this year was up in Santa Cruz. On top of the usual fare (kids, turkey, burned killa bread), there was great beach weather
Airports and airplanes meant some actual stick time with Three Houses. It's been one of the best in the series, but they may need to tighten the gameplay up in future releases
a la Civilization.
Instead of base and promoted classes, there are several tiers (4?) that are available to any unit based on weapon level. While this allows total flexibility of team composition, it takes away the challenge of reclassing units in ways they were never intended. What's more, it feels like skills are emphasized far less
than in previous games - but that might just be my unfamiliarity with this installment.
And so the character cards are substantial and perhaps a bit too detailed (height, really?).
The 3d roaming and wealth of cinematics are general nice-to-haves that hopefully bode well for the franchise, budget-wise.
Tactics are true to the series
with some features that preserve sanity. Showing who enemies are targeting is kind of amazing and kind of feels like cheating. Likewise, on classic (permadeath) mode, having the limited time wheel uses takes away a lot of frustration. I'm still having trouble distinguishing my units. The face icons should help, but the 3D models aren't distinct enough.
Combat arts and battalions are neat new-ish abilities to get yourself out of a rough situation.
Rare monsters are neat uses of the new mega-boss system
. I'm still not sure how they work but with a few more rounds I'll figure it out.
The innovation/expansion of this game is the tight management of unit progression. Each unit can use any weapon, and experience is gained via combat, instruction, group tasks, etc. At times it seems like they just needed to come up with fiddly things to give incremental progress to your team...
... though some are passive. Same can be said for unit affinities.
Yeah, hearing idle conversation about meals isn't really that entertaining. But it's brief and mostly skippable.
Likewise, wandering the monastery between battles to exhaust all the idle conversation is kind of a grind. It's made palatable by the real stuff to do and the lack of load times.
There is some well written/translated dialogue, though it's hard not to joke about some of it. Maxing stats and accomplishments is built around understanding the other characters. It adds a different, non-tactical dimension to the game, but might have been better with fewer life stories to keep track of.
I've unlocked the shadow assassin character in Gloomhaven. The auto-kill ability is pretty OP with an elementalist in the party.