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[PATV] Thursday, August 8, 2013 - Shut Up & Sit Down Season 2, Ep. 14: Sentinels of the Multiver

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edited August 2013 in The Penny Arcade Hub

image[PATV] Thursday, August 8, 2013 - Shut Up & Sit Down Season 2, Ep. 14: Sentinels of the Multiverse

In this episode Paul and Quinns review the board game Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Read the full story here


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    LuminoZeroLuminoZero Registered User new member
    I had to register simply to comment on this. Since this is a board game I've been really enjoying lately, I feel the need to give a second opinion...from a random guy on the internet with no credibility. Yeah I know, give me a chance here.

    I like SotM because it is both simple and complex. The game starts, as you said, with very simplistic turns. The villain isn't doing anything too dangerous, the Environment deck is causing a headache at worst, but nothing catastrophic, but that is how it starts. You are busy building your strength, so of course you aren't able to eliminate each problem as it appears. It might take a little more, or you don't have the right cards, whatever. Then the villain powers start piling up, as well as the environment effects. The game escalates quickly, but it is a step at a time. It doesn't go from nothing to five hundred effects on the table, each of them is added one turn at a time, as you start seeing the wave of power get harder and harder to turn against the villain.

    Another thing I happen to disagree with is the implication that teamwork is not needed, which my current experiences do not suggest. Some characters are raw DPS (like Fanatic), some are good at Control and Survival (Wraith), and others lack both, but have incredible damage mitigation (Legacy, the Superman epxy). What many new players don't realize at first is that these characters have cards that directly synergize with each other. For example, Fanatic has a card that gives a hero another turn, but they take damage every turn the card is in play. Legacy has an excellent power to totally negate all damage he would take of a certain type. In return, he has the ability to increase all Hero damage by one. This works well back on Fanatic, whose main attacks does 1 point of two damage type. In SotM, increases to damage apply to every type you deal, so that 1 point boost turns her attack to 2+2. And he has other powers that can send it even higher.

    Against the easier villains, you don't need much synergy. But if you don't learn your allies and what they can do, some of the harder villains will kick your ass up and down the street.

    It was a well done review, but I didn't really agree with it. I just felt like providing a counter point. Thanks for giving the game some attention though!

    -Lumino

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    MaxsimalMaxsimal Registered User regular
    @LuminoZero:

    I don't have a ton of experience with this game, but I think overall what the SDSU guys prize is elegance in game design. They're not afraid of rulesy games, but they don't appreciate games that indulge in a lot of rules and/or math without a payoff for it. The examples you site as plus points are the sort of clobber-your-head with it game design that could have been handled in a much more elegant fashion.

    For example:
    - Teamwork by throwing some buff on everyone that does +1 damage - that's very rulesy/brute force. Also, the fact that buff goes to everyoen makes it choiceless and frankly just blah. Feels like the sort of thing you'd see on a computer game where the math is handled for you.
    -Teamwork by, say, handing over a token that I can use to boost a power on my sheet? That's much more elegant and friendly.

    Another example:
    - Forcing complexity by throwing a crap top of cards that need to be continuously accounted for on the table? Inelegant!
    - Achieving complexity through a simpler rules that combine for complex attacks? Great! For instance, if players went around the table 'building' a combo out of simple cards, hoping the villian doesn't spoil it with some random draw.

    Overall this game seems to be typical of the standard sins of americanized euro games - fluff over substance, and complexity to support a theme rather than elegant rules design that dovetails well with a theme.

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    podunk the mightypodunk the mighty Game Designer TexasRegistered User regular
    "There are eight different types of damage" aaaand this is exactly where the game completely lost me.

    On Their Merry Way Is On Kickstarter Today!
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    Ashes of AranAshes of Aran OKC, OKRegistered User new member
    I also had to create an account just to comment.

    I've been a big fan of this game since the first edition dropped a year ago and have since picked up second edition and all of the expansions. This has been one of my favorite games for a while now.

    The first thing that I'd have to comment is that once you're past the beginner stage and have toppled some of the easier villains, the real strategy is in learning the different hero's strengths and weaknesses and building a party of heroes that will give the best possible outcome. It's the metagame (actively choosing heroes that will compliment each other) where the strategy comes in. I suppose that's a turnoff for some, but I enjoy it, and I believe that those who have a background in any sort of MMO or tabletop RPG would get behind it as well given that most of the characters fall into one of the different classes (damage, tank, healer, assist) that are found within these games. Most successful games I've played involve some combination of Legacy (being the tank) any combination of damage dealing characters, and usually a healer or assist character of some sort. Again, I can see how this could be a big turn-off for some but I enjoy that type of game interaction.

    Even before the metagame, some of the decks are a bit challenging to learn how to use efficiently. Absolute Zero is one of the toughest decks to use properly. I've also seen several people play the Argent Adept (an expansion character) completely ineffectively. Some of this could be due to card draw, but I believe a lot has to deal with newer players not really knowing what the character deck actually does.

    Also, one of the complaints that they had was the sheer amount of numbers to keep track of. While it's not perfect, they do give you several bits that are there to remind you what kinds of damage are being buffed or reduced and what other sorts of status ailments you could have as well. Even though these are supplied in the base box, I do admit that it can be somewhat taxing to keep track of all the things that are going on.

    The last complaint that I have is the misrepresentation of the game itself by the cards they used as an example. The ones they picked out that do different amounts of damage were from a deck that is primarily a damage dealer, specifically Ra, who is listed in the rules book as one of the simplest characters to play. If you want to find the decks with more interactions within themselves you'd probably be better off playing some of the expansion characters. Many of the base game decks do damage, so the creators opted to put in more assist-type or tank-type decks into the expansions. I haven't played all the characters in all the expansions, but most of them are listed as more difficult than the average base game character.

    I think the biggest thing about this game is the amount of joy I get when I actually win a game. Some of the villains are ridiculously difficult. I've had a lot of game end with, "Holy crap. I can't believe we just won that." It really does mean something when you pull off a good win.

    All in all, I think this is a mostly fair review of the game, though I don't suspect that this is SUSD's cup of tea. I would recommend this game to people who enjoy number crunching, developing a sort of metagame, and those who really enjoy the superhero genre, or are just looking for a deep challenge.

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    pensivetoastpensivetoast Registered User new member
    Like a couple of others, I also had to register just so I could post my two nickels (sorry, we don't have pennies anymore!).

    I have to say, while I normally find the reviews amusing and informative, I got to say, this one was off and slightly misleading. I've played the game multiple times, I've demoed it at conventions and game stores. And table after table of new players have all walked away loving the game, and several have actually bought soon after. It's a fun game, with a huge thematic element.

    I would have to say that there is actually quite a bit of strategy to this game. Not only in picking heroes and/or powers that synergize with each other, but on other aspects as well. If a card pops up that destroys X amount of equipment, who's going to make the sacrifice? Who can bounce back the fastest? A card dealing damage when the players are tied? Again, who makes the sacrifice play? You are dealing damage to multiple targets? What order do you do it in to get the most bang out of your buck?

    The game is fun, and you actually talk quite a bit amongst yourselves, discussing what to do and when. And yes, I'll also agree with what others have posted here, in that each character has a different focus. You want to play a character that dishes out damage? Then that's the one you take. If you want someone who can manipulate the deck, then you pick a different character.

    As I mentioned before, the game has theme oozing out if it's pores. Each hero has a back story. So does each villain. You want to know more, then head over to the website and you can find out even more. And because of this, along with the quotes on the bottom of every card (That, BTW look like they are lifted right from a comic, including issue numbers and names), you feel like you are playing in a well established world. There is even a nemesis mechanic, where certain heroes and villains deal and receive extra damage to each other because they have a history. And in many of the battle, the game can be won or loss by the closest of margins, and players get invested in their characters. Unlike Marvel Legacy, where you command various heroes from the Marvel universe, in SOTM, you are that hero. The deck for Tempest is only for Tempest, and each card build on his unique abilities and powers, each card adding not only to his fighting strength, but fleshing out his character and story. In turn, the player actually feels like they are that hero, involved in a struggle with a nefarious evil doer, sometimes with the fate of the very world at stake.

    And since this is a fighting game, and player elimination is a real possibility, they have a neat little mechanic that helps deal with that. A fallen hero is not out of the game. You flip your hero card over, and receive a small list of abilities you can still do on your turn, representing how the fall of that hero spurs the other heroes to fight all the harder. I think this is great, allowing people to continue to participate even when they are down and out.

    Now, with all that, lets looks at the downside. They are right when they say there can be a bit of accounting with the game. Cards like "Deal X-2 (where X is the number of heroes) damage to the X-1 targets with the highest HP" Add to that that there is currently a card that ups all villain damage by 1, and an environment card that increases damage by 1, but one of the heroes has a card that lets him redirect damage, etc... (BTW, the X system is actually a great way the game scales to the number of players)

    If it all sounds complex, it can be... at first. Keep in mind that most villains will see a bunch of cards come out right at first, and then will usually add one a turn. You get used to the bonuses, penalties and effects. Plus the game does comes with markers of all sorts to help you track what is going on where.

    The other downside is since it is a deck, there is an amount of randomness built in. There are times when you wish a certain card would come up, and it just doesn't. The flip side of course is it makes you think about the best way to use the cards you do have.

    All in all, I greatly enjoy the game. It plays just as well solo as it does with five players, and everything in between. The theme is wonderful, building on itself with each addition. The heroes, villains and environments are varied, and while some are obviously very closely tied to existing Marvel or DC characters (Cough.. Wraith... Cough), others are clearly original characters. While the game does have it's downsides (book keeping, randomness), I think the upsides and sheer amount of fun to be had playing the game far outweighs the negative aspects.



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    SalcirevSalcirev Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    I get that games are subjective, but I have played a lot of Sentinels and every game plays different. The reviewers mention that the game has no depth or synergy but really the game has so much depth and synergy. I know that when I play we usually talk a little amongst ourselves to plan out 'attacks' and such. Plus some characters have no damage but lots of utility!

    Every single time I have played the game it has been different. Some combos are guaranteed wins while others are going to make it 'harder to win' but those games are nail biters. The villains are arguably weaker in a 3 player game as the extra person usually helps keep the villain or environment spawns down but in a 2 player or 5 player it can get pretty dicey just from the damage output. In 2 player it's more of an issue of not as many people to 'soak damage' while in 5 player it's more an issue of they just do more damage since most villain damage is based on number of players minus a modifier.

    Also I do not know how much the reviewers know about comics outside of 'Batman', but each character in SoTM is based on a super hero archetype or some other form of literature. Some are direct rip offs of characters (Tachyeon is the Flash, Expatriot is the Punisher, Legacy is Superman, Wraith is Batman, etc) while others just play around with the archetype (Absolute Zero isn't really Iceman, Tempest isn't really Storm, etc).

    Like I said at the start, everyone is entitled to their opinion and gaming tastes are subjective. But I feel they were a bit over critical of non-issue things and just nit picking. But that's fine because that's my opinion of their opinion.

    Salcirev on
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    Echo2OmegaEcho2Omega Registered User regular
    The base game (if I recall) comes with 4 villains and 4 environments. Not a whole lot of variety there. BUT when you get the 3 expansions + the extras that adds in a TON of variety to the game.

    well....
    here:
    http://x.gray.org/sentinels-of-the-multiverse-difficulty-scores.html

    As you can see there really are quite a lot of variables that alter how easy/difficult the game is.

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    darkmage0707077darkmage0707077 Registered User regular
    Looks kind of like Magic: The Gathering except it's super-hero based and doesn't have as many choices.

    A shame. It sounded interesting during the kickstarter. But then, I guess they all do.

    The way of the Paladin:
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    To Learn,
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    LuthirLuthir Registered User new member
    edited August 2013
    Alright my two cents...RA is dps and one of the easier heroes to play but those cards he was showing have very different uses....Do you do weak damage to a number of villains or a lot to one target...Do you piss away a big one shot knowing some villains have a set time when they receive more then usual damage...Do you pull out your staff...opps bad call the villain just trashed all equipment or worse did damage to those with them...Do you give everyone a +1 to dps by turning everyone damage to fire...O way to break it hero now hes immune to fire and no one can do anything.

    Everyone is allowed a voice but I think your being a wee bit unfair but hey its not for everyone good video I laughed a bit...

    Luthir on
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    Huttj509Huttj509 Registered User regular
    First off, I've found Sentinels to be a very hit or miss game among people. For some, it's overly complicated with no central mechanic (though each character/villan/environment tends to have their own, it's not spelled out until you know the character's cards). For others, well, I brought the box (with all expansions) to a weekend gaming party of friends, and of the multiple tables full of games, the individual game that was played the most was by far Sentinels. We had multiple games of 5 going on at once a few times, from the same box.

    Now, most of the people there were engineer/computer science folks. The sort of people who love working with procedural mechanics, good at spotting patterns in instructions (so the heroes' 'shticks' become evident more easily), and love the comic book feel of the design (given the art is supposed to evoke select comic panels, the variance in art style is probably deliberate).

    It seems like a cop out to say "well, some like it some don't" but the same can be said about, say, Arabian Nights (a game which I know friends I'd love to play with, and I also know friends who'd get 2 turns in and say "#$%^ this"). The key is in identifying "where does the fun in this game come from" so people know if it's for them. Arabian Knights is a story based game. If you don't love the idea of telling a story, you might want to give it a pass. Sentinels is all about the varied mechanics and how they interact (or don't, with some heroes).

    The heroes tend to look similar, but once you learn their individual shticks (get a lot of guns out then shoot them all, turn everything to fire while being immune to it so you ignore the backlash damage while using your big cards, look at the enemy's deck every turn to control what cards are coming up next, store up cards in your hand while healing yourself to do damage then discard your entire hand to do loads of damage to one target, deal cold damage to yourself so you can deal fire damage to an opponent so you can deal more cold damage to yourself so you can heal it so you can...yeah, Absolute Zero's one of the highest complexity hero decks for a reason) they become distinct in play.

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    Fry GuyFry Guy Registered User new member
    edited August 2013
    I get the feeling that not much time was given to review this game. There are synergies and strategies abound based on character choice. There are many combinations of characters that work very differently together. The self-harming/healing Absolute Zero fighting along side Legacy plays out very different from Legacy assisting Haka.

    While choices in the game can come down to doing some damage vs doing a different amount of damage, they can also be choices between making a last attack or trying to keep yourself standing, or giving up an attack to help an ally, or set up for the future, or manipulating someone else's deck and so on.

    The different damage types might sound scary, but they're all fluff. 2 Melee is the same as 2 Fire is the same as Sonic. The damage types are just things that other cards might care about, for example a wet environment that makes electric damage increased or a space ship that is immune to melee. They are otherwise functionally the same.

    And the "maths" you have to get get about as complicated as 3+1+1-1.

    Anyway, if you are only spending each player turn figuring out what you have that hits for the most damage, you are doing the game a disservice and probably playing really poorly. Yes, the villains go down after getting hit, but every fight is not just "Punch face, let's see who of us goes harder until one of us passes out."

    Fry Guy on
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    VitiumVitium Registered User regular
    I think the SUSD guys are great, so was sort of surprised that they got so much wrong on this one, while still being charming and entertaining, of course.

    The irony of the review was that in some ways it reflects the shortcomings of the Greater than Games crew's choices as a whole in regards to supplying information about the game in box..

    Anyone who has played this game for awhile will remember the hilarity of the various posts (especially on Boardgamegeek) that (vociferously) claimed that the game was way too hard or way too easy when it first came out - Leading to lots of confusion about the game.

    What was going on is that GtG was so busy putting out a great game with an incredible amount of heroes, villains, etc. for a very fair price, that they really didn't get around to explaining the importance of including a hitter or two on a team, in combination with characters with good supporting skills etc., all of which resulted in a lot of newbie frustration.

    This also resulted in the aforementioned issue of the Sentinels "Bipolar" review syndrome. A team dominated by hitters could easily result in a walkover, while a team of more esoteric or subtle support characters could (and did) lead to a user massacre... And it should be said, since the game can be (by design) delightfully "swingy"; as a good, tense, superhero game should be, having a messed up team makeup obviously exacerbates the issue.

    So cut to bemused players who had just grabbed a deck (much like the SUSD team) and played, unknowingly relying on the SotM Gods to obtain the right mix of characters to really start to "get" the game, its depth and great potential synergies... Not likely to happen on a first go without some direction. (Unless perhaps, your play group featured at least one player familiar with CCG's).

    There is a lot more to talk about here, but suffice it to say that along with some points that many SotM players will grudgingly accept about being fiddly (I love SotM, but it is a Poster Boy for fiddly, let's face it) SUSD really "whiffed" dramatically here, unusually getting even some basic things wrong about depth of play and choices...

    ..Which is understandable if they just grabbed a deck and it happened to be Haka or Ra, etc, as opposed to even Tachyon... God knows what the review would have been like if one of them had chosen to play Absolute Zero...

    Still, my expectation of the SUSD crew would be that they would have been able to understand the newbie issues I've mentioned, critique it, and give SotM the credit it deserves as a game.

    The complexity ratings in the Enhanced Edition Rulebook are helpful, but let's face it; the game could really have benefited from a simple in box "first mission" learning game that could also have been a great way to introduce the fun and depth of the back story....

    Oh well, still a fabulous game; great theme, massively replayable...

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    Huttj509Huttj509 Registered User regular
    @Vitium Had they picked Absolute Zero first: "What is this? I don't even? Why would he play this card to hurt himself? What's the point of all this damage type conversion?"

    2 games later: "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

    Ok, it's AZ's turn, everybody go get a soda while the maths come out. :-)

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    shadowtychoshadowtycho Registered User regular
    every time they go outside i cant help but think how nice England looks.

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    jimbobjonesjimbobjones Registered User new member
    It's funny -- every game you guys don't like, I enjoy. So, you're kind of like my "Bizarro-world game reviewer"

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    VitiumVitium Registered User regular
    @Huttj509

    Regarding Soda's and Maths - Yes, and that's why we only let people play AZ that are analytical and quick!

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    SalcirevSalcirev Registered User regular
    With the people I play SoTM with from time to time Absolute Zero is reviled because he has cost us more games then he has won us XD

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    NekoatlNekoatl Registered User new member
    I usually find these reviews to be very helpful, but this one misses the mark. To say there are no choices is just wrong, and collaboration between players can easily mean the difference between winning and losing.

    For example, you might have a runaway train in play from the environment deck which deals 5 damage to the 2 targets with the most hp. One of those is the villain, so you want to keep the train in play, but you don't want it to hurt you, so you want Legacy, who has a card in play making him immune to environment damage, to have the highest hp on your team. You might even go so far as to do 1 or 2 damage to another hero to lower their hp to match Legacy's so that you have multiple highest hp heroes and get to choose which of them gets targeted by the train, thus taking only 1 or 2 damage instead of 5.

    Or let's say you have a villain target in play that's doing cold damage to the hero target with the lowest hp. Instead of attacking that target, you might choose to leave him in play, instead having Wraith play smoke bombs to redirect the damage to Absolute Zero who has the highest hp and converts cold damage he takes to healing.

    So, yes, there is a lot of damage in the game, but to say that means that there's not real choices is missing the point entirely. Also, to say that damage is all there is to it is just wrong... there's also healing, deck manipulation, hand management, buffs, debuffs, crowd control, etc. And, if you start adding expansions, things get really diverse... such as having villains that have only 6 hp and, if killed, will result in the players losing... or simply not having any hp at all, and thus not being a valid attack target.

    The comments about the lack of deckbuilding and how the board can get filled up to the point where it becomes difficult to keep track of everything are fair, though.

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    RedBeastMageRedBeastMage Registered User regular
    I really enjoy this game, and when I brought it to my local gaming community after purchase at PAX, it was a huge hit. All my player's love it. It's simple for non gamers to understand, the little tags that provide reference for modifiers were completely overlooked in this review. I don't understand how you can complain for a minute straight about hard math and to much card based rules when the game provides you a way to figure it out if you really have that hard a time remembering. I've played this with alot of people who don't play any tabletop games outside of monopoly and apples to apples and non of them (excluding the mega-drunks) had trouble understanding.

    The one thing that GtG should have mentioned in the book it basically common sense to anyone who has ever played a group dungeon crawler, MMO, a MOBA or tabletop RPG: Bring a balanced party. You complained that all Ra does is deal damage, but that's his job! He's the DPS! Argent adept is the support, Legacy the Tank, etc etc! The team synergies make/break the game. You guys totally missed that.

    Very dissapointing review. Not because you didn't like it, thats all well and good, but to state the game is one of no choices and say it's overly complex in the rules is just untrue.

    I swear, I'm retiring from any game with the word 'Revolution" in the title. I must be the only person who breathed a sigh of relief at not being called for the Omegathon this year.
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    KestralbKestralb Registered User regular
    I have to say I have enjoyed this game, but their criticisms are also quite valid.
    As some have said, you mileage will vary a LOT based on the heroes you choose, almost so much so that just picking the heroes, villain, and environment is the most interesting part of the game.
    A veteran player can often just look at the starting line up and predict the outcome immediately.
    With the wrong lineup, the game *can* really fall flat.

    Still, the amazing amount of fun (and narrative engagement!) that this game is capable of providing in the best cases, especially to new players who are seeing it all for the first time (and haven't yet noticed how predictable it can sometimes become), should have been given more acknowledgement. The review felt one-sided and incomplete because of that.

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    ArrisArris Registered User new member
    This is the first episode of this series that I have watched and I'm honestly a little disappointed. It was very entertaining and funny but I think the review itself was a swing and a miss. I'm not really sure what game they were playing, but if they thought it doesn't involve a lot of options or choices, it definitely wasn't Sentinels OTM.

    Every time I've played this game the players have spent 90% of the time making decisions and hashing out strategies. The first time we played we were obliterated because we chose the wrong heroes for the villain but we still felt like we lost as a team. When we have won the game, it was usually such an epic battle and there was so much collaboration and teamwork involved that we all stood up and cheered and high-fived around the table.

    I really think they might need to come back to this one again in the future and spend more time with the game. I will say, I did agree that rules on the cards can be a bit complicated at times but most games are going to have one short-fall or another and I still feel like it really only hinders game play a little bit.

    As one of them said in the video, I think there's something they're just not getting when it comes to Sentinels. I'm not saying their opinion is wrong, just maybe not fully informed.

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    drummond13drummond13 Registered User new member
    This is the first one of these I've seen, and I'm frankly baffled. Did these guys just play the game once and then quit? Almost every thing they say about the game is blatantly wrong. There's actually a ton of strategy and collaboration. I've yet to play a single game of it that plays the way they described.

    You look at your cards and "play the best one" and that's "doing your taxes"? What? That's like saying every game that exists is silly because you consider all the moves you can make and "do the best one". Figuring out the best move to make is the point of these games.

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