This is one in a series of posts regarding the Legacy game SeaFall. You can access my other SeaFall posts Here.
This post is my review of playing of the Prologue Game with my Legacy Game Group. There will be no Spoilers, because it will be about my experience, as we learned the Rules of the game, which I have already discussed Here.
A New Game
When someone brings a new game to their group for its first play, there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome, as mechanics, the use of components, the scoring and ultimate victory condition, are all explained. The first game can often have players narrating their turns with the upward inflection of a question, as they are unsure of the legality of their moves, and look to experienced players for confirmation. People need a bit of repetition to get into the grove of how a game works, so the second play is more relaxed, and enjoyable. However, when playing a game that no one has played before, and that regularly introduces new rules and components, this hesitancy can continue throughout a Legacy game campaign. Ideally, someone needs to take ownership of the game, and keep things on course throughout the journey.
Charterstone was our inaugural Legacy Game, and I took the “leadership” role for our group, as it was my second campaign, so I knew how everything worked, and was prepared for the changes that were coming. It was an incredibly well set out game, so there wasn’t a lot for me to do, other than bring out the new components, and affix the stickers in the Chronicle. Pandemic Legacy S1 was next, and I was happy to hand the reins over to another member of our group, another obvious choice to run things, as he was the only one of us that had played any form of Pandemic before. But SeaFall was a new game for all of us, and as I was going to be back in the drivers seat, I wanted to do as much prep as possible, to make for the best gaming experience for the everyone in the group. Which made me reflect on being …
… the Dungeon Master
It will come as a surprise to no-one that I played AD&D in High School, or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (because I was way too cool for Beginner Dungeons & Dragons). That game is orchestrated by one person, the Dungeon Master, who is in control of the scenario and the NPCs (non-player characters). They have either created the story from scratch, or have bought a commercially available scenario and read through it thoroughly, so that they can guide the other players through the narrative arc, keep things interesting and challenging, and help them bring it all together in a rewarding and satisfying conclusion. They do a lot of work before the first get together with the other players, so that the sessions run smoothly and enjoyably for all. Familiarity with the material is key. And whilst there are difficulties in becoming familiar with all the material in a Legacy game, I figured I’ll just start with the Prologue and immerse myself in it.
I read through the Rule book whilst watching the Watched it Played video, as soon as the game arrived. And then I did that again in the days before we played. I dropped by the SeaFall Forum of BGG, to look for Rules clarifications, but without a specific question, there wasn’t much it could tell me. I did visit the Files section, which had some suggestions for Players Aids, which seemed to be a great idea. So I made up my own version, with the goal of adding to it as the game unfolds, and highlighting the new rules in a different colour. That way, a simple starting document can evolve into something more complex, and the new bits they players need to learn, will stand out from what they already know.
I also went back and forth on watching an actual play through of the Prologue game, ultimately deciding there wouldn’t be too much Spoiled in a game where no lasting changes are made. Rodney didn’t have a complete play through of the Prologue, so in the end I settled on a video by Hit Point Games. It was very instructive to see the actual endeavours being played out in real time, and to see the Milestones being claimed. If anyone is following in my example before they play, I would suggest you only watch up to the point in the video when the third Milestone is claimed. There are some slight spoilers at the end of game, and you will probably enjoy them more by not knowing.
Build up to Game Night
I thought it might be fun to have a count down to the Prologue game, so I looked at the core components of the game, and designed 7 posts with images to build nicely towards our Saturday night launch. I posted one to our Messenger group each day: Titles/Event Deck/Astrolabe – Characters/Province Chests/Ships/Tokens – Sideboard/Buildings & Upgrades/Advisors – Province Boards – Province spaces on the Board – Islands/Dice/Endeavours – Game Board/Treasures/Glory Track/Milestones.
At least that was the plan. In the end, we bought game night forward, to a mid week game, so I posted a couple of them each day. But they did the job. Excitement built. And then we were playing.
I arrived at our FLGS, The Magic Vault, and grabbed 2 tables to set up (the game is a large piece of real estate). The rest of the game group arrived, and Titles were randomly dealt out. We moved as required, and drew Leaders and Provinces in Title order.
The Baron in the Prologue game chose the Blue Province. He was the winner of Charterstone, and the player who had DM’d Pandemic Legacy S1. The Count, who had dedicated his Charterstone campaign to ensuring he scratched most of the Guideposts, chose the Grey Province. The Duke chose the Purple Province, like he had chosen the Purple Charter in Charterstone. I, the Prince, choose Green, mainly because I was sitting at that side of the game board. Red would be an inactive Province.
After spending 15 minutes getting the boards and all the components set up for the first time, we were all so eager to get to the game, that we forgot to read the One Sheet before we started. As such we didn’t read Entry 0 in the Captain’s Booke, which had an introduction narrative to the game, and went over the objectives for the Prologue.
In the end this mistake didn’t hurt us, and the game play went pretty smoothly for our first time out. We explored, we raided, we built things and bought goods and treasures. In a 4 player game, where we pretty much have the ability to earn a Glory every round, we all achieved 3 Glory before the 6 rounds of the first year was done, and we all got the chance to name an Island. As I said at earlier in this piece, there was a surprising twist after the 4th, and last, milestone was claimed. I won’t mention it, to keep this Spoiler free, but we all enjoyed it, took it in our stride, and set up for the first real game. With our point scoring all quite close, we had some ties in the final standings, that were settled by the ranking of the random Titles we were given at the start of the Prologue. But we had a lot of fun, and we were looking forward to Game 1.