I’ve reviewed a lot of board recreation variations of video video games on this web site, and with good purpose: it’s probably the most intimate intersection of our board recreation and online game protection. In almost each case, the important thing consideration has been how does the board recreation really feel in comparison with the unique. What sort of concessions have been made, how does it differ, does it match the online game when it comes to vibes, if not actual mechanics.
Frostpunk is totally different. It’s a hulking large board recreation that seeks, in nearly each significant approach, to not adapt the online game to the tabletop, however to convey it wholesale, warts and all. It’s an bold enterprise if nothing else, however I’m additionally not fairly positive if it’s value all the trouble.
And it’s an effort. Once I went to play the sport for the primary time I used to be a minimum of half-hour into setting it up once I began to get the sweats. I had spent half an hour painstakingly punching playing cards, studying the guide and putting tokens on the desk and it appeared like I’d barely begun. Was I doing one thing fallacious? Was I only a very sluggish man? After studying this Dicebreaker story referred to as “I spent an hour failing to arrange a board recreation and it made me query all the pieces” it seems no, fortunately I’m tremendous, it’s the sport that’s sluggish.
Frostpunk is among the most advanced board video games I’ve ever performed, not to mention arrange (and that’s not simply me speaking, it has a 4.32/5 “weight” ranking on BoardGameGeek, which may be very excessive). There are a seemingly limitless array of tokens, a number of decks of playing cards that look the identical however aren’t and a great deal of totally different guidelines that bend and sway for every participant. Most maddeningly, there are eight boards you need to maintain observe of.
Eight. Boards. That’s too many boards.
Should you’re questioning why the board recreation model of a (comparatively) simple city-builder must be so sophisticated, it’s as a result of this version of the sport, for no matter purpose, didn’t wish to vaguely recreate the spirit of enjoying Frostpunk. It needs to recreate the entire rattling factor, substituting tabletop parts for mouse clicks. Practically all the pieces you are able to do within the online game, from the politics to the useful resource gathering to the hunt expeditions to city-building is right here, and it really works a lot the identical approach it does on PC.
It’s, in some ways, a staggering achievement. When you (finally) get on prime of the sport’s huge array of parts, boards and guidelines it actually does really feel such as you’re enjoying Frostpunk, the pressures and nagging obligations of the digital wasteland transplanted completely to the bodily world. Certainly a few of these pressures are even higher right here, as a result of Frostpunk is a co-op recreation, that means there could be 2-4 of you (there’s additionally a singleplayer mode, however I didn’t play that) taking over totally different jobs throughout the metropolis, working collectively whereas on the similar time arguing over each choice. Should you thought the social and political stuff was cool within the online game, it’s nice right here because you’re basically performing out quite a lot of these debates within the flesh.
But in different methods all of it feels a bit pointless? The board recreation cuts so near the online game’s fabric that at instances you marvel why you’re bothering in any respect, for the reason that online game does all this for you, with out the arduous setup time or fixed session with the principles. Certain, that’s a extra solitary expertise, however there’s some extent the place that trade-off could be value it, and for many individuals—myself included—that time can come if you’re hours right into a single recreation and discover you’re not even near ending it.
At the very least a few of that setup is value it. The sport ships with an infinite plastic recreation of The Generator, which doesn’t simply look wonderful on the center of the desk however has precise gameplay use as nicely, since gamers must drop coal into it nearly each flip as they play, an act that rivals Deep Rock Galactic’s robotic mining as probably the most satisfying bodily actions in current board recreation historical past.
And, in a really uncommon incidence for these opinions, I wish to give a shout out to the sport’s documentation. For no matter purpose most board recreation rulebooks in 2023 nonetheless suck, however Frostpunk, regardless of the sport’s complexity and scale, by no means allow us to down.
There’s a really particular kind of particular person on the market for this recreation. Somebody who’s into Frostpunk however will get lonely enjoying it, or somebody who has by no means performed the online game however is intrigued by the density and politics on provide right here. Sadly I used to be neither of these folks, I discovered its setup time and size simply an excessive amount of, however like I’ve stated I can a minimum of respect the exhaustive design effort that went into the strategy taken right here, if nothing else.