Steph's Spielerei

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. In this blog I will share my tales and thoughts on boardgames. Mostly new games that made some kind of impression (good or bad), but also older games that might have been lying on my shelf of shame for too long, or games that I like so much that I keep going back to them. I love playing, I love taking photographs of my games, and I love writing, so I’m looking forward to combining those three passions in this blog. So stay a while, and read on! And don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to share your thoughts.
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Steph's Spielerei #5 - I love me some puzzly games!

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Hello! Welcome back! For this 5th post, I'm not going to go through the games I playd since my previous post, but focus on one type of game.

When going through the games I recently played, it struck me that a lot of those had a puzzly aspect. One could argue that every boardgame is a puzzle, challenging you to find the fastest and/or most efficient way to reach the goal. What I mean by puzzly in this context, is that the game itself is like a (jigsaw) puzzle, where placement of components is a crucial part of the gameplay.

How about you? Do you like puzzly games? Any games that you love and that didn't get into my list?

Azul
This is probably my favorite puzzly game of the moment. It has seen a lot of play in this house, and I have taken it with me to numerous occasions, trying to spread the love for this one. And succeeded at that, but that’s not on my account, the game just sells itself, with is beautiful, tactile plastic tiles and simple, yet elegant, mechanics. You never seem to be able to play “just one game” of this, it always makes you want to “go again, right here, right now!” It is the game I recommended a few months ago to Yves’ non-gamer family (2 families, each with 2 children), and now they can’t stop praising this game, it has made its way into their evening routine somehow. They probably have played this more than me by now :-)

Board Game: Azul


As far as the puzzle goes, I love how this game comes with two difficulty settings: one with predetermined positions for the tile, and the other one with a free playing field. I love how you need to focus on end term scoring, but can’t ignore to optimize how you build your tableau in game, to score as much points as possible every round. And that you need to keep an eye on your opponents’ boards, because if you don’t, the end game might be triggered before you know it.


Sagrada

Ah, another great one. It is competing with Azul for the first spot. I really love the placement rules in this one (no same colored dice or same value dice next to each other), it really keeps you on your toes. It looks beautiful on the table with all those brightly colored dice. I love it with 2 players, it’s great with more players too. There is a Kickstarter campaign on the way for an expansion, that will add the option to include a 5th and 6th player. Don’t know if I would want to play this at that count, but I will probably be getting it, just for the extras.

Board Game: Sagrada


Roll Player
This game feels like Sagrada, with another game attached to it. I had played Sagrada at a friend’s house, fell in love with it… only to find out I had to wait months to get my own copy. So to sooth my craving for a dice puzzle game, I got my hands on this one. It is a great game, I really loved my few plays of it, but… it has a lot more game to it than Sagrada. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean that Sagrada is more of a challenging filler, Roll Player is the main part of your game night. While I like the game a lot, I made the hard choice to get rid of my copy when I finally got Sagrada, because I like it that Sagrada plays faster, it will see more play because of this. In Roll Player, the dice puzzle is just a part of the game, there is a lot more going on with the market and set collection. That’s not a bad thing, but I like how with Sagrada I can just focus on the dice puzzle.

Board Game: Roll Player


I will still play Roll Player any chance I get, because it is a really great game.

Limes
We just played this last week. The game did not appeal to me at all, just by looking at the box, but after having played Kingdomino, I stumbled on a video that compared the two. And I was intrigued, so I learned more about the game and thought it interesting enough to get my own copy, and the extras. This is a really fascinating game, the phrase “easy to learn, difficult to master” comes to mind.
It is a game where each player has an identical deck of 24 cards. Each card has a number. The player who leads, shuffles their deck, draws the top card and reads aloud the number. That gave us a bingo feeling :-) Anyway, the other player can then take the same card from their deck and place it in their domain. So you basically both build a domain with the exact same cards, in the exact same order, but the individual choices you each make, will make up completely different domains.

Board Game: Limes

Yves' domain has the red meeples, I'm with the black meeples. You can see how we our domains are very different at game end, even though we used the exact same cards at the exact same time.

Your domain will consist of a 4x4 grid. The cards each have 4 zones of terrain, there can be mountains (with a watchtower), forests, fields and sea. You also get 7 meeples, after placing your card, you have to either place a meeple on one of the zones of the card you just placed, or move a previously placed meeple to an adjacent terrain. Why would you do that? Well, depending on the type of terrain your meeples are on at the end of the game, they score points in different ways. If you placed your meeple on a field, it is quite simple: you get points for the number of zones that make up the field. If you placed a meeple in a watchtower, it scores points for every forest zone it can see in a straight horizontal and vertical line, until there is an another watchtower. Fishermen (the meeple you placed on a sea territory) score points for every fisherman's hut that is on the shore. And in the forest, you get points for each adjacent territory (so you might want to add little zones of different terrain to border your forest).

Simple enough, right? Yeah, it is, but man, it can make for some tough decisions. Because it is not only a game of simple placement, like Kingdomino (and in Limes, you don't have to match terrain types when adding cards, but that makes it even harder, because it gives you a multitude of options every turn), but also of getting your meeples at the most lucrative spots by the end of the game. So it also takes planning.

Board Game: Limes


I loved this one! It plays fast, makes my brain hurt just enough, and I love the excitement of each card reveal and the constant "Should I add this field zones here? But wait, there are a lot of huts on this card, maybe I should add it to that sea over there and hope to get a fisherman there. Oh, but no, there is a forest as well! I could start a vertical line from that watchtower over there, and hopefully I get some more forests soon..." I suppose that makes me sound like a Rahdo's Runthrough

Final judgement: very clever game, feels like a stepup from Kingdomino, but just as fast and fun!

Taluva
Last week, we pulled this from our shelf of shame (you might also have one: a shelf with games that haven’t hit the table in ages). When I stumbled into modern boardgaming, I was mostly interested in games that play well with 2 players, because Yves was my main (and by main I mean only) gaming partner. This ended on my watchlist and a few years ago, on a whim, I ordered a copy. It has been on that cursed shelf since.

Board Game: Taluva


Monday we finally got it to the table. And I loved it! After our first game (which I won) I immediately wanted to give it another go! I won the second game as well, which surprised me, because generally speaking, Yves is way better than me in abstract games. I was on fire, placing my huts, building up for my temples and towers, wiping out his huts with carefully planned volcanic eruptions,…

For those unfamiliar with this game, it is a rather abstract tile laying game. Tiles consist of 3 parts, one part is always a volcano, the other parts are different terrain types. On your turn, you get to place a tile (and thus forming the board) and place a building. You have three types of buildings: huts, temples and towers. On your first few turns, you will mostly place huts, because they have the easiest placement rules: you can place them anywhere, except adjacent to another building of your color. There is an exception: instead of placing one hut, you can choose to expand a settlement of your color by choosing a terrain type and placing a hut on each terrain of that type adjacent to that settlement. On higher terrains, you get to place a number of huts equel to the level you are placing the huts on. Yes, that’s right, you get to build upwards as well! This is called a volcanic eruption, and you get to place a volcano on top of another volcano. Huts that are covered by the new tile, get removed from the game. You can’t remove towers or temples with a volcanic eruption, and you can’t wipe out an entire settlement with it, but you can cut up a large settlement into two smaller ones, for instance. This is important, because for the temple building, you need to have a settlement of at least three fields. And the tower can only be built on level 3 or higher.

It is fun trying to get smaller settlements to merge through expansion of a settlement, or break up an opponent’s large settlement near you, and on top of that blocking his expansion by placing a temple or tower on the tile you literally just dropped on his huts. It is a very tactical game, and I love it more than I had anticipated. The components are beautiful and colorful, it looks beautiful on the table. I hope to convince Yves to play this a lot more! More plays will see where this lands, but for now I expect this could end high in my all-time favorite games.

Board Game: Taluva



Kingdomino

I didn’t pay attention to this game when it hit the stores in 2016, it looked simple and childish. But then last Summer a 10-year old boy had me sit down and play it with him, and I absolutely loved it! This is a perfect gateway game for families, because I feel adults enjoy this as much as children. I have given it as a New Year’s present to the 8-year old son of my best friend, and played it with two daughters (aged 9 and 11) of Yves’ best friend. Everyone loves this one!

Board Game: Kingdomino


Should try Queendomino next, but I suppose that is less of a gateway game.


Sentient

This is another puzzle game with dice and cards, but very different from Sagrada or Roll Player. Production quality is top notch, I am especially fond of the custom dice with numbers instead of pips, and in bright (girly ;-)) colors. In the game you have to acquire cards (which represent robots), plug them into your network (player board) and make sure your dice meet the requirements of the different robots at the end of the round to get the points. The robots manipulate the dice, but you can use assistant disks to negate that. But you might also want to use your assistents to bid on the robots, because at the end of each round, the different sector chits are awarded to the player with the most influence in each sector of bidding. And those chits are multipliers for points at the end of the game, so it is important to get them.

We liked the game with 2 players, but I prefer it with 3, because then the fight for those sector chits will be more fierce. Have yet to try it at full count of 4 players.

Board Game: Sentient


Next time I play, I would like to pay more attention to the sectors of the robots I acquire, and my bidding on those sector chits to maximise scoring. In our first game we both focused more on the bots and their programming, as in "does this robot fit my dice?" without thinking about the sectors. I want to play this again soon!

Mystery of the Temples
I wrote about this game in a previous post, so I won’t repeat what I wrote there, since I have not played this again since then.
In short, you each get to collect colorful crystals in a mystical land, and have to arrange those crystals in a certain pattern, in order to be able to break curses at 5 temples. I rather liked this one, but the game doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of love. Maybe it gets old to quickly, I should play this more to see how it holds up.

Board Game: Mystery of the Temples


That's all for now! Thanks for reading, keep on gaming, and see you next time!
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