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The Taverns of Tiefenthal, Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula

I hated The Taverns of Tiefenthal. The others seemed to like it though. The theme is cute and the art fits, but the gameplay was a randomness nightmare for the complexity of the game and the times when I should’ve had fun when I had a good round were overshadowed by the overwhelming frustration of dud rounds inbetween, occasional bad die rolls, and an infuriating final act which is unfortunately all too common in Wolfgang Warsch’s designs. It’s a very similar game to The Quacks of Quedlinburg, in feel if not in mechanics, and even though I don’t like Quacks either for mostly the same reasons, I think it is actually a better game. You can definitely see the common threads all the way from That’s Pretty Clever / Twice As Clever as well.

Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula was a surprise for me when I first played it a couple of weeks ago. I hated reading the rulebook – in fact I decided to quit halfway which doesn’t happen frequently. I actually wanted to hate the game when we were about to play it the next day, because it read like the game was a mess and not worth playing, and I thought that would be the case. The art is pretty bad as well – the color choices for the board and player boards clash with each other, the icon style is weird, and it just looks rough like a late stage prototype – except maybe the experiment pictures which I probably like the most in isolation. The gameplay actually did end up a bit like that too. I approached it as a medium-weight game the first time and had a rough time when I realized there’s a lot more game than I thought. I ended up struggling to catch up very late, and “one short” of multiple ways to add 50% more to my final score. In retrospect, I think you should definitely treat the first game of Trismegistus as a learning game, because the game actually has surprising amounts of depth and it definitely doesn’t truly “click” for a bit, even after understanding the rules. Now that I’ve played it a few times, it’s actually surprisingly great, despite the issues. Probably the biggest surprise of expectations-to-outcome I’ve had in a while. I want to say a lot about it, but I’ll save it for a couple of weeks from now when it will be a spotlight game for us. Tune in to the upcoming podcast episode to hear everyone’s thoughts about it!

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