We played it again yesterday, as some people seem to like it and some people want to try it.
My earlier assessment still stands. I played with the Auren and again knew exactly what I’d do throughout the game. Some details might have become imporant only later, but mostly the decisionmaking was done up front and not much changed. I also knew I couldn’t win right away, although I did try to make an effort to. This was because there weren’t much points available from the turn tiles due to their very poor order. This gave a definite edge to those players who had points available to them on their boards, which meant they would get a headstart I couldn’t match with my points from the cults.
.. but today I’m talking about something else.
What the people making Terra Mystica got right, was the gameboards. At first, it seems a bit crowded. Especially after all the pieces are there. However, after I was explained what everything means, it was very easy to read and everything just made sense. Eclipse also had a very good layout, although its graphics are quite repulsing in their grayness.
The gameboards often include some instructions, but they aren’t necessarily placed very intuitively. On this Terra Mystica shines. Also, its very language independent with only the name of the race written in too languages.
This is where games need to go. Besides M:tG, I don’t really play any games very regularly, so it always helps that there are easy reminders to get me quickly back into the game. They also help new players understand how the game works.
Of course there will be a part of the audience who feel all this dumbs down the games, but they fail to see the big picture. Lower bar for access brings more people to the hobby. There will always be the hardcore games, like Twilight Imperium or various Martin Wallace designs. Not all games need to be like that. We don’t need to scare new players with 12 hour sessions of games they barely understand if we can make things easier to learn.
Terra Mystica has a lot of options, but due to the way they are presented, they are easy to get and easy to remember.