14/04/2021

The Glorious South: An oriental ‘Where’s Wally?’ [Review]

My very first SPIEL Essen 2017, pre-pandemic COVID-19, when people were still able to roam freely in the 7 halls packed with pure fun. Thousands of board game enthusiasts were there, and I thought, “This is exactly that ‘Where’s Wally?’ moment if someone tries to spot me in a picture.” An hour later, I ended up at the booth of GeGe Co. Ltd. (or simply GeGe), a board game publishing house from Taiwan. I still remember vividly that their founder, Ariel Yi Chi Chang, brought three other games to the exhibition. Right now, I write about The Glorious South, a party game that brings Where’s Wally to the next level in a medium of tabletop.

Disclaimer: I am an avid euro gamer and a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings LCG player. I am not a fan of solo game/variant. This statement will give you an overview of what kind of bias I might have while writing.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I tried my best to provide the casual gamers in my gaming group with more options. Luckily, The Glorious South is one of the choices they love so far. I did say that the game feels like Where’s Wally, but it has more stuffs going on here. For starters, this game requires you to play in teams, and it is necessary to have good teamwork to win the game. Moreover, there are some mechanics in play, too, which will be discussed further below.

FIRST IMPRESSION ON THE GAME

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The box is pretty humble despite the huge size. The artwork is cropped from the actual printing on the gaming board. I cannot read the Chinese kanji here. It would be great and make me happy if you could help me pronounce it. Anyway, in my opinion, the box could have been smaller. The components are not that many, too.

I haven’t mentioned this, but the ‘board’ is actually made of cloth. It’s not neoprene, not thick cardboard, GeGe used real fabric for this game. I don’t know the reason behind this decision, but it sure does make The Glorious South more interesting.

The painting they printed is ‘Festival on the South Street’ from the hands of 郭雪湖 (Guō Xuě Hú, or Kuoh Hsueh-Hu), one of the important Taiwanese artists. It represents the area of 大稻埕 (Dadaocheng, or Hokkien Twatutia, literally means ‘big rice-drying field) It was an important trading port in the 19th century. Now, the place has transformed into a tourist attraction in modern Taiwan.

For me, The Glorious South has left quite a remarkable first impression from the painting only. The components are quite okay, no complaints.

THE GLORIOUS SOUTH’S EXPERIENCE & GAMEPLAY

Two teams competing to find-and-match the specific and zoomed-in parts of the bigger picture sounds like a piece of cake. Well, it can be just like that if both the ‘eyes’ and ‘hands’ can communicate and coordinate smoothly. Communication is the key because the ‘eyes’ need to describe where to put the disc while all the ‘hands’ have to find the described spot on the cloth. The Glorious South brings glory to those who manage their teamwork the best.

Winning the game is not only a matter of placing the right disc on the right spot. Players gain points by exchanging a set of appropriate discs into gold ingots. There are several discs that enable the direct take-that mechanic as well, and when used properly, can be beneficial.

A drafting process is involved to pick the discs, which correctly placed on the painting. The winning team picks first. In this case, I found that it’s necessary to know which disc to prioritize. There’s no rule preventing you from knowing which disc the opponent team needs to complete a set.

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That means, you can also choose not to complete a disc which benefits the other team. A small portion of risk management is involved in the game.

The Glorious South’s target market and replay value

With the ability to provide fun for up to 8 players, The Glorious South may be a lucrative choice for those who seek for a party game. The simple way to play this game is another reason why it’s viable to be a gateway for most potential newcomers. With communication involved, in a high-tension game, it proved to be a bit loud. Perhaps, it would be even chaotic when players get competitive. With both two characteristics mentioned here, I would say that this game is suitable for a mass in your gathering.

Well, I wouldn’t say that this game’s replay value is high, but it is also not that suitable to be a one-shot as well. You will find many discs inside the box, but one game does not need all of them in a go. Later, we can always come back and play with the remaining ones. However, once you played this often enough, it becomes repetitive, and you may have memorized all the locations, too. But, I can say that many players in my group would keep playing The Glorious South all over again, especially the casual players. They like it.

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I really wish there will be another sequel for The Glorious South. Ariel, maybe you can do another print from the next important Taiwanese painters. Of course, it would also be fun to have a fresh mechanic imbued in the discs as well. I learned a lot about the background story of this painting from Hsueh-Hu, and I am pretty excited if you decide to have another one in the future.

VERDICT

The Glorious South was one of the hidden gems I often found in SPIEL Essen. The game offers the simplest form of fun, the definition of playing a game in the most relaxed way. Some sessions can potentially be loud, but it is something normal we can find in a game like this, right? At the end of the day, this is a party game. Of course, you would never offer playing this game with players who expect things like Smartphone Inc. and others equally complex. However, bringing this game up with fellow players who just want an easy game will be a good idea.

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