Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rate the Fun: Doctor Who Card Game

I have a rule for buying games; it is: "when purchasing new games, only buy games you have played, watched played, or read/seen a review." It was a good rule, an important rule, a rule I ought to follow at all times. There are reasons for this rule, the Doctor Who The Card Game is one of those reasons. It was the TARDIS, once I saw it I was done came home with me that day.

Doctor Who The Card Game is about area control with card drafting. You are both the Doctor and his companions defending your locations and the Doctor's enemies attacking your opponents' locations.

The box says it is for 13+ runs for 20-60 minutes and is for 2-4 players. Jamie and I tried the two person variant the day I bought it. This is NOT and two player game (I do not care what the box says). For more details about the game visit its Board Game Geek page.

How To Play:
I found reading the rule book challenging. We were sure we read the rules wrong...but really the game just does not work for two players even with the recommended "variations."

Before my second game, and attempting to teach the rules I watched Modern Table Gamer's review:

For this Rate the Fun review I enlisted the help of my friends Alice, Aurora, and Duane who played the game for the first time today. Here is what we thought:

Good Stuff:
Alice: The Doctor Who-ishness of it. It was good that I didn't get the Regeneration card because I would have just kept it because I wouldn't want to go.
It was fairly easy to explain. Fairly easy to set up. Fairly easy to start playing.
There is enough to it, that I think you could get better as you played it, making it worth trying again.
Aurora: I liked seeing characters and locations from across New Who. There were many nostalgic moments. It was also an interesting challenge with passing the cards. There were times I was torn between which to play and which to pass.
Duane: The drafting mechanics were interesting and the point spreed at the end was surprisingly close for most of us.
Me: Of course I like the theme, it is Doctor Who, that is the whole reason I bought the game. I also enjoyed the cards and the artwork. With the rules there is a single plastic sheet with a quick review that I found very helpful both in explaining the game and as a quick reference. I also appreciate that there is a section in the rule book for card clarification. I found the twist on drafting mechanic interesting that created a good tension of "what do I do? I want to play them all!" while also allowing you to pass on "garbage cards."

Less Than Good Stuff:
Alice: It might have just been a fluke, but I ended up drawing none of the things I needed to be able to defend myself, so I spent the last bit of the game without any strategic options, watching myself lose. I found that frustrating and not enjoyable. I don't mind (too much) losing when I feel like I could do better next time, but if I had those cards come up again, it would be just as grindingly awful.
It's not inherently unbalanced, which makes it hard to pin point how that could be fixed, but there is something slightly wonky about how that went.
Aurora: The balance between good and evil seemed off or wrong. You would think that the Doctor would be stronger than he is and that it would be easier to defend attacks. I also found the direction to pass the cards (counter-clockwise) confusing especially with the turn order going in the opposite direction (clockwise).
Duane: The turn order was counterintitive and required repeated reminders through out the game. The values on the defender and enemy cards weren't the issue as much as the quantity ratio of the types of those cards in the deck.
Me: I want to love this game, but I don't. I like it; it's okay but it feels off. Playing a Doctor Who game I want to be the Doctor or his friends saving the day and defending the places. The game is set up so that you are more likely to win by attacking others to get all your Dalek tokens out. I don't want to be the Daleks! I want to be the Oncoming Storm! The one who stops the monsters! Because of that desire it does feel like there is something broken. I am not sure if it the value balance, card ratio, or my expectations.

Rate The Fun Score:
Alice: 7
Aurora: 6
Duane: 6
Me: 6.4

Final Thoughts:
We would all play it again, some sooner than others. Alice, whose rating was the most generous (and would have been 10 just because its the Doctor) added that her rating would drop if her experience wasn't just a weird card fluke. Duane commented that the game is good but it might have the wrong theme. I think he is right. I would be more accepting of the attack mechanics if it was a fantasy kingdom with armies of centaurs, halflings, orcs and oliphants.

An expansion has been announced that will soon be available for pre-order. It will add new cards from the 12th Doctors adventures and add a 5th player. I will probably get it for the extra player. I think more players is better in this game. There is also a Classic Doctor Who version available for pre-order.

Thank you for checking out the review. If you are interested in more game reviews, you can find the list of rated games and the Rate the Fun score guide here. Tomorrow's Whovian round up will be Doctor Who games and re-themed games.

The BBC's digital Doctor Who 2015 Advent Calendar.
Countdown Till Star Wars: 4 sleeps
Countdown Till Christmas Special Airs: 12 sleeps
Countdown Till This Whovian sees the Christmas Special: 13 sleeps


Amai said...

My desire to rate ten out of ten, was not because it was doctor who, but because when talking about doctor who, I always choose ten :)

Funny that mine was the highest. :)

Elizabeth said...

Bhahahahaha, totally misread your email. Your comment makes me smile.