My favorite new game of the month. I was a little worried that this game might be too light for my tastes, but I was pleasantly surprised with it's depth. It's no Agricola or Ora et Labora, but the theme worked well for me, had a lot of interesting decisions, and kept me engaged. Both of my game groups, and more importantly, my wife love this game as well. Can't believe I had it in shrink wrap for almost a year.
Lords of Waterdeep
Another fun new game for the month. I originally was on the fence for this one, but pulled the trigger when I saw Amazon only had one more copy. After I bought it, Amazon 'found' 30 more copies. Oh well...
Fortunately, I don't regret the decision at all. The part that I absolutely love about this game is it is so easy to explain. I think I could go over the whole thing in 2 minutes and everyone will have enough knowledge to be effective. It's a little light for my tastes for to consider it a 'top shelf' game, however the rule explanation makes this a constant contender for games I will bring to game nights.
Flash Duel: Second Edition
Flash Duel is a game I got based on a friends recommendation after he read the author's blog on game balance. The game play is probably half strategy, half luck fest, which is something that I usually don't like all that much (I like as little luck as possible with my game, although more than zero!). However, the fact that I can play this game in a few minutes more than makes up for this. Someone else setting up the game? Waiting for people to get food? Whatever the case is, if you need a super fast and fun filler, this is a great game to add to the collection. Apparently, I can handle a lot of luck in very small doses.
I finally got to play this game (well only the first scenario). After playing a lot of tactical miniature games, I was eager to give this a try. My only real complaint is I found some of the action system to be a little too constricting. However, I did enjoy what little of the game we did play, but the verdict is still out on this one. So far, I think it has a lot of potential to be great.
Well - I like it more than Dominion. Of course anyone who knows me knows that is not saying much. I guess I really don't like hand management games all that much. After a while, the theme seems to drip away, and I feel like I am just managing some numbers so that they add up to something else. Not quite my idea of fun.
An "ok" game for me. It's interesting but a little too chaotic. It's so hard to keep track of things that it's usually a tactics heavy game. Things can change a lot and that can be frustrating to long term strategic planner types like myself.
Lord of the Rings
For me, the theme saved this game as I am a big fan of LoTR in general. I got a lot of flak saying this before, but I'll say it again here - I found the game a bit to easy to beat. Maybe after playing our other coops at "nightmare" levels, we have just gotten good at coordinating games such as this.
That said, I did enjoy my time through Middle Earth with this one. I just don't see if this will stand the test of replayability though.
This is almost a non-game for me. The theme almost completely doesn't work, the dexterity aspect is not that interesting, and I think this is one of the few games I played in the last couple years where most everyone was bored after playing it. I really don't see this hitting the table again ever.
♪ Isaäc Bickërstaff ♫
The results of a five yeer studee ntu the sekund lw uf thurmodynamiks aand itz inevibl fxt hon shewb rt nslpn raq liot.
There are two pretty major rules changes to this map. One is that once a connection is built between two cities (or a city and a town), no one else can build a link that connects those two locations. The other is that players aren't allowed to use other players' links to make deliveries. Either rule change tightens up the map significantly, but when you put them both together, it's possible to wind up in a very crushing situation. Get cut off from a connection that you need, and it's going to be very, very hard to get another network going, as the density of track is only going to get worse each turn.
Now, what makes Age of Steam such a hit with me is that sinking feeling of "What the heck am I going to do now?" that comes with the game, and there's no doubt that New Hampshire brings the pain and increases that feeling of dread, so I actually like this map. In fact, this game was almost the first where I went bankrupt for real*, and the only thing that likely saved me from that fate was the fact that the game ended on that turn. It didn't help me much that I never got above a 3-link locomotive, but I had maxed out my shares so early in the game that I simply didn't have the money to start another network somewhere else on the board, and I never turned a profit in the game. But I survived, and it was awesome.
The map might work well for beginners if one removed the "Can't deliver cubes over other peoples' networks" rule, but if you have this map, there's a good chance you have a whole lot of other maps, too, and there are other maps that would work better with beginners. But otherwise, I think I would recommend this for experienced players only, or at least with fewer than five players in the game.
*It's actually happened to me once on the first turn of a teaching game, whereupon we reset the board and played another game, and there was another game where I would have gone bankrupt if someone hadn't spared me by not delivering the cube I needed to remain in the game.
This is another weird map from Ted Alspach (though, really, that's just redundant by this point), where standard production is completely replaced with a system where players turn in the cubes they deliver for cubes of other colors that they immediately place on one city on the board. This by itself would make the game pretty different, but for Ted, that wasn't enough. He also added a rule where standard building costs are doubled (yes, doubled), so players can expect to run up their shares issued fairly quickly, limiting the amount of track they'll be able to build. In fact, like New Hampshire above, I never got above a 3-link locomotive because I never had the money to build track any further, and it seemed like a waste of money to pay expenses for something I would never use.
Now, to accommodate the high cost of expenses on this map, Ted also changed Engineer so that whoever picked that role would be able to pay standard costs for their track builds, and this is where I have an issue with the map. The difference between the cost of track with and without Engineer is pretty significant (with the surfeit of mountains on the board, it can be as much as one share per piece of track), and if you issue shares based on getting Engineer, and don't get it, then you won't be able to do much of anything on your turn. On the other hand, if you issue the shares to account for not getting it, and then get it, you have way too much money and too many expenses. It seems like an unfair balance, and I'm not all that happy with that aspect of the board.
I'd like to play this game again, to see if there are ways around this particular issue (I've played enough Bezier maps to know that what appears to be a flaw in the map winds up being a feature when better understood), but it sure as heck was a strange experience. I had a pretty good second-place position locked in for much of the game, only to see it spiral down into last place, by one point. It was pretty discouraging, but it wasn't just because of that Engineer issue, and I can't really blame the loss on that alone. I just wanted to point that out.
I don't remember how I first heard about this game, but when I did a little research into it, I discovered that folks who like the same kinds of games I do (e.g., Container, Age of Steam, and Wabash Cannonball) had some good things to say about this one, too. I picked up a copy without knowing anything more than that about the game (hey, I did that with Upon a Salty Ocean, too, and discovered what is well on its way to being my game of the year), so I was expecting a lot out of the game. And to be fair, I think there's something to the game that I would like, if I could understand a key part of the game. But right now I'm in this state where I can't see how certain things resolve, and like expropriation in Fresh Fish, if you can't see it, you can't play the game well.
What makes the game stand out is the way that players can give each other gifts to make other players obligated to them for various parts of the game. The most immediate effect is in how opponents who have received a gift from you can't put themselves in a better position than you in a couple of majorities on the board, but the more obtuse effect is in how that will play into the voting when those majorities resolve. If there's a tie among players' majorities in one of the ministry regions, then other players vote for the players to whom they're obligated, but even then, there's an order to the voting that's determined by how senior the officer they control is. It's weird, and tricky, and subject to understanding what's going to change when you attempt to trigger that region's resolution. And right now, I just can't work all that out in my head. When I see it happen, it makes sense, but before then, I just can't envision it.
Now, that's not a terrible thing, and hardly a deal-breaker when it comes to the game. It's just tricky. But there's still an aspect of the game I dislike, and it's somewhat akin to my gripe about interrupt cards which I discussed last month. There are cards you can get in the game which are incredibly powerful, and you can get them relatively easily. It's not like you can just pick them up as an action, but you get them by completing other objectives that you're already going to work toward, and then you also get these fancy cards that can break what other people have been planning for several turns, just because they have the card. It bugs me a bit. I think I can understand why they're in the game (one can potentially get a ton of points off of controlling all three ministries, and most of the cards are for breaking someone's hold over a ministry, and the cards are acquired through the actions that don't involve the ministries), but there are other (admittedly slower) ways to manipulate the ministries,
I'd be interested in trying the game without the cards at all, just to see how it plays without them. I can't see that it would make a tremendous difference, other than removing the certainty that one could place one's own pieces on an official (in the in-game process, it still comes down to voting, which can again be manipulated using the gifts, so there's no certainty), but I feel like one or two games without the cards might be useful by comparison.
Dice are fine. I know some gamers get all rabid and teeth-gnashy when dice are mentioned, but if a game is short enough and allows some thinking to be done over what you can do on a turn, I don't mind if a game is luck-heavy. Mostly. I mean, sometimes even small luck elements in a game seem to have tremendous effects on a game's outcome, so I don't want to make a blanket statement of "I don't mind if a game is luck-heavy" without some context. So no quoting me, okay? This is off the record.
The reason I say this is because I've been known to say that I like dice games, and this is true. Mostly. Even games like Monopoly Express and Martian Dice are somewhat enjoyable. But then a game like A Fistful of Penguins comes along, and I don't really know what to think. I mean, I like some aspects of the game. I like that it's not just a roll-three-times-and-suck-it-if-you-don't-like-the-results game. I like that the different animals on the dice allow for different ways to score points ... er, money. What I don't like, though, is the way the game develops into one without much tension.
See, as you're playing dice, you can spend your penguins to either get more dice to roll or re-roll your dice (again, an aspect to the game that I like). But as you're rolling your dice, you can roll penguins, and if you roll up a whole bunch of them, you can cash them in for more penguins, which you can then use to buy more dice or re-roll your dice. It's not an indefinite thing one can do, since once you set aside rolled penguins for penguins, you can't add them to your pool, but it's something that can happen often in the game, and it seems to remove a good bit of the uncertainty that I think is necessary in a push-your-luck game.*
Also, the game is played over a finite number of rounds, so the last round usually starts with the first player doing the best he can, the next player then saying, "Well, I have to beat X points to beat him," which the next player then says about the previous player, etc. It's a bit anti-climactic, especially if you're the one going first in that last round. I almost wish that the game had a different ending so one could at least strive toward a particular goal throughout the game, instead of it being one last-ditch effort to pull out a win. To Court the King has this characteristic, as well, and while it's also bothersome, the game pulls off the rest of its design well enough for it to not be the heart of the game.
Oh, and the kangaroo chips! I don't understand why those are in the game. Is it a way for players to get more chance to make up for a bad roll earlier in the game? If so, it seems odd to have a random mechanism in the game where, if you roll something on an earlier turn, you get a chance to get some free swag on a current turn. I guess that was intended to give the game some sort of narrative? Maybe? I don't know, but it feels very tacked on, like an afterthought. I think there may have been better ways to develop a narrative in the game, but not being a designer, I'm not sure what that could have been.
The designers have gone on record saying that one shouldn't rate the game unless they play the advanced game, and I'll admit that I haven't done that yet. I plan to, just to see it through and be fair to the design, but at the moment, the best thing I can say about it is that the components are a great value for what you pay for the game. The penguins are acrylic, and the dice are imprinted. A lot of other games have cheaper components and a higher price, so you won't be disappointed with what you get out of the game. That is, unless you're actually hoping for a decent game out of it, too.
*For that matter, I think I just realized why Troyes falls flat with me. The dice element of the game has no tension for me, though the rest of the game seems to create enough to compensate for it. But as it's a game with dice, I think I expect there to be a push-your-luck element to it to add to that tension.
As we were setting up this game, we started cracking wise about some of the similiarities we saw between Hawaii and other games, like Carcassonne: The Castle (the board border scoring track), Pantheon (the feet), Vikings (the player frame), Black Friday (the round tiles with explicit game limits), Stone Age (the island tiles), Age of Empires III (the turn order selection), and even Carcassonne (the 50/100 tiles). At first, it was just something fun to do while setting up the game (because boy howdy, does it take a while), but after a while I realized that the game really does borrow a lot from other games.
Now, that can be good or bad, depending on how well it works. I like Stone Age an awful lot, and Hawaii, though it doesn't use dice and uses a different mechanism for worker placement, has a similar feel to it. Namely, both games require that players balance in-game and end-game scoring, and that both games can greatly reward those who plan for the end-game scoring. I like the way that Hawaii has you trying to manage the different things you want to do on your turns, giving you many conflicting incentives to do those different things. The game also gives you two currencies to manage (three, if you count the fruit, and let me state right now that one shouldn't neglect the usefulness of fruit). Timing is important, and there were several moments during the game where I was trying to figure out how to (a) do the things I wanted to do that turn (b) spending the least amount of money (c) while getting the most points (d) before someone else beat me to the same thing. The choices are good, and the tension feels about right for a game of this weight. So it started off pretty well.
The thing is, how much a particular action on the board costs is determined randomly, as is how many people can use a particular action on that round. There are advantages to going last in one round, and obviously there are advantages to not going last in picking an action, but determining how much currency you'll need to carry over to the next round (and, more importantly, how much you can afford to spend in the current round) isn't known before that round begins. So if the numbers don't come out in your favor on a given turn, you can be hosed, especially if it's the last turn and you need very specific things to carry out your plan.
Hawaii is a quintessential Euro, and I think it will either appeal to you or not based on that characteristic alone. For me, it's strictly in the middle of the road compared to other games. It's a game that's fine enough as it is, but I'm not sure how often I would choose to play it over other games. I'd certainly want to play it again, based on what I learned in that first game, so take that for what you will.
Last Will is a game that's floated around the periphery of my interests since hearing about it last year. It's by the guy who did Shipyard, published by the company that did Through the Ages, but it's also by the guy who did 20th Century, published by the company that did Galaxy Trucker, so it wasn't a sure thing by any means. Luckily, someone else in the group picked it up, so I got the chance to try it out this month.
It's a worker placement game, with the unique take on it having two layers of worker placement. First, you place a marker to determine how many cards you can take, how many people you can place in the next phase of the game, and how many actions you can take once you've placed your workers. Then you place your workers, collect the stuff that your workers earn you, and take your actions. I like the dual-layer worker placement thing, but beyond that, it's a standard optimization game where you want to create some card combinations to speed up your engine and earn the most points. Sort of. Because here, you're trying to spend the money you have, not earn any in the process.
The theme works well to make the game different, but it could have easily been the sort of game where you're earning money instead of spending it, since the winner is whoever goes deepest into debt by the end of the game. It's just a matter of tracking the points in the other direction, and like games that jump the point values up in multiples of x just for flavor, Last Will puts the game engine in reverse just for thematic purposes. But dang it, it works, because it just feels fun trying to spend all your money before everyone else.
The game has some nice tensions, since the worker placement aspect of the game is so tight and limiting. You're going to want more actions than you get, and chances are, you're going to be neck-and-neck with your opponents over the course of the game. The scores in our game were pretty close (-3, -1, -1, and 0), so there was a strong sense of competition throughout the game. I like it, and would be very interested in playing it again.
I haven't played Sumeria yet, so I've refrained from rating that game by itself, but I can see some ways that the base game might differ with more players. In our one 2-player game, we fell into a situation near the end of the game where my best move was in direct opposition from my opponent's, so he undid what I had done on the previous turn. I was OK with it, since it was his best move, but I can see that becoming standard fare near the end of the game if you don't position your pieces well on the board. With more players, I think that problem would disappear, though at the cost of added chaos (I imagine with four players, too much will change between turns).
I also wonder about "best placement" opening moves. It seems like the best opening moves would be placing your piece on the edge between two borders so you could hop back and forth between them to manage the order of the scoring regions. As the game progresses, that might be less important (specifically, as the chains develop), and the usefulness of being in the central city helps create different incentives, but it still makes me curious. I don't see that changing much between 2- and multiplayer games.
All of this rambling, though, is speculation based on one play of the 2-player game. I'd be interested in trying it again with three, but it's still not a game that's begging to get played. I just feel like I should to give the game a fair chance.
Like any game that uses a franchise license, folks who got into the original franchise are going to get a whole lot more out of the game than folks who didn't. It's a lot easier to overlook some disparate elements of a game if it fits in with the theme, so if you don't know the theme, those elements are likely to be a lot more annoying. You can go ahead and presume that I'll be saying the same thing once I get around to playing and reviewing The Hunger Games: District 12 Strategy Game, but I may as well bring it up here, too.
The Walking Dead is basically a survival race game, as players are trying to manage their group of refugees around zombie-infested lands in an attempt to find three safe havens on the board. There's some interaction in the encounter cards, but mostly the players are playing their own games, and one person winning can be dependent on luck. Notice I didn't say "might be dependent on luck"; that's because there are six different random elements to this game. There's the character deck (shuffle, draw one, and start the game with that one), the follower deck (draw one when instructed), the encounter deck (draw one many, many times over the course of the game), the random chit draws (every time you leave a space, place one face-down in that space), and the random die rolls (every time you have to fight a zombie, at least). So the game can be decided by how many followers you get (encounter deck), how good their ability is (follower deck), how hard the encounter is (encounter deck), whether or not you have to fight 2 or 12 zombies (chit pull), whether or not you roll 1 zombie hit on eight dice (die rolls) ... I think you see where I'm going with this. It's just a heavily luck-dependent game, with very little opportunity for actually making decisions. The board fills up quickly, making it much harder to complete your goals as the game progresses, but for the most part, you're going to go toward the easiest location to reach, using the easiest path possible. The rest is entirely unknown.
In some ways, the game is pretty easy. At the start of the game, the board is wide open and easy to traverse, and the rules allow players to find a safe haven more than once in the same location, and even go for another safe haven in the same location without having to leave it first. This might work well with more players, but with lower player numbers, some house rules could help alleviate some of that easiness. In other ways, though, the game is pretty hard. As mentioned above, the board gets more and more infested with zombies, and it gets harder to move around without having to force your way through them. And if you happen to get stuck fighting 12 zombies early in the game, it's possible that you're going to lose all your survivors in one battle. Which would really suck, even if it is thematically correct.
I think the game might meet its potential as a solitaire or cooperative game, and it comes with the rules to play it both ways. Unfortunately, I'm not a big solitaire or cooperative gamer, so I'm afraid I may never see this game meet its full potential. I'll still hold on to it to try it with more players (I can see that becoming something akin to playing Doom on "Nightmare" level), but I don't see myself playing it a whole lot. And I am a fan of the show.
Thunderstone: Doomgate Legion
Thanks to blizzardb for the pictures.
So I had the chance this past month to try out this expansion. I really enjoyed the new disease deck (well...maybe not enjoyed...more like appreciated the new twists). I tried my first game with the recommended set-up (the one in the Doomgate Legion manual) which was a little bit low in difficulty.
As always I like the Jason Engle artwork, and of course it was nice to have a new set of cards to learn.
I was also fortunate enough to have the time to try out a number of promos along with DL.
Specifically I had a chance to finally break out my copies of promo #2 (the dragons) and promo #3 (the werewolves). Both sets of monsters were somewhat challenging. I find I actually like the limits placed on the player by the dragons as they have immunities to attacks by certain classes so it forces one to pay careful attention to the dungeon and make an effort to try to time attacks the right way and of course this forces one to be a bit meta-cognitive about what they have in the discard pile versus what is still left in their deck. Certainly some of the werewolves have serious drawbacks if they breach.
Not a lot of new games, but Thunderstone is one of my favorites so having some expansion material is certainly a welcome addition.
For a longest time, I've always thought I disliked auction games. We've never really enjoyed the auction aspects of non-auction games, so I figured a game of nothing but auctions wouldn't sit well with anyone. Bids started out at paltry amounts as people started tentatively bidding. Nobody was sure how much money they should be parting with, and I wasn't certain that we'd make it to the end of the game at that pace. But after the second round, people got looser with the purse-strings, and bids started creeping up. Much to my surprise, by the end everyone was really enjoying themselves. There's still a part of me that looks skeptically at auction games, but this has certainly opened my eyes to their potential.
I had been looking forward to Last Will for a while, as my wife had been a big fan of Shipyard, although ironically, she still hasn't played this one... I've had the chance to play it with 3, 4, and 5 over the past month and I've really enjoyed each. The theme is a lot of fun, as is announcing every action on your turn with a snooty accent. There are some interesting card combinations to discover, but part of me wonders just how much replayability the game will have in the long run.
Yes, folks, here it is again..!
Acquired about 20 new games this month, and have played 4 so far. Last Will has come out tops with 5 plays, and more to come, no doubt.
Dungeon Petz also came onto the table for the first time this month with three plays. I enjoyed this one very much, although some people say it pales next to Dungeon Lords, which I also bought but have yet to play.
Powerboats notched up two plays and is, most likely, a keeper. A decent balance of luck and choice in the dice rolling, and fun too, with multiple routes around the lakes, random setups and variable difficulty levels.
Lastly, Ice Flow. One play so far, and it didn't really grab us. We'll give it a couple more spins, but this is likely to go onto the trade pile, I suspect.
Let's see how many of the remaining 16 I manage to get through in April...
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
This month, I've played only four new games, as well as one (well, in this case part-of-one) expansion. In a rather strange turn of events, my rating for almost all of them is the same (Timeline: Inventions is the low-rated outlier), so I'll rank the others totally subjectively in terms of my guess as to their relative ratings a year from now. (Though I'll throw the expansion after all the Real Games.) If nothing else, I'll be prepared for the "New to me a Year Ago" list.
The Castles of Burgundy -- (1 play) _7.3_
(images by W Eric Martin & vthor)
It's amusing. Not quite my thing, but there's certainly a game there. My rating could easily go up with more play - or I might equally get dreadfully tired of it. But there's potential there - so it ranks first. So for the moment it gets the Will I like it better or worse with more play? award: I really can't tell.
In principle, though, it's something that could work for my Wednesday Night guys or lovely daughter #1 - so I'd hope it will get to the table at least a few times in the coming year. And if it fails utterly, I can always use some work on my game-selling skills.
New England Railways -- (1 play) _7.3_
(images by buergerberatung & MrUnicorn)
This one, I think, is rated pretty solidly on its first time out. I'd not expect much movement in my regard for it. It's a charming, old-fashioned, not-quite-Serious sensible thing: worth playing, but not worth getting terribly worked up about. I think it gets Least impressive New Edition - because I found the Eagle edition a big step backward in function - and appearance - from my minimalist-but-completely-clear Winsome version.
At this point, I'm not seeing a lot of delta between this and Lancashire Railroads. They seem very similar in play. Yeah; the maps are different - but I (naively!) think the cube draw dominates map topology for decision skew. I'm quite enthusiastic about trying Australian Railroads, since there are a few new rules in that one.
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (Deluxe Edition) -- (1 play) _7.3_
(images by Purple & nadgamgee)
This is a very lovely, attractive, and reasonable game. But it still gets a Highest Ranked game I don't want.. "Why?" You might ask. Simple: I own the non-Deluxe version - and, frankly, it's good enough for me. While I acknowledge that the big one is potentially more interesting, the delta against the Ordinary edition (that I like quite well, and play reasonably often with son #2) is not large enough to make me want to buy this edition.
So, in the end, it's a game that I have very little chance of playing again in the coming year. And so it comes last of the _7.3_ club.
Timeline: Inventions -- (3 plays) _7_
(images by zombiegod & cnidius)
This one definitely gets the Most irrationally high rating for sentimental reasons. This is the bones of the game that my Dad always wanted to create. He always wanted to produce a Biblical themed game where the participants ordered events based on time of occurrence. He'd thought that a Rack-O like thing would work - where each player would be ordering a dynamic set of ten events - but it never quite worked in practice: even his most diligent Sunday School students had a hard time with biblical chronology. But the mechanics of Timeline would have worked for him, I think: he'd've found this totally delightful.
And so I'm finding it amusing, though more because I can see the echoes of what Dad would have thought of it than for its own merits. In this case, there are several events where my children and I howl in outrage (No! That's not when <whatever> was invented!) - but, like, Trivial Pursuit and other imperfectly-researched trivia games - one comes to an accomodation with its vagaries.
Treasure Chest -- (1 play) _7.3_
(images by zefquaavius & EndersGame)
The Treasure Chest contains parts for all sorts of games: in this case, I'm particularly referring to one of the two expansions for San Juan - something I'd had available to me on my phone for a while now, but had never experienced. We didn't go with the other (Events) expansion - so that one is still taunting me from the box. I'd give this a Best designed expansion of the month (despite the triviality of that award this month) because it's a really well designed expansion: A random San Juan player would have no trouble with the new cards: they're all self-explanatory, and (while they do potentially skew one's strategy decisions) don't add any additional mechanical weight to the base game.
Thanks again to my youngsters, my brother and his family, the BAP attenders, the no-longer-on-Friday Lunch folk, and the I've been diced gang for some great game experiences this month.
Every Man a (K-State) Wildcat!
"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
Because the Geek is acting up, I'm going to keep this brief.
Best Game: Asia Engulfed.
An awesome block game covering the Pacific theater in WWII. It's a step up in complexity and longer play time than Pacific Victory (another fine block game). But it is far easier and briefer than Empire of the Sun (the king of PTO games). It really hits a sweet spot. I love the way resources are divided into transport points, building points, and oil points. I also like that you do not have to follow a historical replacement schedule. Rating: 10.
Other games I played for the first time (with ranking):
EastFront II - 7
Robber Knights - 7
Melee - 7
Wizard - 7
All Things Zombie: The Boardgame - 4
"Ma! They done killed Rando!"
The Narrow Winner -- I'm quite taken with Core Worlds, which I liked enough to trade for a copy. However, I've only played it once, so this is just a gut feeling.
Honorable Mention -- I played Rails of New England three times. And I like it, but I don't think it will hit the table often. A bit too long, and too similar from game to game.
Honorable Mention -- Triumvirate. I played three games of this and enjoyed it as a nice filler.
Mention -- Duel in the Dark was too dry.
Dishonorable Mention -- Miskatonic School for Girls is terrible.
Light month for me, just one new game. So the winner is
Preliminary rating: 7
Dice driven racing game, where the winner is the person with the shortest time, rather than who crosses the line first. Each time you end your turn, you get an amount of time depending on what gear your car is in, 10 seconds for 5th gear, 20 seconds for 4th gear, 50 seconds for 1st gear etc. Each dice you throw is assigned to a specific gear, and can only be used once each turn. Thus, it's the way you use your dice that determines how fast you are.
For example, one player might go through a corner by using dice 5-4-3-2-1, ending in 1st gear for 50 seconds. Next turn he goes 1-2-3-4-5 for 10 more seconds, or 1 minute total for those two turns. A different player might go through using 5-x-x-4-3 for 30 seconds (x is coasting, you can do it twice per turn), then 2-3-4-5 on his next turn for 10 more seconds, and only 40 seconds total, 20 seconds faster than player 1. He hasn't travelled as far as player 1, but if he maintains ending turns in 5th gear etc, he'll be faster overall.
I like Rallyman a lot, it's not a pure luckfest, while there is a luck component to the game, it's pretty small. The winner is almost always the person who chose the "best line" through the course.
A LOT of New to Me games for March! Went to a game fest in Kearney, Nebraska the first weekend in March, and tried out a ton of new games.
Picked this up for under two bucks out of pocket thanks to winning some gift certificates at GameFest. Saw it on the geek, figured I better try it out, and I'm so glad we bought it.
This was just received in the mail on Friday. Bought it off Tanga. Great game. Love the combination of role selection and deck building. Race for the Dominion so to speak.
Starfarers of Catan
A used copy was for sale at Gamefest, so had to pick it up. I wasnt' disappointed in the slighted.
Only got to play a quick game of this before we left to come back home. I have to get my own board eventually.
Ca$h 'n Gun$
Had a blast playing this with nine people (three Yakuza). Pointing orange foam weapons at others is a very wholesome experience.
For a light game to play on a Saturday morning, this did wonderfully.
Tigris & Euphrates
Bought this on the iPhone for $0.99 on sale. Haven't played a physical copy yet.
Same as Tigris, bought it for $0.99, glad I did.
The Bottle Imp
Won this at GameFest, hadn't played it until this weekend. Really fun game, I was surprised.
Didn't get to finish Stone Age, but enjoyed it. May go up in ranking after another play.
I liked it, Ashley did not.
Nice game, nothing I'd want to play all the time, but fits a niche.
Kittens in a Blender
Friend picked this one up. Ashley is more focused on saving ALL THE KITTIES than trying to win.
Fun social game, just never have enough people to play it.
Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age
Good game, looking forward to playing it again. I'm noticing that my reviews are getting shorter the farther this list goes on.
Nice sports game. Underrated.
Interesting game for younger crowd. I like the mechanics of the river and the waterfall in the game.
One of the first games we played there. Fun with four people.
Mr Jack just really didn't do it for us. Seemed to go too quickly.
Really didn't care for this. The combination of deckbuilding with M:TG seeming casting (chaining?) just didn't do it for me.
If your friend asks you to play this, rethink your friendship.
Board Game: Luna
[Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:284]
Finally got a few games that have been in our collection unplayed for a while to the table, a great month for new (to us) games.
Luna - By far my favourite. Played it three times in three weeks, and loved every game. It felt like a fresh take on worker placement (or... Sort of worker placement...), had lots of interesting ways to earn points and different aspects to focus on. Absolutely beautiful production too. It's our first Stefan Feld game too, and there will be more in the future for sure!
Airlines Europe - Finally. Have had this one for a long time now. And it was a huge hit with everyone. My wife was worried it would be too Ticket to Ride-ish (one of her favourite games by the way) but it isn't at all. It was a fairly tight game, but I managed a win due to being the first to go for the Air Abacus shares.
SmileyFace - I've played this three times now, and I love it a lot. The production is not to my taste (and I hear it originally had a different theme, though I forget what it was) but the game is really fun. We don't have many 'take that' style games in our collection, and so this is one of the meanest games we own. My wife didn't love the way things change so quickly, she prefers games with more control. But I think we all had fun with it anyway.
Hike - Bought specifically to play at work where they prefer light, straight forward games, this probably won't get much (if any) play outside of that. But, the folks at work enjoy it, and have requested it a couple of times. Kind of a slightly more complicated Uno, it's enjoyable, though not my first choice.
Mow - Another work specific game. Also simple, though I prefer this one to Hike. Plays quick. One of my work mates enjoyed it enough to order a copy (along with Smileyface and Parade - her first game order).
Cartagena - My wife won a copy of this at our local game group. Though we probably wouldn't have bought it, it is clever and fun (and quick). We don't have any great race games in our collection yet, and this will do in the mean time. It was a little dry for my liking though.
Ticket to Ride - Legendary Asia - Great map. I managed to get stuck with the only long ticket that cut from one side of the map to the other and was royally boned. Looking forward to playing more of it. I liked the train graveyard too.
Ticket to Ride - Asia - The team game was a brilliant idea, and really well executed. It's hard to not tell your teammate what you want them to be doing! It was the quietest and most thoughtful game of Ticket to Ride I think I've ever played. Looking forward to more!
You want to know something? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all.
5 new games this month. Happy to pull out some great older games.
Keltis: Das Würfelspiel: Yes, it was just a dice version of a beloved (card-turned-) board game. But hey, I really love Ra: The Dice Game. Reiner did a great job keeping so close to the spirit of Keltis and it kept many of the touch-points. I would’ve preferred a box more in the shape of the recent Mitbringspiels, but at least it’s not as big as Ra: The Dice Game. Fun, short, and the expansion board on back is great.
THE REST (most liked first)
Indigo: Yes, it’s Reiner’s take on Tsuro, but it’s streamlined and elegant. (Er, isn’t it what he does best?) I may have to fire Tsuro now.
Dragon Rampage: A different type of dice game. Some neat area influence things going on. I just haven’t really thought about it since I played.
Alcatraz: The Scapegoat: A neat semi-coop pick-up-and-deliver game. The shifting alliances made for a really unique experience. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t set well with me since playing.
Pizza Theory: It’s a pleasant, abstract-y game. Pretty simple. Huge box. Just a little punishing if you make a bad move.
Board Game: Québec
[Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:710]
There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
Very good month for gaming and for trying new games. Many of these were played at Mike's Micro Meet.
Best New Game:
Québec (Philippe Beaudoin & Pierre Poissant-Marquis, 2011) 8.5/10
First and foremost a mid-weight euro, BUT, focusing on the 400-years of Quebec City, it has a lot more historical theme than most euros. If you read the designer diary you can see how the historical theme drove some of the rule details and the theme is present in a very detailed way in the production too: each of the many gorgeously illustrated building tiles is an actual historical building in Quebec City.
The game design is innovative and the alternative strategies are appealing to think about. There is a spatial "network" aspect, an area majority aspect, and a "construction of buildings" aspect. But add to that two overlapping layers of optionally helping others on their buildings: for an ability perk, and for investment in the area majority. And on top of all that there are special ability cards and event cards. And then finally there's arguably the most original mechanic in the game, a winner's perk of cascading down to the next area majority zone of influence.
A very interesting game. I know it's still early (published Nov. 2011) so I can't really call it "underrated" yet as people are still discovering it, but so far it does seem to have been flying a bit "under the radar" (perhaps due to lesser-known designers?), so I hope it gets decent exposure at this year's cons and festivals so more people get to try it.
Offerings (Cédric Lefebvre, 2010) 8.5/10
Awesome theme: animal sacrifice to the ancient gods in the setting of the Peloponnesian War (probably why this was never released in America ).
It's a "pure" auction game, if you find games like Ra and Fist of Dragonstones too repetitive, you will probably think the same of this. Otherwise, this is a highly recommended mid-weight auction game to explore.
Some "different" things make it interesting:
-Fixed income, but variable number of auctions.
-Animal types are piece-limited, and the bank WILL run out of them.
-7 different characters that give you different things, each with advancement ladders. Only one person can be at the "top" of the ladder at a time though so you have to plan carefully to not get knocked off or waste money on a bid only to get knocked off right away.
Amazingly this was self-published. You'd never guess from looking at it. The Drachmae currency are not only visually "ancient" but even irregularly shaped, talk about going the extra mile. The art is extraordinary, with a rich, full color palette; it all has a luxorious look to it.
Strasbourg (Stefan Feld, 2011) 8.5/10
My 2nd favorite Feld behind Luna. Mid-weight medieval guild-themed game involving auctions, spatial placement, a bit of economy, and hidden goals. Typical Feldian interlocking clockwork mechanisms with an unusual approach (one might say a "blind bidding" approach) to allocating one's bid cards for each round. The bidding deck is the heart of the game and I still haven't quite figured it out in my two plays so far. Plays very smoothly.
This game now convinces me that Feld is one of the best if not THE best designer of this decade, the way he keeps cranking out gem after gem, he is at the top of his game.
The Manhattan Project (Brandon Tibbetts, 2012) 8.5/10
This one seems to be so brand spankin' new there aren't even any good close-up photos of it in play.
Light-hearted game of atom bomb building in the 1940s. Kind of a hybrid euro/ameritrash; I've played other such hybrids, like Fire & Axe and Bootleggers, but this is really the first hybrid worker-placement game I've tried. It's got the euro worker-placement strategy influences but with a strong dose of theme-mechanism connections (bombers that can destroy buildings, nations with appropriate special powers, espionage, etc) and of course (appropriate given the theme) much more confrontational than most euros.
What stuck out for me is the unusual game rhythm (no rounds, rather, you keep putting workers out until you're out and have to recall all of them) and different categories of workers (laborers, engineers, scientists).
Art design is awesome in a 1940s retro/propoganda style, reminds me of the art from Fallout minus the sci-fi parts. Overall production is very high quality and sturdy, the worker chits are seriously practically bricks, I've never seen such thick chits. Strangely, nowhere on the box nor on the rules could I find where it was made, which I had thought was a legal requirement.
Other Great New Games
Arkham Horror (Charlie Krank, Richard Launius, Sandy Petersen & Lynn Willis, 1987) 9.2/10
I got to play the original flavor Arkham plus the never-released 1989 expansion Return to Arkham. This was a spectacular PNP set that included extensive graphics reworking. The photo on the right is the actual set I played.
Note the high rating; but, I didn't feel I could allow it to get any of the top honors because it's not technically completely new-to-me, since I've played the FFG many times; this is more a variant/pre-implementation. There were some interesting differences, for example the profession was separate from the investigator card. The epic story-telling quality of the game still shines in this version just as well as the FFG though.
Dixit Odyssey (Jean-Louis Roubira, 2011) 8.5/10
This one feels more like an expansion to me because I've played both Dixit and Dixit 2, but it's a stand-alone that handles up to 12 rather than the 6 of the original, so I'm putting it here. No real change to the game-play, just more art (this one in kind of a steampunk direction). Having only played the original 5 times, I'm not in a rush to get this yet. Nice art though and eventually I'll probably get it due to the increased capacity. The pegs fit fine. Still can't believe I didn't get the "unexpected journey" clue for the card on the right...
Good New Games
Guillotine (Paul Peterson, 1998) 6.8/10
This was on my "owned-but-uplayed" new years resolution list. I got 2 plays in. Light-hearted take-that card game about collecting heads during the French revolution. This seems to be a month of politically-incorrect themes, what with head-collecting and building atom bombs and sacrificing animals to the ancient gods. This one is a relatively simple filler, art is great (cartoony), names of the actions and nobles are clever. Highly recommended for its niche.
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre (Cory Jones & Rob Heinsoo, 2012) 6.5/10
Winner of longest-game-name-of-the-month :-)
If you feel like an ameritrash filler card/dice game, you will like this. You get to create spells. Minimal strategy, more for when you are just in the mood for a rollicking good time casting crazy spells at each other. The art is cartoony in a very distinctive way, I think maybe remeniscent of Crumb? Played with 4 which I think is the most I'd want to play with (I think it's ~15 minutes or so per player).
OK New Games
Elementalis (Justin Fitzgerald & Robert C. Kalajian, Jr., 2006) 6.2/10
Another spell-casting dice game. This one is less cartoony and silly than Epic Spell Wars, and it felt slightly more abstract and dry, but was still enjoyable. It focuses on the different types of Magic mana. I wouldn't seek it out to buy it, probably wouldn't suggest it, but I'd happily join a game if others wanted to play.
Mord im Arosa (Alessandro Zucchini, 2010) 6.2/10
Kind of a "dexterity game for the ears." It's themed around a hotel murder-mystery, and you have to try to listen how far down the hotel tower the cubes drop (it's kind of like a Wallenstein/Shogun type cube tower but they don't drop into a tray at the bottom). OK as a filler now and then. Play it far away from any other ongoing games though, like in a back room with the door closed, as you need as much quiet as you can get to hear the cubes drop.
Conquest of Paradise (Kevin McPartland, 2007) 5.8/10
I was kind of "meh" on this. This was my first 4X game, so I'm not sure if I'm not that into 4X games or this game specifically.
The theme is Polynesian indigenous tribes building up their empire, exploring islands, building canoes, training warriers, and conquering others.
Pros would be that it's an original and interesting theme, and the theme is very well researched and communicated, with all kinds of background info. Also the game does have kind of an epic feel. The score is fluid (re-calculated at the end of every round and can drop), which was interesting.
Cons would be that my choices just didn't seem to be that interesting; my exploration islands happened to be strong, so it seemed obvious to just go settle those islands and build up defenses. Also the very few battles that happened in the game (only 2) felt like we had suddenly been transported into a Risk-style dice fest, which felt kind of anticlimactic after the build up of the rest of the game.
Lupus in Tabula (Domenico Di Giorgio, 2001) 5.2/10
A Werewolf game. I'm not a huge fan of Werewolf but I will play now and then. I prefer the illustrations here to the harder-to-decipher stylyzed ones in The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow. And this one has a were-hamster!
Family Fluxx (Andrew Looney, 2005) 4.8/10
My first Fluxx of any sort. Got in 5 games of this.
OK for a filler. My preference for this sort of game would be We Didn't Playtest This at All; I like the little random activities they have in that one, in addition to the randomly changing goals.
Best New Expansion
Catan: Event Cards (Klaus Teuber, 2005)
I was very happy with these.
The deck removes the weird resource streaks you can get with dice, while still having a dice-approximate bell curve and also having a decent amount of chaos from the events. A lot of the events seemed kind of beat-on-the-leader IIRC, which I suppose is fine for a gateway game like this. So there's even more of a catch-up mechanism.
All these months later, I realized I forgot to log (and thus include on this list) my game of Crokinole. I'm not big into dexterity games, but this was a lot of fun and the board is very impressive in person, much larger than I had expected. It was a Mayday board that had been waxed up. It's a shame that most of the board was so impressive because some parts (interior of walls I believe) of it you could see shoddy workmanship, that detracted from the nicer parts; also the score holes were uselessly too small. Also it would be nice to have a mark on the pieces to differentiate the rough from the smooth side b/c I had to constantly test each one out. Other than that, it was a blast and I give it a 6.8/10 (very high for me for a dexterity game).
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I played 6 non-kids games in March that were new to me:
Airlines Europe- 8/10
Airlines Europe is one of the better stock market themed games I've played yet. It was less complex than I was expecting, but the decisions are meaningful, and I appreciate the importance of the spatial aspect of the game. It was a lot more like Ticket to Ride than I had thought it would be, with the same feeling of racing to cut off routes that other people are building as they are in the process of trying to increase the stock value of certain airlines. I wouldn't say the game exceeded my expectations, but it certainly met them, and I'm looking forward to bringing this out again soon.
Rattus - 8/10
I love area majority games, El Grande being one of my favorites. Rattus feels a bit like El Grande light, and packs a lot of gaming goodness into 45 minutes. I just played the vanilla version with no expansions but liked this one well enough to buy the Pied Piper expansion soon after. I like the way a special role card can be taken each round, and how the game self balances between the various powers as the roles people think are the best get taken away from other people the most. It can feel a tad chaotic with the random distribution of the various rat tokens that may or may not affect the cubes in their region, but it doesn't bother me too much. I see myself pulling this out with people new to the hobby a lot.
Montage is a unique word game in that none of the components feature any letters or words of any kind, outside of the player aids. It’s a racing game of sorts where each team of two is trying to get the majority within four different areas before the other team can. The longer the length of the words chosen for players to guess, the faster the spaces fill up. I really like the amount of player interaction and the way everyone is involved all the time. The only slow spots are when players have to think up words for the other players to guess.
I’ve played Trans Europa before and the America version doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It’s a great, solid little gateway game, but there are so many better connection games out there.
Pizza Theory - 5.5/10
I was a little disappointed with Pizza Theory. It's a quick 3-player game, but even at 15 minutes, the winner appears to be decided a few turns before it ends, making it drag a bit. It doesn't feel like the players have that much control as it's impossible to guess what your opponents are going to do and how it will affect how the pizza is divided. This game is very well produced though!
Shoot Out - 5.5/10
I got this 2-player filler with the Going Cardboard documentary. It’s a cute little game of chicken that’s all about timing – when to spend the black bullets, when to spend the more accurate red ones, and when to just march closer to the enemy. It’s simple, and fairly quick, but I don’t see the replayability being that high.
A very light month for new games for me.
I've wanted to play 7 Wonders: Leaders for a long time, and I finally got the chance this month. Having gone through the card lists, it was pretty much what I expected, adding a bit more strategic planning to the likeable base game.
Take it Easy! is the simpler predecessor of Cities; it's a true multiplayer solitaire. The more limited puzzle aspect didn't retain my interest as much, but it's pretty harmless.
Magnum Sal is the Polish game about salt mining; it's rather tactical but had some interesting positive interaction delving underground. I'd be reluctant to play it again over old favourites, but I might give in.
Zendo fan, Columbus Blue Jackets fan, Dominion Fan. These are 'permanent microbadges' to free up space on my microbadge row
I had three new-to-me games, one newly logged (but not new) game and one new Unpublished Prototype. I don't consider newly logged or Unpublished Prototype games for best new game of the month, so I had three games from which to select best new.
I'd say it's pretty much a toss-up between Mousquetaires du Roy and Nuns on the Run, so I gave Nuns on the Run the edge for its weird theme.
A summary of the new games in alphabetical order:
Mousquetaires du Roy - A cooperative game which plays out the Three Musketeers story. It can be played one-v-many or fully co-op. In fully co-op mode, which we played, the other side plays in auto-pilot. The rules have a lot of rough edges, but there seems to be a decent game hiding in there somewhere. There is a FAQ, so maybe that smooths over some of the rough edges.
Nuns on the Run - A game in which all but one of the players are novices at a convent, with the other person playing the nuns running the convent. A novice player wins by achieving a secret objective. The nuns win by catching a certain number of novices outside of their cells (based on number of players), or by preventing the novices from winning within a given number of game turns. Novice movement is secret, similar to Scotland Yard. Nun movement is semi-programmed, reminiscent of Break the Safe but with more flexibility and the ability to break off the path if the nun sees or hears something. It was fun, but my character was pinned down for most of both games we played, so that gives me pause.
Slapshot - A card game in which the players are hockey GMs and the cards are hockey players. Each hand of cards is a team, and players variously improve their teams and challenge the other players to hockey games. At the end, there's a playoff between the two winningest teams to determine the champion. It was okay, but it seems to be a game in which the winning strategy is "have good cards."
By the way, the newly logged (but not new) game was Magic: The Gathering. First play in at least 15 years.
Baseball been bery bery good to me
This is a picture of a published game designer
I got to play several new games this month.
This is a worker placement/area control game. The game is not hard to play, and functions well. When I saw the board made of 72 degree pieces, I immediately thought of Notre Dame, but where Notre Dame has dull ugly art, Belfort has beautiful art. One rule gripe: Gnomes are wooden pieces like Dwarves and Elves, and you place them on cards like Dwarves and Elves. Dwarves and Elves are workers but Gnomes are not workers. I guess they are managers
This game was better than Belfort. Belfort is good, where Nefarious is great. Nefarious might be a OMG this could be game of the year. I love simultaneous selection, which this uses to reasonable effect. It's a resource gathering building game. It has a bit of engine building. But sadly, I didn't draw an early game invention until my seventh invention card, and by then it was too late. Without a rule to deal with the starting inventions, the game is fatally flawed.
Sheeple (Unpublished Prototype)
A party game, largely drawing from Facts in Five, with a board reminiscent of Snakes and Ladders. (Not in a bad way.) It has elements of Dixit, Time's Up! and other party games. To me it had a feel a little like Battle of the Sexes. (Not in a bad way.) This will probably succeed.
Formula Motor Racing
Car racing game. It's a lot like Tiki Topple. Cards move you up, cards move you down. Nothing special.
A set of fascinating (round) cards. There are 57 cards, each with eight symbols. Any two cards share exactly one symbol. There are rules for five or six silly party games based on the deck.
Another silly deck of round cards, but these cards are plainer. There are seven color words, and each word is in one of the seven colors. Perception stretcher.
And two games I had played before:
Infernal Contraption 2: Sabotage!
I never played this with the expansion before. I actually bought it with the expansion, but I was playing other games. It didn't hurt the game, but I don't know that it was better. It's still a fun game of strategy and silly effects. With the expansion there were too many cards for three players.
A new edition of an old...um...an old...um...proto-Euro? In 1991, this game must have been awesome. By the time I played it, I had already played Power Grid and Catan and Caylus and Puerto Rico, and Outpost was clearly inferior and less polished than those. Now they have reprinted it, but it's the same game. I would be happy to playtest the further development of this game, but it still feels undone. Pet peeve that they didn't fix: A Lab is not a Laboratory and a Laboratory is not a Lab. If the Laboratory power does not apply to the Lab, then one of these cards needs to be renamed.
Ah, yes. This is the latest hyped game on BGG. But you know what? It's actually a good game. D&D is only the theme, this is a eurogame through and through. And not a very original one either. But it plays fast and plays well, it's fun and it seems to offer different paths to victory. Played twice and already itching to play again!
The other contenders were (rated using the Opinionated Gamers scale):
Kingsburg - Played the digital (Java) version of this a number of times, but this was the first time with cardboard. Good game, I like the dice allocaiton mechanism and the different strategies based on the buildings.
Coney Island - Didn't have much of an idea about strategy in the first game, but still had fun. Would love to play again to try and do better next time.
Drum Roll - Unique and pleasant artwork, original theme. The game itself is a fairly standard worker placement thing where you have to carefuly manage your resources. Good enough for a replay.
Pinguin Party - ok filler
Saboteur 2 - I like the original better, too many teams
Not for me:
Familienbande - Fun idea, but too luck-dependent
Villa Paletti - Dexterity games are not for me
And then there was the previous big hype, Eclipse. Hard to rate after just one game, at the moment it falls somewhere between Like it and Neutral for me. Would definitely play again. I think it ends up being I like the gameplay, but the length makes it a Neutral. I think 4X games are not my favourite genre.
That one not so much
Ohh that tickles
I feel like I am cheating as this months number one is almost the same as last month.
As seems to happen every month I played 7 new to me games again this month. No real stinkers this month, even played a pretty abstract area control game that I did not hate.
Last month saw a surprise (to me anyway) number one game in Top Race. In fact I enjoyed it so much, I bought a different game.
Top Race and Detroit Cleveland Grand Prix are nearly the same game just a few minor rule changes. I got Detroit rather than Top Race for a couple of reasons. A couple of my gaming group who had played both said they enjoyed Detroit more and it was available in English while Top Race was only available in German.
I think it’s a very fun racing game. It won’t replace Turfmaster as my favourite racing game, but sure to see many more plays.
I enjoy Medici a lot and have been wanting to play this for quite a while. One of my gaming buddies who is a huge Knizia fan does not like this very much, so I was not sure how it was going to go, but I really enjoyed it. I’ve played it a couple of times already and I think I like it more than Medici.
I’m not sure that I would call it an auction game though. Everyone has three tokens, one of which is a pirate token. Ships are made available and the option to own the ship passes around the table. If any player plays their pirate token they get the ship and anything associated with it, otherwise the first player to put one of thier other tokens on it gets the ship. The other tokens either give you +1 to the speed of the ship (fast ships earn points) or an extra good depending on where the ship docks. (Goods earn points).
If it’s not an auction game, what is it? I think of it as a timing game, as your success is down to when during the round you use your tokens. Is there such a genre as timing games?
I acquired both this and Strozzi from a UK discount book chain called The Works, and both have proved very good value. It’s a worker placement game. Your workers are servants and they move around the palace gaining you various advantages as you try to recruit the nobles having a walk in the gardens.
It reminds me a bit of Notre Dame as you get money, servants and movement based on having servants in certain parts of the palace. You also don’t start with all of your servants but you can get more by recruiting some of the nobles.
There really is not much to choose between games 4 to 7. I enjoyed them all without thinking any of them were that special.
This was Donald X Vaccarino’s other Essen release. I’m sure most of you know I love Kingdom Builder. Would I love this as much? It’s number 4, so obviously not.
It was enjoyable and it is simple and quick, but somehow it did not quite grab me like Kingdom Builder did. Although it has DXV’s built in variable condition they don’t seem to fit in as well as in Kingdom Builder and Dominion. They seem more like they were bolted on at the end of the design rather than being an integrated part of the game.
You could quite easily play Nefarious with out the game changing cards, (Not my game and I don’t remember what they were called) and it would play perfectly well. Try taking the Kingdom cards out of Kingdom Builder.
One of my geek buddies knowing I enjoy race games recommended this to me, and it’s OK. I found it to be a fun game to play, with plenty of laughter as we played. However I did not feel a great desire to play it again when we finished.
The game is a bit too simple and linear. The player who finished first around the board actually finished third in the game. The event cards seem to have slightly too much random impact on the game.
I had played this on Yucata, but as I played it without ready the rules, it was interesting to find out how it actually plays.
I found a game that is perfectly suited for Yucata play, but lacks a little something for face to face plays.
I feel this must be a much better game than 7th place makes it look. I say that because it is a very abstract game of Cathedral building which uses area majority as its main game mechanic. I really like my games dripping with theme and I don’t like area majority games.
One of my gaming buddies asked if I had to be tied down to play this game? The fact that I actually enjoyed it, says a lot for it. So if you are looking for a fairly abstract 2 player area majority game, you really should look at this.
If you have some sanity left...
...come and join me in the tavern I buy you a mug of beer.
So 5 new games for me this month. A bit of a doubt about the winner as best game for me this one. Most games where rather high on my to play list and two games stick out in a good way:
1. Claustrophobia: really like how the game looks and works. But I didn't complete the game I played and I found there was high deal of dice rolling involved. Not that I dislike dicerolling, I rather like dicerolling but at a moment I was having the idea that there wasn't anything else to do.
2. Order of the Stick Adventure Game: The Dungeon of Dorukan. Got this one as a gift through the holiday season from a fellow geek and being a big fan of the series really liked it a lot. But here you need to realize you play it for the love of the comic and not so much because it's such a solid game. But since I got to finish it and have a little less doubt I will bring this one up for my best new game off the month with a very close second place for.
That was it for the goods, now let's move on to the okays:
Well, at the beginning of the month we where on a short trip with a couple of friends and I introduced their 8 year old daughter to Zooloretto Mini. I rather like that one but never played the big one, seeing the fact that their daugther liked the game I suggested they come to a gaming club to try out the big version. So I also got around to play the big one. Well nothing much different between them, a bit more options but I like the mini version as well.
Evolution: The Origin of Species
It's just not in the dissapointments group but I wasn't impressed either. Really loved how the game looked and how the system worked, but when playing it it was rather boring. I do want to give it another go but this time with more then 2 players though.
Mansions of Madness
As a big Call of Cthulhu (RPG) and Arkham Horror fan (as well as my wife) I was really looking forward to play this one. And altough it wasn't bad it wasn't my kind of thing. To be honest we did make a mistake and the keeper had the wrong set of cards for the scenario we where playing but even that wouldn't really mattered to become a good game. I just had the general feel that this was just Call of Cthulhu (RPG) light without the roleplaying. I pass and run an RPG session any day over this game.
Board Game: Topas
[Average Rating:5.55 Overall Rank:8771]
Only two new games for me this month: Topas which I'd acquired in one of the European Chains of Generosity
I played it with my daughter, it's neat and quick. The travel edition is well designed for its purpose so I think it may well end up permanently in the car. The only downside is that it will only accommodate 4 players, and there are 5 of us.
We also played White Elephant a couple of times, with 5 and 6 players. We didn't play it quite right the first time, the rules were not entirely clear and assumed you knew what happened in these situations in real life! It was ok, without being world-beating, and some of the presents and recipients were quite amusing. There are probably better party games, but it was ok - even if I am damning it with faint praise!
I can show you anything, on my belly belly belly screen. Skyscrapers! Taxicabs! Traffic Lights!
5 new to me games this past month.
Nuns on the Run
FUN. You play as either the abbess and prioress (hunters) or a novice trying to escape being caught while collecting a set of keys, a 'secret wish' and back to your room.
If you like Scotland Yard, you'll really like this hide-and-seek experience.
I played this excellent game 9 times in March (8 solo, and 1 2player), and can't wait to try again. A very tense experience to get all your door cards out while dealing with 'nightmare' cards before the card stack runs out.
A tough game - I've only won 3 times so far, which seems about right. There are 3 built in expansions to add, which I'll have to try next.
Actually Hollywood Blockbuster earlier version. Great auction game that plays fast with simple to pick up rules.
A very neat area majority game with lots on the board to look out for. The board looks very nice, but the colours! Very easy to lose track of where your cities are, and the workers are tiny, really tiny. But a good game overall I'd like to play again.
A surprisingly fun game of building expedition routes to visit animals around the world. All players attempt to steer the expeditions to their will and delay opponents.
An OK tile laying experience that we likened to playing Carcassonne, but with roads only. Very chancy, and with really too many worker cubes to place. There isn't too much tension in waiting for the best places to put your cubes, as you're never going to run out.
Western Burbs of Beantown
Picked this up last month and we've really liked it. I typically like games like this though. I like that it plays fairly quickly, rules are fairly easy to grasp and remember, there is some variability, and can be played with 2-4 players. It is easy to set up and put away. There is a good amount of strategy, more so than at first glance.
If you typically like games with dwarves, monsters, dice, explosions, demons, battles, etc this might not be your kind of thing. I wouldn't call it exciting but it is an enjoyable "thinking" kind of game.
Board Game: Hawaii
[Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:344]
Hawaii - 4 plays -
It is both a really nice-looking game and a fun game. In our 4 plays, the game was always decided by the end game scoring, so it is exciting until the end. The game definitely reminds of the game Vikings, but it is different enough that you could own both.
Dixit 2 - 1 play -
This game is really fun. I was a long time sceptical because usually I do not like party games that much. But this one is really good. The mechanic is similar to the game nobody is perfect, but it can be played faster, and nobody has an advantage through knowledge. Also, you can play with the same cards in play more than once, because what is the right answer depends on the person who played the card and cannot guess himself.
Troyes - 1 play -
From our one two-player game we cannot tell yet if we really like this game. It seems to be really good, but somehow it does feel a bit dry. In our game we usually only bought dice from the neutral player. It might be more exciting if one also tries to figure out what the opponent is planning and buy those dice that he would need. We will probably try it again soon.
Kontor - 1 play -
We only played the base game. It seems there is a lot of luck involved with drawing the tiles. But at the same time, it feels like an abstract game, there is no real theme. Maybe the expert game is better. We will probably give it another try.
Asara: Das Haus des Flaschengeistes - 1 play -
It offers the possibility to use another action which might already be blocked by other players, but you have to pay for it.
Asara: Die Gaben des Kalifen - 1 play -
Improves certain action spots by adding one additional action each round. In fact, these action spots seem to become so strong that you will usually use them before any additional actions can accumulate.
Atlantis: Boat Expansion - 3 plays -
The boats act like personal bridges. If other players want to use them, they have to pay you half of the costs they would pay to the bank.