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

Archive for Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!

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504, Castles of Mad King Ludwig Secrets and Basari The Card Game

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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504
tl;dr: interesting, but is it good?

Game 738

There was a lot of hype for this game, but I always was skeptical. The concept sounds very interesting, but if you think about it, there is a far better chance of the results being mediocre or even bad than great. Of course there is a a website where the combinations get rated, but so far the amount of votes is a bit low to be really useful.
We played game 738. It is many non-competitive territory building to score for majorities. And there is a system to allow you to increase your income. And money helps you perform actions.
The game was interesting, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. First of all the territory building was non competitive, which is a bit uncommon but it also removes a potential source of tension in the game. But the biggest problem I had was that the scoring can happen after just any player's turn. If you just played and set yourself up to score, and a scoring round is triggered, you'll probably score big. At game end this can be devastating. Especially if the game ends before your last turn! There is a compensation of 3 points for that, but that is a joke.
So it was interesting, but this game wasn't great.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Castles of Mad King Ludwig: Secrets
tl;dr: more of the same

This game adds more of the same (more rooms) with some slight variations (the swans) and a new elements (the moats). So if you like the base game, you might want to try this. I didn't feel like the expansion added all that much to make much of a difference. The moats where interesting, but I was really annoyed that they where limited in supply. I got hosed out of building my last one because I happened to be the starting player in the last turn of the game. You would say I had to build them sooner, but I started building them first and of course you need money to do so, and I was usually the player with the least money. So that sucked as it robbed me of any chance I had to win.
All in all not bad, but I don't think you really need this.

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

Basari: Das Kartenspiel
tl;dr: where have I seen that before?

This game is - obviously - a new take on Basari, which I haven't played. However, I have played Edel, Stein & Reich. I don't remember too much about it, but they obviously share the gem trading mechanism. And that is a pretty cool mechanism. In this game that mechanism is combined with simultaneous action selection using cards to select one of 3 actions. And it's pretty fun. Unless you get hosed out of action after action because 2 or more other players chose the same. That's part of the game however, so it doesn't bother me too much.
I quite enjoyed this, but I'm not sure how much I'm going to play this.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:23 pm
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Haspelknecht and Gold West

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Haspelknecht
tl;dr: good strategy game!

We've gotten a ton of games about mining in the last couple of years, and here's yet another one. This time from the same designer of one of the best ones, Kohle & Kolonie. But where that game focuses more on building a mining industry, this one tackles more of the actual operation of the mine, closer to Coal Baron.
What I liked about this game is that it has a nice mix of mechanisms, some of which are not overused but most of all it seems the game offers different paths to victory.
This asks for some more exploration!

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Gold West
tl;dr: enjoyable!

It's been a while since I played a TMG title that I really enjoyed. Most of them are fine, but few are great. This one is one that I would think would have worked just as well as one of those HiG games. Streamlined rules and game play with a good dose of strategy and tactics. It has choices that are interesting enough without being too hard for the occasional gamer yet not shallow. A very nice ballance. The result is a very enjoyable game.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:28 pm
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Power Grid Deluxe and Kito

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Power Grid deluxe: Europe/North America
tl;dr: Power Grid with better different artwork

So what was wrong with the original Power Grid? Nothing. Why did they redo the artwork? So they could sell you the same game again at a higher price.
"But it has nicer bits!" Does it? They're different, they look more custom. But does that make them nicer? I don't think so.
Anyway, the game itself is very good of course. There are some minor variations on the base game (we played the Europe map) but it's basically Power Grid with gas in stead of garbage. I can't fault the game for not changing a winning formula, I just wish they didn't try to sell me the game again.
The new map is nice and worked great with 5, is all I can really say about this.

Initial rating: the same as Power Grid!

Kito
tl;dr: UGH!

Where to start?
OK, so this is a game made by a power utility in Belgium. It's sort of a gamification of saving energy. Why do power companies want you to save energy? They don't, but if they tell you they do, it makes them look good I guess. So the game was made by them and offered for free to anyone requesting one (while supplies lasted), so not only customers. The goal of the game is to be the first person to save 5000kWh of energy. Not more, because that would be a bad thing, I guess. Dunno, that part doesn't make much sense. On your turn you draw a card and then you play. Too bad the rules nor the instructional video actually say what you can do on your turn other than that it starts with drawing one card. Can you just play one card after that? More? Who knows? We decided on one as the rules state that if you can't play one legally you have to discard one.
The next rule is that you can only play 'save' cards if the evil dog Kito is sleeping. Of course some cards are take that cards that you can play on other players to wake up Kito. As long as they don't play the corresponding cancellation card, they can't save energy. And therein lies the biggest problem with the game. If you have one of those cards on your tableau you'll just have to hope to eventually draw the correct cancellation card, or you'll never be able to start saving. Which is what happened to me. I never drew the right card, so I could only spend my turns discarding a card and every now and then playing one of the evil Kito cards on other players who always seemed to have the right cancellation card in hand.
As you can tell this was a very enjoyable experience for me. Drawing cards and doing mostly nothing for the entire game. But the other players weren't having a great time either. In fact, they dreaded playing this almost as much as I did. This simply is a very badly designed game. And the crappy rule set doesn't help making sense of it.
Oh yeah, there is a rule about trump cards (those are kind of permanent cancellation cards) that if you play them during someone else's turn, that they count as supertrump, and you have to rotate the card 90°. It doesn't say anywhere what difference that makes or what effect that has. Dunno, it's just there.
There is one very simple fix the biggest flaw: make the evil Kito cards last until the end of your next turn, so you have a bigger chance of actually accomplishing things. But the game is so lame I have no interest in trying this variant.

Initial rating: 2/10
BGG scale: 2/10
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Thu Jan 14, 2016 12:31 pm
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Karuba and Spookies

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Karuba
tl;dr: fine family game

This is yet another take on the mechanism where one user draws something random (a tile in this case) and all the other players place an identical tile. In this case you are tying to create paths to connect corresponding markers and you try to score some bonus points along the way.
Nothing new here, but it works very well and it's enjoyable.

Initial rating: 6.9/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Spookies
tl;dr: fine family game, but with a high dose of luck

A push your luck game. Roll the die, move the dude up in the house to score points. Push your luck and fail to move, lose some points. Yes, very basic, very simple, very family friendly. It's fine, it works well, it's not unenjoyable, but for the average strategy gamer, this will probably be a bit too basic.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue Jan 5, 2016 11:00 am
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Haithabu, Steam Park and Ring-O Flamingo

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Haithabu
tl;dr: decent, but it doesn't stand out

This game has been getting less then stellar ratings. I don't really understand why. I was told it was because of the luck involved with the night actions, but I can't imagine that being the only reason, so for now I'm a bit confused.
This is a pretty standard buy-low-sell-high market game that has some nice twists and the night/day action system introduces some nice timing challenges.
But yes, when you pick one of the night actions, there is a 50% chance it might turn out beneficial, but also 50% chance you might get hurt a bit. That's something you can keep in mind when planning, so I can't imagine this being the reason for the low scores.
So yeah, I thought this was a decent game, but despite the nice action system I didn't feel it stands out.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Steam Park
tl;dr: fun family game

This is one of those fun stress inducing games where you roll dice simultaneously, but you want to be the first one to finish. With your die results you can expand your theme park, build rides and stalls and stuff. It's pretty basic, but it works fine and it's enjoyable.

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

Ring-O Flamingo
tl;dr: quite fun if you turn off your brain

You have rings, there are flamingos on a board and you try to catapult the rings over the flamingos without hitting the crocs. That's it, that's the game. Most rings over flamingos minus rings over crocs wins. Silly stuff, but not unenjoyable.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Fri Jan 1, 2016 10:37 am
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Treasure Hunter and Oh My Goods!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Treasure Hunter
tl;dr: enjoyable but very light

Richard Garfield takes on 7 Wonders. Or something like that. Of course, 7 Wonders used the drafting mechanism that first occured in Magic, by mr Garfield, so it's kind of full circle I guess.
So this is a drafting majority game where you score for having the most (or the least) in certain sets of cards. And there are some extra bits here and there. But this is a very simple, family friendly game. And it plays well, and it is very enjoyable. It's not the greatest game ever, but it has modest goals and succeeds at them, and for that, it's worth a look. It's up to you to know if it's too light for your tastes or not, but for me it's fine for an occasional play.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Oh My Goods!
tl;dr: Ora et Labora, the card game

Yep, take the resource generation element from Ora et Labora and turn that in to a card game, and that basically is what you get here. In the republished version, they even reused the artwork and resource types from that game, making it even more obvious.
I liked this game, but sometimes it was very frustrating as well. If the cards you need don't come out, there's little you can do to solve that problem.
But it's enjoyable.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:10 pm
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T.I.M.E Stories and El Gaucho

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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T.I.M.E Stories
tl;dr: interesting, but unsure how much I like it

Deduction and co-op are not my favorite elements in games, so putting them together doesn't sound very appealing. But of course, when a game gets as much attention as this one gets, I want to try it.
So this is a scenario based game, and you walk around from location to location, gathering items and clues to solve a mystery. Everyone has a character with some skills that can be quite different. That's more akin to your run-of-the-mill RPG title, also not my favorite. But it works pretty well and it's all quite streamlined.
We had to play the scenario 3 times to get through it. Each play took about 1 hour. 1 hour is fine. 3 hours is not so fine. And there are ways to save your game between runs, but you don't want to do that because then you will have to take a lot of notes, and that's no fun, is it? So, that's a bit annoying but 3 hours is still OK if you plan ahead.
So I found it fairly enjoyable but I had a couple of issues with it. The main one being that this is not really my style. But I recognize the quality of the design.
Which brings me to my main gripe with the game. This game is sold for the price of a big box game. It is scenario based. The scenarios cannot be replayed. The box comes with only one scenario. ONE! That is a ripoff. Now you have to fork out €20 or €25 each and every time you want to play this game again. That is just shameful! Games with scenarios that you cannot replay should include 10 scenarios or more. I don't fork out money for a game to play it once. So I won't be forking out money for this game and wouldn't recommend anyone do so.

Initial rating: 6.8/10 (for the game play, not the package)
BGG scale: 6/10

El Gaucho
tl;dr: fine family friendly strategy game

Dice are cool and worker placement is my favorite mechanism, so of course this was on my radar.
Having dice usually means a lighter game, and that is indeed the case. It is quite family friendly, but it still has a good dose of strategy and tactics.
It does also include a way to steal from other players. This is not an element my group is a big fan of, but it wasn't too bad and with the quick playing time it isn't really an issue.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:40 am
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Discoveries and 8-28

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Discoveries
tl;dr: fine dice game

Lewis & Clark was a hit, so of course the publisher wants to cash in. And the author too I guess. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. And in this case it's not.
So the theme is more or less the same, and the artwork is more or less the same (I guess some of it is shared?) but this is not a deck building game, it's a dice game. And it's a pretty good one with nice choices. You need to use the different symbols on the dice to activate locations on your tableau to perform actions to advance towards victory.
I had a couple of streaks where I would roll anything but what I needed. Luckily there are ways around that, but at a cost. What is also nice is that there is some risk taking involved when you start using the other player's dice. This combination gives some nice tension.
Yeah, all in all a fine dice game.

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

8-28
tl;dr: 21 with 8 and 28 in stead of 21

I'm not sure what the English title of 21 is, but it's the game in which you ask the dealer for cards and try to hit 21 but not go over. This game is the same, but you want to hit 8 or 28. So if you go over 8, there is a backup plan. So why would you want to go for 8? Because the payoff is usually bigger. Payoff comes in the form of gems for the people coming closest to hitting the targets without going over.
All in all it works fine, but it goes on a bit too long and there certainly are better options in the genre.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:27 pm
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Between Two Cities and Unusual Suspects

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Between Two Cities
tl;dr: Teamup drafting Suburbia

This game combines tile laying and scoring similar to Suburbia (me likey) with the drafting of 7 Wonders with a teamup element as you're teaming up with both your neighbors to build the best cities. So you always participate in the building of 2 cities, one with each neighbor, and the nice twist is that the lowest scoring one determines your score. And it only takes 25 minutes, no matter the amount of players. Very nice, I enjoyed it!

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

Unusual Suspects
tl;dr: Dixit meats Guess Who?, really!

Yep, you have cards, and you answer yes or no questions that are always completely subjective. This should help your team mates to figure out the suspect by process of elimination, just like in Guess Who?
It's kind of funny what questions you have to answer. Like "Does this person own a turntable or not" which obviously is something that is not immediately obvious from looking at drawings of faces. So some discussion ensues. And that can be fun for a bit, but I would suggest Codenames or Dixit in stead.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Wed Dec 9, 2015 8:08 pm
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Mombasa, Codenames and Banjooli Cross

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Mombasa
tl;dr: very good indeed

Let's get this out of the way: I screwed up majorly. I had this whole strategy which would probably give me the victory. Too bad that I realized too late there was no way to actually execute this at all since there were only two rounds left. The result was that my strategy was just a huge unintentional kingmaker move.
That being said: this is indeed a very solid gamers game. I've played a few good games from this year's Spiel crop, but this one certainly ranks among the best, especially among the heavier ones. If you want one of those good heavier strategy euros, make sure to check this out.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Codenames
tl;dr: Team Dixit with words

I usually don't like word games, but this isn't really a word game, it's just Dixit with words in stead of images. Quite interesting and lots of changes to be creative with the hints. But also challenging.
I like it, but I don't get the extremely high rating this game gets. It is very good and lots of fun, but I don't think it's one of the best designs ever.

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

Banjooli Xeet
tl;dr: Meh

A racing game with dice where you have a goal of putting your secret set of colors over the finish first. We've seen all of it before, and we've all seen it done better. It doesn't take too long, but it's a chaosfest and there are other racing games that I'd much rather play.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 4/10
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Mon Dec 7, 2015 8:54 pm
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