Friday, November 15, 2013

Japan Games Night - Bye Bye Villains ! ( Game 1 of 3 )

Having recently had the chance to break out most of the Japan games i bought from Essen, i just thought i would share my group's experiences with the games we played.

The first on the list was Say Bye to the Villains
I had a strong feeling going in that my group will love this game. Eric was not impressed by it at all but i remain undeterred and decided that i would table this game to start the evening

Say Bye to the Villains ( Say Bye ) is a co-operative game where players each play the role of a Vanquisher seeking to vanquish an enemy after a fixed amount of time.
In each game, a number of enemies are drawn based on the number of players, and by the end of the game, each player will have to decide which of the villains he/she will attempt to take down.

Each vanquisher and enemy have a base strength and most have a special ability of sorts.
The main attributes for each character are Speed, Power, Life.
Speed determines who will attack first, Power determines to hit / attack strength of the character, and Life determines how many hits / attack strength the character can weather.

The showdown between vanquisher and enemy is a one turn affair where the character with the higher speed will attack first. If this causes the opponent to die, then the attacker wins immediately. If the opponent is still standing ( which means the opponent's Life is greater than the attacker's Power ), the opponent gets to counter attack to see if he/she can take down the opponent.
This means that there can be 4 outcomes: Victory ( you stand, enemy falls ), Sacrifice ( both die - happens when the characters have equal speed and attack simultaneously ), Failure ( you fall and enemy wins ), Tie ( both failed to overpower each other ). The only way to win is Victory for each of the vanquisher, anything else is officially pretty meh.

But before the showdown phase, there is a preparation phase. And this is where all the action actually stems from. Each player will take time ( think of it as a resource ) to execute actions. These actions can be anything from leveling up your character ( adding stats ), spying on the enemy, or passing cards to each other that may help your friend. The enemies on the table also have their own face-down cards that usually level them up or serve as hindrances to the vanquishers. These cards can be spied on with actions but some of them when looked at will have negative effects on the active player.
So the preparation phase is all about balancing things out whereby you have to decide how much to power yourself up and how often you want to see what hidden powers the enemy has.

Well, we played two games of Say Bye and my group really loved it !
To put things in perspective, they love co-operative games & thematic games and i would say that Say Bye falls neatly into both categories. The theme is not wholly integrated in the game but its certainly not pasted on. You do feel like you are preparing yourself for battle while trying to do a ninja-like spying job on the enemy.

Personally for myself, i liked it quite a bit too. I'm not certain if its because of the group i played it with or if i will feel that way regardless. But i liked it enough for me to want to take it out again and possibly keep in my collection for an extended period of time.
I love the table talk that the game inspires. You may think that you have it all figured out on who will take down who, but as you start to reveal or spy on the hidden cards, plans will change and sometimes you have to take on someone else whom you may not have been preparing for.

In both our games, we had obvious wins between characters that i will admit seemed less fun, but its the battles that you dont know the outcome off that really makes things exciting. We did defeat all our 6 enemies ( 2 three player games ) but 2 of them were really close encounters. And for our second game, we had major changes of plans whereby we completely had to reshuffle our targets midway through preparation as an insanely weak target revealed an insanely improbable combination. Its the changes in the game that i thought was great because each player gets involved in the discussion process and can say how they feel about each others' character prowess.

The bad thing about Say Bye though is that the rules for what you may or may not share is very vague. It only mentions that you should not reveal actual cards or specifics but we waiver-ed on how much we thought we could share. We went about saying stuff like "i can increase your power significantly" or "i can increase your power, erm, little bit ?"
I much prefer clearer guidelines so that its easier to teach and play the game the way the designer intended it to be played. 

Also, i am wondering if the game is too easy.
I know this is fixable through simply adding more cards to the enemy slots, but i also dont want to house rule such things or create any imbalances. I think the difficulty will increase with more players and this is something i look forward to trying out.
Just a side note, there are the obviously powerful cards on both sides ( player action cards and enemy situation cards ) but its these cards that make the game funny and fun.

Overall i think Say Bye was a good buy and i'm delighted by how much my group loved it.
To them it was the game of the night. For me, hmmm, i think one other game was better than that. What is it ? Well, i have 2 more coming up and you can find out. Next up: Cheaty Mages.


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