Thoughts / Reviews

By Lizalfos, in Gearworld: The Borderlands

I now have the game and hope to play it tonight or tomorrow, but just to get things going in advance, anyone play this yet? Care to weigh in?

I'd like to read some reviews as well. Adam, did you try the game?

We had more people than normal the past couple times I brought this out, so we ended up playing Rex instead to accommodate everyone. I am expecting our usual group of four Thursday though, so hopefully soon I will be reporting back.

Thanks! Can't wait to read your thoughts!

On the BGG, I noticed it's said "best with 2 players", but this sounds very strange to me... I was expecting a game working better with 4p rather than 2..

We finally played this today. Ultimately, three of us were quite interested, and another was a bit disappointed when things started to go downhill for him and he mailed it in for the rest of the game, but he said he'd be willing to try it again in the future now that he knows how things work. We played the On the Continent variant (no islands, ships, or bridges) to keep things simple for game one.

I pretty much had the middle of the board at set-up which meant I had access to everyone for trade and always had options for attacks, but it also meant I was a big target. I felt a little bad about this since I had played the original and read the rules, but on turn one I took a production site from one player and on the next turn I cut off his trade route to one of the other players. He still had trade access to another player but for a turn or two he could do nothing but trade with that person. However, it paid off, and he got to build the only two boats for the game, one on one turn and one on the next. Boats are a huge deal because they can move 8 spaces with the same strength as a weapon / skywork. They're great for attacking and more importantly transportation.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the board, one player quickly got one of each resource to build a skywork while another squandered the opportunity and made a weapon since I'd attacked him previously, hoping to draw them out and into the game (no one else was attacking -- that is just their predilection, they aren't really strategy gamers). The guy with the skywork had no military power to speak of while the other was all military, like me.

The game pretty much ended when the boat guy overextended a boat after taking one of my gold sites. I took the boat and then was able to defend an area where I had materials for my skywork. With the skywork, the boat, some horses and weapons, the area was impenetrable for a long time to come and I had a monopoly on gold, which you need to build skyworks. So while another player had two skyworks, I had an easy time keeping him from his third when I built mine.

There is one element of randomness, and it came up a few times, where an entire phase of a round (production, trade, or transportation) can get skipped based on a die roll. I don't know that they liked this since it means not doing something, and doing things is fun. However, I actually had the chance once to choose whether to have a phase or not, and I chose to skip it. This unpredictability may seem negative at first but it makes one round feel different from the previous since not producing, for instance, means you'll have to adapt your strategy on the fly.

As noted, these guys weren't strategy gamers, so it's not really the best audience for trying this sort of game. I think it is still a very clever game that would be a lot of fun to replay with the right group. As it is, I want to try again with them to add in islands, ships, and bridges. I think that will help keep people from feeling defeated too early since islands are easier to defend, and if they have resources on them, I would think you'd always feel like you can at least do something and hope to get a ship by trade.

I don't know how much any of this helped, so feel free to ask questions. I feel people should look into it and consider their gaming group before buying. It is a clever game from a clever group of people but doesn't necessarily appeal to the same kind of players as Cosmic / Rex do. No cards, no special powers (though variants for this could be a fun idea), almost no luck -- all features that set it apart from Eon's other games and not to be taken lightly.

I really think the "best with 2P" thing is a mistake. No one in BGG's forums recommends it. I may try it some time, but the trade, diplomacy, and manipulation aspects are what I most enjoyed in Borderlands.

Edited by Adam

Thanks for the great post :) It gives really well the idea of how things can go, and the game seems to be tense and rich of possibilities even in the most simplified version. Indeed, with the right group of players could be lots of fun :)

I played it with my board game group last Saturday and plan on doing it again this Saturday. Of the 3 players, two were enthusiastic and one said he 'liked' it. The biggest problem we had was with the rules since I am not great a figuring out somewhat convoluted rules. It took forever to play because of that. The only thing I held off on was the rolling dice to determine if a 'dynamic' part took place or not. We didn't use that portion of the game. Others in the group are interested so I expect to easily get 3 more this week. (We have a minimum 25 - 35 every two weeks).

Picked this game up through a charity auction and did a walk through of a few turns with my teenage kids. They love it and are excited to see how the full game goes. :D Looking for a time when we can do that. I'm hoping the non-random combat and the logistics of battle and resource gathering holds up for the full length of the game. We'll see as they are literally begging me to play it again.

For what I've seen so far, the game is pretty solid from the beginning to the end. Velocity is not linear, though: in the beginning, you have to focus on trade in order to move resources; later on, when routes are build and boats are bought, you can count more on yourself to move bigger quantities of stuff. It's also realistic: in the first part of the game, every "borderlander" is really poor; later on, when some richness arrives, you can rely more on yourself.

Hope you can have fun with the kids :)