I'm cooling on this. Part of it is group-oriented; members of our group are very protective of their strategies, which means that it is very difficult to step outside of my usual strategy and try something different. I'm also beginning to think it makes specialization a little too easy, and a lot of it depends on what everyone else decides to focus on.
Still a very solid worker placement game that combines elements of several games of which I am very fond, and honestly a great introduction to Eurogaming for someone who is interested in learning more.
I finally got around to playing this, and it turns out I really like it. The relationship to RRT is very strange, it's like they took the same rules and made a completely different game out of it. I like the planning, but it's tough. I like the smaller scale quite a bit too--not just the smaller map, but the shorter game play, the game phases that slightly constrict player options, and the lack of crazy unnecessary rules like RRT has. Interesting. Worthwhile. I can tell I'm not very good, but I'd like very much to play again.
Paper bills in 3rd edition are absurdly large. (1 play)
Hey, I enjoyed this a lot. The rules should all be familiar to Agricola fans, but the game is a very different one. It's quick, thinky, and the components are awfully cute. A winner. The one concern I have is that, since it's deterministic, it could be solved, but I hear there are expansions for that? (1 play)
Feldian planning game ahoy! Everything you want to do takes two steps (programming robots and using them), but you have limited actions and you NEED THEM ALL AUGH. But that means you need to be on the lookout for way of getting extra actions or using your actions better, like the special robot-programming action, which I think is really important. Plus, the theme is really cool. Good stuff.
It's all about the wheeling and dealing. Lots and lots of it. The economy is very interesting, the trading is lots of fun, and the art is cute, plus it's easy to pull this out and play with people, gamers or non. I like this better and better the more I play.
I love the multifaceted bidding: placing a worker placed to take an action, a bid on a card, and also an attempt to get area control. So there's a lot to think about. There's also much more going on in the game: powers from cards, personalized scoring, the ability to make new buildings--and it all fits together really well. Very interesting all the way through. Oh, and the art is great. (1 play)
I'm not exactly objective on this, as I've been a playtester for this game for many years. But I think it's a really interesting one. It's a market-manipulation game about setting the prices of goods and reading the market as a whole. Games like this can sometimes be fragile, but Captains of Industry isn't. There is a lot going on with all the different markets; it's important (and not always easy) to find a niche. Very good heavy-ish economic game.
This is certainly the gentlest Feld game I've ever played; it lacks the explicit punishment element of all his other games. There's still a lot to go for, though. This is really a set collection game with a lot of different sets and an interesting little building element where it matters where things are. It's a nice little game and I'd like to get to know it better. (1 play)
A very Settlers-like Settlers variant, but without the cities. One could argue that it is more balanced, since you can't just park cities on the good hexes and continue to collect on them forever. Roads are more important, because you need to actually build all over the place if you want to get more points. Landmarks are kind of neat, because they are so cheap to build and get you something guaranteed, but it's still better to build more settlements and get more goods over the course of the entire game, since there are plenty of good places to build them. They don't look as impressive though. On the whole I prefer Settlers, but this is the first time I've played a Settlers variant and thought that a reasonable person could choose it over Settlers for any number of plays. (1 play)
This is a really neat stock game, the best one I've played. Railroad companies are really small--there are so few stocks it's hard to get in on the big ones and the values adjust accordingly--and on the whole I think I like the auctions for that reason. The dials are genius and the game is nice and quick. I like it and would love to play again.
I know it's good with three and four, but cannot speak to other numbers of players. (3 plays)
Really interesting idea; the game is mostly about limiting how many points you are giving other people. Glad I picked this one up. After six plays, I still don't really understand the strategy--but that makes it interesting. Schacht is a genius. For serious.
Fortifications definitely add and interesting strategic element while decreasing the power of the emissaries. I like this variant quite a bit.
Yay, China Rails! This is a pretty difficult map; there are some areas that I just wanted to avoid. Fortunately, there aren't any major cities out there, so it's perfectly reasonable to avoid them (unless you want to, like, make lucrative deliveries or something. Heh.). I like the geographical variety it presents. Lack of familiarity with Chinese geography did make it take longer. (1 play)
An auction game: players are auctioning off actions in a difficult once-around auction. It's very tricky! The scoring is largely based on a multiplier, so players have to pay attention to both sides of that equation. Tense & not too long.
I was a playtester for this game for several years, and it's really made me appreciate the importance of graphic design; it seemed quite opaque to me until I saw the final board, when suddenly I was able to understand the game well and play much better.
Wow, why hasn't this game gotten more buzz?? This is actually my favorite of the four no-shuffle deckbuilders of 2013. Everything about it is clever. The tradeoff between exploring (which is expensive) and getting more cities (which doesn't provide as much space), the management of three different kinds of resources (cards, money and books), the scoring, the importance of managing your economy and your space, the way that deck refreshment works (the order in which cards are played dictates how they'll come out next time) are all really cool. I love the art and the theme--I'm kind of a sucker for steampunk, so YMMV, but it's undeniably pretty. The only knocks that I have on the game are these: 1) the way that cards are added to decks gives players a lot of control, but also creates a potential for serious AP, and 2) I wish that the Chvatil-style endgame scoring (most cards, most lands, etc) allowed something for second place.
Anyway, VERY interesting game and I'm all for it. I want to get a copy and play it some more. Provisionally rated an 8 only because I'm a little leery of going over a rating of 8 on the first play. (1 play)
This is a fantastic little filler that manages to be interesting and exciting while also possible to explain in under a minute. Well worth owning for anyone who enjoys quick-playing card games. Schacht fangirlism status: increasing rapidly.
Navegador's cousin. It's a little more convoluted because a lot of the information about what you are scoring and what you can do is on cards and is different for each player; I suspect it is much more difficult to see ahead a few turns. Whether that's good or bad is up to you, of course. The way the map works is much more multifaceted and gives players lots of ways to get around; I also liked the harvest mechanism. This is one of three (!) games this year to use the no-shuffle deckbuilding mechanic, something I hadn't seen before. I don't know what my opinion of this will be in the long run, but I'm definitely interested in playing it more. (1 play)
Clever! Players construct roller coasters on Coney Island. The best way to get the resources to do so involves sending out people to reserve space for you, but you'll need them back by the end of the game. Then there's the special powers; that part is fun too. In classic Michael Schacht fashion, it's simultaneously light, quick and thinky. I like it. (1 play)
I was a playtester, and I consider Andy Parks a friend, so my opinion is far from impartial. Still, this is a very good game and an interesting take on the deckbuilding genre. Like a couple other games (A Few Acres of Snow, Mage Knight), it takes the idea of deckbuilding and puts it in the context of an interesting game with other things going on.
Core Worlds is really a drafting game with a high degree of planning involved, and these are some of my favorite things. The deck building element adds a lot, and combining drafting with deck building means that players have a lot of freedom to build an individualized deck that's different every time. So that's fun.
The game is not short--it's true--but just because it's a card game doesn't mean it has to be short. (5+ plays)
Well, this was different. One of the few dexterity games I have played. It's quite satisfying to flick disks across the table, even if they do end up caroming off the posts, and honestly I could see myself really enjoying practicing this to the point of acquiring some skill if I had three other people willing to learn with me. (1 play)
I grew up on trick-taking games and generally find them very comforting. Diamonds captures this very well. It adds special abilities for each suit; this is enough of a change to make things slightly more interesting while still being simple enough to retain the trick-taking feel and also appeal to a wide audience.
There's a lot to think about in the game and I think that it would be possible to get very good at it--of course, it's still a card game and a lot depends on the draw, but card counting could be..really good.
Wow. There's a lot going on here. Each player has a particular power and a particular place in the turn order (which can, however, be changed over the course of the game). Then there's a worker-placement game and, underneath it all, an area control game. There's also some card drafting involved. So there are many different elements, and taking them all into account in one's strategy over the course of this four (or so) hour game is pretty challenging. There's enough scope in the game for a lot of back-and-forth--a player can have it all wrapped up only to lose a lot of ground in a single bad turn. The end result is satisfying and complex and, um, really long. Fatigue set in after the first few hours, which tempered my satisfaction a little bit. It hangs together really well for what it is, but I couldn't play it very often. (1 play)
The quickness, addictiveness and variability of this game are really its selling points. My thoughts:
I'm pretty positively inclined toward this one. I was a light CCGer for a while there and this is one psuedo-CCG that actually captures the deck-building part of such games as well as the gameplay. Plus, it's just really fun to see the engine work. And I've always gotten a lot of enjoyment out of a nice combo play.
I wouldn't argue that it is in any way a deep game, however. It's kind of a junk food gaming experience. Why yes, I would like to eat that stick of cotton candy, but I can't really expect to derive any nourishment from it.
UPDATE: It's a little embarrassing to raise the rating of a game whose entire point is that you can play quickly to an 8, but this is pretty addictive. I don't understand why everyone else likes it so much, though.
I think this is an improvement on the base game; I think the addition of more ways to score victory points makes the game more interesting. There are some neat variations on the cards too--cards that are more than one type are (including cards that are victory points AND something else), and cards that give you a choice of what you want to do. The Great Hall is amazing and the Pawn is pretty good too. I don't like the Masquerade as much because it seems to disrupt the premise of the game. Will never play with the Saboteur again.
Including this in the auction "trilogy" makes a great deal of sense--like Ra and Modern Art, there is an interesting twist on what happens to the money bid (in this case, it is distributed among all the losers), and like those two and Medici, you bid for lots which make the tiles in them better or worse. It also has a feature I very much like in an auction game--the value of a lot is different for different players, so it is much harder to pin down the exact "correct" bid for something. Add in an extremely accessible and amusing theme, and this game has a lot going for it, though it is perhaps the lightest of the four. It's just a lot of fun. (2 plays)
Cleverly themed, interesting to play, maybe a little too showy on the components (I'm very happy about the inclusion of the black-and-white board because it makes teaching this game SO MUCH easier). I really like the way the factions work; it's very close to being like a stock mechanism without being too obtrusive about it. I also enjoy the cleverness of the areas where the number of dice changes what's produced. The dice are a fun idea and I haven't had them cause an NPE yet, but the potential for it is there... (3 plays)
It's like India Rails... in Europe. I'm starting to pick up on the strategy; a lot of it is in choosing the right starting location. There is a high luck factor in the cards and the game is quite long, but the first is acceptable to me and the second is actually desirable for the contexts in which I play it. It's more a feeling of peacefully constructing infrastructure rather than fiercely competing over resources, but there are times I like that. (3 plays)
I really like the way that this divides the year into two parts and each half of the year is different. It's yet another Rosenberg harvest game, which is always good news to me, and as a two-player only game, this one is of course well-suited to two players. I like it very much. (1 play)
I'm really happy I got to play this--the hype was pretty exciting and I like this sort of game quite a bit. My impressions:
A++ components. Absolutely beautiful board and I LOVE the wooden fruit. I don't think great components always make a game more fun to play, but this time they did.
As for the gameplay, it's just as everyone is saying--it's a really simple to learn, but you have real decisions with real ramifications--and multiple ones, so there are several factors you have to take into consideration. You'll do much better if you decide at the beginning which tiles you want to go for and keep the bonuses in mind. I didn't do this very well on my first play, but I'd love to try again. Windmill is nifty.
I'm a fan. My vote for SdJ. I'd almost certainly buy this if only you could play it with five. EDIT: Owned! Ehehehe. (4 plays)
I liked this! It's clever. It has a little bit of the mancala thing from Finca or Trajan, but with more options. I can see the potential for AP, but we didn't really have that problem in our game. The djinns are interesting, although some of them seem clearly better than others. I don't feel like I have a really deep understanding of the game yet, but I feel like I could certainly develop what I know about it through more plays. (1 play)
I enjoyed this one. It's really a card game at heart, with several different options possible for each card. There are many games that meet that description, but there are a couple things I really like about Founding Fathers: 1) This is a brilliant theme. Love it. 2) Since the state and affiliation of each card is visible from the back, it's possible to make informed decisions about what to do, and 3) the different parts of the board are fairly balanced, so that if one person is beating everyone in votes, it's still possible for others to come back in the debates. Good stuff. (1 play)
Oh, this is a good one. In many games of this type, it's difficult to get a good engine going, but things smooth out once you're established. Not Glen More. It's a constant struggle to keep things going and there's always planning and an element of risk. Everything depends on performance relative to the other players in the game, so there's an element of keeping an eye on them as well. I really enjoy trying to make this work, even though I'm not very good at it. (5+ plays)
Intriguing contract-fulfillment game with a little area control and a little engine-building thrown in. These are all things that I like so this is already a good start! The game puts this all together using a limited pool of actions (each action can only be executed once per round), which introduces an additional planning element into the game. Works very well. Good stuff. (1 play)
The first real wargame I think I've played! It's a light one. I enjoy that a lot of the important decisions have to do with whether or not to run away. I also like the rhythm of the game--winter is a neat idea. Anyway, it's fairly random but I enjoyed it a lot. (1 play)
Cool! This is very much a puzzle game that combines geography, economics and planning in a very different way than most. I loved anticipating others' moves, figuring out the best way to get the ship to the barrels I want, keeping track of the market stands, finagling money from other players... basically everything about this game.
I definitely prefer Changing Winds, not because of the movement abilities but because of the scoring.
It takes a few plays to "get it," or at least it did for me. Quite heavy, it is similar to Agricola mostly in the level of detail that it is willing to deal with--only it goes even further--Building things often requires energy as well. I've always liked the mechanism in Caylus whereby you must pay others to use their buildings; that's here as well, but once again, Le Havre adds a level of complexity by varying the prices. It also adds an interesting river mechanism which controls what goods recover each term--perhaps the cleverest part of the game. So, it ends up feeling very different from either of these games. There's a lot going on--at first it seemed like too much, especially since it is hard to see all the cards and you basically just have to remember them (surely there is a better way they could have done this?).
Shipping line is VERY strong, especially in the two player game I played. With more players, there are more ways to make money. But I don't know if you can ignore it and win.
After 6 plays I finally managed not to come in last! uh.. so I suck. yes.
This is almost a pure card combo game. Five rounds seems like it would be too short, but in fact it is just enough time to build up a nice engine and execute it a few times. Having both a personal deck and a common deck available is a really clever idea. Quite enjoyable; I'm looking forward to expansions. (1 play)
In its heart, this is really a worker placement game, and quite a tense and interesting one. There's a pretty strong conflict between the desire to plan for the future and the frantic attempt to keep up with the present. Love the components. (3 plays)
It reminded me oddly of Merchant of Venus because what you're really trying to do is find the best loop in which you can get the things you need and take them to where you need them to be. Expanding your carrier spaces is what makes the game tricky. It's also pretty and full of rubies. (1 play)
This is a really cool little two-player card game. It's a rummy variant insofar as players are trying to make sets and need to discard to a shared area where their opponent can pick up the cards they put down, but unlike, say, Lost Cities, it has a distinctive flavor of its own. I enjoyed the brinksmanship of trying to save up for a token that your opponent may also be saving for. The camels are also a neat touch; they can serve as a wild card, but having more than your opponent is also worth points. I think the Spiel has it right when they say this feels like a traditional card game without feeling like a traditional card game that already existed. (1 play)
There were luck of the draw issues in the game that we played, where we drew lots of cards that would have been better for our opponents, but then again it is a card game. I enjoyed the card-combo aspect and found that it played quickly and engagingly. Good game. (2.5 plays)
Certainly one of the heaviest games of 2014! People will call it "worker placement," but what you are really selecting isn't an action but a group of actions, among which you can take whichever action you want. Sandra adds a really interesting timing aspect to the game. Between getting the parts, getting the cars, pursuing your pet projects, preparing for meetings, and buttering up your boss, there's a ton going on here, in exactly the right way. (1 play)
A rather brain-burning bidding game (some would say worker placement, but in practice, it's more like Amun-re or Nefertiti style bidding). Since the game is only five turns long, there is quite a bit of tension to each turn and it's quite a trick to make everything work out. Deeply interactive and quite thoughtful. (2-3 plays)
This is such a charming game. I mean, the goofy theme is a lot of fun and adds a lot to the game, but there's also a little bit of card drafting--which I love--and a little bit of engine building, but with flexibility. It's a card game in its heart, and I really like that about it. I think this one will have some staying power.
(Oddly, it seems that Suchy alternates between making games that leave me nonplussed--League of Six, 20th Century--and games of which I am very fond--Shipyard and Last Will. Shipyard's still my favorite of his, but LW also makes me happy.)
Very good resource management racing game. It's also a shuffle-free deckbuilder which punishes you severely if you don't use your whole deck. The power system of cards is interesting--you play another card or some Indian tokens with each card to show how many times you get to do an action. There is some resource conversion, which is just complex enough to be interesting without being convoluted.
This is a card game that feels like a traditional card game but is still fresh and new. There's a certain amount of bluffing and trying to get the best of other players; you might play hoping your cards will get taken, or you might hold off on a number until the cards come back. Fun and possibly with some depth. (1 play)
This is great! The main questions are how big you want your city to be and how often you're going to run it, but there is a lot to manage between these two things and the cards add a lot of character (I also enjoy the veiled Dickens references). Despite the fact that all these decisions matter and there are a lot of options available, the game is NOT a heavy one. I'd feared it would be a stressful and terrifying experience like Automobile, but instead it is interesting, engaging, thinky and fun. Highly recommended. (1 play)
Interesting! The ability to spread cubes around, starting on one portrait, makes this an unusual area control game, and the various powers, mission abilities and Notre Dame-like resources give it a couple extra dimensions. It does seem like it's really hard to get much ahead though. Unless you manage to get all the crowns, of course. (4 plays)
This is a really clever game that hates you, as Stefan Feld games are wont to do. It's about managing cubes and getting the right ones at the right time, but it's also about planning out when that will be and manipulating the game so that you have what you need when you need it. But at the same time, there are also several other things you need to take care of, if you don't want the game to punish you. I enjoy this sort of thing quite a bit, and Macao pulls it off very well. Good stuff. (1 play)
Yup, this is a really heavy game, all right. I think if it were first published today it would probably be split up into at least two games and maybe more. It's a rather difficult balancing act with lots of rules and many repercussions for every decisions that you must make, but all of the different aspects of the game fit together so well that it is a very worthwhile experience and I am certainly looking forward to playing it again. I can't begin to explain what the game is mechanically *like* in this space so I will just direct you to BGWS, but let me just say that it is both mechanically interesting and thematically appropriate. (1 play)
Somehow, this has become our go-to two player game. Yes, it's long, fiddly, mathy, convoluted, and swingy, and that doesn't bother me at all. The card combos are great; even if you only get to execute a particular combo once or twice, the game goes out of its way to make sure you will get to use it and it will be awesome. And in fact, that's kind of what the game is about--balancing set-up turns with turns of awesome, the turns where you march into a city and find out you have to kill the medusa and a dragon, and voila! you have the magic card that somehow lets you pull it off. There's a lot of information that's available in advance for planning and figuring out the cleverest way to use the special cards. And because it's a Chvatil game, you get a little credit for everything you do.
I probably wouldn't want to play this much with more than two, because it has really long turns and the downtime would be massive. But as a two player game, I'm kind of addicted to it... (4 or 5 plays?)
Good stuff. I am a big fan of the crayon rails I've played, and this may be the most interesting one I've tried (between it, India Rails, and Eurorails--all of which I really enjoy). I love the references, the event cards are much more interesting than the ones in Eurorails, and the geography is... perplexing! The wraparound board, the obstacles all over the place and the feeling that there are some places you just can't or don't want to go really help to create the greater sense of scope you should have when dealing with an entire planet instead of just a continent or subcontinent. The other crayon rails still have their place--for one thing, they are much shorter!--but I'm a fan. (1 play)
This is a really ambitious game. It asks the players to triangulate MANY interactions among different special powers, manage an economy, navigate several possible "sudden death" scenarios, plan on (or negotiate) the actions of other players, and keep track of a complex bidding and management operation, all while trying to deal with the luck of the draw. Does it try to do too much? Possibly. The science fiction universe it evokes seems to be valued above any other aspect of the game, and indeed, it rewards you with very strange and rather dramatic situations for hanging in and trying to achieve everything mentioned above. Is there an audience for a highly thematic, sprawlingly complex, four hour long game with combat and economic aspects? Well, maybe not. But I was intrigued.
There are a couple downsides--downtime is pretty high, though if you somehow managed to get to know the game well, it would certainly go down (the question is whether it is possible to get to know the game that well). And, it is difficult for a player who gets behind to come back, though such a player may achieve victory in one of the sudden-death scenarios. I'm not sure how I feel about that last part.
But if you are interested in knowing more, having more options... you might like it. I do. At least, I think I do. I admire its ambition and I think that it succeeds well it being what it wants to be. Too bad what it wants to be is something so few people are looking for. (1 play)
Interesting! Ra without the training wheels. As a heavy but short auction game for up to six players, this does a great job of filling a niche that is important to me. Being able to make money from either the majorities or the values (or both) means that there are several valid ways to go about the game, some players may be doing better than they initially appear to be, and that, as the game develops, different players may value tiles differently. I appreciate all these traits in an auction and everything that Medici gives me to think about. I like it better than Modern Art because the values are less calculable--though paying the bank instead of other players makes it a little less.. swingy. (8 plays)
The RATHER high silly factor adds a lot to this game. The names of the goods and the aliens do a lot to keep me engaged. The changing demand reminds me of Parthenon, as does the slightly random attempts to get from one place to another. The Clue-esque roll-and-move, plus the downtime, slow the game down quite a bit, reminding you that it's quite an old one after all... but it's fun carting goods around space in a somewhat unpredictable but (you hope) profitable manner.
I was really excited to try this. I love pick-up-and-deliver games, and this promised to boil it down to its essential elements and play in under two hours, plus there was the slightly goofy way that time and contracts worked, which made it ALSO an engine-building game. Sounds good, but in practice the game was just a little too stripped-down to be very exciting. Toward the end, it became rather repetitive, as good contracts could be used over and over again. The bonus cards were also rather disappointing, as they were usually worth fewer points than the cards you traded in for them. I was disappointed with the game as a whole. Would love to change my mind...
Update: have played more, have changed my mind. It's a very nice light pick-up-and-deliver, especially with two. Recommend playing without the goods decay rule.
This is really clever! There are hidden roles, but they change each round, almost Citadels-style, only you have more control. There's also a neat set-collection element, but what makes the game really work is how neatly all these things work together; the set collection affects what you'll be doing in the later trading phases, what roles you can get, etc. (1 play)
This is everything that I'd hoped Castle Ravenloft would be! It's Descent-light without the complex miniatures-combat rules and a nice storyline. Where Ravenloft (or Ashardolon, at any rate) was rather dry, this game had a very nice storyline to follow and it really seemed like the scenarios were different and there were various objectives which one could take somewhat seriously in the course of the game. It's fun and I'd like to play further.
It's also the case that several of the protagonists, starting with Nez, somehow acquired Russian accents as we were playing, but I think that may have been a function of the people I was playing with. (2 plays)
I have to admit, the theme and the art help this one a lot. Yummy delicious mushrooms were definitely enough to get me on board. But even if I didn't love mushrooms as much as I do (and seriously, I love mushrooms), I think I'd still enjoy this little card game. It's light but clever. The central decision is how long to hold onto a collection of mushrooms before cooking or selling them, but part of that decision is looking ahead and seeing what's going to happen with the stack. The decay pile is interesting because it gives you an opportunity to sweep up several rejected cards at the same time... but only if you have room in your hand. So there's a little planning, a little risk assessment, a little deliciousness. I play more long two-player games than short ones these days, but if I ever want a short two-player game, this is definitely one I'll pull out. (1 play)
I'm a sucker for area-control games, and this is an interesting one. I like the way that control can change quickly, since it is pretty easy to move your family members around the board and you often have a strong incentive to do so. The set collection aspect of this game makes this possible. I suspect it is very important to learn how to manage your one-time cards, and I will consider them more carefully next time I play. Very good game--fluid, interesting, and just different enough to be worthwhile. Meeple hats are really cool. (2 plays)
This is a very good one from the 2012 crop of games. It's an intense planning game with a rather difficult title (the dictionary suggests "mur-muss"). It's one of those games where you really need to figure out your whole turn ahead of time, and there is a very limited number of turns, so you'd better get it right. It's a worker placement game in which your workers are "nurses" and you need to choose between setting up infrastructure and getting stuff done. Here are some things that are interesting about it: 1) the season dice, which randomize the events of the year but give you plenty of warning as to what will happen 2) Feeding, which you can prevent with a sufficient number of soldier ants (why?), but man, the actions it takes to get them 3) the importance of the order in which things happen 4) the award titles, which score the big points but are quite expensive to pull off. Then there's the stuff on the board.
This falls into the interesting, fairly heavy but not too long category of games which I quite enjoy. I'd like to play it at least a few more times. I'm sure I can do better than in my first showing!
Huh. This is different. It's a ship-building game, a little like Shipyard, but it doesn't work in at all the same way. I like how the prices of the actions change every turn, and of course, the set collection aspect is always fun. (1 play)
I'd had this described to me as Roads & Boats light, and this is pretty accurate. It's all about using space efficiently to build up what you need in the tech tree. This is a very appealing type of game to me, and Neuland does it in about two hours while still being rich and interesting. Good stuff. Rulebook is poor. The board gets very very crowded with the full complement of four players. (2 plays)
This was pretty awesome, actually. It solves the problems of multiplayer wargames by putting a nearly impassible obstacle in the middle of the board, and avoids both dicefest burnout and hopeless slog issues by being quite short (in fact, its length is about perfect) and making the granularity of points such that playing cards is significant enough to help players catch up to those that may appear to have a large lead. Components are unusual and interesting to look at and touch, the luck factor feels completely natural, and the decisions are important but not absolute. This game is very engaging, lots of fun--and it is not stressful at all. I had a great time. I'm also intrigued by the possibility of partnership play.(2 plays)
I've been curious about Nippon Rails for a while. I love the crayon rails, but it seemed to me that Japan would be an extremely challenging map--it's all mountains and islands! I mostly play crayon rails with two, and that's how I played this one. With two, it's a pretty fun map. It's quite small, so it plays quickly, and there is a clear trade off between making the efficient little loop in the south (east?) to get lots of quick deliveries, or making a larger loop and going for the really valuable ones. Of course, this is the tradeoff in every crayon rail, but it's really obvious in this one, so that's nice. It's also nice that it's so quick. But it is a really small map, and island-hopping gets pretty expensive. I can imagine playing with three, but it'd be tough. The existence of a 5-6 player variant in the rules makes me shake my head. People who want to play Nippon Rails with six, you are just being silly. (1 play)
This one flew a little under the radar for me, perhaps partly due to the extremely generic title, so I'm glad I ended up playing nonetheless. It's very euro, but I like that, and then again, there's also a bit of an edge of meanness to it--but not in a bad way. Players build their own little piece of land by using tiles which get them different things--money, land, prestige--but they do this in order to compete for different titles, which are represented, rather goofily, by heads with increasingly fancy hats which attach to the top of one's player screen, on which the otherwise headless body of an aristocrat is depicted. Obviously. This silly gimmick is actually part of a pretty clever mechanism whereby players will gain a particular advantage for a short amount of time, but can't maintain it unless they can outcompete their opponents once again. There are limited resources on the board, but the nastiness in the game comes from two sources--first, stealing the advantage of another player's land (oh, you thought that was yours?) and second, queen-snatching. Since the queen determines the speed of the game, this can make a big difference in the game, and there is a slight unpredictability to the scoring rounds.
I found myself becoming more and more engaged with the game as it went on; each move is pretty significant. This is a clever and well-constructed game that I'd love to play again, and I'd say it deserves more recognition. (1 play)
I like it! It's quite similar to Le Havre, but I think it's more streamlined. There's often a point in the middle of Le Havre when I am not sure what direction I should be going and don't have a good view of the game as a whole. I don't know if O&L really solves that problem, but I don't feel it as much, and it's a little easier to create generative loops. It's still a little tricky to keep track of all the powers, especially with the tiny little cards, but I really dig the powers, and the spatial aspect of the game is cool, as is the ability to control the size of a player's plot. Fun. (3 plays)
Interesting. There are a lot of rules to absorb upfront, but the core of the game is relatively simple. A lot of it is about planning out how the boats are going to move. I really like the fact that you have lots of boats to choose from, including yours and the neutral ones. A lot of the game seems to be about losing money as slowly as possible. The shares seemed weirdly irrelevant. (1 play)
Wow--it really IS Merchant of Venus light! And it's brilliantly done. I love how the cargo works--when delivered, it flips over to the other side, but doubles are discarded, so that the total amount of loot in the solar system decreases over time. And you can still build up your ship, so each player will eventually have slightly different capabilities (although, caveat here, the extra storage is maybe a little too strong), which certainly adds flavor. The special ability cards also allow you to do different things as you travel around the system and even interact with the other players. Love it. Looking forward to the reprint.
Drawback? As published, it seems to be a two-player game. Boo. I don't see any good reason it couldn't play at least four, maybe five--in fact, we played with an official three player variant when we played. (1 play)
Brutal. As others have said, it's easy to lose early, but at least once one player seizes control, the game is likely to end relatively soon. I love that it's less unwieldy than Scepter but in many ways it is a very different and much tighter game.
I'm determined to make the mining strategy work. Eventually. As I said when I was playing: "I always do this, and it always makes me lose."
Unexpectedly, given its completely unreasonable box and sci-fi components and theme, this is a heavy economic game, and a very good one. The turn order and the careful financial planning that must be done each turn are reminiscent of Age of Steam. The resources have different uses in the game and can be sold and bought (or not) during the game, in a way that adds an element of speculation to the game. Prices can be manipulated too. And then there's the matter of building things in the right place--geography matters. Altogether, this makes a fascinating and rather unusual package, albeit one that I find it difficult to wrap my head around. (1 play)
Actually, I really like this. It's very different from Power Grid; in fact it is another game altogether. Turn order is very important and is the primary reason for saving some people instead of using them all to run your machines. But at heart, it is really a drafting game, one which I appear to be appallingly bad at, having come in last every single time I've played. But there's enough here to keep me coming back and trying again. (3 plays)
Puerto Rico is finally starting to grow on me. Now that I have a better understanding of how it actually works, it's a nice quick game that packs a lot of decisions and a reasonable amount of depth into a 60-90 minute game, so that's nice. There are more different ways to go than I originally suspected and it's possible to pivot and do different things. Whatever, you don't need me to give you an explanation of Puerto Rico, but I've been enjoying it quite a bit lately.
I really enjoy the resource management aspects of this game. I also think there's some merit to the flexibility of being allowed exactly three actions during your turn, as opposed to the "phase" approach of AoS (which I also enjoy). Deeper than you'd think for the ridiculous components.
On the other hand, the board is so big that I can't always easily see what's going on, and the cards mostly dilute the fun part.
Quick and nasty, this game deserves a lot more love than it gets. It's all about the tradeoff between making lots of duchies and protecting the ones you've got. High player interaction with the flipping back and forth of the bishop and the nastiness of joining duchies. Good stuff. (2 plays)
After several false starts, we finally got this one to the table! Hope to do so again soon. We played cooperatively with a single-player scenario, so I don't know what playing competitively would be like. However, I very much enjoyed the way we played.
The real constraint here is that it's only possible to put one building on a hex. So you come into this world in which there are many things that you can theoretically build, but in reality, you can only have a few of them, and you'd better choose carefully what they are. Don't count on the desert. And moving things around is a charmingly, exquisitely irritating proposition--it's not like you can just put them wherever you want. So there are a lot of moments when you find yourself saying, "All I have to do is get that over there! Which I can do if.. ah.. hm."
Good stuff. I'm a fan of pick up and deliver games in general, but this is different. And intriguing. (1 play)
One of several no-shuffle deckbuilders introduced in 2013. This one forces you to go through your entire deck before refreshing, unlike others which reward you for playing as many cards as possible (Concordia) or punish you for failing to use all your cards (Lewis & Clark). Theme is original, art is beautiful, gameplay is smooth. Of the four games in this genre (also counting City of Iron), I think this is the lightest, most accessible, and perhaps the most elegant. (2 plays)
New hotness, but probably justly so. I like the worker placement with differentiated costs (1 worker for some actions, 2-3 for others). You need to make an early decision about which railroads are important. I like the little bonuses and the many steps that you have to consider when advancing your railroads. The engineers are a little frustrating because they make turn order more important than I want it to be. (2 plays)
This is a lot of game in a little box! The cleverest part is how the cubes are used; they play several roles and a huge part of the game is deciding when to switch them from one role to another. It has an investment aspect and an exploration aspect, so that's also fun. In my mind, this is Navegador: The Card Game. Yay! (1 play)
This is a lovely little area-control game that I am very glad I tried. What I like to call the Gast and Goryon method of card distribution (Gast divides and Goryon chooses!) is indeed clever, unusual and cool, but there's also some very cool stuff going on with the bridges, and the traitor, and the banishment. There are so many different ways to manipulate the board, to make scoring happen when and how you want, that this game offers real depth and a unique feel. (1 play)
Long, and the economy struck me as slightly ridiculous. In spite of that, though, I really liked the game; if you are a fan of building up an economic engine (and I am), this is lots of fun. This game is my impractical crush of mine right now. I know I'd never get it to the table if I did buy it. Sigh... (1 play)
Look, it's Vinci with more art! It's funny how the cluttered board makes the game system seem less intuitive, but in its heart, it's still a brilliantly simple game of timing and deterministic conflict. The predetermined length of the game makes the ending seem more artificial, but it does make the game shorter and keep everyone in it (on the other hand, it also means that the game was, in essence, a tie and victory was less significant). The die--eh. I don't see that it was necessary to remove rules like the contiguity rule, but I guess it didn't make a huge difference. On the whole, about as good as Vinci.Which is to say, it is a really good game. Some of the special rules with various races are a little tricky to get straight (4 plays)
Okay, this is Burkean Parlor: The Game--it simulates coming into a conversation and trying to figure out what everyone is talking about. This is a brilliant idea, and I definitely expect to see the game used to teach composition in the future. As a game--I really like it. It's DIFFICULT to think of the best questions to ask and the right ways to answer. If this is a party game, it's the thinkiest I've ever played. One might call it a social deduction game, but I generally dislike that sort of game and really like this one, because it's not about teams and treachery in the same way that most of them are. (4 plays)
Vaguely reminiscent of League of Six. The things you buy have multiple costs, both of which are paid by going around in a circle to the various locations. That's clever, and so is the turn order mechanism, which is based on actions rather than players. Lots of resource management, and lots of timing strategy. (1 play)
Well, I really enjoyed this. The planning doesn't need to be as exact as in AoS, but that's perfectly fine with me, and, at the risk of sneers from AoS folks, I didn't miss the auctions at all. (2 plays)
I like Suburbia a lot. Although the many combos can get a little fiddly, they're also a lot of what makes the game fun. I think the city-building theme is well-executed, and enjoy the game's sense of humor. The punishment mechanism is pretty harsh but also adds another wrinkle to the puzzle of the game. Good stuff.
What a great little filler! It's like they took the fun part of 7 Wonders and added some neat set-collection concepts and voila! It's a very quick drafting game with adorable sushi artwork. I played it with three, which I think is a good number, because I was able to plan on getting back some of the cards I passed. Still good with more, though.
This totally replaces 7 Wonders as far as I'm concerned.
This is just as everyone else describes it--it's like a cooperative Dixit without the spoken element. I love this idea--there is very much an individualistic, subjective element to figuring out which picture is the most reminiscent of which other picture, and how people have been thinking. I played with the original art; I'm a little skeptical of the new version. (1 play)
This is such a departure from the sort of game I usually look for, and also an amazing amount of fun. It's all about the stories, and the stories are pretty good. I also like how players are free to wander around the world and do their thing; it compares favorably to games like Betrayal at the House on the Hill where eventually you all just have to go to some room and roll dice, which isn't very exciting. In this game you are always doing something interesting and new. Well, as long as you aren't in prison.
The best part? Reading the paragraphs for someone else. That's why it seems best to play with four; you are usually either reading or playing.
There is some ablism in the game, and, you know, I kind of wish there weren't. But it's not enough to put me off the game. (1 play)
What an interesting tile laying game, with what I suppose is really a geological theme. Death and destruction can actually a be good thing. The game is visually beautiful and very clever. It's important to get your buildings out while avoiding running out of huts too soon. Thinking ahead helps--and looking carefully at the board is essential. Very pleasant, very interesting, and on the whole, one of those quasi-abstract games with simple rules but a good amount of depth. Very good.
It's true--this is a monetization of two public domain games, not especially creative, etc. etc. I don't care. It's hilarious. It's great to play this with a friendly/family group where you all feel comfortable mocking each other. And the silliest guesses and worst drawings will be remembered for many games to come. "Look, I know a table chicken when I see one!" Really, what more do you want from a party game? (4 plays)
EDIT: The full version of the game is indeed more interesting than the advanced. I quite enjoy this as a complex game with many things to manage, but it's very easy to get stuck in a place where you cannot easily advance your position (i.e, lack of food). Downtime is still a problem (and there's a limit to how much you can plan ahead when you have so many actions to work with!). Looking forward to playing with two.
Lots going on here--my comprehension level is still kinda low. I like it, though.. although the game is rather Byzantine by Euro standards it seems there is a lot here. I am reminded of Phoenicia.. and Saint Petersburg. I suspect I will prefer the full version of the game.
I am displeased with the components however. And the downtime. Egads, the downtime.
Incredibly simple rules, very quick, highly confrontational and very abstract. There's definitely a level of strategy I have yet to grasp, and a certain amount of variability due to the initial (random) placement of point tiles and palm trees. Lots of things to think about at once, in a way that I really enjoyed. Color choices are poor. Theme is irrelevant. (1 play)
This was a very fun party game. It doesn't require the kind of creativity you need for some of the party games my group has been playing a lot (Say Anything and Cluzzle), which is a relief for uncreative me. It's very funny and highly interactive, with answers building from what other groups have done. It also has the advantages of being easy to understand, highly accessible and playable by any number of people. If I owned it, it would likely be my choice of party games. (1 play)
This is so unusual and so much fun! It's got a great narrative element which integrates smoothly with the cool deductive stuff. I really enjoy both trying to solve the mystery and trying to figure out what to do with it. Plus, I totally want it to be an anime series now.
The set scenarios may limit replayability, however, especially when some people have played before and others haven't. (2 plays)
I need to get this to the table more often! I've only played once so far. It's really about how cards have the potential to do several different things and you have to choose which way to use it. It's been a while since I played, so no more details yet, but it's a cool game and I want to play it more. (1 play)
On the strength of one play, I'm not sure I'm ready to make any kind of insightful comments about this game yet, but I enjoyed it very much. It's a bit like Zertz in that there are several possible winning conditions which involve collecting different combinations, but you also have to remember which pieces can capture which. It's also kind of neat to start with a full board instead of an empty one. (1 play)
Oooh, this is cool. The gears look gimmicky, and I guess it would be possible to have the game without them if you didn't mind making the game RIDICULOUSLY FIDDLY, but not only do the gears save you from that, but also, come one, this board is awesome. The game is pretty cool too. As one might expect, it's a planning game, and a pretty intense one. However, it doesn't feel as stressful to the new player as planning-heavy games often can; it's important to get the people in the right place at the right time, but plans can change, and it's all kind of a balancing act trying to manage it correctly. That's not the whole game, either; there's a tradeoff between resources and points, there's jockeying for position on the god tracks, and especially, there are the special ability tiles which make a huge difference in the game. This is really cool, you guys. (4 plays)
You get a reasonable sense of what the game is like by calling it Hansa-heavy, though of course it is actually still pretty light. As for me, I love pick-up-and-deliver games with a slightly irrational love, and I'm also a big fan of Michael Schacht for games like China and Hansa, so I was eager to try this one. It really does create a pick-up-and-deliver experience in about 60 minutes, including such essential ingredients as a rather inconvenient map and a need to realize what time it is. I really like the way that you can choose your contracts by flipping through the book--it's functionally interesting, not just cute. The way the cities function as roadblocks works to create an interesting map on a small board. Good stuff. (2 plays)
I liked this game more than I expected to. I liked its fluidity--you can move on from civilization to civilization, and your board position can change dramatically from round to round, since you have the freedom to pick up your pieces and move them somewhere else. The civilization powers are very important and I suspect knowing when to pass on one is the difference between an experienced player and a neophyte like me. Combat is very simple and deterministic--helps keep the design clean.
Don't get suckered into being the person who attacks the leader. (1 play)
Very nice, straightforward little economic game with a short play time. It manages to fit a lot of game into a small package. I like the scramble for resources and the subtle inclusion of a bunch of little mechanisms like the tile puzzle, the rondel, and the storage issues in a way that doesn't interfere with the flow of the game. (3 plays)
Well, I played this long after becoming familiar with China and it is mostly the same game. The scoring system makes houses slightly more valuable, probably a good idea. I think I prefer the map in China with its distinct lack of strange island countries. (1 play)
Okay, I know this is a little flavor of the month right now, but I really enjoyed this game (and found it very different from Pillars of the Earth, to which it is technically a sequel). At the beginning of every turn, there is a diamond which the active player can rotate to point in any direction, and this determines which resource each player will start with. I think this is very clever, as is the track associated with it, where the active player can pick up one extra little goody (or penalty). The game also uses events to make sure that the game ramps up over time.
Other than that, the game is all about managing and preventing disasters while also trying to build things up well enough to get points--a genre that I've always enjoyed. It also fixes the problem that Pillars had, where the relationship of resources to points was too direct; there is much more going on here and it is far more interesting as a result. (1 play)
A very unusual auction game in which timing is everything and you can choose to knock your own bid markers off their auctions to get more money. There's also an aspect of the game that involves traveling along the old road to deliver tea back home, while meanwhile avoiding the province inspector, who will send you home if he catches you making too much money. Plenty to think about here. I really liked how original the game was, and I also enjoyed the little puzzle of figuring out where the province inspector would go and how to avoid that. (1 play)
This game is SO WEIRD. But I like it. Less intuitive and more complex than YINSH, this game calls for a kind of thinking that I have seldom engaged in elsewhere. The trick is remembering that your opponent can jump in either direction, and trying to think a few moves ahead. I like this one quite a bit. (3 plays)