Review – Old World/New World from Victory Point Games

OWNW_SlipCover_v0-2   OWNW_SlipCover_v0-2 Review – Old World/New World from Victory Point Games Design: Aaron Smith Art: Vinh Ha, Brett Mitchell Time for a review. And time is an appropriate world here as this is a relatively new game from Victory Point Games called, Old World/New World. Thanks to VPG for a copy of the game for review. For 2-4 players ages 13+ (I would say that 11+ would be a good age minimum) From the rules – In Old World New World you take command of explorers trying to find their destiny in a recently discovered land. The map is revealed as you play against up to three opponents, with each of you trying to shape the land to best benefit your own side. With player-controlled events such as Barbarians, Tornados, and Bribery, no plan goes unhindered and anyone could find themselves mapping their own destiny! My unashamed love affair with Victory Point Games continues as they have ramped up their production schedule and are putting an increasingly broad range of games out for us to play. With limited time to review games nowadays, I have to be selective as to what games I want to invest time in and Old World/New World caught my attention as to something worth a look as it seemed unusual and the art striking. In keeping with VPG’s war/historical game roots, Old World/New World has an attractive historical theme – based on the exploration of the new world by European explorers. Mind you, the theme, to be clear, is not a factor in the game other than on a very basic level whatsoever as this is not a historical game, rather an abstract game of movement and positioning. Unboxing The current standard of VPG’s components continues to be very good. Here’s is what you get in the box – 72 Cards – 58 Terrain cards This is what attracted me to this game. The terrain cards are lovely and as the core of the game, they are a pleasure to play with. The cards are square, rather than the traditional rectangle shape and they depict land and waterways. Each card is divided into for smaller squares which are used to regulate the movement of your soldiers (on land) or waterways (ships). The terrain is differentiated between green land and brown/yellowish mountains and blue waterways. Cards with 4 mountains are volcanos. Some of the cards have images depicting camps for land movement and ports for waterway movement. These cards are laid out as the game progresses and create the game board/map. OWNW_MapCards3_v0-7OWNW_MapCards3_v0-7 – 14 Action cards Again, the artwork is lovely and has a vey nice feel for the theme. These cards are special events/actions and are used by players to help themselves or hurt other players. There aren’t many, but some are quite powerful so there is a nice “take that” aspect, if you enjoy that sort of thing. OWNW_MapCards3_v0-7OWNW_MapCards3_v0-7 One small challenge is shuffling as the square shape makes it a little more tricky to shuffle the cards compared to the traditional rectangle shape of cards. Not a problem, just a case of getting used to it. – 38 Counters – 24 Units (6 in each colour) representing soldiers and ships – 2 Natives 12 Border pieces OWNW_CountersTest_v0-8 OWNW_CountersTest_v0-8 The units are nicely illustrated and evocative of the theme but I think that they could be a bit larger. They are a bit too small for me. A minor quibble. Interestingly, you have border pieces which you need to put together to create the playing area within which you will play your terrain cards. It works reasonably well but you do need to be a bit careful not to knock it about and disrupt the cards that have been laid out. The border has arrow marks on all four sides which are the locations that each player is trying to move their units to. And here is how it looks being played… OWNWlayout Gameplay Old World/New World is a very simple game to play. It’s easily learned and easily taught so you can get playing pretty quickly. The objective of the game is to be the first player to get 3 points. The sequence of play is as follows: 1. Play 2 cards and perform any Free Moves. Options for playing a card are: – Place a terrain card or play an action card – Burn a card – you use a terrain card to “pay” for moving your units In addition, you can take Free moves where you move soldiers/ships across the card grid through consecutively connected camps and ports. OR Discard any number of cards from your hand. 2. Refresh hand to 5 cards. 3. Play passes to the left. Ultimately, you will be placing your terrain cards down in such a way as to create paths from your side of the playing area to the opposite side, aiming to exit 3 of your units before the other players. Terrain cards can be placed in any orientation on any empty map section on the board to create a path for the units to Move through or to block opposing units. Terrain cards must be aligned properly with the grid. Units enter the game when a player places a card with a camp or port along their side of the playing area border. Units are exited through the arrow markings on the opposite border. Then the players try to place their terrain cards to create paths that can be traveled by their units from their border to the opposite side. Its not as easy as it sounds as Soldiers can only travel on green or mountain terrain and ships only on the waterways. The units have a soldier side and a ship side which means that you will need to flip between each side according to the terrain traveled (this costs a burned card unless a particular action card is played). And, very importantly, you can only flip units if there is a camp icon and a port icon adjacent to each other which makes things interesting, frustrating and challenging. You will find yourself creating pathways which are then blocked by other players and then you will look for other options or play action cards to create a subtle but important opening to travel through. Units move in straight lines for each move. If you burn a card, a unit can move as far in one straight line as you would like and are legally allowed to. The Free moves are from camp to camp in a straight line or port to port and can be the game winner for you. You can take as many free moves as you are able and if you can create a connected path that is long enough, you can move your units quite a ways across the board. But of course, your opponents will have other ideas. I found that the game play is smooth, and moves along well. Its starts off fast and then slows as players conflict with each other whilst trying to create their pathways and make things more difficult for their opponents. You are also limited to the cards you draw to there will be times when you will be stuck for a good play and may decide to discard to hopefully pull better cards. The action cards come into play and since there aren’t too many, you will have to look for the best time to play them for maximum benefit or damage to opponents. Timewise, it can slow down towards the endgame as you are struggling to create those final ends of pathways or find alternatives to blocked pathways. I would say 45 minutes is a fair time length to expect it to play out.   Did I enjoy Old World/New World? I’m normally rather neutral about abstract games to be honest and this is an abstract, make no mistake. Abstract game fans will definitely find this to be a challenging and enjoyable game. The theme doesn’t really matter too much but it adds a visual appeal that works nicely and brings a geographic visualisation and meaning to the moves you need to make. However, for me, this is at the top end of the type of abstracts that I find very enjoyable. So an absolute thumbs up. I love the way it looks and feels. The theme gives me something to connect to. The rules and gameplay are very simple and move quickly. I love the confrontational aspect and the degree of chance in terms of card draw and action cards kept me challenged and guessing throughout. Yes the game slows down in the end phase as my brain was crunching and I was desperately searching for alternative options to move my units. The level of tension is high as this is a difficult game to win. I found it challenging to keep an eye on the most useful pathways and found myself hoping that if only I could get a certain card. Old World/New World is a fun game, full of surprises yet with a good element of control over your own destiny. It plays fast enough that you can quickly set up and play again and I suspect that you will want to for sure. The visual production, despite some very minor quibbles, is a treat for the eyes. Its not a game for everyone as it won’t be suited to those who only enjoy heavy games and if you are looking for an historical game, you will need to look elsewhere. If you like this kind of mix in gameplay, you will have a great time and probably need aspirin for the headache afterwards. A good, fun game that is light, yet challenging. Well done Aaron Smith and the good peeps at Victory Point Games! For more information go to – http://victorypointgames.com/details.php?prodId=255

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s