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My initial impressions on games I recently played for the first time

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Snowdonia The Necropolis Railway, Monopoly Deal Card Game, Snuffie Hup and MammuZ revisited

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Snowdonia: The Necropolis Railway & Neuhauser Bockerlbahn
tl;dr: more (but different) of the same goodness

So far I only played the Necropolis scenario of this expansion, so I won't comment on the other one.
Snowdonia = great. More Snowdonia = more great. This new scenario adds a few new twists and turns to the game and one big one: the fact that you loose a whopping 21 points if you don't reach step 4 or 5 of the track and build a monument there. You won't win if that happens, so this expansion adds new tension to the game as soon as building monuments becomes an option. Preparing for this moment is quite crucial.
I also enjoyed the fact that during the fog you can still clear rubble but fewer spaces to do so are available.
All in all another very solid scenario that is certainly worth playing.

Initial rating: 8/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Monopoly Deal Card Game
tl;dr: complete junk

We played this because one of the players heard it's actually pretty good. And a score of almost 7 on BGG sounded promising...

There are some awesome set collecting games. This is not one of them. The problem? The action cards of course. A good game with stupid unbalanced action cards is a bad game. This game might be acceptable at it's core (I wouldn't call it great), but the action cards completely screw the game up. I can live with stealing some of the money of other players. And even with stealing the occasional property card that is not part of a complete set. Fine. But stealing completed sets? Fuck that.
I must also say that I was amazed at how horribly written the very short and very simple rules where. Yes, they are very simple, but they tried their best to make it sound way more complicated and we had to reread most rules 3 times in 2 languages to figure it out. And this game is published by the biggest board game publisher in the world? Shame on you, Hasbro. You should know better. Putting out a shitty game is one thing, screwing up the rules is just adding insult to injury.

Score: 2/10
BGG scale: 2/10

Snuffie Hup
tl;dr: strictly for kids

Some kids games are so awesome even adults can enjoy them. Like Loopin' Louie. And some kids games are so not awesome you wonder how much fun the kids would be having with them. Like Snuffie Hup. Pull carrots, eventually Snuffie jumps up. Whoever catches Snuffie wins. The problem? The game might be over after the first carrot. But most of all, it doesn't matter how many carrots you have. There is no arc at all. Disappointing.

Initial rating: 4/10
BGG scale: 3/10

MammuZ revisited
tl;dr: it is as good as it sounded

It turns out we played this game wrong the first time. So we gave it an other chance. And I must say I was dead wrong last time. This is a fun game that might even be up there with Bugs. If you bluff the right way, some hilarious stuff can happen!

Revised score: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:35 am
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Wot? Wot? Wot?

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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I'm Geek of the Week! I still have no idea why acclaimed desinger Tony Boydell thought it was a good idea to nominate me, but thanks!

Go over there and ask me anything. I might even aswer!

PS: new post with reviews brain farts coming soon!
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Sun Apr 19, 2015 2:15 pm
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Captains of Industry, Eggs and Empires and Dieven!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Captains of Industry
tl;dr: fine but could have been better

Economic resource generation and free market game. It has some elements from one of my favorite economic games. The base mechanism is very solid. Manage your money, make sure you produce the right amount of the right resources at the right time, don't overspend on resources from other players... Good stuff but nothing really new.
The game takes 3 rounds but the length of the rounds is not fixed. While we all liked the game quite a bit most players did feel like the variable round length was slightly problematic. The second round was very short (which was fine) but the last round took very, very long. This resulted in most players being more or less done rounds before the game was over. Left with little to do and score, some of us basically had to sit it out, going through the motions. That certainly could have been improved upon.

Initial rating: 6.9/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Eggs and Empires
tl;dr: fine, but I prefer Love Letter

OK, it's not Love Letter really but for me both games fill the same niche. Love Letter just does it better. I also feel like this game has a bigger luck factor. I wasn't able to use the 9, the second most powerful card in the game once. I know how you're supposed to use it, but even then there is always a bit luck factor. The draw of point cards has to be right, the player order has to be right and you have to be lucky with what other players flip. I know that's the nature of the game, but if that's the game we're playing, I'd rather play Take 5!.
So not bad, but other games do it better.

Initial rating: 6.3/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Dieven!
tl;dr: not that good, but we had fun

I don't think this is a very good game. It's chaotic more than anything else. We had fun playing this (twice in a row mind you) but I think that was more the result of everyone being so tired that they made stupid moves and said stupid things than a result of the game. I don't expect future plays in a more awake state to be as fun.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Sun Apr 5, 2015 9:14 pm
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The Voyages of Marco Polo, Mammuz and Hamsterrolle

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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The Voyages of Marco Polo
tl;dr: solid - of course - but not very original

A game from the designers of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar developed by the masters of development at Hans im Glück, of course that showed up on my radar. And as expected, this game works very will indeed. But it is mainly a recycling of well known elements. Use dice to perform actions. Gather resources, travel the map, build settlements, fulfill orders, score points. It's all done slightly different but in a very familiar way.
But there is no denying that even without doing anything really new this is a very solid design than is certainly worth playing if you like strategic middleweight euros.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10

MammuZ
tl;dr: sounded way better than it was

This game combines elements from Liar's Dice and Bugs, two games I enjoy. So this sounded very promising. Except that it didn't work very well and it was very unexciting. I think it simply doesn't give you enough options.
Quite often you are forced to challenge the last player because you know making a claim would be ridiculous. But you also know that the previous player probably wasn't bluffing or not entirely. Which means you're screwed.
Not exciting at all.

Initial rating: 5/10
BGG scale: 4/10

Hamsterrolle
tl;dr: more of the same Zoch goodness

If you've played other Zoch titles like Bamboleo or Riff Raff you kind of know what to expect from this game. Players each in turn place one of their wooden pieces in an effort to get rid of all of them first. There are some placement rules and if something falls off and hits the table, you have to add it to your hand.
I quite enjoy games like these and I enjoyed this one too. But I think I do prefer those 2 other titles I mentioned.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:28 pm
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Elysium and Arkwright + RftG update

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Elysium
tl;dr: the movie was better

real tl;dr: solid game but some AP issues

This game continues the line that Space Cowboys has been building: medium weight strategy games that could also be enjoyed by families with some gamer experience. This one is a bit less streamlined and maybe even a bit deeper than their previous offerings. This mainly comes from the big range of different cards and the combos that come with them. There also is a good amount of Donald X influence with different sets of cards in each game. All great. The game offers nice strategic choices and variation and doesn't go on for too long, but it could have been a bit shorter. The main reason for that is that with all the variability in cards there is quite some time needed for players to evaluate which cards to acquire, which resources to spend and keep in doing so and which cards to move on to the Elysium for end game scoring. This results in more AP than you would expect form a game like this, resulting in a playing time that is a bit longer than I had hoped. It's not problematic and I still enjoyed the game, but it keeps the game from being great and keeps it in the good category.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Arkwright
tl;dr: heavy, dry and good

There's a reason this is the last game from my Essen haul to hit the table. The basic version of the game is 24 pages of rules. The advanced version adds another 32 pages and then there is an additional overview of components and strategies that is just as thick. Of course we opted for the basic version with the predetermined setup, as it is already complex enough to satisfy most hardcore eurogamers.
This game continues the line of complex strategy games that we've come to expect from Spielworxx and it is just as well developed as their other titles. Even with the sizable rulebook most rules are intuitive and everything makes sense. There are a few details which could easily be forgotten, but I guess most of them won't ruin the game if you do.
This is definitely a game that begs to be explored more after the first play. It's also a game in which every action counts. I screwed up the very first action and than wasted an other one in the 2nd round and as a result I lost. It's that kind of game. I enjoyed it and look forward to playing it more. I don't expect to move on to the advanced game any time soon though.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Roll for the Galaxy update
I've played this a bit more since my last post, and I'm really starting to like this a lot. The way to pursue strategies is becoming clearer and it's just so much fun. And I'm as of yet unbeaten

New rating: 8/10
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Mon Mar 9, 2015 9:22 pm
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Roll for the Galaxy, Scoville and Schrille Stille

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Michelbeke
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Roll for the Galaxy
tl;dr: similar yet different

Race for the Galaxy has long been one of my favorites and it is my most played game by a huge margin. To Court the King is a dice game that I enjoy quite a bit from the same designer. So Thomas Lehmann doing a dice game based on RFTG sounded promising.

I've already played the game twice now, and I've enjoyed both games. You can definitely recognize those RFTG genes in there but it's not a straight conversion. It does bring some new and interesting mechanisms with it. To does feel quite similar yet quite different at the same time.

It seems like there's less of a 'yellow strategy' or 'rebel strategy'. I think the main reason for that is that the amount of tiles that pass through your hands is significantly lower than the amount of cards you get to see in RFTG. So there is less planning and hoping and more using what you get to the best of your abilities.
I think the strategy in this game comes more from managing your dice. Certain colors are better for doing certain actions, so getting the balance right there while still building up a steady income stream to reuse your dice is what the game is all about.

I look forward to exploring this game more because it is clear that there is more there than 2 plays will expose.

A comment on the components: while generally of good quality (don't reach the German standard though) the dice are very cheap looking. Screen printed, really? If this game sees as much play as I hope it will, that will not do, the icons will fade quickly. I expect RGG to send me a free replacement set if that ever happens. The icons should have been embossed.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Scoville
tl;dr: fine but unoriginal

Some games should not have been published. Bad games should not be published because they are bad. Other games should not be published because they don't bring anything new to the table. A game working fine and being mildly enjoyable should never trigger a publisher to invest resources into publishing it. Yet with the advent of crowdfunding that is happening a lot. And this game falls squarely into this category of games that work perfectly fine but don't do anything new. An original theme and nice components and artwork are all nice things to have, but that is not enough to entice me to dig up my wallet. No, I need more than that. An unoriginal game that is surprisingly fun to play, or an original game that manages to be enjoyable despite it's original ideas, that is what I'm looking for.

So yeah, if you get the chance to play this, you might as well go ahead and do it. It's an OK game. But I wouldn't advise you to go out and buy it sight unseen.

A additional small point on game play: I found the game to go on for a bit too long. Not necessarily time wise, but it did get slightly repetitive towards the end.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Schrille Stille
tl;dr: enjoyable for once

This game has some cool components: round things with holes in them in which you place round wooden disks that influence the hit parade. Those are wrapped in a holder the players 'disks' stacked on top of each other on a 'turntable'. Then the wrappers are removed so all disks of all players for a certain position on the hit parade are dumped together so no one can see who did what. The turntable is turned so all disks come out one hit parade position at a time. Of course you get points if your own tunes score well and you lose points if your tunes don't score well. It's all very chaotic as one would expect, but I kind of enjoyed it. I don't need to ever play this again though.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:11 am
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Hyperborea & 7 steps

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Michelbeke
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Hyperborea
tl;dr: good, but how good?

Bag building was one of the hot mechanisms at Essen last year. This is one of the games that have it. It's like deckbuilding: it's a mechanic that can be very effective and enjoyable if used well. Judging from this first play this game does a pretty good job at using this mechanism.
You draw cubes to perform actions. Some actions give you more cubes, others let you get cards to help you be more effective or they let you do stuff on the board. What did surprise me a bit was that you can completely ignore the board if you like. And the while other players did use the board, it still felt a bit underdeveloped. But that might be just a wrong impression from the first play.
All in all I must say that I quite enjoyed this game, but I'm not quite sure how good it actually is. It's not bad, that's for certain.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

7 Steps
tl;dr: fine multiplayer abstract

Every couple of years a new family friendly multiplayer abstract comes along that is actually fun to play. Ingenious comes to mind of course. While this game might not actually be as good, it's certainly enjoyable and worth playing.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:20 pm
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Korrigans, Eat Me If You Can! and Los Mampfos

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Korrigans
tl;dr: OK but unremarkable

OK, so the theme is pasted on. You're walking around, increasing your maneuverability to enable you to get to the right spot at the end of the game. Fine enough, but very unremarkable. There's nothing wrong with it but I do feel it is terribly overproduced. It feels like they knew this is a mediocre game, but they upped the amount of fancy components in able to to be able to sell this. Let me remind you: there are enough great games with great components, there is no reason for me to spend money on mediocre games with great components.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10

Eat Me If You Can!
tl;dr: crapshoot, the game

Pigs select if they want to sleep or lay a trap. They get points if the wolf comes to them and they laid a trap or if the wolf doesn't come and they sleep. They lose points if they sleep and the wolf comes to eat them. The wolf scores points if he enters a home with a sleeping pig, he loses points if he enters a home with a trap. So it's crapshoot the game. Luckily it's short but it doesn't have a high replay value.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10

Los Mampfos
tl;dr: silly but enjoyable

Turn over a card, put a certain amount of food in one of 3 donkeys. Food comes in 7 colors and you get to choose freely. Once in a while one of the donkeys takes a dump. Select a color. All colors are distributed among the players who selected that color, the rest of the poo is eaten again. Most poo at the end of the game wins. Oh yeah, you also move the donkeys on a track. This doesn't influence the game, but it's there to confuse you.
This is a very light luckfest, but it does have it's funny moments and it doesn't outstay it's welcome.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:35 pm
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The Golden Ages and Rattlebones

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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The Golden Ages
tl;dr: solid euro, but not a real civ game

This was announced as being a relatively short civ game, but that's just the theme. It's mostly an engine building game with a map element. You do also have sort of a tech tree, but it doesn't feel like a real civ game. But that's not a knock on the game, it's actually really solid and enjoyable. And well developed. There are a few confusing icons, but that's a production issue, not a game design issue.
I actually played with the designer in Essen. We played Imperialism: Road to Domination, also announced as a short civ style game. Neither of us liked that game very much. Only after we finished playing did he tell me about his game. His reaction to Imperialism increased my hopes for this game, and it didn't disappoint.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Rattlebones
tl;dr: enjoyable dice building game

A dice building game! Not a dicepool building game, no, you actually build your dice! During the game you get to customize the die faces to have some kind of deck building effect: choose which actions you might get, and then roll to see which ones you actually get. A bit like deck building indeed.
It's a fairly light game and only takes about half an hour. Enjoyable enough, and the dice customization is a welcome gimmick.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:29 pm
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Murano and Temporum

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Murano
tl;dr: fine strategy game

A new game from the designers of Village by Lookout games? This can't go wrong, can it? Well, maybe it can, but it doesn't. This is a fine strategy game. And it has a nice action selection mechanism that is quite novel. But it's also a source of some frustration. If you're trying to do a certain action and it just keeps on getting more expensive while you try to save up and avoid helping other players perform said action, that can be frustrating. But maybe that will be fixed with repeated plays, when I better get the hang of the game flow and how to plan ahead.
But for now I say: fine game, but I can't say I love it from this first time

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Temporum
tl;dr: solid design that left me cold

It seems Donald X. Vaccarino is defining his style as games with very simple rules and short playing times with great amounts of variation due to cards and a decent amount of depth compared to game length. But other than Dominion, none of them have been able to get my juices flowing with excitement. They're all solid designs, but somehow they don't stand out even though that mix of depth with short rules and playing time is something I quite enjoy. I can't exactly pinpoint why that is.

Initial rating: 6.4/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:59 pm
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