Daedalus Sentence Review

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When it comes to Kickstarters, I am a sucker for the cooperative game! I have supported as lot of kickstarters just because they were cooperative! And that’s where Daedalus Sentence came from for me …

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/167427101/the-daedalus-sentence-escape-from-space-prison-co

The Daedalus Sentence looks really cool. It has rotating, concentric rings and a LOT of moving pieces. Did it live up to how it looks?

I’ve played two games now with two very different groups of friends. We’ve lost one game and won one game. Group one is me, Josh and Jeremy (Jeremy hates cooperative games, but it looked cool enough for him to try), who are younger gamers. Group 2 is me, Junkerman, CC and Kurt, who are older gamers about my age.

Theme: 8
Gameplay: 7
Instructions: 5 (6 because they have game summary charts)
Cooperative Play: 8

Background: Some of us love cooperative games, and some of us (Jeremy) hate cooperative games.

Theme:
Wow! The whole reason we played this one because Josh and I really wanted to unbox this one and see how it worked. Jeremy came in late and was sucked in to playing (but he thought it looked cool). The whole idea that all there rings can really rotate, and fairly easily I might add, made it “fun” to do maintenance.

I would describe this as the prison from “Guardians of the Galaxy” meets Pandemic! It felt like we were in a prison, trying to discover the way out. We have to get from the inner rings to the outer rings to escape! It looked very science-fictiony, and felt the same way. We are trying to escape a space prison! That theme really came out.

Nit-pick:
If you JUST look at the rules summary, and the rules, it’s not clear how to get out of your cells! It looks like someone has to get you out of your cell, but how do we do that if we are all stuck AT THE START OF THE GAME? After searching the rulebook and the game summary, someone finally read the “flavor text”, which implied all the cells were all open (from a power burst). I’m all for flavor text, but when a rulebook is as big as the Daedalus Sentence, you tend to skip flavor text! Make it CLEAR we can just get out at the very beginning. This cost us about 10-15 minutes and kind of put us in a grumpy space to start.

Like: I like the Game Summary. It’s one of the better ones I’ve seen: it has all the actions you can do, it gives a very good summary of how those actions work, and we could “mostly” figure out the game from the rules summary (occasionally looking at the rulebook for clarifications). Like many games of this ilk, it has special locations with special powers: the Game Summary even summarizes what you can do at the different locations really well! That was great!

Dislike: My only quip with them Game Summary was that the “special locations” didn’t feel well distinguished. You really had to stare at it (“Oh! There’s a vent there”!) or consult the OTHER side of the Games Summary (“Wait, which one was a Research Lab again?”). Seriously, just put a picture of the location (even a small one) on the Game Summary next to the action. That way you can immediately draw your eye from the location to the summary.

In general, I really liked the Game Summary: without it, I think we would have been a lot more frustrated learning the game. I just wish the Special Locations were more distinguished.

Gameplay:
Josh and Jeremy jumped right in. We consulted each other, we tried to figure out the best thing to do, we tried to figure out when to open the way to the next ring. I think it’s a good game for cooperative gameplay: we are all just trying to get out of this prison (which of course we were wrongly put in!)

I am a huge fan of “Player Selected Turn Order”, and Daedalus Sentence uses it! We each get 4 actions per turn, and we are allowed to take those 4 actions in any order with the other players. So I can move (Rich action 1), Josh moves (Josh action 1) then researches (Josh action 2) then give me a card (Josh action 3), then I can (Rich action 2) use that card. Our actions support each other!

Most of the time, each player just used all 4 actions in order, but when it made a difference, we could go in any order. I know some people don’t like “Player Selected Turn Order” because they think it’s too hard to coordinate, but it was definitely NOT a problem in either game I played.

Jumping right in seemed to work. We learned parts of the game “On Demand”: how the circles worked, how to get to the next set of rings, how the locks worked, how to open the locks. The Games Summary really helped for this.

I like that the game has a simplicity to it, in that all actions are related to just one set of cards. The cards show either a colored ring, a minotaur (easy guard) or a Lactate (hard guard). (And they aren’t really called Lactates, but that’s what we called them in both gaming sessions). Rings show a color and a direction. When used in the maintenance phase, they show which ring rotates. A Minotaur or Lactate spawns a new guard in the maintenance phase.

The cards are also used for the actions. The players can replace maintenance cards (on Special Locations) so they force different rings to rotate.

The cards are also used for the combination to the gates. Each gate (to the next ring) needs to be opened by the players playing cards for the combination.

So, prison actions, player actions, and combinations all used the same deck! I thought that was pretty cool. We even did some strategy to keep Lactates and Minotaurs out of the main deck (in our hards) to make sure there was less of a chance they’d come out.
The Good News: I liked both games I played. I had fun, and I think my friends did too (Jeremy had fun, but in spite of the game). The game seems to foster cooperation. I think it’s a good game. The coolness factor of the rotating rings wears off, but I still feel like this is a good game. It has a vaguely Pandemic feel.

The Bad News: Ugh, the first game we lost felt very arbitrary. If you get caught by a guard once, you get sent back to your cell … at the middle of the board. And someone has to come rescue you. The first game felt like … stalemate. We were just about to escape (almost ALL Minotaurs were on on the board), and I got a stray minotaur in my space randomly. So, back to my prison I went. There’s no way my friends could go all the way back in and save me. Too many minotaurs. We knew we couldn’t win anymore, so we just quit.

That’s not good. Part of the reason we quit because the maintenance was unbearable: all the Minotaurs were out, 4 rings were spinning per turn, and it just wasn’t fun. We knew (as experienced gamers) we couldn’t save me and win, but we would have to “plod” and play it out. Nope. We just quit.

The second game (with a different group) was much more fun: I think that’s partly because we kept the Minotaurs and Lactates under control—there weren’t may of them. So, the maintenance didn’t weigh us down too much. Although it still got slightly annoying to go through 4 possible rotations every turn at the end.

Summary:

I like this game. I will play it again. I think CC and Junkerman would too. I think Kurt and Josh are on the fence, but Jeremy definitely won’t play it again.

It’s fun. I like the theme, I like the cooperative gameplay, but the maintenance on the rings and guards might turn you off (especially at end game).

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