Game Buzz: SeaFall

In 2011, Hasbro released Risk Legacy, a consumable game that had players changing their Risk experience every time they played.  It was hailed by some as a landmark in gaming, and was derided by others as a shameless money grab.  But everyone was wondering if the legacy concept was going to take off, if designer Rob Daviau (who left Hasbro shortly after Risk Legacy’s release) would explore the concept further in an original property.  Well, that question was answered in 2013 when Plaid Hat Games announced the imminent release of

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Wait…2013?  Yes, this game has been in development for quite a while.  But rules and preorders are now up at Plaid Hat’s website, which means only one thing – this game is FINALLY COMING OUT.  SeaFall is a 3-5 player 4X legacy game, set in the Age of Sail of another world.  It is Daviau’s third legacy game, after Risk Legacy and last year’s Pandemic Legacy (another, Chronicles 1: Origins, is currently in development – these things apparently take a massive amount of time to get just right).  Your goal in the game is to lead your empire to discover new islands, trade, raid, and combat, all with the objective of becoming Emperor.

A quick note about spoilers.  There won’t be anything here that you can’t find out from the internet.  The game is not out yet, and I haven’t played it, so I couldn’t spoil anything if I tried.  However, if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about this game – all you know is that is a Rob Daviau legacy game from Plaid Hat and thus you are trying to push money through your computer screen as we speak – then you should probably stop now.  You probably already know this game is for you anyway.

SFC
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

SeaFall comes with a board, a side board, 10 ships, 15 dice, 40 goods, a Captain’s Booke, an Astrolabe, 40 enmity/province markers, 5 province boards, 62 coins, 36 reputation tokens, 30 fortune tokens, 9 structure tokens, 12 upgrade tokens, 8 treasure cards, 20 damage cards, 9 milestone cards, 20 advisor card, 6 event cards, 5 title cards, 10 leader cards, 8 retired advisor stickers, one upgrade sticker sheet, one explorations sticker sheet, one permanent enmity sticker sheet, 6 locked chests, 5 province chests, a storage chest, one glory target marker, and five glory markers.  You will also need a pen, which is not included.

To begin, each player is dealt one of the five title cards.  Then, in reverse order based on the title you got, each player chooses a province and a leader card.  You’ll mark your leader with a sticker that matches it with your province FOREVER.  You will name your leader, and take the ships and enmity tokens of your province.  You get a province chest to keep your stuff in between games.  Each player places their ship in their home harbor, and your leader card tells you how many reputation and fortune tokens to take.  Other components are placed in their spots.  The locked chests are NOT to be opened until various milestones are reached in your campaign.

The game takes place over a series of years.  One year consists of a Winter phase, followed by six rounds of play.  In the winter phase, you will first give the Astrolabe to the player with the least glory (or least prominent title).  The event deck, which begins the game with six cards plus four sealed in the storage chest, is shuffled, including any revealed cards from the previous round.  All advisors are dismissed (aka discarded to the bottom of the card deck), and five new ones are dealt into the forum.  Players place the gold from every field they control (with no enmity tokens) into their vault.  All enmity tokens on province board sites are moved to the At War With section of the province board, and enmity on islands cover the garrison of the island.  Islands that produce goods will do so at this time, unless there are already goods there.  Advisors in council rooms are refreshed (turned face up), as are undamaged structures and upgrades in the supply.

The next six rounds follow this sequence:

REVEAL AN EVENT CARD: Draw the top card of the event deck.  Don’t resolve it yet.

PLAYERS TAKE TURNS: Each player takes a full turn.  First, you may hire an advisor or buy treasure.  Advisors give abilities, treasures give glory points, both cost gold.  Next, you can activate an advisor by placing it in your active advisor space.  This allows you use its abilities.

Next, you can hire one of the four guilds, and use two of their three actions.  For the Merchants Guild, it’s Sail, Buy Goods, or Sell Goods.  The Builders can Sail, Repair OR Upgrade, or Build.  With the Explorers, you can Sail, Explore, or Research.  Soldiers allow you to Sail, Raid, or Collect Taxes.

If, after an action, you’ve fulfilled the requirements of a Milestone, claim it and follow the instructions.  You can only claim one Milestone per turn.  You then exhaust your active Advisor, and may not use it again this year.

RESOLVE THE EVENT: After all players have taken their turn, resolve whatever the event card says if necessary.

CHECK GLORY TRACK: If someone has reached or exceeded the glory target for this game, the game is over.

ADVANCE THE ASTROLABE: If the game is not over, advance the Astrolabe and start a new round.  After the sixth round, it’s time for a new Winter phase.

If the game has ended, the province with the most glory wins.  If there’s a tie, the player with the least prominent title wins.  The game winner then may improve their province by making a field produce more gold, improving a garrison, increasing your leader’s reputation, increasing your leader’s fortune, or take an appellation for your leader (a new ability).  All players may then use a retired advisor to train one of the advisors they control, and then may keep one advisor for the next game.  Each player improves one value on their ships and determines enmity for the next game.  Record your glory in the rulebook, tracking your glory over the entire campaign, and reassign titles based on final glory count.

Based on hype alone, this game is going to be a massive hit.  Rob Daviau garnered a lot of respect with Risk Legacy, and Pandemic Legacy is currently the #1 game on BGG.  On top of that, it looks like a good game.  It actually might even be a decent standalone game, but you just know that the overall narrative arc is going to be what brings people to the game.  And I know that there will be people who bitterly complain that they can only play the game fifteen times, but I’m in the camp that thinks that you come for the experience.  I actually haven’t gotten to play any Legacy games yet – it’s one of those things where you have to get a committed group to play through the whole thing, and that opportunity hasn’t yet presented itself to me.  But I’m a fan of the idea, and I really look forward to hearing the feedback about this one when it comes out.  Thanks for reading!

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