Mina's Fresh Cardboard

Where I discuss my game buying addiction and love affair with freshly-printed cardboard. I dislike randomness and love high strategy. I play daily with my partner, Peter, who is always ready to win, but mostly ready to lose. Don't worry. He loves it! :)
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In Which Three Kingdoms Compete for Supremacy over the Dragon's Scythe in a Sea of Clouds * New Reviews for SCYTHE and THREE KINGDOMS REDUX and Initial Impressions for SIMURGH and SEA OF CLOUDS * Plus More and More Games!!!!

Milena Guberinic
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Toronto
Ontario
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Hi Friends!


I was suffering from Dice Tower Con withdrawal all week! I wish I could spend all day every day learning, playing, and thinking about games. While the DTC week was a rainbow week, this past week was a grey week. I felt so hollow without that glut of games and friends. Nevertheless, there were some colorful highlights this week, including playing some of the new games we acquired at DTC and having Jackie back. So let's get to the games!



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What's New?




I'm not an expert in Chinese history and what little I knew about the Three Kingdoms before playing Three Kingdoms Redux was based on a mobile game called Puzzles and Dragons, which features a series of generals from the Three Kingdoms as Pokemon-like monsters you can collect and evolve and use to fight in puzzly battles. So yes, I was a little ignorant about the theme of this game. Thankfully, Three Kingdoms Redux comes with an introduction to the story behind that period in China's history and my copy came with a glorious art book, featuring detailed stories about each of the generals in the game. Whether those are the stuff of legend or actual history, I do not know, but I can say the stories were interesting to read.



The Overview


Three Kingdoms Redux is a historical game about the tripartite division of China during which the country was split into the Wu, Shu, and Wei states and during which each state fought for supremacy over the others. According to Wikipedia, the fountain of all knowledge about everything ever, the warring states period was the bloodiest period in history, second only to WWII!

In Three Kingdoms Redux, each player controls the Wu, Shu, or Wei clan and competes to gain the most influence by placing his growing pool of specialist generals on worker-placement-style spots on the board. The twist is that each general has a certain amount of influence in military and civil affairs and each worker-placement spot allows a player to use either military or civil influence to gain enough dominance to execute the action afforded by that spot. For example, you have to use your general's civil influence to develop your farms and military influence to train your troops. And in an even more interesting twist, players can outbid each other for the right to take these actions by placing more influential generals on them, which can generate some tense bidding wars!

At the end of the game, players score points for their military standing (points are provided for armies stationed at your borders each round), rank relative to other players in controlling borders around their states, having the most developed farms and markets, having the best tribal relations, and having the highest military rank. Players also score points for their state enhancements and receive negative points for any upkeep they were unable to pay for their stationed troops during the game.


Wu general tokens. These are used for bidding. Each general also has his own card that describes his special power



To set up the game, each player receives a leader and a certain number of generals from which he may select a certain subset. For example, the Wu player will draw 6 generals from his deck of generals and select 3 to keep. Then, each player will draw a certain number of separation and unification state enhancement cards. He will be able to build these over the course of the game in order to give him special in-game powers or in order to score bonus points at the end of the game. Each player will also have a set tribal relations level as indicated on the board and will receive some rice and gold.




Wei player setup


Improvement cards


More improvements


The game is played over up to 12 rounds. The game may end before 12 rounds have elapsed if any player reaches level 5 for both his farm and marketplace developments, any player is promoted to Emperor, or any player stations his 5th general at a boarder location.

Each round consists of a "Conflict" phase, a "Resolution" phase, and a "Maintenance" phase.

1. Conflict
1) In rounds, 3, 5, and 9, you will recruit new generals, adding them to your pool of workers.

2) The player who is last in turn order will select an "Alliance" action space along in collaboration with the player who is second in turn order. The influence of the generals sent to this action space by both of these players will be added together to determine whether they or the first player gets to take the action and both of these players will be able to execute the action if they win the bid.

3) Players bid for action spaces, placing their generals on the spaces on the board. Once a player has placed a general, another player may try to outbid him with his own general(s).

The spaces include actions such as recruiting armies, training armies, gathering resources, producing weapons, developing their marketplace or collecting taxes, gaining popular support tokens (which provide bonus bidding power), controlling the Han emperor (which moves the player up on the Han emperor track), developing their farm/harvesting rice, trading rice and/or weapons, constructing a state enhancement, and hiring instructors to train troops and drawing additional state enhancement cards. Each of these actions is associated with either military or administrative influence, meaning that a general's military or administrative influence will be evaluated when determining which player's general will execute the action in the resolution phase.

In addition to competing for action spaces on the board, you may place a general, along with either a monetary donation or a trained army or two in order to improve your tribal relations.

A third option is to place a general along with some trained troops and weapons on a border region between you and one of your neighbors.
















Border region at which "battles" can happen


Improving your tribal relations can give you bonus points!


2. Resolution
1) Evaluate action spaces
Each action space is evaluated to determine the winner (i.e. the player who has placed generals with the highest total amount of influence in administrative or military affairs, depending on the action space).
2) Determine player order
Player order for the following round is determined by the number of actions won by players in the current round. The player who won the most action space bids will be first, the player who won the second-most will be second, and the player who won the fewest will be third.
3) Execute actions

3. Maintenance
If you have not sent a general to improve your tribal relations, you must reduce your tribal relations level by 1.

If you have any popularity tokens, you must pay 1 food per popularity token. Also, if you have any stationed army units, you must pay 1 food and 1 gold per stationed unit, minus the number of your developed markets and fields. If you are unable to pay, you must take deficit tokens to make up the difference, with each deficit token valued at -3VP at the end of the game.

You receive 1 military VP per stationed army unit you have.

The game ends when 12 rounds have elapsed, when any player reaches level 5 for both his farm and marketplace developments, when any player is promoted to Emperor, or when any player stations his 5th general at a boarder location. At this time, players evaluate their standing in military, border spaces, domestic development, tribal relations, and rank relative to the other players to determine the VP they gain for each of these categories.


Becoming the Emperor can end the game. You increase your status by taking the Han Emperor action



Basically everything you need to know in order to play the game


The Review






1. Gorgeous
This game is beautifully illustrated with art that is highly evocative of its ancient Chinese setting. The board doesn't feature the same level of detailed artwork as that on the cards, but I think this works in its favor, as more detailed artwork would likely have detracted from the clarity of the icons and ease of identifying the various aspects of the game. As it is, the icons and artwork in all aspects of the game are clear, consistent, and easy to distinguish and decipher, making the game easy to learn and smooth to play.

2. Unique and strong theme
Three Kingdoms Redux feels like a struggle for supremacy between three warring kingdoms. It really does! Not only are you playing with 3 unique factions, each of which comes with its own generals who have their own special set of powers and whose availability shifts over the course of the game as they are stationed to guard various posts and as new ones are recruited, but the entire objective of the game is to get more of everything than the other players. Between the clan-specific powers that are highly evocative of the generals' personalities (for example, Gu Yong was highly proper and hard working and in the game has the power of "supererogation" , which allows him to perform bonus actions when he hires instructors or imports technology) and the need to constantly pay careful attention to your opponents in an effort to outdo them in as many scoring categories as possible, the game feels highly immersive and competitive, evoking the struggle for supremacy between three warring kingdoms.

The reliance of certain actions on generals' influence in military/administrative affairs is also highly thematic. Naturally, developing farms and collecting tax would be easier to accomplish with a general who is well versed in administrative tasks, whereas producing spears and crossbows would benefit from a general who is well versed in military affairs. The variable powers of the generals and the ways in which these interact with the actions available to players in the game contribute to the thematic feel of the game.

And not only does the theme come through in the gameplay, but the theme is unique. How many games are there about the tripartite division of China!?

3. Unique combination of mechanisms
Three Kingdoms combines auctions, worker placement, and variable player powers in a unique way. Each of your workers has a different level of influence in military and administrative affairs, making him more or less suited to certain tasks. Each of your workers also has a special power, making him further specialized. This means that each placement you make forces you to consider not only which actions you want to take, but also which workers you should commit to those actions and when. The fact that the worker placement spaces are not evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis, but on a most-influence basis means that other players can swoop in and either invalidate your efforts to take a particular action, rendering your previous worker placement useless, or force you to commit more workers that you were planning to commit to other tasks.

This unique worker placement/auction system carries over to the "battles" in the game (i.e. contests for control over border regions), which are evaluated in a similar manner as all other worker placement spots. This makes for a smooth and streamlined system of resolving clashes, allowing you to quickly and easily calculate your ability to overtake your opponent's bid for a border region and focus your efforts on other tasks if you aren't able to compete.

4. Uniquely executed variable player powers that contribute to creating a sense of narrative and development in the game and create interesting choices
The variable player powers are interestingly implemented and integral to the unique worker placement/auction system. Each player has a unique deck of generals with different abilities, different starting tribal relations levels, and different starting resources and these change as you add new generals to your pool in certain rounds and remove existing generals from your pool of available generals when you station them at borders with the other two players over the course of the game.

The shifting pool of generals is my favorite part of the game and greatly contributes to the sense of development and narrative in the game and is closely connected to the unique worker placement/auction system in the game.

The dual status of the generals (i.e. influence in military and administrative affairs) generates many difficult decisions that change as the game progresses. At the beginning of the game, and during drafting rounds, you have to think about the relative distribution of administrative and military influence you will have over the coming rounds and you have to think about the generals' special powers, which tend to be weaker if their stats are higher. Then, when placing generals, you have to think about a) the order in which you assign them to ensure that you can take the actions you want and to ensure that you have the right generals left to outbid your opponents should you need to do so and b) the generals' special powers and where/when they would most benefit you.

Stationing generals at the borers also leads to some difficult decisions because once stationed, the generals are there forever, leaving you with one fewer action/bidding opportunity in the following rounds and an extra mouth to feed, as they must be paid in money and food each round. However, some generals have special powers that activate when stationed and border spaces go on a first-come, first-served basis, so once a border has been filled up with generals, other players can no longer place their generals there. And majorities in border spaces are a good source of points, so you cannot ignore them. There is a very tense timing aspect that goes into these decisions.

7. Interesting player interaction
The interaction between players is incredible as well. Due to the variable powers and shift in power over time (the player who has fewer generals at the start of the game is able to recruit more generals over the course of the game), the players who have fewer action points (i.e. generals) to spend on actions and bidding have to collaborate in order to ensure they slow down the most able player. However, this cooperation can only be temporary and as self-serving as possible because all players are in competition. But if the two players who are less powerful at the start of the game (Wu and Shu) do not work together to impede Wei's progress, they are likely to lose to the initially stronger player. This disparity between players' powers creates an interesting tension when playing as the Wu or Shu player in that you want to perform actions that will help you get ahead, but you may have to sacrifice those purely self-serving actions for ones that will serve to shut the Wei player out of his most desired actions.

As I mentioned above, the collaboration between the "weaker" players shifts over the course of the game, as the Wu and Shu players are able to recruit more generals than the Wei player in recruitment rounds. By the end of the final recruitment round, all players will have recruited the same number of generals; whether those are available for them to use, however, will depend on whether they have been stationed and effectively decommissioned from service in the game (beyond making end-of-round military points).

Because players' relative ability to perform actions shifts over the course of the game, alliances shift as well, forcing players to constantly reassess their alliances. Turn order, and consequently control over the alliance space, is dictated by the number of bids won in the previous round, which can change regardless of a player's capacity to bid for actions; perhaps a player with more generals simply committed all his generals to few spaces and a player with fewer generals committed his generals to less popular spaces. As such, it is important that the players forming the alliance continue to make decisions about whether to uphold that alliance. For example, if you've formed an alliance with the dominant player, you might not want to send your general to support his effort at holding an action space in order to slow down his progress and give yourself and the third player a better chance.

In addition to this negotiation-style interaction, players constantly have to keep their opponents in mind, not only to determine where and when to place their generals, but also to determine in which scoring categories they must improve. Because this is a game of majorities, everyone is always watching everyone else!

8. Incredible replay value
Three Kingdoms Redux is a deep game with a significant amount of variable setup and 3 unique factions to play, so you need not fear a lack of replay value here.

First, Three Kingdoms features numerous levers to pull and strategies to explore and each of these is dependent on both the state you are playing and the generals and state enhancements you draw at the start and over the course of the game. Of course, it also depends on your own preferences and inclinations in any given game, but the bottom line is that there is a lot to explore in the game in terms of strategy, as described above.

Second, you have 3 playable factions, each of which features very different strengths and weaknesses and powers from the other. Exploring the intricacies of piloting each of these 3 factions is sure to keep you busy for multiple games.

Third, each of the 3 playable factions comes with a huge pool of generals, only a small faction of which you will see in any given game. This means that even after you have become familiar with the general play style of any given faction, you will be faced with new and different decisions and opportunities in any given game. The generals are the heart and soul of Three Kingdoms Redux as they represent the workers that you use on each and every turn in the game. This means that you will play a game in which you recruit Zhou Tai, who receives 1 untrained army every time he takes the control Han emperor action, somewhat differently from a game in which you do not recruit him. For example, you might be more inclined to fight for supremacy over the Han emperor space and try to end the game by ascending that track. With a different general, you may be more inclined to focus on other actions and scoring categories due to the bonuses you would receive for those actions. As such, the strategies you select and the way in which the game progresses will greatly vary depending on the assortment of generals you choose to recruit in any given game.

9. One of the best rulebooks I have encountered
As stated above, Three Kingdoms Redux is a simply complex game. It is, at its core, a very simple game, but is draped in layers of complexity that increase its depth and challenge. The rulebook does an excellent job of breaking the game down into into its core aspects and making everything very clear in a concise yet thorough way. Good rulebooks seem to be the exception rather than the rule, so I felt I must mention this.

10. The box does not waste any space!
Yes, I do think this is worth mentioning. The box is thin and tightly packed and takes up half the space of any other game of this depth and challenge. I am certain that I am not alone in my lack of tolerance for boxes filled with air.

soblue


soblue 1. Some of the components would have been better served as tracks
I'll just come right out and say it: Three Kingdoms Redux is fiddly. There are many, many little chits and things to count and flip and keep track of and that can get a bit annoying over time. I think that the resources (gold and rice) would have been better served represented by tracks on the board rather than by chits that players constantly have to take out of and return to their supplies. This would have substantially reduced the amount of "stuff" that players are constantly shuffling through.

soblue 2. Restricted to 3 players
This is an unfortunate byproduct of the unique factors in this game. It accommodates only 3 players; no more and no less. That's sad for me because I usually only play 2-player games and have too many games to justify owning a game that I could only play once in a blue moon. Those who have game groups and/or gamer kids and don't have trouble creating a group of 3 to play should definitely consider Three Kingdoms, but the player count will restrict your ability to bring it out in multiple situations.



Final Word


Three Kingdoms Redux is a unique game with a unique theme. It is beautiful, highly engaging, and highly challenging. Its integration of worker placement with bidding and variable player powers is incredibly clever, as it makes each worker a unique character with a rich story. With its comprehensive player aids and numerous action spaces, it appears quite complex, but is actually significantly more simple than it appears. Three Kingdoms Redux is ultimately a clever game that draws players into its world through its immersive theme, tense interaction, and the great sense of progress. If you regularly have the opportunity to play with 3 players, I would recommend it highly!


MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart SOME LOVE







My preferred way to win is to become the Emperor!


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No preamble. Let's get straight to the good stuff!



The Overview


In Scythe, you will take on the role of one of 5 different nations struggling to gain supremacy over a desolate wasteland of war-ravaged land. At the center of this land is a city-state called the "Factory" that produced giant mechs for the purposes of fueling the war, but has since closed its doors. It nevertheless remains a valuable asset to whoever manages to gain control over it as it is still filled with powers and resources that cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Your goal in the game will be to become the richest nation by conquering land, collecting cash, controlling resources, building your structures in lucrative locations, and completing achievements that include upgrading your ability to perform actions, deploying mechs, building structures, enlisting recruits, deploying workers, completing objectives, winning combat, gaining popularity, and gaining power. The amount of money you receive for land, resources, and achievements will be determined by your popularity.



You will have two player boards; one is a faction-specific board that stores your mechs and enlistment bonuses and the other is an action board, which you will use to select your action(s) each turn. Your action board will show your starting objective cards, popularity, and coins, while your faction-specific board will show your starting power and combat cards, as well as your faction-specific ability.


All the action boards


All the faction-specific player boards


Player setup


Each action board is divided into 4 columns and each column has a top and a bottom action. Each turn, you have to move your action selection pawn to a new section of your player board and may take the top action, the bottom action, or both. The actions at the top of the board allow you to:

1. Move - You use movement points to move your leader, workers, or mechs (which can carry workers, reducing the number of movement points needed) around the board. If your leader lands on a space with an encounter token, you will draw an encounter card and take one of the options presented to gain resources, popularity, coins, or pay popularity or coins to gain some benefit.





Whenever your move action results in your leader and/or mechs sharing a territory with an opponent's character and/or mechs, combat occurs. I will describe the combat process below.

Whenever your move action results in your leader and/or mechs sharing a territory with an opponent's workers, you send those workers back to their homeland and lose 1 popularity per worker sent back.

Only your nation's leader is allowed to move into the Factory. When you move into the Factory space at the center of the board, you receive a number of Factory cards that depends on a) the number of players in the game and b) the order in which you arrived at the Factory (i.e. number of players + 1 if you are first, number of players if you are second, etc.) and select one to keep. This card becomes permanently attached to your action board, giving you an extra action that you may take in the future.




Sample cards that can be obtained at the Factory


The board also features tunnel spaces, which you can use to move directly between one and another.



2. Produce - You pay the costs shown (none at the start of the game because they are all covered with your workers) and produce resources using workers in the number of territories shown (2 at the start of the game). Each worker produces 1 resource and workers on villages produce more workers.



3. Trade - Pay a coin to gain resources or popularity.

4. Bolster - Pay a coin to gain power or combat cards.

And the actions at the top of the board allow you to:

1. Upgrade - Pay the amount of oil shown to move one of the cubes covering a bonus on a top-row action to a bottom-row action showing a resource. This simultaneously upgrades the top-row action, allowing you to gain a larger benefit when you take it, and the bottom-row action, making it cheaper to take that action. Note that any resources must always be paid from territories you control with workers, mechs, your leader, and/or your structures.

2. Deploy - Pay the amount of metal shown to deploy a mech into one of the territories you control with at least one worker. You then gain the ability shown under the mech. You can select any mech you like.

3. Build - Pay the amount of wood shown to build one of your structures in one of the territories you control with at least one worker. You will then reveal a bonus associated with that structure, which you will gain when you take the top-row action associated with that structure. For example, the monument will give you a popularity each time you take a bolster action in the future.

4. Enlist - Pay the amount of food shown to enlist new recruits, taking one of the enlistment discs off of one of the bottom-row actions and placing it on your faction-specific player board to gain an immediate bonus of coins, power, popularity, or combat cards. You will also continue to gain the benefit uncovered by the enlisted recruit every time you or ANY OTHER PLAYER takes the associated bottom-row action.

All this recruiting, deploying, and moving around is bound to end in conflict and conflict in Scythe unfolds as follows. Whenever your move action results your leader and/or mechs sharing a territory with an opponent's character and/or mechs, combat occurs. To resolve combat, both you and your opponent secretly select an amount of power you are willing to give up using your power dial and add up to one combat card for each unit in combat. You reveal your power dials simultaneously and the player with the highest total wins. Both players lose the amount of power they selected and discard any combat cards used. The winner gets to stay in the territory, adds 1 star to the achievement track, and loses 1 popularity for each of the opponent's workers in the combat. The loser has to retreat to his homeland.


Power


Combat cards


The game ends immediately when one player has placed his last achievement star on the board. You can place a star when
a) You have completed all 6 upgrades
b) You have deployed all 4 mechs
c) You have built all 4 structures
d) You have enlisted all 4 recruits
e) You have all 8 workers on the board
f) You have completed 1 objective card
g) You have won combat (up to 2x)
h) You have 18 popularity
i) You have 16 power.




Objective cards


At the end of the game, you will gain money for your placed stars, for the territories you control with your workers, mechs, leader, and/or structures, and for every two resources you control. The amount of money you gain for each of these categories will be determined by your popularity, with higher popularity leading to higher returns. You will also gain a structure bonus based on the locations of your structures.




Structure bonuses


This was not an exhaustive regurgitation of the rules, but I hope it is enough to provide a broad sense of how the game is played.

The game also has a solo variant in which automa of various difficulty are used.



The Review






1. It's so beautiful and it smells like vanilla cupcakes! (SERIOUSLY! The minis smell like vanilla!)
Scythe is gorgeous. All you have to do is open the box, take one whiff of the freshly baked goodies inside, and be transported to a magical world where mechs rule and farmers bake cakes for you while you play . But not only do the minis smell great, they also look amazing! I'm not a miniatures person (I like them, but I don't seek out games just because they have cool minis), but to me, the Scythe minis appear superbly crafted. Compared to my other games with minis, they are much more solid, detailed, and yummy smelling . And the sculpts for each faction (including the leaders and mechs, as well as the wooden pieces for workers) are very different!

The other components in the game (I have the Collector's Edition) are of outstanding quality and are intricately crafted to resemble the objects they are meant to portray. The food is a little large compared to the other resources, but it's definitely pretty!

Last but not least is the artwork. I don't have to say much about this because you can see how lovely it is from the photographs, but I should note that the board actually looks a lot more pleasing and organized and a lot less like puppy barf in real life than it does in the zoomed out photographs. There are so many little details to discover in the artwork and all the various regions and terrains appear clear and distinct despite the fact that they are skillfully blended together by the artist.

2. The Scythe world is thematic and unique
Playing Scythe feels like stepping into a time machine and entering a parallel universe. In Scythe's world, mechs, farmers, and giant animals work side by side to farm the land, produce resources, build structures, and edge out their competition in a struggle for supremacy over a war-ravaged land. Of course, the artwork and miniatures strongly contribute to making this world come to life, but aspects of the actual game do so as well.

First, there are the encounter cards. The fact that they are random and that you never really know what you are going to get when you send your leader to collect one for you means that they give the game a great sense of exploration and adventure. They also make certain regions particularly attractive, as they grant special benefits to the player who gets there first, enhancing the sense of a race for domination over limited land. Additionally, the items that you do receive are always tied to a very thematic event that presents you with some thematic choices. In one encounter, you run across a group of soldiers. If you go fishing with the soldiers by posing as locals, you gain 2 food and 1 popularity. If you bribe soldiers for their mech, you pay $4 to deploy a mech. If you wait until dusk to invade the soldiers' camp, you pay 2 popularity to gain 2 food and 2 metal. I appreciate the fact that the designer/publisher put this extra bit of effort to associate each encounter card with a very specific event, as it greatly contributes to giving the game a sense of adventure and theme.

Second, you have the valuable "Factory" at the center of the board, which also holds some potentially highly valuable goodies, in addition to counting as three territories at the end of the game! And this is relevant because it leads all players to the center of the board, leading them to spread towards and race for the center.

Third, there are the variable player powers in the form of the various factions and their leaders. The leaders and player powers not only serve to make each player feel distinct from the others, but also serve to bring out the theme of this strange parallel reality. You have Polania, who appear to have tamed bears and trained them to swim from one underground lake to another, you have Saxony, who are able to intimidate their enemies with their wolves and consider wars to be great achievements, you have the Rusviet Union, who relentlessly and continuously pursue their objectives, among others.

Finally, the various actions you perform in the game make are thematically appropriate and make intuitive sense; you erect structures that cannot secure control over that territory on their own, you are moving around the map to gain control over various territories with your workers and mechs, your leader and mechs can wage wars but your farmers can't because they only have scythes and pitchforks and scythes can't beat giant mechs! These are just some of the actions you'll be performing in Scythe, but the actions you take and the objectives you are striving to achieve all feel true to the story and theme of the game. Of course, there are some thematic discrepancies, such as the fact that you are able to magically transport resources you need to build a mech in one territory from their location in another, but these discrepancies are relatively minor and work well mechanically, so they don't detract significantly from the experience.

3. A tense puzzly game of efficiency and speed
This is my favorite part! Scythe is basically a race; it is a race to place all your achievement stars on the board before your opponents and to do so as efficiently and as craftily as possible. It is also a race to gather the biggest piece of the not-so-giant pie of land available to be doled out and to be the first to reach and hold the Factory. To do this, you must create plans for the perfect order in which to execute your actions based on the unique combination of your action board's top-row and bottom-row actions and based on your faction's special ability and objective cards.

4. Highly strategic with many strategies to explore
Scythe is a strategy game. You have a number of options for placing your stars and you have to determine which ones to pursue and in which order at the very start of the game. Your selection and the manner in which you pursue your starry objectives will depend on your special power and action board, as some powers and boards are more conducive to doing things in a certain order, but you will have to narrow down your objectives and pursue them from the beginning to the end of the game.

Plus, there are a total of 9 different star objectives that you can pursue and you will only place 6 stars in any given game, so you will have to craft your strategy around a different subset of these in any given game.

4. A great sense of progress
Scythe gives you a very satisfying sense of progress, escalation, and achievement. You start the game in one corner of the world, cut off from the resources and powers available at the center of the board. Through upgrades and mech deployment, you gain extra benefits and powers that allow you to move over more terrains more efficiently and before you know it, you're producing buckets of resources and building impressive structures in a single turn!

I love the buildup in your ability to navigate and manipulate the world in Scythe and I love how this buildup creates a tremendously tense situation late in the game. It can take some time for stars to start coming out, but once you see that one player has placed 4 or so down, you can be sure you'll only have a few turns before the game is over. The game escalates that quickly! And, combined with the efficiency aspects described above, that escalation makes every decision feel incredibly important, particularly as the end of the game approaches. Once you see those stars flying, you have to hustle or be left in the dust!

5. Map works well even with only two players
Although there are no significant differences between the setup and gameplay when playing with two or with more players, Scythe works well even at the lower end of player count. The contention for territory is strong even with two players due to the ease of moving from one end of the map to the other generated by tunnels and various player powers that make movement even easier. Of course, more players would make for more contests over the tight space, but the map feels small enough even with just two parties on it.

6. Subtlety in aggression with a quick, simple, and effective combat system
I don't love wars and combat resolution. One of my biggest complaints in 4x games or games that involve combat is the time and effort it takes to resolve combat. I rarely find this process interesting; it feels more like a necessary evil. Though I would consider Scythe to be a 4x game, aggression and combat are not central elements. In fact, I would say that Extermination is the least significant of the four x in the game.

With only one exception, all factions have to lose popularity when they wage war and force their opponents' workers to retreat. The fact that popularity determines the amount of money (i.e points) you get for EVERYTHING at the end of the game means that it is a precious commodity that you want to save rather than waste by waging war every which way. Plus, you will generally try to stick workers with mechs, making waging wars on mechs costly. This deterrent to fighting, combined with the fact that Scythe is essentially a race to accumulate as much of everything as possible means that you have to pick your battles carefully.

I love this kind of contemplative aggression that necessitates arming up and keeping in line with your opponent in order to minimize possible threat, but never knowing whether and when aggression will be necessary.
Combat is super simple, tense, and takes very little time. The aggressor wins in case of a tie, so there is a slight incentive to attack rather than wait around, but the whole process is super quick and painless to resolve. All combat should be like this. Shoot up your opponent and move on with your life!

7. A tremendous amount of variability and replay value is generated by the depth of the game, as well as the multiple faction boards and action boards, the huge number of objective cards, structure bonuses, factory cards, and encounter cards, and various faction matchups
Scythe is the type of game that I could play for the rest of my life and not get bored.

First, you have a huge deck of objective cards that will give you some direction for your movement and the actions you take in the game. Of course, you can choose to ignore objectives and focus on placing your stars on other categories, but objectives tend to be relatively easy to accomplish incidentally to another action, so integrating them into your strategy can be smart. And the objective you choose to integrate into your strategy will somewhat modify your direction in the game. The huge deck of these objective cards will ensure that you don't get bored of exploring integrating these objectives into your strategies for a long time.

Second, you have multiple faction boards and action boards and many possible ways in which these can be combined. As I mentioned above, your faction/action board combination will greatly influence your strategic direction. For example, if you are playing with the Saxony Empire, you may want to capitalize on your ability to complete multiple objective cards and to place multiple stars by winning combat by focusing your efforts on gaining power and combat cards. To do this, you have to find a way to quickly upgrade actions on your action board that will allow you to upgrade mechs that will allow you to move around efficiently and reduce other players' power levels, etc.

The nature of the structure bonuses will also influence your strategic direction and there are many of these, with only one used in each game. If you the end-game structure bonus provides coins for building around lakes, you can be sure that areas around lakes will be hotly contested. Generally, the structure bonuses will influence your movement and decision regarding which stars to focus on placing and when depending on the resources you can easily accumulate around the territories on which you need to build your structures.

Factory and Encounter cards also provide a tremendous amount of game-to-game variety. Factory cards basically extend your action board, providing you with an extra action you can taken in each game. The deck of these cards is huge and you will only see at most 6 (if playing with 5 players and you are the first to get to the Factory) of these in any given game. In a 2-player game, you will only see at most 3 of these, meaning that the actions available to you in any given game will differ.


The Brotherhood of the Wandering Puppies


soblue


soblue 1. It is a bit difficult and annoying to keep track of the bonus actions when others take them
Scythe isn't a game in which you can stop and twiddle your thumbs when it isn't your turn. The gears in your brain are generally grinding about your next action and your action after that even on other players' turns. This makes it difficult to stop and pay attention to the actions your opponents are taking in order to ensure that you are receiving the bonuses to which you are entitled for your enlisted soldiers. Of course, your opponents should alert you when they take a bottom action, but it's both easy for them to forget to do so, which can make for some frustrating backwards calculations.

soblue 2. When playing with two players, it may be wise to use consecutively numbered action boards
The spread in benefits between the action boards is a bit too high. For one player to have the 1 and the other to have the 5 means that the player with the one gets a lot less money and a lot less popularity than the 5 player, which doesn't seem fair.



Final Word


Scythe may be a somewhat deceptive game. It LOOKS like a high-conflict, fast-paced, miniature-heavy Ameritrashy game thingy, but it is definitely not. Consequently, it may draw the attention of gamers who would not necessarily be drawn to the type of game this is. And it may draw the ire of such players when they are disappointed to find what it actually is. As such, I think it is important to note that Scythe is NOT about conflict. It is NOT about war. And it is NOT about killing. Yes, those elements are there in a very quiet, muted, Euro-ish way, but they are not the focus of the game. So be aware of that. With that out of the way, let's get to what Scythe actually is.

Scythe is my kind of game. It is a game of puzzles and efficiency with a strong spatial planning element and it is gorgeous! It makes me feel like an adventuring economist, planning to take over the world with my numbers and books and resources and clever planning. I love the multi-layered race and the puzzles generated by the variable action boards and player powers. I know that Scythe will be a game I will reach for for a long, long, long, long time to come!

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart heart ALL LOVE ALL THE TIME












***






I backed Simurgh on Kickstarter with an understanding of only the basics of its gameplay. I typically read rulebooks and look into games a little more thoroughly prior to backing them on KS, but I didn't go into that for Simurgh. The artwork and the concept of a worker-placement board that is contributed to and modified by players was enough to convince me that the game would be awesome. And it is!

Simurgh is a worker placement game in which you have two types of workers - sentinels and dragon riders. Dragon riders are the more versatile of the two, as they can be used on both dragon spaces and on regular spaces. You start of with one of each of these and can acquire additional ones over the course of the game by gathering resources and using these to get new workers to join your forces.

Each turn, you place a worker on a space that gives you resources, allows you to convert resources into other resources and/or points, gives you a dragon (which gives you special bonus action powers you can play in addition to your regular action), allows you to take action tiles, or allows you to place objective tiles for end-game scoring. The action tiles are the most interesting of these, as you can play them to the "wilds" section of the board to unlock new worker placement spaces that all players may use. These are generally superior to the spaces that can be found on the regular board, but they are also transient; they are removed from the game when they are overpopulated or empty. They also act as a countdown clock to determine the end of the game.

As in most games, the objective of Simurgh is to score VP and you do this by converting resources into points, satisfying objectives by having certain dragons on your side, pushing your dragon riders on special action tiles, and interestingly, having little or no resources remaining at the end of the game.



Here are the things I loved about Simurgh
GORGEOUS
Quick to play and fast paced
Easy to learn but not so easy to play well
Many different roads to victory (you can collect dragons, you can use power tiles, you can use exploration action tiles that allow you to use your dragon rider to collect buckets of points, etc.)
Economy of actions is very important because there aren't that many turns in the game
The action tiles that allow you to create the worker placement board generate a lot of tension in the game because they are not only available to you, but also to other players, so you want to put the good ones out, but you want to eliminate them from the game ASAP in order to minimize your opponents' ability to take advantage of them
Backwards! You have to get rid of all your resources to gain points! You don't get any points for hoarding!
Pleasant to play
A lot of variety in the mountain of dragon tiles, power tiles, and action tiles

I will surely play with the expansion for this and post a full review soon, but for now, I can say I definitely enjoyed my first encounter with it!





***






Sea of Clouds is a gorgeous drafting/set-collection game about flying pirate ships, rum, swords, and treasure! You become the captain of a pirate ship and try to collect the most of the most lucrative booty over the course of a set number of rounds that depends on the number of players in the game.

The game is set up by creating 3 single-card piles numbered 1 through 3. Each turn, you may look at pile number 1 and either take the card(s) there or leave the card(s) there behind. If you take the card(s), you either place them face up or face down around your player board depending on what they are. If you don't take the cards, you simply add a card to the pile you are passing over and go on to the next one. If you don't end up taking cards from any of the piles, you draw the top card of the face-down deck.

The game proceeds in this manner until the round marker reaches a pirate space. At this point, combat occurs. Players compare the strength of their pirates and the player with the highest strength value gets to execute the abilities on this pirates. Then, all the pirates are thrown overboard and the game goes on.

At the end of the game, you gain points for all the coins you have, for the value of the rum you have collected, the value of your relic collection, the value of your secret objects and object bonuses.



Quick to play (particularly with 2 players, at which player count it takes about 15 minutes)
Easy to learn
Difficult push-your-luck-style decision about whether to keep pushing through the piles of cards. If you keep pushing through, you increase the number of cards that will be available to your opponent in the pile(s) you leave behind and may not get what you're looking for, but you can gain a general idea about what is in the piles by the card backs, which are illustrated with the type of card.
The relics also create a push-your-luck aspect because some are worth negative points if you don't manage to collect multiples of them
Huge variety of card effects make for a different game each time.
Huge variety of card effects make Sea of Clouds somewhat addictive, making you want to play more just to see all the cards.
soblue Very light, so mostly useful when you have little brain power or non-gamers around
soblue There isn't anything new or innovative here; it's just a Winston draft and you just collect cards and money (i.e. points).

Both Peter and I enjoyed our two back-to-back plays of Sea of Clouds. It's very, very, very light, but surprisingly interesting nonetheless. The huge variety of card effects imbue the game with a somewhat addictive quality, making you want to play more just to find out what you'll see next and which combination you can use next time to get the most points. The fact that the artwork is so beautiful my eyeballs want to pop out of my head and get in the box with it every time I have to close it doesn't hurt!

Full review next week!



***


What's Not So New But Still Exciting?


Arkwright
We have to play Arkwright regularly because we CANNOT afford to forget the rules. The rulebooks were such a nightmare to navigate that I cannot imagine having to go through that process again! Consequently, Arkwright has been slated for weekly play until further notice. I hope to post a full review in the coming weeks as well.

This week, both Peter and I had trouble getting off the ground. Peter seemed to be having less trouble than I was because he didn't expand his company beyond two factories, while I did the stupid thing of expanding to three from the start. Around the middle of the game, I overtook him and stayed ahead for the same reason that he was in the lead and I was behind initially (i.e. he only had 2 factories and I had 3). When I saw him profiting from shipping things, I also started doing that. Because my stocks went up in value much more quickly than his, I also tried to buy as much as I could each round. In the end, Peter's company ended in the gutter by comparison to mine. He really should have opened another factory...Next time .





Imhotep
We played our first game of Imhotep at Dice Tower Con. That was a 4-player game. While both Peter and I enjoyed it at that player count a lot, I was worried that it may not work as well with two. I was so curious to see how well the game worked with two that it was one of the first games I brought out this week. And guess what!? I actually like it even more with only two! Predictably, there is less chaos and more control with fewer players and you are better able to plan. The game is still quite confrontational and you spend as much time thinking about how best to screw over your opponent as you do thinking about how best to protect yourself and promote your advancement, but it feels less like a cage match and more like a boxing match. I can't stand feeling like I don't know where the next punch is coming from. With only two players, I can make some better predictions.

We played with the B sides and when Peter saw the B-side obelisks, he started salivating at the buckets of points he could potentially acquire. I wasn't as impressed. I like the special power cards, so I kept trying to get those, but I avoided the purple end-game scoring cards because they did NOTHING for me in our first game. I did try to compete with Peter for the obelisks, but he kept outsmarting me with his cube placement and ship sailing. He's good at being sneaky and deceptive. Of course, he won. And by a good margin! I need to play this one more in order to truly get the hang of it and I look forward to doing so.





Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
Ashes! I just love this game. If you don't love PvP dueling games, you probably won't enjoy it, so don't let my crazy enthusiasm deceive you, but it has been such a joy to discover this game and rediscover my love of this genre.

In this game, I took my favorite character, Jessa Na Ni, and Peter was Mr. Vanilla (as he likes to call him), Noah Redmoon. Last time I played Jessa, Peter was Coal Roarkwin, which allowed me to greatly capitalize on Jessa's counterattack power. This time, I wasn't quite as efficient at doing that because Noah is good at everything. And he has more life points. He kept chipping away at my life with his snipers, but I was resilient! I just kept hitting him back! And then I somehow pulled off some crazy stunt with my Living Dolls and it was game over!


Playing with wounds




He was trying to play with wounds too, but wasn't quite as successful


Barony
Barony! I am super loving this game! It's like chess, only it's actually fun! It does feel very antagonistic as each move you make is always intended to both block or screw over your opponent and get yourself ahead. In this game, I tried to gain control over a lucrative area of the board early on, but later realized that had limited me too much, forcing me to keep my knights in certain places in order to avoid having my resources stolen from me. I ended up having to switch gears and start taking over the mountains to slowly gather points while Peter kept trying to threaten me. He did very well, but I managed to create a situation in which I was able to take over one of his territories and take one of his resource tokens to take the win! It was so tense and at one point, I literally said, "Checkmate" because I could see he had no moves that would allow him to counter my next couple of moves and eventual win. He saw it too, but we played it out.





Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
We HAD to celebrate the Kennerspiel win of the amazing and talented Andreas and Alexander with an Isle for Skye session! I love love love this game, so their simply served as a reminder to play it!

The early objectives were animal-centric, so Peter kept hoarding all the animals! He had an early lead, which he managed to maintain for a total of the first two rounds and then I took over. Unlike Peter, I didn't let the animals blind-sight me from the bigger points at the end of the rainbow! I built triplets of buildings and ended up raking in 15 VP per scoring by the time the final few rounds rolled around! I NEARLY lapped Peter on the score track!





OctoDice
We are loving this! A mindful dice game is always welcome in our house! In this game, Peter was trying to collect submarines and robots to run them so he could take advantage of the round-by-round sub bonuses, but I think he focused a little too much on that and not enough on other stuff and ended up losing by a lot! We were relatively even in terms of in-game scoring form round to round, but I managed to push ALL my research to the bottom of the research lab and took advantage of end-game scoring for those, which pushed me far into the lead at the end! I also had the most diamonds, which didn't hurt either!





Burano
Burano was another game we tried at DTC with more than two players and one that I wanted to see in action with just the two of us, so it was also on my list of "MUST PLAY ASAP" games I brought home from DTC. It was also one of my favorite games played at the con, so I simply wanted to play it again.

In this game, I was focusing on building roofs and sending my ladies to the lace factories, while Peter was focusing on sending his dudes out to the islands to gain control and collect fish. I thought I was doing very well even though Peter kept DOMINATING the end-of-round scoring with his island majorities. I kept up with him for the most part and was hoping that the boost from my end-game-scoring building cards would allow me to jump into the lead at the end, but I was wrong. He had made way too many points for island majorities and from delivering all his crazy fish combinations to the ports. I think I only delivered one set of fish and had majority on one island at one point during the game shake. I lost by TWO points! TWO! It is certainly easier to gain island majorities in a 2-player game, so I will have to compete in that department a little more next time, but I just love trying to be a master builder and watching the city build up! Love this game! And it is great with two!





Ora et Labora
I am so excited for Uwe's new game that my eyeballs keep being drawn to Uwe's games on our shelves! When I play Ora, I typically don't focus too much on creating clever production chains; I'm mostly focused on the spatial puzzle and trying to maximize the points I can get from multiplying the dwelling bonuses of the most lucrative buildings. If the production chains work out, then so be it. If not, I won't cry; I'll just use Peter's buildings .

In this game, I tried to quickly and efficiently build up my churchy farm thing and wanted to end the game ASAP, but I ended up blocking my cloisters and was left at the mercy of Peter to end the game because the only buildings remaining at the end were cloister buildings. shake I can be so short-sighted sometimes. Oh! Shiny high-valued building! ME! Oh oh. Blocked. Bleh. Peter had a nice production chain that allowed him to produce lots of books and lamp thingies, but I could quite easily produce wonders with my resources too, so he dragged the game out for a few rounds to pump out as many points as he could and then ended it, at which point I made my second wonder and won the game! It was a very high scoring game, with both Peter and I going into the mid-high 300s. I'm still angry at myself for being so stupid about the cloisters! shake But at least I made buckets and buckets of wine!





ZhanGuo
Zhanguo is so much fun! But I don't like the sides with special powers. I find them to cause too much of a difference between players and refuse to play with them. I think Peter wanted to play with the special sides, but I refused. And then, as though to spite me, he kept beating me to governor spaces and to putting his discs on the end-game bonuses! shake That made me grow horns, so I went to town on the governors, ensured majorities in as many as possible, and left them alone. Then, I just pumped out points with temples. And won! By A LOT! As usual in ZhanGuo. I completed almost all the objectives, but I came in second in more of them than I care to admit...





51st State: Master Set
51st State! My favorite! Well, at least ONE of my favorites! Peter drew Hegemony and I drew the Appalachians. We played with the Winter expansion. I don't like having to throw my cards away in order to gain building contact tokens, so I find it difficult to play with the Appalachian faction, but I had a great string of production cards and was very fortunate to get production cards that aligned with them. Peter was going deal crazy with his Pete's Offices, but that wasn't enough to compete with my oil/gun strategy. Who needs deals when you have guns and oil!?





Imperial Settlers + Imperial Settlers: 3 Is a Magic Number
I have no problem playing 51st State and Imperial Settlers in relatively close succession. I find the two games different enough to justify that and I had so much fun playing with the Aztecs at DTC that I needed to get IS played again this week! We do still have to explore the 3 is a Magic Number expansion further, so the lack of Aztecs wasn't utterly devastating. But I do want to play with them more! I love them so much!!!

Anyway, back to this game. I drew the Egyptians and Peter drew the Japanese. I knew that the Egyptians have some cool scoring cards in the 3 expansion and yet I kept opting to draw cards from the common deck rather than my faction deck whenever I had the opportunity to draw cards. I had a card that scored grey sets and I had a lot of trouble getting my production going in the first few rounds and my obsession with the common deck in the first few rounds just transferred over to the later rounds. Unfortunately for me, Peter managed to draw and dump his entire faction deck on the table. Despite the fact that I was constantly making points with the Hub of the Universe (3 points if you have 7 of the same color) and bonus points for my Sphinx and the fact that I made 8 bonus points at the end of the game for my Delta (10 points minus number of colors other than gold on your tableau), I lost by 10 points! TEN! That is inexcusable! I threw a joke drama fit and Peter thought I was serious! I guess I can be a pretty convincing acteur! Perhaps I should consider switching careers.





Roll for the Galaxy + Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition
After my miserable performance in IS (it wasn't that miserable, but I hate losing to the Japanese!), I wanted to win! And one game in which I can do that reliably is Roll!

My goal was to simply build, build, build, but many objectives had shipping-related requirements, which encouraged me to focus the tiles I built, built, built around shipping powers. I built many low-valued tiles and managed to ship out a bunch of goods with like-colored shippers AND bonus points, but only did that once before I ended the game. Peter was working on a bunch of 6-cost developments and I knew I'd be doomed if he succeeded. Indeed, I was right because I only won by ONE point! ONE!






Caverna: The Cave Farmers

I wanted to play an Uwe game and Peter wanted to try to beat me at Caverna, so we settled on that one. I love Caverna, but the setup sometimes makes it too painful for me. This was one of those times. I was really not feeling it when we started, but, predictably, I was giddy by the time we were finished. I just love the great sense of accomplishment I get from having built a crazy cavern and farm!

I made the mistake of focusing my entire game of one tile that I realized was totally not worth the effort too late, so I had to switch plans late in the game. I ended up doing a little bit of everything and made a decent amount of points, but nothing compared to my previous 84 shake. One thing I have noticed in our past few games is that I have taken the Gold Stream EVERY SINGLE TIME! I'm in love with that thing! I guess I like gold! And apparently stone too because I made most of my points with my super stone storage!





Terra Mystica
Nope. Not a week can pass by without a TM session in this house! I drew the Mermaids and Yetis, bid 3 points for first dibs, and took the Yetis. In retrospect, I probably should have taken the Mermaids, but I did very well for myself nonetheless.

Peter was focusing on building towns and grew his domain very quickly. Meanwhile, I focused less on expansion and more on making as many points as I could with my cult bonuses during the game. I had the predictable 1 earth (apparently, I take that one in EVERY game) and the 2 water (and I don't typically take that one) to generate some small bonuses that I hoped would compound to give me the win. Peter was working the cult tracks like mad and I knew I stood no chance in that department. Plus, he had expanded so much by the final few rounds in the game that I was convinced I wouldn't be able to take either of the structure-based end game bonuses (i.e. most connected structures and most structures on edges of the board). But I did! And I won! So there! Yetis win!





Factory Funner
I let Peter choose a game after his TM loss and, of course, the first thing that popped into his head was Factory Funner! Why? Because it's one of the few games he can reliably win! Only not this time! devil I actually won! Instead of focusing on the high-valued machine tiles, I decided to focus almost exclusively on forming connections between inputs and outputs. I have always focused on those to some extent, but in this game, it was my chief goal to make those connections; I didn't care if I had to take negatives to do it. I ended up making a bucket of points at the end of the game because of that! And I destroyed Peter's score! Yay.





Puzzle Strike Shadows
This game is so much more fun when you play correctly! I screwed up the number of chips I was drawing when we played last week and had a miserable time. This time, I actually drew more chips when I had more gems in my gem pile, as per the rules, and had a much easier time! It's funny how things work better when you follow the rules!

Peter's character allowed him to crash two 1-value gems at me relatively frequently, so I focused on combining my chips and getting cash. My MVC (most valuable chip) was Money for Nothing, which just lets you take 2-value or 3-value gems into your hand. That was pretty sweet and helped me get a bunch of combine and double crash chits. Peter's gem pile was overflowing in no time!


Peter's gem pile is overflowing!


My mountain of shiny things


Bora Bora
Sometimes, I just want to roll dice and then think really hard! Bora Bora is perfect for those times!

Both Peter and I were working on getting all our huts on the board, which was really frustrating for me because I kept getting there first! Fortunately, I also managed to get my board filled with people AND get all the jewellery AND complete all my objectives AND fill up my resource board with resources! I had to pull off a crazy maneuver that involved a fire bonus and a green God card in the final round in order to pull off that last bit, but it was worth it...maybe...6-point bonuses are nice!





Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft
We played Holmes a few times in the hotel after the con. It was late at night and we were both tired, but we really enjoyed the game and found its simplicity appealing. I did report on that in my previous post. HOWEVER, after this week's session, I have come to realize that while it is indeed a fine game and will appeal to many people due to its simplicity and brevity, it is just too simple and too light for us. Additionally, while I was (and still am) absolutely delighted by the theme and artwork, the game is 100% an abstract set-collection affair with no sense of mystery or theme, so it fails for me in that regard as well. Finally, the worker placement portion of the game is too repetitive. Your only choices are to take cards or take magnifying glasses in one way or another. The order in which the worker placement spaces became available in our game was such that the additional spaces were all relatively useless at the times they became available, meaning that the basic spaces kept getting repeatedly used in the same predictable order. I don't see a need to revisit this in the future, so I will not be writing a full review.





Scoville + Scoville: Labs
I wanted an easy-setup, simple rules, challenging gameplay kind of game one night and Scoville was the first one that came to mind. The heat and the fact that we spent two hours in it with Jackie that day probably steered my mind in the direction of hot peppers, but I love Scoville and it really should be a game that comes quickly to mind when those are my game selection criteria.

This was the second game in which we never went into the afternoon phase. The market cards weren't all that appetizing, while the recipe cards were relatively easy to achieve, so both Peter and I focused on the recipes. I did a bit too much gathering of the low-valued achievement tiles for brown peppers and failed to get any for the higher-valued peppers. When I saw Peter producing the crystal peppers, I knew I was screwed! Of course, he won. Boo. It appears that I'm not all that good at this game. That's ok. Peter can have the pepper game. I'll get him one day!




This just wasn't enough...


Subdivision
We played with the Central Parks scenario this week! This scenario includes a bunch of park tiles at the center of the board and does away with the cultural zone tiles.

I didn't really have a specific direction in this game. I was just trying to get as much access to the highway for all my zone tiles and trying to surround the central parks with as many tiles as possible. I ended up blocking myself from being able to cover my board in tiles AND provide zone access for everything and lost by close to 10 points. Peter had 106 and I had ninety something. Boo. I really enjoy this scenario because it makes it very challenging to get lots of zone tiles AND provide highway access for all of them AND make lots of points in other ways. I didn't have a single school tile and barely made any money with my lakes.




My sidewalk was a claw!


***


Fresh Cardboard


1. Drum Roll - I love elephants. Drum Roll has a giant elephant on its cover. It was on fire sale at BoardGameBliss. Done and done!
2. Ashes: The Duchess of Deception + Ashes: The Children of Blackcloud + Ashes: The Frostdale Giants - I am now officially obsessed with Ashes. It needed some accessories .
3. City of Spies: Estoril 1942 - This looks gorgeous and super cool. Cards, powers, and espionage. It can't go wrong!
4. The Pursuit of Happiness - Pursuit of Happiness is Peter's ideal game. He loves games that are about aspects of everyday life. After Dice Tower Con, he started thinking up a game about board game conventions in which the goal is to gather the most happiness. Pursuit of Happiness will be perfect for him!
5. Kraftwagen - I was really tempted to acquire the first edition of Kraftwagen because both Peter and I have enjoyed other Cramer games we have played. However, it was crazy expensive because it was an import and the theme does not appeal to me, so I wasn't completely sold on it. Well, now it has been updated and is being published by Stronghold for us North American folk, so it has just become more attractive! I'm super excited to try it and Peter is SUPER excited to try it!
6. Via Nebula - Martin Wallace + Space Cowboys. I haven't had any pleasant experiences with the former, but have with the latter. I am smitten with the art and the idea of this game (a logistics puzzle in which you build things), so I've decided to give it a shot. I've preordered my copy and I'm looking forward to its arrival.
7. Near and Far - I love Ryan Laukat's art and I've enjoyed all of his games (except for Artifacts, Inc., but that's irrelevant here), so this was an automatic Kickstarter backing for me. This is a sequel to Above and Below and may include a non-storybook-based variant for extra replay value if that stretch goal is unlocked!
8. Meeple War - This is an adorable-looking 4x game with hexes and exploration and worker placement and all kinds of cool stuff I love. It may be too mean, but I'm going to take a chance on this.
9. Evolution: The Beginning - Apparently, this is a fast, light version of Evolution that works particularly well with two players! I love Evolution with two players, but I'm excited to try this too!
10. Happy Salmon - This game was played a lot at DTC. The people playing it always made a lot of noise . I'm not good at noise, but I'll give it a shot! I think my family will enjoy this. It's super simple and silly and easy for everyone, young and old, to understand.
11. Cry Havoc - Last, but not least, I pre-ordered Cry Havoc from BoardGameBliss! I really enjoyed my first play at DTC, despite the fact that I got demolished. I would like to try again and NOT get demolished! I was slightly iffy on this as a two-player game due to the need to control trogs, but I don't think it'll be too much of an issue. At least I hope not.

***


Next Week...


Look forward to America, which I will have to play with more than just the two of us to properly review, and a couple of others! I have so many games I am so excited to review I don't know where to start! THE BEST PROBLEM TO HAVE!

***


heart THANK YOU FOR READING! heart


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