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First playthrough
Armed with what I think is a fair understanding of the rules, my wife and I finally got a chance to play the game yesterday. As much as we want to like this game, we found it to be unplayable.

The problem is that there is very little incentive for either player to open their gates, and without open gates, nothing happens. The only time I want to have an open gate is if there is a Judge facing my opponent's open gate, and both the Judge and my opponent's unit will be destroyed in combat, clearing the way for my unit to destroy my opponent's gate. So why would my opponent ever leave her gate open in such a situation?

It seemed to us after playing that the ONLY viable play on a given turn was this:

  1. Identify a Judge who will kill AND be killed by an opponent's unit in the same row.
  2. Play Flashbang to ensure that the Judge is facing the opponent's gate, if it's not already.
  3. Play a Perp to my gate in the same column.
  4. Open my gate.
  5. Play Hack to open my opponent's gate.
Then combat resolves: the Judge and my opponent's Perp kill each other, and I destroy my opponent's gate.

A variation on the above would be to play Boing to remove a Judge in front of an opponent's unoccupied gate, then play Hack to open the gate, as long as I have an open, occupied gate opposite.

The only other way to actively destroy an opponent's gate is to play Stub Gun or High Explosive, both of which seem like cheap shots since there's no defense against them.

The only other way to force an opponent's gate open is to hope that Tek Judges show up in the right place at the right time, something that neither player has any control over.

Player turns quickly devolve into closing all gates and just drawing cards until you draw a Hack and a Flashbang, which is pretty tedious and creates another problem: with all the gates closed, Judges don't go anywhere. I couldn't find anything in the rules that cycles Judges out if the street is still full at the end of a turn.

Another issue we ran into is that, with this lack of combat (and especially after a few of your gates get destroyed) Perps get stuck at locations with nowhere to go. There doesn't seem to be a way to discard a Perp from play to make way for a better card, short of opening a gate and letting a Judge take it out, which leaves you too vulnerable to having the Judge or your opponent destroy that gate on the following turn.

We also noticed that once one of your gates is destroyed, it is virtually impossible to destroy the opponent's gate in the same column. This means that as soon as each side has lost one gate, the end game condition (one player losing all five gates) is not likely to ever be triggered, as long as players defend their gates from Judges by keeping them closed and occupied. You're back to needing Stub Gun or High Explosive, 3 cards total in a deck of 46.

Please don't get me wrong, I really like the idea of this game and want to enjoy it. Am I missing something about the way the game is played that would negate any of my comments above?
Hi Jefferson,

Thanks for the comments.

Trying to destroy your opponents gates head-on tends to be a futile strategy. The best strategy is to use the Justice Department to your advantage to destroy your opponent.

You could absolutely play the game any of the ways you mentioned, the game doesn't force you to take direct action against your opponent.

But, playing that draw/wait strategy against an opponent that is directly trying to destroy your gates will usually lose.

I do want to thank you for pointing out that a glaring rule is missing from the book that all of my editors missed.

• If at the end of combat, no Justice Department units were destroyed, place the last card in the street in the JD discard pile and draw a new JD card as in ‘replenish the street’.

Have a look at the how-to video we posted yesterday as well - that might help with understanding the gameplay style a bit better.

Where can I find the playthrough video? I don't see it anywhere on the Game and a Curry website.
I found the video by searching on YouTube. Unfortunately, it doesn't really answer my questions.

I'm still stuck on the fact that there really isn't any incentive for players to open their gates and attack Judges, especially if, as you say, "the best strategy is to use the Justice Department to your advantage to destroy your opponent."

In the first round of combat shown in the video (at around 4:00), what do you gain by having your punks destroy the rookie judge? It's facing your opponent, and by removing it you risk it being replaced by a more powerful judge facing your open gate.

In the last round of combat (at around 9:07), why would your opponent leave his last gate open and undefended, with a judge facing it?

Can you give an example of a play that would "use the Justice Department to destroy your opponent," assuming the opponent has not left any open gates undefended, and that doesn't use Hack to open their gate, or Stub Gun or High Explosive to just destroy it outright?

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