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Ohhhhh man... Do I ever like this one. It has the downsides of being a teensy bit long and having a stupid dull generic theme with stupid dull generic historical cartoon art that doesn't even warrant me using commas appropriately BUT everything else is upsides. This is my new favorite way to build a deck.
GAMEPLAY Players are city planners who are building the city of Valetta. The game is propelled via deck building, hand management, and recipe fulfillment. Players both start with the same deck of cards that have pretty generic abilities: gather resources, build buildings, move the Valetta pawn, etc. The game ends in one of three ways: the Valetta pawn reaches the end of the city track, a player’s pawn reaches the end of the city track, or a player has put out all of his “houses”. THOUGHTS Stefan Dora is known for making Euros with low rules overhead and high player interaction as if it were still 1995 and (I know I am out-of-step with most modern gamers) but I love him for that. In Valetta, he tries to tackle a deck builder but it kind of falls flat. Grant it, I’m not a deck-building evangelist; I’ve never played Dominion but I don’t really have an interest in doing so. Still, I understand that deck builders should allow you to make significantly different decks with great synergy and provide you with enough variety that every game feels somewhat different. Valetta doesn’t do any of these, making it, and it’s painful for me to say, just another soulless Euro. PROS -Turns are snappy, and our two-player game was done and dusted in about 45 minutes. -Component pieces are generic but nice. -There is both in-game and end-game scoring so you have an idea of how well you’re doing as you’re playing. -Various end game conditions. CONS -I’m just not a fan of Klemens Franz cartoony art style. -Set up and tear down are a pain. -While not all cards will be in play in any given game, players have access to all the cards so there is not much variety. -Card abilities are so-so. -Take that cards felt out of place, and player interaction for the sake of player interaction. -Synergy between the cards was ok but not that interesting. -A lot of gameplay is simply churning resources to buy buildings or flip buildings to their bonus side. This does not make for very many interesting decisions.