Well, the game is officially out now; I got my copy from Miniature Market, but won't get it in front of a group of players for about a week. Anyone else pick one up? Got to play it yet? Have thoughts or reactions?
I also have it and I'll love to tell you about it, once I actually manage to get out of stupid on-call duties and manage to get some people that want to try it; last Saturday I tried to had it played but there were no buyers.
Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a wonderful and (appropriately) strange novel, its meandering plot belying an uncommon thematic density. It never goes quite where you…
I put some comments in it. Now, let me also say, we just played it once, so take this with a huge grain of salt.
The guy that liked the game the most was somebody that didnt knew anything at all about the book. That would probably be the main problem with the game. It is in itself a very simple Euro of racing for points against the Gentleman, points you get by compleating feats of magic that you do by discarding cards, but you need the correct suits and you cant put any suit at any time so there are restrictions. And ... thats it.
On the game mechanics itself, it is again a simple game, simple to teach, not a bad one per se but a bit too random as your hand and the random restriction of suites may leave you with not a ton of options to do, but in general, a competent game of managing your hand, not great, not bad.
But it evokes the book setting, plot, drama, style or anything at all... well... not at all really, apart from the lovely illustrations by Ian O'Toole. Oh, the feats of magic name stuff that happened in the books. Thats it. You do them by discarding cards that are invitations to balls and concerts and introductions to people, which ... makes no thematic sense whatsoever, and they give you "magicianship". And thats it. Literally, thats it. You get the feat of the permanent darkness field? Is points. You did the one of resurrecting Lady Pole? Thats points. They dont affect you, they dont change anything in the game, they dont make any impact on anything, they are points you tally to see if you beat the Gentleman at getting points.
So, it is a not bad but not particularly great light Euro that you can play and have some fun, that somehow manages to reduce the book setting and plot and everything to abstract mechanics that dont give you any other satisfaction but "I got points faster".
Bit of a missed opportunity. Lets see how it goes with more plays, but right now, I'd say it is more disappointing in what it could have been than bad, but is also not that great either. Just... average.
Damn, gonna have to give it a pass, then. Thanks for the concise report.
Tabletop Gamer (a UK boardgaming magazine) gave it faint praise as well, for the record, despite simultaneously having a feature article interviewing the game's creators. If you can't give glowing praise to someone when you've met the game designers in person, it's not a good sign.