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GeekNights Tuesday - Innovation and Village

edited August 2013 in GeekNights

Tonight on GeekNights, we review the mediocre Innovation and the basic but well done Village. Skip the former, but use the latter as a nice intermediate board game. In the news, Games for Windows Live dies, and Origin will allow refunds of EA games. Rym also geekbites Fire Emblem: Awakening (it's no Advance Wars). Come see us at PAX Prime, where we'll be presenting Bad Games and gaming at the Pre-PAX Sky High Tabletop Play Benefitting Food Lifeline!

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Post edited by Rym on


  • Interesting I have a few people singing praise for Innovation and not people who don't know a good game. Haven't tried yet myself.
  • Interested to eat your take on Innovation. It's light enough for newbs but not at all a serious game. Too bad I'm stuck at work for the next ~4 hours.
  • My copy is for sale if anyone wants it.
  • Hear. Damned auto correct.
  • I quite liked "eat your take".
  • edited August 2013
    I didn't get to the reviews part of this episode yet, but I had a question about the old Fire Emblem games. Were there even relationships in those old games? I played the originals that were ported to GBA and don't remember any of this dating and marriage crap.

    In any case the opinion on the franchise holds for me. I had a real defining young gamer experience with Shining Force on the Genesis, and Fire Emblem helped scratch that itch many years later. I enjoyed the first one, never finished the second, and wanted to throw the Gamecube one in the trash (but begrudgingly finished it).

    As for Innovation, gonna listen to that part soon. I played the game once and my only criticisms were the crappy graphic design, and that it took a bit long to teach for what we got out of it (also could be helped by stronger graphic design). I thought the gameplay itself was fairly solid. There is a re-make coming, btw, for those who like the game but hate the art.

    As Scott J said, though, the general consensus of those "in the know" is that Innovation is a good game, so looking forward to hearing the criticism. You guys are hard to please but also back your shit up, which is a big part of why people listen to GeekNights

    I am a fan of Village, and the "good intermediate game" take is accurate. I use it as a next step up from Ticket to Ride/Zooloretto. There is an expansion that launched at Gen Con ("Village Inn") which adds new buildings and might push it into "gamer's game" territory. I'm sure I'll check it out at some point.
    Post edited by Matt on
  • RymRym
    edited August 2013
    Interested to eat your take on Innovation. It's light enough for newbs but not at all a serious game. Too bad I'm stuck at work for the next ~4 hours.
    The problem is that it's not light. A player has to process a LARGE amount of information to play effectively, including memorization, card counting, and state-of-game checks.

    This game is only "light" if players don't really understand it or aren't really playing seriously to win.

    Post edited by Rym on
  • The issue I have with the game is simpler: there are 5 combination of cards that you can use to go and win the game, you know if you have this combination by the 3rd age, at that point everyone can look at their hands and determine the winner based off of that information.

    The game is solid but not good and colleges of mine and I broke the game down and tried to redesign it to make it better.
  • edited August 2013

    Innovation: In your comparison to Glory to Rome, did you actually note that they are made by the same guy?

    I feel validated on my complaint of "this game took way too fucking long to teach." That, and the fact that it took us just over an hour to play a 2-player game is why I actually haven't revisited Innovation in the 2 years since I first played it. It's still sitting on my shelf though, b/c I thought it would be really fun once we did memorize the cards. Yeah, that hasn't happened.

    The thing I remember about enjoying the game was that I thought the splaying mechanic was neat. You are right though about the heuristics though.

    Village: Did you guys ever wind up pulling somebody back from a job and re-assigning them? It's an alternate use for the well.

    I like how the usefulness of each job is balanced by the number of available grave spaces, and I've pulled some good fake-outs before where you pull back an old guy and then send him to something like traveling, only to immediately die. Pisses off the guy who had a traveler there for 5 turns assuming nobody else would threaten his spot in the book.

    Some people do have issues with games where it makes sense to act against the theme, like intentional starvation in Stone Age. Doesn't bother me much though.
    Post edited by Matt on
  • I did not realize Innovation and Glory to Rome were made by the same guy.

    I did not realize in Village that the well could be used in that way. We only played once, two player, so there wasn't that much competition for spaces. Cock blocking was never really necessary in that way.
  • I did realize and was constantly comparing. Glory to Rome is much more elegant in its execution and has fewer nouns and verbs to learn.
  • Ah, I played Innovation long before Glory to Rome. I remember being fairly confused by Innovation, and not really "getting" it. Looking back on it, I can definitely see the mark of Chudyk on it - but GtR is a vastly superior game.
  • You guys should catch up with Hansa Teutonica.

    Keyflower is a another recent one that is pretty strong.
  • Terra Mystica is at the top of my to-play list.
  • Also, if you like castles in games, play Torres. It's probably my favourite fiddly pieces/castle building game of all time.
  • Terra Mystica looks really good but I've read of 3+ hour sessions. Nice thing about the two I mentioned is 60-90 minute playing time.
  • The problem is that it's not light. A player has to process a LARGE amount of information to play effectively, including memorization, card counting, and state-of-game checks.

    This game is only "light" if players don't really understand it or aren't really playing seriously to win.

    Perhaps I've played too many card games over the years and have become too adept at memorizing what cards do. Perhaps my working memory can be incredibly fast at times? I typically don't have that problem but I do see people struggle with that frequently.

    You are spot on about the "not playing to win" part. Leaving out a story proving it, I will say it's a fantastic game with 2 players. The cognitive load is immensely diminished, the game plays much faster, and it's speed goes through the roof. I have not enjoy the times I've played it with more than 2 players.
  • You guys should catch up with Hansa Teutonica.
    I own that and STILL can't convince people to play it.
  • Terra Mystica is a really good game. It's not perfect, but I had a lot of fun with it the one time I played. Took us just over 2 hours w/ 4 players, some new.

    I played as the hobbits, and felt that their special power opened up a lot of cool and interesting strategic choices for what territory I wanted to conquer. Nobody else seemed to have any overpowered abilities, but there are quite a few I didn't get to see yet.

    The game lends itself to a lot of analysis and planning ahead, so it can bog down to those 3+ hour sessions if you have slow players. I am so thankful that I have a good regular gaming group.

    What won me over was the magic pool. I'll be honest, I thought it was a pretty obvious move to cull a few of those tokens out ASAP, but the way the system applies restricitons on how you to earn your tokens, charge them up, and use them is pretty cool.

    The board art and such is a bit weak. I almost wrote the game off as "ugly Small World" but gave it a chance and the gameplay won me over.
  • Also, the new expansion for Village is getting excellent reviews and ramps up the complexity.
  • There are way too many new games that I can't keep up! (-_-;)

    Also this episode has made me realize that I've made poor choices in the games I've purchased.

    (ScRym sucks.)
  • You guys should catch up with Hansa Teutonica.
    I own that and STILL can't convince people to play it.
    It's definitely a dry cube pusher but damn if the displacement mechanic isn't brilliant.

  • You guys should catch up with Hansa Teutonica.
    I own that and STILL can't convince people to play it.
    I totally want to play Hansa. We could defect from Scott's Dune game next week.
  • Some people complain about the action upgrade track being too critical but you'll realize after a few plays you can win even if you are behind someone on this (just not too far behind). Sort of like bidding up the Jesters in Princes of Florence. Players can have them, but just make them pay.
  • I don't know if the review gave Innovation a fair shake, not having played it all the way through, but there are probably enough good games out there that there's no reason you should slog through a game just because it might get better for you at the end. Still, I think a lot of the fun comes from the crazy end game (Fission anyone?) and I've enjoyed the few games of Innovation I've played. I don't consider it a very heavy or even medium weight game in the slightest. While it may require a ton of memorization and analysis to play ultra-effectively, I think the key is that you're not meant to try and play that way. Many games could be analyzed to death in order to find the optimal path, but there's something to be said about being able to relax a bit and make decisions based on what you find to be fun or interesting. To me, this is the spirit of what Innovation strives for.

    You're right that the theme is tacked on, but it's not unimportant. While the theme doesn't have much influence on the mechanics, it does serve to aid in remembering cards. With just a couple play-throughs, you'll find it easy to recall the effects of a few favorite cards by name, and the ages help to pinpoint when they'll show up.

    The terminology is a bit of a problem because of it's barrier to entry. I remember looking at the newer Iello version of the game, and I seem to remember the terminology being changed to be much more intuitive. If explained properly and upfront, I haven't found the original terminology to be all that difficult for new players. I also tend to give it a pass because it introduces a newish set of mechanics. I figure if you create something new, you get to call it whatever you want. :-)

    I think the game is worth trying if you haven't done so. I tend to think every game is worth trying, though.
  • Playing without trying to find the optimal path is ludicrous. Board games are a big time investment, and require that bond of trust where everyone knows the other players are playing the game "properly," or else the game will break down. If the proper way to play is some fuzzy "sorta trying" manner, the odds of everyone finding the right point are slim to none. Somebody will screw it up or have a bad time. Play to win or don't play at all.
  • It's probably important to define a few things. There is a difference between trying to find an optimal path (which is effectively trying to solve the game) and playing to win. We're talking about degrees to which a person invests time and effort in finding the best plays, and I'm merely suggesting that this is the type of game in which it's more fun for everyone if good flow outweighs exhaustive analysis. The decisions become more automatic as you naturally learn the cards, in much the same way that Android Netrunner requires a lot of card reading at first, but things can really fly once you understand how things affect one another.

    Speaking of Netrunner, I ran across an interesting podcast the other day where Richard Garfield speaks about Innovation and covers a few things discussed here:
  • I watched the first link I found for "Two Best Sisters Play Persona 4" and it didn't say that much about what's silly about Persona games. It more taught me that screaming into a mic will somehow enhance the joke your telling. I guess there's more to that than just that video? I don't know if I want to watch more. I've already played the Persona games. Whatever they say, I think people would actually be interested in playing Persona by the end of it, rather than have a laugh and move on.

    I think the production values are very good. I like them doing something different from the That Guy with the Glasses style of MST3K spawn.
  • It appears that you can Try before you buy with innovation now. Thanks to Pence for letting me know.
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