Andrew Wright (II)
2 - 4
Not at the time of this article.
Area Movement / Exploration
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Linen finish of the cards provides a nice texture.
Quick set up (after the initial sticker placement).
The canoes look like blimps.
Heavy use of icons.
Luck based; sometimes luck is not on your side and your turn doesn't feel very rewarding.
I got the chance to play Paradise Fallen at this year’s AndoCon, a local Atlanta gaming convention. I had never heard of the game (somehow I missed the Kickstarter), but I rarely turn down the chance to play something new so I sat down to a four player game. Since the game is new, no one at the table had played it before, which means set up took perhaps a little longer than it would have otherwise as we all asked clarifying questions about the rules.
Another thing that added to the initial setup time is that stickers needed to be applied to the tokens. Now, the stickers look cool, but there’s only one token type in the game so even without the stickers the tokens cannot be mistaken for anything else. I would have liked the tokens to be printed, silk screened, stamped, burned, laser cut, or anything else that could be done during the manufacturing process. In my opinion, the stickers cheapen the tokens or maybe I just really don’t physical labor.
Going in to the game I didn’t know what to expect. The box top isn’t very telling, but the name is “Paradise Fallen” so I assumed some kind of island disaster was going to be at hand. Then, when the island cards were being laid out to form the play area, the exploration aspect of the game became apparent.
Paradise Fallen is a card game of exploration and hand management. Players are trying to explore the islands of Hawaii. The player that explores the most islands wins. But, it isn’t as easy as just paddling around until you bump into something. First of all, you need enough rations to get you to your destination. Secondly, on their turn, a player may place obstacles and other annoyances (called Aberrations in game terms) in the play area, often in your way. Cards like Green Mist or Raiding Tribe can ruin your well thought out plans of visiting the island of Kaho’olawe.
The very first thing I noticed about the game (aside from having to put stickers on tokens) was the feel of the cards. The cards have a linen finish, which gives them a nice texture, but they are thin and bendy. The thinness and weight of the cards felt a little cheap at first, but after bending a card so that both ends touched the table and having it snap back flat, I changed my opinion. The cards are glossy though and therefore pick up a lot of glare. I would much prefer matte.
The second thing was the meeples, which are canoes with an outrigger. However, my first thought was that they were blimps or some other type of airship; I wanted to stand them on the small end, which if you ask me, lends to the airship look. I was all set for flying a blimp from island to island. Imagine my sadface when I saw another player’s meeple lying flat, “Hey that looks like a… oh…” Of course, canoes make more sense but I can dream can’t I?
A number of symbols/icons are featured on every card. While most of the symbols make sense, that didn’t stop multiple players from asking for clarification on more than one occasion. Also, “move from a location” and “move on to a location” were confused a time or two.
The theme felt a little watered down, not to mention what genre does the game fall into? Is it Post Apocalyptic? Fantasy? Lovecraftian? The green mist could be anything, and therefore fit into any of the above genres, but what about the portals? What type of nuclear bang-bang is needed to create portals?
Aside from my gripes above, playing the game was decently fun. I didn’t pick up a defined strategy early enough to win, but I finally did catch on and would play again. Luck plays a small roll, due to drawing cards, but I think that good hand management will win most games (although others say it really does come down to luck of the draw). The time it takes to play a game is about 20 minutes, give or take depending on those at the gaming table. For this reason, it does a good job of being a filler and the box is small enough that it is certainly travel sized. All in all, it is worth playing a time or two.