’t have let the Germans beat them.

    This, I think is the essential core of Pendragon…the Anglo Saxons won.

    Siv-i-tah-tees it is.

  11. I pronounce them all randomly and then mock anyone who pronounces them differently as historically innacurate based on some bullshit about the intersection of Gaelic, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon.

    It’s hours of fun.

  12. Brand Robins‚Äč bonus points if you use your best Cliff Clavin voice while doing it…

    Extra bonus points if none of the kidz catch you because they’re all too young to know who Cliff Clavin is.

  13. Fredrik Bermar‚Äč‚Äč oh I love COIN games, and this one jumped into my top three right away. We couldn’t complete it but I’m not surprised, first runs of COIN are always painful.

    Games in the series typically take 4-5 hours if we stick to short scenarios. I think if we played more consistently we could get through a short scenario in 3.

    I slogged through the “full” scenario of Fire in the Lake (Vietnam) in about 6 hours once playing with very experienced players.

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