This post started with a comment:
Great review, and I do look forward to seeing how you feel about it at the end as well.
Now after four months, I can finally say I’ve completed Dawn of the Peacemakers, and can tell you definitively what I think.
Note: While I’ll make this as spoiler free as possible, I will give away some mechanics. Sorry!
For those of you who need a refresher, you can read my initial post here.
The strongest part of the game remained the story. It has its high and low points, but it remains true to the somewhat serious, somewhat frivolous world it creates.
Now, not only is it well written. But the narrative does a great job of sucking you in, like a whirlpool of wondrous adjectives and delicious exposition. It took me on a journey, and by the end I was making gameplay decisions based on emotions brought forth from the text.
From a gameplay point of view, the game didn’t change too much from start to finish.
It introduces leader characters, a lot of them. And each leader brings with it its own ruleset unique to either the character or group the leader is in. This, to me, was an inelegant method of bringing in new mechanics. They felt bolted on like a pair of antlers on a car. With some scenarios having three to five leaders on the board, there was just too much to deal with. Trying to remember all the effects around the table.
But it also introduces bigger yet subtler rules as well. These come in the form of Agendas. Where in each round, you have a team objective, and then each player gets their own personal objective, or Agenda, to carry out throughout the game. Giving them an additional win-loss condition.
This shakes things up a lot.
We played a game where much to my teams dismay, I put a poor defenceless bird in the centre of an Ocelot ambush. It was a bad play for our team, but a fantastic play for myself. Who because of this play ended up securing both my objective, as well as the team objective overall.
I really enjoyed the tension this mechanic brought with it, which added a sense of distrust. Despite all of us working together. This distrust gets ramped up even later in the campaign when traitor cards are introduced. And while I never got to play with these cards in a group. It certainly made me excited about the prospect.
But if that’s not your bag – the game also allows the team to play with cooperative Agenda cards. Where you’re all working towards the same Agenda.
Now, the reason I didn’t end up finishing with the campaign with the group is that I think this game slightly misses the mark as a group activity.
Both the setup time, and the bookkeeping between rounds is a lot longer than I want from a game. While the inactive playstyle of watching two warring sides makes for an interesting experience, it’s not something that I want my friends to sit through with me.
With that said, I don’t want to distract from the sole reason it took me four months to finish the campaign.
The setup time.
It’s a chore. And I ended up dreading it. I started actively refusing to take it over my friend’s house because if I couldn’t pre-game the setup. We’d have spent too long in setting it up, that it would affect the time we got to play.
Which is an absolute shame. As when the game got going I enjoyed it a lot.
This leaves me in the same weird position I was last time I reviewed Dawn of the Peacemakers. The game gets so much right, and so much wrong at the same time. But if you’re able to work your way around wrongs, you’ll find a gem of a game.
The biggest take away for me is having seen the writing produced in this game. There is so much potential, and hype, for Sami Laakso’s next story driven game: Lands of Galzyr.
Late post, late post. My wife went into day surgery this week. Meaning I’ve been on baby duty. Which is great because my baby boy is rad. Though it’s not great because he needed constant attention. Meaning I got nothing done.
He also gave me his sickness. Jerk!
Here’s hoping your week was better than mine.