"I voted for the wackyzanyparty and now they are in power worldwide"Final tally"Three times a charm and Ryan Reynolds"
Is five years enough time to prepare for a speeding bullet to cross Japan? You would have to build a mighty impressive gun to fire a bullet that far. Considering it is 1959 it might not be possible. What about a speeding bullet train? Now your talking!
To build this railway you must extract, lay and build. In addition you can support the communities hosting the Japanese Olympics 1964(by building tiny torches in their cities). Is it a train game, is it a sport game? No, it is an action selection game. You pick actions from your personal train. Well, it wouldn't be a game if there wasn't a non sensical challenge. Everything but taking actions from your train is pretty damn thematic and everything which isn't thematic is train related. It's a choo choo choozle for me.
What is beautiful about Japan? Everything! The bullet trains you build have a certain eastern charm to them. The board of the Japan has twelve cities, each with their own personal landmarks. This game looks extraordinary and for a budget game it is such a pleasure to behold.
The production is great for a such budget game. There are three different coloured stations that fit the art. One colour is gold and that is rich. The cards are excellent of an excellent stock and the wooden components are as solid as you like. The tracks are the tiniest tracks you have ever seen. No miniature train would fit on them, let alone a majestic bullet train. Yet it is by design they are small and it makes that cute little map fill up with a small railway track.
I've gone through the basic actions. Excavate, lay track, build a train station or support the communities. The main push of the game is for you to build that damn track in time for the Olympics. There are other actions such as get money or push the influence forward on one of the three coloured stations. Whereas the actions are easy, the scoring is complicated. You see this cute game running across the tracks, in the Japanese country, but you don't appreciate the complexity of the engine running it. Each excavation gives between one and three points and costs the corresponding amount. There are four stations in three different colours and each subsequent train station earns you less points. The points and cost of laying a track fluctuate, but remember you cannot lay track if you haven't excavated a spot. The number of actions per round (in a quick five round game) also fluctuate. This also scales depending on the number of players. Complex, complex, complex. No one said that building a bullet train railway would be easy and yet, it gets even more complicated.
At the end of the game you score for multiple things. But I cannot even tell you that before I explain the start of the game. One of the first task you do before you get to the action phase is to draft a carriage. The carriage has a number (amongst other things) that reflects which city you will score at the end of the game. Has that city no tracks- you lose points. Has it got tracks and a station then you score points according to where in the influence race it stands. Is that enough or do you need a break? Well your not getting one. If you manage to build or manipulate the carriages in order-points! A few more pointers: you lose points for each of the seven torches you haven't placed in cities and you score or lose points (in the same manner as the carriages with the numbers) if you have a majority of torches in an Olympic city. Finally, if you lose the game you must stand on an active railway line and wait for death; or at least that is how you feel after the rules have been explained.
It's not over. Like a train journey that never ends there is more gameplay aspects to explain. The actions are limited! The four main actions are available to you from the start but at a price. The carriages may have the actions you can use for free but these are also limited.
At this point of the review you are either have motion sickness or enjoying the ride because complexity is what you look for in a game. Everything has been designed to make sense. On your turn you take actions and you aim to lay track and build valuable stations in the cities you control. There is a lot to consider but keep it simple and this can be the best ride you have ever have. Alternatively, you can say that this game is too complex and you rather have acupuncture therapy from reading the basis of the game. My view is, apart from getting the trains in order, everything fits together nicely. There is so much to consider but the game flows so good that you just feel the challenge and not the grind. Did I tell you about the income from the torches? There is still more to explain about this game.
The solo experience is great, if not limited. The end of game scoring hinges on the influence of these stations. This is still present in the solo game but obviously an inefficient AI doesn't quite hold the same challenge as human brain bots. That said, I found the only way to beat the AI is to build all your torches because the minus points are so punishing. With two, the game works excellent but with more, you lose control and the interactivity goes up.
The whole experience was unique but highly engineered. Depending on your taste and ability to hold your stomach, your pleasure of the game may vary.
Has this review choozled your mind? What does choozle mean? Either you go with it or not. Shinkansen: Zero Kei is an brilliantly simple game yet somehow overly complicated at the same time. Like the bullet train, it takes your brain on a journey to gaming nirvana. I am yet to play it with a wide audience but for me I thought it was just the level I like in games. It is short and really packs a punch. For my Maartje she said you can clearly see this game was designed. I argue against her and say excavate, lay and build. And Shinkansen: Zero Kei no one likes learning new words- you can choozle right off.
Welcome to my newer, better, sexier and more violent blog! I go Foam Bananas for games and want to share my enthusiasm with you!
- [+] Dice rolls
I am so behind on writing about my games. I feel like I am in a race with Lewis Hamilton when I am Nikita Mazepin. There are some crackers in this weeks blog!
There is something about action selection games I thoroughly enjoy. Village is still a favourite of mine but Nippon knocks it up a notch (funny story I first wrote notch as nonce). I don't think I've played it with the full compliment of players. There was Jan, whose copy we used, and both Roger and Newbie were new to the game. In Nippon, you are improving your income, technology, building factories and establishing dominance around Japan (area majority game). It is too long ago since I last played it to remember what the other players' strategies were but I rocked! I bought two level two factories that produced an extra resource and saturated Japan with my manufactured goods. I stormed the the score track and, for all intensive purposes, won. When it came to the third age (of three) both Roger and Jan had manage to take away my dominance in Japan. I still got points but was no longer holding extravagant parties in the Japanese equivalent of the Ritz. So what happened next was that in the final scoring Jan over took my score marker by a small margin. The cause? In Nippon, when you retire your working squad, you take a scoring multiplier. I had made a Japanese ear of it and lost. I had all the ingredients to win. Had I placed those multipliers in better spots victory would be mine. But after a three year wait to play the game again, your focus is on playing the game the best you can and if you win it is happenstance. Well done Jan- it won't happen again.
It happened again ! Only kidding. In the words of my daughter, "your making a joke and I don't like it". Colt Express was the middle game of the Sessa games tournament. My views on Colt Express are mixed. I enjoy the chaos of the game but find the lack of control frustrating. The situation was exasperated due to the fact this was a tournament game. I don't remember the facts too well. I remember playing with Ron and two others. Both Ron and I, didn't unload our barrels and we were some way off from winning. I remember being third and very happy with that result. What I will share with you is that this the game was "the bad" from the three games of the tournament. The good was The Palaces of Carrara and the ugly was Dominion, how cool is that?
Great Western Trail
How could I forget this game? Mariska scored, the holy grail, over one hundred points. I started the game with a hand of four Jersey cows (level one cows) and my luck didn't improve much from there. I had chosen the engineer strategy and wept in my bucket of tears. I don't understand how you get money from that strategy, can anyone help? Mariska was scoring points from cattle and more cattle. There was so much beef it was like a cattle farm (your making a joke...). Ron looked equally ridiculous compared to Mariska's score but a Texas Longhorn compared to my score. I played Great Western Trail again in November and also lost but that's a cow's tale for another moooorning. From being my favourite game, Great Western Trail is quickly turning into cow dung. (I like to win).
Texas Showdown was played with the same four players as Nippon. It took a round or two to get used to the gameplay but the great thing about tricking games is the banter you have in between hands. I recall Newbie losing and Roger winning. Good craic and I look forward to playing more of my un-played trick games.
I put off playing Franchise for years as I thought area majority games are best played with four players. So now I played it again, why not play it with two? Matthijs was the victor in the last game and he carried on that trend. In Franchise, you establish offices around America. It is an area majority game and you score points for having the most franchises in an area. The game was extremely viscous with me establishing offices in the most valuable areas. But I was hesitant to close them as that would decrease my income. Matthijs was happy to hand in his high, end of game. point scoring abilities for money. The game was like the contest between McDonalds and Burger King, both successful in their own right, but there could only be one winner. If you are sad for me dear reader, you can take consolation that I lost by three points or so. The game was great but the winner shrugged the game off as merely adequate.
I don't think anyone has heard of this game. It's an obscure engine building about birds. But birds don't have engines, so how do they fly? This game flies smoothly and the three of us that played (Wilko and nice lady) were one point away from each other. My main criticism of this game is that there are no cats. Imagine how interactive the game would be with cats. "My cat eats your stork- you lose". In any case without the cat I lost and one of the others won. It played at a decent speed.
So finally, Maartje beat me fair and square. This great drafting game about civilisation and I finally lost to Maartje. To be fair I had lost to her before by playing the plague expansion but no one wins during a plague apart from big pharma. Maartje collected lots of sets, it was all very exciting and the game is very colourful. Did you see the pictures? See them here. I like it when I play games over and over again. Hadara is one such game.
The Castles of Tuscany
This was an exciting game of Burgundy light. I had a good start by starting with the extra tile holder (plus six points). I thought I would rush with points and didn't build any three tile spaces. Castles of Tuscany is a great game and again it is a game that gets regular play. Who likes dice? No one! Who likes luck? Everyone! Who likes a game that takes thirty minutes? Everyone and your goldfish. You should get off my back and understand how great this game is. I have question for all the people who read this blog and play this game (the venn diagram shows zero people, yet I will take a chance), who likes the new rules where you draw three cards instead of two? I think it is an unnecessary pile of cow dung.
I played this game with Matthijs and we both sped read the rules. He did the Dutch rules and I did the normal rules. We both missed the rule that the one furthest back in the track takes a turn. Despite that the game was enjoyable, if not a little confusing. We took turns one after each other. I don't think we played a rematch after we found the correct rule but I will take the first victory in my pocket. I later played with Maartje and found that playing with the right rules does not add or subtract anything to the experience. That's is funny, right? I had the experience and thus the victory. Maartje was lukewarm to the game. It's a very charming package and I will happily play it again with a cat or dog or human. I hear that cats and dogs from Glasgow are more civilised than Glasgow folk but I've never been, so I cannot confirm these rumours.
The Siege of Runedar
I loved the rulebook! Every question I had was answered. Yes, all but one. What is my player area? Is it my figure on the board, or my bed or any toilet? In Runedar, you are being invaded by pesky orks. I wish it could have been knights or cars as the game is as ugly as the seventh level of hell. The production and the quality of the game is exceptional, so why make the art so ugly. When was the last time someone considered a painting of an orc and thought, "well that puts things into perspective". Maartje helped and hindered me as I failed to read the rules correctly. The siege tower is placed in the player's area and to attack it, someone has to be in that player area! If at the start of a player's turn the siege engine is in a player's area it is activated. I struggled so much. The rest of the rules were so clear, yet player area is not defined. So learn this lesson fellow player; the player area is in front of you and nowhere else. Funnily enough, the same wording is in the rule book for Shinkansen: Zero Kei (same publisher) but in that game there are no other areas or little figures running around. So we were destined to fail. But despite that, the game is quite a lot of fun. You run around killing badies and collecting resources to upgrade your weapons. You actually have to dig your way out the castle. And despite us playing the game on impossible mode because you have the rules wrong, it felt, realistically, very difficult. We started the game too late and we were very tiered after a while but I think, at one point, if Maartje is in my player area, we will play a little area.
Shinkansen: Zero Kei
I want this blog done and I am very tiered, so I will write a review of this game when I want and not a game report. Suffice to say, I love it more than on schedule trains. It is the game of the year (1964 Japanese Olympics) and I have not won once, unless you count my solo victory. This game has flaws, but the flaws are the same of an overly excited Japanese train driver trying to be on schedule. Sure sometimes the driver kills everyone on the train but that's because he wants to make sure everyone is on work on time. I hope that is not an insensitive analogy but I am tiered and want to go to bed. Plus it is true. Anyway, I like the game very much but sometimes it tries to hard to please you. And Maartje always wins.
I played High Score over Skype with Hans and Juliet (Maartje was in person). You roll blue dice (yes blue dice!) and try to attempt to get the high score as per the rules of that round. It is very entertaining and I won. Sad for Hans and Juliet- they used different dice. That's a double whammy of sad- losing and not rolling blue dice. I call a rematch in person.
- [+] Dice rolls
I am back like sexy back. Let's do the text. To make things more bearable there are pictures of me doing stuff. First eleven today next eleven another time.
I fell for the hype and got an amazing package. Man, Dinosaur Island is good looking. Shame I found the solo game so tedious that I never want to play it again. Sadly, Pandasaurus Games sent me a broken box. They won't replace it so hopefully I will get a full refund. No one has time for a broken box. Actually, squirrels do bro.
I feel Pandemic is about getting over the hump. Maartje wanted a quick game and we were on the verge of curing two disease fairly early on. The blue disease (Covid- now that's a tasteless joke) was nowhere to be seen in the world. And then bang, bang, bang and the world was in despair. Too many outbreaks. Sadly the game lasted a bit shorter than either of us wanted. Sport was on afterwards so eradication would have to wait for another time.
Dominion: Dark Ages
If you are wondering in which order I am writing this, it is the same as the Items Discussed list on my previous blog. Dominion was the final game played in the Sessa games tournament. I got on to the second table with Ron, Mariska and, I apologise, other. Dominion: Dark Ages is great. Inventive cards and lovely combos to make. Yet the winning strategy was still money. Ron and Mariska won and they both carried a prize home together.
After such a sad tale, this part is the redemption. Ron and Mariska were taking the role of the King and hiding their civilians in the castle. They also loved trading the serf, which allowed them to place more citizens on the board. Rattus is a game of population growth and decimation in the time of an epidemic. Your citizens grow in rat infested countries and, if they survive, they make peace once the disease is gone. The more character abilities you have the more fun the game is but it also makes you more vulnerable to the disease. All Ron's and Mariska's citizens were on the world. This triggered the end game. I had a poor population in comparison to them but after all the cities were decimated, I stood victor. Rattus is a great game and made my day as I was losing everything else.
Escape: The Curse of the Temple
The quest of "The Temple" is to escape. How did we get there? No one knows. How come we don't know where the exit lay? No one knows. I think it is the original Jigsaw test, before he went all gruesome and gothic. Ron and Mariska, helped each other to explore and collect gems. This being a cooperative game- I helped out. It was really fun and easy. We were playing with the curses, that hindered us nothing and the treasures that helped a bit. The tale of "The Temple" is not a very interesting one but at least we all enjoyed it.
Freedom: The Underground Railroad
Freedom reminded me of the old computer game Breakout. In Breakout you have this platform, that you direct, which bounces balls. In Freedom, there are slaves trying to break free but you have these constant moving slave catchers threatening to put the slaves back into slavery. In Freedom, you want to avoid this moving platform but I felt the tension was similar to that 1900s game. The game was tense. We discussed how best to move slaves up North America and how to avoid disasters. The game is historical and it had interesting historical snippets of events and important people. It was lucky for the usual trio that this was the first game of the day as it was tense. We got to the final stage and were close to freeing enough slaves but we were no where near financing the government to change the law. We all really enjoyed it and this mechanic of the moving slave catchers was, I felt, unique to a board game. In this game we failed to free enough slaves and change the law but, thankfully, it is only a game.
I really enjoy this Stefan Feld classic. Nice easy mechanics where you select some cards and then proceed to use those cards for said actions. There is partial knowledge of what your opponents took, which make playing the cards exciting as the player with the majority of the cards wins a bonus. Of course, ties are broken on an all important track. Rialto is an area majority game so I like to play it with at least four. I played it with Wilko and nice lady I have only met once and forgot her name. My experience allowed me to coast to victory but I still found it an exceptionally pleasurable game. Part of the excitement was the Kickstarter release of New York City. New York City looks great and introduces characters that give you unique abilities, rather than the same old buildings you use in Rialto each game. The Kickstarter was it usual high price, which I have learned to accept from Queen Games. However I had some questions regarding the old Kickstarter campaign, that had not yet delivered, and I was ignored. For such a high price there should be some customer service. There was none, so I backed out the project. Bit of a shame really.
I started the month playing Room 25 solo with the Room 25: Escape Room expansion. I would like to share the escape room module with people but I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle edition. You have to move rooms around the complex, to activate the room and taste that incoming freedom. I revel in the challenge of Room 25 but I think it is a tough sell to people. It is unnecessary clunky and has everyone's least favourite mechanic of programming. Hopefully Reload will change that but I will carry on enjoying Room 25.
Now this hurt. I was sure I was going to win but Ron took it. We awarded Ron some points after getting a rule wrong. I had read the rules and mistakes were made by everyone. Yet, I thought the game was extraordinary. It is the usual, do something and get points but Bora Bora is fairly interactive as you activate spots, which blocks others from using them. I made some strategic mistakes myself but where Ron won the game was by completing the grid of fires and getting lots of points for his game end goals. The game is unequal, has too many pieces and needs to desperately streamlined. Mariska did best by buying a copy at Essen for a tenner a few years ago. I had played Bora Bora many years ago and won. I felt contented hence the long gap. Now that I lost I need to get my revenge.
The Palaces of Carrara
The Palaces of Carrara was the opening game of the Sessa tournament. This game is as old as grandpapa (relatively speaking) and as such I had played it more than ten times. I was expecting to cruise to victory and pretty much did. We played it on basic mode where not all the goals score you points. Ellen was my main competitor and was only a few points away at the end of the game. I love the mind set you need to play The Palaces of Carrara. Focus, focus, focus. It's the anti engine builder. I'm looking forward to The Palaces of Carrara (Second Edition).
Qwixx, Machi Koro
Matthijs is a good man. I get to play this gateway games. I rub my legs at him as I proceed up the tracks of Qwixx. I tweak my nipples as I roll my dice in Machi Koro. I stand stunned as I lose both games. This shouldn't happen to a seasoned gamer.
- [+] Dice rolls
I've been a bit ill and buggering off to the Great United Kingdom, love! So I'll do the write up when I am back. I also played High Score, which was great but I didn't take a picture of it. Enjoy the pictures and imagine the witless text I would write to accompany it.
- [+] Dice rolls
On the 14th October 2021 I went to Essen Spiel. It was
brilliantan experience. Here is an account of the day:
Essen is in Germany. It is made famous by being on many maps, including German maps, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Pandemic. I was driving from my home, the Netherlands, which you may recall from clogs. I was driving a four wheel vehicle and listening and crying to the new Killers album. It's sad that a man was arrested for possessing more drugs than can kill all the horses that run free. I was having a good drive until we reached an under repair bridge, with barriers so tight you had to breathe in not to crash.
I safely made it to Essen where I drove down some urban streets looking to get a green, environmental sticker for my car. My friend, the shop assistant, spat in my face, was it not for the protection of a pane of safety glass I would have surely been Covid positive. Ironically, he informed me I needed to wear a face mask to stop the spread of Covid. This when I realised that Covid was impacting on my freedom. I was in Essen to play games, so for the sake of gaming I forwent my freedom. Mask on face, the man directed me to DH. Sticker on car, I got to Essen Messe. Rain on head, car in the carpark, I got wet as I marched to the hall. "Proof of vaccination please". I showed the man my barcode and that was enough for him to direct me into the building designed as a large toaster. I was impressed with the man, not only did he scan the barcode with his eyes but he knew I was the person that the barcode related to. Oh bother! My fame preceded me. It was only a matter of time before the groupies got me.
I was there with a few dozen gaming junkies as we wobbled through the reception into an empty hall. The rumours were false! Not every hall was decked with games from toe to ceiling. I did this twice, too empty halls- baah. And then I walked into a hall with a number. Alley Cat Games, I like them, Dranda Games, I backed their Kickstarter. Finally the famous publishers I recognised. This was what I was talking about. But why stop there? I sought out more publishers, more games as I spied on my surroundings. Finally, I got to hall one. It was big. Then I got to hall three. It was big. Reader, if I could summarise Essen Messe for you I would say it was big.
A sense of regret had passed my soul. "Why am I here?", I wondered. I knew the games, it was my hobby. These games are not limited edition, I could buy them on the internet- whatever that is. The true reason I was there was as a sense of obligation. "You haven't been to Essen? Are you the person who threw acid in my mother's face?". Accusations of these sorts came from gamers left, right and centre . My mission was to zap these comments out of my life. Yup, Essen had met my expectations- a hot trade hall with the same products readily available elsewhere.
One of my anticipated visits would to the Queen Games stall. I had backed their Stefan Feld Collection Kickstarter which includes Amsterdam and Hamburg. I thought, it would be great to see how they are looking as they have been delayed for over a year. What I found was a bargain store canopy, with the games piled up on the floor with cheap advertisement promoting the prices. Kokopelli, was for sale and cheaper than what it was on Kickstarter. I was quite keen for the game but, sir, the price was too high. At the checkout, they had the Kokopelli acrylic stands and I was surprised. They looked neat.
The issue I find with these big trade fairs is that there is very limited room to do what I want to do and that is to game. There was a table free for Riverside. I asked the gentleman if he would explain the game to me as I wished to play it. I informed him that I was happy to wait for people but he replied without a care in the world, "no need brave Sir Adam, Riverside is a great solo game". It was a great solo game, I really enjoyed rolling dice, getting tickets and docking at piers. It was so good a bearded, German had joined me and I taught him the game. The game is a bit like That's Pretty Clever!, where you collect bonuses for your lowest scoring section. I scored zero points on one of the sections and it was an absolute failure. Still, one day, maybe I will purchase the game or maybe I will play another copy. I was not there to buy stuff, I was there for the experience.
Walking around was like walking in the Hollywood of board games. It was neat to see a stack of Bitoku. If you were to peruse the forums on Board Game Geek, you would see there was a worry that the game would not be available. It was as available as ladies of the night. Paul Grogan was demoing a blown up version of Under Falling Skies. Mannequins of Space Warriors lined the halls to promote a new Kickstarter. The heavens of the hall were scattered with big promotional brand names. KOSMOS, was one and I wandered there like a moth to the light. They had High Score, a small dice game by Reiner Knizia. The dice are blue and the price was small. It would be a shame to go to Essen Spiel and not have a momentum to go back home with. The dice are blue, how unorthodox is that? I stood behind a Yank to buy the game. I asked her if she was queuing and she informed me that she was but her husband had skipped the queue. I suggested he had a secret and that is when she showed me her back.
A man without a plan is a man living on a wish. One reason I was in Essen was to pick up a lost token for my copy of Smart10. I hit their stall (Piatnik) and saw they had Family Inc.. It was another game from acclaimed designer Reiner Knizia and I thought I would enquire about it. But business was first, and I went to the lovely ladies behind the counter. They directed me to my contact the Bouncer. I fished out my email and the Bouncer directed one of the ladies to get a copy of the game. With his bouncer hands, he took off the shrink and withdrew three tokens and gave them to me. These pieces are vital to the game. Smart10 is a quiz game cased in a plastic box. You remove these tokens to reveal the answer. The game is unplayable without one of these tokens. Seeing him cannibalise one of his games to make me happy made me very sad. I am very impressed with Piatnik for their exceptional customer service. Sir/Madam/Other please support that amazing company. In the future from that point, I got home and the piece did not fit. In the past from that point, I remember having the piece in my hand and throwing it out in the rubbish. I thought, "where do my kids get this junk from?". I left the stall apologising for my misfortune. I think I will just buy a new copy of Smart10 and Family Inc to make the world right.
My voyage in the Messe made me find the most amazing corner of Essen Spiel. It had Fjords, The Gardens (games I had Kickstarted), Hibachi ( a recent acquisition I thoroughly enjoy) and Reload. It was of course the Kolossal Games and Kolossal Games corner. Both Fjords and The Gardens were occupied, so I laid my bottom on the seat in front of Reload. I was intrigued with Reload coming from the designer of Room 25. Room 25 is one a favourite of mine. I occasionally play it solo and test my brain with its fun puzzle. An incredibly French man approached me and started eloquently explaining the game. We waited for a fellow muscular Dutchy and a man from the UK, who lived in the Netherlands (we bonded- get over it), to join us on the square and the excitement began. The French man teaching us the game was Jean-Marc Tribet, no less. He was the co-designer of Reload. "Reload is a television game where you want to get fame by spilling blood and collecting goodies". The enthusiasm was great, the game was a more dynamic version of Room 25. The amount of items and events changing the narrative of the story was great. Bang- I got shot in the butt with a sniper rifle. A grenade blew-off someone's leg. I hid behind the mountains to pick up the goodies. We all wanted a copy! Hell, even the devil wanted a copy, yet Jean-Marc held his ground "Backers first". The Dutchy and The English interrupted game: "Adam, we have enjoyed our experience of this game and now we want to purchase the game. Alas, there is still an Essen Spiel for us to experience so we want to stop this game and bid you adieu." I did not take any offence but it was a bit disappointing as the game had picked up a good flow and we had maybe another twenty minutes of play left. That is what you call Essen Spiel.
I got on my metaphorical boat and approached the shores of Hobby World. Furnace was taking centre stage but what caught my eye was a bit dubious. I love the word dubious and occasionally use it when things appear unclear. Dubious the game had screens and it was a social deduction game- my favourite! The Hobbyworkers gave me a brief description and a bunch of young Europeans, living in the Netherlands, joined me on the table. We traded compliments. I asked if they were in University. They cackled because I thought they were so young. In return they said I was too young to have a family. I guess a face mask is not just for safety but for decreasing your age. Dubious is a mixture of Dixit and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. You are given an occupation and a secret and you must spin a yarn so that most people round the table guess who you are and what your secret is. Just like Dixit, if everyone works out who you are or know your secret then you score no points. I was a construction worker with strong but caring hands. If I had to go to work I had to go into the city and reschedule my meeting. My secret was that I had to visit my relatives in prison. I know this and my new friends know this because I had answered the questions posed to us. The game lists the possible occupations and secrets, so it is not a total shot in the dark. I enjoy the narrative creation of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong and Dubious had a nice twist to it. I would have picked up a copy had it not been unavailable. My fellow Europeans enjoyed the game. One of the more joyous characters was an influencer (in the game) with a puppy and he let us all know from turn one. Genuinely fun and the highlight from my entire trip. But what was next?
Without a goal, I wandered the halls. Where was my favourite and best game's publisher, Hasbro? It was time for some urgent retail therapy. Traders of Osaka was only ten value. I held the ten note in between my fingers ready to give to the vendor. And then... the text was in a foreign language. A good enough excuse not to pick up a game I don't need. In my haze, I saw the impossible- an empty table. But this was no ordinary empty it was Monumental. A game so good it was not available to buy by ordinary means. To buy it, you would need to encounter the dirty second hand market or the vampire's den otherwise known as Kickstarter. Sure I would try it out. Three kindly Germans allowed me to join their game. The game explainer was excellent as the rules went on and on and on and on. Before the convention was over but after our patience had been tested we started to play the game. I won't explain the rules but imagine a card game where you cannot choose the cards you want to use. Also imagine a war game, where you only focus on the battle half the time. These two concepts combined made for a unique experience. Sure, separately these two concepts would have made for a better experience. What brought the game together was an incredible production. I've never seen such detailed miniatures but then I have not sought out miniatures. We laid our cards out in a 3x3 grid and selected five of them. Most of the time we drafted, sometimes we moved figures. It took an age. As these events in Essen occur, our game's teacher had to leave after explaining ninety-five percent of the rules. We had some tedious rule searching and an unwelcome sales pitch. I accidentally asked if the game was available and one of the booth's sale people came along showing all the boxes they have for sale. It transpired that the game was for sale, at a ghastly price of one-hundred and fifty Euros- without minis. So a five minute sales description, during a slow learning game. I cannot say that the experience was one I had lived my life for. That said, I imagine the game is good fun. Turns should be quick once you know what your doing, upgrading cards and performing combos is good fun. Attacking opponents with mean looking minis could be fun. I'm glad to have tried Monumental: a patchwork of good things, which didn't quite make the sum of their parts.
It was approaching four hours after the sun had reached its peak. For breakfast I had loaded up on the carbs: eggs, sausages, toast and beans. Would it be a crime to have a currywurst sausage? Well I still haven't been arrested but don't inform the police- they have an anti two-sausage a day policy. My energy restored, I had checked in with Maartje and sat outside. There was a good vibe. People sitting, re-energising, chatting about the games they played and what was next on their agenda. I was done with the convention. I had bought Yummy Yummy Monster Tummy for my daughter. She had enjoyed playing Soviet Kitchen Unleashed and this was a reimplementation for children. The sales clerk was very friendly but what she didn't tell me was the app, that you need to play with, was full of bugs. I understand that the app is designed to have monsters but to find bugs was very disappointing. Silhouettes of bunnies, invisible dragons, with the latter making the game impossible to play. You have to combine cards to get the right colour but if you cannot see the colour of the monsters, the monster's hunger is never satisfied. Another Essen issue with purchasing an early release. Had it not been for rush hour I would have called it a day but instead I called it an endurance test. I ventured to the higher numbered halls. There I found game mats, geek art, mead, toy figures and even some games. Lisbon Tram 28 had taken my eye and the bell had taken my ear. I asked myself, what is that dinging wonder? But alas my fluttering around the table did not free the seats and I gave up. I walked past the Cranio Creations booth. They had a stall of mighty impressive games to sell: Golem, Barrage and Maharaja. All games seducing me but how did I resist? I already had an unplayed copy of Maharaja (if you don't count a solo playthrough) and a million other Euro games waiting to be played or replayed. Yet this did not stop the Essen alumni. They had won Essen by picking up these wonderful titles.
I was running on low. What would happen with my defences down? Would I buy some crap I didn't need or play a terrible game. Well, instead I let people tell me about their wonderful games. I was always intrigued by Waggle Dance and new publisher Bright Eye Games had reprinted it. Sad for them, their stock never came in but that didn't effect the enthusiasm of the bright eyed' publisher. Waggle Dance is a bee placement game where you collected nectar to make honey. The bees are dice and the game is sweet as honey. They also had created a more advance version-Termite Towers which add some cool push your luck features. The hatted designer Mike Nudd, had left an impression on me at a convention where we had played a 7 Wonders game with every expansion (apart from 7 Wonders: Babel). That game was epic and Mike and the others where excellent company. Good impressions impress.
Next stop was the coolest publisher in the convention. Oink Games are a fashion brand. Their small box design and their cool minimalistic art melts the competition away. It took some willpower not to buy their trendy clothes or their Startups drink coasters. The great thing about being successful is that your value increases and that makes difficult choices easy. Had Moon Adventure been five Space Euros cheaper I would have purchased it. Moon Adventure is an adaptation of Deep Sea Adventure. It is a cooperative game. With your little space man and space buggy, you try to collect some space goodies before running out of air. How cool is that? Oink cool if you ask me. I survived and didn't pick it up but I rate Moon Adventure as the number one best game of Essen #differentsortofgameaward.
My final peek was at Eternal Palace. I enjoy the concept of Kingsburg more than I enjoy the game. Eternal Palace takes the mechanics and seems to make a more interesting game. Tracks, unstable bonuses and bluffing. I was a small trip away from backing it during the Kickstarter campaign but I do have the print and play waiting for me in the attic. The game looks superb. I enjoy the Japanese aesthetics as much as the Japanese like dice. Yet with only one demo table I had more hope of visiting Japan this year than playing this game in Essen.
The cloud and the rain had disappeared from outside yet it was darker outside. I had walked past the Ludonova booth many of times. I wished upon a booth that a seat would be free. I didn't care for which game. I am sure The Siege of Runedar is great. Reiner Knizia knows his dice from his cards. What I really wanted to try was Shinkansen: Zero Kei. Ludonova had a pre-order deal. Buy games you had no interest in buying and save money. Is that not a great deal? I pre-ordered their Essen bundle to save myself twenty Euros. Also included was a cheap solo game I am sure I would be able to give a blast- Arkham Noir: Case #3 – Infinite Gulfs of Darkness. But, Shinkansen: Zero Kei cost more than a tenner and I had to know what I was investing in. I got a run down from lady Ludonova and it seemed good enough. The Japanese map with a train line running down the middle looked classy and which child wasn't impressed by a bullet train. I thought, "Okay, I am going to invest". In the morning the shelves for the Siege of Runedar were full and now they were empty so something must be going well. Was it okay to fall for the hype? Was I just walking Euro sign for the cashier? It didn't matter as I got shoved away by two separate people shoving their Runedar cash to the vendor, the very vendor who told me Shinkansen: Zero Kei is great. He found me on his list and tipped his hat to me for ordering the trio of games. How foolish was I? He didn't have a bag. Shinkansen: Zero Kei and Arkham Noir both fit in my bag but now I was a walking tourist with a game the size of Luxemburg under my arm. I have since played Shinkansen: Zero Kei and I can report it is excellent.
Tiered and rightly mistaken for a fat gamer, all I wanted to do was to go home. It was still too early. It was time to sit on any table I could find. I had found a game I had no interest in-Murano: Light Masters. The Matagot games teacher was happy to beat me at the game. I think he figured out I was trying to waste time as I kept on yawning and apologising to him. Murano is a nicely produced game. It has two spinners which determine which shiny objects you take and what exchanges you could do in part two of your game. It was light, it was fine and it took enough time for me to say goodbye to the fair.
I held my breath, drove across the bridge and enjoyed the rest of the journey with some uplifting French dance music.
"Disco..., disco, disco- Justice". Cream cracked (cockney rhyme for shattered) I sat in front of the TV fixing the castle from The Siege of Runedar. All in all, I enjoyed myself and had a goodtime. Was it special? I would say no. I can compare it the UK Games expo in the UK. Obviously it is a bit like comparing an acorn to an oak tree but what I prefer to the UK expo is that they put on a show. They have daily tournaments, guest speakers, cabaret and heaps of gaming room. These days, the hotel is expensive but it is on the edge of Birmingham with plenty of other accommodation offers. I went alone to avoid the negotiation and stress that crowds bring. If Essen was local to me than I would go but 100 odd kilometres away and twenty-three Euro entry is not worth it for me. Next month I am off to a small gaming convention in Derby where the focus is to play games in a nice environment. Now that's my type of convention.
Much respect to you reader for reading my Essen tale
Adam (the fan of blue dice)
- [+] Dice rolls
Hello everyone! Drop me a bomb, tell me how you are or don't. September is my favourite month. Give me a birthday wish, give me a good holiday. I didn't think I played too many games this month, but nuts- turns out I played a fair few.
Roll for Adventure
I am really enjoying cooperative games these days. No sad Maartje, just good times. Roll for Adventure was as cheap as discounted board games get. I tired it out solo, I played it with my daughter and played it with Maartje. I enjoyed all three of the plays. The production is sweet and rolling dice is one of the best things you can do in your life. The game was fine. It produced some fun moments and discussion but it lacked little tension. You go on adventures in four regions. Three of the regions give you crystals and the others assist you. The difficulty is increased by the amount of crystals you need to collect. That's the issue. You just do the same thing over and over again. I feel if there were more areas than the game would be more interesting and more challenging. I understand I am negative about this game but I found my games entertaining, for a while, and thought the design was great. I would be happy to play this again and probably will. I placed it on a math trade and not one soul was interested in it. The theme doesn't help because it is lacking. It's better than Horrified.
Amerigo is great. In this game many cubes stayed in the tower, giving me and Matthijs limited actions. This was fortunate for me as Matthijs blocked me out of some of the good islands. I thought I was done for but I had picked up the technology that gives me plus one on picking and laying villages and, with some big moves, I won. We calculated that had Matthijs had enough cubes to lay his big settlement he woulda, coulda, shoula won. Well wouldas won't win you the game. This is a Certified Feld classic.
The Lord of the Rings
Matthijs wanted more action in Middle Earth. We got to Mount Doom but having suffered great injuries in the battle of Helm's Deep we never really had a chance. This is how great cooperative games are made. It is tense, you are invested and it is tough but beatable. We took risks that didn't pay off, we discussed tracks we should take. I am looking forward to more Lord of the Rings action and maybe next time we will add some friends and fiends.
Wout brought Glass Road to our local gaming group. He had played it many times solo and was ready to take it for a multi-player spin. Sad for him he came last. Happy for me I beat him. It is was funny that the two most experienced players would become third and fourth but Roel had a great game creating some great engines. I genuinely thought I was doing well, but I guess you need at least one engine building. Niek was second. The game went down a storm. I like it and I am happy to play it but I find it tricky to find a winning strategy. In another words I am a bad loser.
Fluxx is rubbish, or is it? If you enjoy chaos, Fluxx is the game for you. I have a suspicion I won but Maartje says Mariska won, but who won really? Draw cards, swap cards, new end of game goals and lots of laughs. Fluxx gets a lot of stick because it is not a real game. But just like Pinocchio, it wants to be a real game and you have fun adventures playing it. We played without the creepers and everyone enjoyed including Ron; whom I suspected knows the true winner of the game.
Cosmic Run: Regeneration
I wasn't convinced of playing Cosmic Run because watching Yahtzee can be a bit dull. What is great about Cosmic Run is that your competing on tracks. Races are fun and the threat of destruction is tense. You race your ships to the planets before they blow up and you can also invest in aliens that give you abilities and points when you trade them in. This game is so much more than Yahtzee. I must say I had a great time and, unexpectedly, didn't lose. Roel picked up rubbish chits making him last. Wout had a strong start and looked unbeatable. That was until Niek rushed to the final planet and traded some aliens which enabled him, not just to pip Wout, but supremely win. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as me and I think they did.
San Juan (Second Edition)
The issue with this edition is that it includes the harbour. Every time you trade resource you get a point. Trading is the best way to get cards and Maartje scored an impressive ten or so points with it. I put in some engines in play and once I was getting two cards and trading lots of cards the game was over. San Juan is quick and that makes it a quality game. I thought with my statues it would be close but Maartje had a Guildhall that scored her more points than you could dream of- about ten. It was fun to play but I was sad to lose. Such is life.
I was excited to get Horrified. A great looking game with lots of cooperative goodness fun. I was shocked(!) to find that that this game is very good but not for me or Maartje. You really need to roleplay and ham up your play. "Watch out, the swamp monster is going to get your arse!" or "You enter the observatory and find a telescope you could whack Dracula's head with". With the right crowd I could probably role play it and have great fun. With Maartje... On your turn you walk around picking up item after item and using the items in relevant places. There are lots of monsters to try out but they all hinge on get an item and use it. Unlike Roll for Adventure, I found this game lacked any really excitement and I am going to get rid of it. The good news is that I am sure it is going to be easy enough to sell.
Luxor is one of my recent favourites. I play too much of it on BoardGameArena. That means, when I play Maartje, sadly, she poses little competition. Luxor looks amazing. It is really striking and the nice big components are a joy to handle. The satisfaction of getting the right combination of cards or a good die roll is high. Just because the game is basic, doesn't mean it is not fun.
I am looking for a new type of game experience and Hibachi allows for a unique game. You throw some chips and activate actions to buy and sell resources to cook. It's proper neat. Maartje hated it and that is why I am looking to try out playing this game with more people. Throwing stuff is fun and in this game you throw loads.
Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary
Notre Dame used to be played regularly when I lived in Cambridge. I wasn't too bothered by it. I thought it was a nice game but it wouldn't stand to the hot gaming competition- just like Notre Dame didn't stand to burning flames. Thank goodness for all the people who are willing to pay for its reconstruction and not donate that money to people living in poverty. Notre Dame is all about rats and poverty and both Janneke and Maikel were happy for their citizens to suffer at the mercy of the rats. They focused on scoring points and Maikel was first and Janneke was third. I had invested in my hospital and scored ten points with the only one cube on Notre Dame on the penultimate scoring round. I was a point off winning. Geoff tried to focus on everything and came last. The general reaction was the game was good but not exceptional. One day they might understand the majesty of this game. Notre Dame has a great drafting system- just saying.
Quest, Detective Club and Werewords
We did a few party games this month. Quest is the new The Resistance. It removes the voting on the team stage. This stops the arguing, streamlines the game and makes it more fun. We played with four and five players, which is too little for a game like this. Maartje has the ability to read my face which makes playing the game with her redundant. Want to hear a funny story about Werewords? I was the werewolf mayor and the word I picked was woodwork. In the UK, woodwork is the process of making something wooden. Everywhere else in the world woodwork is a wooden object. The fingers were pointed at me. Fun story- fun game. Ron never received the word in Detective Club but some how he managed to get away with it over and over again. At one point, Mariska had played terrible cards where you felt like you would be stupid not to choose her. It was naturally Ron. Detective Club was a hoot!
The Game: Face to Face
I lovep laying this small number game with Maartje. Tense, strategic and themeless. The Game is everything a game should be and I won the series of games we played, if not every game.
I am not a fan of Kingsburg. I believe that if you have good dice you will win every time. I had very good dice activated the Queen (three points, two resources and a peek at the enemy) twice. I had built up my defences and won. Janneke was terrible upset. I think we all had half decent dice but if you roll under ten over and over again it can be painful. Kingsburg is not a short game. That is why I recommend Vienna. Vienna has similar mechanics but plays in less than half the time. Still, winning increases the enjoyment of the game and I was very happy after losing out in Notre Dame.
Maartje suggested we played The Game: Face to Face again and I wished I had accepted. Viticulture is a very nice game but I think I am done with it. I didn't enjoy the game and I lost. I didn't want to say no to Maartje after suggesting a heavier game but maybe I should in the future. I'm going to keep the game but I have no will to play it anytime soon.
Take it Easy!
We played with Hans and Juliet over Skype and Hans had a cracker of a game. In Take it Easy you are trying to join up lines, with the same number, to score points. It's a solitaire game that works great over Skype as it has no interaction. Juliet scored extremely low in her game and won the rematch which I did not participate in. Maartje enjoys Take It Easy very much so in my books this game is a winner!
Rajas of the Ganges: The Dice Charmers
Another game played with Hans and Juliet over Skype. I am planning to do a review of this game but I am pretty much done with it. Juliet had a big win but Hans was a close second also allowing his lines to cross. It is pretty standard roll and write fare with each action triggering a combo. It is perhaps not the best game to be played over Skype with long waiting times and lots of calculations. I prefer it to Rajas of the Ganges but as far as roll and writes go, this can roll out of my collection.
- [+] Dice rolls
Whoosh and August is gone. What a lovely month! Holiday season is hardcore in the Netherlands. People vacation like they have never had time off before. Are you enjoying your holiday? It doesn't matter. the important thing is holiday. If you got no good games to play, you should play a few more next month.
Exit: The Game – The House of Riddles
This is only the second game in the series I have played and it was ace. Very easy, you got to play with a ball, throw shapes and bicker with your family. I got one of the nautical clues right but then put the number wrong in the spinner. That was ten minutes wasted. I got a few more of these and with my brother visiting again and Maartje keen to play another, we might have another go.
Sherlock: 13 Hostages
The Sherlock series was my favourite deduction game. This was the fifth of the series I had played and the novelty had worn off. What was left was a neat story, a few red herrings and some interpretations mistakes. Theoretical, non-spoiler, question: if you put on a coat, where is it?
I played quite a few games with Matthijs this month. He is a NOOB. So we played some of these lighter games and had a great time. NOOB time. Qwixx is very enjoyable and anyone can win, even NOOBS.
Port Royal: The Adventure Begins...
We finally defeated the story. Shame they were anticipating a sequel and the story was worse than reading the foot rot on your limbs. The game itself was great. We really got involved in the cooperative aspect of the game and the new abilities were interesting and novel. In fact, I would say that some of the cards in this game are more interesting than in the base game and the expansions. You can play without the narrative aspect but I wish there was away of adding it to the expansions, without the game being, potentially, unbalanced.
The Game: Quick & Easy
The Game: Face to Face is one of Maartje's favourite games: simple ,straight forward and competitive. Take out the competitive part and add more colourful cards and you have a great experience. Maartje was asking more games after we lost and that's what you want in a game. I find this edition infinitely better than than the original game and better than getting a coupon for cheaper windows.
I remember winning, but I am not sure. Corinth is a brilliant game. It is simple, looks great and has fun mechanics like making routes and collecting suits. You can upgrade your abilities and all you do is roll dice. Maybe too simple for some, even if I didn't win I still won. Maartje tried the route building for a change- so there are multiple paths to victory.
Oh dear, Matthijs and Maartje didn't like this game. It didn't help that three pens out of the four either didn't work or were very low on ink. My tastes are expanding to these dexterity games. There tends to be more laughs, more energy and more chat. That's a sign of a good game. The flicking requires a high amount of skill and what is a game of wits feels more akin to a game of luck. That is for us new players anyway. You flick discs which activate areas on your board. Maartje scored big in the majority board and won the game. Fortunately, this means she might be up for a rematch. I praised Corinth for the simplicity and perhaps Sonora flicking game could have been simplified. In any case, the write part is enjoyable enough. Three segments are neat puzzles and there was always a chance of triggering a combo. I don't predict I will play this often but I liked it.
Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure
Did anyone watch the Formula 1 in Belgium? There was no race. While waiting for this no race I pulled out this game and finished it in ten minutes. My favourite game of recent times. Maartje was unlucky to have only three deserts pulled out during the game and because we were competing on camps, she didn't have a chance to do well on them. I guess this game can be very luck dependent but who cares?
The Lord of the Rings
Matthijs and I played Lord of the Rings- what if things went very badly in Bag End? In Lord of the Rings, you face trials on four different boards. Bag End is the first such board and together, you must play cards to go up a track. There is another track that activates bad events. This track was activated four times in a row on the very first turn. We suffered penalty after penalty. I checked the tokens that you draw and they were indeed correct but shuffled in such an impossible way. We left Bag End and Shelob finally had a tasty dinner. I am big fan of the Lord of the Rings and this game felt like an alternative narrative from the book. It was tough, but very enjoyable and Matthijs was also onboard. We are going to give it another go soon and hopefully save the fate of Middle Earth... hopefully.
Mysterium... what a mysterious game. I played twice with Maartje and my brother Peter who were acting as the ghost. We did pathetically bad. In both games we managed to deduce the criminals but failed with the locations. We didn't get to the final end. Maartje, wasn't ready to adapt her clues to our way of thinking and my brother just played anything. It was fun and my brother was really taken by it. We would have played more but holidays are limited.
Pandemic: Hot Zone
North America is saved- Hoorah! I was the medic and Maartje the Dispatcher. We hit a pandemic immediately but with our good team work, we managed to quickly maintain it. The rest of the game was unsurprising but I enjoyed knocking the cubes off the table and collecting sets of cards. Maartje wanted more.
Matthijs joined Maartje and me for a go at rescuing poor casualties of a bombing incident. You place dice in the patients intestines and they miraculously recover. The game is a lot tougher with three as it increases the amount of communication needed and we often were left with dice after the minute expired. We, obviously, lost. Matthijs wasn't keen with the game and that was clear with his lack of urgency or excitement. Flatline is a great game but it demonstrates that not every game is for everyone.
Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy
Eclipse creates a great narrative and I had a very enjoyable evening playing it. Sander played a dominating game and he deserved his victory. I like the component update from the first edition of the game but the gameplay appears to be the same with minimal tweeks. Rogier was hit by tremendous bad luck and your game can be so dependent on other players action. These are two flaws which stop me from loving the game. What I particularly enjoyed about this game was that it was anyone's (apart from Rogier) game. Had I focused a bit more on gathering points and not worrying about being attacked I could have won. If I had attacked Sander, Steven wouldn't lost as many points. The game lasted around four hours and it was quite the endurance test by the end. Still, as epic games go, Eclipse is one of my favourites.
- [+] Dice rolls
"Big box fun"Harvest time"Smarts and wars are the order of the day"
It started in space. Suspiciously void of aliens, four humans that went by the name of Sander, Rogier, Steven and Adam the Hero fought for space supremacy. Each in their own corner of space they explored the surrounding galaxies. But this is no tale of exploration. Rogier discovered more deep space than any man before him. Void after void, the little space junk he found was of little consequence compare to the riches the other warriors found. These riches created a battalion of cruisers for the Hero. With alien research, it was difficult to blow him up but with rudimentary weapons, he provided little risk to his opponents. Yet the first battle against Trevor the Guardian was a success and the universe wept at his victory.
Rogier continued in his search of void. Sander proposed an allegiance with the Hero but instead blocked all routes at the sight of riches. Simultaneously, Steven had built his own battle of cruisers. Guardians and ancients fell at the hand of the three masters of commerce. Finally, it was time for Steven to beat the dreaded GCDS. Having formed an allegiance with the Hero, there was little threat of battle from Rogier the Wanderer and Sander the Dominator of the East. Rogier was victorious and slayed the peaceful, yet powerful GCDS. Both Sander and Steven had fully upgraded their ships and were ready for something spelt W A R. The hero, who was tucked away in his corner, acquired a wormhole jumper and just for kicks battled Sander. It would take a turn for Sander to destroy those ships, yet it had unsettled him and tears, probably, left his eyes. At this stage he had two dreadnoughts and the humans around him were reduced to the status of cockroaches. Rogier, had built a pitful army of interceptors but did not train his men to fight. Does interceptors were no better than expensive fireworks. In his corner, the Hero decided not to involve himself in war. Yet, at the threat of attack, built his fleet and half heartily upgraded them. He had constructed three monoliths which could have been easy pickings, had they not been in the distance of space.
Rogier and Steven had involved themselves in a bit of tit for tat but then the supremacy of Overlord Sander annihilated them both. It was clear to all Sander was the new lord supreme. Steven was his right hand man as the Hero, having re-enforced after the prospect of attack, was a stone throw behind him. He should have invested in his civilisation. In a surprise to no one, Rogier was in the void. Everyone agreed that space battles were fun even if the war cost many lives.
- [+] Dice rolls
"Dinosaurs amaze me"Final tally"Exotic"
What is an adventure? Is it the destination or the logistics? How impressive is it to say, "I've been to Hong Kong a few times- I was born there" compared to "I had a five month trek in Asia, seeking new lands and Hong Kong was the best"? I would argue the travel is important and the destination is a bonus. Lucky for Lost Cities:Roll and Write your destination is a yellow sheet of paper filled with numbers and crosses!
In Lost Cities you are searching distant lands. The journey is marked down my numbers and you have six routes: hearts, circles, triangles, crosses ect. Lost Cities is themeless but rips the theme from the popular brother Lost Cities. If you look at the components, you will understand.
The pyramid on the box is neat. The rest is just functional. You are not transported to any lost cities but, instead, to a neat little game.
The game has nice solid dice and the sheets are colour, double sided and sturdy. As well as the art work, it is just basic.
There are two reasons you are here: Reiner Knizia and the roll and write genre. Reiner Knizia games are usually simple but clever. He takes the essence of Lost Cities and replaces the cards with dice. Both cards and dice are random, however with cards the decks are stacked. The joy of dice is the unknown. You may start an expedition and never see that colour rolled again. That either sounds great to you or more painful than standing on poison ivy.
The further you go up each of the six tracks the more points you get. If you only go up a few steps, you will get minus points. There's an opportunity to double the score of each track but, naturally, you risk more minus points. Each turn three D10s and three D6s are rolled. The number on the D10 is the number you put on the track and it most be equal or higher to the last number on that track. The colour on the D6 enables you to choose which track you go up. Each track has a variation of arrows and vases. Arrows allow you to advance on any track and vases advance you on a separate vase track. Thematically, I guess you are collecting old pottery. The start player chooses two dice and the rest of the players choose from what's left. Each track has a bridge and once they have all been crossed the game ends. The bridges score you a nice bonus and they really are the catalyst for the game. Whereas in the original game you were calculating risks, Lost Cities Roll and Write feels like a race game. You are looking over your shoulder seeing how far everyone is down each track. You calculate how long is left of the game and you wish, upon lady luck, to roll you that colour and number you need. From very little Reiner Knizia has created a small, yet fun game. Dice are fun, luck is fun and drawing on a piece of paper is fun. As players "steal" your dice or your opponent once again crosses another bridge, its moment like these that games are made for. Players looking for control, look elsewhere.
I also suggest that you don't play with less than four players because the interaction is lost and the joy of the game is exhumed and stored in the temple that you are probably seeking in this expedition.
Lost Cities: R&W is fun. It is not a great game, but does create little gaming moments that everyone can enjoy. From a designer who has hundreds of games, from a genre that has hundreds of game this is not the best of either. I find it unique and like many of the best dice game it has that "just another go" quality. I could take or leave Lost Cities:R&W but every time I have played I have not been dissatisfied. That is apart from being sick with the boring art.
- [+] Dice rolls
The first game day of the year was intense. Imagine drowning and not surviving but instead of drowning, surrounded by water, you are surrounded in games and kicking yourself to victory. But that victory never comes, and you die. Die in gaming heaven. Or something like that.
Everyone knows that walls are bad. Walls are not intrinsically evil but the reasons they are often built are sinister. Now, I am not calling Mariska devilish but she did build an awful lot of walls. But this is no Mexican border, no Hadrian's wall or Berlin Wall. No this is the Great Wall of China defending against attack or attempts of victory. In Gùgōng (the forbidden city-spooky!) you trade "gifts" with local officials to receive favours. Quid pro quo. Your aim is, probably, to please the emperor and seem the most worth while. There is a number of ways to do that and only one way to do it correct. Ron journeyed the country, collecting goodies. Sometimes he would venture out on his ship and I would join him. Other times, he would visit the ladies of the lake. Mariska would collect gems and I would become all bureaucratic, collecting special decrees that would give me a leg up during the course of the game. Gùgōng is an intensely satisfying game but low in points. The points you get from the wall seem trivial but all you need is one point more than your opponent. I got most my points from end of game scoring. We went different routes on the way to the palace of enlightenment and, it appears, the long route is the wrong way. In any case, Mariska sneaked her score marker one point pass mine and after a two hour game it felt painful. Her strategy was to acquire the decree that assisted her to build that damn wall and she mined the hell out of it. Gùgōng is probably one of my favourite Euros of recent years.
I love Downforce! The chaos, the joy of seeing the best laid plans go wrong, the groans and the thrill of a race. Just when you think your going to win another car takes over to secure the win. I love the intensity of placing a bet. It's not just about the victory but the investment, that increases the emotion tied to a game. Sure you want your car to win but you can bet for another car to win, that you can influence to win. Sadly, I don't think Ron, Mariska and Matthijs replicated those feelings. If I read them correctly, there was a feeling of indifference. Matthijs won the race but having paid over the odds for two cars it was Mariska with the overall victory. I came dead last betting on my own car. I was in the race but not in the game. When all was revealed, I was the only one not to bet on Matthijs car through the entire game. I asked why they had backed Matthijs. "He was ahead-init!". That's fair. Since having kids, sport has become a more important outlet for me so perhaps that explains my joy for this game.
We have waited to play this game until we could get four players. Matthijs was lucky player number four and he was also lucky number winner. Franchise focuses you on building shops around America. The idea is to get the majority of your houses in each region to score points. Thematically, you run different kinds of franchises. So it makes little sense why you compete against each other. There is a nice mechanic that punishes income once you expand. Too expand you need income. You must track the map to see where the next score is going to come from. You then calculate to see whether it is worth getting involved. It's a neat game. As consequence would have it, two areas don't (sometimes) get scored at the end of the game. Both Ron and I had invested heavily in those two areas. We both came last. In honesty, I was confused how the game played. I had taught it so I cannot imagine how the others felt. The game clicked half way but it wasn't the most satisfactory of games. Mariska descried it as solid, Matthijs enjoyed his surprise victory and Ron hated it. I liked it and want to play it again but I don't think the others will be so keen!
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Italy
I've done it! I've played every map in the Ticket to Ride map collection. If you liked this content, you can like and support me on patron for being so amazing. Italy is a neat map; one for the purist. Lots of ferries, lots of long routes and a new type of card. If you build a big network around Italy you can score a big amount of points. You connect provinces and the more provinces you connect the more you score. In this game we scored more or less the same for the provinces. The game was so balanced that me and Ron scored the same points. Matthijs had very short tickets and felt satisfied not to pick up more. The surprise of the game was that Mariska's tickets were worth more than god. She scored over one hundred points at the end of the game. Victory once again was hers. We were stunned. We weren't aware that the tickets were worth so much. Now I am experienced, I want another go. You can check Mariska's gold in the picture below.
Lost Cities: Rivals
Person of undetermined sex, this game looks rubbish. Look at how boring the cards look. At least I won. This is Reiner Knizia's mix of Medici, Ra and Lost Cities. The scoring is similar to Lost Cities, the draw or auction mechanic is similar to Ra and the spending points to bid is similar to Medici. I was looking forward to playing this with four as it is a bidding game, a genre that usually plays better with four. What happened in this game was that in the first two auctions of the game, the players would practically bankrupt themselves and that would lead to those players bidding on whatever there was when it was their turn. It was not the most exciting of games but I won and therefore loved it. Not really, this is going on my to sell pile. All the aforementioned games are classics and this is not.
20 Second Showdown
This intense quiz has you doing silly things and no one, bar me, enjoyed the silly things. Ironic that the task laid upon me is to delete an app from my smart phone. I have no smart phone, losing the game. Everyone hated this game, I will have to try it with a new group.
Speaking of party games, Stay Cool is a game that everyone can get involved with. A game which involves you twisting dice to spell words, answer verbal questions and keep track of the time. I had a massive win, which is a bit of a surprise considering how rubbish I did the first game so long ago. I was lucky that the others had questions they could not keep track of. Again, with the real-time game I enjoy these days: I love the chaos, unpredictability and laughs that come with the stress. I don't know if I made it clear, but I love games. So many different games offering varying experiences and good for different situations.
To add to the tension, Wok Star says you must serve a number of customers to save your restaurant. This is a real-time cooperative game and the Wong's family livelihood is at risk. You start with some basic recipes and must serve customers quickly to get paid decent money. The serving is the easy part. Getting ingredients with dice is very difficult. Ron, naturally, took the role of head chef. Ron was fantastic. After a long day of gaming he was giving out directions clearly and efficiently. I think it his secret skill. The game was difficult even though we played it on easy. The game lasts three rounds and you have to hit a certain amount each round. We got enough money to succeed the amount for the second round in the first round but then failed to hit that amount in the second round. I think, technically we lost but we played to the end. The game was a great success and I salute my captain my captain.
Eight games in one day. I loved it. I am sad to report that my game selection failed on many levels. Ron seemed particularly aggrieved with some of the games we played. I guess that is the risk of playing games. I enjoyed the mix of games we played and the trials and tribulations they presented. Until next time.
- [+] Dice rolls