June 21, 2007

Thor's Hammer gaming - Before the Wind

by Susan Rozmiarek

Ed and I are trying to play more games this summer while we have more free evenings. So, we decided to check out the Wednesday game group at a local store, Thor's Hammer. At about 20 miles away, this is the closest weekly gaming and a quick and easy shot down the toll way. It only took 25 minutes to get there, which is not bad. The store had a pretty poor selection of games for sale, but it had a HUGE area for gaming that was brightly lit and had many, many tables, mostly filled with Magic players. There was also a smaller, back room which was where the boardgamers were setting up. We were greeted by a small crowd of both familiar and new faces. Ed and I immediately jumped into a game of Before the Wind with Paul. We wanted to get home at a decent time so this ended up being our only game of the evening, but we plan to go again next week.

Before the Wind

Note: This was a early review copy of the game. The Mayfair edition isn't out yet.
Despite Phalanx's shaky track record with me and the tired, old theme of acquiring, storing and shipping goods, I found my first playing of Before the Wind to be completely engrossing and tense. The game appears to have many subtle tactics with timing being crucial. The mechanism by which players choose actions is very clever, and the whole game is very interactive. You have to constantly watch your opponents and try to keep track of what they have hidden in their hand. Many of the decisions you make have to be balanced between what you want to do versus what you may allow your opponents to do. There are lots of chances for clever plays and the fact that some of them will hose your opponents makes it especially satisfying. I burned quite a few brain cells trying to be vigilant. The game does have some lucky elements but the luck certainly does not dominate. There was very little down time in our game and the 75 minutes (exactly what is stated on the box!) flew by quickly. Excellent, excellent stuff! I look forward to playing this one again and writing a comprehensive review very soon.

I started out slowly and was unable to ship anything in the first round. All the lovely apples in my hand and my warehouse spoiled. The second round was fabulous though, and I was able fill multiple ships with one action. This left my warehouse empty for the third round and I started building up for a hopefully good fourth round. I was really frustrated because I had numerous opportunities to place two spices from my hand into my warehouse and I had a special card that would keep them from spoiling. I was hoping to carry then into the next round. However, both Paul and Ed each had the special card that would allow them to exchange a good from their warehouse with one in another player's warehouse. They both desperately needed spice so I didn't dare put mine out. It didn't matter. Ed was able to fill a ship anyway and get the 50 points needed to win and end the game. Paul and I were both taken off guard. The hidden victory points are yet another thing you have to watch!

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at June 21, 2007 12:35 PM



thanks for your great report (and all the other interesting reviews in The Game Ranch!).
It's nice to read that you like the game "Before the Wind".

This is one of the main reasons why it is such a pleasure to develop games:
Someone "at the other end of the world" (I am from Germany)
plays your game ... and has fun with it!

Best regards
Torsten Landsvogt
(from the other end of the world)

Posted by: Torsten Landsvogt on June 25, 2007 11:01 AM

I have been growing a bit leery of Phalanx releases, as I have found many of them to be lacking. So I approached Before the Wind with some trepidation.

Like you, I was well pleased with the game. It is filled with some interesting choices, and the game was tense throughout. It was a mini-hit at the recent Oasis of Fun convention. I'm looking forward to more plays.

Posted by: Greg Schloesser on June 29, 2007 3:43 PM

I am rather new to games other then games like chess, and backgammon and I am wondering if there are places to buy "Before the Wind" in stores. Or do they need to be ordered.

Posted by: Hyrum on July 15, 2007 2:12 AM

Like Hyrum, this sounds really interesting to me but some more information on where to get "Before the Wind" would be great.

Posted by: David on November 29, 2008 3:49 PM
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