So this is something I’ve been considering doing for a while now – reviews of my experience playing board games.
Note: This is not a review of the board game’s overall quality, simply of my own experience thereof. Take from it what you will, but above all remember that what I enjoy and what you will enjoy are unlikely to be identical.
So, The Reckoners – as it’s based on a Brandon Sanderson novel series that I really enjoyed, I’ll start by talking about the theme: It works.
The theme is not amazingly strong, but it is definitely pervasive; every element of the game feels like it fits, nothing feels like it’s being papered over. Steelheart is ruling a city, and he has lieutenants who empower him to act more directly; while they are in turn empowered by the unpowered enforcement teams. The Reckoners need money to buy tech, and to afford their movement from one hidden base to another whenever one of the Epics tracks them down. They also need to do research to find out the hidden weakness, the Achilles’ Heel, of each Epic; weakening them and making them easier – or in some cases simply possible to kill.
The Epics felt a little overly abstracted at first, with them all having two simple stats “research” – required to weaken them – and health – which you burn through to kill them; but as the gameplay went on and you see how the variation in their activation effects each round changes the game they start to show more personality. At least, until you kill them.
So for a licensed game it’s well themed; it doesn’t try and do everything perfectly, and therefore it doesn’t overstuff the game with edge cases designed to mimic some minor story aspect.
The Setup was a little fiddly the first time, but only for about 5-10 minutes, and when replaying the game that time will be cut down to about 2 minutes. For an hour-ish game that’s a pretty good rate.
The Quality: We were playing the kickstarter version – metal pieces, sleeves for all the cards, it was great quality and all well put together.
The Gameplay was great fun – the core mechanic is dice rolling+rerolling, akin to Yahtzee, or King of Tokyo, but with none of the requirement for point-scoring combos – instead every result has a different, generally useful, effect, with the option to use any result to move to a new location (so that you can have your other effects there). It felt like we were constantly trying to optimise our limited resources, and acting simultaneously added to the co-operative feel (although it would open the game up even more to the “Alpha Gamer” problem where one player plays for everyone)
The Missing Piece: In this case it’s literal. There was a model missing from the game box when we opened it, one of the 6 player character models. Given as only 3 of us were playing it wasn’t an immediate problem, but with the overall production quality it felt out-of-place.
Would we play it again? Hell yes, it’s great fun
Would we buy it? It costs about £80. If we had £1000 to spend on games, we’d definitely get it. At £500, maybe, at £100 (our current level) definitely not – there are too many other games competing for that cash, and we could likely buy 3 other games instead of just this one.
Would we sell it at cons? (Assuming it was small print enough and we had the opportunity to get it at wholesale) – No. It’s too much of a big-ticket item, and the one experience we had had a piece missing – we’d be hard pressed to recommend it over the other games we stock to anyone who wasn’t clearly flush with cash. It’s definitely fun enough for us to be willing to recommend it, but the price point is just too high for our stand.