Feudo

I wrote a review of Feudo (in Finnish) after just a single game. That always means the game sucks so bad, I don’t want to play it again. However, as my opinion seems to be in a minority, I thought writing a review might be a good idea. Or then I’m just fishing for GeekGold in pursuit of a ÜberGeekBadge…

Feudo is a game of battling medieval barons, who fight for the control of a territory. That sounds a lot like Domaine, but the games are quite different. While Domaine is an euro game with higher than typical level of conflict, Feudo is a mix between an euro game and a wargame.

Players control ten units (ranging from lowly but necessary infantry to strong but limited knights) on a map. At first it looks like the aim of the game is to control towns to score victory points (there’s a clever system, by the way — the value of a town in victory points is equal to its distance from the invader’s castle), but in the end it’s the points collected from beating opposing forces that counts.

To move their units, players choose three units every turn with cards representing the units. The selections are done simultaneously before movement. Units are moved one at a time, in order selected by the player in the last position. Moving last is usually better, but battle makes it mandatory to go first.

Getting units to the battlefield is slow. Units move two to five areas each turn, which is not much, especially when you only can move three units. Each player has a town near them and longer travel to the rest of the towns, which makes them almost out of reach. You see, to invade a town, player needs infantry. Knights (who are much faster) are not enough. Moving an infantry unit across the board takes a long time of slow movement and at the same time prevents other units from moving as you have to spend one of your three movement options to keep the infantry moving.

Battle in Feudo is cruel. Imagine the disappointment, when you spend half of the game moving your infantry only to see them die moments before they could’ve conquered the town they were planning to take. But that’s life in Feudo — stronger units kill weaker units without trouble. Attackers can use common strength of several units, while defenders can only seek the protection of forests, villages and towns. Once a unit is gone, it stays gone.

The game lasts for ten turns, during which players forces wither away slowly. There’s less and less to the game each turn. That’s what bothers me: I want a game to stay exciting, not to wither away by attrition. It’s a bit like Chess and Go, you know — I think Chess gets boring as the game progresses, while Go just gets better. Our game took us 95 minutes, which I think is too much. Reduced to one hour most, Feudo would be better. I shudder at the thought of 15- or 20-turn games suggested in the rulebook.

I can now return to Domaine. If I want a game of battling medieval lords, which one I’ll take? The one that lasts 90+ minutes or the one that takes 60 minutes? The one that gets boring when players keep losing their units or the one that keeps on getting more exciting? For me, everything Feudo has to offer is already provided by Domaine, in a much superior way.

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