Monday, February 24, 2014

Second Opinion: Lagoon, By David Chott

I had the chance to play a pre-release version of Lagoon: Land of Druids with our very own J.R. Honeycutt.  He gave his thoughts and excellently described how the game works (you should read it, if you haven't already), and as such I won't go over how the game works.  Instead, I will give you a second opinion on the game and why you should support it before the Kickstarter campaign ends.

The Components
The components in Lagoon are simply top notch; the tiles and bits are satisfyingly chunky (like yours truly) and would easily give the impression  of being the product of a traditionally top tier publisher to anyone unfamiliar with the Kickstarter origins of the game.  The colors of the tiles pop pleasantly and the artwork (and this is meant as a compliment) evoke Magic: The Gathering cards at their best.  The text on the tiles is big and bold and should prove no problem to anyone (and serve as an example to game developers and publishers who keep making things squinty).  Everything looked and felt good.

The Mechanics
Admittedly the game both daunted and confused me, at first.  There are a number of actions available on every turn; exploring new tiles, moving, clearing existing tiles to score them, generating resources, awakening druids, putting druids to sleep, and that doesn't even get into the tile-specific actions.  I didn't get the game right away, but I pushed through and at some point something clicked (though I was already losing!).  When it did click I knew immediately that this game was one I was going to want to come back to; in one game JR and I had only scratched the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

One more interesting bit from my experience: rare is the game where one can feel, in essence, the tide of the game shift.  In games with hidden information (Ticket To Ride, Lords of Waterdeep, etc.), this feeling is completely nonexistant; a player can go from feeling confident in their victory only to have it snatched away from them in the End Game (this is, by no means, a slight against those games; many love the fact that they can win the game while appearing weak right up to the very end).  Lagoon has no such hidden information; everything is out in the open, and when the balance of power shifts, as it did in our game, from one color to the other, it is an ineffable experience.

Final Conclusion
As I said above, this is game I want to come back to.  With each tile having it's own special ability, the amount of strategic depth is staggering.  The artwork is gorgeous and evocative and the component quality is satisfyingly first rate.  I have supported the Kickstarter myself, and I hope, if the game interests you in the slightest, that you do too.



John H. C. Staton is a software developer and Ph.D. candidate.  He made it this whole article without making a "every month in the quarter moon there is a monsoon in your lagoon" reference.  He is proud of himself.  He still has a website found at FancypantsMonkey.com.  It's still not a whole lot to look at.  He also tweets occasionally at @johnhcstaton though RunKeeper tends to tweet more often there than he does.