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 Catty Planet Defenders Arrive at Hanamikoji * New Reviews for HANAMIKOJI, PLANET DEFENDERS, and CAT TOWN * Impressions for COVERT, CRY HAVOC, & TTR: MARKLIN * Essen Trip is Coming and I'm a Germ Farm :(

Milena Guberinic
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Hi Friends!


This week was a whirlwind of games and work and emotions and viruses . Boo to the last one. I know I'm going to be perfectly well for Essen! I will! I will! I will! Determined! I will not shake any hands if I'm still sick. I will bow politely. I hope everyone will be cool with that.

I WILL be perfectly fine for Essen, but I wasn't perfectly well this week, so I wasn't able to get my gaming gluttony quite as ON as I typically do. I actually had to go to SLEEP! surprise surprise But we still had a relatively good week of gaming! Hopefully, next week will be even better!

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***


What's New?




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The Overview


Hanamikoji is a beautiful card game about trying to gain the favor of various geisha ladies by collecting their associated performance items. Your goal is to gain the favor of 4 geisha or gain 11 or more charm points.

To set up the game, you arrange all the geisha cards in a line between the players and shuffle the deck of item cards. Each geisha card features an item and a number that denotes the associated charm points. Each item card features an item and charm points that indicates the number of cards of that type in the item deck. Each player also gets 4 different face-up action tiles.

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Each game of Hanamikoji takes place over one or more rounds and each round consists of 3 phases.

1) Deal
Shuffle the 21 item cards, remove one from the round, and deal 6 cards to each player.

2) Actions
Alternate turns by drawing a card and taking one action per turn. You have 4 different actions that you will be able to take once each over the course of the round.

The actions are
*Secret - Choose 1 card from your hand and place it face down under the action token. It will be scored.
*Trade-off - Choose 2 cards from your hand and place them face down under the trade-off marker to remove them from the round.
*Gift - Choose 3 cards from your hand and place them face up in front of yourself. Your opponent will choose 1 card to take and place in front of the corresponding geisha on his side of the table and you will get the remaining 2.
*Competition - Choose 4 cards from your hand and divide them into 2 sets of 2, placing them face up in front of yourself. Your opponent will choose one set and you will get the other.

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3) Scoring
After both players have performed 4 actions, you compare the number of item cards on each player's side for each geisha. If one side has more cards than the other, move the victory marker towards the side with more cards. If, at this point, one player has 4 or more victory markers and/or has gained the favor of geisha that amount to 11 or more charm points, that player wins. If one player has 4 geisha, and the other 11 or more charm points, the player with 11 or more charm points wins.

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The Review


Played prior to review 6x






1. So beautiful!
I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but I cannot underscore enough the beauty of this game. The geisha art is sublime and truly elevates what could have simply been an abstract mess of numbers and colors to a sublime and oddly thematic experience...if you have a good imagination, which appears to be one of my superpowers.

2. Unique theme
How many geisha games are there in this world!? Not many. Hanamikoji may not be the most thematically immersive game in the world, but I appreciate the fact that the theme selected for it is quite completely out of the norm. And it's a beautiful theme at that; one of culture, beauty, and entertainment. heart

3. Quick to play
Hanamikoji isn't a game that takes place over a set number of rounds, so it doesn't always take the same amount of time to play. However, it has never taken us longer to play than it "should." Depending on how tricksy you get with your actions and cards, it can take between one and several rounds and each round lasts no more than a few minutes. We've completed the game in a single round of about 5 minutes and we've taken as long as 4 rounds of about 20 minutes.

4. Tricksy card counting, timing, and mind games
Hanamikoji is an incredibly tense and surprisingly rich game for being comprised of only a few cards and tokens. You could conceivably think of it as a microgame based on its component count, but it doesn't feel like one at all. It feels like a classic card game that gives life to complexity through simplicity. It's a beautiful thing.

There aren't a huge number of decision points in this game, but the ones that are there are excruciatingly delicious! You have 4 actions each round and you can only take each action once. That's tension point 1. What you WANT to do is stuff ALL the cards in your hand under the "secret" action, but you can't; you can only do that ONCE. You will have to give your opponent some cards. Which ones do you let go? Which ones do you keep? Do you use the actions that give your opponent cards early in the round, before both you and your opponent have seen many of the cards? Or do you wait to use those "giving" actions until later in the round when you have a better idea of your needs and your opponent's needs when it comes to gaining majorities in various items.

Early in the round, your decisions are based entirely on the hand of cards you have been dealt. But even with that limited hand of cards, you can make some informed decisions. Knowing that there are as many items of each type as there are charm points on the item means that you know exactly how many of each item remain in the deck and/or in your opponent's hand. And as the round goes on and you gain more and more knowledge about the distribution of the item cards and whose side each geisha will favor, you become increasingly able to make informed decisions about how to order your actions and which cards to use for each action.

Despite the fact that your decisions will be at least somewhat informed by your knowledge of the deck, you will never have perfect knowledge. One card is randomly removed at the start of the round, which keeps both you and your opponent guessing and generates a lot of tension in the game.

And then you have the mind games. These are my favorite part! Because you have a handful of knowledge your opponent doesn't have and because you are able to secretly throw away cards and keep one to score without revealing it, you can try to manipulate your opponent into selecting cards you want him to select when composing sets to offer.

5. Big game with a tiny footprint
Hanamikoji is a deep filler and, for many people, easy-to-learn, quick-to-play, tiny-footprint games that are still challenging are pure perfection. The tension and depth I described above make Hanamikoji feel much bigger than its temporal and spatial footprint would suggest and the fact that it takes up little time and shelf space makes it accessible to a broad audience!

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soblue


soblue 1. Only supports two
This is not a negative for me, but it may be for some people, so I'll just underline the fact that this is a 2-player-only game. Take note if your needs extend beyond that player count.

soblue 2. Could theoretically go on for a while
Although this has never happened to me personally, Hanamikoji could, in theory, go on for a long time. Being a tug-of-war game for domination over a certain number or value of geisha, it could result in players repeatedly ending in draws, which could get a little annoying. Again, this has never happened to me personally, but it is theoretically possible. In our longest game, which went for 4 rounds, I felt myself starting to grow weary of the tugging and warring. Had it gone for another round, I would have felt it was too much.

Final Word


Hanamikoji is beautiful gaming elegance at its finest. It perfectly embodies the words, "classic" and "timeless," and I think that its simplicity, elegance, and accessibility mean it will appeal to anyone and everyone. I'm not typically a fan of small, simple card games. There are a few I enjoy, but I don't usually find them satisfying enough to play very often. If they take little time and space but involve much thought, they are much more likely to stay in my life and get played often. And Hanamikoji certainly satisfies those requirements. This game is beautiful, but it isn't just a pretty face; it's a thoroughly engrossing game of mental gymnastics and mathematics!

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart LOTS OF LOVE


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***




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The Overview


In Planet Defenders, you will control 3 different defenders who will harvest energies from various planets, which will help you upgrade your technologies and catch disposed robots in outer space.

The game board consists of a randomly arranged 3x3 grid of planets, with each side aligned with a stack of disposed robots.

In addition to the board, there is a stack of technology cards, with 4 placed face up. There are also 3 control tiles, each showing a number and a defender.

You will start the game with a player aid and 6 battery tokens.

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Each turn, you will perform 1 or 2 main actions and possibly 1 extra action. To take a main action, you must pay a battery token to activate one control tile, move the depicted planet defender the indicated number of spaces, and activate the planet on which he lands. Planets allow you to gain energy cubes and batteries and allow you to convert energy cubes into batteries or convert energy cubes from one form to another.

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Control tiles

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Planets


Once you have activated one control tile using one battery from your reserve, you can activate another by using 2 batteries. Then, you may perform a single extra actions. As an extra action, you may either gain a technology card or capture a robot that is located on an edge of the board adjacent to one of the planet defenders you moved during your main action.

Technologies provide permanent benefits that include things like allowing you to convert energy cubes from one color to another, giving you energy discounts when capturing robots on certain planets, allowing you to move planet defenders further than permitted by control tiles, and converting certain energies to batteries and vica versa.

Robots provide points at the end of the game, but some also provide immediate, one-time benefits in the form of energy or batteries.

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Technologies

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Robots


The game ends when two piles of robots have been depleted. At this point, you gain the points shown on your robots, as well as an escalating number of bonus points for collecting different types of robots and lots of technologies.

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The Review


Played prior to review 5x






1. The cuteness knows no bounds
This game is adorable in every way. From the box, to the pieces, to the chunky energy cubes, everything just screams color, joy, and life! The theme is whimsical (robots defending planets from escaped robots who are flying around!?) and the illustrations match. I'm not a kid, but I was jumping for joy when I saw what was inside this box! If I were a kid, I probably would have started screaming...and possibly tried to stick one of those marshmallow-looking energy cubes in my mouth .

2. Easy to learn and quick to play
Planet Defenders is a game that can be taught and played relatively easily and quickly. With two players, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes, which is a reasonable amount of time for a light-medium-weight game.

3. Interesting combos and tactical decision points
Planet Defenders is a tactical game. You cannot make very long-term plans because nearly everything in the game is in a state of flux. With two players, there is certainly a bit more planning you can do than at higher player counts, but the planning is still short term. Fortunately, the short-term planning and tactical decision points are interesting enough to make up for the relative lack of long-term strategy.

Each turn, you have to decide whether to move one or two defenders. The first move costs one battery and you'll be able to afford that in most, if not all, cases, but the second costs two batteries. Batteries are tight, so you don't want to waste them taking actions that won't benefit you. At the same time, you want to ensure you get as many actions in as possible because actions get you energy and energy gets you points. Whether you decide to take the second action or not will mostly depend on your ability to reach tiles that will give you energies necessary for capturing robots or techs that are currently on display and this will depend on the current arrangement of the defenders and control tiles.

Sometimes, you can create beneficial synergies between the actions you take or use the double action to free a tile that is already occupied by a defender. Because you can't activate planets that are already occupied by defenders, this is sometimes necessary in order to ensure you are able to get exactly what you want in order to claim a robot.

When you are trying to decide which defenders to move around, you also have to take into consideration the robots you may be able to capture. Because you are only allowed to capture a robot adjacent to one of the defenders you moved, you aren't only thinking about which planets you want to activate and which energies you want to acquire, but also how to be most efficient with your actions. You are required to discard down to 5 energy cubes at the end of your turn, so you have to ensure you are managing them wisely and using them to collect robots and techs whenever you can.

4. Multi-faceted scoring
Planet Defenders gives you several ways to score, which encourages you to think not only about collecting as many VP-providing robots as possible, but also to think about which robots and technology cards you collect. Robots score not only the points shown, but also the provide bonus points for sets of different types and technology cards not only give you some in-game benefits, but also give you some bonus points if you collect a sufficient number. This means that you have several layers of scoring to consider when deciding which bonus actions to take and which robots to collect.

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soblue


soblue 1. I am averse to randomness, so the gambling planet makes me sad and the random technologies + robots add to the randomness
One planet in the game allows you to roll a die to determine the activation result. Some results are clearly superior than others and those results are gained by high rolls. I'm not good at rolling high. I don't gamble. And I don't like that planet.

The other two points of randomness (i.e. the robot cards and tech cards) are easier for me to forgive, but they are present and make for the game quite light. The combination of these two things can mean that acquiring a tech that gives you an energy discount when recruiting robots on a particular planet can provide a strong, ongoing benefit or little benefit at all depending on how many robots that require the discounted energy type are present in the stack adjacent to that planet.

soblue 2. The constant flipping of the action tiles gets a bit tiring
This is a minor complaint, but it does irk me, so I have to mention it. Every time you activate a control tile, you have to flip it over before the next player's turn. Because there are a total of 3 control tiles and you could (and in many cases, will) take 2 actions each turn, you're going to be flipping at least 1 or 2 control tiles every turn. I feel like the need to exhaust one ability for another could have been dealt with in a much more elegant way than this. A sliding marker to indicate the availability of actions would have been preferable.

soblue 3. Not very "different"
Planet Defenders isn't exactly the most innovative game ever. You are activating actions that allow you to move pawns around a board to gather and convert resources and then collect VP cards and techs that make it easier for you to gain more VP cards. It's a simple game of resource gathering/conversion and set collection. So, if you are looking for fresh and new mechanisms that are going to blow your mind, this might not be the game for you. But it does have a unique theme!

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Inside of the box


Final Word


Planet Defenders is a terrifically sweet and delicious, fast-playing, fast-paced game that provides plenty of interesting decision points to keep engagement levels high when in the mood for a light-hearted diversion. Having been sick for most of the past week, I was certainly in the mood for it. And Peter, who is a great fan of lighter, tactical fare grew quite fond of this little treasure. We had a lot of fun with this game and will definitely keep on playing it when we feel like a light, playful jaunt through space.

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart SOME LOVE


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***




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The Overview


Cat Town is a game about walking your cat around town and stopping by various blocks to check out all that is hip and happening.

Your goal in this game is to find cats, collect items, and play travel notes cards.

The two-player version of the game is set up by arranging 4 "location tiles" around a central station tile. These are simply placeholders for 15 cards that will go on top of them. Each player gets 2 non-item/non-cat cards and the game begins!

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Each turn, you will perform one action. You will either
1) Walk (draw) - move your cat to its neighboring block and draw a card into your hand from the top of the deck
2) Walk (search) - move your cat to search a block, revealing as many cards from the top of the block as you have different types items in front of you. If it's an action card, you discard it. If it's an item or cat, you earn it and place it face up in front of yourself. If you draw an action card that shows a broken crayon icon, you have to stop searching and discard all items you have not scored. If you gain an item of the same type you already have, you score it and set it aside. And you are only allowed to search if you already have an item in front of you.
3) Play a card - Play a card to use its effect and discard it or play an item card in front of you without using its effect. You may only play items in front of you of which you don't already have the same type in your tableau.
4) Search your own hand cards by allowing an opponent to randomly select one card from your hand. You get to place it in front of you if it's an item or cat and have to discard it if it's an action.

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The game ends either when one player has 6 points (each scored item set scores 1 point and each cat scores 1 point) or when there are only 3 blocks left in the game.

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The Review


Played prior to review 3x




1. Cute!
Cat Town is, first and foremost, adorable and impeccably produced. It features the most lovely of whimsical, wonderful, child-like-wonder-filled illustrations that just beg to be plastered over all walls everywhere! I want a giant mural of one of those location tiles! I really do! The location tiles themselves are absolutely unnecessary to the game, as they serve merely as placeholders for the cards that go on top of them, but they are pretty AND they are actual postcards you can send to people! How cool is that!?

2. Two levels of play
Cat Town comes in two incarnations - a very basic one in which you can basically just move your cat from pile to pile of cards and rely largely on luck to gain cats and items you want and an advanced one in which you have a bit more to lose by relying on randomly searching blocks for cats and items due to the threat of broken crayons. Plus, in the advanced version, you can't start searching anything until you've played at least one item to your tableau.

3. Some luck pushing and interesting decision points
This game is also simple enough for kids to understand in its basic form but offers some relatively interesting decision points for non-kids in its advanced form. While it is possible to simply move your cat around and flip cards to see what happens in the basic game, this isn't something you can do in the advanced version. And the advanced game is where you encounter a few challenges.

First, you can't just randomly flip cards from various piles because you have to have an item in your tableau. Next, the number of different item cards you have in your tableau increases your ability to search through decks, so you want to gain lots of different items, but you also want to gain doubles of the same items in order to ultimately score them. This generates some interesting tension in the game. And the fact that you are more likely to draw broken crayons, which can decimate your tableau, means that you are pushing your luck a little by digging deep into the card piles.

You are also able to use action cards to discover what awaits you in various piles of cards before diving into them, which allows you to do a bit of planning. Although this won't always benefit you due to the fact that your opponent may be able to modify the composition of the piles on his turn, it may give you some control some of the time.

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soblue


soblue 1. Very light and random and goes on for way too long
This is where this game falls apart for me. Despite the few interesting decision points to be found and despite the modicum of control you have, you don't have enough for my preferences. Some action cards allow you to take cards from an opponent, others allow you to re-arrange piles of cards, and others allow you to look at cards and possibly re-distribute them around various piles. That SEEMS like it would provide some control, giving you information about the various piles of cards and allowing you to search places you know you'll be able to find items and cats. It would be a lie to state that this doesn't give you some control, but the fact that your opponent could re-arrange everything you've just worked to arrange during his turn or end up uncovering the card you've set up by searching a pile means this semblance of control becomes just that - semblance. It's not real much of the time. You could end up doing very well by simply flipping cards most of the time.

If Cat Town didn't go on for more than 10 minutes, I might enjoy it enough. But it doesn't. It goes on for at least 30. And that's just too long for a game of this weight for me.

Final Word


Cat Town is cute and cuddly and whimsical and fluffy, but it is too much like a big, puffy marshmallow - all air and no substance. Yes, there are a few interesting decision points to be found in the advanced game, but cards that allow you to take cards from an opponent can make for some unhappy surprises and the whole "move your cat to the next block and see what happens" idea is fine when you have ways to manipulate the order of cards in the various piles, but even that isn't sufficient control because your opponent could easily decide to beat you to the block you've set up with a cat or item. You can get completely screwed by a broken crayon wiping all your items away. It's just too much randomness for me. The memory element doesn't help raise the game in my esteem either.

While I do think Cat Town will find an audience in parents with young kids, I don't think it's a game that most serious gamers will get very excited to play very often in the absence of a younger or less experienced audience. And sadly, I'm in the camp. But I'll definitely put the kitten meeples and postcards to good use!

MINA'S LOVE METER DISLIKE


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***


First Impressions




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My interest in Covert was sparked by the designer's name - Kane Klenko. Dead Men Tell No Tales and Fuse are two games I love and admire and I was eager to find out what Mr. Klenko could do with a crazy cool theme of intrigue and espionage. Of course, he did not disappoint! In fact, I think he's outdone even himself!

Covert is an intricate, combo-heavy, dice-placement game in which you and your opponents take on the roles of spies in Cold War Europe. You roll dice and use your dice to activate actions. Each action has an associated action circle that shows die values and each die placed has to be 1 pip away from the one next to it. This encourages you to pay attention to your opponent's dice when determining how to valuate various actions.

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Actions include things like
*moving your agents around the board,
*gaining agency cards, which you can use as items to complete *missions, as tickets to fly to various locations on the board, or as *special actions,
*gaining mission cards,
*gaining special operations tokens, and
*completing missions by giving up items and/or having your agents in certain cities on the board.
You can also use your dice to help you crack codes.

After the dice placement step, you get to move one tile on the decoder and attempt to align the numbers to match either or both of your code cards. If you manage to make matches, you get to score that item and may either discard it to complete a mission or save it for a 2-point bonus at the end of the game.

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Finally, you execute the actions associated with your dice one at a time until you have no actions left.

The game ends when one player has completed 6 missions. You score the points shown on your completed missions and gain 2 points for each decoded item.

I don't even know where to begin with this game! I really wanted to write a full review for it this week, but my plans were foiled by Mr. Virus. What I will do is to list all the things I've found to love about the game thus far. To be honest, I doubt I'll find much to actively dislike about it. After two sessions, this is an "all love all the time" affair. I was smiling like mad ALLLLLLLLLLLL through both games.

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1) Multi-use cards - Each agency card can be used for its special ability (of which there are MANY), as an item to complete a mission, and as a ticket to fly an agent to its depicted city.
2) Combos galore - Completed missions give you permanent items you can use to complete more missions. And agency cards give you special powers you can use to chain several actions at a time.
3) Variable player powers - Each of the characters in the game encourages you to adopt a slightly different strategy due to its ability. In one game, I had Carter, who is allowed to move two tiles when breaking codes. I had many, many item card points at the end of the game thanks to his nifty little ability. In another game, I all but ignored the code cards because my ability allowed me to draw multiple special operations tokens and select the one I wanted. I focused on gaining those benefits in that game. Each of the character abilities definitely alters the way you play the game.
4) Interesting player interaction - The player interaction in this game is chiefly of trying to predict how much your opponent wants to take the same actions you do and trying to get to those actions before him. Trying to manipulate turn order in order to ensure you are able to get to the code cracking step ahead of your opponent is also vital because he could end up messing up your ability to break the codes you need to break! Either passing first or using a card ability can help you in that department.
5) Very cool code-breaking system
6) Incredible replay value due to a huge amount of variability and depth

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soblue


The only two very minor "complaints" about the game may be
1) Randomness - The level of randomness in this game is minor, but in some cases, you can help an opponent by taking a mission card and revealing one that is just PERFECT for him. Ditto for agency cards.
2) The code-breaking part feels somewhat disjointed from the rest of the game - This complaint is of minuscule significance because it really does not detract from the game for me personally, but with all the mobius strip-like chains, interactions, and elegance of the rest of the game, it sticks out. It's still a cool part of the game, but it doesn't quite seamlessly mesh with the rest.

Covert is my kind of game. It's tight, tense, and clever and filled with combos and interactions to discover. I can't wait to play it over and over and over again until I've gathered enough intel to become a certified (or certifiable ) spy! SO GOOD!!!

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***




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Cry Havoc! Or don't! Up to you. This game is not entirely new to me. I played a 4-player game of it at Dice Tower Con. I played as the Machines and got completely PLOWED by everyone. It was like a Machine destruction orgy. It was kind of funny though . And obviously, it wasn't something that turned me off the game because I pre-ordered it from BoardGameBliss and was very happy to find it had arrived last week! I was eager to try the two-player incarnation of the game because the four-player version I played at DTC is actually the one that most differs from the rest.

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Cry Havoc is a multi-use-card-based area-control game in which you can use each card to add your troops to your headquarters, move your troops around the board, build and activate buildings, and make all kinds of surprising moves when combat occurs. And combat occurs when two different races end up on the same territory. And it's awesome! First, the attacker assigns units to objectives and then the defender does the same. The objectives can give you control over the contested region, allow you to take your opponent's units as prisoners or simply allow you to kill opponent units. You can also play tactics cards, which can completely alter the outcome of combat by adding troops to objectives that weren't there or moving them from one objective to another. It's a simple and relatively deterministic system that still has some surprising elements. It's definitely a unique and interesting aspect of the game, even for me. I'm not typically interested in combat. This is cool combat!

Combat is certainly a cool aspect of the game, but it's not to be overshadowed by the variable player powers and variety of buildings and tactics cards you can obtain over the course of the game, which generate many different strategies and ways to play the game.

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So what's the difference between four-player Cry Havoc and the game at lower player counts? In four-player Cry Havoc, the Trogs are controlled by a player, whereas in games with fewer than four players, they are simply beings that exist on the board and that players must defeat in order to take over various territories. If you defeat the Trogs in one region and gain control over it, they end up spawning additional Trogs in an adjacent region. This, in combination with a smaller map, makes the two-player game a tense war for very limited space.

I actually enjoyed two-player Cry Havoc more than four-player Cry Havoc, which is hardly surprising, as I tend to prefer games at lower player counts. I felt like I had much more control over my actions when playing with only one other player. With four, there were simply too many variables to consider and I felt like I just couldn't do it. The Trogs were particularly problematic when controlled by a player because they could pop out everywhere. I never felt safe. Of course, if you enjoy player-induced chaos, you might prefer the four-player version.

I hope to write a full review for Cry Havoc at some point, but for now, suffice it to say that two-player Cry Havoc is a win!

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***




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Marklin! As I mentioned in the Fresh Cardboard section last week, I dislike the base game of Ticket to Ride, but I quite enjoy the Nordic version. The appeal of the Nordic version for me lies in a) the tighter map for a lower player count, b) the ferries and tunnels, and c) the ability to play any 3 or 4 cards as a wild on the long route. I enjoy the little scrunchable crunchies the Nordic version adds to the beautifully simple system of base TTR.

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Like the Nordic version, Marklin adds a neat twist to base TTR. Only the twist in Marklin is extra twisty! Here, you have passengers you can place on a city when you complete a link. As an action, you can later transport said passengers through your links (and if you have acquired passenger cards through your opponent's links) to collect transportation points! This adds an incredible little logistics and timing puzzle to the game. Obviously, you want to ensure you have a well-developed network before you start parlaying your passengers around, but you also want to ensure you can get to the stations before your opponent(s), as the points to be gained from each station drop with each visit. This creates a very nice amount of timing tension; you want to move your passengers as quickly as possible, but you also want to delay moving them until you can take them through as many places as possible. Loved it! Oh! And the uniquely illustrated train cards didn't hurt my overall impression.

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***


What's Not So New But Still Exciting?


Colony
Colony is always welcome in my life. I love its exciting dice-rolling, engine-building goodness. Peter always goes for the Fallout Shelters, but this week, he wanted to do a very Peter-y thing and ignore them. Sadly, he also ignored the Prize Safes, so his fallout-free strategy ended up stabbing him in the back. I think he overlooked the extent to which the prize safes improve once flipped over to their level 2 sides and decide to ignore those as well. Focused on making points purely through 1-point buildings and upgrades, he was sadly doomed. I don't think he will make the same mistake again, but I don't think this experience made him any more convinced that Fallout Shelters are not the only route to victory. Which they are obviously not because I have won the game without them.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


Above and Below + Islebound characters
We decided to go above and below with our Islebound friends again this week and it was wonderful! In the first round, Peter acquired a key building that would give him a point for each explored cavern at the end of the game, so he was entirely consumed with cavern spelunking throughout the entire game. And, of course, he found all kinds of crazy things in the caverns. He even found an automatic man! The dude doesn't need rest or anything! He's just ON! All the time! I must admit, I was a teensy bit jealous. We both had massive hordes of villagers, but I got the villager bonus building and that kinda sealed the game for me.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Terra Mystica
It had been a while since our last game of TM and we are so quick to play it that neither Peter nor I were concerned about starting the game relatively late. We were both exhausted (me from being sick and him from not breathing due to allergies), but I REALLY had to play SOMETHING, so TM it was. It usually is.

I drew the Fakirs and Engineers and Peter let me have the Fakirs for a mere 4 VP. I was floored when he did that because he insinuated that he would fight to the grave for them. I think he was just trying to fool me. He usually does. It usually works. I don't think he cared which faction he got because neither was particularly suited to the setup and both help you make points. The thing is, the Fakirs are quite a bit better at making points. And there was one wrinkle in the setup that actually made the Fakirs better - the bonus tile that provides priests. Yeah. Kinda killed it.

From gallery of milenaguberinic

Rich Fakirs

From gallery of milenaguberinic


Tides of Madness
Tides of Madness washed upon me the night I got sick. I couldn't stomach too many games that night, so I suggested this one. It's tiny perfection. Of course, catching a cold a week before Spiel is bound to make a person go a little mad, so I took on a lot of madness. And madness gave me power! You know the little card that gives you a point for every madness? Yeah, that little card can give you a good number of points if you're on the verge of utter insanity. Worked like a charm. Perhaps the madness will help me scare the virus away too!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic



Guns & Steel + Guns & Steel: Renaissance

We played Guns & Steel with Renaissance again this week. When these two games combine, they are unstoppable! It's really the best way to play.

In this game, I dawdled on the military front until Peter got the nasty military card that allows you to steal a wonder from your opponent. I don't like that card. I stood a lot to lose because I already had 2 wonders when he got it. So I focused entirely on building up a crazy war machine that basically imploded on itself. Culture won. War lost. I'm kinda glad things turned out that way. Gives me faith in the world.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Mystic Vale
Mystic Vale! It had been a while, I was tired and sick, and Mystic Vale is light enough on the brain cells. I started adding advancements that provided points to my cards very early in the game and it was all over before we knew it. By the end, I had double Peter's points. I'm not sure why he was dawdling in that department. I think he intended to gain boatloads of vale cards with his mighty spirit symbols, but I didn't give him enough time.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic

Love this teddy


La Granja
La Granja! This game popped into my head this week because La Granja: No Siesta will be released at Essen Spiel and...well...I like La Granja! Getting the dice game for sure!

I was actually really tired when we were playing and I was just going through the motions almost automatically. Peter was doing something with pigs and I was trying to stay ahead on the siesta track, but that kept falling apart because of Peter's selecting the siesta track die every time it showed up. I'm still super excited for the dice game. Maybe it'll be the right version of La Granja to play when my brain has been fried by viruses.

From gallery of milenaguberinic

Peter

From gallery of milenaguberinic

Me


51st State: Master Set
YAY! One of my all-time favorites! I am so pleased with this game! It always brings me joy!

This week, I got the Hegemony (which is, incidentally, my favorite because pink hair!) and Peter got Texas. I don't think I've ever played with Texas, but Peter has and this week, he actually discovered something - Texas is not as sh*&^y as he thought! He realized that they are able to use their resource->contact token conversion power twice per round! And he only realized that halfway through the game, which meant that my crazy gun machine didn't really win fairly. Oh well. I'll get him next time!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Terraforming Mars
Who is sick of hearing about Terraforming Mars? Anyone? I'm not anywhere close to sick of playing it, so you'll have to bear with me for a while longer. Or you'll have to skip this section in this and future posts.

I'm seriously starting to suspect that being a space case significantly improves your terraforming abilities. I keep winning with card points. By A LOT. Peter was doing some animal thing on his side of the board and increasing oxygen like mad because he had a card that allowed him to spend energy to increase oxygen and gain titanium. It was a very fast game and I think he was planning to rely entirely on his terraform rating for points, which was not such a good idea. He owned NO property on Mars until I had 4 cities and a bunch of greenery on the board.

My corporation was Saturn Systems, which gave me a Jovian tag at the start of the game and then I collected a bunch of other cards that gave me Jovian tags and points for having Jovian tags, so I my tableau was like a Jovian orgy.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Magic: The Gathering 3x
Magic! This week, we played with the Magic: The Gathering – Duel Decks: Blessed vs. Cursed duel decks and I am honestly not even sure what happened to my brain. I was Blessed and Peter was Cursed. It appears that being Cursed is far superior to being Blessed because being blessed did NOTHING for me. All our games were very close, but I still felt like the blessed deck was just not synergistic enough. Despite the fact that the two had many similar elements and nearly parallel cards, I just couldn't get mine to work together as well as Peter could. Oh well. He kept making my vipers agoraphobic and that was just no good. Who needs agoraphobic vipers!?

From gallery of milenaguberinic

This nonsense called for a Mulligan, but I couldn't do it

From gallery of milenaguberinic

Flavor text of the week!


Pandemic
Of course, no week without a virus would be complete without a game of virus destruction! Pandemic to the rescue! I was the Troubleshooter (because she is sooooooooooo cool!) and Peter was the Containment Specialist. Even though the red disease was raging out of control, the rest were tamed relatively quickly and we managed to save the world without a single outbreak. Now, if I could take care of my cold as swiftly and easily as all that, I'd be quite pleased with myself.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic

The final disease has been killed!


Broom Service
Broom Service is a game that is sure to put a smile on my face. Too bad it usually puts a frown on Peter's . It really does! He can't stand losing out on actions when he decides to be brave and he can't stand to play it safe and lose out on the bonus goodies for being cowardly! It's a lose-lose proposition for him. For me, it's a lot of fun! I adore the mind games at work. Trying to guess which cards will be played and when and trying to figure out when to be brave isn't easy, but it is very satisfying when you get it right.

In this game, everything went my way and everything went the opposite of Peter's way. I think he forgot how much planning you have to do and how flexible you have to be with your card selection in order to ensure you don't end up with dead cards. Boo. I don't think he had much fun. He seemed quite frustrated the whole time. I was still glad I got to be a brave forest witch because brave forest witches are cool! meeple

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Limes
Limes! It's always a pleasure to end the night on a sour note . I know. I know. Limes is not about the fruit, but whatever. And it's not even sour; it's quite sweet! I won by a few points, but who's counting!? The best part of this game was that we drew many of the cards that are split into 2 continuous terrain section rather than 4. Those are my favorites!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


***


Fresh Cardboard


There are SO MANY GAMES coming out at Essen that I am incredibly excited about! My head is spinning just thinking about trying to get everything I want to get done done! I've made a few more pre-orders, but I'll likely focus on trying to demo as many games as possible before diving into the buy pool.

1. Rococo: Jewelry Box - I'm so glad BoardGameBliss imports these things so I don't have to wait for them to come! Too bad I haven't actually had time to play with them yet!
2. Round House - Essen pre-order! I know I will love this, so there is no point leaving anything up to chance! Must have!
3. Honshū - Pre-ordered! Trick-taking/city-building coolness!
4. Eclipse: Black Hole + Eclipse: Pulsar - Two more must-have tiny expansions! Eclipse is one of my favorites, so I must haz everything!
5. 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon - This is amazing! Available for preorder with metal coins and the cool metal military marker thingy! Yay! Now if only I could get a new board for the base game. Peter decided to split mine in two.angry
6. Lignum - Not an Essen pre-order, but BoardGameBliss got a bunch in stock and I needed it. Because, you know, games=food.
7. Jórvík - Jorvik is the new version of The Speicherstadt with Kaispeicher! I own and quite enjoy the base game with its expansion, but my expansion is in German, which can slow things down. I look forward to seeing what this re-theme and re-working does!
8. Great Western Trail - Great Western Trail! My undying love for Alexander Pfister WILL remain strong! heart heart heart heart heart
9. Glenn Drover's Empires: Galactic Rebellion - Spacey game of spacey area control goodness! This is another Spiel release and one I'm very much looking forward to trying. I wonder whether it'll be too aggressive for Peter...

***


Next Week...


Next week is Essen week! As I wrote in my previous post, I am very eager to meet my virtual gaming friends and seeing those of you I've met before! I'm also looking forward to playing lots of games and having lots of fun! I may or may not have a post next week because I'm just not sure I'll be capable of it. My virus has really sapped my strength, so this MAY be the FIRST EVER week without a post! Or maybe not .
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