Friday F.O.M.O. 5/24/19

George Clooney is a pessimist who only expects the future to become a dystopia. Britt Robertson is an idealist, a dreamer — she believes in Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland (2015)

This movie, the visuals, the conflicting characters Casey Newton and Frank Walker — I immediately think about these things when I see the game I have chosen for this week’s F.O.M.O. discussion: It’s a Wonderful World by La Boîte de Jeu and Origames.

So, if you couldn’t tell, right off the bat, this Kickstarter campaign draws me in visually. I love the art style and specifically the dystopia/utopia conflicting imagery. As I’ve mentioned, the right side reminds me of Tomorrowland, not just the movie but the land at Disney Parks as well.

a retro look at Disneyland

In fact, every time I peruse this game’s campaign page, the song There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (Carousel of Progress) starts to play in my head.

Alright, Frédéric Guérard and Anthony Wolff, you obviously have my attention. What about the gameplay?

It’s a Wonderful World is being hyped for its card drafting, engine building, and sequential production. Personally, those are mechanisms that tickle my fancy — but what makes this game unique, different?

The card drafting is standard, but after each selection, cards are revealed by all players, but not immediately played (as they are in 7 Wonders). In theory, this allows players to more successfully draft with a defensive posture (counter-drafting). If my opponent looks like she may be planning to work on some technology that requires green cube (Science) production, I might decide to deny her a card that would help her generate that specific resource. In a 2-player game, each player gets 10 cards, drafting 7 — allowing for a greater chance to see cards that will work with whatever strategy you concoct.

Maybe a science-focused strategy sounds like your empire’s best chance at success

Engine-building — the game is played over 4 rounds. In the end, that’s not very long so planning your engine’s timing is crucial. Every card will have a construction cost for it to be built/completed (top left) — [Resources = Materials, Energy, Science, Gold, Exploration, and Krystallium]. On the bottom of the cards, you will find out if the project is worth endgame victory points and its production amounts. Every card will also have a recycling bonus. Over the course of 4 rounds, you will end up drafting 28 (7×4) cards. It seems almost impossible to imagine a player being able to develop all of those cards. Thus, players will need to plan to draft certain cards simply for their recycling bonus, which will be a resource that can immediately be acquired during the planning phase. This element of the game ensures that every card drafted is important and not just a throw-away. I imagine it will take several play-throughs to start figuring out the perfect balance of holding onto cards for construction vs. recycling to get immediate resources.

If the Nuclear Plant, with its Materials requirements, seems too daunting to construct — you can always recycle it for Energy to help complete a current Vehicle project.

Third, the Kickstarter campaign highlights the game’s “sequential resource production twist”

The third phase of the game is the Production phase (you’ve drafted, you’ve planned, now time to produce). Production happens in a sequential order from left to right (from the gray Materials to the blue Exploration cubes). Only your completed projects will produce, though. In round 1, one might imagine virtually no production, right? Not necessarily. In the planning phase, any resources acquired from Recycling cards get immediately placed on cards kept for construction. Any projects fully completed during the Planning phase immediately get added to your Empire, which means they will be ready to start resource-generation during Production.

Furthermore, you may actually be able to grow your Empire as the Production phase progresses — this is where your planning tactics can really shine, since you know in what order production occurs. For example, let’s say I was working on that Nuclear Plant (two pictures above). Pretend I have already put two Materials (gray) and one Science (green) on this card. My Empire currently produces two Materials (gray). When the Production phase begins, Materials are produced first — thus, I will produce two gray cubes and I can immediately place them on my Nuclear Plant, completing that project. The Nuclear Plant is added to my Empire and as we move to the next area of Production, Energy (black cubes), my newly-constructed Nuclear Plant is now available to manufacture its whopping three Energy!!

And who knows! That three Energy may be just what I needed to complete a Saucer Squadron vehicle, which produces Exploration cubes –> the last production area. A well-planned group of projects could very well grow a player’s Empire significantly in just one round, making it a stronger force for the remainder of the game. There are many engine-building games in which you finally get an awesome combo-machine working just in time for the game to suddenly end. I love that in It’s a Wonderful World, you know exactly how much time you have — 4 rounds! Only four chances to put together the strongest Empire in the world. That makes the planning of your engine such a crunchy puzzle, that I imagine will feel highly rewarding when pulled off triumphantly.

That’s the base game in a nutshell (I didn’t get into Krystallium, Generals, and Financiers, but that’s okay). And that package alone has my fingers itching to pull the trigger on this pledge-worthy title.

There’s more in the campaign, though, that I’d like to highlight:

The Heritage Pledge. Adding to the base game, this pledge provides two campaigns that can be played, the War & Peace campaign and the Leisure & Decay campaign.

Each campaign is designed for 5 play sessions (the game is listed as a 30-60 minute play, so each campaign is 3-5 hours of storied play).

I’ll say it right now — I LOVE THIS!! and I would love to see more games adding expansion content in this style. For one thing, these are short campaigns, so it shouldn’t be hard to get each one completed in a timely manner. Furthermore, it is essentially a way to play the game with a slight twist, a small bit of extra storyline. The campaign is not legacy-style, which means you won’t be destroying the content. If you enjoyed the campaign and would like to play through again, no problem!

Each campaign also includes extra cards and components. While some of these extras are specific to the campaign, a portion of the cards are intended to be expansion add-ons to your base game for any future play.

Kickstarter exclusive stretch goals. I know that people have different opinions about these exclusives, but nevertheless, they exist — and more importantly, they exist for It’s a Wonderful World. The stretch goals in this campaign have unlocked several new cards, a few of which are exclusives to Kickstarter. Most of them are tributes to other games, such as Terraforming Mars (and the Terraformation card) and Welcome to… (and the Residential Area cards). For any fan who would love to have these promo-style cards, the next 6 days is your time to act.

There are two other stretch goals that have been unlocked that caught my attention — one is an exclusive, the other is not: Resource Containers and alternative artwork for the 5 Empire cards.

Two of my favorite stretch goals to see: storage-related and additional artwork. Bingo!!

So yeah…if you have made it to the end of this article, you can probably tell I’ve got the honey-glow-something-fierce for this game.

Will you be backing this title by May 30th? Any other campaigns ending in the next 7 days that have caught your eye?

For weekly F.O.M.O. news and other board gaming discussions, follow me on Twitter @boardgamecrock1

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