New to you August 2014 => Best new boardgame
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What new board and card games did you play in August 2014? Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.

In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.

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New To You Metalist 2014
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New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread


Videogames New To You
Videogames New To You September 2014
Videogames New To You August 2014


Movies You Watched
Movies You Watched September 2014
Movies You Watched in August 2014


Other Great Monthly Lists
New to you a year ago Aug 14 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in August 2014
New to your kids - New Lease of Life - Gaming with your kids in August 2014
Your Most Played Game (and more): August 2014
BGG Top 50 Statistics : from 01 Aug 14 to 01 Sep 14
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1. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:216]
Andy
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Manchester
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Although I didn't get in a very high quantity of games, I managed some quality gaming this month, as well as 2 new games.

== NEW GAMES ==

The Manhattan Project - 1 play - thumbsup


A friend of ours had owned this for a while, but had never gotten around to reading the rules.. however he was able to get in a game with experienced players at the Oldham game group, and then was able to teach me and my wife.

Manhattan Project has players building nuclear bombs from either Plutonium or Uranium. Uranium bombs score more consistently but Plutonium bombs can undergo testing, to perfect future bombs and increase their value.

The game uses a worker placement mechanism, but it adds a twist... On their turn, players must either place 1 or more workers, or remove all their workers. When placing workers, a player can only place 1 worker on the communal board, but may then place as many workers as they like on the buildings in their own depot... there is also an espionage space, which allows players to place a certain number of workers on buildings in their opponents depot. It's also a "production engine" type game, as you need to produce yellow-cake to convert into either Plutonium or Uranium as well as generating cash and training up engineers and scientists.

You can also build up fleets of fighters and bombers to either use against your opponents and damage their buildings, or load your finished bombs onto to earn more points.

Overall the game was fun, with an interesting theme, and decent mechanisms, though we had a few issues, such as the building supply getting clogged up with Uranium reactors that nobody wanted as only 1 person was building Uranium bombs.


Potion-Making: Practice - 1 play - thumbsupthumbsdown


This almost took the top slot on the basis of being the only new game I had played... until playing the Manhattan Project on the 29th.

I won it as a raffle prize at the awesome Bolton All-Dayer a year or so ago, but never got round to playing it... Finally my wife and I gave it a go.

PMP is a card game in which you use the cards for different things, either as ingredients for the potions - placing them into a pool in the middle of the table; or as the potions themselves - placing a potion you hold in front of you and gathering the required ingredients from the middle. For more complex potions, you can also use potions that have previously been made by either player (with any other player whose potions you use scoring a proportion of the points you get).

The game didn't really excite me, and it seemed like there were too many different types of potion, so you'd be partway towards a complex card in your hand and be waiting for some key component for ages, and too many ingredients too... 16 types is a lot to keep track of and organise on the table.



== NEW EXPANSIONS ==

Wiz-War: Malefic Curses - 1 play - thumbsup


Although it's not a game I own, we managed a couple of games of Wiz War this month.. the first was a 3-player "refresher", whilst the second, a few weeks later, was a 4-player game including new spell schools: Hexcraft; Necromancy; and Chaos from Malefic Curses.
I had an early, quick route to an opponents treasure that turned out to be fools gold, setting me back, while everyone else managed to pick up treasures. My wife took it upon herself to swap players treasures around, dropping a players own treasure on his base and taking the one they'd left there. This still only netted her one chest, but it prevented a couple of players from winning... finally I managed to glue a chest to my base for 4 rounds and get back with a second treasure before it could be taken.

Overall I liked the new spells... especially Beguile, which allowed me to cast a wall as another wizard and trap him in a dead end.
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2. Board Game: Red7 [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:545]
Martin G
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Bristol
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Not just one but two new games from one of my favourite designers, Carl Chudyk, made for a great August. I'm just giving the nod to Red (soon to be known as Red7) as I've had more opportunities to play it.

Red is a simple and delightful little card game, with seven rainbow-coloured suits of 1-7, each colour corresponding to a different rule for determining the current 'winner'. Each turn you play a card, change the rule or do both, the only stipulation being that if you aren't winning by the end of your turn, you're eliminated. There's a little strategy (think Love Letter weight) and a lot of laughs; plus you can customise the experience by adding various options for more advanced play. It's gone down really well with everyone who I've introduced it to and should be a big hit when it gets a wider release. _8_

Second is Impulse, a 'big' Chudyk game to sit alongside the marvellous Glory to Rome and Innovation. As always, Chudyk uses multi-purpose cards to pack an enormous amount of game into small box. I've only played twice so far and am really enjoying the bewildering variety of options. My only concern is the lengthy turns of chained actions making for painful downtime; I don't plan to play with more than 3. I wrote up some more detailed thoughts on my blog: Blogging on Impulse. _8_

Next come a couple of decent but not exceptional Euros. Karesansui is an interesting inversion of a standard auction game. Instead of collecting sets, you're trying to avoid making them. Bids are with existing items, which you want to get rid of, and so the lowest bid wins. _6_

Gipsy King is a Euro-abstract game of timing and area control. I feel like I've played a lot of very similar games and it didn't do enough to stand out from the crowd for me. _6_

Finally a trio of silly dexterity games. Hard to rate, but they were perfect for the time of night and level of alcohol consumption. Volta is beautifully constructed but the gameplay seems a bit limited. Snapshot was fun until the interminable bash-the-leader endgame (this may be a factor of playing with 6p). And what can I say about Slappy Hands? Go and see for yourself.
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3. Board Game: Freedom: The Underground Railroad [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:310]
United States
Redford
Michigan
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Only played a single new to me game this month, but it was a really good one. One that I might get myself if my neighbor (whose copy I played) didn't already have it.

I like it's puzzle aspects, and how it forced you to keep things moving and focus on all the slaves around the board, and not just try to hurry up and race the minimum needed across the border. The cards and look of the board help make this more engrossing than it could have been. Very fun, and one I would definitely play solo if I had it.

As for new expansions, I got to try out the Dungeon Roll: Winter Heroes pack. I played each hero twice solo, just to see how well they do. They seemed to be made with multiplayer in mind, allowing for some interaction with the way some of them can give each other items (both good and bad). They are pretty powerful as well, and would like to try them in a multiplayer game.
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4. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:112]
Joerg Schaefer
Germany
Frankfurt
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A good month for gaming although more for rediscovering older games. Still, I got 7 new games in and most of them were rather good. Splendor gets the nod as the game most likely to see repeated play. Panamax could have claimed this spot if it wasn't for a few doubts about the design.

Game of the month
Splendor: d10-7 (1 play)

Easy rules, light engine building, a race for bonusses, stimulating material with an outstanding haptic experience. A pleasant first game gets my hopes up that Splendor might become a favourite with more play if it is able to prove that there's sufficient skill required and not just luck of the draw.

Good games
Panamax: d10-7 (1 play)

Action selection with a dash of 18xx thrown in. Understanding the consequences of this 18xx inspired part of investing in shipping companies, dividend payments and share price development helps but it's not a game of manipulating the market. People looking out for this will be disappointed.
More relevant are the decisions - either negotiated or not - to cooperate in loading and moving ships to speed up deliveries. Eurogamers will want to avoid any explicit negotiations. Timing the bonus actions right can be decisive as well.
A few small-publisher edges irritate me, notably the too easily achievable ability to move action cubes from one section to the other without cost and the income gained from military ship movement. The ability to move the action cubes without cost almost completely eliminates any pressure in the action selection part. The investor cards are probably a bit too unbalanced (effects in one game were between 8 and 27 VP's for single cards with a winning score of 113 VP's).

Wizard Extreme: d10-7 (1 play)

The renaming to Wizard Extreme actually makes sense. More subtle than Wizard, eliminating the Wizard and the Jester reduces the luck factor. Less appealing for non-gamers though who will likely be underwhelmed and quickly return to Wizard in disappointment.

OK games
SOS Titanic: d10-6 (1 play)

SOS Titanic is to Patience what Augustus is to Bingo. While nominally it's cooperative play for 1-4 players, there's no single reason to play this with others. Just take more than one character. Fine for patient moments as a passtime. As usual for Patiences, the initial layout determines if there's any chance to win, decisions are mostly obvious.

Province: d10-6 (1 play)

There's more to this microgame than I initially thought. I was wary when I heard that it's a Kickstarter game. After the rules explanation this seemed to suffer from the usual lack of development of Kickstarters. But somehow Province with its three-space mini rondel worked and might even be the better Sail to India. Further plays would show if the randomly chosen five goals (out of eight) provide enough randomization given an otherwise unchanged setup and if there is an optimal path of development. What I've seen though is still too average and small in scope to seek out Province again.

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game: d10-6 (3 plays)

My plays of Wings of War were enjoyable, I rate it a '7'. Did my memory betray me and Wings of War isn't as fun as I remembered it? My three plays of Star Wars: X-Wing were ok but nothing to write home about. Only after reading this review I understood what happened.

The thing I enjoy in Wings of War most is the programmed movement part. I enjoy the tactical challenge of outmanoeuvering the other guy. X-Wing replaced the programming part with a single simultaneous selection of movement. Single movements will differ much more than in WoW raising the chaos/surprise factor noticeably.

The main improvement of X-Wing is the strategic customization of your fleet. Ships are very different, they can be customized with weapons, pilot skills can be improved etc. In WoW, the different planes are more a different flavour than a different meal, battles are smaller. To be honest, this customization is rather discouraging for me. I don't like to enter the game and already having lost because of a weak setup.

To be fair, I rate it a '6' as I like the basic principle.

Average games
Time 'n' Space: d10-5 (2 plays)

Time'n'Space is proof that I'm getting too old for real-time games. This is stress, not fun. Although in between it might even have phases of boredom when there's nothing to do than waiting for your sand timers to run out.
The trading element is not as interesting as I hoped for. The strategy is obvious: concentrate on two different trade goods and try to get these from all other players. Ignore the rest. The potential for deliberate 'mistakes' is annoying in a competitive game.
Average at best, my hopes for a better game were disappointed.

New expansions
BANG! High Noon: d10-5 (5 plays)

This is almost not worth mentioning separately. An event card expansion for Bang! that brings some variation to the base game but doesn't add complexity or depth. Our games all ended before the high noon card came into play. Same rating as the base game.
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5. Board Game: Expedition: Famous Explorers [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2951]
Jerry Wilkinson
United States
New Castle
Indiana
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I played 11 new to me games and 2 new to me expansions in August, and I didn't even make it to Gen Con!

So I can tell you that there is one advantage to being unemployed. You have time to get unplayed games played!

The 11 games were Expedition: Famous Explorers and Taj Mahal (I rate both a 9), Wildlife Safari, Dixit, Dixit: Journey, and Secrets of the Tombs (I rate 7 or 8), Martian Dice, Unspeakable Words (I rate both about a 6), Keltis (rate a 5), and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases (I rate a 4) and Heimlich & Co. (I am not rating yet as its lousy with 2P but I've been told that it needs people).

The 2 new to me expansions were Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 4 – Nederland (Rated 9, my favorite expansion map to date) and Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 (rated 6).
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6. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:66] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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Vacation month! Lots of plays, a couple of great new games, some average and one that didn't live up to what I was expecting of it.



Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases is, well, an unusual game.

First, the amount of rules: read the introduction of the case. Now, go wherever you want whenever you want (following the map by using the Directory, which contains the adresses of everyone of interest, and also the adress of several business locations) and talk (read) with the people there. Read the newspaper of the day, if pleases you. Also, you might want to talk with some fine folks that usually are aware of things (like Mycroft, journalists, go to the morgue or Scotland Yard, and such). Now, also whenever you want, you can return to present your fiddings regarding the case to Sherlock. The booklet will contain some questions, each will be worth an amount of points. Then, for every location you went above the number of those that Sherlock did, you will lose 5 points. Now, compare the amount you achieve with that of Holmes (he always gets 100 points). Then, you can feel good or bad, depending on how well you did. And that is it. Well, less than it, actually, since my last bit of feelings is more a thing I added. That is all the rules.

In every case you will have at your disposal: the booklet of the case (you can always consulte passages you read), the newspaper, the Directory (the adress of many things and persons in London) and the map of London, and this one, by the way, one of the players (we played in 4 people) thought it was utterly unnecessary, since how close one thing is to other, or the relation of one to another, wasn't playing any roll in the case. But then, in the end, the game hit us hard in the nutsack for not using it properly (you know, as a map). So great.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases is, probably, one of the most pure experiences of playing that one can have. There is no board (the map is not a board, you don't take action on it, you use it, as I pointed out, as a reference), no meeples, no pieces, no tokens, no money, no cards, no keeping rounds (though, you can see every new location as a new round), no gameplay time as we usually time it. What there are: reading and talking. After the reading of what happened in the case we started discussing: where to go? With whom to talk? What information we had? What means this or that? What about visiting the school for girls? And after we decided to go to a place, and the reading of what occurred there, we returned to the discussions. And now what? What we take it from this? Which lines/leads we now can follow? Usually quite a few, but it was worth our time to follow most of them? Which was more likely to actually advance our case? What was the place - or the person - with the best chances of providing clues? We compared notes, explored options, created scenarios - this because of this and this. Yes... but what about this? Well, this I can't explain properly right now. So, which place or person would shed light on this matter? I think this one. But wouldn't he just say what we already know? Then, we can take a chance here. Yes, it can work. And things went this way during the whole game. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases is a game of pure deduction, taking notes, clashing options.

A play of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases ends when the players want. You can visit 10 places, 50 or two. The decisions is yours, always. You know you are "running" against Holmes, but you did not know how many places/persons he went/talked to. I doubt that in any of the cases Sherlock needed to go to 50 places to solve the case, but the main question here is: which is worth more - beating Holmes or solving the case? For us it was solving the case, and only after we had a solid overall view of most of the things in the case, and a scenario that answered (for us) most of our own questions, that we went to see the end result. And this can't be taken lightly: once you read the solution of the case, you probably won't be able to ever playing it again since the challenge will be gone. There aren't any variations in the set up, nor event cards, nor different characters to take - the case will always be the same, the result will be the same, the clues will be in the same places.

So, yes, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases has a "due date" - after the 10 cases, it is over. Except by reasons of really weak memory, disease and amnesia, even many years after playing you won't be able to fully enter a play of one of the cases (since, you might start not remembering things, but then something clicks, you remember, and now you basically can't participate). However, this is all that much important? There are lots of games I bought and probably won't clock 10 plays of them. But, more relevant, a game that gives you 10 memorable experiences? I can't, as up to right now, say that it will actually be 10 memorable experiences, but the first case was, and I doubt that the others will fall short.

The amount of work of the authors in the cases is awe inspiring - the newspaper and so many places with informations (most not relevant, but there, anyway). The only thing I wished it was present in the game was an internal clock - but I know this would make the game way more linear, so I'm fine without it. However, for those that want to enjoy something in the likes of this, you can download some of the Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries (a game book series) here - or go after the actual books (but they somewhat old).

It was a night of talks, exploring in our minds. We visited places, talked to people - and even going to only 9 different places, still the play lasted for almost four hours! The play reminded me of when, in college, we discussed books in the class of literary analysis - many views trying to reach an overall acceptance of the intent of the whole thing.

Anyway, I'm totally excited to tackle the next mistery! Baker Street Irregulars to the work!

Rate: 8.5 / 10



Boy, did we liked Formula Motor Racing!

It is a racing game, but without a proper track: the cars are put in spots, going from 1st to 12th, and everytime a cars passes other, what changes is only the position of the cars in this twelve spots track - so they change places relative one to the other, but, say, the distance from the 5th place to the 1st is always the same (four spots). Therefore, no one can really stray from the others, nor be left way behind, which can appear to be a downer in a racing game, but it works great, because everyone is always alive in the, even if one of the cars goes from first to last (as once happened to me).

The gameplay is pretty straightfoward: every race uses 12 cars, and the every player uses the team of two cars of the same color, the cars that no one took, stay as "dummy/robots/small teams" cars - they can still score points, and even win the whole thing! In each turn, the player must use a card, applying its effects. Most of the cards are Overtake cards, which must be used in a car of the color of the card (this means that is very usual for someone move ahead a car of someone else's), but the card directly behind the one moving also moves ahead. The other cards can either allow the player to select a car or to roll the die and see which car will be affect by the card. Though there are some nasty effects, usually the card require a die roll, with a big chance of nothing happening, or the die roll will affect a random car - so there is a fine amount of "take that" in the game, but is far from bothersome, not only because the races are really fast (lasting around 20 minutes), but also because everyone has two cars, so even if one of yours goes out of the race (the worst thing that can happen), you are still in the contest. The cards have effects like: wrong line, pit stop, crash, spin out, charge, tailender turbo, and so on.

Formula Motor Racing can be played as a filler (only one race) or in a series of races (which I think is the best way), counting points for pilots and constructors/teams. We played this way and is was a blast. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the game, I had almost to beat people to take it out of the table. I guess it will be even better with 5 or 6 players, since everyone will have eyes on the prize. Formula Motor Racing is easy to teach and play, really fun, being, as a big surprise to me, probably the best racing game I played (but I have only played two that I can remember: Formula D, wich I never liked very much, and Horse Fever, which I enjoyed).

It is important to say that Formula Motor Racing isn't a simulation of a race, not even close: it doesn't have climate, safety car, different tires, fuel, gears; it doesn't, as I said, have a track (and, by extension, nothing like curves, late or early breaks, number of laps, and other things you have when you use an actual race track). It is a card game, in which the cards affect the cars in a line. Just this, nothing more. Also, Formula Motor Racing isn't an strategic game, even in the smallest bit: it is all tatics, luck to be in the right place when someone uses an Overtake in you car, with some major swings (one can easily go from 1st to one in the last places, in one round, without having no control on this, since you can't interrupt the plays of others - but you can talk them out of (or into) doing something). Even in Formula D, with its tons of dice rolling, you get more control (using breaks, gears, motor, and such).

What Formula Motor Racing indeed is: a fast, fun, easy to teach and to play game. Has loads of interaction and, by playing several races, things get even more fun, because every position matters, specially if you play with the constructors variant (and I don't see why anyone would want to not play with it).

Simply one of the most fun games I got to know so far this year.

Rate: 8 / 10



Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is a deck builder that brings some innovation to the genre, but not all that much. It owes many things to Ascension: Deckbuilding Game and, of course Dominion. It also has a lot of similarities to DC Comics Deck-Building Game, but the development of these occurred in parallel, so no foul play here.

Which are the good points?
- It is an easy game to learn and play (specially if you are used to any of the other games I mentioned earlier). In the first game we already used a random set up, and have no problem at all with this (well, expect a discussion to see if a color was really different from other);
- The symbols in the cards, though they are tiny, are, for me,easy to see and to use;
- The texts in the cards are clear and concise - in none of the cards was necessary to look into the manual to understand how they worked;
- The art. It is good and with enough variation.

Which are the neutral points?
- Theme. It makes more sense than the one in DC Comics Deck-Building Game, where the villains cards help your hero to attack other heroes, in order for you to win. In this game, the villains stay out of the deck (though it would be better if they didn't, in order to clog the deck, since, thematic, the villain would require constant attention to be held at bay). It is nice that the heroes can "help" each other in order to produce some combos;
- The row of cards. I'm definitely not a fan of the row of cards for purchase. That thing that you buy some OK card, even with a lot of recruiting value, just to see an awesome card (that you could even take yourself, if it was, you know, there before). However, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game saves itself a little for two things: 1) the heroes cards aren't worth victory points, which is different from what happens in DC Comics Deck-Building Game, where not only the great card do some great effect, it is also worth a higher amount of points; and, 2) the row for the villains doesn't get "updated" everytime a villain is defeated, so this lessens the overall impact of the row (and, if you happen to have a tremendous attack, and no major villain to beat in the row, you can, and should, beat the Mastermind). Also, the villains appeared to be well balanced in their values and effects;
- Cooperation. The heroes are, in thesis, all fighting the Mastermind, his scheme and his minions. So, there is cooperation? Well, there is, but a tinny little small bit. In the two plays I had, only a card from Emma Frost allowed the other players to draw new cards, if they had a X-Men card already in hand; and another card, that the player could choose another player to heal wounds; finally, in after defeating one of the "faces" of the Mastermind, it was possible to choose if the other players would draw one card or discard one card (it was choosen to discard). Of course, usually all the players will try to prevent the losing condition in the Scheme card to happen, and this we did. But there is nothing (except honor! And not being a jackass) to stop a player from giving up the fight, to make everyone losing a closer reality. It is basically as cooperative as Caylus, in which everyone work together to build the kings castle and citadel, and if someone uses a building of mine, I gain something - hey, cooperation!

Which are the bad points?
- The set up. It is sort of long. Not worst than the one in Dominion, but sure way higher than the one in DC Comics Deck-Building Game;
- The rich gets richer effect shake Seriously, what is the matter with these hero deck builders games with this point? The case here is less bad than the one I found in DC Comics Deck-Building Game, but still is here. The defeated villains are the cards that are worth victory points (and, also, bystanders rescued). But they don't enter into your deck. So, it requires no ponderation whatsoever as to when you should stop the bulk of recruiting (preparation phase, several movies have it) and start beating villains. Maybe I was spoiled by the fine ways of Dominion in this matter. In Dominion, with limited buys in your turn, and, mostly, because of the victory points cards serve as a break in every deck, you have always to consider timming in every play. For me, for as long as the deck builders work around getting victory point cards, the cards that give you this, should remain as a natural break in the deck acceleration. In Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, once you achieve a value to beat any villain in the row, you will do it, without a second thought. Got an even higher value? Sweet! Beat some more! So there is no worries about "Damn, if I buy another Estate, my deck will be a swamp", nor "Great, now I got 8 money. What now? Do I buy a Province? This soon? It will stay in my deck the whole game...". Anyway, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game deals with this better than his DC brother, if by nothing else, by nothing using the villains as great cards for any deck, and also by creating a sense of urgency that requires the heroes to start the punching soon.
But I still see this as a bad thing. If one player purchases one, two major great cards (whose others copies might never show up) it can get way ahead, with little chance for the other players to catch up. In Dominion the victory cards would, usually, make this strong cards don't appear as often, and, even when they do come up, they could end up in a victory cards clogged hand.
I know this decision makes Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game to be easier to be introduced to new and/or less experienced players, since the timming issue in Dominion is something more complicated to be had and explained (and, also, the timming will change accordingly along with the sets of cards and what the others are doing), but in the long term this decision will be, for me, a bad one.

Final thoughts:
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game is a good game, with clear and functional mechanics. It is somwhat easy to explain and even if player with some background in deck building games having a little advantage at first, even first timers will be able to make a nice heroic showing. The plays are usually quick, lasting around 40 to 50 minutes, and after them I stayed with a "want more" feel, not only because of the theme (which is dear to me), but also to see the interactions between other Masterminds, Schemes and Heroes.

The weak points in Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game are, in a lesser degree and amount, the same ones I notice in DC Comics Deck-Building Game: lack of thematic cohesion (for some reason I still keep wanting this in deack builders, but, so far, only Thunderstone pleased me in this matter); the row of cards for purchase and fight; and the damned rich gets richer. However, even these points weren't enough to prevent me from enjoying the game - I still have a nice time playing. So I'm ready to play some more!

Rate: 7 / 10



I did a review for Ovni that you can see here (in portuguese) or here (in english), and there you can get a way better view of how the game works (go check it out!). The overall picture is this:

Ovni is an interesting strategy game, for 3 or 4 players, with a great mechanic for acquiring cards, that plays around 60 minutes.

Basically the game works like this: each player is represented by an alien race attacking Earth. There are, inside each race, four divisions of specialities: the Pilots, the Abductors, the Constructors and the Military. The Pilots drive the spaceships between the world cities; the Abductors, well, abducts people; the Constructors build spaceships and launch them to Earth; and the Military attack the other races by killing members of them or by destroying ships.

In phase one of the round you bid for cards that will give you tokens to represent these specialties (you need more of them to activate them more times in phase two). The bidding is really clever: every card has four spaces - the first bid in a card is open, the second is hidden, the third is open and the fourth hidden. Every player has the same chips to bid (value 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 - the 6 value is one use only). Bids of the same value for a card nullify each other (so, with bids of: Red 4, Yellow 4, Blue 3 and Yellow 2, the Red and Yellow 4 would be out, so the Blue player would win the bid for the card with his 3 value chip).

In the second phase you active two of the specialties - the more tokens of a specialty you have, the more use you will make of it.

Many things are worth points in the game (people tokens, exploration markers, dominating cities, having majority of tokens of each specialty, and others), so there are many ways to approach the game.

My biggest problem with Ovni is that as the game goes by, there are less and less things to do. This is a bad design choice for my tastes - I like games that start restrained, but gets bigger and bigger, giving more options as the time passes.

In any case, Ovni is an efficient game, even if it doesn't fit perfectly with my tastes - it is still and interesting design, with a phase of bidding that I enjoyed thoroughly, and an activation phase that, at least in the first rounds, provides a fine amount of decisions for the players to make.

The components for the game are all of good quality - tokens, board and markers -, and the art of the game is well made and pleasing, even if it isn't at the top in the matter (like those in Village and Agricola for instance), but, specially here in Brazil, and considering the price tag for it, that overall quality is great. I can only imagine that Marcos Macri has someone of his family working in a printing and manufacturing company, for he to actually make some profit with his game - since Gran Circo that MS Jogos has a standard above the other companies printing games here in Brazil.

Ovni is a strategy game with some depth and complexity, nothing major, but it wouldn't be my first recommendation for newbies in the fine art of board gaming. Still, it is a game that was taught to me in 15 minutes and a whole play (with four players) took us around 60 minutes.

Rate: 6.5 / 10



Ascension: Deckbuilding Game is a deck builder, but not my favorite kind of deck builder.

In your turn, you will use runes (money) to buy new cards, and attack to defeat monsters and gain honor (victory points). Everyone starts with 8 Apprentice (1 rune) and 2 Militia (1 attack). There are two basic cards that are always up for purchase: Heavy Infantry (2 attack) and Mystic (2 runes). Also, there will be always a Cultist card (needs attack 2 to be defeated) - the player can always use attack to beat the Cultist, gaining 1 honor each time.

All the other cards will come from the main deck. The cards up for purchase or to be fought will be in a central row. When a card is purchase or beaten, a new one will take its place. As usual the cards will have many effects, and I guess that all of the monsters, when defeated, will provide some sort of one time effect to be used in the same turn the player defeated the monster - things like: draw cards, banish a card from the row, gain runes, and, of course, all of them will give honor.

The game will proceed until all the honor (25 per player) ends (but players will still gain honor, there are more tokens, basically the same thing that happens in Race for the Galaxy). Then it will be the final round (everyone will have the same number of turns). The player with the highest amount of honor (from tokens and also from the cards - most of the cards are also worth honor) will be the winner.

The row for the cards to come in once one is fought or bought can create that sort of situation that I don't like: you got 7 to buy, but only cards of 3 or 4 value are there. So you take one of these, than a card, that you really would want, shows up, costing 6. Well, now you are screwed - specially because this great card will probably be taken by someone else.

I don't mind all that much, but this is far from optimal. Yes, the set up is made shorter this way (just shuffle everything together and you are good to go), and also the breakdown (just separate the basic cards out the decks). But this also makes strategies harder to be effective. I once bought two good cards to use on Mechanas, but none other where there when my turn was up.

Nonetheless, Ascension: Deckbuilding Game is an easy game to get going, to teach and to play. For the art, I liked it quite a bit - it is thematic and sets a fine mood - I see some complains regarding it, but, for me, is really well done. I would be willing to play it when the opportunity comes, but I much rather play DC Comics Deck-Building Game or, even more, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.

Rate: 6 / 10



Neuroshima: Convoy is a game from Ignacy Trzewiczek, of Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island fame. Neuroshima: Convoy happens in the same universe as the one in Neuroshima Hex!. In it, there are two forces in battle: the human soldiers and the Moloch, which are sentient robots that, of course, want to get rid of the human race.

Both sides have unique decks (both with 35 cards), and with three types of cards in each: units, buildings and actions - for the humans; units, modules and actions - for the Molochs. The purpose of the player of the human soldiers is to make the Moloch player to spend all the cards in his deck, while also having no units assaulting NY. So, the goal of the Moloch player is to reach NY and put units there, before the deck runs out.

The fight occurs in five differente places: Ziggy One, Iron Gate, Cleveland Harbour, Jersey Crust and New York. In each of them there are from 2 to 4 battles, and in each there are more informations:
- the limit of units that each side can put in the battles there (usually the human soldiers can put 1 more unit than the Molochs);
- the special action that the player of the humans can make by discarding cards from his hand (normally to make the Moloch player discard cards from his deck);
- the effect that each side can make when a battle is won (for the Moloch is usually to destroy a place where another battle would occur, thus making the arrival in NY faster);
- the effect of the battle, which can be one of 4 different effects: destroy a unit in the opposite side, both sides lose one unit, the winning side advances one unit to the next battles site, or the winning side takes a card from his deck.

The game order is as follows:
- the Molchs begin by chosing a battle and adding as many units as the player wants in one or more of the 5 places of battles (but only the active location will have its battle resolved);
- then the human soldiers add units and/or buildings (they can also put as many units the the player wants and in any of the five places);
- actions cards must be played in the same turn as the player is adding his units;
- after the humans are done adding units, the Moloch player can add modules to his units;
- at last, both sides compare the strenght of his units and the winning side applies the effects of winning.

Then, the Molch player chooses a new battle to happen (in the same location, but, if there aren't any more battles to happen in the active location, this one is flipped, the Moloch moves one unit from this location to the next, and then the Moloch player chooses a battle in the new active location), following the same steps of adding units, modules and comparing strenght.

Neuroshima: Convoy comes with a multitude of different units - when you see "only" 35 cards for each side you could think this wouldn't be the case, be very few units repeat themselves in the deck, so there are several unique units - and, with this, many unique effects (since most units have an ability). Therefore, a player aid is truly a necessity in this game - at all times we were playing and consulting the manual to understand the icons and the effect of the abilities - and this went all the way until the game end, since every round the players take two cards from their decks, and basically everytime came a unit/building/action/module that need some clarification. This made the game last way more than the prediction of 30 to 40 minutes that comes in the box.

Due to the many effects and symbols, the game, at first, seemed more complicated than it really is. And after some battles, the dynamics of the gameplay was fine settled, and we only struggled with the execution of some units abilities and card actions - something that, I think, will be lessened to almost nothing with more plays (but, considering how hard is to put the same game in our tables with any constancy, who knows when I will play this again?).

The downtime isn't as little as I expect for two players game, since the phase of adding units doesn't happen in the "I put one, you put one", no, it is more like: "I add four units... one here, another there and two over there, then I use this action card, move this unit, that activate it, and then it activates another, so I discard... hum... this card, to do this. And... yes, now it is you". So, some turns, can last several thinking minutes, but most won't take this long: more than once I (with the Molochs) just passed my adding units phase, and, this happened with the other side also, since you only by two cards every round, and even with some effects that allows the taking of more cards, it won't be usual to use three, fours cards every round.

Overall, Neuroshima: Convoy seemed to me as a neatly tied game, with some beautiful and thematic art. It is also portable (there are, in the game, 70 cards, the 5 city boards (made in slim cardboard) and some tokens, so the box is in basically the same size as the in Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game). And there is no doubt that a game can last the predicted time of 30 to 40 minutes.

So, for those that like games filled with cards with different effects, unique units and abilities, a high level of confrontation between two players, Neuroshima: Convoy can be a great match.

Rate: 6 / 10



Not an enjoyable first play - I had high hopes for Coup, but the player elimination took out (at least for this play) the bluff, since no one really wanted to be out, so they (and I) used the character we had. So, when a challenge came, it was dead in the water, since the person always had what they said they had.

I thought Coup could be a more focused option of game than Mascarade, a game I liked, but when I played with more players and not really gamers, the game went nowhere, since very few were paying attention to what was going on. But no - all Coup came to be was a way less fun Mascarade, and with player elimination, which though it wasn't really a big issue (as the game is fast), it was the reason why everyone was mostly playing safe. The end game was bad: two players were face to ace, one had an Assassin and the other the Contessa, none would let go of them, and the game turned into a simple and deterministic grab-money-to-kill, sine both knew the other do not had the Embassador to stop them from taking 2 money, and the player with the Contessa could do nothing to slow the pace of the other in taking money. So he was killed and it was over. The game at the start and by the middle, was OK, but the end was and anti-climactic. shake A bad experience.

The luck for Coup is that my group has many copies of it (we bought together 6 copies) and, since it is easy to teach and to play, and a game is fast (around 20 minutes), it will surely have more opportunities to make a good impression - so far, it didn't.

Lastly, it needs to be said that the production value of the brazilian edition of the game is superb: the box is sturdy, the cards are of a good stock, the colors are crisp. Really top notch.

***

After 4 more plays, three with 4 players, and 1 with 5 players, the ending in all of them were still pretty deterministic and without any shred of fun. From the start up until the last rounds - good fun, but the end is killing the game for everyone in my group.

Rate: 5 / 10


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7. Board Game: Rococo [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:197]
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Rococo

(Image credit: Punkin312 (again!))


Rococo is a very enjoyable 3-5 player medium-weight euro with elements of deck building, area majority scoring, and resource management. The theme, which is handsomely realized in the very functional and attractive component design, is preparing clothing for aristocrats at a royal ball during the baroque period. Competitive haberdashery!

Everyone starts with the same deck of five basic cards. On a turn, you choose three from your draw deck. These can be used by players to perform actions. The cards come in three ranks (apprentice, journeyman, master) and may also have a special ability that can be paired with the main action taken. Some actions can only be performed by cards of a high enough rank, so you'll need to manage your hand a bit to be sure you have the right level of cards when you need them.

One of the actions that masters can perform is to buy a new card from a pool (which refreshes every turn). The new card is immediately placed in your hand and is added to the available actions you can perform that turn.

What else can you do?

(1) Acquire resources (cloth of different colors, thread, lace) which is needed to build the garments that are on offer.

(2) Build a garment. Once built, a garment can be sold for cash or gifted to a noble to wear at the ball (which will score you end-game VP based on area majorities within the various halls).

(3) Pay for a decoration for the ball (musician, fountain, statute, fireworks). This will score VP and give you various bumps (area tie breaking, end of turn income, set collection VP at game end, end of game firework VP for your sponsored nobles who have access to the rooftop).

(4) Thin your deck. You can "depute" one of your cards, purging it from your deck and getting a cash payout based on the card's rank.

(5) Acquire the queen's favor (money and start player).

(6) And, as mentioned, buy a new employee card.

The resource and employee card pools both have very clever price reduction mechanisms, where later purchases cost less than earlier ones. Some board placement spaces have little bonuses or constraints that present interesting choices. Everything is tied together in a tight and intricate (almost baroque) way.

At least with two, the game is thinkey, but not brain-burning. The only interaction comes from the fight over majorities and the timing of purchases.

My wife and I really enjoyed the game. It's a new combination of familiar elements, but the theme really shines through. Everything you're doing makes sense in the context of the theme (which is also very nicely reinforced by the art design). And the integration of the deck building mechanism is quite well done.

An all around excellent game (if not terribly novel).

Citrus

(Image credit: henk.rolleman)


I really enjoyed my first few two-player outings of this, with my wife. It's a nice, tight, tile placement game where you build "orchards" surrounding farmhouses. When a farmhouse is completely surrounded, the player with the largest total orchards touching the farmhouse scores VP (with a smaller reward to the player with the second largest).

On your turn, you must do one of two things:

(1) Buy orchard tiles from the market and place them on the board (placing one of your workers on the orchard to show your ownership). There are some simple rules restricting placement that can really kink things up in interesting ways.

(2) "Harvest" one of your existing orchards for money and VP (removing your worker, to show that you no longer own that orchard). Harvested orchards become neutral and do not count in calculating most influence surrounding a farmhouse. They can also be absorbed into a player orchard through tile placement (if the player's orchard is large enough).

If you run out of money, you must harvest. And you will eventually run out of money. Frequently. This creates constant and enjoyable tension. You really want to keep your ownership of orchards, because you need ownership in order to win the influence fights around the farmhouses (the largest source of VP in the game), but eventually you must let an orchard go neutral, in order to get the money necessary to buy new tiles. Can you string your supply of money out long enough to score a farmhouse, at which time you can dump the orchards surrounding it? Or will you be forced to liquidate early, bowing out of an influence fight? If so, where will you fold and where will you keep fighting? This is the best part of the game, in my opinion.

There's also a very clever market/purchase system that causes prices and available tiles to change in interesting ways based on what others bought before you, and some fun special power tiles that are seeded on the board at the outset and can be claimed by building over them.

The game felt a little old-school, reminding me of Knizia's Samurai with some tight money management angst grafted onto it. But it was a really good example of the genre. A really fun (and relatively quick) game for two.

Be warned though, do not play this game with a brute force calculator. There's a very large and calculable decision space, making it possible for the AP-prone to grind things to an excruciating crawl. My one four-player session was ruined in this way.

Archipelago

(Image credit: llpixiell)


Archipelago is a lavishly produced New World exploration and development game. The main mechanisms of the game are very well designed and fun to play (explore, recruit workers, build buildings, trade, deal with crises, recruit powerful characters, etc). Everything is thematic and well integrated.

Unfortunately, I had a big problem with the end-game scoring. At the beginning, every player is dealt an end-game card, which includes both a condition that triggers the game end and a criterion for allocation of end-game VP. All of the cards apply to all of the players, but only one player will know the VP rule on any given card. (In a 2-player game, each player is dealt two end game cards.)

Here was the problem:

The end-game VP conditions are the familiar most/second most type condition. E.g., most gold at the end of the game, 3 pts; second most, 2pts; third most, 1 pt.

That's fine so far, but there's a serious glitch. Some of the VP conditions apply to things that everyone will have (e.g., workers) while others apply to things that most players will not have (e.g., most towns in a hex that contains forests).

In the first case, the VP condition will produce a low margin spread of 3/2/1 VP, because everybody meets the condition. In the second case, it's very likely that the condition will be met solely by the player who was lucky enough to be dealt the card, leading to a high margin of 3/0 VP. This means that in a two-player game, a "common" condition will net you one point, and an uncommon condition will net you three points.

That's a big swing in this game, which is very low scoring. I lost my first (and only) game of this because my wife had two uncommon condition cards dealt to her. She scored both, giving her 6VP to my 0. I was dealt two common condition cards, which we both scored, giving me 6VP to her 4. Aside from the hidden condition cards, I scored 5 to her 2. Imagine my surprise when we flipped the hidden cards and she won 12-11. If her cards had been common conditions, I'd have won 15-12.

We were both shocked by that result. We talked about trying to house-rule our way around the unequal marginal value of the hidden cards, but I was too irritated to bother. A game this involved shouldn't be decided by luck of the draw. Sold it.
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8. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:198]
James Moline
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Bruges - I have had Bruges sitting on my shelf for way too long. We finally got it to the table this month and enjoyed it enough to play it twice in the first day, and again the next day. It's a fairly light card game with quite a bit of luck. The multipurpose card mechanism is one we both enjoy quite a bit, though, and this game has that in spades. We're still exploring the game; I don't think we've even seen every card yet, but it is a lot of fun, and it plays pretty quickly. Another Feld hit, who woulda thought.
Rating: 7.5/10

Eminent Domain - Eminent Domain is a unique deck building/role selection hybrid. I've only played it one time so far, but I really enjoyed it and look forward to more plays. The gameplay is a little static out of the box. Unlike other deck builders, there's almost no variety. You'll always have the same 5 cards available to purchase, and the same stacks of technologies and planets to research and survey. There's still some decent replayability, though, because there are a few different strategies to pursue. The choices you make between warfare, colonize, and research alone will give different plays a pretty different feel. I really enjoyed this, and I expect that my rating will only increase with future plays.
Rating: 7/10

Core Worlds - For some reason, Eminent Domain and Core Worlds are linked in my mind, probably just because they are both space themed deck builders with unique styles. Core Worlds is definitely the heavier of the 2 games, I don't know if that makes it the better of the two, though. I've also only played Core Worlds one time, and I really had a good time with it. It's a much longer game (it took 4 of us 2.5-3 hours), but I think it will definitely get shorter with more familiarity. I really like the planning element of each round. It is a shame, though, that you go through your deck slowly enough that some of the cards you buy late, you may never see. I guess that's no different than other deck builders, but it feels different because you can see the end of the game coming from very far away. Definitely want to play this more, and I do think my rating will only go up.
Rating: 7/10

Unnamed Object - I really like push-your-luck games. They generally suffer from the problem that they are more fun with more people, but they drag on with too much downtime at higher player counts. Can't Stop is a great game that suffers from this. Excape is an even better game that is really bad about this. The list goes on. Incan Gold is, I think, the best push-your-luck game I've played. It solves the downtime issue by using simultaneous action selection (stay or flee). It plays really quickly, and has all the tension (and laughter) that any other push your luck game brings to the table. We will definitely be picking it up.
Rating: 7.5/10

Claustrophobia - Claustrophobia is a really interesting dungeon crawl. I do agree with Tom Vasel to an extent that I wish the game had a little more flavor. Not so much on the demon side of things, but they went to all the trouble of having distinct, painted miniatures for the good guys, I think they should have given them a little more character in their backstories (and you know, maybe named them). Despite that one complain, though, I really did enjoy the game. It is a very clever design, and the dice placement portion is pretty interesting on both sides of the board. Sadly, this is one my wife is not likely to ever play, so I won't be buying it and my opportunities to explore it will be few and far between.
Rating: 7/10

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - My wife and I tried the LCG thing with Android Netrunner and slowly came to the realization that it probably just wouldn't work for us. Netrunner itself had some issues for us, but more importantly, we just don't have a lot of interest in building decks. Some friends of ours have been raving about the Lord of the Rings gameplay, though, so my interest was piqued in spite of myself. I finally got to play the opening scenario and I really did like this. I liked it a lot better than Netrunner. The gameplay is both thematic and puzzley, which we usually love. It doesn't seem likely that you can get very far in it without deck building, though, so I probably still won't pick it up. There is hope, though. Someone suggested that, rather than building our own decks, we could just go to one of many Lord of the Rings sites and download deck lists. I'm still going to wait until my wife gets a chance to try it for herself, but if she enjoys it, that might be a solution.
Rating: 7/10

Agents of SMERSH - Agents of SMERSH strikes me as being a little like a cross between Pandemic and Tales of the Arabian Nights, or for a new hotness example, it is pretty similar to Eldritch Horror, mechanically. It's a fun game, and there's more game to it than with Tales of the Arabian Nights. You aren't in complete control or anything, but your decisions matter. I still like Tales of the Arabian Nights, but I might like this one a little better for those reasons.
Rating: 7/10

DC Comics Deck-Building Game - DC Deck Builder is a game that is better than a lot of people give it credit for being. Yes, there are some thematic issues, but the mechanisms are interesting enough and the art is beautiful enough that I didn't mind at all. This doesn't unseat Dominion as our favorite or anything. We probably won't even be buying it, because it's unlikely to compete for the convenience of Ascension on the iPad. We'll definitely play it when it hits the table, though, as we really enjoyed it.
Rating: 7/10

Lords of Vegas - Lords of Vegas disappointed me a little bit. I didn't expect it to be the best game I ever played or anything, but it looked like a great, family weight game with a lot of interesting decisions. It's not a bad game by any means, and I really need to play it more before I make up my mind for sure, but right now it seems like a game where the early and late rounds are scripted (and too long), and the middle of the game where the realy decisions are might actually be too short. During the early rounds, you're going to be buying. This is fine, and the turns are fairly quick, so I don't have much of a problem with it. The late rounds are spent re-organizing any casino you don't have the high die in and can afford the cost of. On top of that, as a family weight game, it's actually possible to get completely screwed by the draw. Hopefully, that's a rare thing, but we had it happen in our first play and that player didn't have very much fun at all. Like I said, I need to play it a few more times. I think I will like it much more if we can get the play time down.
Rating: 6.5/10

Legendary: Villains – A Marvel Deck Building Game - I've played Marvel Legendary a few times and enjoyed it quite a bit. The theme of the Villains version sounded really cool, so I was excited to try it. It plays very similarly to the original, with a few additional mechanisms thrown in. Like the first one, it suffers from a kind of long setup time. I made the mistake of playing a 5 player game of it, and the downtime and gameplay length at that player count is really bad (it took just as long as Core Worlds, which is bad enough for a lightish game, but it felt a lot longer because of the downtime). It turns out that the Marvel Villains aren't actually that compelling to play as either. The art is great, and the game is still fun, though. I'll play it again if it hits the table, but I won't seek it out, I don't think.
Rating: 6.5/10

Hey, That's My Fish! - This is an abstract game that mostly gets points for being cute, being mean, and being fast. The gameplay is simple, but not the most interesting, until you realize that you can cut your opponents off to drift on their own little detached ice flow. My friend has the Mayfair Deluxe edition with the great plastic penguins, and it really looks gorgeous. I think we'll end up picking the Fantasy Flight version of this up at some point. The plastic minis look like they are still cute, and it will travel well.
Rating: 7/10

Dragon Slayer - Dragon Slayer is a pretty straightforward push-your-luck game. It has gorgeous components and simple rules. I really like the escalation of dragon toughness as simulated by the different sets of dice. I also really like the "dare you" token that each play can use to force the other players to continue or take fewer points. The push-your-luck element could be stronger, though. We may have played it wrong, but we were taught that once you've beaten a dragon, you don't lose those points even if you go hunting for the next dragon and fail. I think the game played faster because of that (which is good), but it made the decision to push your luck a lot easier and less tense (which is bad).
Rating: 6.5/10

Coin Age - What to write about Coin Age? I guess the novelty of the credit card sized board and that you can play with pocket change is interesting. The game play is very simple, and didn't hold a lot of tension for me. It seems to be a fundamentally sound game, with some interesting choices at times. I would play it again, but I don't regret not backing it.
Rating: 6/10
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9. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:52]
Jim Jamieson
United States
Purcellville
Virginia
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6 new games to me this month, which is a huge amount for me and after not having any last month it was very nice to get a chance to play so many new games.

d10-9 Five Tribes is my game of the month. I was fortunate to have a friend go to GenCon and get a copy. We played it with three players and all enjoyed it immensely. Our first game was probably about 90 minutes, and there seems to be a lot of replayability in this given the djinn cards as only about 6 of them came out during our game. The game looks very AP-prone as there are two times to think each round. Once during the auction phase and once during your turn if your initial move is lost, but the game is very much tactical, and it is not difficult to identify some of the better moves even early on so turns still move quickly even with all of the possibilities presented to you. I am very happy to have a copy of this on preorder and hopefully will get a chance to play it again very soon.

d10-8 The Palaces of Carrara was a surprise hit for me and I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I did. We only played with the basic rules, but for me it has the right amought of weight and super quick decisions every turn as you can only do 1 of 3 things. The game is just so smooth playing and fast that it's going to stay in my collection. It's a shame this game really never made it out in the US as it is a fantastic game and I'm sure it would be ranked even higher.

d10-7 Orchard was a gift for my daughter for her 3rd birthday. She asks to play it most nights after I get home from work so the rating is probably a reflection of that even though it is simply a roll the dice and pick a piece kind of game so there is almost no thought into it. Our first initial plays we won easily so I was worried it was almost too easy, but it must have just been beginner's luck as now we don't seem to be winning as much. Although for her she just cares to collect the awesome looking fruit pieces and is happy to declare a victory once we have collected all of them.

d10-7 I lucked out and got a copy of Istanbul in a recent math trade. It played well with two which was a bit of a surprise to me as it is pretty much a race to get gems. Once you find an optimal path I think you have a distinct advantage over the other player as you can focus on certain moves especially if you can get some mosque tiles early. I want to keep it and try it again with a random setup to see if it is better, but I'm just not itching to play it again right now.

d10-6 Rialto was another good Feld game, but I think as a card-based Feld game having played Bruges first spoiled me and I'd rather play that. I enjoyed how quickly it played and the mechanics are neat between selecting cards for the auction, the auction mechanic, and the area control on the board. I'd be happy to play it again, but not one I need to own. Yes I will agree with everyone else the score track is annoying and also add that I hate the small cards. I don't mind small cards when you don't have to hold them all of the time, but in Rialto you have to. If I'm going to be holding cards I would greatly prefer standard size cards.

d10-4 Russian Railroads was my least favorite game this month and that is primarily because it felt dry as anything and I couldn't get into the theme. The scores definitely do escalate in dramatic fashion as I took an industry strategy and had only a few points at the end of the first round but got 80 points in the last round. Interestingly enough I was behind the whole game, and knew I wouldn't win but only lost by about 20 points even though I thought for sure it would be more. It's not one for me to keep as I'd much rather play something else, but I can see why some people love it as the engine building is crazy.
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10. Board Game: Principato [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:2896]
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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I've played this a couple of times, with two players each time and it is well worth a go. The first play felt very experimental because although the rules are clear enough, working out what will work well is by no means straightforward. It's a clever game, with some neat mechanisms, not least the gradually (or not so gradually when it's a card you want) disappearing action cards. With a hand of only two cards, managing your actions is not easy, but is good fun.

I'd very much like to play this with more players as I suspect it would feel quite different, though possibly more frustrating.
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11. Board Game: Ground Floor [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:998]
Bruno Valerio
Portugal
Aveiro
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I have it for almost a year now but for whatever reason only now i got to play it.

It's definitely a keeper, very solid game both mechanically and thematically.



Hope to get a couple of plays within the next weeks! laugh
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12. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:305]
meepleonboard
United Kingdom
Somerset/London
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Friday was the clear winner this month with 9 plays and 1 victory. Fun little solo deckbuilder with a decent sense of humour in the cards ("Islands for Dummies", anybody?) and a wonderful mechanic whose subtleties only gradually become apparent. As I have drifted away from LOTR: The Card Game because of the deck-building and layer upon layer of exception text (even though it is the better game) this has come into its own. Whether it will live enough to last over 50+ games remains to be seen, but it has had a good start, even if I clearly have some way to go to get on top of the strategic considerations.

There were two other new games. Surprisingly, they both fell short...


I was hoping that this would be a hit, but could not shake the conviction that, for face to face games, Jaipur does it better. It felt quite loose in the decisions it allowed, and the end game comes suddenly and unexpectedly - my SO hadn't even realised she'd won our second game. So, goodbye to this, which has already gone to a good home.


Such high expectations, such gorgeous components, such amazing ratings and comments! Sadly, this fell completely flat in our first (and only) game. I guess I'll need to remind myself that my other half enjoys games like Revolver when it comes to being nasty to each other, and finally put the nail in the confrontational and/or miniatures coffin that has taken this away.

Happy gaming!
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13. Board Game: Magic Hill [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:6194]
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Since I don’t go to gaming clubs now that my second daughter was born in July, it’s already a wonder that I have played anything new at all – well, not games from the hotness list for sure.

Magic Hill 1x

Well. This is a family game. I can understand the relatively low rating it has, probably from a gamer perspective even I wouldn’t give it more than 6, but it’s the kind of family game that is good fun for kids and while it isn’t one you would play with gamers if kids weren’t involved, it can be fun with the right approach (some other games like this in this aspect: Labyrinth, Tibet, Drachenland). This is an early Ravensburger game from this year’s Kennerspiel winner Rüdiger Dorn, and while it has a considerable luck factor and memory element, it also has some nice mechanism ideas like jumping levels through stepping on others’ heads or a card-driven movement I haven’t seen in any game before. You have 5 pawns numbered 1 to 5 and cards in hand numbered 1 to 5. You use one card to identify which pawn you want to move and other card(s) to define the number of steps the pawn makes. Pretty clever, actually. And the game is good, lighthearted fun with family. thumbsup

Zenix 2x
A very simple little abstract that is so easy that it can be played as a PnP game (see files section), also it’s probably broken or solved, but to me, the winning path ísn’t clear yet and would not be clear for the next dozens of play either. It’s still nothing special, but it really looks good and is an okay 10-minute diversion. 6


Expansions:
Las Vegas Boulevard 1x
I have played only a few modules of the expansion but I liked what I saw. Also I liked to see some ideas of the Original Las Vegas prototype rules pop up (like set collection or the „Take back” action card, a variant ont he „place anywhere” action card and the tie breaker for the slot machine). For anyone who likes Las Vegas this expansion is recommended, even though it has some production issues (overpriced game in an oversized box that even replaces the Slot machine „7th casino” with a cheap card instead of a real cardboard one). thumbsup

Escape: The Curse of the Temple – The Pit and Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Fountain 2x
Now that the promotional Escape expansions are once again available from the BGG Store I ordered these two. These are promotional items which means they don’t change the game much, but they add some fun variety. Both has strong curse cards (including a curse that takes the negative effect immediately and can’t even be avoided by rolling special combinations) and two interesting chambers. The fountain may come handy if you lose a die during game, while the pit is something risky: you may lock two gems there but a player needs to roll 5 black masks for it. I like both – the chambers come helpful while the curses can make it harder to win. thumbsup
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14. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:317]
Luke Morris
England
Faversham
Kent
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A trip to the Cast Are Dice convention this month meant that I got to try out numerous new games there.

My favourite was Tales of the Arabian Nights. We played it twice and it was just a load of fun to be carried around in the story.

Other games from TCAD that I would happily play again are:
Chinatown
Eight Minute Empire
Power Grid: The First Sparks
Dungeon Fighters
For Sale

Games that I wouldn't be too bothered if I didn't play them again:
Frankenstein's Bodies
Hanabi
Wasabi (although it's a beautiful package)



I also got to play some new games at home, friends and on Yucata this month!
The best was definitely Freedom: The Underground Railroad which I've played solo a couple of times and love it. Also

Cube Quest - fun
Relic Runners - decent enough
Killer Bunnies - no thanks
Ace of Spies - s'ok


Also City Blocks and Six on Yucata. City Blocks is simple enough. I quite like Six though - looks like you'd need to play people of your own level though or get utterly stomped.


All in all, a busy month.
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15. Board Game: Black Fleet [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:641]
Wes Baker
United States
Fredericksburg
Virginia
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Black Fleet, 1 play
8/10

This game could have easily been a Days of Wonder game. The rules are simple, the game play is smooth, the artwork is beautiful, and the pieces are great.

The basic premise is you have a merchant ship and a pirate ship and you need to earn money more quickly than anyone else so you can buy the upgrades and eventually buy the "Endgame" card to finish the game. Your merchants are playing a pick-up-and-deliver game, while your pirates are trying to take down everyone else's merchant. If your merchant ship gets to a port that accepts the goods they have, they sell them at that port's rate (between 2 and 3 gold per good) and pick up a new batch of goods. The pirate, on the other hand, attacks the merchant ships and earns two gold and one good which they can then bury. Meanwhile, there are neutral navy ships dawdling about trying to take down the pirates. If your pirate ship is destroyed the destroying player gets two gold.

On your turn you have a few decisions, but it begins with picking a card (out of two) that determines how far you can move one of the two navy ships, and how far you can move your merchant and pirate ship. Also, you may earn additional bonus cards or have to discard a bonus card depending on the amount of movement. After that you can add as many bonus cards as you want and then go to town.

This game fits in very well with how Gen Con generally went this year: highly polished, easy-to-play games that are just a lot of fun.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf, 2 plays
8/10

It's been a little while since I've played The Resistance, probably because I've played it quite a bit and burned out a tiny bit on it. However, I love social deduction games and want to try all of them out, hence my purchase of this game.

I really liked how quickly the game played out and the fact that there's a timer to make sure things are kept tense and fast. I like that the timer app also does the narration because sometimes it's tough to narrate and play the game at the same time. I enjoyed how the roles switched around almost randomly due to roles like the Troublemaker and the Drunk, it keeps things interesting and makes it hard to determine who's doing what.

If there's anything that I don't like it's that you can easily overplay this game to the point where you're burned out on it and more variety would always be better. I see this sticking around for a while and coming to most game nights as a closer.

Sheriff of Nottingham, 1 play
8/10

I take most reviews with a grain of salt, and as such I take most reviewers with a grain of salt as well, but when it comes to his favorite game, Tom Vasel and I see eye-to-eye. So when he says he's launching a line of games that he considers essential, he has my attention. I saw this come up for pre-order and Gen Con pickup and I handed over my money fast.

After playing it once now, I can see why Tom wanted this in his Dice Tower Essentials. It's a quick game, easy to teach, and leads to some interesting decisions and fun bluffing. I really do like how you can play honest and win, but if there's enough contraband trading going on, you might have issues which creates just enough pressure.

I'm not sure there are many downsides to the game other than you should understand that it's mostly about bluffing, so if that's not your thing, you probably won't have a good time. Also, be sure that you're paying attention to the sets and are trying to achieve king or queen because diversification won't win you the game, it'll only let you bluff a bit better.

Abyss, 1 play
8/10

This rating is after one demo play of the game at Gen Con, so it may change after a full play, however I enjoyed the gameplay and the decisions offered. Abyss is not an incredibly complicated game: you have three choices on your turn: start an offering (auction is the wrong term here), take all of the cards of one color, or buy a sea lord. The offering and cards both result in taking small cards (what I believe are allies). Those small cards let you buy sea lords later, which earn you points and abilities. However, don't get too cozy with those abilities because they can be taken away by red (military) sea lords or once you reach three sea lords with keys they're benefits are covered up.

However, that's it. There aren't too many more decisions to be made, and I think that's the beauty of it. You can teach this one to family and friends and they should be able to grok it while enjoying the absolutely beautiful art.

Ca$h 'n Guns (second edition), 3 plays
7/10

Having played Ca$h 'n Guns only once before and with three players, I'm so happy that they changed the minimum number of players to 4 (from 3)—with 3 players the game is no fun. However, with 4 it really opens itself up and more players is better (I've played with 6 and 7).

I like how the game simulates the end of a heist between loosely affiliated criminals with very little scruples and how a well placed bluff or two can push someone out of the round and dodging bullets is more of an accomplishment than earning money.

This game does a good job of filling the same spot that The Resistance sits in, but does it in a non-team environment.

Roll for the Galaxy, 1 play
7/10

If you like Race for the Galaxy, but think it's a bit too predictable with your hand of (random) cards, then you should try out Roll for the Galaxy. The hidden information in this game are the dice (instead of the cards) and those dice depict the available options you have when deciding what action to do: explore, develop, settle, produce, or ship. Happily, consume/trade is now just ship and you can either trade goods for money or earn points and it happens after produce. I like how the tiles (cards?) that you're developing and settling are gained in the explore phase and that you're placing dice on those cards over the course of multiple turns (or in one if you can manage it).

This game is on my Want to Buy list and I'll probably add it to my Christmas wishlist this year.

The Witcher Adventure Game, 1 play
6/10

I was really interested in this game going to Gen Con. I was hoping it would be available for purchase, but it was only there for demoing. I managed to snag a seat at 10am on the second day (having learned to hurry up on the first day) and played as Triss Merigold, the mage. We only played up to one quest, but the game felt longer than it should and the decisions were not terribly interesting: should I go here or there and where do I need to get for my quest? I'm both a little bummed that I didn't like it (I would have loved a nice adventure game in a fully fleshed out world), but also happy since there are so many other games I'm interested in buying and owning.

I'd play this game again, but I don't think I'll be purchasing unless I see fantastic reviews after it's released.

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, 1 play
4/10

Let me get this out of the way: I'm not looking for another card game with monthly packs—between Netrunner and Lord of the Rings, I already tithe enough to Fantasy Flight. Another admission: my only play is with incorrect rules and I'm pretty sure it earned me a rather rough loss. However, I'm still interested in trying the game again at some point and I want to see if I like it any better, but I doubt I'll be going any further than trying out my friend's base set.
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16. Board Game: Stak Bots [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:6824] [Average Rating:6.38 Unranked]
Scribes
England
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Bought & Played
Stak Bots (White) (14 Plays) Fun little filler with a number of rule variants, including solo play. Enjoyed it so much I bought the Yellow expansion.

Friday (10 Plays) Another enjoyable game, but a bad first run thru the deck can be hard to recover from.

Space Hulk: Death Angel (2 Plays) Both were Solo play with Purple, Blue, Grey which is supposed to one of the easier team-trio to win with; the locations & events I drew no so much. I go into this game expecting to lose as my dice are fickle.

Played At Club - 1 play each.
Ascending Empires Disk flicking 4X game. Was explained as dexterity genre which I normally avoid, but I would play again at least once.

Priests of Ra Set-collecting/Auction game, another rarely played genre so I had no strategy.

Cliff-hanger Ultra quick filler. In a league of fillers I would play, this would be mid-table.
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17. Board Game: Lost Legacy: The Starship [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1286] [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked]
Netherlands
Enschede
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Lost Legacy: The Starship was a lot of fun once we started to get how all the cards worked together. Love Letter but with something extra/different. Nice game, would really like to play some more.

Another nice new game - Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper. I got the feeling we're missing something maybe, as we never even got to the end of the draw pile and emptying it twice is an end condition. Still fun game, also needs some more plays.

We also tried Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game – Foul Play for the first time. I liked the stadiums and the two new races we tried (rats and nurgle). The expansion adds some nice new things.

And lastly we played the third legend of Legends of Andor with the Legends of Andor: New Heroes - we lost, but the new heroes are fun to play, and really different from the 'old' ones.




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18. Board Game: 1879 [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:7891]
Dave Peters
United States
Belmont
California
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Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
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I was fortunate enough this month to play five new games: which, in this case, means the Winsome Essen Set, plus a couple fillers. As usual, I'll list them in decreasing order of current enthusiasm.


1879 -- (1 play) _8_
(images by phunlvr & Sergo)

Winsome doesn't do 18xx, I thought. No matter. (This one is cool - even though it irrationally bothers me to have the 1830 tiles even momentarily dissociated from the rest of the game.) I like the map; the relative simplicity of no privates; the rather limited tile pool and the precedence questions I can see faintly, but don't have the understanding to answer coherently.

I suspect I need to be a better 18xx player to truly see all of what's going on; but I'd also be very happy to get it into play often enough to begin to understand it.


Irish Gauge -- (1 play) _7.3_
(both images by phunlvr)

I found this intriguing. I didn't play well - and I rather expect none of my opponents would claim they'd done particularly well, either. It seems there's a fair bit to learn (particularly in reading how this set of opponents responds to the possibilities of collusion and synergy.) It wouldn't surprise me if my rating went up after a few more plays - so I'll hope I can get them.


Rail USA -- (1 play) _7.3_
(both images by phunlvr)

This one is considerably more obvious (and tractable) than its predecessor on the list. And I expect that will manifest in the end as a limited lifespan of plays, as I come to grips with what the game is trying to teach.

It's entertaining; well-constructed; perhaps a bit too heavy on turn-order-effects for some player counts, but not too bad with 5. I'll hope for at least a few more plays.


So Long, Suckers! -- (2 plays) _6.7_
(both images by DaJackel)

Yeah; I know the game title doesn't really translate to "So Long, Suckers!"; but I still think it carries a lot of that vibe, even if the surface form is a great deal more (at least superficially) polite.

This is a cool fast little logic problem masquerading as a filler. I suspect that if one plays quickly without much attention to the underlying structure that a loss is in store if others are paying that attention. And, so, it has a dynamic I don't particularly want in my fillers: I'd need to not pay attention to what I've learned if I was ever to play it with new folk. Or perhaps it's not a filler at all: it's, instead, a very tiny short Serious Game? If so, that's not likely aimed at me, either.

So I'm left believing this is a charming lovely title that I don't want to own (but would be content to play were it ever to appear in my vicinity.) And I can live with that.


Coloretto Amazonas -- (4 plays) _6_
(images by nrihtar2 & OutpostGamma)

It's cute, and random, and the fanciful animals are (at least momentarily) entertaining. But the decisions are a lot more straightforward than the ur-Coloretto game (which, despite trying a bunch of the variants) is still my favourite.

Still, it's not without some merits: playing a relatively modestly-scoring card in a column beside some high-value cards for protection is an interesting choice in timing, probabilities, and luck-pushing; but, in our limited experience, it looked like the vagaries of the draw were what primarily drove the outcome.

And, by itself, that would leave a poorer rating. So why do I like it? Son #2 was entertained by it: and that's worth quite a lot to me.


Thanks again to my youngsters, the BAP attenders, the Monday Lunch folk, and the Wednesday Night gang for some great game experiences.
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19. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:71]
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Centennial
Colorado
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I played two new-to-me games this month, and they could hardly be more dissimilar.

First was Trajan, which I had acquired more than a month earlier, and it took me a long while to get into play. My nine-year-old daughter played against me on the first game. It was the second Feld design for both of us, since we've played lots of The Castles of Burgundy in the past. Trajan is definitely a little bit heavier. I got clobbered, although we certainly had some rules wrong, including a misunderstanding about the use of forum tiles for the senate that very much worked to her advantage. We both liked it, despite finding it a little dizzying.

The next week, we played again, but with the whole household. My wife didn't much care for it, complaining that it felt grindy and aimless. We ended up calling it a game with final scoring at the end of the third quarter. I still like it, anyhow, and I'll find other folks to play it with. On the whole, however, for a Euro set in the Roman Empire, I find Concordia to be just as deep and a lot more accessible.

The second game was GUBS: A Game of Wit and Luck. I got this one hoping it would be congenial to my wife. (She enjoys Survive: Escape from Atlantis! and Valley of the Pharaohs, so I hypothesize that she likes take-that.) So far, though, I've only played it with my daughter. We both had fun, despite the distinct lack of depth. It's cute and fast-paced: more than adequate filler.
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20. Board Game: King of New York [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:426]
Nick B
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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My first post to a "New to you" list since May! A new baby, some traveling, and not buying any games led to a quiet few months for me as far as board gaming was concerned.

I went to Gen Con for the third straight year, so I was able to play a lot of new stuff in August!

King of New York - 8/10



I am a big fan of King of Tokyo, so I was really excited to get a play in of King of New York at Gen Con. The monsters aren't as cool (with the exception of Captain Fish), but overall the game is a definite improvement over King of Tokyo. The one thing that really stuck out to me was how it felt like you had more to do when you were outside of Manhattan (the main area where points are scored). Destroying buildings, trying to get Superstar points (a similar yet better version of rolling for victory points), fending off tanks and soliders -- all of it felt great, and I felt much more invested in the game during other people's turns, as their rolls affected me more often. It's definitely not a "must-buy," if you already have KoT, but if you like that game, you'll like King of New York.

Splendor - 8/10



Probably my game of the show. Plays fast, easy to learn and teach, great artwork and components (I loooooooove playing with poker chips). The only thing that really bugged me was that the theme was completely nonexistent (I couldn't even figure out what it was until I looked it up in the rules), but it doesn't really matter since the gameplay was awesome. I liked it so much that I kept it on my wishlist, even though a friend bought a copy while we were in Indy. Really looking forward to playing it more!

Panic on Wall Street! - 7.5/10



I first heard of this game when Shut Up & Sit Down reviewed it at the beginning of the year. It looked fun enough, but I really didn't have any plans to get it. When I saw it at the CoolStuffInc booth for under $20 (because of a tiny dent in the box), I couldn't pass it up, and boy was it a steal. This game is funny, chaotic, and awesome. We had a player make a HUGE amount of money on the first two turns, only to lose it all during the third. It was completely hilarious to watch happen. I only got to play this once (with 5 players), and would LOVE to see how crazy it gets with more. I'm really looking forward to getting this one to the table again, especially during those times when I have too many people over to play a more traditional game. Also, I was really surprised by how high-quality the components are to this game, along with how funny it is.


Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) - 7/10


Fun, fast game. Pointing guns at your friends is funny every single time you get to do it. For my group so far, this game is all about finding things to hold a grudge over and then never letting go until the end. It's not a deep game by any means, and I would imagine that playing it too many times in a short period would make it overstay its welcome, but I'm super happy to finally have this one in my collection.

Sheriff of Nottingham - 7/10



It seemed like every Gen Con preview heavily featured this game, and I found myself caught up in the hype hard. When the dealer hall opened, I made my way straight to the Arcane Wonders booth and picked up a copy. I definitely wasn't disappointed. I love games that involve bluffing, and it's a lot of fun to watch other players crack under pressure once you start threatening to open their bags and see whether they're telling the truth or not. The biggest problem with this game is definitely the scoring at the end - it takes too long and it's really easy to make little mistakes while you're trying to keep track of points. Not a deal breaker at all, though -- the game is fun, and will fill a similar role as Ca$h N Guns: don't need to play it all the time, but will always have a good time when I do.

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game - 6.5/10



I think this game will get rated higher by me in the future, but my first play was a pretty big dud. TWO people had a character killed on the first turn of the game due to unlucky dice rolls, and we ended up failing pretty miserably at the overall goal of the scenario. There were a lot of things that led to a lackluster first play: playing late at night after a few drinks, a few rule mistakes/misinterpretations, bad luck with dice rolls and card draws, etc. Everyone who played (myself included) had a good time, and we all were pumped to play again, but it's hard not to feel disappointed after a less-than-stellar first experience with a game!


Kremlin - 6/10



I had never heard of this classic game until my friend's Kickstarter copy arrived in the mail. The game is a little weird in that it looks like a really serious game when you look at the box and the rules, but the names of the characters are all jokes (Sergei Eatstumuch) and you spend a large portion of the game exiling people to Siberia.I definitely enjoyed myself, but I had a tough time picking up some of the gameplay nuances during our first game and the game seems super fiddly when it comes to things like keeping track of the ages of the politicians. Definitely needs more plays before I form a full opinion.
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21. Board Game: Byzantium [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1534]
Brian Boyle
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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Whether by accident or design, I appear to given the cult of the new the cold shoulder this month. My new to me games weigh in at an average of over 6 years since publicatio
Byzantium

1x3player

Slowly playing my way through the Martin Wallace back catalogue, and this is another beauty. Initially difficult to wrap one’s head around – playing both the Muslim Caliphate and the Byzantium Empire - the game is, at is heart a deliciously-crafted cube management game. Managing cubes to move armies, gain influence, wage battles and conquer cities.

Despite a wide variety of options available each turn, game play was surprisingly quick, with each turn limited to a single action. Combat was refreshingly simple and any luck appeared to even out over the course of the game. This left the game to shine both tactically and strategically. There is a tight coupling between board presence and the cube management on the player mat. Wallace seems to integrate the game board with hand management (e.g.A Few Acres of Snow, A Study in Emerald) in more interesting ways than any other designer I know.

The strategic dimension the game is also helped by the typically Wallace-ian scoring system – almost a cross between Study in Emerald and Liberté. Once can choose to balance one’s influence, or go heavily into one side or the other, or even try to use the Bulgars to sack Constantinople. In the game I played, all three were attempted, with the balanced strategy prevailing by a few points.

8.5/10

Julius Caesar

1x2player

My first play of this Columbia block war game out of the Hammer of the Scots stable. Having previously played HoTS and thought it was good, but not great, I didn't really know what to expect from this one. But my playing partner - whose opinion of games I trust - rated this as one of his few tens, so I was keen to try.

For me, it's a much better game than HoTS, much less scripted and more unpredictable (all courtesy of the God cards), more open and more options (courtesy of the map) and more Fog of War (no return to home province winter rule).

As Caesar I pulled off a 7-5 victory over Pompey (with a little help from my opponent). Unfortunately a volcano unexpectedly went off near Utica in 47BC, fatally weakening Pompey's army while had holed up there in following their retreat from Neapolis. Despite a last minute push through the Adriatic through Northern Italy, Caesar held on caputuring Pompey in the last battle at Genua, following a stout defence (aka lucky die rolls) of his stronghold at Masilia.

While I am not rating it a 10, it jumps up into the 8 category on my first play. I just wish it had a mounted map.

8/10

Mundus Novus

1x3player

A very interesting game that was surprisingly good, considering we got a major rule wrong. Even more frustrating since I thought (during the game) how much better it would have been with that rule. Bizarrely this felt like a cross between the excellent Port Royal and Sail to India. Both in theme and game play. Certainly worth a repeat.

6/10 likely to trend up.

German Railways

1x3player

A stock market, train track laying game out of the Chicago Express engine yard. This is a genre I really enjoy, but this game fell very flat. The almost constant updating of stock values and payouts was a real drag sucking any fun out of this game. It doesn’t have the simplicity of Paris Connection, the elegance of Stephenson's Rocket, or the tension of American Rails (which itself is superior to Chicago Express). In return German Railways simply gives you rail companies with different powers - and a headache.

5/10

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22. Board Game: CLUE: The Big Bang Theory [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:10422]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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August was a good month of gaming, but I concentrated more on playing old games instead of playing new games. So it wasn't much of a decision which game would get the top spot on this list, since there was only one game...



1 = CLUE: The Big Bang Theory - This is basically a retread of Clue: Discover the Secrets without the opportunity of the killer killing you, but with a funny theme added on. I've got a soft spot in my heart for the classic game of Clue, so I would certainly play this again any time. I just feel like I've moved beyond ever suggesting it as the game for game nights. However with the right group of Big Bang Theory fans this is at least funny because it leads to a lot of quotes from the show, and brings laughs when you start discussing what Sheldon would do in these situations. It's definitely not going to bring anything new for people who don't like Clue, only consider this game if you are a huge fan of the show. Initial Rating = 6
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23. Board Game: Aladdin's Dragons [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:846]
Tom Hilgert
Germany
Unspecified
Bavaria
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A view more games than usual, but also more time to give some short comments





Aladdins Dragons - 8



I played this ages ago , I think short after it was released. And I never played it with the cards. But Aladdin's Dragons is a great game especially with 5 players. We had a lot of fun playing it. And so the advanced version is my game of the month, here you see how blind-bidding can be integrated to make a great game


Zum Kuckuck - 8



Great Card game with great graphics (but only in the Kuckuck Version). Zum Kuckuck is a nice mix of a trick taking game and somehow its reminds me a lot of 6 nimmt!. But the fun idea of this game is to play every hand once. And its very interesting what the results are.


The Manhattan Project - 7



Worker Placement with a "Fresh theme". The Manhattan Project comes with a lot of nice ideas. Its very entertaining and your are always missing something necessary to win the game (resources, workers, money). It was even very tense who will win the game, which I never thought during the 4 player game I played. So no decision made if I want to keep it.


Star Wars - Angriff der Klonkrieger - 7



Well I had really no expectations about this game. I only knew that Star Wars: Angriff der Klonkrieger is a Brand game and cooperative. So I could test it with two families with kids and it was twice a blast. This game is really very tense. Tense die rolling, some decisions and everyone sees a better move for all. Thats cooperation. I gave it to one of the families because the kids said "Dad, I think we need that game"

Francis Drake - 6.5



THEME: 10 COMPONENTS: 10 but its not enough to have an outstanding game. When I played Francis Drake first as a prototype it was nearly the same game as it is now. Of course the get the equipment mechanism is very near to Egizia but Peter told me that he never played Egizia . I believe that. There are so many ways to get to a games mechanism. The game itself has also not a climax (except final scoring ) so you three turns with the same procedure. Not thrilling but entertaining

La Isla - 6.5



The new Feld/Alea Combo. Well we misunderstood one rule wrong, but we played it two times in a row (once basic with the 1 , once advanced). Normally I say if this is a Feld game and comes with no dice I like it, that also fits for La Isla but I m not sure if I want to keep it. The major critic is that I think that if someone gets a good lead its very difficult to catch up, because this player got for sure a good combo. But I want to try it again as a two player because I cant imagine even that it nearly works as a 2 player

The Builders: Middle Ages - 6




Great graphics but a lot of multiplayer solitaire elements. As a filler The Builders: Middle Ages is not light enough and takes a little bit too long for my taste. I know people who like it very much, but for me its just an OK game.


Augustus - 6



I can see that Rise of Augustus works for families but if I want to play a Bingo-like game I prefer much more Würfel Bingo. But Augustus comes with the better graphics

Bremerhaven - 5.5



Well Bremerhaven is another interesting game in terms of games published by Lookout. The game comes with a lot of blind-bidding, which is a mechanism I normally like, but here is another mechanism included, which made me this game uninteresting for me . You bid with blind-bidding for better blind-bidding cards. Well , its an armsrace then an the rest of the game gets very boring, especially if you don´t want to be part of the armsrace.


Los Mampfos - 5.5



Los Mampfos comes with great components but it is too repetitive even for a kids game . Disappointment because its a Dorn game and from Zoch. Normally this combination should create something more interesting



Merchants and Marauders - 5




Another I-want-to-like-that-game disappointment. Merchants & Marauders is really the boardversion of SID MEIER PIRATES even with all the rumors about treasure islands, huge Spanish Gold convoys. Great Components but very random and especially not that easy to play. A lot of chrome added. So I still believe that Spanish Main is my Number 1 "Pirate" game.


UGO! - 5




Well only a short impression but I don t think I'm that wrong











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24. Board Game: San Marco [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:517]
Stuart Finlay
Australia
Beldon
WA
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_7_San Marco x1
San Marco is the classic I cut, you choose, are majority euro. And it was a good game despite one player managing to get his AP going. There is some room for interesting play in terms of shifting alliances and a not insignificant luck factor. Still as something that can be taught reasonably quickly and is good for 3 players I think I'll hang on to it.
Why San Marco over the below 7s? Post-purchase rationalization. This had the most money ego riding on it.

_7_ Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game x1
As a person who doesn't as a general rule doesn't like co-ops, I'll put this down as one of the better ones that I've played. For me it's up there with BSG for the great traitor mechanism and personal goals, but surpasses it due to players being able to make their a multitude of their own decisions rather than the usual process of everyone being railroaded into some kind of consensus where anything outside it means you're "ruining it" for the other players. The game manages to maintain a good pace and the crossroads deck works well in adding some randomness and flavour to the setting. It's not particularly novel but the execution is spot on.

_7_The King of Frontier x5
This is a charming Japanese tile-laying game of Carcassonne meets Peurto Rico in 10-30 minutes. Everyone who has played this seems to have enjoyed it. On your turn you choose 1 of 4 actions which everyone will do, but as chooser you get a bonus. The actions are draw and place a tile, purchase and place a building(providing abilities and VPs), produce resources, consume resources. The game ends when you run out of VPs, tiles or someone fills their board.

For me the biggest problem is that there doesn't seem to be much of an arc to the game or at the very least it is a short one. The game just doesn't go for long enough to get interesting. Further player actions don't provide substantial bonuses over the other players so any effect tends to be subtle. As such play tends to be tactical rather than strategic. Whether it is because of this or despite it the game seems to be fairly well balanced even with the random mix of buildings, some of which are vastly more flexible and powerful than others.

If you can find a copy it's a nice filler (good luck!) and has potential to be developed into a better big box game.

_7_Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia x1
I liked this more than I've liked any worker placement games. This game has a lovely flow to it (similar to many Feld games) which is great to keeping up engagement. I think the core of the game is fairly straight forward efficiency engine with some simple resource conversion that players need to exploit. As for the theme, I only really noticed it in the building names which I found amusing but there wasn't enough to get me into the game.

_7_ Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #1 – Greece & Eastern Kingdoms x1
The C&C:A expansions are hard to justify since most of the physical components duplicate the base game. Of course the cost of development is in the scenarios so they need to include something for it to be commercially viable but it's still a hard sell. The other annoyance is that the box size that doesn't match the base game. New in this are horse archers and camels(?) which are both cool units and extra dice which are always welcome. There's not much else to say. It's C&C:A so if you've played the base game you'll know if you'll like this. Now I just need to wait for the reprint of Exp 5.

_6_Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition x8
Werewolf played with small groups of 10 and 11 wasn't all that interesting. The play was very random, there was nothing to discuss and the rounds were short. I expect it to improve with bigger groups and Artifacts. So far it doesn't come close to ONUW or The Resistance.

_6_Ascension: Deckbuilding Game and all but the latest expansions x15
On Android.
Ascension is like many other deckbuilders; a simplified Thunderstone and a very obvious predecessor to Star Realms and definitely superior to its offspring. Despite the silliness of the game I find myself more interested in this than I have been in any previous deckbuilders primarily due to the art. I'm not sure if I like the art or think it's well done but it is interesting enough that I enjoy checking out each card. Only time will tell if I keep playing it.

_6_Blood Bound x3
Was really tired when I played this and whilst I found it entertaining I don't think there's much of a game here. Just attack the other team based on the fairly obvious reveal tokens until the puzzle is solvable and then declare the winner. Judicious use of special abilities is useful but doesn't seem to have a huge impact on the outcome. It may in some games but in others it makes little difference. The much maligned art serves to make the game more entertaining than less so I think in that regard it's a good thing and I did enjoy playing it and would play it again.

_6_Diamonds x1
We tried the 2p version of this but were not impressed since the deal resulted in us having the same number of cards in three suits which meant the whole thing was deterministic. Still I can see where a more lopsided deal would suddenly become interesting. I expect my opinion of this to go up when played with a larger group though I still have concerns regarding the deal and HTI scoring.

_4_Spot it! x1
_4_Pick-a-Dog x1
I can see the appeal of these speed pattern matching games and would recommend them to fans of the genre but they're not for me, partially because I suck at them and partially because the player interaction is of the take-that variety. Whilst they offer quite different challenges I'd recommend Spot It over Pick-a-Pig for nothing more than the variety of play types. Both would probably be a huge hits at family gatherings.

_2_Star Fluxx x1
Yeah, NO.

NR[redacted] x1
Not rated as we played some rules wrong which had a significant effect on the game by causing more blockages in key areas than there should have been, though the game does rely on choke points to force players to interact.

Redacted is a light hidden teams, deduction game of trying to locate some intelligence documents and escape via helicopter (or destroy the opponents helicopters). The game play itself is quite light but there is a surprisingly large front loading of the rules required to play. I think that some of the complexity inherent in the systems should have been simplified. Specifically the Neutral/Friendly cards seem like a distinction without a purpose, when the mainframe computer activates is thematic but not obvious, tokens to hide inactive rooms (might be in the retail version) and most of all the reducing RPS probability tree which when combined with the lack of directions that people can move after interactions is frustrating at best. There are ways to mitigate the latter but they never felt like enough. It just seemed to make the game bog down into back and forth fights for access to items.
I'm reminded in many ways of The Castle of the Devil, but better.
1 x Liked, happy to play again
2 x Willing to try again but low enthusiasm (myself)
1 x Refuse to play again
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25. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:22]
Oliver Paul
Iceland
Reykjavik
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Not many new games in August, as I'm a bit burned out on board games at the moment. Still getting the usual Friday night game session in, but not really much besides that.

No real front runner either for best of month prize. Most of the games were decent, nothing more.

Good


Concordia

I think I am officially burned out on board games. I think this is a game I would've loved a few years ago, or even a few months ago. It's got a pretty map. You build your routes, build cities, trade goods, and in the center of it all is an interesting deck-building mechanic and some serious strategy regarding when to play which cards, and when to take all your cards back.

However, I really can't rate it higher than a 6 or a 7, mostly because the fact that I recognize that it's a good game, but I'm not exactly clamoring to get it to the table again. Part of that was the ridiculous amount of choices you have each turn, and the different strategies you can pursue. Another part is just that when I get home from work, playing a board game isn't high on my list of things I want to do.

I hope it changes in the near future, I've had a lot of fun with games over the past few years, and met a lot of great people. We'll see.


The Dwarf King

I am hilariously bad at trick taking games. It's almost comical. However, since my friend really likes them, I've bought and tried quite a few over the last year. I finally found one where I lose not because of how bad I am, but how chaotic and crazy the game is. Success!

I've played two games of this, and I still haven't actually made it to a positive score, but I have enjoyed them. However, given how crazy the game is, I'm not sure my friend likes this much. Oh well


Spyrium

Another super hot game right now. Another game I just don't understand the hype for. I was not a big fan of the designer's most famous game, Caylus, and I wasn't sure I would like this one. Turns out, I liked it a lot more than Caylus, but still not enough to keep it, and I sold it after one play.

It's got some interesting stuff going on with where you place your meeples and when to move over to phase b, but I felt that it was all so mechanically dry, and the theme wasn't there at all. Ridiculously pasted-on. I really need to have some kind of story to drive my imagination, and when it's not there, it just feels like a mental exercise. I do enough of that at work. Good game, just not for me.

Meh


Bang! The Dice Game

Yet again, I'm reserving judgement on a game because I played it with a sub-optimal player count. This game, played with 4 players just doesn't work. The sheriff is there, but he has no deputies. He has to contend with a renegade and two outlaws. The first person not to shoot the sheriff is the renegade, and everyone else is an outlaw. Deduction part over.

I really hated the original Bang!, it was overly long, overly fiddly, and just plain bad. I have hopes for this, and I'm looking forward to trying it out with more people. It just happens so rarely that I get more than 4-5 at game night that I don't think it'll happen anytime soon.


Ingenious Challenges

This takes a game I really like (Ingenious), and makes it more random, more fiddly, and less strategic. Plus, I bought this used and it was missing one of each of the color's scoring pegs, which was a bit of a nuisance. Shame on you, whoever sold it to me.

Anyways, would I ever play this instead of the original game? No. That's why I sold it after one play (of each of the modules).
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