Mr. Tony is still on vacation, but he should be back soon. The worst Fantastic Four movie ever made was released to theaters. The really fun Man from U.N.C.L.E. failed to find an audience. Fake football started, leading to real football in September. I didn't get to play Warmachine or Hordes. I developed a new miniatures obsession. I asked the all-important question: Can you ever not be pre-approved?
I did play 30 games a total of 62 times and eight expansions logged 18 plays. I played six of the games and three of the expansions for the first time August and played six of the games and two of the expansions in July.
Mike and I played one refresher game with just the contents of the box, then added in the special buildings from the second expansion for the second game.
If I played a lot of two-player games with anyone but Mike, I would likely own this and at least one of the expansions. To own both expansions I would have to play the game a lot because only four expansion buildings are used each game.
Clippers Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 3/2010 My Rating: 8
A blast from the past which I was surprised neither Charles not Greg had played before. It didn't surprise me that Brandon hadn't played before because he's a young pup. A royal pain. Other things he would expect me to say about him that aren't fit for print!
I volunteered to take Japan since they are one of the bad starting positions. In the end, Michael won with Great Britain and I came in a respectable second. I'd forgotten that the other bad starting position was France which has the double base in Australia. I would have suggested that for Michael, but wasn't around when they were pulling the rest of the player positions.
Dark Gothic Times Played:2 Last Month Played: New to me My Rating: 7
Both games we played were dominated by one player who won all three of the big monsters. That being said, I still really enjoyed the game. It is a nice implementation of the Ascension/Cerberus Engine type of deck builder. I suspect any future games will be closes since we now have an idea of what to expect from the game.
I doubt I will be buying it since I have a couple of the DC Comics Deck-Building Games and will stick with that in my collection, but it is fun and I will definitely play it any time Mike wants to bring it to the table.
Deus Times Played:2 Last Month Played: 6/2015 My Rating: 8
Greg explained it to Charles and we discovered a couple of minor things we had been playing incorrectly. Nothing too serious, though the game with Arjun, Narani, and Nico would have been quite different because they ended up starting right on top of each other and competing for the same area and they should have started at least three spaces away from each other.
We corrected those things the following week when Michael, Nico, and I played. One of the important things to try and avoid in this game is keeping a card that you want to use much later in the game. I, being all-wise, tried keeping two of them. Sure, I was able to play them both and score well from them, but by that point I had pretty much assured myself of coming in last. Moron.
Dvonn Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 7/2010 My Rating: 8
Mike pulled out this classic game and we went through a rules refresher before playing a game. Always an awesome game and one which we need to play again before too long.
Michael did something completely wrong. He played to win from the first turn and managed to get two people off the board before we made it through the monster movement stack the first time. Geez, talk about doing it all wrong!
Five Tribes Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 12/2014 My Rating: 7
I liked the mountains and the chasm tile. I also liked the new market tiles that let you buy one of the nine cards. I am not so sure how I feel about the random points from the Artisans, even though I used them to cruise to a victory. Michael didn't like that they were another way to score secret points that couldn't be accounted for by the other players. This is less worrisome to me because anyone that wants to count the cards can see how many points the other players have and it's safe to assume that every face-down item is five points and might be worth a little more.
It'd be nice if the mountain tiles could be used in the base game, but that would throw off the mix of the markets and the chasm can't be added because it would mess with the meeple mix.
We made a couple of attempts at putting out fires in a high rise. The first time went well until it didn't, and then it went bad quickly. The second went much better.
It really feels like the high rise is one of the best boards to have the Driver/Operator character, especially with fewer players. The board is naturally divided into quadrants which the characters tend to work together, leaving others for the Driver to keep under control.
Flip City Times Played:6 Last Month Played: New to me My Rating: 7
This sounded like a really dumb game. Truthfully, I thought it would be a dumpster fire hiding under the guise of a mechanism the early adopter crowd wanted to like. I was wrong. It was a lot of fun and I hope to play it again soon.
The second week we played at the store we used the Office in the second game and I bought them up and it made scoring the 18-card victory a lot easier. I wasn't sure I liked the Office, but after playing it again later in the month, with the other players being sure to get in on buying them I liked it a lot more.
The only complaint I have about the game is it felt like it took a little long for what it is, but not so long that I was wishing it was over. This could change as the players get experience with the game, especially since the Office gives you some available cash certainty when the deck is shuffled.
Guild Ball Times Played:1 Last Month Played: New to me My Rating: 8
Whoa! New obsession!
I have a Brewer's Guild team of seven figures which is painted, a Union Team missing only one of the 12 models in the faction, and a Fisherman's Guild team of seven players which I plan on sending off to be painted. I've also ordered the three-player starter for the Butcher's Guild which I picked up so I could teach the game using the Quick Start rules.
I was trying to find a good way to make a 2' x 2' pitch which I can use for teaching games, and realized I had the mat from Deadzone which is the right size and the lines on it work for the needed lines for the pitch. For the full game, I picked up the official 3' x 3' pitch.
Istanbul Times Played:1 Last Month Played: New to me My Rating: 7
Wow, this was a fast game with three players. I liked it and a few years ago I would already own it, but I am being significantly more selective in my purchases of board games because of the space I have for games.
One game with four players and another with three using just the Harbor.
The last game of the month used Millionaire's Row. The deck sure is awful big with all the cards and we never saw some of the new ones or some of the classics. It might just be more random with all the card choices and I can see myself removing Millionaire's Row from the mix in the future.
Pandemic Times Played:2 Last Month Played: 10/2014 My Rating: 9
The first time this month was a two-player game which started off quite well and was finished with some tension, but not a lot as we cruised to an easy win.
The second was with Mike and Hilary and just as the deck was running out, the world collapsed under the weight of the crippling blue and yellow diseases.
It's always a blast to play this and I really should bring my copy with me from time to time instead of relying on others to bring it.
Parfum Times Played:1 Last Month Played: New to me My Rating: 6
I liked it, but it felt a little lacking. Since it appears to be heavily influenced by Fresco I would suggest that the game would be better if the customers were all laid out in a grid at one point and the players had to manipulate a bishop-like figure to be able to get them their favored scent or to get bonus points. Since it isn't this way, the game is just "meh," but maybe just a little better than that.
Michael and I finished off our two-player campaign. We will also be moving on to Wrath of the Righteous. I can tell you that I will not miss the ship mechanic, which was novel at first, but really just became an annoyance as the game continued.
Mike, Jerry, Damian, and I started this with Mike playing Seelah the Paladin, Jerry playing Adowyn the Hunter, Damian playing Imrijka the Inquisitor, and me playing Enora the Arcanist. That is the same four characters that were played when we played with four at the store.
Michael and I also started up a two-player game with him playing Crowe the Bloodrager and me playing Kyra the Cleric.
Generally speaking, it feels like a couple of the new characters are not thought highly of, namely Balazar and Alain and no one has shown an interested in playing Shardra. It looks to me as if the first two become fun to play when you get to pick the advanced role, but before then they are just gimmicky and under powered.
The group at Mike's has also not been enjoying the game as much as we finished out the "0" adventure. There are no real rewards to gain, other than the card feat for suffering through the five scenarios, and the felt like maybe they got too hard without any better cards available or feeling like there is a chance to succeed. Success in a couple of them felt like pure luck. I still think the original set had it right with the three-scenario "0" adventure and that five scenarios are too many not to get real rewards from. Let's see how things look as we advance through adventure 1.
Qwixx Times Played:2 Last Month Played: 7/2015 My Rating: 8
Three games against Nico and Michael and three more games against Michael. I've played the game 465 times and many of them have been two-player against him.
Smash Up Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 11/2014 My Rating: 7
It was my Dinosaur Werewolves against Mike's Fairy Vampires. Was there ever any doubt which side was the most dominant?
Splendor Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 7/2015 My Rating: 8
I suggested Mike and I play this and, as always, fun was had.
And his beagle puppy ate my shoelace. Well, the tip of it…
Tumblin-Dice Times Played:2 Last Month Played: 8/2012 My Rating: 7
Mike picked up the new board which is my least favorite of the bunch, though it does fit in a much smaller box. The join on his launch board and the 1x scoring board is not solid and it appears that one of them must be warped.
It's always a fun game and the only reason mine doesn't make it out is because the box is so huge. Even though the new box is much thinner, it still has a pretty big footprint and I can't imagine I would want to haul it around either.
After one play, I am glad I did not buy this. It's a decent enough game, but the limited movement and options on player turns feels too restricting, and not in a "not enough actions to do what I need to do" kind of way. There are only four characters to choose from and all four have to be played each game.
It looks like the game might get better with more plays, but like with High Command it appears that Privateer Press has managed to put too many limits on the genre of the game to make it really fun.
Viceroy Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 7/2015 My Rating: 6
The second playing didn't improve my opinion of the game and even reduced it a little. There definitely is an advantage to the players that manage to get dealt law cards that score points so they can plan around them. If a player isn't dealt one or more of them, then it feels like they are not in the running.
The auction mechanism is something I still wouldn't want to play with four players because it interferes with the core fun part of the game is. Even if two players bid the same color where there are two available characters, there is no real negotiation in the game, just take it or leave it, which is not fun at all.
I'm still willing to play it because building the tableau is interesting enough that it keeps me engaged to the point that I don't mind if I am not scoring a lot. I guess I am saying the "game" part is a little superfluous since I didn't play the game so much as build my own tableau this time and it just didn't matter?
Village Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 1/2014 My Rating: 7
I asked Mike if he could explain it. He said he could with the rules, but it was more difficult than we thought to explain and the game took some time to develop. In the end, I believe everyone enjoyed it but it's just not a great game. It's just solidly good.
I bumped this down to a solid 6 from a 7. There is just nothing about this game which is very enticing. It's a functional game and the stress of not having enough time to do anything just isn't there. I suspect I feel this way because it is completely obvious that there isn't enough time and there isn't anything that can be done to mitigate it.
Still, I hope Nico continues to bring it and I get t play it a couple more times to be sure of my feelings towards the game.
Wyatt Earp Times Played:1 Last Month Played: 11/2013 My Rating: 8
Another game which Nico had never played, and wait, there's more! This is the first of the Mystery Rummy family of games he had ever played.
Because of time constraints we had to finish the game after two hands with him a couple of thousand dollars from winning and a few thousand ahead of me. So we called it as a win for him.
We combined one new game with an old classic on a beautiful late summer evening.
Mark, TL, Adrian, Pete, and I played Kremlin. The ancient Nestor Apparatchik was too weak to give a wave before expiring. Mark had invested in some old guard figures and seized control of the Party Secretary and KGB Chief On the back that support, Mark managed to get two consecutive waves, just one away from victory. Unfortunately, Adrian had invested in some of the younger guard and installed a young healthy Party Secretary who gave him three waves in a row and victory on turn six.
Da Zdrastvuyet Velikiy Adrianskoy Revolutsii
Kremlin will never be my favorite game but is fun once in a while, especially when you've had enough beer not to be self conscious about speaking in a fake Russian accent.
Tom, Bob and Wendell played the five-conference tournament scenario of Churchill. Not the first for any of them, though it was the first time Wendell had played with the published rules and the "three condition" victory rules.
Wendell's Churchill jumped out to a quick start, nearly always a mistake in a three-player game. Initially, Tom's Soviets lagged as Churchill and Bob's FDR grabbed a lot of countries and colonies. D-Day was delayed a turn, not by contention in the conference but due to bad dice. (That also meant Churchill earned the VP for reaching Central Italy before the Allies were in Normandy.)
Another Victorious Russian
The Western Allies eventually got to the western borders of Germany but (despite one two-space breakthru) couldn't get in. That meant Tom's Soviets, which took Berlin in 1945, gained a 9 VP-swing over US/UK (3 for getting 8 points for Germany vs 5 for Western Germany, +5 for sole occupation of Germany, +1 for German tech).
Bob's Pacific forces managed to get into Japan at the very end of the game - just as well, because the Soviets never took Manchuria and the Allies didn't figure out the a-bomb in time. But MacArthur lagged in the SW Pacific by a couple of spaces, giving the US another penalty.
Final score: Soviets 50 (including 2 conference wins), UK 43, US 40.
Just before Anak Sulung went back to college, we had a chance to play one last game: Combat Commander: Resistance. We are not as familiar with these scenarios as the others and the game went back and forth. I like the novelty of the Resistance Expansion, but it will probably not take the place of Mediterranean and Pacific in my heart.
The Dukes of Dice... A podcast about Board, Card and Role Playing Games
This episode the Dukes...
... Discuss recent plays including the new room at New Mexico Escape Room, Empires: Age of Discovery and Race for the Galaxy (with the Patronage fan expansion) (02:00);
... Discuss the latest board gaming news including Treefrog Games announcing they are no longer publishing, Osprey Games to publish Odin's Ravens, and Overworld Games' latest Kickstarter Booze Barons (10:26);
... Review Iello's and Blue Cocker Games' Medieval Academy (17:06);
... Dukes' Double-Take Dead of Winter and Lords of Vegas (41:49); and
... Respond to some of the discussion on social media this week about women and people of color in gaming - check out the Cracked article Sean references (48:05).
Freshly returned from vacation with a week to go before starting the new teaching year, I had less time for gaming. I had a lot to do to prepare for teaching in addition to getting the kids ready for school and dealing with the start of the kitchen renovation. This last will be an ongoing damper on my gaming because it has restricted available space.
But I did manage to get some solitaire sessions in, and it was a rare two-game-night week with the penultimate Brooklyn bar night of the summer and Friday in Wilton with Matt & Co.
I've had so many options for solitaire gaming lately that I've had trouble choosing something to play. I'm dangerously close to just avoiding it altogether due to stress from deciding. I tried a new method: I stood in front of the game shelf and kind of unfocused my gaze, "using the force" as it were to guide my desire toward something. Imperial Settlers was the surprise result of this exercise, and I embarked on a campaign with the Egyptians, a faction I have yet to try.
Egypt Campaign, session 1
I had forgotten that there is something meditative about working out the combos in Imperial Settlers that I find relaxing. I was rusty on the rules, though, and it took me awhile to get back into the swing. Once I did, the game flowed as smoothly as ever.
I had completed a 10-session campaign with Rome previously, so I chose Egypt for this one, with the Barbarians as the border faction. I've never played Egypt before, and a solitaire campaign is a great way to learn a deck thoroughly. I found it to be a very different animal from Rome. The Romans are all about combos to create more resources mostly for building more buildings, which is what nets the most in-game VPs. Egypt is a bit more straightforward in that most of its points come from straight resource-to-VP conversions. With a good engine going, it is possible to score a lot without necessarily building a lot of faction buildings. With Rome, big scores result from the construction of many faction buildings utilizing the building bonus synergies many of them provide.
In this first session, I ended the game with just 12 faction buildings constructed, but a very respectable score of 72 thanks to spending resources to score VPs instead of to build. I got very lucky pulling three ruins over the course of the session, because I only got a few of the Egyptian faction cards which do not require a foundation. Two Sphinxes combined with two Goldsmiths provided the bulk of my scoring. Each Goldsmith action earned me 5 points. I ended up making four deals, which is rather a lot for me, but I felt as if I needed a steady supply of gold to power the scoring actions.
After emerging victorious over the AI, my Egyptians conquered the Islands province for a nice +1 common card production. The 72 VPs allowed me to achieve the University so I can start future games with +3 faction cards in hand.
Events kick in during the second session of a campaign, and I rolled doozy. Epidemics require the expenditure over the course of the game of 4 workers and 2 raze tokens or lost -2 worked production permanently. This is a significant amount of resources, but they must be spent because -2 workers for the rest of the campaign would be devastating. Given this, I am pretty pleased that I managed to score 74.
Two of my starting faction cards were Pyramids which I built in short order. These gave me a nice resource production base which I leveraged into a third Pyramid by round 2. I ended with 20 faction cards built, thanks in large part to an early Sanctuary which let me turn commons in my had directly into foundations for the cost of just one worker. I was flush with workers thanks to two Villages. I turned a Sphinx into a deal in round 1, something I regretted later; I think it's absence probably cost me 5 more points, but I felt like I needed the extra gold production.
For the victory, the Egyptians conquered the Misty Mountains for +1 stone production. The upkeep for my provinces is already getting steep, however: 1 worker and 1 wood per round. With this in mind, I used most of my accumulated VP to purchase the Travelling Circus achievement which will let me ignore upkeep for one province per round. Wood is especially difficult to come by for the Egyptians, so I'm guessing that I will be ignoring Misty Mountains upkeep most of the time.
Egypt Campaign, Session 3
ACHIEVEMENTS: University Travelling Circus
PROVINCES: Islands Misty Mountains
EVENT: Treasure Horde - +2 gold to start; pay Empire 4 workers for +3 gold to start next game
A rare positive event started the session off with +2 gold; completing the quest by paying 4 workers would net me +3 gold to start the next game. I was short of workers most of the game due to this, but also due to Island's province upkeep. Indeed, I almost chose to forgo the event quest, but reluctantly decided it was worth it to get a jump start in the next session, particularly since the event will likely be a negative one.
I'd been lucky with the AI attacks in the first two sessions of this campaign, but the worm turned in this one with two of my commons razed. I reciprocated by razing two of his. I don't usually find this worthwhile, but I was producing three swords per turn round for the final two, and it was better to use two of them to raze an AI card than to raze two commons which I needed for faction card foundations.
With the worker shortage noted above, I was not able to trigger as many scoring actions as I would have liked, but 78 is still a respectable score. With the victory, the Egyptian empire expanded with the addition of the Ancient Ruins province, starting next session with 3 foundations.
I got to Spritzenhaus for bar night early and had enough time to play a solitaire session. The AI crushed my New Yorkers in short order, which turned out to be serendipitous as Weston arrived just as the series ended.
As the box score indicates, my team had trouble scoring runs. The total of 13 was exactly half what the AI managed to push across the plate. I was stuck with a free agent offer heavy on defense but short on offensive power. I picked up what I could, but had a team of light-hitters. The AI actually had a bit less power than it often does, but what it did have in the deck appeared in a timely fashion again and again. My team was good at defense and held the totals down, but could not score runs to keep pace even so.
The result was an ignominious 4-game sweep at the hands of the AI's Boston team.
I had purchased Evolution after pegging it as a potentially good game for the bar night milieu, and this session vindicated the decision. After an easy rules-teach, we were playing. Unfortunately, as is often the case when I teach a game, I had to put mental energy into monitoring everyone else's moves and correcting rules violations and clarifying, to the extent that I did not have enough left over to manage my own position very well. This is part of why my score was so abysmal; the other part is simply that I played like ass even after the initial few rounds.
My first mistake was probably starting a carnivore with my first species on the second turn. I had saved cards from my first turn and was first in turn order. This might have been a mistake with more experienced players, but I do not think Michael and Weston were paying that much attention to me. I was able to get a decent Carnivore going with Pack Hunting and two population, holding Intelligence in reserve for next round; it would have been useless anyway since I had no extra cards to discard.
As it happened, I was only able to eat a single species on the board since Michael and Weston each started a new one with defensive traits I could not yet overcome. Pack Hunting let me fill my carnivore with Michael's undefended body size 2 herbivore.
Unfortunately, next turn I misplayed and found myself without cards to sacrifice for Intelligence and both my opponents defended their herbivores. My Carnivore thus starved, but it needn't have: I could have eaten my own pop-2, body-2 herbivore! But I did not think of it. Again, this was during the time when I was answering rules questions and keeping track of game state for everyone else, highlighting/explaining card powers, etc.
On the next round, Michael started his own carnivore with pack hunting and found that the only species he could eat was my sole remaining herbivore. This had hard shell, but his carnivore was just able to beat it. It was body size 1, so he had to eat it twice and it went extinct, leaving me with no species and no hope of achieving a decent score for the session.
Weston played very defensively, carefully starting new species when he had traits to defend them and slowly upped their population. Michael's carnivore grew, and he figured out how to switch out offensive traits to counter some of Weston's defenses to just barely keep it fed. He also got Scavenger onto one of his herbivores -- I have yet to draw a Scavenger card over two entire sessions of Evolution -- what are the odds?! It wouldn't have helped me much, but it would have meant a slightly higher score.
Michael was also able to eat my herbivores because I had to start them from scratch. I managed to keep one and then two alive, but it was tough going and required lots of cards. Then the watering hole pool started to dry up as the game neared conclusion and I suffered some starvation. I ended the game with just two species and very little population to go along with my meagre little bag of food tokens.
Michael and Weston both quite enjoyed the game and wanted to play again right away. While we had played slowly at first, things had picked up enough by the end that it was clear to all we'd play another session in half the time. I wanted to play again myself simply to redeem my execrable performance.
Michael 85 Weston 79 Me 70
After our first play of Evolution, all wanted to play again, so we ordered another round, shuffled and started right in. As anticipated, we completed the game in almost half the time it had taken us the first session.
While I still finished third, I played much better this session as is obvious from a score double that of my first game. Freed of having to monitor the game and answer questions about card powers and rules, I was able to concentrate a bit more; I did not do much to address the essential suck I apparently have with this game, however.
I at least FINALLY drew a Scavenger card, but found it useless because no one had any viable carnivores! This was primarily because of card draw; no one drew Carnivore cards with supporting offensive traits. When Michael finally did so late in the game, it was too late for Scavenger to have much effect for me. Weston once again went with a set of three heavily defended herbivores while I set up a nice Cooperative chain with two Long Necks. I was a bit behind in getting this setup, however, and was thus behind in the scoring race.
I tried to keep the food supply low in the later stages since my species were able to feed in just one action, but because of Long Neck and Cooperative, I was actually not drawing much food out of the watering hole. There was therefore usually enough for Michael and Weston to feed. Michael's late carnivore let him jump a bit ahead, helped by Weston misplaying in the penultimate turn. He created a new species, but did not defend it well; Michael ate it into extinction. This was beneficial for me, but Weston essentially wasted those resources he could have used to increase his score.
The final result was relatively close; at least, much closer than our first one. Michael still won convincingly with Weston not far behind. My slow start saw me 15 points off the pace.
While I had never been a big Descent fan (I played the first edition a few times back in 2005), I had been curious to try Star Wars: Imperial Assault simply because of the theme. Don't get me wrong, I like a good standard fantasy dungeon crawler, but they seem to run together. It's not a game wi would every purchase on my own, but I was happy to get the chance to try it out. As it turned out, I had enough fun this session to contemplate the acquisition for the quarterly game weekend group.
Chad and I joined the group mid-campaign, two scenarios in. We took over the characters our absent predecessors had played. I do not think this party as currently constituted is an optimal mix, being too heavily focused on ranged characters with three to just one character good a melee. Given the past struggles of this party to succeed, I believe the addition of the wookie character would help in the long run. For the cramped confines of this particular scenario, I felt my Bothan sniper character to be particularly ill-suited. He requires distance to leverage his best abilities, and this rapidly became impossible once the imperials flooded into the base. But it was the first-ever play for me and only the second for Chad and we were both interested to see how the game plays so character selection wasn't a big deal for a one-off.
The scenario is straightforward: rebels have to hold off the invading imperial hordes to keep them from capturing 4 of the 5 tokens scattered on each tile of the base. Our final result was actually pretty good; while we fell short of outright victory, we did get the next best thing which was to hold out for all 8 turns. Given that Darth Vader appears in the final turn to give the imperials a huge final push if they haven't won yet, I think this is actually the best result the rebels can hope for against a competent imperial opponent. The imperial player would have play pretty poorly to not be in position to win by turn 8. Matt is a much better than merely competent imperial opponent, and he would almost certainly have achieved victory before turn 8 had the rebel defense dice not turned red hot, generating a string of outright dodge results.
This luck, while timely, balanced out some pretty poor dice rolling for the rebels early on, coupled with hot defense for the imperials. On several occasions in the first few turns, we had attacks with very good odds fall short when the dice turned up in the worst possible combinations. Imperial units were thus able to survive an extra turn to do more damage while reinforcements arrived.
We managed to thin the herd a bit after a successful initial rush by the imperials and the fighting bogged down a bit in the narrow base corridors. But as we were pushed back, we got separated to the extent that it became difficult to engage in mutually supporting actions. By the final turns, we were simply desperately trying to hang on by keeping unwounded characters on tiles to prevent capture of the tokens.
Part of our problem in the first three turns was that Ilan chose to have his melee-based character run away into the depths of the station. He did not engage in any combat until the second half of the game. The rebel party's potential damage output was thus reduced by 25%, and I think had Ilan engaged earlier, we might have had fewer imperial figures to deal with in the mid and end games. The rebels have to take an all or nothing attitude toward this scenario, and assume that most characters will end the game wounded. They have to take out imperials as fast and as efficiently as possible; preserving health to survive unwounded is a sucker's bet; if the imperials capture 3 tokens before Vader appears, they will most definitely capture the final one. The rebels must slow down the imperials such that they have at least two tokens to take in the final turn because Vader cannot be everywhere.
Of course, we still rolled very poorly in the start of the game, so even without Ilan's overcautious play we might have found ourselves behind the eight-ball in the end-game. I would have said that the rebels suffered from poor luck, but things evened out in the final two turns when Ilan and I started rolling dodge results on the white defense die. This was key for my character in particular since I was the only unwounded rebel protecting one of the last two uncaptured tokens. Even as my teammates held out hope, I joked that it would be all for naught if Darth Vader appeared to force choke us all into submission. Little did I know that his appearance was actually scripted by the scenario!
When this happened, my poor Bothan sniper was surrounded by storm troopers, backed into a corner taking cover next to what looked like a toilet on the map tile. Even though Vader was way across the map at the entrance, I worried he'd come to force choke my Bothan, and sure enough, this is how the game ended. Vader was able to get there thanks to an "officer chain" Matt savvily set up, allowing a couple of officers to "order" Vader to take extra movement actions to get him into position for the coup de grace.
But as noted above, despite the technical scenario defeat, I think we did about as well as we had any right to expect under the circumstances of the scenario and the particular way it played out in this session. The session generated a good story with some fun, dramatic moments and we all had a good time playing. The game is not so heavy that it precludes socializing and chatting and we played with a relaxed attitude. The theme is such that it invites lots of nerdy discussion which we certainly indulged in, lengthening the session quite a bit than if we had been focused solely on playing.
I found the system to be refreshingly easy and intuitive to grasp, the mechanics providing good opportunity for strategy and tactics while not getting in the way of telling the story. The whole theme oozes with theme and for a fan of the Star Wars universe, provides a satisfying play experience. I would certainly play it again.
It's now two thirds of the way through the year and I am still at 8 purchases, putting me two ahead assuming I space my acquisitions evenly... of course that isn't how these things tend to work out! As stated at the start of the year, the real trial is going to be Black Friday / Cyber Monday... just like last year:
Of course I set out in the rules, the ability to increase my purchases if I could play a lot of the unplayed games I already own.
I can buy more than 15 by playing a lot of the games on this list. How does this work? Well: Going into 2015 I have 43 unplayed games, 23 excluding LotR. This is 8 more than the 15. As such, if I get my unplayed list (excluding LotR) below this number then I can buy that many additional games whilst I am still in the green.
To demonstrate this:
If I have bought 15 games, and played 14 of them as well as 20 of the unplayed games from the start of the year: - I have in total played 34 of the 38 unplayed games on the list (excluding LotR) - As such I can buy an additional 4 games.
If I have played all 15 games that I bought and all of the unplayed games then I can buy 8 additional games.
The maximum games I can therefore buy is 23.
The intension of all of this of course was not to limit spending but rather to ensure that I was playing the games I owned. The idea of expanding my purchases with substantive play was to be a further reward for being good about playing the games I already own.
I think, so far this year I have done a pretty good job:
I have played a total of 20 Games on the Owned and Unplayed list (excluding LotR). Of these 5 are new (1 gift and 4 of the 8 purchases). 15 are from last year. This leaves me with 11 games on the list yet to play, 8 from last year and 3 purchases (the 8th purchase was gaming accessories). This is still some way off of being able to get additional purchases but it should still be possible for me.
7 Wonders: Wonder Pack I really can't understand why it took me so long to get this one to the table. I had played Manneken Pis already but the others added in some interesting challenge. They will definitely become part of the standard mix (although maybe not forcing them on new players!) On of the things that I have been noticing, the more I play the game is that the wonder you play has a pretty significant impact on the outcome. Giza has famously been banned in our games due to it's power, I think the Great Wall of China may suffer a similar fate eventually. I do enjoy Variable Player Powers in games but it does highlight the difficulty in balancing them. Particularly when expansions become involved.
Arcadia Quest, Arcadia Quest: The Nameless Campaign & Arcadia Quest: Beyond the Grave Arcadia Quest is the kind of game that I wouldn't really have struggled to get to the table in the UK... but since moving over to the US, these sorts of Adventure Campaign games are increasingly difficult to play as the people I would most like to play with are either in the UK or not interested in this kind of game. Arcadia Quest has a particularly aggressive / confrontational streak that further pushes away potential players in the area. The game itself is pretty fun and I really do love the figures that I have had a great time painting... and may finish... eventually... possibly... maybe... perhaps...
Eldritch Horror: Forsaken Lore, Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness Something Old and something New here. I originally got Eldritch Horror because I love Arkham Horror and I love Mansions of Madness... and I was disappointed. It had some neat mechanics and the theme of the Old Ones was definitely better applied, but it was lacking the at
Kingdom Builder: Big Box Kingdom Builder was a game I played once, at a convention and loved. The Big Box Kickstarter was all I needed. Sadly it took forever to arrive and since getting it, I've struggled to get it to the table. The few times I have managed to get it to the table, it hasn't really shined the way I remembered. I will try to play it a little more but am disappointed so far to be honest.
Lift it! Having played Lift It! even before I bought it, it never normally would have been added to the owned and unplayed, however I have added it for purchase tracking for the year. This was a lot of fun when I played it at UK Games Expo and so I picked it up. There is definitely learned behaviour here and it gets easier with time, players with more experience will always win and that does impact the fun factor but it makes for a fun drinking game and buddying up with a new player in the two player mode is another way that may balance it a bit which I will have to try.
Love Letter: The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies Hobbit Love Letter was an impulse purchase at the UK Games Expo that I really don't regret. It is a pretty popular game to pull out and although I feel like these games really should be capable of supporting more than 4 players, it is a good filler when the situation calls for something quick.
Pandemic: The Cure I like Pandemic... and I like dice... and so I bought this... did I need to? No not really, does it do anything different to the original? Nope... do I regret it? Nope... This is (in my mind) "Travel Pandemic" and it fits the bill.
Rory's Story Cubes: Voyages I picked this up as a stocking filler, not really looking for anything to major out of it and expecting to maybe get rid of it in the long run. This is an odd one as I wouldn't really think of it as a 'game' but more like a creativity exercise. I'd like to get it to the table a little more, but we'll see if that happens...
Runebound: The Cataclysm & Runebound: Rituals and Runes Without Graham around to subject to all the silly variants of Runebound I picked up... well there hasn't been a whole lot of Runebound getting played. Fortunately I managed to subject Christine to a game a while ago that knocked both of these expansions out in a single game. Rituals and Runes add some pretty funky items and the game variant was interesting... especially the changes to acquiring items. I still have one more expansion to hit up, hopefully before the end of the year.
Spyfall This was a game I think I got excited about mostly because of the scarcity. I heard how amazing it was and had no way of getting to try it... If I had thought about it a little more I'd prob have come to the conclusion that this is a bit too werewolf / mafia-like for my tastes and shunned it... but I got caught up in the hype and bought it and got it to the table... and I kinda like it!
Thunderstone Advance: Worlds Collide I have to express disappointment with this. I bought it without realizing these were simply 'Advance' skins for the original cards. I really didn't need them but somehow I have them thought stupidity and impulse buying. I am going to keep them... but I can't honestly say why... and I know I shouldn't... Maybe I will get rid of the originals.
Zombicide Season 3: Rue Morgue This is my least favourite of the Zombicide games and is the point at which I stopped buying them. It plays well enough and I don't regret the purchase but it is a little lacking in wow factor compared to the previous two big boxes.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is amazing. From the tile-laying, to the card play, and everything in-between. It's not often that I immediately become enamored with a game, let alone a tile-laying game, but this one's seriously great. Go buy a copy now. Do it.
Cartagena 2 takes the gameplay of the original and adds a simple dynamic (splitting the board in two) and it somehow makes it a better game than its predecessor. Maybe it's that little boat. I don't know, there's just something that, for me, makes this the better game.
Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld is my second try at the Mystery Rummy games and it's another winner in my book. While it doesn't have as much going on as Escape from Alcatraz did, it still adds enough to separate it from rummy and to make it it's own game away from other entries in the series. I'm a fan!
Lift it! is a great dexterity/party game that's way harder than it looks. Plus, what other game can you say, "I built a structure using a hook hanging off my forehead."? Not too many! Aside from that, it flows really quick and, even when you're not building, you still feel in the game as you root for your opponents to succeed or fail. Duels also add a great little twist allowing players to play even when it's not their turn. There's a lot to like here in this box.
Barbarossa is one of those games that you don't really expect much from. It's got a weird concept. Creating riddles for Barbarossa in some cave. I don't get it. But what it does have is some really enjoyable gameplay. I really like how riddles come together throughout and, should everyone sculpt correctly, the riddles aren't obvious, but also aren't completely unguessable. I really like this as people with or without creativity can get into it and still have a good chance to win. Fun stuff!
Biblios Dice is a great new take on Biblios. While I don't personally like the dice game as much as I do the original, it's still a fun game and it's different enough so that I can play one without tiring of the other. I really like how the tracks work and how it's sort of a point salad with end scoring. Simplistic with a lot of moving parts and a great game.
Qwirkle Cubes takes the excellent Qwirkle and adds some push your luck to it which, to me at least, makes it slightly better than the original. Qwirkles seem to mean a lot more when you get them from a lucky roll. Awesome game!
Lascaux is a really fun and unique auction game. I like the way the market works in that not winning an auction does not necessarily mean not receiving any cards. However, getting into situations where you're after someone else who plays the same color token as you burns and destroys you a little bit each time. That being said, there's a lot of good game here for the simplicity of just being about the auction mechanic.
Byzanz is a neat little auction game. I really like how the cards have multiple functions being used to buy and sell. I also think it's clever how the player who wins the last auction gets to take the first action during the market phase. A good game where the win always seems within reach.
Qwirkle is an excellent abstract game that's easy to get into and plays out fairly quickly, even with the analysis paralysis which will most likely come during play. There's a luck factor in what blocks will come up, but you generally feel like you choose your fate with how you play. Good stuff.
If you like Hearts, you're going to like Black Spy. That being said, if you're at 3, 5 or 6 players, Black Spy would be your go to if you still want to play a "Hearts-like" game at a different player count. You could even play it at 4 and have a great time. I really like the spy cards, both in black and the other colors. Those black spies destroy you, but it's nice that the other colored spies help you out. Cool little game!
The Little Prince is a lot of fun. Drafting is a mechanic that's fairly new to me and it works really well in this game. I like that players who go last get to go first and so get to make the first decision on the next turn. Volcanoes suck, but otherwise this is a really well done and enjoyable game.
I'm not a big fan of Catan. I never really was. When I heard about Catan: Junior though, I figured I'd give it a try. I have to say, Catan: Junior made me enjoy Catan. I like how you're not dependent on your opponents for trades as much as you are in Catan. I also like the Parrot cards and the simplicity of rolling a single die and grabbing up materials in that manner. Good, little kids game that plays well even for adults.
Let Them Eat Shrimp! is a quick and fun tile placement game which can scale to not only accommodate multiple players, but can also be changed for different skill levels. The turns are simple and the game doesn't hang up too much with each player's turn. While there are several decisions, there's usually going to be a "best" place to put a tile on each turn. That being said, there's a lot of variety and a lot of fun to be had. I enjoyed it quite a bit!
The Game is an unfortunately named, but rather enjoyable card game. It's a simple concept and utterly frustrating. As we played, we couldn't help but think it's designed to screw over whoever is next. Like no matter what you do, you are setting up your friend to be completely screwed on their turn. In any case, we liked it quite a lot.
Little Devils is a good game, and it's great for introducing people to trick taking games. It's one of those games where they put player numbers on the box, but they don't mean what they say. What I mean is, at 3 players, the game just doesn't work out how it does at 4, 5 and 6. That being said, I really like the idea of trying to play a card that is closest to the opening card. I also like that the next player after the opener chooses how the trick will go, either higher or lower. Really neat game and only gets better with the more players you have.
Konito? is a really clever and nifty party game for folks who like pop trivia, but don't have to answer questions, just have to finish popular statements or movie tiles. My biggest gripe is that it's just way too long. Of course, that's more on me than the game. Since the game comes with a modular board, you can shorten or lengthen the game easily. I've just learned to make a way shorter length of track for the future. Now, that being said, this one's pretty great and lots of fun.
What a cool, little tile-placement game. It's simple enough to just jump in and start playing and it's got enough strategy to make it more than just "pick a tile, place a tile". I like how the base works and the special powers are fun and useful. Cool game.
Lemming Mafia is a cute, little game. It plays quickly and is simple to learn. It's seriously all about luck. Sure, you can pick which lemming you wish to move (unless you roll two of the same color), but you're really just doing what you're told to by the space you land on. That being said, I still think it's pretty enjoyable.
Santa's Bag is a super light, yet quite enjoyable game. It really brings out the theme of elves working in Santa's workshop. There's no deep strategy and you're very dependent on the trade mechanic, but if you're in the mood for a light Christmas game that you can play with the whole family, you're going to have fun with this one.
King's Kilt is a neat game that feels like a game I've played before, but I can't recall the name of that one. However, I do like the pyramid building nature of trying to push families up the pyramid to crown the king. I also think the influence cards add a good amount of added mechanics to make it more than just pushing cards up the pyramid. For the price and the amount of game you're getting out of it, I think it's all right.
Gold Ahoy! reminds me of Ta Yü, with the latter being the better game. However, Gold Ahoy! is an okay game. I would use it as an introductory perhaps, and I can see it going over fairly well with kids who like pirates, or just like the idea of searching for buried treasure. It's super light, but it's an okay game. I wouldn't turn it down, but I would suggest Ta Yü after a couple plays of this.
Sushi Draft isn't really fun unless you play with the "Wasabi" variant...and even then, it's wonky. Let me explain. The tie-breaker rule just seems broken. To just give the token to the player who has less sushi just seems unfair. With the "Wasabi" variant though, it at least works more often to clear up ties. Aside from this huge issue though, Sushi Draft is a nifty little game. I like it as an introduction to drafting. However, any day of the week, Sushi Go is the better game.
MammuZ is a cute game of bluff. Unfortunately, it doesn't scale well below five players. At three, it's almost unplayable and at four, it's barely better. However, you can really feel the game working the way it should at five and higher with all cards in play and working to their full potential with the eights and nines. That being said, there are still better bluffing games out there and MammuZ sort of gets lost in the shuffle for me.
A couple of weeks ago, I approached Kenny Sims, of MegaCon Games and suggested a community Q&A session. A session where I'd gather questions and send them to him in a concise format and he'd answer them all at once. I thought it might be a good way to get some information to the community while at the same time giving MegaCon an opportunity to participate directly with the fans/backers here on BGG.
Below is the result of that effort. Hope this helps answer some questions around the new modules. Please let me know if there's anything that you'd like to see Kenny elaborate on, or if there's more questions on the modules now that you see the answers and I'll pass them along. A big thanks to Kenny for his willingness to participate as well as openness in his responses.
The questions are in no particular order.
1: What content from Myth 1.0 will be converted into Modules? Will that content be released with Journeyman or at some other point in time? If sooner than JM, do you have any estimates you can share? Answer: The initial base game story quests will be converted into Modules. Currently this content is scheduled to be released next year.
2: Please describe how modules match to hero level. How will I know if my hero group should attempt the module? Am I too high a level? To low? Can you share some specific examples? Answer: Difficulty level is hard to define with the way leveling works in Myth. We will have specific parameters for players to follow for Modules. An easy example is the journeyman expansion boxes will each have a Module. Those Modules are designed to be beatable with a base journeyman level hero (2 Titles and 3 advanced hero cards).
3: Please discuss the creative process on module creation. How long does it take your team to create a module from idea to completed and ready to print? How does creating a module compare with a quest chain? What is your approach to each? Answer: The first thing I do when developing a Module I decide what story I want to tell. From there the next step of the process is to create interesting monsters to fight and allies to encounter. Once this is done the Module is tested to see if it can be completed through playtests. This step takes at least a couple of weeks, sometimes a month. Now that the Module works and all of its parts or interacting the way I want, I give direction to Keith so he can concept the art for any of the new elements in the Module. Depending on how much content needs to be created this can take quite a few weeks, as Keith has a ton of other projects he is moving forward. When these elements are finished we create splash pages for the web and insure that the download actually functions.
So from start to finish each act of a Module takes about 1 to 2 months for the free downloadable content. The Modules released during the Kickstarter will get finished a lot quicker as these are being farmed out to other authors & game designers.
Quests typically take much less time to design as they are solitary events that need to work on a single tile. The testing process for these actually takes much longer because there is a lot more of them to test. It is actually extremely difficult (at least for me) to tell a story in a limited space. It is the thing I struggle with most in regular quests.
4: Please describe what you anticipate being in a module box. Take, for instance, The Lost Hoard of Blackwall. We can see the content listed on the KS page. Can you describe the contents for us in more detail? What isn’t included in the box that I need in order to play? Answer: A Module includes all the Module specific enemies, items, counters, and traps that players encounter. During the Kickstarter many of these elements were received through stretch goals. For the final retail release of these Modules it will include those Kickstarter elements needed to make the box a standalone story experience. The only items needed to play a Module that aren’t in the box is everything included in the base game of Myth and stretch goal unlocks for this Module.
5: Please describe your philosophy in creating specific module content. Should we expect to see new items, new monsters, etc.? Will there be content we’ll have to print ourselves (new item cards or agents, for example)? Outside of base Myth content, will a module be self-contained (not require content outside of Myth 1.0 and the module itself). Answer: Modules are self-contained. Players will not need to print any items to play Modules released through the journeyman kickstarter. Content released as quarterly updates on our site in the form of free Modules would still need to be printed.
6: The community is especially sensitive to Bosses. Will a Boss be required for every Module? If so, there are Bosses from Myth 1.0 that were add-ons. Can we have a specific list of Bosses required for each module (if indeed they are needed to play). Answer: Each Module’s adventure will culminate in a boss battle. Bosses will be required for each Module. Scourge of the Sympio: Requires Syclopt, The Golden Gear: Requires Professor Rustysprocket, The Lost Hoard of Blackwall: Requires The Devourer, Avatar of Shadow: Requires Lucy, The Old Ones: Requires Sla-Yg’Noth, The Dark Under: Requires Roland the Hand, The Rot: Requires Nosferatue & Bones, The Siege of Ferrenroc: Requires Hrimceald, Fury of the Fireborne: Requires Teraxas, Awakening of the Huranii: Requires The Rat King, The Four Pillars of Creation: Requires Ia, the Foundation.
7: What kind of world building can we expect in the modules? The web ones are greatly expanded over the original story quests, and are excellent. How will the new modules compare to the content released thus far in patches? Answer: These new Modules will have at least as much lore into the world of Myth as the patches currently add.
8: There are some characters that don’t have a dark and light path. Are there plans to produce modules specific to them? Answer: There are no planned Modules for these characters but I do have ideas for them.
9: Please describe how the modules relate to one another. Overarching story or setting? Answer: Each Module is its own separate contained story and doesn’t link to others.
10: How long is a typical module (Acts and play time)? Is a module a collection of linked quests? Are there positive/negative outcomes? Answer: Module acts are typically around 2 hours. These Modules will be a minimum of 3 acts with some being up to 5 acts. There will be negative outcomes to Modules.
11: It seems like you've added new characters in the Fury of the Fireborne and Rise of the Revenant. Will you continue that pattern? Will there be characters that we have to proxy? Answer: Yes, there will always be something players have to proxy if they want to play the free patch content that we create. My favorite part of creating these Modules is adding new monsters, items, merchants, and allies.
12: If you plan to add new characters in modules, are there plans to sell the miniatures in your store? Answer: There are no plans to offers these as standalone sales as they are released. Future Myth Kickstarters will include these new models if we get to them in stretch goals.
13: Do the realm tile rules apply to the modules? For instance, do I still setup traps, hunting packs, etc.? Or will the module explicitly tell us how to setup? Answer: All Realm Tile legends will always be ignored in Modules. Every aspect of setup is detailed for players allowing no choices.
14: Please describe the lore you expect to include in the modules. Can you describe the level of story telling you'll include? What backstories will be told? Will we learn about our choices around light and dark paths? Answer: Typically these stories will include lore about major events in the world. Stories help develop back story for allies and enemies more as the players make their own stories as the heroes. The players learn about their choices of dark and light through the expansion box content.
15: Please describe the treasure bag mechanic planned for Modules. How is it different from regular adventure questing? Answer: Some aspects of the treasure bag will be altered depending on the Module. Finishing a Module will change the treasure bag, but it won’t complete reset it.
16: Will modules have difficulty levels? Please describe how you’ll establish difficulty levels and how we’ll know when we’re one level or another. Answer: Modules will be rated in difficulty for players to judge whether they can handle its content.
17: As a miniatures company, are you considering any atmospheric features in each module to support its theme? For instance an alchemists table, a pile of bones, an altar, a tapestry rug... Answer: These features will be included as part of the punchboard tokens that players can populate on the realm tile.
18: Will modules take place at specific points on the map from the hard cover book? Answer: Yes.
19: Will adventure quests chain into modules? Will there be any ties between these two game mechanics? If so, please describe. Answer: Currently there is only 1 and that is the Lucy quest chain. With the new quests the players can feel like they have resolved most of the problems surrounding Lucy. The Avatar of Shadow finally finishes her story.
20: Do you foresee a time when Myth includes skill crafting? Will modules possibly introduce weapon smithing, or crafting in some manner? Answer: Modules will start including this feature as will the Alchemist hero.
21: Are modules a linear story or will there be choice and different possible outcomes. Please elaborate. Answer: Most Modules are a linear story. there will be choices that affect the rewards players receive but the story still progresses towards its final fight.
22: Please describe how you envision Novice heroes leveling up to Journeyman. How many ways will we have to level? Will a module’s story explain our leveling process somehow? Will a module explain why our heroes are either light or dark? Answer: Heroes must have the following prerequisites to be eligible for a Journeyman upgrade: 2 Titles and 3 Advanced hero cards from the base game. If a hero has this requirement the next time they receive a Title or manipulate their hero deck they may choose to take a journeyman hero card. Once this is done the player replaces their novice hero token with a journeyman hero token and they are now a journeyman level hero. Players who choose to play the Module story from Shores of Kanis or Blackwall Warrens will reveal what happens to them along the way. The initial choice to go to either the “light” Module (SoK) or the “dark” Module (BW) will be theirs.
23: When it comes to the JM Kickstarter and the modules themselves, will we receive a “retail style” box for each module? Please describe how you believe the modules will be packaged to backers and contrast that with what might be in retail. If we are receiving a retail box, will it house everything needed to play a module so we can simply take the module box with us to gaming nights? Answer: At this point this still hasn’t been decided. If any of the Modules are released into retail they will have their own packaging which will include everything needed to play that module (outside of the required base game components or any journeyman upgrades they may already have).
24: Will the tiles needed for a story be included in the module box? If not, please provide a list of tiles needed for each module; including where they come from (base game, expansion, etc.) Answer: If backers are getting the All in Module they will need to get each Realm Tile Expansion & Supplement.
A really fun hidden traitor sci-fi survival game with tight game play and brilliant retro graphic design
You thought the mining gig on Titan would be dull. Turns out, not so much.
A few days ago, two crew members got infected with something and went nuts. The Commander had to shoot them both. But before they died, they managed to disable part of the station's shield generator. The resulting spike in radiation took down a couple of the main control systems. It should have been fairly easy to repair. But new problems keep cropping up and you're starting to wonder whether someone is intentionally interfering with the work. Everyone's on edge. You'll need to watch your back.
I really had a blast playing this game (two times, back-to-back, which is very unusual for my game group). Its mechanics work very well to create a thematic sense of paranoia and suspicion.
Every turn, a player can take an action (e.g., attempt to repair a broken system) and must then confront a task (which provides an opportunity for every player to contribute toward the success or failure of the task). Failed tasks can bring new system malfunctions, sometimes catastrophic ones. Success advances progress on a series of event cards. Uninfected players win if all events are completed without any of the essential station components fully crashing. Infected players win by fully disabling one of the essential systems before the events are completed.
Everything is driven by dice that the players roll behind their screens. Players then choose dice to place in front of their screens, to determine whether some action or task resolution is successful.
When players are called on to contribute dice toward some goal, they choose one from behind the screen. Some die faces are positive (2/6), but most are negative (4/6). If a player consistently puts out negative dice, suspicion will grow. But that could just be a string of bad luck, which is not so improbable given the way the dice are weighted toward negative results. But still...
Players can call a vote to "quarantine" a player that is suspected of being infected. Quarantined players are partially disabled, losing some of their dice and having limits on the actions they can perform.
On their turn, the infected players can choose to reveal their status. Revealing allows the infected player to immediately damage some of the base's system (unless they're quarantined when they reveal, which is why you want to lock them up). It also changes the actions available to the revealed player, providing a new range of things to do to directly harm the station.
The game design is really clever. Everything hangs together tightly and thematically. The kinds of mind games that the game's system produced were hilariously fun and thematic. In our second game, we all (wrongly) suspected one player of being infected and quarantined him. He stayed locked up for the rest of the game, frantically trying to figure out how to convince us that he was on our side and could do much more good if he wasn't tied to the f*cking couch!
If you like hidden traitor games, I really recommend this. It played in about 90 minutes for our first game and a little less once we knew the rules well. It's got a great physical production, really clever system design, and was a huge amount of fun. We were laughing and arguing almost from the start. Great game!
A smart card-driven, medium-heavy, build-stuff-for-points game, riddled with clever and difficult trade-offs.
It's 230 BC, and players are helping to unify China by placing palaces and governors in the five provinces and by building segments of the Great Wall. All of those things provide victory points in various euro-standard ways (some of which vary from game to game, based on randomized set-up).
The game is driven by a very interesting card play system. On your turn, you must play one card. You can either play it to your personal tableau or use it to take an action.
Playing a card to your tableau gets you some influence of the same color as the card you just played (which is good) and possibly some "unrest" in the region where you played it (which is bad).
Playing a card for an action allows you to perform one one of the basic game actions:
• Place an "official" in your tableau. • Move officials around within your tableau. • Install a governor into a province on the board (costs officials but eliminates some unrest). • Acquire workers (requires that officials be in the dedicated recruitment area of your tableau and creates unrest). • Build a palace (costs workers; awards VP and influence). • Build a wall segment (costs workers).
That's all pretty straightforward. But here's where it gets more interesting: whenever you play a card for an action, you might also trigger any related special powers on your tableau cards). In order to trigger them, you must play a card that is either higher or lower than the last card that anyone played to perform an action (each card has a unique number on it, from 1-120). Some actions require that you play a higher card; others require a lower card.
For example, suppose I play a card in order to get workers. For workers, special powers are triggered if I play a higher card than the last played. If so, all of the worker-related special powers in my tableau are triggered.
The powers on these cards are great and you really want to trigger them as often as you can. If you have a strong tableau and you manage it well, you'll get more benefit from the special powers than you will from the base action. It's critical to do this well. Good luck with that.
Once everyone has played all the cards in their hands, there is a tricksy little "rewards" phase, where players have a chance to cash in influence for bonuses (which get stronger each round, becoming critical toward the end of the game). I won't explain all of the ways that this subsystem is clever, but it really is.
After the last round is complete, there's end-game scoring. Most points wins.
This is a brilliantly designed game. It's extremely tight with constant trade-offs. You only get six cards per round, for five rounds, so you'd better hurry up and get stuff done. But you also need to build and manage a strong tableau. And beat your opponents to the best stuff.
My wife and I have played it with two and it works very well. The games are very close, despite the fact that we take different strategic routes (based on how we've built our tableaus).
Components and art are the high quality I expect from What's Your Game.
Very fun light-medium deck-building game with a meaningful route-building component.
This has been described, somewhat dismissively, as "Dominion with a board." That's apt, as far as it goes, but the intergration between the deck-building and the construction of routes on the maps is extremely well done. My wife and I played this four times in two days and would probably have played again if we didn't have other demands on our time.
Play is brisk, with little down time. The route-building involves terrain costs and soft-blocking (making it more expensive to build in developed spaces), and every action that builds infrastructure requires the player to draw "waste" cards and add them to the deck. These cards do nothing but clutter up your hand. Fortunately, there are some cards that let you dispose of waste in various ways. And if you draw a bunch of waste in your hand, you can choose to spend the whole turn dumping those waste cards back into the supply. The waste-management subsystem adds a lot to the game, making it more than just a race to build VP.
The graphic design is clean and attractive. The game play is surprisingly thematic. And there is another card set and expansion maps to increase the already considerable replayability.
The Rising Sun base set (which we played) includes maps specifically scaled for two-players, which I really appreciated. I've ordered the 2d map set, which also includes 2p maps (including California!).
This is a very good game for the niche that it fills.
Light, team-based, card-driven WWII game of grand strategy.
This is high abstraction WWII game with six players on two teams (the Axis, comprised of Germany, Japan, and Italy, and the Allies, made up of the US, the UK, and the Soviet Union).
Each player has a unique deck of cards, with a different mix of eight types of cards:
• Build Army (lets you place an land space adjacent to one of your supplied units. • Build Navy (same, but for placing a fleet in a sea space) • Land battle (destroy an enemy army in a land space adjacent to one of your supplied units. • Sea Battle (same, but destroy a fleet in an adjacent sea space) • Status (play face up in front of you to acquire an always-on special power). • Response (play face down to create a "trap" that can be triggered for a one-time effect when a specified condition is met) • Event (trigger a one-time event) • Economic Warfare (similar to an event, but with an emphasis on forcing a player to discard cards)
The mix of cards in the players' deck are tailored to their strategic situation and produce a surprisingly thematic play experience. We had the US building industrial infrastructure for the first half of the game and then crossing the seas to launch overwhelming attacks. The UK hung on for dear life, repelling invasions until the US was ready to attack. The Soviets took heavy losses until it got its feet under it, then became a juggernaut. Etc.
I played Italy, which has a reputation for being the least fun position. I did okay, building a fleet in the Med, invading North Africa, and twice assaulting the UK from the Atlantic. The UK had response cards to fend me off. If he hadn't the Axis would likely have had an early and decisive sudden death win. Unfortunately, Germany burned through his deck a little too fast, leaving him exhausted in the late game. And Japan turtled too much (despite a lack of pressure from the US and me repeatedly urging him to take India and press the Soviets from the East). In the end, the Axis ran out of steam, the Yanks invaded Western Europe and rolled over Germany and Italy.
The game's interesting and lively (though we had some APers in the group, making the game drag on about a third longer than it should have). I'm interested to try it again.
Two concerns: (1) We ran into an irritating number of cards that required on-the-fly interpretation of ambiguities. (2) We were impressed by how things played out in very historical ways; but I worry a touch about whether that means the game could become scripted. Neither issue was enough to seriously affect my enjoyment.
A well designed abstract card game for two, with an attractively pasted-on streetcar theme.
There are four streetcar lines in 19th Century Munich (red, yellow, green, and blue), and you're trying to do a better job of managing them than your opponent.
On each turn, you start with a hand of six cards. You can play these cards in a number of ways, in the following order:
(1) You MUST begin your turn by playing one or two cards onto one of the four passenger terminals (one for each line).
(2) Next, you MAY play cards from your hand to color-specific columns in your tableau. These "stations" must be played in increasing numeric value (1-10). You can have more than one column in each color.
(3) Then, you MAY play cards face down to your money pile (each counts as 1,000 Marks).
(4) Finally, you may spend money from your money pile to buy a train and place it at the head of a station column. Each column must have one train (and one only).
Finally, you refill your hand for the next turn.
Whenever someone places the fourth passenger on a terminal, that color immediately scores. Every column of the matching color, for both players, produces VP equal to the multiplier value of its train (2-4) times the total VP value of the cards in the column. After the 10th such scoring, the game ends. Most VP wins.
My wife compared it to Lost Cities, but with more going on (money management, train multipliers, and manipulation of the timing of the scorings).
It's a well designed game, with attractive components. But it didn't blow me away. That may not be the game's fault. I'm a little burnt out on head-to-head two-player card games right now.
This is a very well-put-together card-based civilization game. I suspect it would be a lot of fun with more than two (though I also suspect it would be too long at higher counts). Ultimately, my wife and I really didn't like it as a two-player game. I disliked it enough that I'm not going to bother discussing its mechanisms. Instead, just a quick note on why it didn't work for us:
In my first play, my wife got a solid edge on military superiority. As a result, she had a cake-walk and I was continually struggling to do much of anything. Second game, the exact opposite happened. Neither of us enjoyed being on the short end of the military stick. And it wasn't much fun holding the long end and watching my wife repeatedly stymied.
It seems obvious that "stability" is intended as a counterweight to military dominance (it negates some harmful effects of war and has some effect in end-of-round events). But in our two games, it was insufficient to balance the game. There are too many good things you can do with military that your opponent cannot do (wars, battles, colonies, and dominance of the end-of-round events).
We were especially bothered by the zero-sum nature of the events. Suppose an event says something like: player with most military gets two food, least military loses two food. In a multi-player game, that's not too big a deal. You can try to fall in the middle, or just ride out a loss by doing something else valuable. But in a two-player game that's a mostly unavoidable 4 unit swing. And there's a lot of that kind of stuff. Add in the dominant military's stronger position to take colonies and win battles and wars, and the other player is really hurting.
Not every game plays well with two. This one didn't.
Welcome back to this weeks games that have been played. Still the spotlight this week has nothing to do with games, still the geek inside me could not pass on it. I will let the picture speak for itself...
I heard so much good about the game lately which brought me back to it. Still as soon as I saw it I remember how I played it in Essen when it was released. I did not get it as it did not blow me away. Still when I saw it as the first game on the table I thought ok lets give it a second try.
I do not know why but the rules and options did not seem to click immediately and when the round started I felt still I was missing something. The terminology used does not favor any intuitive approach. It feels like a deck builder without the deck and having played with 5 players it seemed to have a lot PA. Maybe this was due to the first game and I did not like it as it did not have a kind of catch up mechanic. If three players dominate you by taking played cards and cards in hand this does not bring much fun with it. In addition I was remembered that the color choices for me are well selected even I heard that they updated this with the latest edition released. In Essen also Schwerkraft Verlag will be releasing it. Just for the sake of the color selection I will have a look into it in Essen. Also I think now that the basics are known how it plays it might be interesting to play it again. Still with all the other games around I do not see it in the near future.
With the first game not seeming to hit the mark we went over to One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Actually I am not the overwhelmed by these kind of games but the latest one I had was quite fun. Also this was new to me so I needed to see it. Ok, I was prepared that this was the quicker version of the game still somehow this went over pretty fast, nearly to fast from my point of view. It seems the discussion phase was fine but felt a bit weird. That might be as on our first game both werewolves where lying in the middle and yes we killed an innocent and lost
Well hidden werewolves...
Role of the second round.
In addition I need to note that this game needs surrounding sounds. The gaming area was never so quiet and if you hear a person moving, this will give you to many hints and spoil the fun but maybe this is intended? But I need to highlight one point. The app integration is very good here and lets an additional person play the game instead of doing the game master. I liked that a lot. That being said I looking forward to test Mafia de Cuba which will be available in Essen and I am into these kind of theme.
Next up was Skull King, which apparently is new to me too. All said this is even better than Wizard and I always like Wizard. That being said having the mechanics explained was pretty fast and of we went. First rounds always play fast as you start with one card in round one and gaining one each additional round until 10 have been played. You will need note how many tricks you will get. The fun begins when the total number does not fit the round and you struggle yourself to stay at your targeted goal. I need to say I like it a lot and the theme plays well to me, even I did like wizards too. I would still play both of the games as they do not differ to much from each other. Let's see how Wizard changes with the promo card available end of the year included in the Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015.
As we where on trick taking this was up next to conclude the evening. An old time favorite that often hits the table and never gets old. That is because every player has three rules available. Each player selects one and another is added from the deck. This means every round if played differently. Sometimes specific colors count negative points in the end, the most powerful suit will change as well or not being available at all, up to the player that plays the first card is the person left of the player won the last hand.
1st hand and 1st set of rules.
And some English cards for better understanding. Thanks to Ted Alspach having uploaded this picture.
This needs you to adjust every round to how you play and always brings laughter to the table and isn't that the reason we play? Having fun?!
That concludes my week in gaming and all that is left to me is wishing you a great week.