“Huh, Forces… ,” I muttered as I began flipping through the cards and reading the rules. With a name like that I had a mental image of pushing and pulling pieces around a board. Maybe some complicated point system to determine the pull or push of a piece. I had all these grand, complicated, ideas in my mind but none of them could be further from the truth.
Forces is a very simplistic game. The complete rules fit on the front side of a standard sized sheet of paper, and small print wasn’t even required. The rules go like this: there is a bag full of red and blue chips. At the beginning of the round, you pull out four chips at random and place them in the center of the table. At the beginning of the round you also give each player three cards from the deck. On your turn you play down one card and follow the instructions. These instructions can be things such as “take a chip from the pool” or “divide the pool evenly among two opponents”. Very very simple. The round is over as soon as all the chips in the pool have been taken, or until no one has cards left to play. You keep playing rounds until all the chips from the bag have been placed in the pool. At the end of the game you count up the number of blue chips you have and subtract the number of red chips acquired and that is your end score. High score wins.
If that description sounded dull, it’s because it was. The game lacked a lot of… what’s the word… game? A lot of cards had absolutely no effect in a given context and thus “fizzled” more often than not. Other times only one card was played and it immediately ended the round, which was also no fun (such as “Split all chips among two opponents”). This really was just an exercise in following instructions and my players were quite bored with it before the end of the first game ever arrived.
Trying to look at the positive side of life, surely this game would be good for someone, right? I’ve been pondering that and I am coming up a little dry. My first inclination was, well, this would be good for young kids. The rules and game play are very simple, and certainly this could be at least as entertaining as Candyland right? But the more I pondered on that, the more I realized this wouldn’t be a good fit. Why? Because of the cards. The cards require that the gamer be able to read at a comfortable level, something most kids in the Candyland age category can not do. You might be able to hit a sweet spot around the 9-10 year old age range: Old enough to read well, but young enough that the simple game play might not scare them off so easily. However, if the designer could convey the meanings on the cards via pictures rather than words, I think he might have a hit for young children.
Ultimately, this game feels like it is still a bun in the oven. You get this taste of what the designer had in mind, but the execution of it hasn’t matched up with that mind set yet. At least that’s the feeling I’m given when playing this game. This one needs tossed back in to bake for a little longer. There are a couple things I think could be done to make this game more palatable, if you have found this in your gaming closet.
Firstly, you could play with a larger hand size. Three cards leave you with very few options. More options would help players make more meaningful choices, rather than being forced to play the only choice they have available to them. This would also help eliminate the need to play cards that are merely going to “fizzle”, because the odds of you having a card that actually does something increases.
Secondly, you could start the game with players having chips. Perhaps two chips, one of each color, to each player. This too would decrease the number of cards that have no effect. There were many times that a card told us to take all of our red chips or blue chips and do something very specific with them, but we didn’t have any of the given color to manipulate. By starting with some chips you would alleviate this during the early game.
Thirdly, playing two cards on a turn would help achieve combos, and thus would add a level of interest to the game. There were many cards that helped your opponents by giving them blue chips. If you could chain that with something else, these cards would become worthwhile and very strategic.
Lastly, play with a smaller bag of chips. For how the game plays currently, there were simply too many rounds. The game did not hold our interest for even half of the total play time, and if you are trying to market this game as is to children, it won’t hold their interest for that long either.
So there you have it. This game needs work, first and foremost. There are hints of potential lurking under the surface, but right now it is buried under of layer of worthless cards, poor game play, and mediocrity.
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