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New Corp Order Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: New Corp Order


Designer: Miguel Bruque
Artist: Heiko Günther
Publisher: 2Tomatoes
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 25-45 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of New Corp Order. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.



Review:

tl;dr: Part worker placement, part set collection, part corporate intrigue, with too many moving parts.

Getting to the Game: New Corp Order plays with a rotating set of 18 companies, a random selection of 16 of which are used for every game. Each player is given a pair of secret objectives, a single random consultant, four conglomerate cards, and then the companies are seeded with a single agent of each of the four conglomerate colors. Setup is actually pretty fast, which is nice, because you're gonna need some time with the rulebook...

Which is not easy to understand at all. Learning the game is going to be the hardest part, which is a real shame, because there's a game in this box somewhere. The first difficulty is in the component names. The cubes are agents, but they each represent a conglomerate of their color. The tiles are companies, which each belong to one of six symbols, representing the type of company. You're also angling with consultants that hang out in your HQ waiting for you to use them or score them at the end of the game. Your hand will consist of a max of six conglomerate cards, in the same four colors as the agents, but different than the colors of the companies on the table. Scoring is simpler than the rulebook would have you believe, as it's explained in a very obtuse fashion, and two pages (!) are dedicated to an example. Let's dig a little further...




Playing the Game: Essentially, the key to understanding New Corp Order is that you're playing a rogue executive of an organization not represented in the game. The rulebook says that you're "a top executive of one of the world's leading MegaCorps." Ok. Your "job" is to try and gain the highest "share" of the conglomerates that are doing well with the companies on the board. To this end, you will be planting agents of each of those conglomerates into the 16 companies, and doing so will gain you an interest in that conglomerate. The endgame is that for each of the four conglomerates, everyone adds up all of the cards and agents they've accumulated throughout the game and whoever has the most in each color will get two victory points for each company that conglomerate controls. Whoever has the second most will get one point for each. 




You also have two secret objectives from the beginning of the game, and your goal with those is to make sure that you are getting victory points for the conglomerates who control those company types. If you are, you'll score 2 VP for each company that matches your secret objective. We had a hard time in our games trying to weigh each of the victory point strategies, considering that there will come a time when you have to make a decision between two conglomerates that you're vying for, and trying to math out which decision is the right one is a real brain-bender.

Actually playing New Corp Order, though, is very simple. On your turn you can either pick up conglomerate cards from the display or deck, play cards into your HQ which then gives you agents to add to a company on the board, or you can... turn sideways... those cards to move agents from one company to another next to it. (Side note: the rulebook uses a very common term for turning cards sideways that is actually patented by a very large game company. I expect this term to be changed before publication.) You get one of these three actions every turn, and gameplay continues round and round until the conglomerate deck doesn't have enough cards to refresh the display, or until there are three or more companies at once that have seven or more agents on them. There's a really great tension in setting up for a play, only to have an opponent snake it out from under you before you actually get to enact it, but then discovering they left another option wide open, so you take that, which in turn leaves another avenue vulnerable to another player, and so on, and so on. When the game finally clicks for you, you'll sort of see behind the very heavy curtain of the esoterics, and there's a gleaming landscape underneath. My group just really wanted to be able to see it more clearly the whole game.

The main qualm I have with New Corp Order is that, like it's spiritual cousin Imperial, you're not represented in the game space by anything. You're removed from the action by a step, because you're pulling the strings of many different objects, while not being directly related to any of them. Imperial pulls this off by directly assigning you the country you're currently winning in so you can strategize accordingly. New Corp Order leaves it to the player to figure out how many different conglomerates they hold a controlling stake in, and how close their opponents are. This, on top of the secret objectives and the consultants (which I haven't even gotten into), scoring points, all makes for a very muddy experience that's ultimately more frustrating and confusing than it is enjoyable.

I would like to be very clear, though--there are times when this game makes sense and is fun. There is a game in here somewhere, and I think that throughout the KS campaign clarity could emerge as the developers continue to test and refine. I really hope that happens, because this could be a nice, deep addition to your game collection. There's even a solo mode where you play against an Automata.

Artwork and Components: The artwork for New Corp Order is a microcosm of my issues with the game as a whole. The style is phenomenal. There's a stylized 1960's feel to the cards and company tiles that looks really great. The box art is engaging and very cool. On the table, though, it all blends to a mush. The 6 different colors of companies are far too similar to each other, and the art on the individual cards looks great, but when you put 16 of them next to each other, you can't easily distinguish which is which. There are elements on the cards that would help colorblind players to sort this out, but they're very small and don't stand out well, making it difficult for non-colorblind players as well. (In our first game, I misplayed for two turns because I couldn't tell the colors apart)


  

The prototype components included with the review copy (seen in photos above) are just fine, likely to get better with the actual release. The acrylic agent cubes are by far the best physical component of the game, and the green and blue cubes look different enough from each other to not be a problem. Conglomerate cards have good templating and are clean and nice to look at.

The Good: The core gameplay here is solid. The art is really nice, even when it's muddy. It's so close to being a good game that I want to think it will be when it's ready to ship. 

The Bad: The rulebook is awful, the company cards need their colors overhauled, and there's one mechanic too many. Strategy isn't deep enough to merit the confusion.

Score: New Corp Order is rough, but promising. If, during the Kickstarter campaign, the rulebook gets a complete overhaul, the mechanics get streamlined, and the coloring issues are addressed, I think this merits a serious look. In looking at Peak Oil, this same company's game from last year, it seems like it's possible. That game shares a similar art style, relative complexity, and mechanics. This company knows how to make a good game. For now, I'm giving New Corp Order a score of Needs Consulting.



Check out New Corp Order on:

                    

On KICKSTARTER now! Campaign ends June 16, 2018

About the Author:


Nicholas Leeman has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.
New Corp Order Kickstarter Preview New Corp Order Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on May 23, 2018 Rating: 5

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