Steph HodgeUnited StatesWell, it's no Ginkgopolis...
One of the best games I got to learn in June was PARKS. New to me!
Parks is easily one of the prettiest games I own, but what really hooked me was the Camera token. There is an action in the game that allows you to snap photos and score points from the pictures you have taken in the game. PSH, YAH, I LOVE THAT! So totally biased because of my love for photography. Parks features 59 different national parks in the game, and each card has unique artwork and factual information. The information is not actually used in the game, but it is really great for learning about these different parks. I have already started a list of parks I need to visit!
In Parks, players are gearing up to visit different parks and scoring the most points to win the game. Visiting different parks will score you victory points and the hidden goals you have from the start of the game will also help to provide points. The gear cards will make your trips to the parks easier and thus will help you visit more parks. There are 4 rounds in the game, and each round the trail tiles will be shuffled up and placed out. Also, each round, 1 additional special tile will be added, making the trail a little bit longer.
Players have 2 hikers that will walk the trail. On your turn, you will move one of your hikers along the trail as far as you want. You can't go back once you move forward though. You will gather the resources from the space you land on or perform the action the space allows you to do. Eventually, your hikers will make it to the end of the trail and get to visit the available parks if you have the appropriate resources to do so. You can also reserve a park for a future visit or gain a gear card. Gear cards are pretty great and can help by giving resource discounts or by making trail spaces better. Getting good combos with your gear cards is a really good strategy, so you want to get gear cards early and often.
There is also a photography element to the game. Each snapshot is worth points at the end of the game. The person with the camera token gets a cool discount when taking a photo. There are also canteens that you can fill up once per round to get a cool activation effect.
The game is simply stunning. The production quality is top notch with cool Game Trayz inserts and custom wildlife meeples. I am blown away.
Michael and I played this game. I was characteristically after the camera token from turn one. I was totally unreasonable about it too. If he even thought about taking it away from me, I would immediately take it back. I was definitely not out to win the game but to be the best photographer in the game. I suppose that will make my playing of this game very predictable. I can't just sit back and let someone else hold the camera. IT WON'T HAPPEN! Never say never, but I am fairly sure.
Regardless, I had a great time playing this one and seeking parks that fit my goal card. I was trying to snap those photos in the game and as a result took about a million real pics too. Maybe I need a photo blog dedicated to this one game.
Michael ended up winning our game, and it was probably because of my unwillingness to let the camera go. But it was close! He won with 39 and I had 36 points. Doh! Not enough SUNNY parks came into play which would have really helped me out and my Sunny goal card. All my gear cards were pointed towards making SUN easy to acquire.
My dad would just LOVE the theme of this game. He is a hiker and loves visiting all these parks. I look forward to showing this game to him, though I know he won't play since he is not much of a gamer. I think this game would be over his head, thus I think it is just a little too advanced for non-gamers. But I would say that this is a good bridge from light games to medium games. I can't wait for my next play!
I think I need to wallpaper my house with this artwork!
To keep with the forest theme and gorgeous production quality, I wanted to try out Bosk. New to me!
All I really need is a gorgeous box cover for me to want to play it and Bosk has had me hooked since I first saw the cover months and months ago! Easily one of the prettiest box covers of all time, though games have gotten 10x more gorgeous since I started really gaming in 2011.
Bosk is a pretty easy-to-understand abstract game. The first half of the game is a round of placing trees on the board followed by scoring for those trees by the majorities of the rows and columns on the game board. In the second half of the game, players will drop their leaves on the board depending on the wind patterns in hopes of gaining area majorities in the different land regions on the map. This is then followed by the final scoring round for those majorities. The game is over after that and you will win if you have scored the most points.
Michael and I just played a 2-player game so the board was pretty open. It certainly felt like going last held a big advantage since he was able to get the final say in just about every column and row. Going into the second half of the game, I was pretty far behind. The first-player advantage at that point was that I could choose the wind patterns, which is something I really needed. Michael didn't really see the benefit for that, but I totally did. Had he gotten that option he could have messed me up for some big points. I think he understood afterward though. While it was a pretty cool advantage, I was still going first in the second phase and thus he was going last for that last-player advantage with the final say.
I ended up losing by a single point! Nooooooo! So I did manage to have a pretty good comeback, just not good enough. It was pretty close and I quite enjoyed it.
I felt the last-player advantage was too strong, but clearly, I was pretty close, so I am likely just wrong and a first-time-playing curmudgeon. I really enjoyed this play anyway. I like trying to figure out the board patterns and the different scorings that will happen. I think this game is easy to figure out and play so I could teach my brother or a new player how to play pretty easily. I definitely look forward to my next play!
I recently got a new expansion for Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island but before playing it I had to brush up on my base game skills. I lost the first time I played and spoiler, I lost this play as well.
MAN THIS GAME IS HARD!!! Michael and I sat down to a 2-player game of the second scenario. We needed to cure the island of curses. It was a near-impossible task for us. Nothing was coming up roses and fending off the fog was just not happening. The main problem is that we needed a hillside tile and we weren't finding any. We even searched the tile stack a few times for the right tile and just had no luck!
Eventually, we found it and we were able to start killing the fog, but we were already so behind in making crosses and our wood supply was in high demand. In the final round, it was down to the wire! We flipped up an event that caused us to need ONE MORE WOOD when building. If it wasn't for that one card we would have just BARELY beaten the game as long as the weather was on our side. It was super close by the end.
Shocking that we were able to hold out for so long. I thought we were dead in the water. I think it means there is a promise for the next time we play! I can't wait to try it again soon!
I was anxious to try out Pipeline. New to me!
This was a game I had been following for a while but never got to try the prototypes that I had seen around. Since it was just at Origins, I was happy to see it getting such good ratings from the attendees and I think it was at or near the top of the Geekbuzz all weekend.
Pipeline is an economic game where you will acquire crude oil that you will then refine and sell. Over 3 rounds you will strive to build up your oil company and hope to gain the most profit from your sold oil and pipeline network that you have built.
In the game, you will spend your money to acquire crude oil. To refine it, you will have to purchase pipes/connections that are laid out on tiles. There are the government tiles that are available from the beginning of the game, but there are also shops where you can purchase them and will change each round.
The rounds have a number of turns will that decrease as the game goes on. The idea is that you will get your engine built up and will be able to process the oil more efficiently over time. Each turn, players will get to select an action to perform, and they can often choose to spend an extra $10 to perform a second action if it is available to them. As your action, you can also choose to run your pipelines and refine all of the oil you possibly can with the pipe networks you have created.
I played a 2-player game with Michael and it took a while to get through the rules and figure out all the small details. I had a pretty big network of pipes since I was spending a lot of the time visiting the shops and buying them up. There were a few really great upgrades I wanted to purchase but I never found a proper time. Eventually, I picked up an upgrade that got me free secondary actions which was awesome. I saved a good deal of money on those bonus actions.
Because I was able to get my engine going, I was scoring a whole lot of monies by the end of the game. Michael had a contract that was seemingly holding him back since he had to focus on filling that up instead of just selling to the Marketplace. There are a whole lot of end-game points for the pipeline connections you have created as well, and I scored so much from that. After all the end-game points were counted, Michael had 475 points, but I came out on top with 644.
I think there is a lot to like about Pipeline, but it can be severely prone to AP. There is just so much to analyze and so many possibilities to consider. Just getting your pipes to go the right way can be a challenge. Playing this with the wrong bunch of people could be a deal breaker.
I thought Pipeline worked perfectly well for 2 players, and I bet I would even prefer it at that player count to try and keep the playtime shorter. I hate the ability to shut people out of the upgrade actions. I think that is just mean for the sake of being mean. I am not sure anything really shined in this game for me, but it all seemed to work. It doesn't excite me, but I would play it again.
One roll n write game from Origins I was given to try out was Rolled West. New to me!
If you are familiar with Gold West, Rolled West gives a similar feeling but in the roll n write genre.
Each turn, the active player will roll the 4 dice and select 1 that will be set aside for the active player to use only for the territory type at the bottom. The 3 other dice can be used for a number of ways. You can visit the town or fulfill contracts or deliver on the routes, but you will definitely want to build up your settlements. You can also store up to one unused resource. These resources will be handy in later rounds when you can complete some more juicy contracts.
When it isn't your turn, you can claim one of the available resources from another player's roll. After a few rounds, the game will be over and you will add up the points you have scored.
Michael and I played a 2-player game and it was very easy to learn and play. I had played Gold West before, but Michael hadn't, so I found Rolled West easier to grasp than he did. Rolled West really gives you a quick taste of that Gold West feeling in a faster game time. It is also in a much smaller box, which is nice!
I never got to build up all the settlements I wanted. You are really at the mercy of the dice and you don't get to have re-rolls. So I had to focus on the other strategies that were available to me. Michael was all in on the delivery track and ended up kicking my butt with points from there and from contracts. I just never got my act together and got minimal points everywhere.
I quite enjoyed this one! I think it will hold up nicely if I don't overplay it right off the bat. It is cool to see more in the world of Gold West, since I love Gold West. It kind of just makes me want to play Gold West though! I look forward to playing this one more and seeing other strategies.
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A photographic journey through board games...
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