This week, I have a story. It's a rather pointless story (unless you have children), but a story nonetheless.
My mom comes to visit us every week. She SAYS that she comes because she wants to see me, but the truth is that she comes because she wants to see Jackie. I know this. I'm ok with it. Jackie is much cuter than I am. Because my mom visits us on a weekly basis, she has been a first-hand witness to the encroachment on our living space by pretty, colorful cardboard boxes. She never commented on our shrinking floor space prior to this week because she knows my pretty cardboard boxes make me happy. This week, she had a minor meltdown when she stepped on ship from Galaxy Trucker. Even my mom now thinks I am crazy.
What's the point of this story? Not much, other than to warn you parent types out there that you may need to protect your feet from your children's amusements well into said children's 30s...and beyond. I highly recommend arming yourself with a life-time supply of Lego brick protective slippers. Such wonders did not exist when I was a child, but I may have to introduce them to my mom.I make a fun announcement at the end of this post, so keep reading! Don't leave!***What's New?
I had little interest in Tiny Epic Galaxies. It looked too light and too random for me. With the multi-faceted expansion now on Kickstarter, I wanted to give the game a closer look.The Overview
In Tiny Epic Galaxies, you will become a brave space pirate (you get to be a pirate in my version of the story ), taking over planets and trying to outrace your opponents to nab the biggest chunk of the planetary pie! Dice will be your friends (or enemies ), helping you accomplish your goals by allowing you to move your ships, acquire resources, advance colonization of planets, and use colonies you already have.
To set up the game, you will give each player 2 mission cards from which to select 1, a galaxy mat, 4 ships, an empire token, an energy token, and a culture token. You will start the game with 2 energy and 1 culture and on the first space of your empire track. The empire track determines how many dice you will roll each turn and how many ships you will have at your disposal. Over the course of the game, you will be able to upgrade this parameter in order to increase the number of dice you roll, the number of ships you have, AND the number of points you have.
You will reveal a number of planets from the planet deck equal to the number of players + 2.
You will also place on the table a Control Mat that shows an "Activation Bay" and a "Converter."
Each turn, you will first roll the number of dice you are entitled to roll. At the beginning of the game, you will roll 4 dice. You may then re-roll any number of dice once for free and spend 1 energy per additional re-roll. You may also place any two dice in the "Converter" to change another die to show the face you desire.
Next, you will activate your dice one by one by placing them in the "Activation Bay." After each activation, any player may choose to follow your action by spending 1 culture.
Dice actions are as follows:
1. Move a ship to a planet's surface to activate the planet's effect OR move a ship to a planet's orbit, placing it on the starting position of the planet's colony track.
2. Acquire resources - When you activate an energy die, you acquire energy equal to the number of ships you have on energy planets. When you activate a culture die, you acquire culture equal to the number of ships you have on culture planets.
3. Advance colonization - When you activate a diplomacy die, you can move one of your ships located on the colonization track on a diplomacy planet one space forward. When you activate an economy die, you can move one of your ships located on the colonization track of an economy planet one space forward. If you reach the end of the colonization track, you return your ship and any other player's ship to their respective home planets and take the colonized planet, sliding it under your galaxy mat.
4. Use a colony - Activate a colony die to perform the "upgrade empire" action on your colony mat or the action shown on any planet you have already completely colonized.
The "upgrade empire" action requires that you spend energy or culture to move your empire marker forward and thus unlock additional ships or dice to use on future turns.
The end of the game is triggered when one player has reached 21 or more points. At this point, the game is played until all players have had an equal number of turns, secret mission points are added to your final score, and the player with the most points wins.The ReviewPlayed prior to review: 6x
1. Very well produced
The bottom of the box is a player aid and the lid a very handy and very pretty space-themed dice tray! The custom dice have a space-y color scheme and the artwork is vibrant and inviting. This game just screams, "PLAY WITH ME!"
2. Very quick to play and engaging throughout
Tiny Epic Galaxies is tiny in both physical footprint and playtime. It takes about 20 minutes to play with two people (after a game or two) and that is surprising given the number of decision points in the game. What's more, you remain engaged in the game's proceedings at all times thanks to its clever following mechanism. Whether it is your turn or not, you have to pay attention to which dice your opponent is activating in order to determine whether to spend a culture point to follow. And that can be a significant decision you will have to repeatedly make even outside your turn.
3. Tense race-y game with some hidden information to ensure that the tension remains high until the very end, regardless of whether you are winning or losing
Tiny Epic Galaxies isn't a true race, but it gives you a similar sense of urgency because the end of the game is triggered when one player reaches 21 points. As such, you are constantly tracking your opponent's score and trying to do your best. But unlike a true race, in which falling behind a few points can be discouraging and the first person to the end wins, Tiny Epic Galaxies is point based and gives you a way to score a few extra points through your hidden objective. Your opponent's triggering the end of the game will not necessarily mean that you've lost.
4. Ways to manipulate dice, re-roll dice, and the option to follow other players' rolls give you some control and sense of agency
Tiny Epic Galaxy is a Yahtzee-style dice-rolling game, so it's very random. Right? Wrong! While it isn't exactly an ultra-strategic, open-information game, Tiny Epic Galaxies gives you a sufficient number of options for randomness management to ensure you don't feel like the game is playing you.
First, you get one free re-roll of any number of dice. Good.
Second, you can manipulate dice rolls. If you are desperate to take a particular action on your turn, you can sacrifice to dice to the converter and turn any die you have yet to activate to a face of your choice. Score! Instant solution!
Third, if you aren't in desperate need of a specific action but simply dislike one or more of your dice faces, you can keep re-rolling by spending energy. Of course, you want to keep your energy to upgrade your empire, so re-rolling isn't an easy choice to make, but it shouldn't be. Tough choices make games fun!
Fourth (yes, FOURTH!), if you don't roll an action you really wanted to take on your turn, you can spend culture to follow of your opponent's actions. Score! Of course, you have to ensure you HAVE some culture during your opponent's turn and again, deciding to spend culture to follow your opponent's action won't be an easy choice to make because culture is another resource you could alternatively be spending to upgrade your empire, but if you really want a specific action because it would help you end the game earlier than you thought or because it would allow you to start your next turn with an extra ship and dice, it could be worth it.
FOUR ways to manipulate dice? Poof! Randomness is gone! Right?
5. Epic (?) number of decision points for the size and duration of the game
Tiny Epic Galaxies may be compact, but it gives you a less-than-compact number of things to think about over the course of the game. At the start of the game, you have to select one of two objectives, which will give you something to focus on for the rest of the game. Do you have to be the one with the most culture at the end? You might want to focus on acquiring planets with powers that will allow you to more easily acquire culture. Do you have to have the fewest planets at the end? You might want to focus on colonizing a few high-VP planets rather than many low-VP planets. Do you have to have the most planets at the end or the most of a specific type of planet? Focus on colonizing many low-VP planets or planets of that specific type. These objectives will give you a general idea about how to play the game and help you carve out a strategy for the rest of it. Selecting an objective is an important decision.
Now, once you've selected your focus for the game, you have to find a way to accomplish it. Each turn, you will first have to consider the dice you have rolled, as these will present you with the actions you'll be able to perform. As I mentioned above, you'll be able to re-roll any dice you don't like for free once and then again and again as long as you keep paying 1 energy each time or use two dice to convert another die to an action you desire. Whether you decide to manipulate your dice or not, you'll have to think not only about the actions that you want to take each turn, but also the order of operations. If you have ships on a cultural planet and are able to harvest culture AND colonize that planet on the same turn, you need to harvest that culture prior to completing the colonization and sending the ships back to your galaxy. If you are able to trigger a colonized planet effect and colonize a planet, you may want to colonize the planet first. These seem like simple considerations, but when you include all the planetary powers in the equation, they do add to the overall complexity.
You also have to constantly keep tabs on your resources. Because you are managing two different types of resources, have hard caps on each, and can use each to accomplish multiple different things, you are constantly forced to make tradeoffs. You can use energy to upgrade your empire, re-roll dice, and perform other effects that depend on the planetary powers in play. You can use culture to upgrade your empire, follow your opponent's actions, and again, perform other effects that depend on the planetary powers in play. As such, you have to think about the relative importance of following an action vs. saving your culture to upgrade your empire and using culture to upgrade your empire vs. using energy to upgrade your empire...You are constantly juggling between these two resources, trying to ensure you have enough of both to follow, re-roll dice, and trigger planetary powers (for example, one allows you to spend two energy to move a ship two spaces on a planet's colony track) while trying to upgrade your empire ASAP because an upgraded empire will enhance your ability to perform actions with more dice and ships!
Tiny Epic Galaxies also forces you to think about your opponent(s). First, the culture tracks on planets allow you to compete with your opponent to colonize a planet. Usually, it isn't worth trying to do this because the player who reached the planet first will typically end up colonizing it (as I'll discuss again in the section), but sometimes, it can be worth trying. Tiny Epic Galaxies is a game of efficiency and if you can force your opponent to waste a few actions by colonizing a planet before he can, you probably should. When you're deciding whether to compete on these tracks, you have to consider your ability to get to the end faster than your opponent and ideally in the same turn you land on the track. Alternatively, you may have colonized planets that give you exclusive access to abilities that allow you to push your opponent's ship back on the colony track.
Also, as I mentioned in an earlier point, in Tiny Epic Galaxies, you are making decisions even outside of your turn! Because you are able to follow your opponent's actions by spending culture, you're thinking about all the same things you would be thinking about on your turn on your opponent's! Most of the time...when you aren't an uncultured war monger!
6. Huge replay value - a gazillion different planets and objectives to explore
What it lacks in depth, Tiny Epic Galaxies makes up for in breadth of decision points. The game comes with a large deck of planet powers, of which you will only see a subset in any single two-player game. Each game will be made somewhat different by the planetary abilities you have available to use. One game may be rendered vicious by the ability to push ships back on their colonization tracks or steal energy, while another may be relatively friendly due to the absence of such planets. In one game, you may find it easy to colonize planets that are diplomatically inclined, while in another you may be more economy focused. The combination of planetary powers available in any given game will change the options you have and thus change the way you play the game.
Another factor that enhances replay value in Tiny Epic Galaxies are the secret mission cards. There are many of them, they are all different, and they work to focus your strategy in a unique way, as described above.
It's baaaaaaaaaaack! Despite the fact that you are presented with no fewer than 4 different ways to control the actions you have available to you (i.e. dice rolls), you are still somewhat at the mercy of dice in Tiny Epic Galaxies. If you just get unlucky and keep rolling actions you can't use and are forced to use the converter or energy or culture to get your dice to behave, while your opponent keeps rolling actions that benefit him without having to make any sacrifices, you'll be left in the dust. This is a game of efficiency that rewards careful planning and optimization. But if you're repeatedly dice-d out of planning and optimization, you could end up at the bottom of the VP pile.
2. The two-player version doesn't provide enough options for me, but this is easily modified to suit personal preferences and I FAR prefer my version
When setting up the planet display, the Tiny Epic Galaxies rulebook instructs you to reveal a number of planet equal to 2 + the number of players. This means that 4 planets are revealed in a 2-player game and 6 in a 4-player game. My guess is that the number of planets revealed is reduced across player counts in order to encourage competition between players to colonize planets. However, the end result is not so much to encourage competition as it is to reduce the number of options you have for expanding your colonized planet tableau and triggering planet effects, as well as to increase randomness.
First, even with only 4 planets on display, we have rarely found it beneficial to compete with each other to colonize a planet. The first person to get there is most likely to get the planet, barring any wacky special powered planets being on display or in our colonized planet tableaus. Late in the game, it becomes more likely that you'll be able to compete and take over a planet in one shot by using colonized planet powers or by pushing your opponent's ship back on the colonization track. However, particularly early in the game, your ability to compete on the colonization tracks will be entirely dependent on the planetary powers on display and in your colonized planet tableau.
Now, you could argue that trying to colonize a planet to which your opponent has committed some resources in one go should be a priority because doing so would effectively result in wasting some of your opponent's actions. In a game that demands efficiency, this can result in a serious setback. Right? Yes. Right. However, reducing the number of planets on display doesn't make this option any more palatable than it would be otherwise. Bumping your opponent off a colonization track is equally attractive with more planets on display as with fewer planets. The main difference is that you have fewer ways to accomplish this with fewer planets in play.
So the restricted planet display doesn't exactly encourage competition. What does it do? It effectively reduces the number of options you have on your turn. Planetary powers are the tastiest part of Tiny Epic Galaxies; they give you options for actions beyond the basic few in the game, allowing you to create interesting combinations. Without options, you have fewer interesting things to consider.
The restricted planet display also increases the level of randomness in the game. A number of secret objectives demand that you have colonized the most of a particular planet type at the end of the game. If you fail to see a sufficient number of those planets or end up revealing them for your opponent by colonizing other planets, you could end up out of luck due to luck of the draw.
We like options. And we don't like randomness. If you are like us, you may find that your Tiny Epic Galaxies become more a tiny bit more epic if you increase the planet display from 4 to 6 when playing with 2 people.
3. A number of powers are not very useful when playing with only two players
A number of planetary powers are far less useful when playing with two players than they would be with more, leaving those planets largely ignored when they show up in the display. Planets with powers like "get 1 energy every time you are followed this round" are far less likely to get you results when only one player is available to trigger them. This means that the planetary display can get stale and rot over time, with relatively useless powers simply sitting on the table for the duration of the game. With the large number of planets in the game, you could theoretically remove those, but it may impact the relative distribution of various planet types, so I'm not eager to try that.
4. Needs a point track!
The end of the game is triggered when one player gets to 21 points. This means that it is important to keep track of not only your current point total, but also those of your opponents. The rulebook instructs you to add up and announce your current point total at the end of each turn to keep everyone up to date as to how soon the game might end. This method works and isn't much more than a minor nuisance, but it is still a nuisance that takes a bit of time and could easily be avoided with a point track. Instead of adding up all your points each turn, you could just add the points you gained this turn to the track. I understand that the goal of this "tiny epic" series is to keep the games small, but I don't think that another thin board containing a point going from 1 to 25 would have significantly increased the size of the final product, but it would have made it significantly easier for players to keep an eye on each other. This doesn't bother me too much, as it isn't that difficult to keep track of only one opponent, but this complaint would increase in significance with player count.
5. Not so original
If you are someone who insists on keeping a small collection of games that each feature a different mechanism, you may not find Tiny Epic Galaxies to be a necessary addition. The game doesn't feature any new and exciting mechanisms, nor does it put an altogether new spin on familiar mechanisms. I'm not trying to say that it isn't worth owning. It is. It just isn't going to blow anyone's mind when it comes to originality. Alternatives with similar mechanisms and theme but a bit more to chew on include Roll for the Galaxy & Race for the Galaxy. That said, if you enjoy those games, you may find Tiny Epic Galaxies of interest.Final Word
I don't have a huge need for filler games. I have a few go-to fillers that I am happy to play on occasion and both Peter and I tend to prefer puzzly fillers to any other type. Tiny Epic Galaxies is a non-puzzly filler, but we still enjoy it a lot. It takes about 20 minutes to play and gives us plenty to think about, while keeping us engaged in the game for the duration of that time. As a food item, Tiny Epic Galaxies would be a trifle. It is light and bouncy and not to be taken too, too seriously due to the randomness of dice, but it isn't one of those completely airy-fairy fruit-filled, ladyfinger-whipping cream trifles. This is more like a brownie-chocolate pudding trifle. Much more substantial. You have many things to think about. Some decisions are quite smooth and go down easy, but others take a bit more crunching. You'll be done in no time at all and asking for more!MINA'S LOVE METER SOME LOVE (with a 6-planet display)***The Overview
In Brew Crafters, you will become the proud owner of a beer brewery! Your goal is to become the most reputable brewer by developing your brewing line, managing skilled and brewery workers, as well as your ingredient supply, and brewing the most valuable beer.
Brew Crafters is a complex game that requires a relatively extensive setup and rules explanation. I will only present a general overview of the 2-player version of the game here.
To set up the game, you will create a display of 9 random skilled worker cards, 2 local partnership cards, and 9 beer cards. The beer cards are arranged in a 3x3 grid, with the top three beer cards always being Pleasantly Porter, Everyday Ale, and Simply Stout. Below each of these, you will place two more beers of the same type (porter, ale, and stout), arranged in ascending reputation point order.
At the start of the game, you will receive 2 player boards. One is your research lab and the other your brewery. You will start with 2 market workers and 1 brewery worker and $6.
Brew Crafters is played over 12 rounds, which are split into seasons. There are 3 seasons in the game.
In each season, you will:
1) Restock the market board, adding ingredients and cash to restocking spaces
2) Take market actions - In turn order, you will alternate placing your market workers on the market board to take market actions. Once one action has been taken, it cannot be taken by another player until the next round. Market actions include:
A) Take the first player marker and any cash on the space or form a local partnership, gaining one of the local partnership cards
B) Hire a new brewery shift worker or hire a skilled worker, taking the card from the display
C) Take ingredients or cash
3) Take brewery actions - Players don't block each other on the brewery board, so you are free to take any brewery action you please with the brewery shift workers you have. Brewery actions are:
A) Process beer - This action takes place over three phases. First, you must sell any beer you have in your bottling plant, gaining $2 for each batch sold. Then, you must shift any beer you have in your brewing area to your bottling area. Then, you brew one batch into each empty fermentation tank you have, returning ingredients required for that type of beer to the supply. In order to brew recipes in the second and third recipe rows, you must have brewed the higher (simpler) recipes of the corresponding types beforehand.
B) Lab research - Your lab features 4 tracks with 4 levels of development. Experimental levels give you one-time benefits, annual winter levels give you a benefit at the start of each winter season, breakthrough levels give you an ongoing benefit, and game-end levels give you reputation points at the end of the game for meeting certain conditions. When you take the lab research action, simply increase one cube one space along one track.
C) Install new building or equipment - You may install 1 piece of equipment or 1 building. Buildings and equipment allow you to brew beer more efficiently by expanding the number of batches you can brew at once, provide points at the end of the game, expand your access to ingredients like fruit, hops, and yeast, allow you to store additional ingredients, or provide points over the course of the game or at the end of the game.
The game also comes with several "complex" actions you can add to the market or brewery board.
At the end of each year's winter season, you must pay $1 for each $ symbol featured in your play area. This includes your brewery shift workers, your skilled workers, and your buildings and equipment. If you cannot pay, you must take loans to make up the difference. Loans cannot be repaid.
At the end of the game, you get points for all beer you have brewed, game-end research points, your tasting room, any reputation points you have gained over the course of the game, and gold labels for being the first to brew each advanced recipe. You will lose points for loans.The ReviewPlayed prior to review: 7x
1. Looks amazing
Brew Crafters looks like a dream. It is filled with attractive, colorful chits and bits that bring the process of brewing beer to life, even for those of us with little knowledge about or interest in the subject matter!
2. Gives you a great sense of accomplishment in building and running a tangible engine
I love games that make me feel like I have built something effective at the end and Brew Crafters does that very well. You start with a few basic ingredients and pieces to your factory, no research powers, and little money and personalize your factory with a different set of equipment, workers, and abilities in each game. You end up with a real sense of pride, accomplishment, and investment in the thing you've created at the end of each game because it isn't an easy or simple process.
3. Tight and challenging
Many games are made tight and challenging by imposing restrictions on access to key resources or forcing you to make payments for features that allow you to expand your ability to get things done. Brew Crafters does both. It challenges you to acquire a sufficient number of the right types of resources to produce the most lucrative beer possible by heavily restricting the availability of advanced ingredients, which are key to being able to produce many advanced recipes. In order to get around such restrictions and enhance your ability to make such beer, you have to upgrade your brewing operations, adding a farm or a local importer or an skilled worker. But most of these will demand payment every time winter comes around. And money is another tight resource in this game. Particularly early in the game (which is when you have to start thinking about how to develop your brewery), you will be almost entirely reliant on the $2 space to gain sufficient cash to pay for your operation. Beer can become a reliable source of income, but you are only able to brew one beer at a time early in the game and it takes 3 brewery actions to get a SINGLE batch through the brewing-bottling-selling process and you get a SINGLE brewery action each round with no option to increase that until you've brewed at least 3 beers, so you won't exactly be swimming in money. There is a very palpable tension between wanting to upgrade the heck out of everything and hire ALL the workers (because darn it, they are GOOD!) and wanting to throw everything overboard when winter hits and you have to pay for it all. Resources are tight and money is tighter. And loans hurt. FUN!
4. High strategy with many different paths to explore
Brew Crafters is a game of strategy. Of course, it forces some tactical maneuvering when items get taken before you can get to them, but for the most part, the game allows you to create a plan and put it into action.
At the start of the game, you are presented with a display of skilled workers and a display of recipes. You first have to determine which workers to try to acquire and how best to exploit any potential synergies between those workers and the research lab and brewery upgrades you make in the game. You can think of the display of skilled workers as the Minor Improvement and Occupation cards in Agricola. Only in this case, they are available to everyone, so you have to act fast if you want a particular combination. Many of these workers give you extra reputation points for operating certain brewery upgrades or give you something extra whenever you take a certain number of type of ingredient. This means that they are often suited to helping you brew specific types of beer or to certain strategies. And there are many different paths to explore. You can focus on one particular type of beer or diversify. You can focus on ales, using hops infusers and skilled workers to help you maximize their point potential. Or you can focus on racing to be the first to produce all the advanced recipes and increase the points you receive from a large variety of beers with a Tasting Room and research lab upgrades. You can focus on barrel-aged beers with various upgrades and workers. You can try to consistently brew multiple batches to exploit certain bonuses. And you can try to do a million other things it would take me a year to list.
5. Many equally attractive options pull you in many directions
Brew Crafters is one of those games that not only presents you with a relentless stream of decision points, but actually makes all the choices available to you at each point equally appealing. And that is just !
Each turn, you will likely want to do all of everything at once. Only you won't be able to. Your market actions will be limited to 2 for the duration of the game unless you can get a skilled worker to expand that to 3 in the winter or an intern from some of the advanced actions. For the most part, you'll be limited to 2. And this will never feel like enough! You will want all of each ingredient and you will want the cash and you will want the skilled workers because all those things are amazingly good and you need them!
But the more tasty (and more restricted) options appear in the brewery phase. You only have 1 worker for brewery actions at the start of the game and you have to use this worker to upgrade your research lab (which is awesome because it gives you super powers), produce beer (which is awesome because you kinda need it to score points and make cash), and upgrade your brewery (which is awesome because it allows you to brew more efficiently or gain bonus points or store more resources, among other things). You'll be pulled in multiple directions even within these options, as all research tracks are amazing and all brewery upgrades can be as well.
6. Replay value is so high it makes my head spin!
Replay value in Brew Crafters lies in both the depth and breadth of the decision points you face. As I mentioned above, you have a large selection of skilled workers and only a subset of these is used in any given game. These can drastically alter the strategy you pursue by making certain paths more lucrative or easier than others.
The variable display of beer recipes affect how you play the game. Though the differences between recipes may seem nothing more than superficial fluff that wouldn't alter the decisions you make, in reality, the different point payouts and ingredient requirements of these recipes can encourage different strategies. In a game with a set of ales that all have relatively low ingredient requirements, you may want to consider adopting a hop infuser strategy in order to pump out easy ales. In a game with lots of fruit requirements, you may want to build yourself a farm to ease fruit procurement. In a game with lots of cheap beers, you may want to diversify and race to the first to produce all the advanced recipes and top that off with a Tasting Room for extra points. You get the idea. The scarcity of resources demands that you consider the resource demands and point payouts of the various recipes prior to commiting to a strategy.
Oh! And it'll take a game or two to even start forming effective strategies thanks to the breadth of options the game presents for upgrading your brewing operations, worker pool, and research abilities.
7. Game grows with you
Brew Crafters is cleverly crafted () to grow with you. The box comes with a basic version of the game that features symmetrical research labs, basic market/brewery actions, and a basic set of skilled workers. You can expand the game by including a random set of more advanced and basic skilled workers, advanced research labs with different effects across players, and a number of advanced action options. These all increase the number of options you have in the game. The advanced actions are particularly interesting, as they allow you to gain additional actions, ways to convert resources, ways to use unused recipes, and ways to gain additional resources.
1. A huge number of chits makes this game a nightmare to set up and tear down without some form of plasticized organization
Don't attempt to punch and bag this game. Just don't. There is a different type of chit for each type of beer and each type of factory upgrade and there are many, many different types of beer and types of factory upgrades. And then there are a bunch more chits...
2. The theme doesn't appeal to me, but the game still does
I don't drink alcohol and despise beer, so one of the aspects that tends to draw people towards Brew Crafters (i.e. its theme) actually repels me away from the game. And I still love it! Why? How? Because the game looks pretty and colorful and makes the process of beer making accessible and fun! Even I'm drawn to the dessert-like names of the beers and feel fulfilled when I produce one of the most advanced recipes! This is a game about making beer that (I assume) realistically replicates many of the aspects of the process but does so in a way that will appeal even to people who dislike beer due both to its appearance and the sense of building a tangible "engine." Good stuff!
3. The number of effects you have to keep track of can get out of hand late in the game
After a few games, you'll find you are able to hire multiple skilled workers, build many brewery and research upgrades, all of which will have many passive effects each time you perform a specific action or will give you to ability to perform extra actions in winter. It can become very difficult to keep track of everything late in the game. If you are someone who gets easily overwhelmed by such things, beware...
4. One element is missing when playing with only two players, but it isn't too significant
When playing with only two players, you don't play with the Collaboration action. Having played with both two and four players, I can say that I don't think missing out on that action alters the game in any dramatically significant way. You do have one less option when taking brewery actions, but with 3 other options and multiple sub-options within those options, I think you'd be hard pressed to say that there is an insufficient number of options in that phase of the game when playing with two.Final Word
Do you need to love beer to enjoy Beer Crafters? Nope. But you do need to love getting drunk off a gushing river of options and decision points when playing games. Beer Crafters presents you with such an extensive menu of options for developing your beer brewing operations that you'll find yourself pulled in different, equally delicius directions. ALL THE TIME! If you love having a million and a half options on each turn and a huge amount of game-to-game variety and you get a great sense of satisfaction from building your own little systems in games, Brew Crafters may be for you. I think it spiked my drink with a little something, because it has me drunk in love!MINA'S LOVE METER LOTS OF LOVE***First Impressions
Meeple War. Wars make me sad, but meeple wars make me laugh. I fell in love with the artwork and cute meeples in this game and that was enough to convince me I had to try it.
Meeple War is a race to 6 points, which you gain by controlling certain areas on the ever-expanding board with your meeples, by killing opponent meeples, and destroying opponent structures. You build structures and use workers to operate these structures to prepare and deploy meeples onto the map, to build additional structures, to accelerate the meeple deployment process, and enhance your meeples' ability to zip around the map, among other things. You move your meeples to explore and expand the map, to attack opponent meeples, and to attack opponent structures. Combat is deterministic. It is triggered when meeples of two different colors occupy the same space and is resolved by players simultaneously removing meeples one at a time from that space. The attacker gets 1 bravery point per opponent meeple killed this way and the defender gets 1 breavery point per 2 opponent meeples killed this way.
Although it took us a bit of time to figure out how everything worked, Peter and I enjoyed our first experience with Meeple War. Peter called it "League of Legends" in heavily simplified board game form and I would agree...I guess. The game puts you in a slow-motion tug-of-war for control over key point-providing territories and meeple destruction. Because your workers have to follow a type of action chain flow chart in order to activate structure actions and because they move along this flow chart each turn, you have to perform a lot of careful orchestration of actions to ensure that the effects you want to trigger on the same turn do, indeed go off on the same turn. You also have many options when it comes to selecting which structures to build, which gives you a great sense that you are developing a little engine. I enjoy that.
One thing I disliked about the game was the random tile draw. Some tiles are very much better than others and getting lucky in exploration was what won Peter the game. The first tile I explored had a tunnel and that tunnel had to be placed adjacent to my village structure. Peter later found a tunnel, which he used to effectively take down my structure. I'm sure I played poorly and that didn't help the situation, but some landscape tiles are better than others, offering protection through forests, points, and various other effects. I think we will try to institute a draw-two-keep-one-tile rule next time we play because I found the luck of the draw rather dissatisfying. To my knowledge, discarding the tile and forfeiting your meeple's explore action wasn't an option either.
I can't make any conclusions about the game at this point, but I enjoyed my first session, despite the fact that I got demolished. I look forward to playing this again soon and Peter does too! He's already requested it twice this week! And he doesn't even like League of Legends!***
I received Homesteaders in a recent math trade. I had little interest in this game when it was widely available. As its availability fell, my interest rose because that's the way the world works. Well, now I finally have it! And I LOVE it!
Homesteaders is an auction game in which you bid on various types of land and the right to develop that land with various buildings. Buildings give you income in the form of cash, food, cows, and various other resources that allow you to build more buildings and produce points.
After one session, I loved everything about this game.
1) I loved the auctions, which are super tense and cleverly modified using a simple and strategically manipulable dummy to accommodate only 2 players.
2) I loved the artwork and component quality, which was of the usual amazing TMG quality in my second-edition copy.
3) I loved the sense of building an engine from a myriad of options and the competition for key buildings.
4) I loved the tightness of money and resources.
5) I loved the fact that
6) I loved the fact that I didn't have to punch and bag anything because I got it in a trade from a lovely lady who organized everything perfectly for two-player play!
I loved many more things I can't even verbalize right now, but I'm sure I will as we play more, which we will! A LOT!***
Factory Funner is one of Peter's favorite puzzlers, so I sought out a copy of Factory Fun in a recent math trade and got it! Yay! Peter was excited!
Factory Fun is essentially the same game as Funner, but the machines, connectors, and factory spaces are squares instead of hexagons, some machines give you additional jelly sources (I call the energy or whatever it is "jelly" because it looks like JELLO in the Funner version of the game), and you are allowed to move MACHINES! WHOA!
I love Factory Funner, but I REALLY love Factory Fun! Although the two games are quite similar, the differences are enough to completely change the puzzle you are facing. By somewhat easing the restrictions on machine re-placement and changing the shape of machines and connections, Fun feels quite different from its Funner version and somehow feels more intuitive to me. But it feels less intuitive to Peter! He is really good at Factory Funner and I seem to be (after three quick sessions) really good (better than Peter, at least) at the Fun version. I don't think it is possible to dislike one version of this game and like the other, but I feel almost like getting Fun just gave me an expansion for Funner. That's not to say that the two can be combined, but that Fun just gave me another fun way to play the game! YAY!***What's Not So New But Still Exciting?
Wow! I stink at this game! I have a very bad track record with it, so winning is always an exhilarating experience. I did not have an exhilarating experience this week. I had a very deflating experience.
While Peter was building up his engine with GMO Farms and Protein Labs and whatever other nonsense dice-providing cards he could find, I was collecting the orange point cards and upgrading cards and gaining other effects, I only started building my dice engine AFTER Peter started collecting Fallout Shelters at an alarming pace. Word of advice: don't build your engine backwards. It will explode. That is all.
Terraforming Mars has become a bit of an obsession for me. I want to play with this kumquat all the time! As I mentioned in the review I posted last week, the game has a compulsive amount of replay value owing largely to the huge variety of starting powers, cards, and effects. These make me want to keep exploring the game.
In this game, we terraformed the heck out of Mars! It was super terraformed! Just look at my photo! And we did it all in record time! Despite playing with the corporate era, we both focused on getting all the terraforming complete asap.
Peter had Interplanetary Cinematics, which meant that he started the game with a pile of steel and gained cash whenever he played events. That meant that he had a very nice pile of resources to build up his engine early in the game. I felt like I was lagging behind him for much of the game.
I had the Tharsis Republic, which starts with a city and gains cash or $ production every time cities are placed. Of course, it took me quite a bit more time to develop an effective engine than it did Peter, but when I did, I had all kinds of stuff when cities were placed. I was getting animals and cash and production! It was a close game in the end, but I had way more points from the cards I had played than Peter did. PLUS, I dominated the projects section!
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
We played the first scenario again because we didn't feel up for a challenge. The first scenario was challenging enough the first time! I was Rita, the athlete, and Peter was the beardy dude with a cane...Why can't I remember his name? We never did figure out the objective of the scenario in our first game, so we had to a further bit of exploration this time. We ended up doing a bit too much exploring and ended up unleashing all kinds of monsters that drove us both insane very quickly. My insane condition modified the rules to demand we had to have evidence in addition to fulfilling the scenario objective and, unbeknownst to me, Peter's demanded that he not be injured at the end. Instead of helping him complete the objective, I ran into an adjacent room to pick up the evidence I was forced to drop at one point (which I had assumed counted as "items" when I was instructed to drop items), leaving Peter in a room filled with baddies! Of course, he became injured and it was game over.
Peter quite dislikes this game. He was notably frazzled by the poor luck we had with the dice and said that he hated having the outcome of EVERYTHING dependent on a dice roll. I could see where he was coming from, but I suffered less from that because I was hoarding clue tokens. I think he collected MAYBE two the entire game. Also, we made a mistake while playing, which significantly increased the difficulty level. When instructed to "flip" a wound or horror card, we would draw one from the deck instead of flipping one of the ones we already had. That's part of the reason we went insane very quickly in this game and became injured very quickly in our previous game. We will do better next time! I am sure of it.
I still love this game, but I don't think it's something to be taken too seriously. It's more like playing through a movie with some agency than playing through a game, largely because of the hidden objectives and relatively high level of dice-y randomness.
After our devastating defeat in a mad mansion, Peter demanded (yes, DEMANDED) we play a game WITHOUT dice and WITHOUT cards. Peter doesn't demand games; he asks me what I want and generally agrees to play at least one of the games I request. This time, he would not be deterred. He was determined to play one of his favorite games that has no dice or cards - The Capitals.
Sadly, this game did not go well for Peter. He had trouble getting his cash income engine going and had to take a number of negative points for his lack of money early in the game. And despite his early lead on culture, he ended up losing it when I shot up the culture track in the middle of the game. In fact, I shot so far up that track that I kept getting the overshooting points! I think this was the first time I did that with culture. Of course, I won, but Peter had a good time. I think he was just glad to be free of the mad mansions.
On Saturday, we attended TABSCON, our quarterly local board game convention. We usually stay for the math trade and a short game, but this time, we stayed for a 5-player game of Scythe! Who can turn down a 5-player game of Scythe!?
We played with double Jasons and Jamie. The Jasons had never played, so somebody had to teach! Jamie was caught up with runnin the math trade and I was feeling quite nauseated after the car ride there and had to go to the bathroom. Peter was the only one left. *gulp* Peter does not teach games. But he did a good job. I think. They learned.
I drew Saxony and really wanted to play with that faction because I find them relatively useless (or situational) in a 2-player game. I really wanted to experience how differently they would function inn a 5-player game and they function DIFFERENTLY! I don't think I would feel as strongly about the differences between 2-player and 5-player Scythe had I been playing any other faction (though I am certain it is still a VERY different experience), but Saxony is simply worlds apart at those player counts.
With board 5, I just kept bouncing between trading and upgrading early in the game. Then, I pushed all my mechs out on the board. I intended to go for the Factory because one of my objectives required that I had a Factory expansion, but Jamie blocked my progress early in the game, so I had to give up on that dream. My other objective was to become a despised war monger. I'm good at that. I got to the top of the power track quickly and intended to make Jamie hate me, but Jamie kept up with my power, so he wasn't a very good target for wars. Fortunately, there were two other weak targets who allowed me to end the game more quickly than anticipated. I came in second, but that's to be expected when playing with Jamie .
Ora et Labora
I really wanted to play Fields of Arle one night, but Peter prefers Ora et Labora. Because I presented that as an alternative, it was the one that got played. We played the Ireland version.
As usual, I focused on building a giant tableau. The spatial element is my favorite thing about Ora et Labora, while the resource conversion is Peter's, so our focus tends to diverge when we play. To mess with my preferred stone-monopoly strategy, Peter decided to acquire the stone-converting building on his first or second turn, which made me mad. A relatively large number of early buildings require stone to build and I like building things and I don't like helping Peter by giving him money. So I waited. I waited for the stone quarry and when that thing showed up, I pounced on it soooooooooo fast!
This game ended up with a strong building focus, as both Peter and I were building like mad. And it ended very quickly. One hour. Done. I won, but not by much. Peter had a wonder-producing capabilities and I didn't want to let him unleash his wonders on the world, so I ended it.
Hyperborea! I was the green guys and Peter was the red guys. Despite my flying ability, I somehow ended up getting almost entirely shoved off the board by the end of the game! I was pushed all the way back to my home territory and made very few points through area control. Peter was very aggressive in this game, which may have been affected by his red superpowers (I'm honestly not even sure what they were, but red=fight, right? ). Thankfully, I managed to make lots of points through techs and ended up winning, but it was so close. I gotta watch out for those red dudes!
Magic: The Gathering
I got the newest, freshest duel decks to play with this week! Nissa vs. Ob Nixilis! Normally, I would choose the black deck and Peter would choose the green deck, but I really wanted to play with Nissa, so I did!
These games were SUPER close. I can't say that these are the most balanced of the duel decks we've played so far with any degree of certainty because we've only payed each three times, but this one led to the closest, tensest games! ALL THREE games ended with us under 5 life apart and I was pulling my hair out through all of them! But guess what!? I WON ALL THREE GAMES!!!! These may be my favorite of the duel decks.
Galaxy Trucker: Anniversary Edition + Galaxy Trucker: Missions
After our first experience with the Missions expansion last week, I was eager to try another mission. This week, we tried the "Heavy Cargo" mission, which, unsurprisingly, rewards you for transporting as much heavy cargo as possible and go through an open space adventure at the beginning of the mission. Because the weight of heavy cargo is subtracted from your engine strength, you have to ensure you get A LOT of engine power onto your ship. Peter thought he would get around the battery requirements of double engines by covering his ship in solar panels. Apparently, he was sleeping and neglected to ATTACH his solar panels to his double cannons. There were solar panels strewn all over his level 3 ship. They weren't attached to anything useful! I let him take a bit of time to switch the solar panels with batteries, but he didn't survive. His ship was lost in space when we hit one too many open space adventures. Boo. I hate it when one of us blows up during a mission because it feels REALLY silly to go through the rest of the mission alone. In this case, I was already winning, so we just called it quits. Boo. Will have to try again when Peter is more awake!
51st State: Master Set
This was an insane game of 51st State! Insanely fast, that is. Peter was Texas and I was New York. Peter had a lot of trouble developing any production OTHER than CRAZY point production! He was raking in 4 points per turn very quickly by making shady deals with VP locations. Meanwhile, I kept trying to resist the temptation to build up my VP-generating action locations and sticking to my plan to build all my production first. I had two features that gave me points and resources for razing and/or dealing created a crazy efficient synergy between my production and action locations. I had fewer cards in my tableau than I have ever had when I reached EXACTLY 26 points. Peter was counting on more time to exploit his stupid VP-producing deals, but it was not to be. It was a close game nonetheless.
Peter adores Amerigo and I had been craving it, so we pulled it off the top of a very tall shelf this week. And then we got demolished by a horde of pirates!
The pirates started off strong. We started with a 4 pirate, which turned into a 7, a 9, and finally a 10. It was awful. We couldn't fight them off and kept taking negative points, but Peter had to take more than I did because I had some pirate fighting bonuses that helped me early in the game. Also, our dice tower was highly constipated. It needed a seriously strong shot of Metamucil or Ex-Lax or whatever it is the kids are taking to regulate their stools these days. It kept pooping out one or two cubes per round, which made it impossible to get anything done. I grew so frustrated that I just gave it a shake at one point, which helped a bit. Poor Peter didn't even manage to make it to the big island for the big points and ended up getting left in the dust. He still enjoyed the game and he still wishes we would play it more frequently. I do too. If only it weren't living so high up in the sky...
Grand Austria Hotel
After Amerigo, we played Grand Austria! Another Peter request. He really wants to improve his game. Too bad he lost...by quite a bit. I seemed to have no trouble chaining my visitors to create fun effects, while he seemed to struggle to get anything done. Much like the pirates in Amerigo, the emperor was feeling sadistic. I ended up having to take an 8-point hit at the end of the game (I calculated. It was worth it), but Peter had to take a 7-point hit and he had to lose some ingredients. It was awful. I won. But I felt so sad for Peter. He was working soooo hard.
Haspelknecht is getting an expansion! YAY! Seeing the expansion art is what prompted me to play this week. Well, that and the fact that it's a relatively hefty 45-minute game and it was late.
We started playing Haspelknecht at midnight when Peter was already done with the day. HOWEVER, he still did an amazing job! He created a nice little point engine with a building that allowed him to convert wood into coal and points. That worked out rather well for him, but it would have worked even better had he raced for what is in my opinion the best tile in the game - the horsie. The horse tile makes each of your coal cubes worth one point! That's great because bonus points each round = score! I ran straight for that tile and only dabbled in the ones outside my route afterwards. Of course, horsie won the game! Actually, it was a really close game and I was surprised when Peter told me he was dead when we started. The things he does for me!
Troyes + Troyes: The Ladies of Troyes
I love the guessing game in Troyes! It always leads to hilarity because I can't lie. I'm an open book and everyone always knows what I'm thinking, feeling, and doing, whether I'm gaming or just living and breathing. In this game, one of my goal cards was to deal with the events. I usually ignore the events unless they are interfering with something I'm trying to do, so my going after them was super suspicious. About halfway through the game, Peter said, "You have the warmonger, don't you?" Of course, I denied it, but he just told me that I'm an awful liar and proceeded to deal with some events of his own. I think I may try to use this to my advantage next time we play!***Fresh Cardboard
1. Space Station - I loved Terraforming Mars so much, I wanted to check out the designer's earlier effort, which is also set in space!
2. Sagrada - We love puzzly filler games, so I HAD to back Sagrada on Kickstarter. It doesn't hurt that the game looks gorgeous too!
3. Chimera Station - Another KS project! This looks so cool! You build little alien workers to specialize in various functions. It's all so cute AND so interesting! Interest level SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HIGH! Plus TMG DELUXE!
4. Arcane Academy - Tile-laying, engine-building, card-playing cuteness!
5. Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond the Black - Last, but not least, I have backed the expansion to Tiny Epic Galaxies on Kickstarter! It looks like it adds a lot to the game and I look forward to playing with it!***Next Week...
I will definitely have at least some first impressions for Arcane Academy. We will definitely be playing with Heir to the Pharaoh a bit more because I do plan to write a review for it at some point in the near future. I'm also quite eager to try Kings of Air and Steam!***THANK YOU FOR READING!!!***Mina's Fresh Clothing!
Mina's Fresh Clothing! My Canadian friends at Cardboard Congregation offered to make t-shirts and tote bags with my logo! I will now be sporting this t-shirt and/or a similarly designed tote at conferences, so you can find me easily! Unless you get one too, in which case we may have a problem. Our first fresh stop will be the Spiel fair in Essen, Germany!
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! :)
In Which Epic Beers are Brewed by Tiny Intergalactic Crafters * New Reviews for TINY EPIC GALAXIES & BREW CRAFTERS * First Impressions for MEEPLE WAR, FACTORY FUN, & HOMESTEADERS * Plus a Pointless Story & Fun Announcement!
16 Sep 2016
- [+] Dice rolls