Cult of the New - Short Reviews Based on Limited Plays
Zack W.
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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I'm fortunate to have a large game group. We typically rotate through new stuff and rarely make it back to older games.

I decided to start quick reviews using my initial impression(s) based on limited plays.
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1. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:41]
Zack W.
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Topeka
Kansas
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A friend of mine came back from Gencon red-hot on this. It's OOS almost everywhere so I pulled the trigger on eBay for $90 shipped.

I've played most of the coops out there and have only pulled the trigger on three (Pandemic, Yggdressil and the LotR LCG).

Most of the coop games I have played feel like Gateway games. Robinson Crusoe scratched a new itch - it's a pretty tough coop. I certainly wouldn't call it a Gateway game; it feels like there's some great strategy required for a win. The events/inventions mean the game is going to vary quite a bit even if you play the same scenario.

Rating:
8. Good game. I like it.

Verdict:
Buy/Keep.
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2. Board Game: Merchant of Venus (second edition) [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:644]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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I had a chance to play with the FFG rules some time ago. Pickup and deliver typically isn't my thing and this wasn't any exception - the game drug on forever and I really didn't enjoy it. After one play I sold it off to another group member for a bargain price.

Another group member wanted to play with the original rules and I decided to give it a go. Much better in my opinion. We played with two (a second game with three later that week). Overall, the pickup and deliver still isn't my thing but it wasn't quite as painful.

Rating:
4. Not so good but could occasionally be talked into it.

Verdict:
Sold. No regrets.
 
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3. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:217]
Zack W.
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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I made the 20m trip to my FLGS to pick up Pathfinder for the holiday weekend. While I was there, I pulled the trigger on Bruges. I'm don't like everything Feld has done but several (Trajan, Castles of Burgundy) were fantastic and this was getting good press.

I like it. 2-4 players is a great range for my typical group. I'd call it a light euro. There are some interesting decisions, a little bit of player interaction and it feels like you're always making some tough decisions with the four actions/turn. Best of all, the 45m playtime on the box appears fairly accurate.

Rating:
8. Very good game. I like it.

Verdict:
Buy/Keep.
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4. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:330]
 
Zack W.
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Topeka
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This got such great press at Gencon that I decided to pick it up and give it a few plays over the holiday weekend.

We stumbled through our first few plays before really getting a hang of the game. I would say the rulebook could use improvements. It's not as bad a Robinson Crusoe, but we were really unclear on how several mechanics worked.

We've played it three times so far and just got our first win. It's interesting but I don't think there's enough here to keep me long-term.

Rating:
6. OK game. Somewhat fun and challenging. Would play it if in the right mood.

Verdict:
Trade it away.
 
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5. Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport [Average Rating:8.22 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.22 Unranked]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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I had played Lords of Waterdeep twice before and I wasn't really interested in playing more. However, someone brought over the expansion and I enjoy playing new games so we settled in for the 2P "Long Version" using both expansions.

I have to say, I was impressed. Playing it this way addressed most of my complaints about the base game - there were a lot more interesting actions available, corruption provided something new to manage/interact with others and the (at least at 2P "Long") game gave you enough actions to accomplish something interesting.

Rating:
Base Game: 5. Average game. Take it or leave it.
Game w/ SoS Expansion: 8. Good game. I like it.

Verdict:
I added this and the base game to my "Want in Trade" list. I'm not certain it's something I'll shell out cash for but it's something I'd unload some of my older, long-unplayed games for.
 
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6. Board Game: Cube Quest [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1402]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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A friend of mine brought this over. We set it up and played 4-5 games in 30-40 minutes.

The concept is pretty neat and it's quite a bit of fun flicking dice at each other. I actually really enjoyed the game and the abilities of the dice could create something a little deeper. We didn't explore that, we just used the basic two dice types.

I'm passing on this game despite enjoying it. I'm passing because -

1) It's a mess. Dice go everywhere when flicked. Cleanup (finding dice) takes as long as a play.
2) The mats are nice but don't lay flat. It just bugs me.
3) I don't see a need for a very light, 10m, 2P dexterity filler.

Rating
7 - Good game. Usually willing to play.

Verdict
Fun, but pass.

 
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7. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:313]
Zack W.
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I picked this up due to the buzz. Several friends had already played it so I pulled it out and they taught me the game.

Overall, I liked it. It's different enough from the few other co-ops I own that I'm planning to hold onto it. I could see pulling this out as a gateway game but I think you could play it strategically with a group of gamers as well.

I could also see this as a great drinking game as people forgot what they knew about their hands.

Rating
7. Good game. Usually willing to play.

Verdict
Keep it. It's small and short. My local group enjoys co-ops and this feels different enough from the few other co-ops I own to see it finding occasional play.
 
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8. Board Game: DC Comics Deck-Building Game [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:714] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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I had a chance to play this 2P with another guy in my game group. The game hadn't really been on my radar as I disliked Legendary, enjoy the Marvel universe quite a bit more than DC and assumed they were very similar.

I'll caveat my review by saying that I don't really care for deckbuilding as a mechanic. This ended up being more of the same. An OK deck builder with a neat theme and a decent twist regarding the variable player powers (a mechanic I like). Overall, I didn't feel like it was a bad game (made slightly better by the superhero theme) but it wasn't compelling enough for me to want to play regularly or own.

Rating
5. Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it.

Verdict
Pass
 
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9. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:551]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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I had a chance to play this 2P. I'll call this an interesting take on a mid-to-heavy worker placement Euro.

I didn't find the artwork compelling. The gameplay was somewhat interesting. In many worker placement games, your choices are just in the placement of your workers. In Spyrium, you also have to decide an order to activate them. Even better - activating them in an optimal order can really mess with your opponents, in some cases causing them to lose the action entirely (think Vanuatu).

Ultimately, I found the game a little confusing. In most games, the paths to victory points are straightforward. In Spyrium, it really wasn't clear to us until the 2nd-3rd round how to construct a VP engine. I suspect that's solved with a play or two but it does make the game less accessible to new players.

Ultimately, while it was interesting, I feel that my favorite parts (player interaction on worker placement, lack of a "choice denial" mechanic, player interaction on worker activation order) are better implemented in something like Vanuatu (which gives all of that along with variable powers).

Rating:
6. OK game, some fun or challenge at least, will play sporadically if in the right move.

Verdict:
Pass. After playing, I removed the game from my Wishlist.
 
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10. Board Game: Rialto [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:851]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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I'm slowly becoming a Feld fan. I really enjoyed Trajan, Castles of Burgandy and Brugges. He's had a few misses for me though. Speicherstadt and Luna were just OK and I'd pass on Bora Bora.

Like most of his games, the graphics and theme didn't engage me. Seriously, can someone hook this guy up with Eric J. Carter or Dennis Lohausen and suggest he do a theme that's slightly more interesting than civil engineering in Italy?

The playtime of about 45 minutes was excellent. There were interesting choices in card drafting, how to play your wilds, holding onto cards for the next round vs playing them and in what buildings you acquired. Add in a little area control and you end up with a short, accessible, lightweight Euro with a blend of different mechanics.

Rating:
8. Very good game. I like it.

Verdict:
I'm not running out to buy it but I left this on my Want in Trade and Wishlist and hope to pick up a copy in the future via trade. If I could snag a copy for a deal, I'd pull the trigger.
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11. Board Game: Timeline: Inventions [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:927] [Average Rating:6.71 Unranked]
Zack W.
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I've played several of the Timeline games now and really enjoy them. Very light and laid-back. I've played with children, with other gamers as a filler, and used it as a gateway game with friends.

The concept is super simple. I can't believe nobody thought of it before.

Rating
8. Good game. I like it.

Verdict
I'm planning to pick up a copy or two. I just need to figure out which ones.
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12. Board Game: Hab & Gut [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1064]
Zack W.
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After sitting on my shelf for years, I got this to the table. I'd call it a lightweight market manipulation game with a bit of a twist.

We played it 5P. I'd say it's fairly random and your purchasing/playing options are typically fairly straightforward or a total crapshoot - hard to formulate and execute a strategy here. After playing, two of the group felt like it was similar to Settlers of Catan in terms of accessibility, randomness and weight. I think I agree with them.

Rating
6. OK game. Somewhat fun and challenging. Would play it if in the right mood.

Verdict
Hrm. Tough one. I'm considering holding it as it's a fairly unique game and hard to come by. On the flip side, I didn't find it all that enjoyable and don't see bringing it to a game day all that frequently. I've put it on my For Trade list and would likely take something new if the values were close.
 
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13. Board Game: Firefly: The Game [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:292]
Zack W.
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I was really looking forward to this as I love the source material. I was a little concerned that it was pick-up-and-deliver, a mechanic that I'm not all that fond of. Still, it had variable powers, the ability to upgrade your ship/crew and a fantastic theme - all things I love.

We played the new online intro scenario. I felt like there was significant downtime in our 5P game. I picked up several crew and ship upgrades and never had a chance to use them. After splitting my jobs with them twice, I dumped most of them on a planet and went at it alone. Pretty lame. I focused on running several lawful jobs before realizing the illegal jobs paid significantly more. Thematic, but it feels like the lawful stuff is just for schmucks.

Granted, different scenarios might make the game more enjoyable. As it was, I was pretty disappointed. Rarely are you presented with interesting decisions. Most of the decisions you run into are fairly straightforward.

Rating
4. Not so good but could occasionally be talked into it.

Verdict
Disappointed. I pulled this off of my wishlist and don't plan to pick up a copy.
 
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14. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:235]
Zack W.
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I had heard about this game due to the fancy "Collector" edition and wanted to give it a shot. We played the game 5P. As we set it up, I thought I was really going to enjoy it. As we played it, the shine really wore off.

The game felt incredibly random and, despite having different "worker placement" options each turn, it really never felt like I was able to establish any sort of strategy or accomplish anything meaningful. If someone happened to set me up to grow or eat a tree, great. If I happened to draw a map card that was complete, also great. But it was way too easy for someone to block anything I was trying to do.

I could see it as a good gateway game and I think a play could clock in around 45 minutes with experienced players. Even then, I'd rather play fillers (including dexterity games) or a short medium-weight game with that time.

Rating
5. Average game. Take it or leave it.

Verdict
Pass.
 
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15. Board Game: Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1717] [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked]
Zack W.
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I hadn't heard of this but it was getting buzz at a local "Playing for the Cure" event. Someone offered to demo it to a group of four of us.

I love the theme and love the art. It was light, relatively fast and I found it to be enjoyable. It's hard to say how this will stand up to a few extra plays. I could see it going either way. Still, the price point, theme, artwork and one game of gameplay was enough. I bought a copy on the spot.

Rating
7. Good game. Usually willing to play.

Verdict
I picked a copy up on the spot. We'll see how it holds up to repeated plays.
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16. Board Game: The Road to Canterbury [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1942]
Zack W.
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I played this w/ my wife at a local gameday. I didn't find the theme or artwork compelling. The play-a-card, draw-a-card mechanic felt pretty uninteresting and we quickly devolved into a holding pattern just waiting to see who would have to slip up. Overall, we both walked away disappointed.

Rating
4. Not so good but could occasionally be talked into it.

Verdict
I prompted stuck this on the Virtual Flea Market for BGG.con and sold it off.
 
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17. Board Game: Canterbury [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2326]
Zack W.
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Topeka
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A friend of mine brought this over so we gave it a shot 2P. Midway through the game, we realized how strategic the dummy third player could be. I think the game isn't bad with 2P but would certainly be better with three. I'm not a fan of tile laying games so I was skeptical I'd like this. However, I like area control and the city building/action selection made the game relatively interesting. The artwork isn't bad but it's very typical; not something that I love. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the game.

Rating
7. Good game. Usually willing to play.

Verdict
Hrm. Tough one. Based on my preference of playing new games and the large collection of games I enjoy, I'm going to pass for now. However, if a copy came up at a good price (e.g., on the BGG.con VFM) or someone offered a trade for one of my lesser played games, I'd try to pick it up.
 
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18. Board Game: Francis Drake [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:372]
Zack W.
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This one was tough for me to rate as I felt conflicted. When I saw it was going to sell out at BGG.con, I picked up a copy (the third in my local group). I later regretted it and unloaded it for my purchase price on the last day of the con.

The components are crazy - molded plastic stuff, glass beads, wooden cubes. I heard that the designer/publisher set out to make a fully chromed up game and they definitely succeeded. The insert is the best I've seen. Even the box was high quality. I really like the street tile artwork but didn't love the lower half of the board (the map). Nor do I really care for the theme.

Individually, the mechanics were great. I enjoyed the Egizia-like worker placement mechanic and managing the board actions via a second round of worker placement was interesting. Overall, the game just didn't feel like it was the sum of it's parts and it went over a little flat for me for a reason I can't put my finger on. (Theme? Board art?)

Rating:
6. OK game. Somewhat fun and challenging. Would play it if in the right mood.

Verdict
Pass. Then acquired. Then sold. This game is certainly something I'd play if someone wanted to get it to the table. It's not something I felt the need to own once I knew multiple people in my local gaming group had a copy. If nobody else it my local group owned it, I'd strongly consider picking up a copy. shake So indecisive.
 
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19. Board Game: Relic Runners [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1584]
Zack W.
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To me, this felt like a stereotypical Days of Wonder game (Cleopatra, Colosseum, Memoir). They produce high quality, visually stunning games that feel pretty lightweight. Outside of Small World, I don't believe I own any Days of Wonder games for that reason - great chrome, just not engaging gameplay. Almost any of their games could be nice gateway/family games but there are others in that category I enjoy more.

Rating
5. Average game. Take it or leave it.

Verdict
Pass. Like most Days of Wonder games, I'm glad I played it once and would play it if someone locally wanted it to hit the table. However, don't see any reason to own it.
 
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20. Board Game: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:601]
Zack W.
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I enjoyed playing this. Sort of a light worker placement, set collection game with a few interesting twists. More than anything, building out my family tree felt really unique and was enjoyable. Some of the cards we had made for great stories. (In my family, Rosie, the Gardeners daughter, married a relative of the king. They were unable to have kids and thus spent their wealth on mansions and donations to the community.) That was fun.

As of BGG.con, two other people in my local group own a copy. I'm limited on space (two shelves per Mrs. Wilsonza) so I've decided to pass. If they decided to unload it, I'd stick it on my "Want in Trade" list. As-is, I don't think I'd get it to the table in non-gamer groups and it didn't hit enough buttons to be a must-own.

Rating
7 - Good game. Usually willing to play.

Verdict
Pass, but only because it's already owned my multiple people locally.
 
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21. Board Game: Rise of Empires [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1000]
Zack W.
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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My first play of BGG.con 2013 during the pre-con gaming on Tuesday night.

The action selection mechanic (placing, taking the actions, then taking them in reverse order) was really, really solid. It left you with some really tough decisions during worker placement, some interesting tactical decisions during action selection and some really mild player "screwage" - all pluses for me. At three players, man was it fiddly. I really disliked the mechanic where all prior age tiles had to stay out so people could buy them. It really felt fiddly.

Overall, I thought the game was really solid...but really long. Our three player game clocked in around three hours and more players would just make it worse. If this was a two hour game, my rating would be higher and I'd hold onto it. As-is, there are just other games I prefer if we're going to lock in 3+ hours.

Rating
6. OK game, some fun or challenge at least, will play sporadically if requested.

Verdict
If it were a shorter game, I'd keep it around.
 
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22. Board Game: The Great Heartland Hauling Co. [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1101]
Zack W.
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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I played the basic game to wrap up BGG.con 2013 pre-con gaming. Overall, there wasn't anything wrong with it. Fairly simple hand management, pick-up-and-deliver mechanics. It looked like the expansions could add some interesting bits but I was underwhelmed.

Overall, this isn't a bad game. It's an average game that I can't see hitting the table very often.

Rating
5. Average game. Take it or leave it.

Verdict
Pass.
 
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