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 Ulm Becomes the Pickled Beast Salmon Capital! * New reviews for ULM, CAPITAL, PICKLE LETTER, BEASTS OF BALANCE, & HAPPY SALMON * First Impressions for MECHS VS. MINIONS, ONITAMA, AMERICAN RAILROADS, & ALCHEMISTS EXPANSION * HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Milena Guberinic
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Hi Friends


I hope you all had a great Christmas break! I certainly enjoyed spending some time with my family! And, of course, introducing them to some new games! We played Pickle Letter, Happy Salmon, and Beasts of Balance!

I hope you all have a great New Year's Eve and Day and a perfectly blissful 2017! Let's kick 2016 in the behind and open the doors to a fresh start! I'm totes ready for one!

Here was my family Christmas! Peter is stacking, Gabe is pickling, and I'm holding the dog because she won't let me do anything else!

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My Christmas was filled with games and presents! Mostly smelly presents! Because I love perfume! So, the three things (and I promise there are only three that I somewhat obsessively collect are a) BOARD GAMES, b) lipstick, and c) perfume). The first one I got was Viktor & Rolf's Special Edition BonBon! True to its name, this one smells like a very sweet caramel candy bomb!

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I also got Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme, which tells the story of a much more powerful woman. It was worn during Russian Railroads because it made me feel like a railroad baroness or CEO or something really awesome!

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And finally, my mom got me the fruity candy Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris! This one is Dream Home kinda scent. So sweet and colorful! Ok. That's enough of my nonsense! Let's get on with the real stuff!

My mom, sister, and I wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

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Reviews




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The Overview


Ulm is a game about life in the city of Ulm in the 16th century. It's actually quite a themeless game with an incredibly clever action-selection mechanism. Each turn, you pull a random action tile from a bag of tiles and slide it into a 3x3 grid of action tiles. You can only slide tiles into rows and columns that don't already have a "kicked out" tile (i.e. a tile that was slid out of the grid in a previous turn) and you get to take 3 actions each turn, with each action tile remaining in the row/column to which you've added your new action tile giving you 1 action each. The actions include obtaining coins, obtaining/clearing away action tiles that are cluttering up the sides of the 3x3 grid, buying a card by returning 2 action tiles you've already obtained, moving your barge along the Danube, and paying 2 coins to place one of your player tokens on a free space in one of the city quarters between which your barge is currently located in order to take advantage of the city bonus.

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Board

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Action tile display

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Danube

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A city quarter that allows you to gain a permanent ability


The game ends after 10 rounds, at which point you get points for Ulm sparrows (which you can obtain throughout the game by owning a city coat of arms, obtained in most cases through city bonuses), the position of your barge along the Danube, sets of cathedral cards, and sets of trade cards.

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Cards


The Review






1. Very well produced
Ulm is beautifully (if slightly busily) illustrated and produced with surprisingly thick, sturdy cardboard! I don't typically comment on cardboard thickness unless it deviates from the norm in some way and this one does. I'm very pleased with it!

2. An interesting action-selection system
Ulm's action-selection system is brilliantly elegant; draw an action tile + place an action tile. It's simple, but gives you many options! First, you can toss an Ulm sparrow (hard to obtain and worth a point at the end of the game, but it's an option) to select the action tile you want from the bag rather than draw blindly. This will occasionally be necessary, as Ulm is all about making the most of each action. You get a total of 10 turns over the course of the game and being able to take as many actions in each of those turns as possible is critical to doing well. If you have 1 coin and need a second in order to take advantage of the seal actions that are everywhere, it might be wise to toss a sparrow for a greater point payoff!

Second, the action-selection system presents you with a little puzzle each turn. How do you push your action tile into the 3x3 grid to ensure you are able to take as many actions as possible and make the most of each?

3. Interesting action dependencies/chaining
I love the action dependencies in the game and the ways in which they demand you chain certain actions together. For example, you need coins in order to leave your player markers in city quarters (seal action). At times, you may need to ensure you are able to take these two actions in tandem in order to be able to make the most of the seal action. The same goes for the clear-away action and card action, as you need to have action tiles in order to obtain cards, and ideally, action tiles of the same type! Both of these dependencies encourage you to look for rows and columns that will allow you to take advantage of these synergies.

4. Many different ways to score points
Ulm is one of those games that offers you a multitude of different directions to pursue while restricting your ability to pursue all of them at once. You have to choose whether you whether you want to focus on moving your barge along the Danube, along with perhaps dropping your tokens off at various city quarters to gain their bonuses, whether you want to focus on set collection through cards, or whether you want to focus on acquiring city crests and reaping constant benefits when your opponents join you in your cities?

You may not be able to engage in all of these activities and you definitely won't be able to able to engage in all of them very well, so you have to pick and choose your battles! Which scoring route will you choose!? It's a delightful dilemma!

5. High replay value
There are a number of factors that go into making Ulm compulsively replayable. First, there is a lot of variability in the game. Between the variable round bonuses (you use 10/12 and they appear in a different order every time), the different helpers available in the second city quarter, and the variable card and action tile draws, the game demands that you respond to its ever-changing demands in a tactical manner between games and during each game.

What's more, the numerous point scoring options you are given mean that you have many different combinations to explore!

soblue


soblue 1. Icon hell!
Ulm features a large number of icons over its 12 round tiles, cards, helpers, and cities. The fact that these are all quite different, combined with the fact that they are rather difficult to reference in the small-format, high-page-count, multi-language reference book means that you are wading through icon hell in Ulm for at least your first couple of games.

soblue 2. Randomness moderate and occasionally frustrating
If you go into Ulm expecting a high-control/high-strategy game, you may be disappointed to find a level of randomness that keeps it from being that. First, you randomly draw action tiles from the bag. If the action you want to take is absent from the 3x3 action tile display, you can't take that action unless you spend one of your Ulm sparrows, which equates to a point. So, you could get unlucky, draw stuff you can't use, and have to spend points to take actions you can use, while your opponents consistently draws what they need.

Second, you have the random card draws. And THESE!!! THESE can be infuriatingly frustrating. Because you are trying to collect sets of cards to potentially score HUGE points at the end of the game and drawing one or maximum two cards at a time, you are largely at the mercy of the random card draw. Of course, the cards aren't useless if you can't turn them into an end-game scoring set - you can use them for in-game effects like moving your barge, gaining coins, and gaining points. But the end-game VP payoffs for complete sets are so large by comparison to these effects that randomly falling into one or two of these can really clinch the game for you. Of course, you have agency in what you decide to do with the cards you draw (i.e. play them for their short-term benefits or do a bit of luck-pushing thing by playing them in front of you), but a lot of the set collection does ultimately boil down to luck of the draw.

soblue 3. The city crest portion of the game isn't the best with two players
I don't think that city crests are as viable a source of points when playing Ulm with two players as they could potentially be when playing with more than two players. Gold city crests give you points every time somebody drops their player marker on their spot, which is much less likely to happen in a two-player game than it is when playing with more. So, this part of the game may be a bit less "balanced" against the others when playing with only two players.

Final Word


Ulm is a beautiful game with a unique and interesting action-selection mechanism. Simple yet complex, fast-paced, and satisfying, it gives you a light/mid-weight tactical puzzler in a 45-minute play time. And truly, the action-selection mechanism can't be beat!

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart SOME LOVE


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The Overview


Capital is a game about building the city of Warsaw over the course of its tumultuous history. The game is played over 6 epochs (rounds), each of which represents a stage in Warsaw's history. Each epoch presents you with a milestone to satisfy and the player who best satisfies its requirement gets to add that milestone to his city and reap its benefits at the end of each epoch.

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Milestones and epoch tiles

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Starting goodies


During each epoch, you draft 4 tiles into your city, paying their costs. If you cannot or do not want to add a tile to your tableau, you can discard it to obtain coins. Your district is limited to a 4x3-tile rectangle, but you are allowed to build over existing tiles, which reduces the cost of building new ones.

At the end of each epoch, you receive the milestone tile if you have best satisfied its requirement and gain income and VP from the tiles you have played into your tableau.

Additionally, at the end of the third and fourth round, you have to destroy one space in your city, representing the destructive effects of war.

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The Review






1. Well produced
Capital is tiles are vibrant and chunky, the mermaid-shaped VP counters are unnecessary awesome and could just as easily have been any old disc or cube, and the insert is pretty and perfect for organizing the game to expedite setup and tear down!

2. Simple, fast paced, and fast playing
Capital features a simple ruleset with familiar mechanisms, so it's something that you can teach and play easily. What's more, turns are quick and everyone is doing their tile selection and city puzzling at the same time, so there is virtually no down time in the game!

3. Satisfying puzzle made tense by tight restrictions and destruction
The tile-laying puzzle in Capital is akin to that fond in games like Cities and Limes. You are tasked with creating some synergistic layout of landscape types in order to ensure maximum VP and $ income at the end of each round. This is familiar. Even the rule that restricts your tableau to a 4x3 area isn't new, but it does generate much tension as your city starts to grow. Do you continue to build outward or do you build over an existing tile? And if you choose to overbuild, which tile will do you dump?

Now, the spicy fun of Capital actually comes in the form of Godzilla-like destruction. You become Godzilla! And you have to destroy a tile in your city at the end of two epochs. This means that you frequently end up adding a cheap throwaway tile to your city early in the game, or during the ill-fated round, in order to ensure you have something to sacrifice to your lizard beast self. I love the zing the destruction-y bits add to the game. It is unusual to have an element that forces you to destroy with no benefit something you have worked to build up over the course of the game. I just don't like war, so I prefer to think of the destruction as Godzilla-induced.

4. Good replay value generated by variety
Capital is not a deep and heavy game. There isn't too that much to discover here beyond what you will see in your first couple of plays. However, that does not mean that you won't be able to play the game over and over again! What you WILL find is variety in the tiles that you draw and have available for building your city and in the milestone tiles, which are double sided and will ensure that you have some external encouragement to build your city somewhat differently every time.

5. Great sense of satisfaction at the end of the game
I always say that building games are my favorite because they give me a great sense of satisfaction at the end. I have achieved something and I have something tangible to show for the time I have spent on playing the game; something that I can take pride in owning, whether I have won or lost. Capital does that very well. The colorful cities I create always put a smile on my face!

soblue


soblue 1. Not much new
If you are someone who insists that each game you own adds some new mechanism or game type to your collection, you might not find much to be tempted by in Capital. This isn't a bad thing for me because I'm perfectly happy to own multiple games that do similar things, but it may be to some people. This is a drafting/city-building game and there are a number of those on the market already. Of course, none of them are quite the same thing and this one is different enough from the others to warrant owning. For me.

soblue 2. Could use a few more milestones
I did state that the milestone tiles are double sided, which ensures you have some variability in terms of the goals you are trying to achieve with your city puzzle in each game. That's good, but it could be better. And better would mean more milestone tiles. Right now, there is enough goal variety to keep me happy when I play Capital occasionally, but there isn't enough to tempt me into putting the game on repeat more than once a month or so.

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Final Word


Capital is instantly likeable. Simple, fast-paced, fast-playing, puzzly, and composed of safe, familiar mechanisms, there is nothing here to offend anyone. And perhaps that will keep people from giving it a closer look. Another tile-laying/drafting game? Meh. No. No meh! This is a great tile laying/drafting puzzle for anyone who is looking for a satisfying puzzly, city-building filler.

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


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Mini Reviews for Mini Games




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I love pickles! Pickled anything is my favorite thing ever! I guess that's why I get along with Korean cuisine so well! PICKLES PICKLES PICKLES!!!

Pickle Letter is a real-time, letter-matching game that has as much to do with pickles as any other game; this one just happens to come with some cute plastic ones, so I'm happy to roll with it.

In this game, you dump a bucket full of letters on the table and race your opponents to grab pairs of face-up letters. As soon as you can't spot any more matches, you call out, "Pickle," which initiates a 15-second timer that gives everyone else the opportunity to prove you wrong. If anyone does manage to find a pair of letters in that time, you get a pickle. If they don't, then everyone but you gets a pickle! If anybody ever has 4 pickles, they get PICKLED and taken out of the game.

Once there are no more matches, you turn over 10 more letters and get to matching again. And again. Until there is one player remaining or until all the letters have been spoken for.

At the end of the game, you get 1 point for each tile you grabbed, 2 points for a full set of tiles of a single letter (there are 4 tiles showing each letter), and lose 3 points for each pickle.



Pickle Letter is a exceedingly easy to teach, easy and quick to play, and a lot of fun, particularly when introduced to new gamers. My sister and her boyfriend, Gabe, were delighted with the simplicity and familiarity of matching letters. And the speed element adds enough tension, excitement, and chaos to create a party atmosphere! Plus, the silly pickles that you want to avoid at all costs generate lots of laughter. Why pickles!? Who cares!? It's just fun!

soblue


That said, there is a bit of a negative to Pickle Letter. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the N and Z tiles and the M and W tiles are pretty much indistinguishable. Perhaps that was intended to make the game a bit more challenging, but it was perceived as a bit of a nuisance by my family members. Even after playing the game 4 times, we were still struggling with these letters and the confusion wasn't making the game any more fun. They were seen as "bomb" letters, avoided at all costs. Dots or crosses or something would have been a help.

Pickle Letter is a darling! If you need a great non-gamer-friendly game with a light, party vibe, this is a great choice!

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart LIKE


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Beasts of balance is a beautiful app-driven, cooperative dexterity game in which you and your friends take on the roles of creators of a unique animal world. The game comes with a Bluetooth base (referred to as the "plinth") that connects the rest of the components in the game to your phone or tablet. Each turn, you must touch the animal or action piece you wish to add to the stack to the plinth before carefully adding it to the world. Every time an animal or action is added to the stack balancing on the plinth, the app recognizes it and adds it to the world. And what a beautiful world it is! Each animal gives you points, but it requires that its habitat be maintained in order to continue to provide points. Animals can be hybridized to form some seriously strange beasts using action tiles as well. And these strange beasts will turn on the animals that created them, sapping their life.

Your goal in the game is to make as many points as possible by keeping as many animals alive as possible through stacking animals and action tiles onto the plinth. This becomes very difficult very quickly because both the animal and action/habitat pieces are shaped like twisty pretzels of impossibility, but if you happen to knock everything over, you do have a few seconds to reassemble your world before it explodes! Unfortunately, those few seconds are often not enough.

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Beasts of Balance is beautiful! Absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful! That was what initially drew me to it. I love animals and I do love a good dexterity game. This one wins on both counts, especially with non-gamers. Between the beautifully-illustrated app that creates a world and a story as you play and the beautifully-produced pieces, this game is a veritable toy for children and grown-ups alike. Peter quickly became addicted to trying to best his high score, playing Beasts of Balance over and over again by himself. And my family couldn't get enough of it at Christmas! Creating worlds and unlocking new beastly combinations through the app is a joy.

soblue


Now, this isn't a perfect game. No. It's not really a game at all. I would classify it as a fun thing to do. It's an activity, it's a toy. But not a game. It doesn't come with a rulebook; it comes with a tutorial that gives you a vague idea of what the pieces in the game can do, but you have to discover the rest on your own. And you can play with this alone just as well as you can with others to challenge your stacking skills, which is a bonus. But don't go in expecting a game. Expect a joyful toy and you won't be disappointed.

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart LIKE


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Happy Salmon was the shining star of my family's Christmas party. In this game, you have a deck of action cards. Each shows one of 4 actions, including the "High 5", the "Pound It", the "Switcheroo", and the unique "Happy Salmon" (3 slaps on the inner arm). You and your friends all shuffle your own identical deck of cards and one player gives the start signal, at which time everybody flips their decks over and starts calling out the action on their top card. As soon as partners find each other, they perform the action on their card and discard that card. The player who is able to first discard their entire deck of cards wins!

True to its name, Happy Salmon is brings the happy! It's filled with laughs and silly fun! You don't have to know anything or anyone to take part and you have to have just enough mobility to give high fives and swap places with a partner! This makes the game very inclusive. Even my 80+ year-old stepfather found happiness here!

Happy Salmon is easy for anyone and everyone go enjoy and generates tonnes of laughter! Sure, it might be mostly random (i.e. based on who happens to get matching cards the most quickly), but that hardly matters when you realize how much fun you've had high-five-ing and happy-salmon-ing your family and friends! It makes for a great, unusually physical, analog diversion when you are trying to avoid banal (or serious ) chatter with family members or want to turn some strangers into friends! Happy!

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


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First Impressions




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Mechs vs. Minions was the big secret board game project of Riot Games, known for the ultra famous League of Legends MOBA! Of course, as soon as news of its impending release appeared, EVERYONE and their grandma wanted a copy. And, of course, the order window was during the Essen Spiel fair. And, of course, I was entirely focused on that and forgot to order my copy to get on board the first wave of shipments, but that's ok. I had plenty to keep me busy. In fact, I all but forgot about Mechs until it arrived! And when it did, the excitement came rushing back! I had to get it played immediately!

Mechs vs. Minions is a scenario-based drafting/programming game in which you pilot a mech's movement across a variable map to fulfill a variety of scenario-specific missions. Each time you complete a mission, you unlock new cards and functions and goals that are locked in secret envelopes!

Playing through Mechs vs. Minions feels a bit like playing through a legacy game. You have all the excitement of unlocking new content, but you aren't really changing things as you go, so you can replay scenarios as much as you want. At least, that's the impression I have from playing through the first two scenarios!

As for the game itself, it's a silly, relatively light programming affair. Each turn, you take a card (or two when playing with only two players) from the open drafting display and then place that card in one of the slots on your mech's action board. You then execute all the action cards you have placed in order. You can place action cards of the same type on top of each other to create more powerful actions. And you can replace old cards with new ones. But you must always execute your full row of actions. The thing is, you won't always WANT to execute your full row of actions because it can get clogged up with damage cards that will inevitably be unleashed upon your poor mech by the nasty minions! In fact, in one game, I had a display full of nothing but damage cards. It was all kinds of sad.

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Action cards

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Damage cards

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Game


My overall impression of Mechs vs. Minions is currently quite positive. I'm not in love with it, but I like it well enough. I look forward to discovering what the remaining envelopes hold. And, of course, I look forward to playing with the AMAZING TOYS that come in the game! TOYS!!!

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Onitama is a simple abstract game in which you try to move your King piece to your opponent's King space or try to capture your opponent's King piece.

There are 5 movement cards in each game and each player gets 2. One is out of the game until one of the players plays their first card. Each turn, you select one of the two cards in front of you and choose a pawn to move according to the possible movement locations indicated on the card. You then move the card you played between you and your opponent and replace your missing card slot with the card that WAS between you and your opponent. In this way, the action cards cycle and an interdependence between your actions and your opponents actions is created.

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First of all, I am not a fan of chess. And I am generally not a fan of abstract games. I am clearly not the target audience for this game, so it should come as no surprise that I found myself yawning by the time I had finished my first three moves ever. I was bored! I found no satisfaction in pushing my pawns ahead at a snail's pace. And I found even less satisfaction in the tug-of-war that developed when Peter and I got into what seemed like a stalemate later on in the game. So, I didn't enjoy my first experience with the game. At all.

On to the second! The second time around, I decided to open my mind a bit and give the game a fair chance. I liked the fact that a different set of action cards is used in each game, which makes each tug-of-war challenge a unique one. And I wanted to try another combination. I was still unimpressed by the game's heavy tug-of-war nature and the seemingly inevitable stalemates that arise here and there, but I did find more joy in the game. Puzzling through my options and my opponent's options depending on which card I played and which cards he played was actually quite engaging. I will definitely have to play this one a few more times before passing my final judgement, but I do think it's a great game. It might not be for me personally, but I understand that the simplicity, universal familiarity of mechanisms, and variety of the game appeal to many.

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I wrote a bit about my past relationship with Alchemists in my previous post. Let's just say it was a rocky one. However, I had fun with the game last week and was eager to find out what the expansion would bring to the experience.

The King's Golem expansion for Alchemists is actually 4 expansions in 1! Two are relatively basic and two are a bit more advanced. We decided to try one simpler one and one more complex one - Busy Days and Royal Academy.

In the Busy Days expansion, the rewards (and costs) of turn order change each round. And with Royal Academy, you have a new venue for publishing your research theories. The payoffs and the risks are basically the same as when publishing theories about alchemicals, but in the Royal Academy. you are publishing theories about the polarities of ingredients.

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From gallery of milenaguberinic


One of my chief complaints about the base game of Alchemists was that it was a lot of work for not much payoff. I found the deduction puzzle to be fun, but the worker placement portion felt uninspired and the whole thing was just too long and fiddly. While I did have many laughs with the base game last week and more with the base game and expansion this week, my original complaints stand. And, of course, they are only amplified by the expansion. While I appreciate the option to add new elements to the game, some of the more involved expansion modules like the Royal Society (and the Golem) definitely add a lot more fiddle to the game. And while I enjoyed having the option to publish theories about the ingredients and polarities with the Royal Society, I didn't find that module of the expansion nearly as satisfying as the much simpler Busy Days module. I will have to play around with these modules a few more times to determine how I will ultimately feel, but for now, my natural preference for simple expansions that only add more variety and enhance what is already in a game leads me to believe I won't be very happy with this expansion overall.

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I love Russian Railroads! Actually, I don't love the base game. I think the base game is ok, but the German Railroads expansion made me love it! And American Railroads seemed like it would give me another great way to play the game! More importantly, it seemed like it would give me a slightly less component-heavy way to play the game! As much as I adore German Railroads, it is a pain to set up and tear down and navigate due to the sheer number of tiles and chits and pieces.

American Railroads gives you new player boards that feature a "stock market" action, and some boulders to explode, and a double factory track!

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The boulders are relatively self explanatory - in order to be able to push your track beyond the boulder spaces, you have to explode them by pushing other tracks past the explosion actions! Once you do, you have an additional end-of-round scoring opportunity!

The market is a bit more interesting. Every time you hit a market space with your track, you can pay a coin (or not, depending on the type of space) to push your market marker up the market track and add (or simply take advantage of) the bonus for that level. These bonuses can trigger crazy chains of effects! And, at the end of the game, the players whose marker are highest and second highest on these tracks get bonus points!

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This expansion is love! I absolutely adore it! I love the fact that the market actions give you bonuses you can take advantage of immediately to potentially trigger huge chains of effects that will get you much further than you were!

The dual factory track is also an interesting feature of these boards, giving you a great option for some quick early points!

I will have to play with this expansion a few more times, but at this point, I prefer it to Germany simply because of its lower fiddle factor. it still gives me plenty more options than the base game, but without the undue clutter of Germany. Thumbs waaaaaaaaaaaay up!

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Session Reports


Inis
I THOUGHT one of our previous games of Inis would be one for the record books in terms of duration - it ended incredibly quickly. Nope. I was wrong THIS week's game was the fastest one ever! It was over in about 15 minutes!

My favorite win condition is the one that demands you be present in at least 6 territories. I don't know what it is about dividing and conquering that I love so much, but I do. Perhaps it has something to do with watching the map grow and unfold like a pretty flower! At any rate, that win condition is (predictable though it may be) what I always pursue...if possible. So, that's what I went after this time. I was blessed with a hand of Druid and . Thankfully, the evil counterspell stayed out of the game in the few rounds that it lasted and I was able to accomplish my mission in record time with the help of a little deed! I didn't even realize I had fulfilled the win condition until Peter passed for the umpteenth time and I looked at the board and my deed and screamed out "I WON!" It was hilarious. This is a great game and one that definitely surprised me by how enjoyable it is at the low, low player count of two! Love!

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This deed weighs heavily on our souls!

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Touria
Oh dear. Poor Touria. It's not you; it's me. I expressed some concerns about the level of randomness in Touria in my previous post. Well, those concerns have proven themselves founded and then some! There is a LOT of randomness here, particularly if you play the full game (i.e. finding the prince/princess in the castle once you've acquired all your tiles).

In our game, Peter once again got lucky with the dice. I somehow managed to turn swords into hearts with some regularity, but Peter finished a turn or two ahead of me and managed to uncover the prince/princess door IMMEDIATELY! This happened in our previous game as well! It was uncanny. And annoying. If anything, I would recommend playing Touria without the final uncovering business (the rulebook recommends doing this if you are allergic to randomness as well). The game devolves to a pure luck fest at the end.

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From gallery of milenaguberinic


Encore!
Noch mal! There is really not much more I can say about this game other than what I've already said. Delightful, fast, addictive dice rolling. Peter's and my scores ended up reversing this time! And I won. Peter is better at dice, so kinda happy about this.

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Round House + Round House: 1st Expansion – Additional Tiles
Round House! I got the first expansion for this from the BGG Store along with my order of American Railroads and was eager to try it out! The first expansion introduces an alternative way to use the pirate action. You can now pay the resources or coins indicated on a pirate tile to dump one of your helpers on a scoring space on the pirate board! At the end of the game, additional points are awarded for having the most helpers in each column.

The expansion also makes any remaining helper cards you have at the end of the game worth points equal to the number of that type of helper in the discard pile. And it gives you the option of taking end-game scoring tiles instead of 5 coins whenever you are entitled to take the latter!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic

Each helper card is worth a number of points equal to the number of helpers of its type in the discard pile

From gallery of milenaguberinic

Pirate action


I think that this expansion addresses some of the small issues that were present in the base game; namely, that taking late-game helpers that provide ongoing benefits or even helpers in general can be unattractive, that the pirate action was largely uninteresting and unnecessary, and that late-game honor actions without apprentices in the market was just not an option.

The new pirate board makes the pirate action interesting and gives you a new way to score big points, the helper cards have an added value beyond their actions and gems and you now have a very interesting choice between keeping them on board for end-game points and using them for their ability, and late-game honor actions without apprentices are finally a viable option thanks to the fact that you can now acquire the end-game scoring tiles by performing this action!

Some aspects of the expansion were not exactly clear in the rules (i.e. how to set up the honor tile market), but I largely understood and enjoyed what it has to offer. More Round House is always good!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


The Oracle of Delphi
Oracle of Delphi! Peter has finally caught onto this game and did very well! He had the bonus tile that allowed him to toss one of the 12 goals at the start of the game and I had the one that made my Gods super powerful (i.e. easier to push up the God tracks). I immediately headed for the closest statue thingy because those are clutch. They allow you to get the heroes, who help push your military might up and avoid taking on those nasty end-of-round curses. Peter was a bit slower, but we were pretty much neck and neck the entire game. It was tense!

I love games that challenge your efficiency/optimization skills in a spatial puzzly sort of way, so I love this game! Truly one of my favorite Felds! That said, I would love to try it with more than two players because I think the race for the hero cards would be all the more tense and interesting.

From gallery of milenaguberinic


Dream Home
I cannot get enough of Dream Home! It may be my favorite light game of 2016, as I find myself constantly and consistently compelled to play it! Peter won this game easily. I was completely absent and distracted, which was silly of me, but it is what it is. I got the interior decorator in the first round of the game and was really hoping to maximize my use of her ability and end-game scoring bonus (extra VP per decoration), but that didn't work out as well as I thought it would. I also once again got duped into thinking that the red and orange roof tiles were the same. I THOUGHT I had a complete roof, but nope. Colors are hard. Anyway, Peter built the better house, so congrats to Peter!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Aeon's End
Aeon's End! One of my favorites! I accidentally sprayed Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb perfume on it last week and since I did that, the game seems to have softened up a bit! Our first attempt to defeat the Wayward One ended in miserable defeat in record time. This second, Flowerbombed one, ended in OUR favor! Of course, I think the fact that I played as Jian helped this time! Not only are we soul sisters, but Jian starts the game with two open breaches, which helps against the Wayward One, who is constantly shifting alignment and negating attack from breaches that aren't aligned with his current position. WIN!

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


Railroad Revolution
Peter won! Incredible! Actually, quite credible. He is quite good at this game!

In this game, I decided to go for the long-distance rail building thing again and it totally blew up in my face. I was entirely focused on that one thing and failed to realize how far Peter had pushed his multipliers both on that track and the trading post track. They were both at the top of their respective tracks. Mine were not. He won. And I didn't even see it coming!

In other news, I am loving this game! And you'll probably see it on next week's list .

From gallery of milenaguberinic


From gallery of milenaguberinic


***


Fresh Cardboard


1. Flip City Wilderness - I love Flip City and this expansion is coming to me! WOOHOO!
2. The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire - Engine-building games are kinda my thing, so I'm pretty sure this is going to be an instant success. I stayed away from the original Manhattan Project game because of its theme, but I've heard that is toned down in this one, so we'll see! Can't wait to try it! Looks pretty cute too!
3. Orléans: Invasion - WOOT! Finally! I have the Orleans expansion! The first one!

***


Next Week...


Look forward to a list of my top 10 games of 2016!

***


heart THANK YOU FOR READING AND HAVE A COLORFUL NEW YEAR! heart


From gallery of milenaguberinic
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