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My initial impressions on games I recently played for the first time

Archive for Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!

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Fury of Dracula, The Hanging Gardens and Buccaneer

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Fury of Dracula (third edition)
tl;dr: a game of cancelling the other player's actions.

So yeah, this is not my typical kind of game, but I'm always willing to try new stuff. I'm not a fan of the many-against-one thing, but I don't hate it either. Finding where a hidden opponents is located on the board is always a fun challenge. So it's a bit of a mixed bag for me, but what my biggest problem with the game was, was the combat system. It's the fact that 50% of the time your action consists of cancelling the other player's action. This goes in both directions. This is not limited to the combat phase, but that's where it happens the most of course. And spending turns and turns cancelling the other players actions and having yours cancelled is not exactly thrilling for me. Making progress is certainly more enjoyable than blocking someone else's progress.
In the end I see what people like about this game, but I think there certainly are better games in this genre. Like Specter Ops.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 3/10 for willingness to play, 6/10 for quality of game design

The Hanging Gardens
tl;dr: perfectly average euro

Yep, another one of those: well designed, nothing wrong, but nothing that gives it something special. The way you have to place the cards can be a fun puzzle, and the set collection makes timing an aspect to pay attention to. But in the end I didn't feel a spark. It's perfectly passable but nothing more.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Buccaneer
tl;dr: enjoyable family game

This is by no means a special or deep game, but it does accomplish what it sets out to do: offer enjoyable, family friendly Pirate struggles. The most fun comes from figuring out when to add your pirates to a stack and when to create a new stack.
The treasures can be pretty powerful, but it is also possible to win without ever being the captain or scoring points fore the treasure tiles. That's pretty cool, because most games like this usually only have 1 path to victory.
So I enjoy playing this game, and it accomplishes it's goal. But that goal, we have to recognize, is not all that lofty. Still. Good fun with the right group.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:52 pm
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Blood Rage, Goldland & Hellas

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Blood Rage
tl;dr: an overproduced, more aggressive Midgard

I always thought Midgard was an underappreciated design. It is a very clean, streamlined area majority game. Thanks to this new implementation, it gets more attention. Too bad, in my opinion, they made the design less clean and made it more of a conflict game and less of an area majority game.
It is still a very good design, but it does move away from the aspects I respected the most about it.
The minis seem to be there mostly to sell more copies. They are very nice, but I would have preferred wooden pieces. Also, the minis sometimes make it hard to tell what figure you're looking at.
I haven't played Midgard in years, but playing this, I want to try it again.
As for this version: I wouldn't mind playing it again, but there's no way I'm paying for a copy of this version.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Goldland
tl;dr: another solid game from Kramer

Wolfgang Kramer is incredible. He has been designing games for decades, and his games range from good to amazing. Contrast that with other designers who have been doing that for so long. In most cases their later output is... less than we would expect from them. But Kramer, while he hasn't designed a masterpiece in recent years, has been continually putting out very solid designs year after year.
But let's talk about this game. It's one of those games where you have tiles that let you move towards your goal, a bit like Tikal or Im Reich der Jadegöttin. There is a lot of planning needed for how you manage your resources. You really need to manage them well to be able to progress and score points.
It's a clean design, just like many games from that era (2002) and plays pretty fast. Every now and then you might need to puzzle over your resources a bit longer, but most of the time turns go pretty fast.
All in all a solid design. No where near his best work, but certainly worth playing.

Initial rating 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Hellas
tl;dr: clean design, not my style

I don't play many 2 player games because I prefer the dynamics that you get by having 3 or more players. But every now and then I do play games 2 player. I do have a couple of games I really like with 2 though.
This games pits 2 players against each other to discover and conquer the world. The first player to control 10 cities wins. You can get there by just exploring, but that would make for a very boring game. You can also take over cities by plopping more (plastic, ugh) unites there and playing cards to improve your chances. This makes the game more interesting, but it's not something that gets my juices flowing. At least not in a way that I seek out.
It's a very clean design, and if you like this style of game, you might really dig this, but it's not for me and the fact that I never felt that I, as starting player, had a chance of loosing didn't help. The other player seemed to always be playing catch up to counter what I did on my turn and get to the same level as me.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 3/10 (willingness to play) 6.5/10 (quality of design)
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:21 am
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Legendary Inventors and Sushi Go Party!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Legendary Inventors
tl;dr: one of those games no one cares about

What? You say you do care about this game? What is wrong with you? Not that there is anything wrong with this game, but this doesn't bring anything new to the table. Everything feels very familiar and very been-there-done-that. It works. You can play it. You won't remember much about it. It's perfectly forgettable.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Sushi Go Party!
tl;dr: see my Sushi Go! thoughts

Yes, this is 7 Wonders style drafting without the depth. Draft, score cards based on the type. Each type is scored in it's own distinctive way. Perfectly entertaining, but don't expect a lot of depth.

I was told this version has more types of cards. I didn't play the original enough to notice a difference. I don't think there is any reason to own both (if any)

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:41 pm
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Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, High Society and Koehandel

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
tl;dr: solid Euro

Aaah, marketing. You have a popular game. You have a new design that has little tot do with the first one, except that they're both strategy games. Why not slap the first game's name on the box? Won't hurt sales, even thought his game has nothing to do with developing nuclear weapons.
Anyway... Players start with different resources. These are used to do actions to get more/other resources. And to eventually build buildings and other things that give abilities and/or points. Nothing new there. The main mechanism is a worker placement system almost identical to Coal Baron. Nothing new there. So not all that original, but who cares, it's put together efficiently. It's a fun challenge to play. It does feel like you need to work really hard to only accomplish a few small things, so that makes the game a bit heavier than expected.
I find this a very solid, if unoriginal, design. Certainly worth a go!

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10


High Society
tl;dr: yet another Reiner auction game

I had played this once before, but I didn't remember anything about it. This is a pretty basic auction game. A card comes out and people bid on it in a regular auction. There are a few special cards that double or halve your points. That makes the game a bit more interesting. The game ends when the 4th red card comes out. In our first card this happened after 1 regular card had come out. The result was that the scores where 0.5, 0, 0 and 0. I know it's a fluke, but that shouldn't happen.
In any case, when it works it's fine, but it's not that great. Reiner has many far better auction games.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10

Koehandel
tl;dr: enjoyable but too long

The box for this game says 45 minutes. With 4 new players we went through about 60% of the deck in an hour. And the game doesn't end then. I'm not sure if it is actually possible to do it in 45 minutes.
At 45 minutes I would say this is a fun auction game with a fun element of trying to pry as much money from the other players as possible (auctions are 0 sum). But the game should be over in 45 to 60 minutes. Longer is too long for me.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Wed Feb 8, 2017 2:33 pm
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25!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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It's only been a month since my H-index increased again in a long time, and today it went up again. Codenames was the game to get me over the threshold. I'm not sure how much work it will be to go up again.
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Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:51 pm
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Colony and Meduris

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Colony
tl;dr: like Favor of the Pharaoh, but different

I didn't play the original version of this game, but when I played the Bezier edition, it reminded me quite a bit of Favor of the Pharaoh. You are using dice to roll results to get cards that improve your options. I've always liked To Court the King a lot. I quite liked Favor of the Pharaoh but didn't feel the need to own both. The added variety is nice, but not enough to get me to fork out that money again. This game is a bit different, but it does scratch mostly the same itch for me. And while I wouldn't mind owning this game, I need to play it again to know if I find this different enough. But it certainly is a solid game.

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Meduris: Der Ruf der Götter
tl;dr: family friendly strategy game

Haba is working hard at carving out their spot in the market for family friendly games that don't just appeal to kids (like their main line of games). 2015's batch was pretty solid, and this year continues that trend.
This game again had a family friendly simple rule set but enough strategy to also appeal to players who are used to more strategic games. It reminds me of the games from the late 90's and early 2000's. In that time many games fit in this segment, these days most games seem either simpler or more complex.
This design is pretty solid, but it doesn't bring that much new or surprising. It's fine to play a couple of times and is perfect for the market it targets, but for people like me, it won't have much staying power.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:37 pm
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Mi Tierra New Era, Sea of Clouds and Draw Out

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Mi Tierra: New Era
tl;dr: this ain't no Agricola

A worker placement game about farming will always bring comparisons to Agricola. But that doesn't mean they're expected to be similar.
This is a pretty typical WP game. You have a number of workers and there are different locations with a varying amount of open spots. The locations are executed in a fixed order. You get resources, you get to convert them into other resources or money. That kind of thing.
I found this game serviceable. It works fine, but there's not really much new or exceptional here. The the way the actions are ordered will require you to do proper planning, so that's nice, but it's not enough to stand out.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Sea of Clouds
tl;dr: shit, it's a pirate game

I don't care for pirates. Games with pirates are usually not my thing. This game didn't look like a pirate game, but you're gathering bottles of rhum and teaming up pirates to get points. So it's a pirate game. Damn.
It's fine, but nothing really new. It doesn't take too long, and game flow is nicely streamlined. There are some nice choices to be made, but luck plays a substantial part in the outcome.
So all in all one of those fine filler games that I don't need to own.

Initial rating: 6.3/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Draw Out
tl;dr: there are better games out there

I like drawing games. This one is not among my favorites though. For one, it takes too long. And the categories are both inconsistent and severely unbalanced. We decided to ignore the white category for being nearly impossible, so we always re-rolled on those.
There is some fun to be had, but why play this when you can play some far superior drawing game?

Initial rating: 5/10
BGG scale: 4/10
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Tue Jan 3, 2017 12:28 pm
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Railroad Revolution, Arboretum and Mille Bornes

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Michelbeke
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Railroad Revolution
tl;dr: the designers of African Park do it again!

This highly regarded team of designers that previously brought us African Park... OK, to be fair, that might not be the game they're highly regarded for, but that's not the point.
In any case, they team up with What's Your Game? again, and again the result is very much in line with what people have come to expect from this publisher.
The rules are on the less complex side for them, but the game is still more than deep enough for any lover of these kinds of games. That comes mainly from the interesting action selection mechanism where the color of the worker used determines what bonus you get with your action. Very cool indeed.
I must say I'm very happy again. If WYG keeps on going this way, they'll shoot to the very top of my favorite publishers.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Arboretum
tl;dr: I think I like this

This is a bit of a weird game. The way it approaches scoring is very tricky. You have to try to optimize your scoring potential while also making sure that you do well in the majority part at the end of the game or your work will be for naught. It's not easy, but it's a fun challenge.
I was at times frustrated though. If you're trying to do well at something and you simply can't get hold of the cards you need, you're screwed.
So I think I like this, I just don't have any idea how much.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Mille Bornes
tl;dr: why is this popular?

Is this popular you might ask. Well, everyone I know that speaks French knows this game. And most of them tell me they like it. And I have not a single clue why. This is just a stupid crap fest and with some bad luck you might not be able to do anything. If you get one of those 'screw you, you can't do anything' cards and just fail to draw the correct counter card, you'll just have to skip turn after turn. Great fun, I tells ya!
No, this is just a horrible game. Horrible.

Initial rating: 2/10
BGG scale: 2/10
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Sun Jan 1, 2017 3:27 pm
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In the name of Odin, Kanagawa and Camel Up Cards

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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In the Name of Odin
tl;dr: good, but nothing new

The theme of this game has something to do with vikings. And there's a board with a map. And there are plastic figures. But this certainly is not a dudes on a map game. It's not even a fighting game. No, the plastic figures could just as well have been wooden meeples (I would have preferred that actually) and the board is just a place to hold cards and has lots of dead space.
So this game is overproduced, but it is just a resource gathering game with a building element. The main source of points is doing raids. Raids is paying resources for points. You can be more efficient by having the right boat, buildings and or leader. So managing all that is what the game is all about.
There's nothing new here. It works fine, but it doesn't stand out for me. None of the elements is done better than any other generic resource euro.
So it's worth playing, but you don't HAVE to play this.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Kanagawa
tl;dr: light but enjoyable

This game is a bit lighter than what I usually prefer, but I found this game surprisingly enjoyable. It's all about doing the most with the fewest resources. If you're constantly investing in more paint and colors and what not, it will make your next turns easier, but you're not really adding to your score.
I'm not sure why I prefer this game over other, similar games. I guess it just works well and gives choices that are just hard enough.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Camel Up Cards
tl;dr: chaosfest

Camel Up was a hit, so of course we get variants. This card variant retains most of what the base game has, but the problem remains: this is just way to chaotic for me. It can lead to some amusing situations, but that's not enough to hold my interest.

Initial rating: 5.8/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:26 pm
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24!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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My H-index just increased to 24. A play of Uptown at work during lunch is what took me over the edge. 23 seemed like much more work, but 25 seems a while away. I have a few smaller games at 24 that could go up to 25 pretty quickly, but after that it'll take some work to get there.
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Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:25 pm
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