We just had our first game with the expansion. We played a 5 players game with all three new teams, Wood Elves and Humans, and all of the additional rules as described in the rules book.
We all agreed that it was too much, a lot of things were going on everywhere, and that it took far too long to play the game, 4 hours I think, granted we were 5 and some of us really like to take our time... On the other hand, I think we all enjoyed the game despite the fact some players -including me- were a bit reluctant about the randomness. It turned out to be like I said previously, but I wanted to observe the new mechanisms even at the price of my capacity to strategize.
Before I go and explain what we thought about Foul Play, I need to say that we assumed that all the penalty cards saying "next time you would draw a <insert reward>, discard one of them" would apply in the next scoreboard phase, as opposed to affecting the current payouts. Penalties resolve once all payouts are stacked in piles before revealing them, so that's AFTER you draw the cards. If you think we did this wrongly please give a shout. It felt strange that some penalties would not apply straight away as you could intentionally decide not to go for whatever payout type because there's a penalty sitting there and waiting to remove it from you.
None of us went off with the penalties thingy, still we managed to draw 3/4 of the deck somehow. We only defied the stadium regulations a couple of times, one because of a misplay and one (me) because it would help me to win a matchup on the spot. Otherwise nobody dared applying skills in a stadium having the corresponding limitation. We liked the additonal payouts from the stadiums. It made us think more about where to commit players. The "2 strength or more" stadium should have been "3 or more" though. 2 or more is 95% of all players and some teams don't even have 1 power players, so this particular stadium felt a bit like a miss.
Because of the steeper rules, we were sort of forced to rationalize more and put our heads around the sequencing of things a lot more than what we normally in with this game, which added further to the time. The yellow card mentions about the replenish phase, which nobody except me knew about as there was no reason for me to even mention its name before. The resolution of the faceup cheating tokens, when to apply disease tokens, the referee mechanism etc. there are MANY more instances when you need to think about which phase you´re currently in and how it interacts with all of the upgrades and so on. Overall, we think it was a bit too much. The game needs to flow nicely.
Fouling as a skill is horrible and does a ton of grief, but I am biased because I absolutely hate discard strategies in any game. Still, I did not want this aspect in a game like BBTM where the cards you draw are already random and where you can force your opponent to play the wrong card at the wrong matchup by baiting him or faking your interest on rewards you are not intending to go for anyway. It feels like there were ways already to force your opponents' hand without having the need to hard-draw one card and force a discard. It led to tensions in our playgroup. Most of us like to keep a strong card for the last play and the Fouling skill nerfs this strategy by removing said card. So yeah, I feel a bit robbed by this skill, as including the new teams forces me to play with this mechanism.
The penalties that sticked around were really cool. The "no penalty" card was cool too, as it gave you a hope that you could get away with the penalty. Red card and yellow cards were really powerful as expected. The loss of fans really affected our total scores. The winner ended up with 45 or so, which is pretty low compared to our previous games sans the expansion.
We liked the referree more than I though we would, because it introduced a new element of strategy in the game, e.g. knowing when to commit players to a matchup in order to move him and therefore force players to get sent off or managers to get a penalty. The downside though, which kind of made the thing fall a tad flat tbh is that you need to commit players across more matchups to get a chance to get access to matchups where he stands, which is something not every team can afford. But when we could it was fun. I´m just still sceptical regarding the referree as it really interfered with my plans as a coach. I was either hoping that this damn ref would move away from my matchups, or that I wished he had been where I´m at to take away the whistles I had on my players.
I did not like the various restrictions in the game, following up on what I said earlier, so that I´m not going to expand on that any further. Stadiums, Fouling etc. This being said, I think it all comes down to your attitude towards the game. If you can adapt and accept the randomness factor then you can enjoy this. If you don't want anything to spoil your capacity to make choices then this is not for you. You see, I prefer CHOOSING to get a penalty for applying a forbidden skill at a stadium rather than suffering a random effect from the game or getting fooled by an opponent. I like the "you play cards, I play cards" aspect of the original BBTM game so to me moving on to a "I try to play cards, you try to play cards" is not an obvious move to make.
About the teams. I played Nurgle (and lost). I did not find the disease tokens being as double-edged as some people here said earlier, because I made sure that I was in control of the matchup and did not have to commit more players to it if these tokens sat in midfield. The team upgrades were really weak though. The one making your linemen stand up lost relevance very quickly as I aquired freebooters and got rid of said rotter linemen. The additional disease tokens from the upgrade can be nice but you are limited to 6 of them, and if you compare these upgrades to the ones your opponents get then you can feel a difference in game impact. Toying with one or two disease tokens was only situationally good. I found that the Beast of Nurgle was cool but hindered me more than helping me because of the Pestigors, also because I wanted to draft players with the passing skill as a way to remedy to the lack of... passing skill in my roster. All in all, I am not sure about this team. It was the weakest of the three by far for that particular game, but I have to say, also because the Goblins were present and sucked in all the disease tokens especially at tournaments, making them totally inefective since they have players ignoring player power upon tackling them. If the Goblins are not around then maybe it gets easier for the Nurgle team. I wouldn't go as far as saying they are weak and in pair with Vampires or Dwarves, but I haven't experienced a good sequence of play with them. No particular interaction or synergy, and an overall lack of firepower against the other teams.
The Goblins were really cool and nasty, but also very random. They are a huge chunk of the randomness effect in the new expansion.The bombardier player, the short fuse upgrade making you down all standing players if you roll a tackling sysmbol etc. They had a major impact on the game. Not sure yet if they are a top tier team, but I liked the potential. It felt however like they replaced Orcs and therefore made them obsolete somehow. Hoping that I´m wrong.
The Chaos Dwarves were impressive. I really liked the fact they could down a player, which would execute his down skill, for getting an additional tackling skill. Synergy-wise, they felt really strong, The best team of the three, at least most stable than the others, I like their players, they have insane star players, I like their upgrades. Really a team I would like to play with.
I think the new mechanisms put some teams ahead of the rest. I can plainly see Chaos being more competitive now as they can collect cheating collects in a far more effective way. I think top-mid tier teams will stil be able to compete, but I pity Dwarves and Vampires, No idea how to compete with that, unless you intend to surf over the wave of randomness and hope for a cheaty victory.
Edited by Indalecio, 05 August 2014 - 04:50 PM.