Game Chef Review 51: Vovetas by Michelle Lyons-McFarland


Ingredients: 7 [Stillness (4), Dragonfly (3)]
Stillness plays a strong part in this game as a manifestation of the "Eye of the Storm". A safe and still zone that tribe members are sheltering in, trying to create what is necessary to survivewhen the storm passes back over them. Dragonfly is used a bit more vaguely; it appers in the game title, and in the flavour text setting the tone for the game, but is element feels like it doesn't completely mesh with the concept. But on the other hand, pushing it further might have compromised the game as it stands.

Theme: 6
I've seen a few games like this over the years, not many, so it's a pretty exclusive niche (as far as I'm aware). It addresses a dofferent audience by alerting people to the plight of the Cheyenne tribes, but not in a heavy handed way. It remains light and generally abstract, rather than trying to ritualise a play experience.

Would I Play This?: 7
This seems like it would be a fun game to play a few sessions with. I'm curious to the number balance in the game, between different components and different crafting items and how they all accumulate toward victory conditions. I'd be interested in playing this a few times to see if the balance actually does work out (something feels off, but I can't put my finger on it).

Completeness: 8
Providing instructions for play, and cards, is good. Almost everything necessary for play is here, the only other thing I might consider adding is an example of play through the game, but that might just be nit-picking.

Innovation: 6
Like I said previously, I have seen games like this before, and it's a fairly standard model. But it is interesting the way different players have different roles within the game. It's not quite asymmetrical play, but I could imagine the game experience being quite different depending on which role you were assigned. The various mechanisms of the game have been assembled in an interesting way that feels fresh.

Output Quality: 8 [Language (3), Layout (2), Imagery (3)]
The language is functional and descriptive, no problems there. The layout is pretty standard, I might have gone with a more evocative title font, but the cyclone glyph on the frontage is a step in the right direction. This is one of the more image intensive games (like my own), The simple use of glyphs from the game-icon site is more than adequate to convey the archetypal feeling of the card concepts. Original imagery might have pushed this further, but since I used the same site for most of my game, I can't complain too much.

Overall: 70% Credit [21+12+7+16+6+8]
This is a clever game with a decent number of moving parts contributing to the overall play experience. After confronting Tjukurpa on the "cultural appropriation" front, I don't know whether I should be doing the same thing here. I just don't know enough about the Cheyenne Tribes to know whether this is respectful or otherwise.


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