SeaFall – to Play, or Not to Play

This is one in a series of posts regarding the Legacy game Seafall. You can access my other Seafall Blog posts Here.

When my Legacy Group were nearing the end of our Charterstone campaign, we were looking up the options of what to play next. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 was the obvious front runner, as it was the number 1 rated game on Board Game Geek, it has very little bad press and only 1 of my group had played a standard Pandemic game. It was inevitable we would be playing it at some point, and it certainly felt like we couldn’t go wrong with that choice. The only other game that we were considering was SeaFall. Unchartered islands, and an unexplored sea to investigate? Sounds like a great premise to a Legacy game, and it was designed by Rob Daviau, a game designer since 1998, and half the team that designed Pandemic Legacy Season 1, that previously mentioned number 1 rated game. The thing that gave us pause, was the reviews.

The Reviews

To put it mildly, SeaFall is not universally loved. It is ranked 1663 of all games on Board Game Geek, and has an average rating of 6.6. Bad reviews of SeaFall are very easy to find, most with the opinion, that the game starts off well, but it loses it’s way as the Legacy aspects unfold. There seemed to be a large number of people that just abandoned the game half way through, who then just opened the last few Legacy chests to see how the game was going to finish up. My game group had to toss up between spending AUD$140 on a game that we might end up hating, or AUD$120 on Pandemic Legacy, which seemed like a much safer return on on our investment. We chose Pandemic Legacy. Which was a fine enough game to play, and an entertaining story, but as I have said in previous posts, it felt really structured, and it was leading us by the hand towards a foregone conclusion. Going straight into Season 2 when Season 1 finished* was our original plan, but as Season 1 was wrapping up, we were looking for a change of pace. And SeaFall started popping up, on special, everywhere.

Value for Money

Supply and demand dictate the price of anything. If you have an over supply of a product, and there is no demand for it, the price will drop and I managed to find the game online, delivered to my house, for 35% of the recommended retail price. It seemed to us, that even if we didn’t finish the campaign, it would be well worth the money. Board Games are incredible value for money anyway. Charterstone and Pandemic cost us a little over AUD$100 each, and we got 12 x 2 hour games for 4 people, so we paid less than $1 an hour for our entertainment. If we played the first 2 hour game of SeaFall and hated it, it would have cost us $12.50 each. I’ve seen some very bad movies that cost me more than that.

Managing Expectations

Examining that rating of 6.6, more than 40% of people rated the game 8 out of 10 or higher. It seems to be a polarising game, with a lot of players absolutely loving it. I have read, watched and listened to all the reviews I could find on the game (in English. There is a German podcast which I did not get very far into;-) and listened to designer Rob Daviau reflect on the game after he saw its reception. Some of the backlash seems to be from people seeing Mr Daviau’s name, and expecting a Legacy game similar to Pandemic. But the games are very different straight out of the box, as SeaFall is not a Co-op, and attacking and stealing from fellow players is not only permissible, but something that needs to be done on occasion to keep the playing field level. SeaFall is also an open ended game, without a set victory condition (such as curing all the diseases) and each game ends when a player has earned enough Glory points, so it can finish unexpectedly if you are not paying attention to your opponents. Knowing the basics of the game play, and understanding a little of the strategy required throughout the campaign, my game group is hopeful that we will end up in the top 40% of players that really love the game.

Document the Journey

We have played the Prologue, and the first 2 games, and we are enjoying it so far. I have decided to write two series of posts: one a game by game review, which I will try to keep Spoiler free, and the other a Hints & Tips series, designed to explain the Legacy rules as they emerge, to help people that might want to play it. To date, this game is similar to Charterstone in the way it unfolds, as Legacy introduction of new elements is entirely dependent on the actions of the players. If you liked Charterstone, and enjoy the “take that” mechanic of raiding your opponents Provinces or ships, then I think you might enjoy the journey that is SeaFall, especially at the current price. There are plenty of specials to be found online, and if you are in Australia, Board Game Search lists the best prices by store.


* Note: I was going to change that to read “when we finished Season 1”, but I think my initial wording, which indicates a game doing it’s own thing is accurate.

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