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Early Impressions: Emergence by Liminal Games

Early Impressions: Emergence by Liminal Games

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.

Patty Review

Artwork & Quality

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!

 

Gameplay

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.

 

Replayability
Emergence is definitely one that’s replay-able. There are many ways to set up the map and many paths of the map you can take (especially with the KS teleport hex tiles), this allows for different strategic game play every time.

 

Other Thoughts

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!

 

Justin Review

Artwork & Quality
Starting from the outside and working our way in, the box has a nice matte finish which gives it a great slick feel to it. The spot UV finish of the title is great though. Now moving on to what’s inside the box, I must say I am extremely impressed with the box insert. It is made of sturdy plastic and fits all the components snugly. The player boards, scoring track and hex tiles have a the same slick matte finish and all have spot UV finish on the diagrams. The (leader) first player marker is like a poker chip and has good weight to it making it feel great, something else to look forward to when you become the first player. the player aids and allegiance cards have a linen finish making them easy to shuffle and handle. The voting box is big and makes it hard to see where the previous player put their knowledge tokens, however if you shake it you can tell which side the tokens are on (everybody has that one friend you need keep and eye on). The data cubes feel great and are similar to the ones you find in Pandemic Legacy. The one component that left me a little disappointed were the action markers, although they are from the same punch outs as the knowledge tokens I haven’t applied this qualm to the knowledge tokens as it does not get handled as often. The action markers on the other hand are handled every round and so it would have been better if we got a plastic or wooden action marker to play with. Lastly, we have the meeples which are my favourite component. They are well painted, and have little arms and a triangular head cut out.

 

Gameplay
The gameplay is pretty solid, however it not so straight forward thus can be a little hard to teach. Having a quick play through will definately help new players understand the intricacies of the game. I enjoyed the asysmetric set up that it has, forcing players to try and deduce their team mates. The thrill of being able to terminate someone has lead to many unwarrented team terminations which has proven to be a possible game changing factor in our playthroughs.

 

Replayability
The hostile actions make every turn reveal exciting as you try to figure out whether you picked the correct augmentation. This mechanic forces you to try to read other players plans and deduce what augment are going to place. Depending on how serious you take games this will probably leave you fuming. This also diagrams of multiple different board setups on the website that players can utilised which adds to the replayability of the game. Players can also develop their own unique board.

 

Other Thoughts
We need to get the Unicorns together to play more games!

 

Yoz Review

Artwork & Quality
Emergence arrived in a sleek futuristic box that fits the theme of the game perfectly. However, the most immediately noticeable thing was the quality of the plastic insert used to house the game components. The Kickstarter rewards (such as the Spot-UV Printing) give the game a more premium feel but the cardboard knowledge tokens feel a little out of place.

 

Gameplay

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.

 

Replayability
Emergence was clearly designed with replayability in mind. It’s a game that relies on the mindset and tendencies of the players (which inherently gives it replayability) but also includes a reconfigurable tile board to ensure that you can change the board layout to suit your needs. It’ll be interesting to see the novel layouts the community generates and I think it’ll be great if the community comes up with various layouts design for specific numbers of players.

 

Other Thoughts
Overall our playthroughs of Emergence were fun and left enough depth that I’d be happy to play several games with friends. Unfortunately we only managed a few three-player games before this write-up but I suspect it’ll be a lot more fun (and hectic) with more players as the deception elements will come into play a lot more strongly.

What about our Unicorn friends? What are your thoughts on Emergence?

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