A couple more really excellent Microscope reviews.
There’s a lot of great observations in both of them, but I want to pull out a few choice quotes. Lowell’s review on Age of Ravens is a follow-up to his Cycles of Apocalypse actual play.
Microscope appears simple and the basic structure of play actually is. But it hides a surprising amount of depth. We played a game based on a couple of reads on my part, with me teaching the very basics of it to the players. We ended up falling into a couple of simplified approaches which weren’t as fruitful (sticking with generics, a slight misreading of the legacies idea). Going back to the book, I found advice which at first glance had seemed a little excessive. In fact, the advice and suggestions presented really do make sense after you’ve played once. The game’s obviously been extensively play-tested and it shows in the explanations of best and most fruitful practices.
It’s always great having people say nice things about the game, but as an author there’s nothing more full of win than seeing that when people have questions, the text actually provides exactly the insight they need. That’s a big part of writing rules, thinking “hmm, what questions will someone have when they try to play this game?”
Ryan’s review is actually from about two weeks ago. I linked to it on the Lame Mage site, but I never gave it a proper shout-out. Ryan’s take is particularly interesting because he played without reading the rules: someone else taught him to play, then he read the rules afterwards. I’m guessing most reviewers are the ones who read and taught the game to their fellow players.
The first round was pretty slow, and I initially thought “Microscope is meh,” but I’m glad we gave it a couple more rounds, because then I got jazzed about it. I’m totally looking forward to playing it again.
I bet this happens a lot. At the very beginning you don’t know know much about your history, so it isn’t really engaging yet, but every minute you play it gets more interesting. I love one-shot Microscope games, but they aren’t nearly as cool as coming back to the table and continuing a multi-session Microscope game. Our starcraft-analog game went seven sessions and each game just made us want to play it more.