By schmoo34, in Gearworld: The Borderlands

I usually don't like boardgames inspired by video games, however, I do love post apocalyptic anything. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up.

Grr…I meant to say inspired by already done board games but was thinking of the video game at the time. Either way…curiosity is still there.

Yea, it's a remake of an old game. They did a great job with Cosmic Encounter and Rex, both remakes of games by the same design team, so this should be good.

Adam said:

Yea, it's a remake of an old game. They did a great job with Cosmic Encounter and Rex, both remakes of games by the same design team, so this should be good.

Adam, have you played the original one? Some notes you can share?

I have played it only once with the correct rules. One note I can certainly share: If someone tells you that you can't move/attack across rivers, slap them and make them read the rules again before continuing on or else your friends will hate the game and you. Please note that the slapping may seem unnecessary, but it totally isn't.

With that out of the way, we played it again later with five of us (this required an expansion, but it looks like this game will have all aspects of the expansion other than the fifth player -- the boats, bridges, and islands). Basically each round has different phases, most of which you have to roll a die for (this is the only die roll in the game): 1-4 the phase happens like normal, 5 it is skipped, 6 you vote for it, with the current round's first player breaking ties. So, for example, you might have a round where resources aren't produced, or resources can't be traded, or what have you. So you always have to be prepared. The voting thing is neat mechanically but a bit odd thematically.

The goal of the game is to win, and you do so by building two cities (the new version has new terms, but I will stick to the old ones so as not to confuse myself while the new edition is still partly a mystery)… or by conquering them. It is heavy in diplomacy and warfare both. Each game the map is randomly populated with resource generating sites that produce wood, iron, horses, gold, or coal. Unlike Settlers of Cataan, these resources don't go to a hand but stay on the board, so you have to protect them, and if you want to use them, they all need to be in the same territory. However, a site will not produce another of a good if one of it is already there, so you have to ship things around by foot, horse, riverboat, or ship.

You can also trade with anyone sharing a border with you, in which case you can ignore the rules of shipment and place the goods wherever you like. This was another odd rule because it encouraged trading like goods simply for the ability to "teleport" them (i.e. I trade you one gold for one gold, neither of us gains resource advantage, but we then both get to place our new gold in any territory), and the rules even mention this, so it's not an oversight. It is mechanically interesting because it made trading more important, but thematically odd, like the voting on skipping production.

Combat is a big part of the game, too. Each player will be able to make two successful attacks at most. If you fail an attack, you are welcome to keep trying elsewhere. There is no randomness, so the only way to unexpectedly fail an attack is if you don't get support from another player where you thought you would. To attack you declare a target you're adjacent to and just add up the strength in each territory plus any territories adjacent to the target if their owners choose to support one side or the other (they do not need to be invited to do so). You automatically ally with yourself, of course, if you have territories adjacent as well.

One more thing about combat, is you don't build up troops in this game. If you own a territory, it means you have one guy there, and he has one strength. You can hire more guys to defend there. If you take a new territory, you place a new guy there immediately. To build up forces, you build a weapon, a horse, a boat, a ship, or a city, each of which has a strength value, and each of which is limited to one per territory.

That was more rules than intended, but that is the gist of the game. I quite enjoyed the mechanics of it, though it is the kind of game that can lead to people getting upset since your chances of success are dependent both on your skill at the game and the social dynamic. If you are offering good deals and someone just doesn't like you, that person can ruin both his own chances and yours. Like Diplomacy or Settlers, you have to play with easy going people who aren't going to get emotional about a board game.


thanks for the detailed report on the game. Indeed, the game seems a lot of fun, involving different strategical aspects and with almost no dice to roll, but clearly, as you said, it seems like two players are not so fun as five. So I think I'll pass.

(plus, the game seems to be a little expensive for its contents. Seems like a modern trend, prices are more or less the same, but boxes are not so full with tokens and cards as they were in the past. But that's another story)

Yes thank you, this game is going on my must buy list barring glaring reissue errors

I wish there were someone here who'd played the original two-players. I can only guess that it wouldn't be as fun and hate to steer someone away from it based on a guess and one real play experience with a different number of players. It would definitely be a different game than what is being advertised, if nothing else, as you'd obviously have far less incentive to trade and no one to ally with. It would definitely be more chess like, in that there would be nothing unpredictable in combat at all unless they've made changes here, and combat would be the main focus. On paper, it sounds less interesting to me. Some previews would be helpful.