As the exclusive Australian retailer of Emergence we received an advanced copy and wanted to do a quick write-up of our early impressions from a couple of play-throughs with the Unicorn Games team.
The quality of the game is fantastic! From the heavy and thick first player chip to the adorable well-painted meeples, I can tell that a lot of effort has been put in to make sure that all the elements are of high quality. The box itself is sturdy and has cool detailed imprints on the front cover.
I love the colour scheme Emergence has chosen, it’s neat, clean and simple. You can’t ever go wrong with a white or off-white base. The player colour scheme is even better! They have veered from the standard red, blue and yellow to a unique and energetic shade of colours, AND THEY HAVE A BROWN MEEPLE (show of hands those who appreciate this).
The artwork is neat, easy and simple. Maybe it’s a little bit lacking as apart from the symbols, we don’t really know what the A.Is look like in this Emergence world but that’s all part of gaming isn’t it? Imagination!
The game play is fun, exciting and brain wrecking! It is complex as you need to think a few steps ahead. Players not only have to figure out who their team mates are but also consider what other players are planning to do and how the turn order affects player abilities. There are lots of elements in the game that allow meta-gaming such as adding tokens to the other team to discern the others from finding out your identity or deceptively chase someone while in actual fact you’ve collected enough tokens to cash in for the win.
Although the game is not as difficult in a 3 player game as it is quite easy to find out who the odd one out is, I can imagine it being quite chaotic and mind challenging with more players as more variables add on.
I wish the player boards were shaped differently (maybe hex shaped like the tiles?) or had some sort of cover (like roll for the galaxy) as it was quite easy to discern what abilities other players picked based on where their arm was placed (yes, I’m that player >.<).
Also, I wish the game came with more hex tiles to allow us to create a bigger map so that more players can play. It’d be interesting (and chaotic) to see a 8 or even 10 player game being played. Imagine the meta game plays! One person could keep replenishing, while another to keep collecting! oh my goodness, it could turn out like a chess game! One person collecting all the influence tokens while the others surround it to protect it to cash in for the win!
Originally Emergence was touted as a ‘game of teamwork and deception’ with elements similar to Coup and The Resistance. As a fan of both Coup and The Resistance I was immediately intrigued despite not really understanding the game mechanics behind Emergence.
Similar to The Resistance one side (the AI) doesn’t know which players are Humans and needs to deduce this from the hidden ballot-style votes which can be triggered by any player. Conversely, the Humans (and possibly even AI) can deliberately mislead the other players by voting on the opposing team’s side to create a little confusion. However, in our three-player games it was a little too easy to weed out the Human player and it would have been a lot more interesting in a larger 5-6 player game.
On top of that, each turn you secretly choose an augment which determines which actions other players can perform against you. All the hostile actions require the opposing player to correctly guess which augment you’ve chosen and an incorrect pick leads to a wasted turn. Personally, I found the augment selection to be the most interesting mechanic as it led to some really tense mindgaming between the Unicorns.