Board Game Gumbo

Ruminations on board games and board gaming in the Deep South, with a Louisiana flavor.

1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »  

Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #50: Maniacal, 7 Wonders: Architects & Crash Octopus

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, it’s our 50th Roux Dat post! Big thanks to all who have checked out our first impressions of games hitting the table!

Board games on the table have been few and far between lately. But here and there, I have been able to sneak a few new-to-me games, and we’ve been lucky to play some good ones!

I always try to play games in January from 2019-2020 that I may have missed along the way. Have you caught up to any games you missed recently? Let us know.

Speaking of new games, here is our first impression of three games we played this past month, but I would love to hear what you played! Hit us up on Twitter @boardgamegumbo or leave a comment on Facebook or right here.

Enough blather, let’s get to those three games! This month, we are taking a look at Maniacal, 7 Wonders: Architects and Crash Octopus. Have we ever featured three games so different from each other on Roux Dat?!?

One Million Somethings

Right before the pandemic started, our friends at Eagle-Gryphon Games sent us a game that had us intrigued right away, Maniacal.

First, it has a cool theme as you can see by Bradly’s overview of the gameplay — players are evil masterminds (think Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz or Dr. Evil) bent on total world domination, but in a cartoony way. Second, and more importantly, the game featured art from our local Louisiana comic book artist, Rob Guillory (Chew, Farmhand).

But like everything else in 2020, live game nights came to a complete halt. Now that we’ve been able to play games on Twitch with a small pod of vaccinated gamers, we are diving back into 2020 and 2021 games that we did not get to explore before. You can see our play of Maniacal with Jay and Sagan and Jerod right here on our Twitch Tuesdays show.

But back to the game. The board is huge! It shows a map of the entire world, but is really focused on six spots. As evil scientists, our goal is to recruit henchmen and fulfill contracts — think evil plots — and score the most evil reputation points by the end of three rounds. Henchmen and cards give you piles of dice that we get to gleefully roll, and matching enough symbols means you complete your evil plot and your maniacal destiny!

Maniacal has a couple of interesting twists, too. I like how each round has action points we can spend to do things like recruiting or planning, but doing more powerful actions moves us further down the action point line. So not only are your actions kind of a resource you will eventually run out of, but how far you are also determines your turn order. It’s a unique take on the familiar Tokaido / AuZtralia “walking” mechanic that was very intriguing.

You have to be a fan to a slight extent of player interaction, as this is not your typical solitaire style euro. It has the makeup of a euro, with a modified friendly style worker placement and the action point system, but the fact that players can play cards out of their hand to affect how other players try to meet their contract goals may turn off some players, even if the effects are slight.

ROUX DAT SAYS: The art is gorgeously silly, and perfect for the theme. The turns are very quick and very interactive. Maniacal is one of those games that I would love to bring out at a convention because it has a huge table presence and a ton of table talk, meaning it would be just as enjoyable to watch as it is to participate. In fact, I had as much fun watching to see what other players did on their turn as I did playing my turn — which is probably why I finished so far back in the game! We’ll be featuring this one as a play-to-win at Southern Board Game Fest, so come on by if it sounds interesting.


I Wander As I Wonder


Did 7 Wonders really need fixing? The gang at Repos Production and designer Antoine Bauza must have thought so, because at BGG Con we spied a beautifully deep box that looked familiar but had new artwork and promised new gameplay. We grabbed a few from the Gumbo krewe and mashed up with the gang from the Board Boys podcast (Cam & Rob) and played 7 Wonders: Architects, the new standalone game in the same ‘universe’ as its big sister.

I already discussed our plays at BGG Con on Roux Dat, and you can read all about the gameplay there. But back then, I hinted that Asmodee released it simultaneously on Board Game Arena, too. Since that blog post, I’ve played 7 Wonders: Architects online about a dozen times already there. For reasons you will see below, this was a genius move by Asmodee.

But back to architecting. We all remember how the base game works — players are doing a round draft of cards out of their hands, trying to build out a civilization (but really just combo up colors and powers on their cards to score the most money.) It’s abstract, it’s sort of interactive, and it’s a tough of fun, one of our favorite all time games (especially with the Armada expansion, which I adore.)

If you do not have a BGA account yet, you should sign up right now. 7 Wonders Architects is one of the best BGA implementations I’ve seen yet. The game already has very little in the way of fiddliness, so that was not the problem. The BGA version just plays so quickly! It allows you to have multiple games going at once, trying out different strategies in how you develop your wonder, and shows you how each different wonder can change how you approach the drafting.

I was happy with my play of 7 Wonders: Architects at BGG Con, but as I dive more and more into the game, I’m starting to see why Antoine Bauza designed Architects. Where 7 Wonders, the base game, is billed by most gamers as a gateway game, it’s really not. I’ve tried to teach it to novice new gamers, and the symbology and drafting creates too many decision points and too much information to absorb for many new gamers.

7 Wonders: Architects is the opposite — you only have three cards to choose from each round, what those cards do is open and intuitive, and the third card is a blind draw anyway. I’ve really got to get my hands on a copy of 7 Wonders: Architects because we have some beer and board game nights coming up in the spring at a new brewery in Baton Rouge, and I think this would be the perfect game to slap on their tables and teach new gamers.

ROUX DAT SAYS: This is quickly becoming one of my favorite games of 2021. It hasn’t broken into the top twelve of that year, but when I redo the list, it will probably be one of the last games I will leave out. (Or maybe not?) And who knows, if I keep playing it at the rate I am, it might end up to be one of the most played games from that year. 2021 is going to go down as a year in board gaming that a lot of reviewers poo-poohed, yet there will be some gems from that year like 7 Wonders: Architects that will probably stay on game collection shelves for many years.


I Am the Octopi In The Sky, Looking At You

My old friends, Jake and Danielle from the Draft Mechanic Podcast, turned me onto a game called Tokyo Highway a few years back. Yes, it was a game with popsicle sticks and tiny colored cars, but it was so much fiddly fun! I had not seen any new games come out from itten games lately, and then a Kickstarter popped up a while back, promising new fun.

The Kickstarter has fulfilled, and now Crash Octopus has made it to retail shelves, so I picked up a copy in a trade for Bonfire. (Has there ever been a weirder trade than that?) In Crash Octopus, itten went back to the well of cute little components with dexterity elements but in a wholly new and original way.


Imagine a game of crokinole but using tiny little flags to fling stuff around the board. That’s as close as I can get, so I’ll just dive into the game itself. Players are sea captains, floating around a sea strewn with treasure. Each player has a colorful wooden boat, with an anchor and a separate flag. The flag is a little triangle in their color on the end of a stick. Players will use the flag to push the anchor around the table, and the boat follows whereever it goes.

But the goal is not just floating the waves of fortune willy-nilly around the sea, it’s to grab treasure along the way! Be the first to get five different types of treasure stacked in your boat, and you win.

Yes, stacked.

That’s right — not only do you have to fling treasure using your flag at your boat (if it hits, it goes on the ship), but you have to stack them up so that they don’t fall when the octopus attacks. Oh that’s right, I forgot to mention — there are one or two giant octopi with tentacles all over the board. Every so often, the octopus will attack the ships. The mechanic is simple; the player whose turn the attack happens on will launch a die off of the octopus’ head, and if it batters a ship and causes stuff to fall off, it’s “too bad, so sad” for that captain.


ROUX DAT SAYS: I guess my description above sounds mean, but it really isn’t. There are a couple of rules governing when you can launch treasure at the boats, and we play with a friendly variant that has an island in the middle that you can always try to steal treasure from. There’s even a fifth player variant using a giant pink pirate ship but we haven’t played that one yet. All in all, this is a fun little dexterity game that takes maybe twenty minutes and has lots of stand-up, laugh at loud moments each time the octopus strikes and cheering moments each time a player makes a long, wonderfully adept shot. Great little beer-and-pretzels game and I’m happy it’s in my collection.

THE WRAP UP:

So, that’s it for our first impressions and post-game quarterbacking of three great games. Roux Dat will be back with more commentary and reviews about the games we are playing. Is there a game that you would like to suggest for the next Roux Dat? Send me a tweet @boardgamegumbo or leave a comment here and let’s chat about it.

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Fri Jan 21, 2022 12:55 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
35 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Look Back! Top Games of 2020

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
The last couple of years feels like the longest, boringest escalator in the world’s emptiest mall. Thank the cardboard gods that we’ve had board games to get us through the pandemic. The debate is raging among dozens of people all around the globe — which pandemic year produced the better games?

You’ve probably seen by now our list of the Top 12 games that we played thate were released in 2021. But what about the games we picked as the top twelve for 2020? Do they still hold up? Let’s revisit that list and see if anything has changed, especially because we were able to play more games from that year since the original list came out.

(For the original blog post, with full color pictures, geaux to https://boardgamegumbo.wordpress.com/2022/01/18/look-back-be...)

12. The Crew

The original crew made our list at number three, so this looks like a precipitous fall. But it really isn’t. The Crew just had the misfortune of having a younger sister born one year later, and now everyone in the family is ooohing and aaahhhhing over everything she does. She’s so cute! For good reason, too, because The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is one of my most favorite trick taking games that I own. (So, basically, I am asking you not to make me pick between which of my kids I love more.) I’ll keep The Crew on this list of best games of 2020, but if you were asking me which one you should buy first, I’d say get Mission Deep Sea. It feels like the more complete game.


11. MonsDRAWsity

I love a good party game. Luckily for me, I’ve discovered Eric Slauson’s games! Eric is an amazing designer adept at making easy to teach, very thematic, highly interactive group games. MonsDRAWsity should be on everyone’s list to play at every holiday family get together. It was our number eight game in 2020, so it might look like it took a dip, but the reality is that I love euro games and I was able to play a lot more of them since January 2021. I still love MonsDRAWsity, still play it with the family, and some of the experiences it creates are still imprinted in my mind. Get it, play it, and love it just like us.

10. Fort

Here’s where my tastes diverge a bit from the rest of the Krewe. I love Fort. I love how simple it is to teach relative to its complexity. I love how thematic the cards are, and how the art really sells the experience. I don’t love how the gameplay seems to devolve into just a few strategies (I mean, the deck is fairly small), but I’m okay with that because some of my other favorite games of all time like The Castles of Burgundy can suffer just a bit from that, too. I would still be playing this one as much as I did back in 2020 except that the rest of the Krewe thinks Fort is played out and meh. I’m happy to point out that they are spectacularly wrong, but I’ll knock it down a few pegs from 7 to 10 in recognition of the fact that I’m just not playing it anymore — even though I really want to.

9. Rajas of the Ganges: The Dice Charmers

All of you who are constantly voting this down below the original game need to re-evaluate your priorities. Name another euro game has been translated from a huge medium weight game into the perfect randowriter as effortlessly and successfully as this one? Rajas is one of my favorite roll-and-writes of all times, and I can’t believe more people aren’t playing it. Caveat: I’ve only ever played this online, as I *still* don’t own a copy. I cannot imagine it would be less fun to play it live, because it is just so satisfying when you combo your way into these big three or four element turns. It’s cardboard combolicious. By the way, for all of you pedantic haters, yes, it technically fell three spots from six to nine but that’s only because I’ve played a ton more games from 2020. It’s a top ten game for me in 2020 and will stay that way. Dice charmers!

8. Whistle Mountain

I’ve only played Whistle Mountain one time at this past BGG Con, but oh man, did I love that experience. With so many good games from 2020 it is hard for me to justify putting it in the top six without more plays. I’ll give it a nod and let it join the list at number eight, recognizing that it has everything I love about a good euro: amazing production, simple streamlined gameplay, just a touch of interactivity amongst the players, and a strong narrative element. If I played this more, it would probably make my top six pretty easily, just for my two favorite parts in the game — the pressure to keep building above the flooding water line and the way that you can combo up resources and stuff with the right placement. So puzzly! (Not on list previously.)


7. Project L

I played this on a whim with Dave at BGG Con, and was really intrigued. Who doesn’t love a good engine builder, and this was one of the fastest I’ve ever played. I mean, get that engine going or you will be left behind! And then, I got a copy for my wife for Christmas, and we’ve played it non-stop between us and other family since then. The pieces have that satisfyingly tactile clacketiness that I love, the gameplay is so quick, and the puzzle of figuring out which puzzle pieces to focus on is worth the box price alone. Great game that needs to get more pub in the States. (Not on list previously.)


6. Nidavellir

And now we get to the big six, my truly favorite game experiences of 2020. First up is a game that was not on my list back then despite Jeremy Howard campaigning for me to play and rate it — Nidavellir. It truly only missed the last list because I had not played it yet. We got Nidavellir and bought the expansion right away (Thingavellir) because we flat out played this game almost every game session for about a month. (And I’ve got a game going right as we speak with the Board Boys Podcast guys at Board Game Arena.) I can tell you right away my favorite part about it — debating with your buds as to which strategy is the best, questions like which color should I be hitting? How much should I upgrade my coins? What’s the best bidding strategy? What expansion pieces are the best? That after-the-game chat is why I love board gaming so much and Nidavellir’s gameplay encourages Monday morning quarterback with sheer abandon. (Not on list previously.)

5. Oceans

Oceans dropped a bit from number two to number five, again only because of lack of playing with the Gumbo krewe. First, I’m probably the biggest fan of it in the group, so that means it is not going to hit the table. Second, a LOT of games have come out since Oceans made its early 2020 debut, and I’ve played some great euros that are still being played month in, month out. I still love Oceans, and its combination of combotastic play, super interactive nature of the cards, and the awesome power creep from the Deep cards — all of this combines to make this a game that should really get more playing time all over.

4. Dune: Imperium

Here’s another game that would have probably made my list in January 2021 had I played it. Dune: Imperium has one element that I love (deckbuilding) and one that I am not such a fan of (area majority / control). And the deckbuilding is not even the strongest component of the game, in my opinion. So, why is it so high on the list? Because it creates an immersive experience that seems to drive everything else forward. Right from the start, every part of the board is important, every card in your hand is critical, and every turn seems to be the turning point in the game. That’s really hard to do in a game but Dune: Imperium succeeds. Is it thematic to the movie / book? Maybe, maybe not, but what it does do is recreate a slice of the book / movie for cardboard fans to enjoy. (Not on list previously.)


3. Viscounts of the West Kingdom.

2020 will geaux down as the year deckbuilders grew up, with lots of original twists on the game. Viscounts definitely has a unique twist. There are cards to grab all over the board, and they can really help you build up an engine. It’s hard for me to say which of the West Kingdom games are my favorite, but Viscounts is a strong contender. First, it is gorgeous on the table, and the artwork from The Mico while very familiar to the universe seems to have a very appropriate and modern effect on the theme. Second, there so far does not seem to be any especially strong winning strategy, and if there is one, I’m having fun trying to discover it. Finally, the energy that the center piece and moving meeples brings to the game experience is strong. Love watching the center castle fill up with meeples. Why has it risen so far from eleven to three? Simple explanation, friends. Back then, I had only played it once on a slow laptop using Tabletopia, but since then, I’ve played it a half-dozen times on line AND in person. It is so much better in person, and actually much better online once you have played it in person.

2. Lost Ruins of Arnak

Anyone that follows me on social media knows the last two. I talk about both all the time, and I always have at least one game of each going online. Lost Ruins of Arnak is my kind of game — it’s got that Raiders of the Lost Ark theme, I love the two different cards you can purchase for your deck, I love how it doesn’t look like a deck builder but really is once you get to know it, and I love love love love figuring out the primary puzzle of how to get more resources and bounce up the temple track. I have played this at least a dozen times, and I’m still exploring the strategy. It’s a must have for any serious euro gamer.


1. Beyond the Sun

Beyond The Sun is the Beyond The Sun of 2020 games, and by that I mean, it truly is the best game euro or otherwise that came out in 2020. Love building civs with a tech tree? That’s one of the two main focuses in this game and it is done WELL. Love exploring space and interacting with other players as you try to dominate the planetary systems? Got that, too. I’ve yet to find the optimal strategy. Everytime I think I’ve solved it, some one does something else to counteract and I have to rethink my plan again for the next game. It’s not just a top twelve game for 2020, it would make my top ten games of all time if I redid the list.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at 2020. A couple of games fell off the list; that’s not because I did not enjoy them in 2020, but I just haven’t had the itch to get them back to the table. A game that makes my top twelve list should be one that I want to keep playing two years out, and Caretos and High Rise and Meeple Land are all three games I would happily play anytime but just haven’t had the right group. On the other hand, Castles of Tuscany and Calico have been replaced a bit — there’s been a bunch of euros since then that I would play over Tuscany, and Cascadia in my mind fires Calico a bit from our gamenights. Cascadia is easier to teach, doesn’t hurt my brain as much, and has just as cool a theme. Win / win!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ
Twitter Facebook
7 Comments
Thu Jan 20, 2022 12:19 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #49: Motor City, This Didn't Happen, & Ticket To Ride: Italy

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, it’s 2022! I’ve decided that my new year’s resolution is more gaming. That’s right, I’m going to play even board games in 2022! I played just a few games shy of 200 new games to me, and I think I can do better this year!

How many new games did you play last year? What games have you played recently? I’d love to know!

Speaking of new games, here is our first impression of three games we played this past month, but I would love to hear what you played! Hit us up on Twitter @boardgamegumbo or leave a comment on Facebook or right here.

Enough blather, let’s get to those three games! This month, we are taking a look at Motor City, This Didn’t Happen, and Ticket To Ride: Italy.

** For the original blog post with full color pictures, go here:Motor City **
https://boardgamegumbo.wordpress.com/2022/01/13/roux-dat-49/

Board Gamers, Start Your Paper Engines

Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback continue to explore the tremendous opportunities for the randowriter in Motor City, an ode of admiration to their home city and state’s love of car racing (and fittingly, the namesake of their own imprint, Motor City Gameworks.) Set to hit Kickstarter soon, we were lucky enough to get an advance copy from The Fleeples and co-designer Adam Hill.

Fan of Fleet: The Dice Game or Three Sisters, are you? If so, then you already know the premise and have some familiarity with the concepts. Motor City is a BIG roll-n-write, not from a size standpoint — although graphic designer, Chris Kirkman, has packed a ton of stuff onto those two oversized sheets — but from a gameplay standpoint. The Fleeples aim to make roll and writes into full fledged board games, and Motor City does it in style.

Thematically, it is simple. Players are plant managers at a large scale automobile company in Detroit. Think engineers, and testing grounds, and innovation at its highest. No time for Ford Pintos in this game! The two sheets represent different areas in the factory, and for eight rounds, players will try to use a shared pool of dice to draft a die each round that can combo their way to the most impressive factory (I.e. one with the most points.) When you draft a die, I love the fact that instead of just getting one reward (like most randowriters), you get in essence three — one for the die choice, one for the column it is in, and one for the area of the plant that you use it (and all three could be completely unique choices!)

Each part of the factory operates just a little bit differently. In the testing area, players choose a car, and then cross off spaces on the differently built tracks. In the sales showroom, players keep track of “money” that is used to buy upgrades and other cool stuff. And in the engineering and production areas, players click off boxes that stack toward points and bonuses. It’s all meaty and thinky and delicious at the same time.

The operative words for these randowriters from MotorCity Gameworks is “combotastic play”. Nothing seems to be left to haphazardness. Thinking ahead on your turn can really give players the satisfaction of popping off spaces that give you double or even triple what you started that round. I like to call these games “bubble wrap poppers”, because a well placed mark can set off a chain reaction akin to a child wrapped in bubble wrap rolling around on the ground popping off bubbles with gleeful delight.

ROUX DAT SAYS: I love the clever feeling good randowriters give you as you plot your way to the end of a track, and that’s why I have loved my plays of Motor City. Between the three randowriters that Riddle & Pinchback have released, I think I like Motor City’s theme the best, although calling any roll and write thematic (even this one) is stretching it a bit. Motor City knows what it is all about: it’s there to test your brain and your ability to plan, and give you punctuated bursts of cleverness each time your chosen die sets off a satisfying myriad of chain-reacting results. This is just the prototype look, and I can’t wait to see how it comes out in the KS project.

Time After Time

Movies and TV shows and books have long mined time travel themes. I remember my first journey was Mutiny In The Time Machine, a pulpy book written by Keith Monroe long before I was born, about scouts journeying backwards and forwards in time to stop a long-forgotten but surely evil plot.

Board games do not always seem to capture the flavor of time travel very well. I think because they get the ‘time’ right but not the ‘travel’ (I’m looking at you Anachrony.) But the folks at Island of Bees Games sent us a preview copy of This Didn’t Happen, designed by John Heffernan.

In This Didn’t Happen, players work cooperatively to stop the Big Apocalypse! Monsters running loose in time wreaking havoc on innocent civilians! I was especially intrigued because I’m not really a solo player, but enjoy playing shorter solo type puzzle games.

The set up is interesting and unique. Cards are printed to be placed at angles, forming “v”s or “hearts” on the table. The game is separated into three ages, medieval, the great war, and the future, and players will bounce from the time machine all over these three eras. To do what, you ask?

To stop the apocalypse, players must locate symbols on all of the locations that in essence cancel out the effects of the apocalypse. We could do this one card at a time, but that’s kind of inefficient and we’d probably lose the game. Time moves quickly, you know.

Instead, we want to trigger little cascades of changes in the time line WITHOUT creating those awful paradoxes. You could even flip your character into alternative versions of themselves, including different powers, during the middle of the game!

Trigger the right changes, without damaging our characters and the time machine — or even worse, getting Lost In Time — and we win.

Luckily for us time travelers, the events we face can be changed and the apocalypse averted by playing cards out of our hand to change the flow of history. Resource gathering is one of the actions on the turn and essential to winning, and there’s a selection of stuff in each era.

I played the game on the easier settings, basically the first hazards that we have to face. I was not a fan of memorizing where each of the symbols we needed to locate were, so I house ruled that once I looked at a location, I could keep looking at it! It made my second play much more enjoyable. The game is coming out on Kickstarter soon, and the game is still being tweaked a bit, so everything you see is subject to change and/or upgrade.

We had a lot of problems with the rulebook, but the designer (who is very responsive) has been working on a much better version that we found much clearer than the original (the one other reviewers have referenced in their videos). I’m not a fan of moving the cards around as the prototype version of the cards are pretty slick, but I’m hoping that will be addressed during the project. Or just do like we do for many small box card games, use your own spare meeples for the character cards and cubes for the damage and effects.

ROUX DAT SAYS: This Didn’t Happen is geared toward those who like solving puzzles. It’s a pretty intricate puzzle to beat in each scenario, and there’s plenty of toughness already built in. The game comes with a lot of content with ever tougher scenarios to face. I’d recommend This Didn’t Happen to those who like to check out small box games and enjoy a good solo puzzle; it fits everything into a tiny card box about the size of a deck protector in M:TG.

A Ferry Good Expansion


Ticket To Ride has tons of expansion content, from big box editions to the small 15 minute series. I’ve played all the little ones, but up until now didn’t have much experience with the big expansions for the base game. We recently received the Japan / Italy box as a Secret Santa gift in the Chuck’s Gateway and Filler Games Group exchange, and recently we got to play the Italy map a couple of times.

What’s different about this one? (I bet some of you asked yourselves, ‘Why Do I Need More Ticket To Ride Maps’? too). In Italy, this elongated map has a gorgeous representation of The Boot, and even connects Italian cities to countries on the northern borders as part of the game.

There are a few twists here. First, it’s a giant peninsula, so there’s lots of ways to get around to the city you need by taking water routes. In this game, the ferries do the trick, shuttling players to connects for short distances or even a few that geaux six or seven train car lengths (for tons of points, too). To connect them, you will need in part some wild locomotive cards OR you can grab from the market ONE ferry card (and hold up to two in your hand at any time). Locking up the ferries is a big key to winning this game, because they allow you to do the second change more efficiently.

In Italy, players start out with five destination tickets, and can get the chance to get four more during their turns. That’s a lot of potential points, and long haul cannot be ignored in this game.

But there are even more ways to get points, as players can vie for connecting all the different districts (instead of the “longest train” award) which can really ratchet up your points, especially if you corner the towns at the bottom which give bonuses too. Finally, players will also be able to use destination tickets and trains to connect to whole countries on the edge of the map, a cool thematic touch.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Hey, I still love Ticket To Ride so take this with a grain of salt, but this is one of my favorite maps ever. I love the Destination Ticket Roulette it encourages, where players will take ever increasing chances of grabbing tickets that are high points for their score — but could backfire with high points that they can’t complete. But, I really just love the way the map operates and the cool way that the unique card resource (the ferry cards) introduces even more sidelong glances into the game. Two thumbs up and I’m happy to play this map anytime.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!


Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Thu Jan 13, 2022 2:04 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #48 - Project L, Architects of the West Kingdom, and 7 Wonders: Architects

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, how was your holiday season? My collection did not expand as much as my waistline, thankfully. My godchild gave me Groundhog Day, a co-op game based on one of my favorite all time movies, and one of my nephews gave me The Chameleon, a game I’ve always wanted to play! My wife bought me some new equipment for The Gumbo Pot, keeping with our tradition of upgrading something in the game room each month.

But what about games played? Here is our first impression of three games we played this past month, but I would love to hear what you played! (Remember for all of the original photos, click here:

https://boardgamegumbo.wordpress.com/2022/01/04/roux-dat-48-...

Enough blather, let’s get to those three games! This month, we are taking a look at Project L, Architects of the West Kingdom, and 7 Wonders: Architects.

Taking The L To Victory

For many years now, I’ve tried to pick out a board game Christmas gift for my wife. Sure, it’s not completely altruistic — if I can find a game she likes, we both win! I’ve had some good success in years past, games like New York 1901, Heaven & Ale, Reef, and others have all been hits. (Pandemic Legacy was not, sadly, and I’m still paying for that one.)

When Dave taught me Project L at BGG Con, my eyes lit up. Now here’s a game my wife will like! Project L is a quick playing, engine builder that will have familiar looking pieces to most board gamers. Players start out with two small pieces (a tiny square and a line) made of plastic, with piles of polynomial shapes waiting to be grabbed. A market of recessed tiles shows different shapes that can be made with those pieces, and completing those cards can give you points but always gives you a new piece from the supply.

There are two different decks, worth different points, and once the black sided deck runs out, the game ends after players get a few chances to score more points.

On your turn, players can grab those tiles, or upgrade the pieces in their inventory, or put pieces down. That’s the basic actions, and you can take three of those each turn. But you can also — once per turn — take what we called the Masterpiece action (but I think is actually the master builder action?) where you can place ONE piece on every card on your player board. Chaining up the right cards and pieces and putting four down at one time is so much fun and makes you feel so clever!

Roux Dat Says: This game is addicting. It’s got that breezy pace of play a la Kingdomino, but has an engine building quality reminiscent of Gizmos or Potion Explosion yet even more satisfying. We’ve played it a bunch since Christmas, and for fans of casual, puzzly games, I can recommend this very highly. It is published by Boardcubator (a publisher from the Czech Republic that I am not familiar), but we bought our copy at Anubis, our FLGS, so it should be available everywhere.


Architects, Part Un


While I was underwhelmed by the initial series of directional kingdom games, Jerod and I have had a lot of fun exploring the West Kingdom series. Viscounts seemed the most intriguing, with its rondel action and 3D castle, and we’ve played it a ton. But I’ve never gotten to try Architects of the West Kingdom until Jerod got it for Christmas this year.

We decided we would play all three games (Architects, Paladins, and Viscounts) in one game night, an ambitious thing to start at 7p (and a goal we did not reach, I might add.) Architects is definitely the most unique of the three. Players get a metric ton of meeples waiting to be put out on a boards with tons of action spaces. Yep, it’s a worker placement game, but this time, the more workers you have in a spot means the stronger your action gets.

I’ve always loved that mechanic, but wondered about the powerfulness of just hammering one site. Architects fixes that by giving players the chance to “arrest” (I think?) any player’s workers and send them to the castle. Turning them in can give players money, but it the real reason is that it prevents any one player from getting too good at any one action. (I should’ve paid more attention to that rule in our game, because Jerod took two turns in a row, got a ton of stone, and then hammered the big cathedral build for tons of points.)

As is typical for Garphill Games, the production is in a smaller box and stuffed to the gills with awesome bits and pieces. The artwork is The Mico’s usual cast of zany, exaggerated characters, and there are lots of chunky wooden pieces representing the multitude of resources. If there’s one nibbling complaint, it sure felt like there were one two many resources to deal with in what is relatively a simple game to play.

Roux Dat Says: After just one play, I’m not ready to say that I like Architects as much as Paladins or Viscounts, and I’m not sure two is the perfect play count. But, I will say that I liked it enough to explore it more. I find that the West Kingdom games are like that — the first game is exploratory and then after that, they become more intriguing as you wind through the paths of the games, finding little combos or strategies that reward strategic play.

Architects, Part Deux

7 Wonders has been one of our most played games over the years, more so online on BGA than in person for some reason. We’ve enjoyed exploring all the expansions (I”ll give the nod to Armada as my favorite) and then exploring 7 Wonders Duel, too. I was excited to see that a new version was coming out, ostensibly a gateway version.

For me, 7 Wonders was just a little bit too overbearing to teach as a gateway – believe me, I’ve tried, and the multitude of symbols on the cards just overwhelms new gamers. Much easier to teach Sushi Go instead.

We learned 7 Wonders Architects at BGG con, and had a good time although it was late in the night and I was just basically top decking the entire time. Instead of a card drafting system (pick and pass style), 7 Wonders Architects uses a three deck system: each player has a deck to the left and right of them that they share with those connected players.

On their turn, they can work on building up the wonder in front of them (which requires the same or different types of resources to be turned in) or getting science symbols or blue knowledge points or military might. To do that, they choose a face up card from one of the two decks OR choose a face down card from a central deck that all players can access.

Ah, you can see the delicious decisions already. Race to build your wonder? Get a science boost first and then build? Grab all the blue points or red military might? Snag all the resources (especially the ‘wild’ coins) and starve your opponents? Plus, you have to keep an eye on the two players next to you to make sure you are inadvertently giving them resources they need to complete their own wonders!

But all those are micro-decisions, that take just a second to make. We have not yet found a copy locally, so we’ve been playing the game on the excellent implementation of BGA until it gets stocked here. This is a must buy for my collection. We’ve really enjoyed the strategy of figuring out what color combos seem stronger, or how fast to work on the wonders.

Roux Dat Says: 7 Wonders Architects is truly a gateway version of 7 Wonders. It both feels like, and feels distinct from, 7 Wonders at the same time. I’ve heard that this was a different themed game that the company grafted into the 7 Wonders world, and that’s okay because the mechanics are just similar enough to 7 Wonders that it will familiar to 7W fans, but new enough to be refreshing.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

Board Game Gumbo is a proud member of Punchboard Media

Gumbo Live! Tuesdays at 8:30 PM CST / 9:30 PM EST hosted by Board Game Gumbo

http://www.facebook.com/boardgamegumbo

@boardgamegumbo on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook

http://www.boardgamegumbo.com ← our written reviews, news, and convention recaps
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Fri Jan 7, 2022 6:09 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
23 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Top 12 Games of 2021, Part Two

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with the 2021 edition of the Way Too Early Top Games of the year post. Yesterday, we looked at games with dice, games with apps, and games with silly octopi. The common theme for the first day might have been that all six were pretty obviously games that would appeal to me. In fact, one of those games (After The Empire) was on my “most anticipated of 2021” list.

What about the top six? Any surprises? After playing over 195 new-to-us games this year, what stood out for us above all the rest?

Let’s find out…

REMINDER: You can read the original blog post with links and pictures right here: https://boardgamegumbo.wordpress.com/2021/12/30/top-twelve-g...

6. Bullet♥︎
Designer: Joshua Van Laningham
Publisher: Level 99 Games


If I were designing a game that would not on first impressions appeal to me as a gamer, Bullet would be it. It’s got real-time elements that are central to the game (as opposed to just being a small part, as in Steam Park). Plus it’s got an anime theme, and I do not know much if anything about that facet of pop culture.

Needless to say, I was pretty hesitant to play it when Carlos brought it over, even though Level 99 Games rarely disappoints in terms of gameplay. But that’s the benefit of being in a great game group with lots of varied tastes. Just like when I first tried blue cheese crumbles on my salad, I sometimes find something that I didn’t know I would enjoy but do.

Bullet scratches a couple of itches that I didn’t see on first glance. I love little puzzle games — games like Sagrada or Project L where we are looking for patterns to emerge from chaos. Bullet’s puzzles come in all different shapes and sizes.

How can I keep my energy up to do more actions? How fast do I want to go through my bag to grab a bonus tile? Do I want to add more cards this round? How can I best use my character’s special abilities? All of these questions spin like mad in my brain in each round but that whooshing feeling is like energy incarnate.

Throw in the diabolical twist of clearing out bullets being fired at you, and then sending those bullets bouncing toward an opponent, and you’ve got a little lagniappe player interactivity that doesn’t feel forced at all. I can’t wait to play some of the expansions.


5. Bad Company
Designer: Kenneth Minde, Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby
Publisher: Aporta Games


So, quick story. We are at BGG Con 2021, and I’m carrying around Cape May looking for a nice enjoyable hour of euro gameplay with my buds. Dave walks over to the table, with me just about to give my quick pitch to Cam and Rob of the Board Boys Podcast, and plops down Bad Company. “We should play this,” he says. Sigh.

But not sigh.

Bad Company turned out to be the most fun I had all convention. (Yes, even more than Unfathomable). Picture Space Base or Machi Koro but with a cool Fast n Furious meets Oceans’ Eleven theme. It’s still a dice engine builder, but this time you are trying to upgrade a gang of thieves from slick ne’er do wells to Danny Ocean clones. The artwork is fantastic and funny at the same time, and the visceral thrill of seeing your bad guy’s getaway car racing through the streets with a police car hot in pursuit is just plain fun.

The game is tough to get in the States right now, but you can purchase it from Aporta Games through the Matagot website. Based on the buzz it is getting since Essen, I’m sure someone is going to pick this up in time for play here next year. I’ve got a copy or two waiting for me in Madrid, just need someone to mule it back to me!

4. Merchant’s Cove
Designers: Jonny Pac, Carl Van Ostrand, Drake Villareal
Publisher: Final Frontier Games


When Jonny Pac designs or develops a game, I’m going to play it. It might not always make our top ten, but even if it does not, it usually tickles a part of my brain that makes me happy. Merchant’s Cove is essentially a very simple euro worker placement economic engine game, all about trying to entice sailors into buying your special wares as they come into port.

But the hook in Merchant’s Cove is delicious. Every player has a unique faction, not in terms of fantasy archetypes or even bonus special powers. This time, every player plays the game completely differently. The way you play will be familiar — you’ll see a roll and write player, or a push your luck player, or a programming character — but these asymmetrical powers are all going on at the same time.

Does it make the game a little tough, a la Root, to teach? Sure. But since the game concepts are familiar from other games — hey, have you ever played Potion Explosion? That’s what you are going to do in this game — it does not take long to get up to speed.

I’ll admit, one of the best things about the game is exploring all the different factions, and then trying them out against other factions. But since every combination of character makes for a unique gaming experience, we still have plenty of gaming left to explore.

3. Gutenberg
Designers: Katarzyna Cioch, Wojciech Wiśniewski
Publisher: Granna


It’s not 100% fool proof, but my cardboard sense typically leads me toward games that I will enjoy. When I was prepping the Essen lists, Gutenberg jumped out at me right away. I love history, I love books, I love the butterfly effect that figuring out how to mass produce knowledge would change the world. Unfortunately, for the 38th year in a row, I was not able to make Essen Spiel but there’s always BGG Con.

Side note: if you are into euro games, one of the hidden benefits to heading to BGG Con is that it is usually the best place to try all the newest Essen releases. The BGG Con team does a great job of putting together a “hot games” room (which is mostly Essen, but some Gen Con releases too) to sample everything.

Back to Gutenberg. There are a three things that stood out for me right away. First, the board is laid out — Smartphone Inc style — that essentially teaches you the game and helps you organize each round. Love that. Second, the gear building mechanic is so deliciously puzzly that it fires all the right areas of my brain. Tickled, flummoxed, bewildered, and sometimes clever — that’s all the shades of fun that course through my neurons, if that’s a thing.

Third, the action bidding mechanic rules, and I’m using ‘rules’ as a verb not a noun here, and it’s the perfect way to create tension in every round. I love the sidelong glances at other player’s game areas, the meta way that each round develops, and the groans that arise anytime someone overbids or underbids.

I have thoughts on whether the player powers are balanced, but after a couple plays at BGG Con, I can’t say that I really know. It’s impossible to get Gutenberg in the States right now, but I’m hearing rumors of a release here sometime soon.

2. Magnate: The First City
Designer: James Naylor
Publisher: Naylor Games


What a weird title. Designer James Naylor does a good job explaining the title on a recent Five Games For Doomsday but still, everytime I see that title, I think, “weird.”

You know what’s not weird? My love for Magnate….err…Magnate: The First city.

I frankly forgot about the game when the publisher reached out to me a few months ago. We had corresponded way back during the Kickstarter, and then a million-and-three games came out. When the big box arrived, I remember thinking…yeah you know…”weird.”

And then Jerod and I opened it up, went through the amazingly well done tutorial — seriously, you don’t even need to read the rulebook to learn how to play your first game — and then played it again and again. (We’ve played it at all player counts except the full one, so there’s still more for us to explore.)

Why do I like Magnate so much? The designer took a tried-and-true formula — building and economic games, the progeny of the stodgy old Monopoly — and twisted it like a Rubik’s Cube. What if the city was booming so much, that you could make money left and right with wheelbarrow’s full of it being dumped on your head by the final round and everyone heading to the pub and drink’s on me…

And then everything comes crashing down.

There’s a different story built into every game. We’ve experienced the highs of a geaux-geaux real estate market and the lows of getting out at the wrong time. “Geaux for the steak, son, not the sizzle, and don’t try to lap up the gravy.” We’ve experienced a slow build up with everyone getting out just at the right time, with the cleverest of the clever eeking out a win.

I guarantee there are more stories like these waiting for you to tell. Yep, this came close to my game of the year, oh so close.

1. Sleeping Gods
Designer: Ryan Laukat
Publisher: Red Raven Games


Before I discuss Sleeping Gods, I should warn you that I paid full price for a Red Raven Games t-shirt at Gen Con 2017. So, yes, I am a big fan of Laukat’s previous work, although not every single game hits the perfect notes for me. I was a big full backer of Near & Far, which previously was in my top twelve games of all time.

But make way top twelve, there’s a new captain on this boat. And that captain is the Captain Sofi Odessa. I mention her right off the bat, because this is not a game that is all about dice and clay, bricks and coins. Sleeping Gods is a story based game that gets in your head. Once you start a campaign, your co-workers will see you red-eyed and zombified at work. Your lumbar spine will softly scream that it cannot endure another six hour session without respite. But, your heart will sing everytime you turn the page of that map and see new places to explore.

I’m probably getting a head of myself, because as good as this game is, as many plaudits that it has received, I still feel that not a lot of people know a lot about this game. Sleeping Gods is a video game come to life in cardboard, but an original idea not anything you’ve seen on Steam or any other IP. When I say “video game”, I mean that you can turn the thing on (open the box and set it up — or do like us and leave it up for weeks at a time) and play as much as you want, and then turn it off to play later.

I cannot recall another game that operates like this. There’s no start or finish to most of the game sessions until you reach the very end of the campaign. We’ve played 2 1/3 campaigns, and for us, they are running about 15-18 hours a piece. I guess each “game” would consist of an encounter with a part on the map, a lovely book of maps that detail all of the places you will send your ship and its fearless crew. I guess each game could be considered all of the actions you take to interact with honorable and unsavory characters alike, explore islands and caves and mountains, grab treasure and see what it does, and then rest back in port upgrading your characters and outfitting your ship along the way.

But who cares if there’s no real structure? Unlike Super Mario 2, you can always save your game’s progress and come right back to it the next game night. (Which will probably 12 hours later if you are like us.) Sleeping Gods is Ryan Laukat and his team’s magnum opus, and a towering achievement in board games. I’ve got about 40 hours into the game, and even six months later, I’m still thinking about the interactions we had and the endings to the campaigns. I’m ready to give another campaign a geaux.

Not convinced? Well, then you tough little nut, read our full review here spotlighting the single greatest card In any board game ever, or better yet, take a crack at Bradly’s inside look at this positively gorgeous production here:


So that’s our two part series on the top games that we played that were released in 2021. I know you, dear reader. You have opinions. You think I’m full of malarkey. Well, come on, then, let’s have it! Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment right here, and I’ll be sure to have a snarky comeback or three.

I also want to thank the publishers and designers who trusted us to cover their games. Yes, here’s the usual disclaimer, some of the games in our top twelve were provided gratis by the publishers, but we get way more games than we can fit in the top twelve. And I hope by now publishers know that we will be fair in our reviews.

I don’t say it enough, but thank you for joining me on this roller coaster ride of cardboard each year. 2021 was surprisingly the best year for readership we have ever had in the Gumbo. I’ve enjoyed visiting with all of you on the social medias or at cons, and I humbly thank you for your support and time. Let’s say goodbye to 2021 in style!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

Board Game Gumbo is a proud member of Punchboard Media

Gumbo Live! Tuesdays at 8:30 PM CST / 9:30 PM EST hosted by Board Game Gumbo

http://www.facebook.com/boardgamegumbo

@boardgamegumbo on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook
Twitter Facebook
4 Comments
Fri Dec 31, 2021 12:26 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Top 12 Games of 2021, part one

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with the 2021 edition of the Way Too Early Top Games of the year post.

Reminder, you can see the original blog post with pictures and links to our playthroughs, unboxings, and reveiws of all twelve games right here: www.boardgamegumbo.com. Thanks for stopping by!

2021 saw us returning — finally — to convention play at BGG Con 2021 and we played over 30 different games there. On the other hand, there have been lots of starts and stops at our Gumbo Game Nights at our FLGS, Anubis, (mostly stops) so our group plays here have been limited. And of course, on that elusive third hand, we dipped our fingers into Twitch Tuesdays, where we play board games live with the Chat Krewe.

All of that is to say that we played almost 200 new-to-us games this year, which is a lot, but we did not play everything we wanted to play. Notable exceptions for us are Ark Nova, Bitoku, MicroMacro Crime City, and Meadow but hopefully we can rectify that soon.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we try to figure out what 2022 will have in store for us, let’s look back at the year that was in board gaming. Already, I am seeing the same old “there were no good board games this year” posts on social media, the same posts we’ve seen every year the last five years. Mainly, these posts seem to support discussions as to why there were fewer good games.

But is that true? Was 2021 an off year? Let’s find out…

12. Cape May

Each year, my wife and I find an engaging euro game that takes about an hour, one where my wife’s face lights up with joy as we near the end of the game. Games like that always end up on my top games of the year list, for obvious reasons. Every single time.

This year, we got to try out Cape May, a city building game that reminds us (in good ways) of our joyous plays of New York 1901 back in 2015-2016. In Cape May, players take on the role of developers of the iconic beachside resort of Cape May, New Jersey over twelve rounds. Designer Eric Mosso managed to combine an interesting economic game with a play-a-card-and-do-stuff mechanic that shines, as we wrote about back in Roux Dat #45.

Plus, the production value (lots of beautiful buildings and a stunningly painted map), the intriguing event deck (each round, something happens for the good or for the poor), and the combolicious bonus cards, power cards and end game scoring add up to something much more than the parts. It’s wonderful at all players counts, and is a gorgeous addition to any collection.


11. Crash Octopus

From the moment I saw the Kickstarter video, I was hooked. Part crokinole, part Tokyo Highway, and equal parts fun, Crash Octopus is exactly the kind of game I want to play AND own. And it has a name that makes people raise their eyebrows at you when you say it really fast.


In Crash Octopus, up to five intrepid sailing captains brave the octopus infested waters of your table top, and race to capture five or six treasures before the other players. But watch out! The octopi in this game are big and scary and can easily knock you off your plan!

Best thing I can say is that the game takes about 30-40 minutes, yet Jerod and I played it one night for three hours. Crash Octopus is going straight into my game night bag as the perfect game to play at a brewery game night or a family casual game get together.

On Gumbo Live!, we like to chat with game designers, content creators and publishers about their first impression of games that they have played recently or want to play. Here’s the Gumbo krewe chatting with designer Daryl Chow from Origame about Crash Octopus:


10. Crescent City Cargo


Jason Dinger’s second entry into the Cajun trilogy is Crescent City Cargo, and this one feels as comfy as pecan pie washed down by Abita root beer, for a couple of reasons. First, one hour wonders are my favorite length of game, and our first play took right at that amount. Second, Jason has carefully combined a bunch of cool rondels and some combolicious micro decision turns in one package. Color me intrigued before it even hits the tabletop! Plus, the game is set in the early 20th century wharves and docks of New Orleans, and that’s a setting that speaks to me personally and professionally.


Caveat: I have only played Crescent City Cargo one time, albeit at a full play count, as the game is being passed around the Krewe, but I am ready for some more plays. Finding another copy to get to the table shouldn’t be too rough since there are a lot of backers here in town — heck, the Krewe from I Heart Board Games plays it online all the time as you can see from this video with the gang from Southern Board Game Fest:


The bottom line for Crescent City Cargo is that if you like quick turns but deep-thinking strategy in your euro games, second line your way to Crescent City Cargo pronto and make some groceries — or check out our thoughts on a recent game play in Roux Dat #36 first.

9. Cubitos

I thought Cubitos had a chance to end up in the top three games this year. We played this rolling dice, racing cubes, and building up an engine game so much in the winter shoulder season between late December 2020 and January 2021.


So what happened? It’s easy to explain, but harder to justify. After playing all of the scenario based races in the box, we moved on to some other games (and bought a house at the same time), and just haven’t been able to get Cubitos back to the table much. That’s why I am knocking Cubitos down a few pegs on the list, not that we do not love the game, just that it hasn’t really forced its way back onto the game topper.

Are we done with Cubitos? I hope not, because with the right group (my family, mainly), this is a tight game with lots of tension. I need to dig around to see if there are any fan-made bonus race scenarios; maybe that will breathe some new life into the box.

8. After The Empire

If we were ranking this just solely on which games created the most cinematic fun, After The Empire would certainly be in the top three experiences we’ve had over the last few years. (I know, I know, Kickstarter previews with rule sets and components still in development shouldn’t count. But this is my list, and all that experience is baked in already!) Every game we played started as a euro type game of economic resources to a cinematic game about doing as much as you can to fend off the invading hordes (and in my case, not doing so well with the strategy).


There’s a lot of love about After The Empire, starting with the wonder of watching your little castle geaux from cardboard to big, beautiful stone walls. And every moment that came complete with turrets armed like porcupines was another moment in gaming paradise. I really need to stream this one time on our Twitch Tuesday channel, but if you really want to see me play poorly, watch our play through with I Heart Board Games, live on Twitch.

7. Destinies

Destinies was a blast to play, especially during the worst of the southern Delta variant surge. We did not get out of the house much to game, and having a storyline to race through with my son and his girlfriend (both very experienced gamers) was a godsend. We practically raced through almost all of the scenarios in the first week of getting the review copy!

So what is Destinies?

Destinies is the latest attempt at Lucky Duck Games to meld the computer and the cardboard into a greater experience. Players take on the role of murky strangers, set out on quests to…well the rest is full of spoilers.

Trust me when I say that we really dug the storyline. I personally loved trying to piece together the backstory and the motivation of each character in each challenge. If not for our top spot, this game would have probably ranked higher. It’s an unfair comparison, of course, because Destinies has it all: an engaging storyline with well written plot points, plus the tension of knowing that your decision at any time really could make a difference in your game.

So that’s part one of our annual series on the top games released of the year. Check back tomorrow for part two, counting down the best games from six to one!

Did we miss one of your favorites? Let me know what games we missed out on or should have played from 2021, or even an older game that you recently discovered! I have a few ideas for one more blog post to finish out the year.

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

Board Game Gumbo is a proud member of Punchboard Media

Gumbo Live! Tuesdays at 8:30 PM CST / 9:30 PM EST hosted by Board Game Gumbo

http://www.facebook.com/boardgamegumbo

@boardgamegumbo on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Tue Dec 28, 2021 7:06 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #47: Imperium: Classics, Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, and Ticket To Ride: Japan

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing and what games you think we should play!

But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!

This time, we are looking at Imperium: Classics, Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, and Ticket To Ride: Japan. Allons!


Rolling In The Macedo


Imperium: Classics and Imperium: Legends are games with all of the elements the Krewe de Gumbo usually loves. Cool art, lots of combo-y card play, and a civilization theme? Sign us up. We mashed the two boxes of civs together and tried them out recently in a three player game. Did it meet our expectations?

Heck, yeah. Osprey Games has a solid civ card builder designed by Nigel Buckle and David Turczi, with art from The Mico. The game takes about two hours to play, and it is most certainly not a gateway civ game. There are so many things to consider! Players take on the role of mythical or historical civilizations, like the Macedonians or Atlantians, and get a deck of cards representing everything about that civ. A market of cards exists, too, where you can add lands, leaders, smaller nation states that can help you expand, fame cards to score points, and of course, the Unrest cards.


Yes, not only do you have to build up your civilization, figuring out what your empire does best and maximizing that potential through your card play and card purchases, but you also have to contend with cards that jam up your deck and lower your score. Plus, if you and your fellow players aren’t careful, too much unrest in the game can trigger the end!

One of the cool things about Imperium is how it really gives you the feeling of a small nation state expanding into an all powerful empire. I played as the Macedonians, and we started out with a couple of neat tricks and the use of Barbarian cards that helped us grow. We were all about expanding our territory and I bought in heavily. As we got more powerful, we eventually tapped into the Empire cards, which are definitely juicier, and our expansion really exploded. But it was hard to keep control over all of these territories — they kept bouncing in and out of my tableau. At some point we had to call on help from Alexander the Great, but I just was not efficient enough to really utilize his help.

Roux Dat Says: For my brain level, Empires of the North scratches the same itch and is a lot less complex. Imperium is a really meaty version of any card based civilization game, and it also has a lot of player interaction from some of the cards that can mess with other players. That being said, with sixteen different civilizations already out of the gate, there is a lot more for me to explore in Imperium and I would not turn a game down. Imperium is well done, gorgeous to look at, and very thematic for each civilization. Two thumbs up.


No Thank You, My Cup Is Full

I’ve been seeing lots of smiling, laughing faces on the convention circuit lately playing Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game from The Op. That game has to win an award this year for Name That Encapsulates All Of The Mechanics, because it is truly a fast rolling dice game all about Cuphead. I’m not familiar with the Cuphead IP, but apparently it is a classic run and gun action game available on Steam or on the Sinclair ZX80 where players dive into a world inspired by classic cartoon art of the 1930s and engage in boss battles.

If that’s what the Steam game is like, then Cuphead the board game captures all of that spirit. The artwork is definitely reminiscent of those early cartoons (think Betty Boop or Felix the Cat), and the pace is super frenetic. Each round, players will face a box of villains, and to get past them, will have to roll dice as fast as they can. We played with 20 second timers, but I’ve heard players are playing with timers as quick as ten seconds (which sounds outrageously difficult to me.)

Each villain has certain symbols that are required to defend against the attacks, and if you are really lucky, you can not only defend against the attack – which saves your health to the next round – but also do damage back to the baddie. Some of the villains were pretty easy, just needing one die to match, which gave you plenty of opportunities to roll punches to hit back. But some of the villains were a lot trickier, especially after we hit airplane mode, which changed the perspective of some of the dice.

Speaking of the dice, some of us had a pretty major issue with the dice faces, which in my opinion were too muddled and close to each other to distinguish in the split second you need to identify a die roll before moving on. In fact, Carlos’ dice colors were really hard to pick up the symbols against the background, and when we hit airplane mode and I had to distinguish between some of the faces upside down and sideways, that just melted my brain too much.

Roux Dat Says: Nope. Not for me. We blasted our way through a few levels, I think a level one and level two boss, and I barely survived each round. Apparently my brain-to-dice-to-picture skills are pretty lacking. I actually don’t mind real-time rolling games, if the element is short and not the entire focus of the game. That’s why I much prefer Steam Park (where the rolling is just to set up the actions and turn order) to Escape: Curse of the Temple (where the rolling is the game). Look, I get why Cuphead is getting the love — it’s well done and all — but it’s just not my kind of game.


Sharing Is Caring Until It’s Not

As much as I love Ticket to Ride and talk about it on the streams, the funny thing is that I’ve only ever played the base game, my 10th anniversary edition, and the European base game. (Oh, and the small box 10 minute games from London, New York, and Amsterdam, too.) I have never played any of the dozens of expansion maps that have been sold or fan created.

Until now. My secret Santa at the Gateway and Filler Games Group on Facebook sent me a copy of one of the maps I have always wanted to play, the dual Japan / Italy map. It’s got bullet trains! My wife loves TtR, so for a recent date night, we set it up and learned it as we went along.

There are just a few changes. Players start with a lot less trains (only 20) but have access to a big pile of those bullet trains. Instead of turning in cards to grab train routes and score points, players can instead turn in those cards to put ONE bullet train on a bullet train connecting route.


Building that connecting route gives EVERYONE access to that route connection, not just the player who made it, and it moves the player who built the connection up a separate bullet train track. This is important because at the end of the game, the person who contributed the most track improvements on the bullet train connections will score a ton of points, and people who didn’t contribute as much (or at all) will either gain less, or even lose points.

Since everyone is pretty limited in the amount of points they will score using their own trains, the focus in this game seems to be grabbing juicy destination tickets, one of the most fun parts of Ticket to Ride. And that brings in the second major element — two of the towns on the maps (one was Tokyo for sure) have “blown up” maps on top of the board. In those expanded sections, we see that there are additional routes and stations to grab, some with bullet train connections, and that gives players access to even more destination tickets that are worth a lot of money (since you not only have to connect to the main city but then onto the smaller map, too).

Roux Dat Says: Ticket To Ride: Japan was a big hit for date night. It energized our play of Ticket To Ride, bringing a focus on destination tickets that made it exciting and nerve wracking each time we dove into that deck. Knowing when to get more points by putting our your own trains versus making tons of connections through the bullet trains to score your destination tickets is the key to winning. The map board is huge, but the board itself feels pretty crowded and it worked very well for two players. We have not yet tried the Italian map but after this play, we are definitely looking forward to it.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Fri Dec 24, 2021 9:09 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #46: Blazon, Berried Treasure and Ubongo 3D

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing and what games you think we should play!

(You can check out the full blog with pictures at https://tinyurl.com/yc8famj7)

But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!

This time, we are looking at Blazon, Berried Treasure, and Ubongo 3D. Let’s dive in!

Going Out In A Blazonry Of Glory

Crests and heraldy have always fascinated my family, so Jerod and I were excited to unwrap a prototype / Kickstarter preview edition of Blazon, a “game of Medieval Heraldry” for two to four players coming to Kickstarter soon from 25th Century Games. We’ll have a video play soon, but Jerod and I were able to learn the rules and play a two player game this week.

In Blazon, players use drafting to grab various heraldic designs from a common market to score prestige (victory points) for their shield. Each player gets their own shield to decorate; they will grab cards representing tincture and device elements to use as decoration. The rulebook contained lots of history and explanations that got us in the mood of the theme.

I love the draft-and-place-stuff mechanics in Sagrada, so I knew this would not disappoint. Where Sagrada is drafting beautifully colored dice to fill up a board, and does not really feel like you’ve made a stained glass window, the theme of choosing design elements that say something about the shield and crest we are creating felt more thematic and definitely enticed us into playing.

The gameplay was very intuitive — we figured out right away that there will be touch choices on every turn. Essentially, you have to commit to which part of each element of your design will be used, and that affects the decision on other areas of the shield, too. ‘The decisions won’t be easy because of the limitations on placement, but you’ll score prestige along the way. Plus, there are random end game bonus cards that come out each game that will boost up your prestige and affect how players put together their blazon story.

Note that we were playing with the pre-project materials, and we expect a lot of the graphic design, artwork, and actual production value to change during the campaign. 25th Century Games usually likes to bling out their euro games! But, keep an eye on the Kickstarter project for more details, and our thanks to 25th Century for sending us this preview copy.

Roux Dat Says: Roux Dat Says: Two things intrigued me about Blazon right away. The puzzle was the first thing, but even more important was the idea that story of the heraldry we created was part of the gameplay. It was more than just scoring points, it was also a way to tell a story of the family behind the crest and shield. We play Bad Company or Call To Adventure like that, too -- sure you want to win, but you also want the game to tell a good story! Blazon's theme and ability to generate stories about your finished work makes it one to look out for on Kickstarter.



The Square Root of Pie is Pie

I love introducing games like Can’t Stop to gamer friends who have never played. The simplicity of Sid Sackson’s designs always astound them — how can something so easy to teach, with so few rules, be so thrilling even without all the thematic bells and whistles? I need to play more Sid Sackson games, so I was super excited when Restoration Games sent a review copy of Berried Treasure.

That’s because this is Restoration’s refresh of another Sid Sackson classic game, this time from a pirate themed card game called Buried Treasure (that has a history described in the game manual that goes even further back.) In the new edition, players are little rascally animals eyeing a baker’s rack of sweet treats hungrily. Each turn, the players will grab one of four types of cakes or pies, and after all the cards are gone, will compare the totals against each other and against the round card.

Over three rounds, the players have to go head-to-head to find out who has the most in each of the types of desserts. The round cards matter, because each round, the desserts get a different bonus for coming out first or second or even third. Since there are four treats, and four different sets of round bonuses, players will never know exactly what will come out each game, adding some replayability to the mix.

The game is so easy to teach, just four or five simple rules. Players will need to quickly learn how some of the cards have special powers like letting a player grab an extra pie or even stealing pies from other players. At the end of the three rounds, players total up their points and declare a winner.

I played this one a couple of times with my wife both before and after we started the live stream on Twitch. To my surprise, the game got thinkier and more fun with each play. I wasn’t expecting something with so few rules to engage as much as it did. There’s that usual tug-of-war tension in taking a card from the baker’s rack and then having another player steal it right back. Timing is key, and knowing when to take a card that benefits you know versus another that might be a bigger, more powerful turn, is a great little puzzle.

As far as I know, this was a final copy of the game. It comes in a smaller sized box, the size of A Fistful of Meeples or maybe Dinosaur Tea Party, and the artwork on the cards is well done. The rulebook lays out everything you need, and has some fun art of the notorious animals that are out to steal the treats. I didn’t think the victory points would have been necessary, but it made it so much easier to track the points from round to round (which also plays into some catchup mechanics built in to the game.)

ROUX DAT SAYS: A total surprise, even though it should not have been a surprise at all based on the pedigree. Combining the brilliance of Sid Sackson’s design with the restorative work from Restoration was a no-brainer. This should be a big hit with the family gamers come Christmas time and I cannot wait to show them the game.



Some Days You’re the Bongo, Some Days You’re The U

I am always on the lookout for little fifteen to twenty minute games for my wife and I play during school season. During the week, her early morning teacher duties make it tough for us to play any long games. That’s why I looked at Ubongo 3D, a review copy sent to us by KOSMOS, with some excitement. A tetris style game that plays one to four players in only 25 minutes? Sign me up!

In Ubongo 3D, players get eight colorful tetris style plastic pieces and a handful of puzzle cards in difficulty ranging from easier to really hard. (Players should agree on the level of brain melting they want to do before the game starts.) On each round, a two minute timer is flipped, and players have that amount of time to recreate the puzzle using the eight pieces they are given.

Alas, my wife really struggled with the tetris pieces part of the game when it was combined with the timer element. Me? I loved it, although admittedly I only tried it on the first two settings of difficulty. Each puzzle card contains a shape that we are supposed to use our pieces to fill in. The shape has to be two blocks high, and none of the Ubongo pieces can extend over the edges of the puzzle card. Since there are four sets of puzzle cards to choose from, players can just decide amongst themselves how to handicap the players by choosing different levels of puzzle cards for this game.

We played off stream for a while, but it was clearly not her taste. (That’s okay, we have plenty of other games she can kick my behind in, like New York 1901 or Cape May!) So, she headed backdown stairs while I streamed a one player game, which is essentially competing against yourself to solve as many puzzles as you can solo in a certain limited time.

Roux Day Says: Here’s another game I cannot wait to bring to Christmas board game nights with the family. The box recommends players be at least 8 years of age, and provides a way to scale up the difficulty depending on the ages and experience. With that kind of age and experience expectations, I fully expect some of the older teens and young adults to get a kick out of the puzzly nature of the game, and also enjoy the competitive juices that the sand timer generates.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

Board Game Gumbo is a proud member of Punchboard Media

Gumbo Live! Tuesdays at 8:30 PM CST / 9:30 PM EST hosted by Board Game Gumbo

http://www.facebook.com/boardgamegumbo

@boardgamegumbo on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook

http://www.boardgamegumbo.com ← our written reviews, news, and convention recaps
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Dec 13, 2021 1:40 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #45: Cape May, Durian, and Fast & Furious Highway Heist

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey, board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with more inside looks at games we have been playing lately. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing!

But that’s enough blather, let’s get right to the games! This time, we are checking out Cape May, a gorgeous city building game; Durian, a quick playing small box push your luck game with a funny theme; and Fast & Furious: Highway Heist, one of the new movie games from Funko.

(You can check out the full blog with pictures at: https://tinyurl.com/yckt8567).


Birds Are The Words

My wife and I had a love affair with New York: 1901 that lasted for many years. She loved beating the snot out of me as we raced to put up beautiful cardboard-and-plastic pieces representing buildings we recognize today and some from days gone by. It lit the fire in us that still burns for city building or tile laying type of games.

So, we were excited to open up a review copy of Cape May, designed by Eric Musso and published by Thunderworks Games. As Jay said in our playthrough, we are not used to seeing non-Roll Player themes from Thunderworks, and the absolutely gorgeous art from Michael Menzel really sets the mood right from the box cover to the board. There’s always something to look at and discover!

The gameplay is pretty simple — each turn over 12 rounds representing four seasons players will take three actions, usually consisting of moving around Cape May, New Jersey (a lovely Atlantic seaside resort just eight hours from Montreal) or placing shops and cottages on the board or upgrading those into 3D buildings.

Each player has hidden goals to meet like having the most Victorian homes in a particular section, and players will score public points by dominating the various areas on the board with their buildings or building beautiful landmark buildings representing the best of local architecture.


What sets this apart from the usual city building game is the economic engine. It’s light and easy to understand but oh-so-important. When you place buildings on the city, your income track goes up (and sometimes you even earn bonus super power cards.)

The feeling you get when you are out of money but your shops drop 30 coins in the final round for you to spend? Priceless. But you can’t just focus on income, because it is worthless at the end of the game. You must build the right buildings …. in the right places … in the right styles to score points!

You’ll feel clever as you chain up some cards in your hand to move quickly to a spot that allows you to double upgrade while grabbing some bird tokens on your next turn to complete your set. That’s right, bird watching in the natural preserves around Cape May scores bonus points at the end of the game!

Roux Dat Says: We’ve played at every play count, and have thoroughly enjoyed every play. It looks gorgeous on the table, and is very breezy and rewarding. The combination of economy, puzzles with the buildings, bonus powers and hidden objectives, and the fun move around the board and spot birds mechanics all add up to one of the most enjoyable euros we have played this year.


Those Darn Meddlin’ Nephews


Who doesn’t love Oink Games’ small box games with (mostly) big box experiences? I have a few in my collection, and I am always looking at the new crop every Essen / Gen Con.

One that I wanted to play a year or so ago was Durian. In this game, we are helping our gorilla store manager sell fruit to customers. The trick? We can see the inventory of the store based on the public cards our teammates have, but not our own card. So, we don’t have perfect information about how much strawberries and bananas we can actually sell!

Then, the orders start coming in. Each player takes a turn putting out the orders and deciding which side of the card to fill — will we add more durian orders? Do we have enough fruit to fulfill? If any of the players think there’s not enough, they can grab the bell in the middle of the table and call the manager in to take the count.

And we don’t want to disappoint the gorilla, now do we?


But taking chances that we have enough to fill all the orders is not the only stress in the game. Our gorilla manager has three nephews that like to meddle in our smooth operation. Each does something slightly different, from eating up all the bananas we have in the stock room to reversing the orders on the floor. They work differently depending on if they are in your inventory or if they come out as we add cards to the orders, and that’s a subtle but brilliant touch that keeps the game fresh.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Durian boils down two mechanics — push-your-luck and hidden information / bluffing — down to very simple elements. After playing it at a number of different play counts, I think it has worked better with the higher ends. Games like this have that Hanabi mechanism of allowing everyone else to know what you have in your hand, while you flounder around trying to do some deductive reasoning based on the actions of the other players, aren’t appealing to every player. But the short time length, tension in adding to the stack of orders, and chaos that ensues when the nephews arrive all add up to a good time. I’m looking forward to many plays with my family at Christmastime.



Are You Sure Tanks Can Do That?

Funko Games has a well-deserved reputation for taking IP games and elevating them to real hobby experiences, unlike the trash-for-cash that we saw growing up in the hobby in the 70s and 80s. We’ve enjoyed a number of them recently, with Jaws and The Rocketeer probably standing out among the rest.

The latest one to grace our GameToppers LLC mat is Fast & Furious: Highway Heist game. Based on the hit movie franchise, one which unfortunately I have never seen, Fast & Furious takes cooperative games to another level of cinematic goodness.

Players each play the stars of the franchise, recognizable even in their softened looks on the player boards. I played Brian while Jerod played Han, with each character giving us unique special abilities, and we each picked our own sports car which also gave us ways to boost up our dice strength or cool tricks.


The game comes with three pre-designed scenarios: neutralizing a big tank smashing up cars along the way, dodging and capturing a helicopter, and of course, a chase and fight scene with a massive 18 wheeler and all the attendant baddies.

The game also comes with tons of “stunt” cards, which are one of the ways that you use to do incredible movie-like maneuvers (that have no basis in physics or real life, of course) to attack the enemy vehicles and win the game. The stunts are also important because they represent one of the timers in the game, so get ’em done or you will find yourself in a world of hurt.

As I would expect from Funko, the production is amazing. The artwork is reminiscent of the movies, and the iconography is clean and easy to read. The pieces, of course, are outstanding — lots of plastic cars and shields for the player tokens who are bouncing around from car to tank with ease.

The fact that the game comes with three unique scenarios, and each one has a random amount of stunts that come out, means that there is enough in this box to get a half-dozen or more hours of entertainment.

ROUX DAT SAYS: I love where we are going with these co-operative games. Sure, most of them are just puzzles that we collectively solve, but games like Jaws and Fast & Furious really try to build a narrative, a momentum of story that grabs players by the arm in the first few minutes and propels them to the (hopefully) successful end. We never felt like we had total control, and when we won on the second to last turn, it was a big high five moment. The best co-op ever? Hardly, but this is a pretty good beer-and-pretzel game. I’d definitely play this again.

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back soon with more early looks at recent plays.

Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Tue Dec 7, 2021 11:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Roux Dat #44: Neoville, Yeti Trek, and Bat Flip

BJ from Board Game Gumbo

Lafayette
Louisiana
msg tools
badge
www.boardgamegumbo.com
Avatar
Microbadge: Dukes of Dice fanMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level IV - The journey of a thousand crits begins with a single roll...Microbadge: The Geek Allstars fanMicrobadge: Rolling Dice & Taking Names FanMicrobadge: Board Games Insider fan
Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing and what games you think we should play!

But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!

This time, we are dishing on our recent plays of Neoville, Yeti Trek, and Bat Flip! You can see our live plays of all three games right on our Twitch channel where we stream live games every Tuesday night!


The Difference Between Knowing the Path and Walking The Path


Whenever a guest on Gumbo Live! brings up a Phil Walker-Harding game, it generally gets the Chat Krewe very excited! Walker-Harding’s games range from quick card games to fun euros and everything in between. Blue Orange Games sent us a review copy of Phil WAlker-Harding’s latest, Neoville, and we got it straight to the table! Neoville pits players as rival city builders, trying to create the most harmonious place to live with parks and sports arenas and gorgeous 3D skyscrapers.


Each player takes turns slowly building a four by four city by choosing a square tetromino from their hand of three tiles, and then making the even tougher decision what building, if any, to put it on that tile. Why so tough, you ask? Because Walker-Harding has incorporated a cool betting mechanic, sort of a one-time push your luck mechanism. Think you can build out a large area of water tiles? Grab that 12 point water based skyscraper and plop it into the city, but if you miss, you miss big — not completing your buildings costs you that many points at the end of the game. Plus, there are two different buildings: skyscrapers are limited to one per the type of district you are building (water, grass, stone, or desert) and can score big points, but the utilities can be put just about anywhere except a park or athletic facility and can gobble up cheap and easy points, as they just need to match the design of your city or be in the right sector of tiles.


And of course, since the buildings are limited and varied in value, it’s also a race element to see who can grab the higher point or lower point / easier buildings first. Sure, there will be quiet moments because of the puzzles that have to be worked through as you fit your tiles in the city, but the breeeeeezy pace of play means there will be lots of good natured chat and ribbing as the cities are built. If we had any problems, some of the color choices in the buildings made it hard for us to tell which was which, but there were no other issues with the production or the game. Blue Orange makes beautiful games, and it was fun watching our little small tile beginning turn into a majestic city skyline by the end of the game.

ROUX DAT SAYS: On our first play, we found that Neoville had it all: quick turns, thinky puzzles, stomach clenching decisions on whether to push our luck, and of course, that tense feeling any game with even a modified race element like this one gives you. We are certainly looking forward to another play, and I think Neoville is going to be the perfect date night game for me and my wife.

Ice Split, Yeti You Choose

Jay brought over a game on crowd sale right now, Yeti Trek, from Junk Food Games. It’s a quick two player game that incorporates a mechanic that not many games do or do well — the “I split, you choose” mechanism. Players are competing yetis trying to race up a mountain that has three unique terrains. Each of those can be scaled using dice matching that color, but one person rolls and separates the dice into two piles, while the other chooses first which pile to take, leaving the remainder for the rolling player.


At least it feels like one player is “leaving the remainder” when you read the rules. The reality is that because of the way the luck rolls, every turn will usually leave the splitting player an agonizing decision. If your opponent has an opportunity to skate past the hardest part of the mountain, you certainly don’t want to make it easy for them. But will you leave them a lot of other dice that they can use to combo up a big move on the easier path?

The decisions as to which dice to split up, and then which pile to choose are deliciously done, especially because of the spatial puzzle of combining your dice into big moves across the crevasses of the glacier you are traversing. It drills down what is essentially important about the splitting mechanic — creating a façade of fairness yet the reality of making one side slightly stronger than the other.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Yeti Trek fits into that game space of games in a small package that feel a lot bigger: games like Celestia, Joraku, etc. Sure, there’s a hefty amount of luck, but it feels like you can control the outcome of the dice rolls with the split / choose mechanic. It’s probably an illusion, but I like the tension that it creates on every turn.

There’s No Crying In Bat Flip


The World Series is over, but that does not mean that baseball is done. It’s Hot Stove League time! What better way to prepare for the inevitable movement that free agency and winter trades brings then to play a baseball themed board game. The folks at Scorelander Games reached out to us with a review copy of Bat Flip, a game coming to Kickstarter soon.

Ever get that deja vu feeling when you visit a retro ball park? Watching your favorite team in action sometimes calls to mind previous plays, or previous games, or some of your all time favorite ballplayers. Jay and I played Bat Flip, and I got that feeling a bit while working through this three inning recreation of the highlights of the beautiful game. Anyone who has played Baseball Highlights: 2045 (or the computer game, Microleague Baseball) will understand that concept — turning a nine inning four hour slog into a twenty to thirty minute highlight of the best plays in the game.


But even thought Bat Flip and BH2045 share the same destination, the journey is completely different. In Bat Flip, players will take two decks from an initial starting set of about a half dozen different teams, mash them up together Smash Up style, and then try to use their half inning’s worth of three outs to score as many runs as possible. In this way, it feels a little more like it’s older brethren Magic: The Gathering then other games, because you are really trying to get cards out on the table that combo well together for a big inning.

Everything is pretty thematic for such a short, tight game. Pitchers are good against wild walks, each team has a unique power taken right from the pages of the writing of Glenn Waggoner, and every decision feels critical. We played two games already, one to learn the rules and then one on Twitch Tuesdays live stream, and both of us want to explore more.

ROUX DAT SAYS: The joy of board gaming is discovering a game that on the surface looks like it might be yet another deck building / hand management game, but turns out to be way more fun than it ought to be. I think this would work for any player who likes combolicious card games, but for the board game baseball fan, this is a game you ought it to yourself to check out. Plus, there’s almost an unlimited amount of ways to expand the game, so content should never be a problem.


THE WRAP UP:
So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Dec 5, 2021 5:12 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »  

Subscribe