Review: SeaFall – true story of a sailor

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Every time I walked on the beach and felt the wind on my face, my mind flew to the sea. Even parents say about me, that I have the heart of a sailor and explorer. And so, when the opportunity arose, I did not hesitate for a moment. I went to meet with storms, waves and beings, that have more tentacles, than I would have ever liked. But all the fear was overshadowed with enthusiasm. Hunger for discovery.

And desire to feel like this will get attached also to all players, when you get game into your hands. Its task is to let you explore on your own, directly through the story and indirectly through contents of the box. This new game belongs to game family, which irreversibly change its looks with every game. And author can be none other, than (Pandemic Legacy), which gave birth to the whole genre. His latest creation was published at the end of by companies and . Distribution for the European continent was entrusted to experienced hands of .

If you get this game, you receive a box weighing like a proper ocean. Players will expect nothing less, than a huge folding game board, waiting to be filled from box with picture of some bay. Sixty percent of entire area of the board is occupied by hexagons covered in ocean, where one buoy sadly stands. Everything else is waiting on residential. On the edges, there are numbered places for the islands and on the side, position for cards, home ports for each province (players) and scoring scale. Now here players place starting milestones cards and decks of treasures and damage as well as their own ships.

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But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves, because players must first choose their color. This will also give them their own province board and cardboard chest belonging to their tribe. This is first experience of discovering, because players uncover secret of first cardboard boxes lying on the bottom of the box. Fortunately, a lot of other compartments are waiting for them in future games. And this is only the first part of the mystery, which is hidden in a box. So players all get their leader card as well as reputation and fortune tokens. In addition to this, they also gain enmity tokens and puts them on their board. Expansion common board is equipped with improvements and building offer and advisors deck is set next to it.

Before the first game, players also have to do something, that is inherent only to legacy games. They now have chance to name their province and leader. They will now be stepping out towards their first adventure on the water. Each game is divided into years, that consist of winter and six rounds (each one starts with a winter).

This initial year procedure includes providing astrolabe to the currently weakest players, creating offer of consultants, getting profit from controlled fields, moving enmity tokens and producing resources on discovered islands. All exhausted counselors and buildings become available again.

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After that, players move one turn after another, until their time expires and winter comes again. Each such round is framed by events – players reveal top card at the beginning of a turn and evaluate it right after everyone had a chance to go through his own action phases. Activity of the player always starts with a chance to hire a consultant from offer for payment in gold or reputation. Again, he can name this new friend of his, if someone did not do this before him. Instead of characters, player can acquire one of the treasures. Just then can the advisor be activated for his effect, placed on the corresponding field on the board and some advantage or bonus is gained.

The most important part of the turn is the selection of one of the guilds – merchants, builders, explorers or soldiers. And accordingly, further steps of player will also vary. In all cases, guild will offer players a chance to sail. Distance, that a vessel is able to travel, is determined by its cruise ability (on the player’s board, including any improvements). Then comes chance to use guild-specific action, but only one out of two available each turn. Traders give player option to buy goods on the island. This requires him to have a ship anchored there and collected cubes are immediately moved into cargo hold of his ship on board. Using the same guild, player can also sell goods at double the price, but only in the right places.

Builders offers a chance to repair ship in the dock, but also chance to take one of the buildings (from the menu) and place it on his gaming board. And then comes time to explore with another guild. All it takes is to dock ship on one of the islands discovered and choose a site with graphic symbol. Now, players enter a common gamebook with many readings, which is also content of the box. Explorer selects one of the numbers belonging to his selected symbol on the map, navigates to the appropriate text, reads it and marks the place on the map with required sticker. Players can discover raw material deposits, mines, but also dungeons, temples, statues or marketplace. Instead of exploring the island, player may use second explorer action – research. He may then draw one card from discovery deck for three gold pieces.

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Last hireable force are soldiers. Those offer to sailors either tax collection (fixed three gold pieces) or ability to raid. Players can take something back by force or demolish an existing building. It can be made for entirely selfish reasons to damage opponents. To do such an attack, players will need to use dice. Player determines ship of his fleet, which will shield the entire effort. Now it determines the number of dice to roll, whose number may be lowered by all of the possible defensive buildings on the island. Outcome of the roll is compared to the defense of the island and player gets the loot depending on the outcome. He can thus obtain raw materials and gold from the docks, but he can successfully attack even province of a rival and plunder, for example treasury or warehouse.

Dice roll and luck will players be needing also for other activities. In case of failure, points hurt the ship, which oversaw the entire effort – player chose it. As a result, ship may also sink and lose all its improvements. Its owner immediately loses one fame point and ship starts at the docks brand new, but without any enhancements.

Only now ends advantage a player received from his counselor. Players should note it by turning that card face down for the time being. Just like this, each part of the year happens until the moment, when players find themselves back in winter. But any season can host game ending, if one of sides has reached a predetermined number of points of fame. They can be accumulated, for example, by construction or any successful endeavor (raid or exploration), but also for completion of some milestones (they offer different rewards).

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This normally would finish our description of the rules, but results of one game in SeaFall are not result overall. Players can their successes and whole situation transfer into the next match. They now get chance to train one of their advisors, but they can only keep one. There is also a chance to improve ship. Winner may additionally enhance his province. Fame gathered by every player is noted and will become important later. Players now also have unique chance to get rid of enmity symbols. Everything is explored and named remain like this forever. Players can also keep any unused research cards. Only after so many effects is your match finally complete.

SeaFall looks like a tremendous experience. No doubt about that. But it is not at all easy to write a review for such game, you can tell only limited information about. We can not tell you about our experiences, but we try to describe it in general terms without spoiling any surprises on the road. Feeling of discovery is the main thing you will experience in this game.

Feel of the game and its course is much different from most famous representative of the genre, Pandemic Legacy. That’s because SeaFall obviously is not cooperative. If you want to fight for legacy a play together, you will have to wait for the second season of the medical adventures. This sailor world strongly encourages fights and conflicts. Map is big enough, so ships of players meet on it quite frequently.

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Big part of the game consists of exploration, that is one of the key elements. First encounter with exploration is truly on the map, because of ability to discover new islands. But players will also experience adventures in the style of good old gamebooks, when sailing to these new lands. They simply choose a number and find out, what have they found on that particular area of the island. And they will mark it with a sticker. Yes, this is again a permanent damage game, where you will be writing and sticking over your components. Do you mind? Why? Its done in name of fun!

Game is solidly complex and could be identified at ease as an 4X game. But at the same time with the new approach comes a new experience. Center of the whole game is not strategy of the players, but the experience itself. And the game will pass this test very well, although largely at the expense of luck. The game is really about being lucky and not only in those dice, but later in other parts of gameplay, such as exploration. This amount of chance might be seen as frustrating by some players.

But the biggest problem we have is with permanent changes. Not because they would bother us, but because there are too few of them! Especially in the form of evolving your own ship and buildings. Game lets you improve a lot of things, construct buildings, and then.. it takes them away! This feeling of repeated efforts is known to us from classic games, but here we had hoped for much successful elimination. Unfortunately, hopes were only partially fulfilled. In addition to numerical parameters, nothing can be enhanced irreversibly and thus will not disclose anything secret.

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There will be many new mechanisms to further enrich the game as you go through its story. At the beginning, you can even somewhat guess, what will they probably do, because they have vacancies in the rulebook, ready to be sticked there. And a sheet of stickers is a classic and there are three of them! Minor changes are everywhere, mostly by placing stickers and newly explored sites.

Driving engine is war and enmity. These claw marks are a way to express a negative relationship. As a result, it is precisely these claws, which will bring benefits to defenders, who becomes hardened and get improved defense in raids. At the same, they also mean more expensive purchases. Some points are temporary for one game, but sometimes they become permanent (stickers).

These marine games are really long and still, you will not mind. Story continues to roll forward, always discovering something new, with something interesting happening. There is no time to think about anything other, than what you want to do in the next round (or maybe game?). Possibilities are plentiful, as well as minor rules, that make the game’s learning curve quite steep in the beginning. The game is excellent in all counts and it is possible for a player to join the campaign even after it has started.

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And how’s SeaFall total game time? There is a total of twenty lines ready in the gamelog, but is that all? No, compared to Pandemic, SeaFall lets you play even after you have finished your campaign. You simply will not explore any further. It becomes quite ordinary game of sailing, but it will take place in a world, that was born in front of your own eyes. You have a relationship to everything there is. That is the main weapon.

SeaFall was preceded by enormous expectations. That makes it even worse for us to tell, that game did not stand up to them. But this is only a whisker of few shortcomings, that might hurt your experience. Its not set in stone. And moreover, it does not mean, that SeaFall is a bad game. On the contrary, if you’ve never heard of it or like to try Legacy games, it will probably provide hours of fun. But as a sequel in a line of Legacy games, this is still a slight disappointment.

DesignerRob Daviau
ArtistJared Blando, EJ Dela Cruz, Rob Daviau, Jen Santos, Brian Valeza
PublisherIronWall Games, Cube Factory of Ideas, Devir, Filosofia Éditions, Galápagos Jogos, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, Plaid Hat Games
Year Published2016
# of Players3 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 5+ players
Recommended with 3, 4 players
(118 voters)
Playing Time180
Mfg Suggested Ages14 and up
User Suggested Ages14 and up
(16 voters)
Language DependenceExtensive use of text - massive conversion needed to be playable
(10 voters)
CategoryCivilization, Exploration, Nautical
MechanicCampaign / Battle Card Driven, Grid Movement, Hand Management, Legacy Game, Trading, Variable Player Powers
FamilyAdmin: Better Description Needed!, Components: Miniatures, Mechanism: 4X, Mechanism: Campaign Games, Mechanism: Legacy
Primary NameSeaFall

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: SeaFall – true story of a sailor
Final word
SeaFall is beautiful seaman 4X game full of exploration, combat and inventing. Players have under their control every single province. They are fighting for money and land with help of their fleet. Each match is solidly long, but we find beautiful connecting bridges, as all explored islands and other things carry over to future games and make you live in its world. Game offers a fantastic sense of discovery. But winner will be significantly affected by luck. And SeaFall will not have to be set aside to sit on the shelf after playing required number of games. You can continue to play in your unique bay, that will never be the same anywhere in the world. Your unique copy. SeaFall is entertaining, even if somewhat sinks compared to expectations of players.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
beautifully story driven (and gamebook guide)
exploration
transfer elements to other matches
it is possible to play even after completion of campaign
plenty options
beautifully thought out and fun
conflicting
Cons
too few lasting changes in your own upgrades
significant influence of luck
4
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