New to you December 2016 => Best new boardgame
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What games did you play for the first time in December 2016?

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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1. Board Game: Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1725] [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked]
Andy
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With a last gasp game session on our New Years eve vacation, I managed to get in 2 new games...

== NEW GAMES ==

Boss Monster - 1 play - thumbsupthumbsdown
First Published 2015

We played a 4 player game of Boss Monster, with Boss Monster 2 as an expansion... the idea is a bit similar to Dungeon Lords in that you are the bad guy building a dungeon and attracting heroes, however it is a far lighter game, with a lot more randomness.
Each player has a hand of room cards and spell cards and everyone simultaneously adds a room to their dungeon (up to a maximum of 5), or upgrades/replaces a room. Then the random heroes that are in town visit the relevant player's dungeon based on whether it is of more interest to their type or not (Fighter, thief, cleric, wizard). If multiple of dungeons are equally interesting to a prospective hero, they stay in town instead.

There is a high degree of randomness, and in the game I played I had nothing but thief enticing trap rooms, so I got all the thieves (and later an Archer, who was a combined fighter/thief) coming to dungeon.. I managed to defeat 3 of them before I took 5 wounds and was eliminated.

It was a fun concept, and I'd play it again, but the fact that I had such an unfortunate experience soured me on the game a little.


Double Bananagrams - 2 plays - thumbsdown
First Published 0

Bananagrams was hugely popular during our vacation, and I was able to drop in for a couple of games in between looking after our kids. The game plays as if everyone is doing their own scrabble, but drawing tiles from a communal pool... and any time someone uses their last tile, they shout "Peel" and everyone draws a new tile... For the person who just used all their tiles, this means it's usually very easy to add the new tile and "peel" again... so the game suffers from a rampant runaway leader problem.

It's also a game that suffers badly when there are players of varying abilities, making it far too hectic and frustrating for new or struggling players. The people who had played it a lot really did seem to enjoy it, and they were having a lot of fun. I actually enjoyed it far more just watching people play, and coming up with words without the stress of constantly having to take tiles when other people called "peel".
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2. Board Game: Food Chain Magnate [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:29]
Juan Carlos Goyes
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Atlanteon

2016-12-27

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

As Atlanteon is badly rated, I wasn’t expecting much from it, besides, the game was designed by Mr. Knizia, a designer that is much more miss than hit with me. Having saying that, Atlanteon is much better than I initially though, but still it is not a game for me.

The rules are easy to explain, they can be taught under 5 minutes. The game components are ok as is the art.

The theme is paper thin, as in, nonexistent.

Atlanteon is an abstract game (which I didn’t know before I played it) only for two players. It has no luck whatsoever (a plus for me) and it is reminiscent of Cthulhu Rising (another Kniza game). The decisions aren’t obvious, in fact , I was surprised to find the game has a lot of depth which can be a problem with AP prone people. There are 3 ways for the game to end, so you are always analyzing the game situation.

Bottom line, Atlanteon is a good abstract game with zero luck, however, I’m not a big fan of abstract games so I already sold my copy of the game. I could play again if requested.

Current Rating: 5.5



Agricola: NL-Deck

2016-12-27

Initial Rating: 8.0 (December 2016)

I love Agricola, so it is no wonder I also like its expansions. I have played Agricola more than 80 times, so the variance added by the expansion is very welcomed.

I had only played with the NL-Deck once but I really enjoyed the experience. The art of the cards is ok (and preexisting) but its style differs a great deal from the base game cards, this is a minor issue for me though.

It seems the power level of the cards are much higher in this expansion. I played the Investor (he let me build two major improvements for a food each!) and he seems very powerful. Other cards are very powerful as well.

I worry that the cards are not balanced, but as there are many powerful cards, this is a minor issue, still you need to Draft these cards to avoid a lucky/unlucky hand.

Bottom line, I really like Agricola: NL-Deck. It adds a welcome variation to the game and adds lots of new options and strategies. The art is inconsistent with the base game, but I don’t mind. The cards seems very powerful so I won’t mix them with other sets. I can’t wait to play with them again. A keeper for me.

Current Rating: 7.5



Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game

2016-12-27

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

I heavily dislike Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, the reason is that game offers two variable market offerings (the one players buy cards from and the one players attack cards from). This causes the game to have a low level of strategy and many (most?) times luck decides the winner. I hate this kind of playing because it is competitive, and thus, unfair to all players. Why should I lose a 90 minute (or more) game just because I wasn’t able to buy the same card my opponent did on his turn? For that reason I only like deckbuilding games with a static market offering (Dominion, Tanto Cuore, Nightfall) in which strategy is more important than tactics. Having saying that, I don’t mind this unfairness IF the game is cooperative and I bought Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game under the premise that the game was ONLY cooperative and it was a disappointment to find the game is also competitive. The disappointing part is that the game comes with much more cards for the competitive variant than the cooperative variant :/. I also thought that Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game was only competitive, but perhaps there is a mode to play it cooperatively (I never read the rules of that game).

The rules are easy to grasp, you can explain them under 10 minutes, however your first play is very slow because you need to sort the 700 cards and that chore will take more than 1 hour. I don’t understand why Upper Deck Entertainment doesn’t print and package the cards already ordered. After that, you need to prepare the scenario and that also takes some time and after playing the game you need to split the cards again. To summarize, the setup and tear-down times are very high (a minus for me).

The theme is great, I love the movies and this game lets you play the scenarios from the movies. The art is also very well done.

I really enjoyed the cooperative experience. The game is hard to beat as any good CoOP should be and I want to play all the scenarios. There is a lot of luck in the game (a huge minus). There is uncontrollable luck with the available cards to purchase and with the hidden enemies. This level of luck in unacceptable in a competitive setting but it doesn’t bother me much in a cooperative one.

Best with 3 players, I refuse to play with 5 players, the downtime is too much for such a simple game.

Bottom line, I have two minds about Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game. The cooperative game is great, I would rate it a solid 7.5 only for that, however, as I wrote before, the competitive mode is such a turn off for me that I already sold the game. The reason is that the game has much more cards dedicated to the competitive variant than the cooperative one. If asked, I would rate the competitive variant a 3.5, so I’m compromising and I´m rating the whole game a 5.5. I would always play the cooperative variant if requested, but Dominion continues to be king for me in the Deckbuilding genre. I played the Predator set before the Alien´s one, but as they are so similar, I already sold the Alien set as well. Too much luck for me.

Current Rating: 5.5



Colony

2016-12-28

Initial Rating: 6.5 (December 2016)

For some reason, I thought Colony was a game in the same vein as Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig (perhaps because the name that suggests more real estate, but in a grander scale ), as such, my desire to play it was low. But I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the game was much closer to Dominion than to those games. Colony is the reimplementation of a game I never heard before (Age of Craft) and is very reminiscent of Dominion but with dice. I enjoyed the game but not enough to keep a copy in my game collection.

The rules are very easy to teach, you can do it under 12 minutes. Gameplay can be slow with 4 players, I think it is best with 3 fast players or with 2 players. Playtime is around 60 minutes but I think it can be reduced a lot with more experience.

Thar art is ok as are the game´s components. The graphic design is clear and clean, it helps a lot to teach the game.

The theme is cool, but you don’t feel it through the game, other than in the name of the cards.

Colony has a light-medium weight. The decisions needed to play the game aren’t complex at all. I enjoy that you have to give dice to your opponents in your turn, this decision is a lot of fun and non-trivial, but it also lends itself to AP as you try to analyze the plans of your opponents.

You roll your dice on your turn and then decide the best way to spend them. There is a healthy dose of luck with the game (I won because I rolled a 6 and I was behind the leaders all the game), but there are ways to mitigate it. For once, you can buy and upgrade certain cards that give you dice, also you can storage dice so you can plan ahead. I’m not sure if the luck factor brothers me or not, I need to play more times to verify this point. If the game is long the luck factor begins to really annoy me, but if the game is short, I don’t mind much.

Colony is an strategic game because it has an static market offering, due to this, the game is just to all players, a huge positive for me. Also, in each game you will play with a different set of cards (a la Dominion) so the replayability factor seems very high.

In our game it seemed at first that there was some runaway leader problems, but at the end the player who was behind was the winner (due to luck). I’m not sure if there is a runaway leader issue. I also need more plays to verify this point.

I dislike that the game ends immediately when a player reaches the required VPs, that is, the players have different amount of turns in the game and that’s unfair! A huge minus for me. It seems that the first players have an advantage.

Bottom line, Colony is very close to being a good game for me, but it is very similar to Dominion in many regards, and I love Dominion, so when I was playing Colony I actually wanted to play Dominion. Due to this, I sold my copy of the game. I’m also worried about the luck level of the game and that may lead to runaway leaders problems. Colony is an ok game for me and I´m open to play it anytime if requested.

Current Rating: 6.0



Tiny Epic Galaxies

2016-12-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

I haven’t played any Tiny Epic game before so I didn’t know what to expect. In fact I’m not sure if all the Tiny Epic games are similar in some way or not. The reason I did my best to stay away from these games was the name “Tiny Epic”. To me, that name speaks of a small simple game trying to appear like a big strategy game (just like Eight-Minute Empire, a game I dislike) and that’s just not my cup of tea. However, when my friend was explaining the game, my enthusiasm for the game began to increase.

The rules can be explained under 12 minutes. The game plays up to five players and that was the player count on my game. At first I had a lot of enthusiasm for Tiny Epic Galaxies but with 5 players the downtime is WAY TOO MUCH for such a simple game. The downtime was so big I began explaining other games to other players between turns (I had zero culture for most of the game). I think Tiny Epic Galaxies is best with 3 fast players, I also think allowing the game to go up to 5 players is a disservice to game itself. I didn’t enjoy my play of the game due to the enormous downtime. I refuse to play ever again with 5 players.

After my game, I was ready to sell the game, but after I consulted that decision with the pillow, I decided to give it another chance to woe me, this time I will play with 3 players only.

The theme is nice and the game components are very good, the custom dice are gorgeous. The art is ok.

The game decisions are mainly tactical, you cannot plan far ahead, but still the game is fun if played at a fast pace. On your turn you roll the dice and make the best you can with them. There is a lot of luck with the dice and with the cards but you can mitigate it using more resources and with clever play, that is, you always have something interesting to do with your dice. I love that you can follow other players in their turn (very similar to Glory to Rome). Culture seems more important that the other resources, but in our game, the player who least amassed culture won, so I’m not sure if this is an issue or not.

Bottom line, I´m pleasantly surprised with the Tiny Epic brand, the game does indeed have lots of decisions in a very small package thumbsup. I need to give it another chance to see if I should keep it in my game collection. Perhaps it has too much luck for me, I need to verify this point as well.

Current Rating: 6.0



Tower of Babel

2016-12-28

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

I have had Tower of Babel since May 2015. As it is a Knizia´s design, my desire to play it was very low, but the game can be fun.

The rules could be written much better, but they are very simple. You can explain them under 7 minutes. The game flows pretty quickly, we finished under 50 minutes. I played it with 3 players, but, as a majority game, I think it is best with the full complement of players (5), besides, I feel the game has a low downtime so that player count doesn’t bother me.

The game´s components are ok, the art of the board is gorgeous, but the art of the cards is very bland.

As is usual from Mr. Knizia, the theme is pasted on. The name of the box says “Tower of Babel … or why the eight wonder was never built” but that question goes unanswered when you play the game.

The decisions needed to play the game aren’t very hard. On your turn you only have 3 choices, you get building cards, you build a wonder or you pass. The meat of the game is to decide when you will build the wonder, how to help other players to build their wonder and to accept or reject said help. The decisions are not obvious because the game has more depth than I initially thought.

There is luck of the draw with the cards, but I feel it is rather low, you can always do something interesting with your cards (except near the end of the game). The action cards do have a lot of uncontrollable luck. I dislike these cards because they take away from the cleanliness of the design and introduce lots of uncontrollable, unbalanced and unfair luck, without the action cards the game would be ok for me.

Bottom line, Tower of Babel can be a good introductory game, but it is way too light for my current tastes. It plays very fast which is a rarity in 5 player games. It has way too much uncontrollable luck.

Current Rating: 5.5



Bloodborne: The Card Game

2016-12-28

Initial Rating: 4.5 (December 2016)

As is usual from me, I bought Bloodborne: The Card Game without knowing anything at all about the game. I don’t know the source material and this is the first time I heard about Bloodborne. When the game arrived I realized it was from Cool Mini or Not, a company that has 100% failure rate with me, so my desire to play the game plunged, but many friends did play the video game and they wanted to play it so we played it.

The rules are easy to teach, you can do it under 10 minutes. Playtime is more than 1 hour which is way too long for such a simple game. As is usual from CMON, the art is amazing and the game´s components are good, but the gameplay is very boring and obvious.

The theme is very cool and I think players who also played the video game will enjoy the game more.

Bloodborne: The Card Game is a game in the same vein than Cutthroat Caverns. As a team you are trying to defeat monsters, but you are also trying to win alone, thus, you need to betray at some point and you also need some luck to win. I generally dislike betrayal games, and this one is not the exception. The gameplay is painfully obvious, you always know the better card to play. There is a lot of luck with the monsters , the equipment and the die. A player who can buy a good equipment can win easily, a player who is near death but risk the fight with the monster can win easy enough if luck goes his way and he doesn’t die, to summarize, the game has lots of uncontrollable luck and obvious decisions, a huge minus for me.

The gameplay is very repetitive and boring.

I like Bloodborne: The Card Game a bit more than Cutthroat Caverns because here you win some blood if you helped to defeat the monster, not only when you kill it, so it is much more fair! Besides, the trophies gave the game another thing to consider.

Bottom line, Bloodborne: The Card Game can be a good casual game to introduce to new players, but it is way too light and boring for me. It has lots of uncontrollable luck, its length is way too much for such a simple game, it offers obvious decisions. It is a bit better than Cutthroat Caverns, but that’s not saying much. The art of the game is amazing! I´m selling my copy of the game ASAP.

Current Rating: 4.0



Difference

This comment is for the Difference ‐ Multilingual second edition

2016-12-29

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

This edition have some improvements over the 2010 edition. First, the images are much larger, second it comes with 4 different images instead of two. The gameplay remains the same. The downsides remains the same, namely: Difference has a very low replayability factor and a new player will get obliterated by a veteran one just because he already knows the differences, so it stops being a puzzle game and become a memory one.

All other comments remain the same.

Bottom line, Difference is an ok spot the difference game with ow replay value. I kind of like of like it so I will keep it in my game collection for now. At least I will play with all the new pictures. I need to play the advanced game. If I only play this sporadically, I begin to forget where were the differences.

Current Rating: 5.0



City of Spies: Estoril 1942

2016-12-29

Initial Rating: 6.5 (December 2016)

My desire to play City of Spies: Estoril 1942 was low but not for any particular reason. The name didn’t call for me but I’m glad I played it, it is a great family game and an ok gamer´s game.

The rules aren’t complex, you can explain the game under 12 minutes. The art is very cool and the game components are ok, although they are easily damaged.

City of Spies: Estoril 1942 is a cool game with very interesting decisions, namely, where to play your cards, which card to play and which cards to keep in your hand. The game in not obvious in any way and you need to constantly analyze your opponents moves. I really like it!

Replayability seems high because in each round the board will be changed, so there are many combos available.

Bottom line, I will perhaps buy it, City of Spies: Estoril 1942 is very close to being a good game for me. The decisions aren’t trivial and I like it! Perhaps it is an underrated game because I haven’t heard much bout it.

Current Rating: 6.5



Dominion: Update Pack

2016-12-29

Initial Rating: 8.0 (December 2016)

I love Dominion, it is my third favorite game of all time and my most played one , so it is no wonder I also love its expansions. I have everything for the game so I needed to buy this update pack and I will buy any new expansion (if it comes). It is very nice of Rio Grande Games to offer this update pack as it is, otherwise I would have to buy repeat content and that always bothers me.

I don’t know which cards they replace, nor I care about that, I’m happy to have ALL the cards for the game and I’m happy I can mix these new cards into the game. They are supposedly a better fit for the game, but I’m glad I can play a Thief and a Bandit in the same set if the mood strikes.

Bottom line, I love new cards for the game, I’m not sure if they are indeed better than the ones they replaced, but I’m excited to play more with this set.

Current Rating: 8.0



Clue: Star Wars

2016-12-29

Initial Rating: 4.0 (December 2016)

I have never played Clue, so when a friend bought this I jumped at the opportunity to play it. I was expecting a decent game as Clue is so famous and I like deduction games, but I was sorely disappointed. Clue: Star Wars is a bad game.

The game components are of a very flimsy material, very bad quality, the art is ok. The miniatures are the only positive of the game.

The rules are very easy and can be explained under 5 minutes. Playtime is way too long for what the game offers, with 5 or more players the game has too much downtime and not all payers can see the 3D board.

The game decisions are obvious and the game has lots of uncontrollable luck with the dice and the cards. In our game a player rolled lots of 1s and he ended in a corridor each time, then he was sent to jail for most of the game and he couldn’t do anything about it. It doesn’t matter who plays the best, luck will decide the winner. The cards are very unbalanced.

Bottom line, Clue Star Wars leaves a lot to be desired, it has too much luck, very regular components, it’s an expensive game and a very bad one. It seems like a money grab from Hasbro. I expected much more from Clue.

Current Rating: 3.0



Sentinels of the Multiverse: Guise Hero Character

2016-12-29

Initial Rating: 7.0 (December 2016)

My desire to play Sentinels of the Multiverse has been steadily increasing over this past year. I really like the game and I’m buying everything I can for it.

Guise is the latest hero I have played with and, although he is fun to play with, it isn’t among my favorites. He breaks the fourth wall (based on Deadpool) and that’s funny, but I’m not the greatest fan of that. The flavor text on the cards is also very funny and entertaining! Great art as is usual for this game.

It seems Guise can take some super turns if well planned, but then he need to begin anew. All of his cards stay one turn, but in that turn he can really do a lot of damage.

Bottom line, Guise is an unique and weird hero. I will play with him from time to time.

Current Rating: 7.0



Food Chain Magnate

2016-12-30

Initial Rating: 7.5 (December 2016)

Splotter games are always unique, even the ones I don’t like have had fresh and innovative ideas so I’m always open and excited to try more of their games. Food Chain Magnate has very good reviews and I’m happy to report I really enjoyed the game.

The game is very expensive as is usual from them, but I don’t mind much about that. For once, if I like the game then I REALLY liked it so it is well spent money, and If I don’t like it I can sell the game and recoup the money I spent in the first place.

The theme isn’t exciting for me, but it works very well with the game mechanisms, still this is a very minor issue to me.

The game components are ok (which is bad for such an expensive game), but, if you compare them with previous Splotter games, they are really good. They are improving and that’s great. The art is ok and it serves its purpose. In any case the components and art are always secondary to gameplay for me. It has great player aids. The graphic design works very well.

The setup can be a bit annoying and it requires a big table to play.

The rules aren’t complex, but there are many rules. You can explain the game under 20 minutes. Playtime is around 3 or 4 hours, still as the game is so immersive I don’t care much. I think it´s best played as a 3 player game, with more players the downtime begins to be annoying.

Food Chain Magnate offers a plethora of good and interesting choices (Which worker to recruit?, Which worker to upgrade?, When to upgrade?, Which workers should work this phase? Which product should I buy/generate?, Which advertising campaign should I play and where? Who is delivering the same products as me?, Which milestone should I grab?). You also need to analyze when the game will finish or it can upset your plans (I lost this way, I needed one more turn to win but had I realized the game was about to finish I think I could have won as well ) and that’s great! Zero luck factor, a huge plus for me in an strategy game. To me, Food Chain Magnate has a medium-heavy weight game.

The game can be mean in the sense that your plans can be for naught and all your food can be lost, I love it . This can happen very easily if you don’t watch your opponents moves, so the game is highly interactive, you are always fighting for the limited demand. As is usual from Splotter, one mistake can take you out of the game (this is a positive for me).

The replayability factor of the game is high due to its modular board. It is a bit reminiscent of another great Splotter game, Indonesia.

Bottom line, Food Chain Magnate is a winner in my book and a keeper for me. I really want to play it again soon and I’m pretty sure my SO will love it as well. It can perhaps get an upgraded rating from me with more plays. It is a satisfying Euro game with very interesting decisions and no luck, just my kind of game.

Current Rating: 7.5

Jgoyes´ Awards:





Francis Drake: Montezuma's Legacy Expansion

2016-12-30

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

I like Francis Drake, but I was expecting more from the expansion (perhaps new action tiles?) so I was, somewhat, disappointed when I found out that Francis Drake: Montezuma's Legacy Expansion only makes harder to successfully attack the Spanish Galleons and offers a better reward (relic). It is arguably, a good addition to the game, but I expected way more.

I will play with this expansion again and I will keep it in my game collection as I’m a completionist.

Current Rating: 6.0



Francis Drake: Spain's Revenge Expansion

2016-12-30

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

I like Francis Drake, but I was expecting more from the expansion (perhaps new action tiles?) so I was, somewhat, disappointed when I found out that Francis Drake: Spain's Revenge Expansion only makes harder to successfully attack. It is arguably, a good addition to the game, but I expected way more. Besides both mini expansion are rather similar.

I will play with this expansion again and I will keep it in my game collection as I’m a completionist, but I’m disappointed because the expansion adds a marginal tweak at best.

Current Rating: 6.0



Imhotep

2016-12-30

Initial Rating: 6.0 (December 2016)

Imhotep is a good family game, but it isn’t a game I would like to play often.

The rules are very easy to teach, you can do it under 7 minutes. Game time is around 60 minutes and Imhotep plays at a quick pace.

The components and art are very good, when the cubes are on the boards, the game looks gorgeous.

The theme is ok and some of the mechanism do support it, but still, you don’t feel the theme through the game.

The luck factor is low as there is only luck with the cards, but as they are available and visible at the beginning of each round, the luck factor is totally controllable. However, there is little control in-game as each player undoes/hinder your moves often.

The game decisions aren’t obvious, but aren’t that hard either. In each turn you only have 3 options (play a card, take two stones, or ship a stone). There are lots of tactics in the game, planning ahead can prove difficult as the game situation changes so much between turns. With 2 players it is much more strategic than with 4 players.

I love that the boards are double sided with different conditions on them, it adds to the replayability.

Bottom line, Imhotep is a great family game. It can also be used to to attract new gamers to our beloved hobby. I would play again if requested, but it is way too light for my current tastes. With 4 players there is not a lot of control. I already sold my copy of the game. Harmless game.

Current Rating: 6.0



J'Accuse!

2016-12-30

Initial Rating: 3.0 (December 2016)

When I bought J'Accuse!, I thought the game was going to be a hidden roles social deduction game. I generally like those, but J'Accuse! is not that kind of game (there is nothing to deduce) and I don’t like the game at all.

The rulebook doesn’t make a good job at explaining the game. J'Accuse! is very simple, but the rulebook isn’t clear. The rules are very easy and you can explain them under 5 minutes. Playtime is, mercifully, short, around 20 minutes.

The art is very good, but the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. Components are ok.

In J'Accuse!, all players will win but one. The theme is cool, but it is wasted with the implementation.

The decisions needed to play the game are obvious. In the first couple of turns, a player or players will have some hard evidence stacked against them, at this point all other players will do their best to make them lose, that is, if you are among the first players who have evidence in your board, you will most likely lose the game and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. In the rulebook, they said the game is much more enjoyable if you roleplayed it, and that’s true, but without the roleplaying there is barely a game here. The best card to play in each turn is painfully obvious.

In our game gathering, more than 10 people played the game and no one liked it.

Bottom line, J'Accuse! is a disappointing game. I can’t think of anything positive about it. I have been trying to sell it, but no one wants it, even at a deep discount. There is barely a game here, with obvious decisions and boring gameplay. Players will gang up on someone without any way out for that someone. I will never play it again, perhaps the worst game I have played in recent times.

Current Rating: 2.0



Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Goblin Plate +1" Promo Card

2016-12-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (December 2016)

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Goblin Plate +1" Promo Card is a ok armor to have. It is rather similar to other armors in the game but the flavor text is funny and the art is ok. In fact it is a bit worse than many armors because it deals 1 damage to a random character in the location. It would have been much more useful at the beginning, but I only got it in the Sins of the Saviors adventure.

I still have it on my deck because armor is the less used card for me, so having a slightly a worse card doesn’t affect me.

By the way, there is a typo with the card, it really reduce the damage to 0 not by 0.

Current Rating: 6.5



Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Fire Sneeze" Promo Card

2016-12-31

Initial Rating: 7.0 (December 2016)

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – "Fire Sneeze" Promo Card is an useful spell! Furthermore in the fourth and/or fifth adventure in which you need to do a lot of fire damage. It is also great for Divine casters which generally lack good attack spells.

It also doubles as a support card for when you attack with a weapon.

Good card and good addition to my deck.

Funny flavor text.

Current Rating: 7.5
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3. Board Game: Knit Wit [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:3504]
Jerry Wilkinson
United States
New Castle
Indiana
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I only played 2 new to me games in December. I liked Knit Wit and didn't like Train of Thought.
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4. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
United States
Davis
California
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Great Western Trail

(Image credit: henk.rolleman)

Great blend of euro mechanisms with a fun theme.

Great Western Trail is a really fun mix of deck-building, worker placement, and engine building.

Each turn, you move your cowboy-meeple some distance up the trail to Kansas City, driving your herd of cattle (your hand of cards), which you'll sell for money and VP when you arrive.

The trail branches at various points, giving you some choice of which way to go. It's made up of hazard spaces (which can be filled up with obstacles, which cost time and money to traverse) and building spaces. Some of those spaces are filled at the beginning of the game, with a randomized seeding of basic buildings (which are open to all players). Later, players can build their own buildings, which they alone can use for their main actions.

All of that means that the geography of the game board will change over the course of the game, as determined by player actions. I love that kind of thing, and it's done really well here. You can really put a stick in the other players' spokes, or build up an area of the board that strongly favors you. It's great fun.

When you eventually get to Kansas City, you sell your cows (cards in hand). There are a number of varieties of cattle, each worth a different value (from 1 to 5). You only get paid once for each variety in your hand, so duplicates are a dead waste. The value of your herd also determines how far along the railroad to San Francisco (yay!) you can move your cattle. The further west you push them, the more VP you'll get at game end. But rail transport eats into the money you earn from your sale (unless you've invested in the rail system to reduce those costs).

Each time you sell cattle in Kansas City, you get to place a disk on the main board, which unlocks a power on your player board (again, a mechanism I really enjoy and it's done well here).

To really get the most out of your sales, you'll need to buy more and better varieties of cattle (using the cattle market building on the trail). You can also purge cattle from your hand (using a power you need to unlock from your player board). Purging increases the likelihood that you'll get higher value cattle and more variety in your draw. There's also a draw/discard power you can use to tune your herd before you reach KC.

There are also subsystems (which I won't describe) that you can use to buy workers and invest in the railroad (including building stations); all of that increases your abilities in important ways.

The semi-random distribution of available workers can hamstring you a bit (you really need a strong hand of cattle, which is hard to achieve if you don't get any extra cowboys). But if you're shorted in one area, you just need to figure out another way to win (again, I think any winning strategy requires you to get more and better cattle; but you should be able to build different victory paths onto that core).

While the game is moderately complicated, the rules mostly make thematic sense (which always helps in teaching, learning, and remembering).

GWT is just a lot of fun to play. It looks great; there's a lot of interesting indirect interaction; and the theme is present enough to create some sense of narrative. I really like this one.


Terraforming Mars

(Image credit: milenaguberinic)

Exactly the huge, geeky, sprawling world-builder I was hoping for.

Terraforming Mars is a relatively straightforward card-based tableau builder.

Each turn players draw cards and can buy any of them into their hands (my wife and I have house-ruled this to minimize luck of the draw; rather than draw four and buy up to four, we draw six and buy up to four).

Then players take turns performing actions. These can be the "basic" actions that are available to all players or special actions unlocked by playing cards to your tableau.

The game has moderate complexity, with several currencies and global parameters (heat, oxygen, and surface water; which collectively serve as the game's clock). But game play is really pretty simple once you get the hang of things.

The fun comes from working your way through the huge deck of unique cards, each of which allows you to do something cool and significant, tailoring your position so that it diverges from those of the other players (e.g., you can plant moss or crash an asteroid into the surface) and better suits your strategy. The cards use some icons, but also include a text that exactly describes what the card does. This makes the game much easier to learn and play.

The variety of cards that are available creates a massively thematic experience, which is exactly what I wanted from this game. Great stuff!

The one downside is the fiddly cubes-on-a-mat used to track resources and income in the six (!) main currencies. If you bump those cubes out of position, you may have a very hard time remembering where they go (which sucks).

I like the game play enough that I took the rare step (for me) of buying an accessory -- the front and back acrylic mat overlays sold by boardgameboost. They're kind of expensive ($10 each), but really lock your cubes down, eliminating the possibility of a disastrous Mars-quake. I only bought two, as I expect TM to mostly be a two-player game for me.


Inis [not yet rated]

(Image credit: henk.rolleman)

Card-driven dudes-on-a-map with lots of scope for tricksy misdirection.

I've only played Inis with two (twice), so I don't feel like I have a good basis for rating it yet. It plays okay with two, but really feels like it needs a higher count to fully be itself. With two, things were a bit brittle and zero-sum, and there was less scope for surprise.

But from what I've seen, I'm looking forward to trying it at the higher count. Some of the interesting features of the game include:

• A fun card-drafting mechanism that determines what actions each player will be able to take in a turn (as supplemented by action cards that players can acquire by controlling the different territory tiles or telling "epic tales").

• Three different victory conditions, some of which merely require that you be present in certain places, without needing to control them through majorities.

• A requirement that you declare in advance, that it will be possible to win in the next turn (think of saying "check" in Chess). This lets everyone know they need to figure out how to block your victory. If multiple players announce a possible win, the winner will be the player who achieves more of the three victory conditions (with ties going to the "Brenn," i.e., the player who controls the capital territory).

• Once you learn the basic deck of action cards (one of which will always be blindly discarded before drafting), you'll have a good sense of how to navigate through the possible player actions each turn. But the epic tale cards are not known, and can throw a wrench into your expectations.

All of that is wrapped up in a really nice physical package, with nicely sculpted dudes and forts, and attractive card and tile art. The card art is likely to be polarizing, as it's very distinctive. Take a look and you'll see what I mean.

I'll probably include this in a future list, once I've tried it with a full player count.

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5. Board Game: Grand Austria Hotel [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:100]
Darryl with one "R"
United States
Redmond
Washington
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6 new games in December, which is a lot for me! And I quite liked all of them -- I've rated all of them 7 or higher!

Favorite New Game of the Month



Excellent! Relatively tight game with an interesting dice drafting mechanic and a lighthearted, pleasant theme. There are elements of this game that are somewhat similar from other games I've played before, but Grand Austria Hotel combines them in a fun way.



I was surprised that I liked 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis as much as I did. It's quite different than the types of games my wife & I normally play. I've wanted to try Twilight Struggle for years but never got around to it because of the length of the game. So based on the very good reviews here on BGG and descriptions of a slimmed down Twilight Struggle, I bought 13 Days.

And I found it to be excellent. Indeed, it is quite different than the games we normally play, but we both really enjoyed it. The gameplay is tight and tense, and everything in the game just works together really well.



I bought this mostly because I liked and was fascinated by Millennium Blades earlier in 2016, and I wanted to see what else Level 99 had published. I played quite a bit of Street Fighter II and Killer Instinct in my younger days, so the theme appealed to me as well.

I liked the game. The variety in the characters is neat, and I can see that it would take many games playing with a single character before you really become good with that character. I sense that there's a ton of depth in this game if you're willing to devote the time to dig into it. Unfortunately, my wife didn't like the game as much due to the conflict-heavy nature, so we'll probably be trading it.



Cosmic Run is probably my favorite filler game. I like dice, racing, press your luck, and cards that give you special abilities. Cosmic Run has all of these, and a game takes 30 minutes. Excellent work here, Dr. Finn!



Picked up during Amazon's big Queen games sale. It's a quick-playing drafting game with a lot of fun combos to discover. There's nothing earth-shattering here, but it is quite enjoyable and involves some real decisions while taking only 30 minutes, so I'm quite happy to have it!



Also picked up from Dr. Finn's web store. Another quick-playing filler, but the game seems to have more depth than I expected just from reading the rules. Decisions in the 2P game are even a bit tougher because the player going 2nd on a given turn faces additional restrictions on which delivery (VP-generating) card he/she can use.

Additionally, I'm optimistic that with a little ingenuity, my wife & I will be able to play The Butterfly Garden across 2 airplane trays.
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6. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:4]
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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December was a month where I tried out several wargames after they arrived from the US.

Terraforming Mars = 1 Play



I've been intrigued by this title since it has generated a lot of buzz on the geek. I did not get a copy though and I was lucky enough to have my recent gaming buddy Robert teach me using his copy. He had an inkling that I would like it and like it I did! This game makes sense and flowed very smoothly, although you do have to be careful with the cubes since 1 mistake could make your entire player board kaput and useless if the cubes move around by mistake.

Gameplay is quite simple. Most of the time you will be playing cards (all of which are unique!) which will help you achieve the goal of terraforming the planet which in the process changes the planet's temperature and atmosphere towards making it habitable for life. Most of the cards played remain in your tableau (except for instants) and the symbols in each card remain in play and are important since several cards require a certain number of symbols to be in play before they can be used. Every turn you also accumulate resources like metallic ore, money, etc. These resources are needed to be able to play cards as well as be used in order to do actions needed to terraform the planet (like placing greenery or oceans). Terraforming the planet also has a Suburbia like feel since you get to place down tiles on the planet and players can "leech" off each other with this since you can use other player's tiles to your own benefit (for example, you can score using other player's greenery tiles if you place a city tile beside them). This plus the fact that the hexes on the board are limited gives the game an "area control" feel and together with some cards which negatively impact other players are the means which you interact with others.

Despite the possibility of getting screwed by the draw of cards I like that you are given means to not rely on them in order to do something, since you could always buy the desired action as long as you have money. This is quite a thematic euro and I now understand why it has so much buzz. I'm not sure if I need to get a copy though since Robert has one already so I'm looking forward to my next play of this, especially with more players.



Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer = 2 Plays



I had played the first edition of Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles but invested in the kickstarter for Band of Brothers: Texas Arrows for the remastered and improved edition which also included the base game and this title plus Band of Brothers: Texas Arrows. The rules are even more streamlined as now you do not have to roll a different morale check for proficiency actions but rather you now have a secondary firepower rating for more difficult situations. The end result is an easy to learn but difficult to master game which realistically mimics the brutally of WW2 combat. Your units will not follow your orders always if they are suppressed and if you make the mistake of ordering your squads into open ground versus an enemy with troops in good order they will be mercilessly eliminated or neutralized.

I finally got to also try out tanks for the first time with this edition. The rules for vehicles are also simple and if morale is the heart of ordering your grunts around then proficiency is the name of the game when using tanks. You may have a tank with better stats but if the side using them is not very proficient (ie Russians) then the side with weaker tanks but more proficient crews who have communications (ie Germans) actually have the advantage, and this was demonstrated very clearly in the tank training scenario my brother and I played.

I'm very happy that I backed the kickstarter. The components are much better and the rules more streamlined with everything for all expansions already included in 1 rulebook. The only thing missing is a method to generate your own scenarios though but besides that I think I've got a great system to simulate WW2 tactical combat.



MBT (second edition) = 1 Play



My brother and I played the heck out of the first edition of this game as well as it's sister title IDF (Israeli Defense Force) WAAYY back in the early 90's. We had a lot of time in those days I remember whole day sessions involving Battalion size forces with the full shebang of units available. That was before we discovered Magic: The Gathering and the Games Workshop Ltd. games which occupied 15 years of my time. I discovered that GMT Games was bringing out the 2nd edition and I could not resist and get it.

I discovered that while the basic flow of the game was unchanged, a lot of the fine print had. The rules have been streamlined a lot and the stats and equipment also adjusted to reflect the units for that time period (since we have the benefit of hindsight now). One big change though are the point values. They have all gone up so my mind has to adjust since a 2,500 point game was a Battalion sized game before while now it is a company level game. I also like that the effects of technology have been dumbed down (Thermal imagers were a HUGE advantage for NATO in the 1st edition since it negated the smoke penalty, but now even Thermal imagers have a slight penalty for smoke) but based on my single play differences in unit grade are now more pronounced. Doctrine rules now have been replaced by the command radius based on unit grade and while this can mimic the doctrine effect at lower grades this has also limited the freedom NATO units had in the first edition.

All in all it's still MBT (First Edition) which means it can be a long game if you make the mistake of going all out and playing battalion sized games. I think company level pointages are where it's at and I look forward to reliving the great times my brother and I had when playing the 1st edition.



Hands in the Sea = 1 Play



I am a great fan of the A Few Acres of Snow system so much so that I also got Mythotopia and participated in the kickstarter campaign for this. I got to play this the day before New Year's eve and did this latest evolution solve some of the issues of it's predecessors (namely the game drags as the decks become thicker leading to dead hands)? I would say not really as my brother and I also experienced this in the mid to late game during our first play (3 hours to finish!). However, this game does offer the ability to thin your deck by returning 1 card to it's appropriate stack as an action and with the ability to earn money every round for each supplied city you own means that you usually will have money to discard your whole hand in the hope you can draw the cards you need. The first play was marred by me not fully reading how domination of the seas can impact the land war and knowing that would have made a greater impact on the game. It is still definitely an improvement in the system and I must say it is the most beautiful looking one in the series so far.



EXPANSIONS

BattleLore (Second Edition): Great Dragon Reinforcement Pack = 1 Play

I finally got around to using one of the "mercenary" packs and for it was very appropriate for the first play since the Dragon went head to head versus Enrique's Undead Wyrm, with the Dragon getting the better of the matchup as it destroyed it's undead counterpart before getting brought down later. A good addition to any army who wants a fast moving Legend unit assuming the player wants to spend 10 points for it.



My first play using this "mercenary" unit

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7. Board Game: Mottainai [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:818]
Frederic Heath-Renn
United Kingdom
Islington
London
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What better way to round out the year with lots and lots of new-to-me games? I even played some of them more than once, sacre bleu.

For the benefit of the reader, I have placed a dashed line to mark the point below which, not to put it too bluntly, I start actually caring.

Epic PVP: Fantasy (1 play) - There were cards which I played. I got the impression it was probably a little more luck-based than I would like and I can't see why one would be bothered to put the effort into it to determine if there's anything more there.

Win/Lose Revolution (1 play) - Cash-in retread with none of the strategy or charm of the original classic design.

Osbox (1 play) - An abstract with nothing really to recommend it from my memory. I was told it might have been screwed up by the publisher.

Trumpet (1 play) - Old trick taking game with some interesting ideas but irritating flaws. Perfectly fun in the right company exactly once.

Trick of the Rails (2 plays) - This was a real disappointment: I loved the theme and graphic design but it didn't really feel as if there was enough there: following suit was very restrictive and there didn't seem to be much in the way of significant decision-making available. One to repeat at a lower player count, but I think it might be on notice.

Five Cucumbers (1 play) - A nice idea and fun once in good company but I might not play it again. Certainly wouldn't suggest it again.

Mit List und Tücke (2 plays) - Reasonably standard trick-taker with some complications that make me shrug about the idea of bothering to play it again.

Arcanya: Magic Academy (1 play) - Randomish take that card game about which I have little to say.

Spaceteam (3 plays) - Chaotic real-time co-op, a party experience but I was beginning to tire of it a little by the end of play three so it probably has a fairly high recharging time required.

The Speicherstadt (1 play) - Lots of auctions. There are similarly auctiony games I prefer, so this one has missed its chance, I think.

Little Devils (1 play) - Like 6 nimmt!, but without the air of mystique.

Kanagawa (1 play) - I don't really feel as if the central auction mechanism in this one was all that interesting. Can't summon up much enthusaism thinking about it, not that there was anything wrong with it per se.

Great Western Trail (1 play) - Something of a darling of the moment, I understand; I didn't like the fact you couldn't use opponent's buildings (as you can in eg Caylus) because I felt it made the game feel a little more individualised rather than interactive. Other than that I can't really say I had enough understanding of what was going on to comment further. I'm not sure I'd bother again.

Flamme Rouge (2 plays) - I'm not sure how much I liked this actually, possibly because I'm pretty dismal at it. The deckbuilding seems neat but I'm a little sceptical of how much variety there is, if not in a strategic sense then in a how it feels to play sense.

Hansa Teutonica (1 play) - Oh-so-dry classic Euro. Didn't immediately grab me in the way that others have: like Lords of Waterdeep it does feel a little too much like manipulating cubes rather than having any real thematic unity. I might play it again, but I play enough games that perhaps a lack of initial enthusiasm should encourage me to back off.

Crossway (1 play) - Abstract connection game on a square grid. I fumbled around not knowing what I was doing until eventually I decided I had almost certainly definitely lost and resigned, since, this being a Mark Steere game, the alternative would have taken about ten million turns and six hundred years. I'm sure it's perfectly good but this isn't going to be the connection game that makes me start liking connection games.

Honshu (1 play) - Map-builder with a nice auction mechanism. As charming as it was I'm not sure I could gen up the energy to play it again.

Evolution: CLIMATE (1 play) - Fun biology-themed experience. Hadn't played the base game before either. Like Hansa Teutonica I'm not sure I'm enthusiastic enough to play it again but I might not turn it down.

----------- I actually care below this line -----------

Swedish Parliament 2014 (1 play) - Definitely an experience game (perhaps even more so than Die Macher, which seems more deterministic): while I think it feels like I was consciously shaping the relationship board to look like how I wanted it to look towards the end of the game, I'm not sure how much one's play does actually affect the game, or at least how much thought you need to actually make it do so. But I'm sure it is great fun once a year, and I would have no qualm about playing the new installment when it arrives.

Stich-Meister (1 play) - I think this idea probably works better here than it does in 504: every round is a new and different trick-taker with new twists on the core mechanism. I'm not convinced that the scoring across rounds will necessarily be balanced, but it's fun experiencing the new combinations of rules and it's nice that it makes the game into one of, who can understand the consequences of a new ruleset earliest and best. From my one play of it I would observe that I'm not certain making choice of trump into another thing determined by the round's rule cards works great: I think most of the rounds of our game had no trump and that takes a fair bit of interest out of them. I can see that it allows for consequences like 'this round has mulitple trumps' or 'I have lots of this suit so I'll play a rule card to make it trumps' but I think it has ill-effects which could be developed away.

Fuji Flush (3 plays) - Falls into the category loosely known at LoB as 'bullshit card game', and does its job nicely: you have the opportunity to gang up on people and be a dick, you have occasions where you're forced to do something you don't want to do so people can laugh at you, and at the end someone wins. Top banana.

Rage (1 play) - I like games where you bid for how many tricks you take. I guess the randomising elements make it more of a party game and less strategic; I think it's a simple enough game at core that they make it something different rather than ruining something deep. As a party game it works fine and I enjoyed playing it.

Pairs (4 plays) - Quick-playing, low-thought, high-volume, vegetable-themed card game. Excellent timewaster in the correct circumstances.

Tekeli-li (1 play) - I liked this somewhat daft and arbitrary Cthulu-themed trick-taker more than I was expecting. Difficult to tell how much scope for clever play there is from one go at it.

Yavalath (4 plays) - Simple and elegant, which are reasons to like it - skill gap was too large for me to know how deep it is from my plays of it.

You Robot (1 play) - It does have the fundamental flaw for a party game that involves making people look silly, which is that everyone actually playing is having to concentrate on themselves and not looking at each other. So maybe in order to know if this is good you should ask a spectator. Nevertheless, I got to kick someone in the shins, even if I wasn't meant to.

Istanbul (1 play) - I liked this far more than I was expecting, perhaps because I sneered with disdain at the fact it had dice in. But it doesn't lean on them too much, and the central movement/action mechanism is pretty neat: not restrictive enough to make the whole game a mathematical chore but sufficiently restrictive to require thought and planning to get around. Way better than Splendor at any rate.

The Bottle Imp (1 play) - First game of a long trick-taking night; I liked it, since the aspect of tension as to working out how to dump your low cards without being stuck with the bottle is a fun one. Since then I've found out we played the rules quite wrongly, as we didn't realise that cards that win the bottle also win the trick: I can see this making the game better (since it means you're less able to run the round just by being dealt a good hand) but would probably need to try it.

Coconuts (1 play) - Dexerity game which I was awful at. Not entirely sure quite what some of the cards add. Seems fun but maybe moreso if I were less awful at it.

Key to the City – London (1 play) - As a lifelong Londoner and Keyflower fan, I was looking forward to playing this, but it's difficult to know what I thought of it. Because I come to it having played Keyflower first, the new elements seem like extra complications, while the bits that were streamlined away were already natural to me. The new theming is great fun and the connectors add a neat puzzle element to replace the movement of goods, but fundamentally I fear that it's one or the other and I already own Keyflower.

The Grizzled (3 plays) - A newish war-themed co-op: can't say it filled me with emotional impact at the visceral horrors of warfare like a cardboard Saving Private Ryan but I wasn't looking for that and it did deliver the cameraderie and cooperation that it aims to. I'd like to win this sometime.

Eternity (1 play) - Very pretty. I like trick-takers where you bid for the number of tricks you'll take, and the bidding system in this game is particularly interesting. I'd like to play it again.

Four Dragons (1 play) - Very pretty. A highly mechanically satisfactory little trick-taker with a number of niceities - you're trying to capture specific pairs of point cards over three rounds, the highest cards can be nullified by specific low cards, you have to not follow suit (but not all cards have suits). Irritating that it competes as a four-player partnership game with the venerable Tichu but you can't have everything can you.

Lorenzo il Magnifico (1 play) - Liked far more than I was expecting - possibly because I won, possibly because it is vastly better in comparison to Mediocro Polo. There is a good amount of blocking and interfering in each other's plans, the shared dice mean there's no luck-based unfairness between people, and while it's true that the different game systems don't necessarily interact in the most smooth and holistic manner possible everything seems to hang together as a game okay. Would be interested in trying again.

Murus Gallicus (2 plays) - Fun abstract where you break through your opponent's lines, like in, er, Breakthrough. Delivered abstract thrills with a simple ruleset in a satisfying way: one I'd like to play again.

Concordia (2 plays) - One with the addition of salt cities. I liked this quite a bit: the central cardplay mechanism is a fun one and forces you to not rely on pumping the same action again and again (at least, not to start with). It's cool too being able to choose what you want your point scoring to rely on, and the board topology matters rather than being an afterthought. I was also pleasantly surprised that the second time I played it, which was about three weeks after the first, I had only forgotten one of the rules.

But by sheer volume of play I think it has to be the delightful Mottainai (5 plays) - I didn't really like it the first time: it ended far too quickly and felt like a bag of nonsense forming a framework that you couldn't actually get anything done within. But it's a Carl Chudyk so that's what it's meant to feel like, and subsequent two-player games revealed the heart of the game: fast, flowing, frenzied, a race of competing snowballs until someone explodes something with either positive or negative results. And it looks good too.
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8. Board Game: Mexica [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:551]
Edward Morland
United Kingdom
London
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Mexica is one of those classic Euros that's just a delight to play because it's reasonably simple, focused on doing basically one or two things, and all the better for it. There's no interlocking mechanisms or multiple paths to victory to distract you from the heart of the game, area-majority has always been a favourite, and the many ways to screw over your opponents while doing so.



Basically a cheat entry, I've loved The King is Dead and I of course love König von Siam given it is essentially the same game.



I grew up playing simple whist variants with my family and have never lost my enjoyment of trick taking games, due to an entire day of trick taking happening this is the first of many appearing this month. Stich-Meister is a standout example of the genre, with each hand players determining the particular rules it will be played under. No hand plays like the last and it's also a neat way of giving you a bit of control to balance out the inherent randomness of the genre.



The Great Zimbabwe is my favourite Splotter title so far, it felt faster than the others on the two times I played it and I find the VR mechanism, where to get infrastructure/powers you must increase the score you need to win, fascinating. After two games I don't feel terribly close to getting a handle on great play but that hasn't stopped the games being highly enjoyable.



Eklund games are always interesting and I have definitely enjoyed my plays of the Pax series. Pax Renaissance is even by their standards somewhat obscure on first glance, your lack of control over basically all of the pieces on the board is notable, but by about halfway through the play the game in there was starting to emerge. Hoping to get a second game of this soonish before I forget everything to see if it continues to do so from the mass of thematic cards.



I'd played a bit of X-Wing before, enough to enjoy it but still be somewhat embarrassingly bad at actually flying the star-fighters. Star Wars: Armada was, despite the number of rules and wealth of options awaiting me, somewhat easier to get into as the more stately pace of the capital ships is definitely easier to handle. It felt properly Star Warsy which is the main thing I suppose and I will admit to a thrill navigating an Imperial Star Destroyer across the table. We'll see how the gameplay itself holds up to a full campaign but I've very optimistic.



Rage is Oh Hell, or Contract Whist as I was fist introduced to it, with a bunch of special cards introduced to fuck with other players. I like the base game and the cards were enjoyable dickery so what isn't to recommend.



I don't really play 2 player games otherwise this would be a lot higher up but 7 Wonders Duel was remarkable in how it still felt like 7 Wonders, which I definitely like, while being a tight two player game. The pyramid of cards maintains the drafting feel while not requiring the awkward dummy hand, this was simply a really tight, really fun experience.



Artus is a neat little game of positioning your knights around the Round Table to best take advantage of the position of Arthur and your scoring cards. Another really focused game which shines because of that focus on what's going to be fun.



Speaking of which The Other Hat Trick is essentially your game of bluff and hidden cards taken to it's almost simplest point. Lot's of fun, nothing else to get in the way of attempting to read your fellow players which is what it's all about.



Trumpet is about the most fun I've had in a game I probably never want to play again.It's complete bullshit in almost every respect with rapidly switching trump values causing chaos but we had a blast. Like any stupid joke though it can definitely outstay it's welcome and I think a second game might definitely do that.



Silly but very enjoyable party game, You Robot doesn't do anything complex but doesn't need to. Lots of fun dealing with the inability to get your message across with the limited forms of communication available.



It's bullshit and the end game is draw a card, play that card but Fuji Flush was a lot of fun. Find a group of people you don't mind swearing at when they're a knob and it's simply a blast.



Neue Heimat is definitely a very clever game, the continuous series of auctions and temporary needs to work together is intellectually very satisfying. Ultimately the fact it's just a series of auctions will likely restrict how often I'd want to play it but you can't help but admire the design.



First things first Four Dragons is a very pretty partnership trick taking game. That said it was definitely hard to get into, there's only certain cards that matter and it's hard at first encounter to see how the tricks without them can properly set up winning the tricks with them. I'm in no doubt there's a game there but having invested a lot of time into Tichu this isn't interesting enough to oust that as my partnership game of choice and thus I won't play it enough to properly appreciate it.



Imhotep is a nice enjoyable lightish Euro, you do one of three things on your turn and have a choice between advancing yourself or hopefully inconveniencing others. Good fun if not anything special, a game I'd happily play many more times but don't really have any need to own.



Little Devils was a nice and fun without ever threatening to be more than that. Decent hand management game with everyone having to go higher or lower than a target card. Don't regret playing it, would play again but probably wouldn't request it.



Polterfass is essentially a push your luck game but one where what you're pushing your luck against is not a random number generator but your fellow players' willingness to be dicks. Definitely good fun as a quickish filler.



Most Eklund games sit somewhere on the spectrum from sprawling bullshit simulation to actual game and Bios: Genesis probably ends up more towards the former than the latter. It's a staggering achievement, or perhaps monument to folly, but ultimately in a game which is going to take me almost 4 hours to learn and play I'd rather my inability to roll anything but 5s and 6s not be quite so crucial. It's definitely not like anything else and will definitely tell a tale of life finding a way against all odds but I'm just not sure how many times again I'd actually be willing to sit through all the exceptions and rules minutiae.



A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King is a neat set collection game with the GoT theme bundled on to add to the mass appeal. Pleasant partnership filler, one notable thing is the raven mechanic restricting your communication which is rather clever.



Ulm is very enjoyable design. It's got a neat action selection mechanism and a pleasant selection of ways to score points around it. Unlikely to be a game to really knock your socks off but there'll be much worse 2hr Euros published.



I enjoyed Manoeuvre more than I expected to enjoy a two player wargame despite being absolutely terrible at it. It's simple to learn, quick to play but frankly I'd need to play it again and not lose half my army within a handful of turns to really get a proper opinion on the game.



Railroad Revolution was alright, it works but at the same time there was definitely something missing. It didn't come together as a game in the same way as Great Western Trail for instance. In that even if there are a multitude of different ways to score points they seem to be pulling together whereas in this the telegraph especially just seems bolted on. It's a shame as bits of it was engagingly tight but just ultimately a little unsatisfying.



The Grizzled is a neat little co-op, it's a decent entry in a genre I'm not that fond of. You have a nice set of decisions about both the pacing for the game you set yourselves as well as playing out the cards themselves which all make it reasonably tough. I don't generally like puzzle co-ops but it is definitely better than most.



Far Space Foundry was interesting, it was at least different from most games you play and so stood out that way. Not anything worth going out of the way to play and there wasn't exactly much in the way of interaction as you couldn't know what cards your opponents had to interfere with their actions but not unpleasant.



I really wanted Trick of the Rails to be good, I like trick takers and while not hard core have enjoyed some 18xxs. With 5 though it really didn't work, the need to follow suit especially in stock rounds just left you with not enough control over what you were actually doing and left it as an exercise in frustration. I've heard it's better with less but I won't be rushing out to try.



The game play of Arcanya: Magic Academy is just simply take that, draw more special cards than the other people. Basically it's worth a laugh but not worth a play.



Five Cucumbers has a decent idea, a game where you don't want to take the last trick. It's just it doesn't quite come off, far too often your hand just plays itself and you're left as a passenger. Plus when played to a single winner rather than one loser it just takes much longer than the gameplay's worth.



It's not that the gameplay of Tekeli-li is terrible, it's a perfectly serviceable trick taker about not taking tricks with a neat twist of high cards cancelling out. It's that the production is so ugly and the theme so played out that I just didn't really want to
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9. Board Game: Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.53 Overall Rank:3]
Joe Wyka
United States
Walnut Creek
California
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Overall, some really strong NTM's to end the year! Some really good, some a bit different, and one that is more interesting for everything but the gameplay...

In order of current preference. Happy New Year, everybody!




Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization - 10
The original is one of my all-time favorites that I rated a 10. This one goes to 11.

The best civilization game, period. Removing the map and simulating scarcity and opportunity through an ever-evolving parade of cards allows players to focus entirely on technology and development (engine-building), reducing chance by removing exploration and minimizing the impact of discovery. When TtA first came out, it completely redefined what a civilization game is and could be. I understand those who say they miss the map. I enjoy those games as well, but they present a different problem to solve, one with a bit less control. Through the Ages is a deeply strategic game built on the foundation of many, many small decisions. Because each decision supports a larger story arc, you have an incredible ability to change your trajectory based on circumstance and have your civilization grow in ways you may not have initially envisioned. The gradual building of your civilization, brick by brick and card by card, creates a level of investment that I have not seen achieved by any other game, much less any other civilization game.

This edition is better in every way than the original. The components are easier to handle and much more attractive. It includes a traditionally structured rulebook, the lack of which was the most disappointing aspect of the original version for me. The rules are excellently tweaked to balance the dominant strategies that have been discovered over the last decade.




T.I.M.E Stories - 8
A co-op adventure deduction game? That's kind of a foregone conclusion to be a winner around here. The game also has an innovative structure and is satisfyingly immersive.

I would call this an initial rating. We only managed one stab at the included scenario "Asylum" late in December and did not succeed. We also played with our nine-year-old daughter who found it rather intense. (Frankly, we should have packed the game away when we saw the available "receptacles".) So we will only bring this out again with the right foursome on game night.

The context of the game is that the players are essentially "time police" who travel to other times and "other realities" in order to prevent time anomalies caused by other time travelers or events. This pretty much leaves the door open for adventures to be set in any theme or time period. Because of this, the pawns and tokens that come with the game are intensely generic as they can represent different things in different adventures. The rule book tries to straddle the line between telling you how to play and not giving anything away. It unfortunately errs on the side of being coy, leaving some basic sections of the game board unexplained! We pretty much just put things out where it seemed to make sense and it was fine. Fortunately, there are not many rules and the flow is fairly intuitive once you get into it.

The heart of the game is in discovering locations, exploring locations, and passing tests - trying to figure out and meet the success conditions before time is up. As you discover locations, four cards representing a map gets updated with new cards. In the most cool and innovative aspect of the game, each location is represented by a panorama of cards depicting people and things in the location. Each card in the panorama can be explored separately or together by each player resulting in different encounters and pieces of information. You can't share your card with players in other parts of the location, but you describe and discuss what you've discovered. Locations also have non-panoramic cards that can be visited or turned over when its requirements are met. The panoramas open a window to the theme and setting nicely and the encounters are basic, but not poorly done.

My main concern at this point is that the game is a bit too much of trial-and-error to succeed. Many times you cannot know that an action is a time-waster until you do it and can only avoid it on the next run after you fail. I don't dislike this aspect of the game, but many of these encounters will lock you in until you succeed in the test and it can make the game feel less about deduction and more about turning over the wrong card. But, that's probably the nature of the beast....




Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King - 8
Does something I haven't seen in any other family game, and the fact that it excited my kids, excites me!

Isle of Skye is a simple economic tile-laying game. Each turn, players draw three tiles, discard one, and using their own money, set a price on the other two tiles that other players are invited to match. Each player has the option of matching the price of one tile of a another player or passing. Any tiles that do not get selected are purchased by the seller for the price they had set. These tiles are added to a personal tableau or territory that is built very much like in Carcassonne. Before each game, four tiles are drawn that determine how tiles score throughout the game and you try to devise a territory that maximizes the scoring criteria for that particular game.

It's a very straight-forward game that works for a lighter game night or for a family game night. Why do I like it? I have not seen another family game where players have to determine the value of a tile not just for themselves, but for other players as well. The key to the game is in the price-setting - knowing how high or low to set a price based on what you anticipate the demand for the tile to be. Price-setting is often a feature of heavy-weight economic games, but I have not seen it put to such excellent use in a package that can get my kids excited about doing something that I do all the time in games that they are not yet ready to appreciate. Playing this game has brought my kids closer to seeing games as I see them and valuing in them what I value. I hope their interest holds.




Grand Austria Hotel - 7
Best to think of this as strictly a 2-3 player medium-weight dice euro. At those player counts, this is a solid good time.

In Grand Austria Hotel, players are hotel owners inviting customers into their cafes where they try to serve them per their specifications so that they will book a room and start to fill the hotel. After optionally drafting a customer card, players draft a die in order to take the associated action. The start player rolls all of the dice and they are broken down by number. Each number is a different action and the number of dice of that number makes the action more powerful. But each action taken removes a die, making subsequent actions less powerful, which is a structure that makes this a game not suitable for more than 3 players. The difference between player 1 and player 4 is just too great. The actions allow you to collect food and drink to please your guests, prepare rooms for guests, use staff cards from your hand, or get money or emperor points. The flow of how to get points is straightforward - draft customers to your cafe, prepare rooms in your hotel, serve the food and drinks your customers require, and book them too your rooms to fill as much of your hotel as possible. Many of these steps can generate points along the way.

So, lots and lots of drafting to manage your needs. The game features plenty of special actions on cards that you need to leverage, so everyone takes a slightly different path to get to their end points. Really enjoyable 2-player euro. I could see myself scoring this higher if it holds up over repeated plays.




Scythe - 7
The artwork and production are landmarks in the industry, but the gameplay does not live up to them. It bothers me more with every play.

Jamey Stegmeier is a true industry visionary. I didn't like Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia and I frankly didn't understand the attention it got. Viticulture was a much better game (one of my top 10 this year) and prompted me to pay more attention to Stonemeier. I initially was not interested in backing Scythe. I had already decided to back The 7th Continent, which Kickstarted at the same time, and I wasn't sure this would be worth the additional money. I was expressing my doubts about Scythe to a friend of mine, when he revealed to me he had playtested it and thought it was good. "You what??" That was when I realized that Mr. Stegmeier was not only using the blind play test to improve his designs, he had turned it into a marketing tool by massively broadening the pool of testers. Here I had a trusted friend, unconnected in the industry, telling me how great this unpublished game was. The Kickstarter didn't sell me on the game, my friend did. I signed up and it was the best Kickstarter experience I've ever had. The communication was excellent, the production on schedule and the game components everything that was promised and then some.

The artwork and production quality for Scythe are an absolute 10. They make you want this game to live up to the unique vision presented by Rozalski's epic paintings. You want to dominate the landscape and win the hearts of the workers! However, each time I played this month I became more and more aware of the disconnect between the incredible thematic art and the game's objectives and mechanics. This is not an epic experience game that tells the great story it promises, it is an efficiency engine game that is entirely focused on action-improvement, in which you win primarily by maximizing each category of efficiency faster than the other players. You work to get workers, buildings and mechs onto the board to do... what? Spread out? The problem is that simply getting them on the board IS the objective for most of the game. Once you get them all out, the game is pretty close to finishing.

Encounters are another vivid example of the thematic and mechanical disconnect inherent throughout the design. The artwork on the encounter cards is frankly the best part of the game. The art is so good, there is no text describing the encounter. Jamey wisely lets the art speak for itself. The cards present three moral choices: one benign, one opportunistic, and one exploitative. In a game that presents the juxtaposition of military and pastoral in such vivid illustrations, I want my moral decisions to shape my destiny - to define who I am - as a leader. Encounters present a great opportunity to accomplish this, but bafflingly work directly against the theme instead. There is no lasting effect of your moral choice. The cards then become anti-thematic and entirely mechanical. You are going to make the choice that makes immediate mechanical sense for your efficiency engine and discard it, rendering the implications of the moral decision utterly meaningless! Why set up the promise of a moral decision with no lasting moral impacts?? Why not design these cards to give an ongoing effect that reflects your decisions as a leader?

Objective cards also miss the mark. What is significant about grouping pieces in a certain way or stockpiling resources for no purpose? Building goals like building all of your buildings in a straight line only serve to remind us just how arbitrary and disconnected these goals are from the brilliant 1920's post-apocalyptic setting.

I think this is a landmark game for a lot of reasons, the least of which is the game design. Jamey Stegmeier and Stonemeier Games are leading a path forward for game companies looking to separate themselves in an ever more competitive field. All the talk in marketing circles is about moving from a consumer to a service to, ultimately, an experience model. As in, people are investing less in just "stuff", but want to feel part of something special - a community - something larger than just the thing they are buying. Kickstarter supports the "experience" model very well, but it is just a tool. Stonemeier Games is way ahead of the curve in teaching everyone how to leverage it.

I have efficiency engine-building games I enjoy more that don't have this bothersome disconnect of theme and mechanics. I was so ready to love this game that it took a few plays for me to realize that I didn't and why. Thanks to my wife, Megan, who felt the same way I did and helped me to articulate this disappointment with greater clarity.




Karuba - 6
An enjoyable family-weight tile-layer that I fear may have a limited shelf life.

The good news is that the whole family liked it. The bad news is that both me and my wife have doubts about how many times we could play it before becoming bored. We'll certainly be bringing it out more at the kids' behest and see how it goes. If our enjoyment sustains, I could up this a point.

I can best describe this game as "path-building bingo". Every player starts with an identical set of tiles and a player board with 4 identical adventurer start and end points (every board has 4 adventurers and each has a unique end point of a matching color). The start and end points change from game to game, but are the same for every player each game. One player shuffles their stack of tiles and every turn draws one and calls out the number on it. Each player then finds that tile and either places it anywhere on their board to build paths for their adventurers or discards it to move an adventurer a number of spaces equal to the number of path exits on the tile (2-4). Treasures await at the end points, but some tiles have crystals and gold that adventurers can stop to pick up. There is no requirement for any adventurers to reach end points. The game is just a point grab. Whomever has the most points in treasures, gold and crystals when the tiles run out wins the game.

Conceptually, it is pretty cool how different paths and scores can be given that everyone starts with an identical board and identical tiles. Ultimately, though, I fear the limited objectives and repetitive play choices will grow a bit stale. Fun... for now.



New-To-Me Edition, But Not Game...


Taluva Deluxe - 8
An incredibly beautiful version of a deceptively simple and engaging strategic game.

I've always enjoyed my original version of Taluva, so when the deluxe version came out, I bit. I wasn't sure if I loved the game enough to justify the cost, but now that I've finally brought it out in all of its splendor (and my wife, who had not played it before, REALLY enjoyed it), I'm glad I have it. If this was more than a straight re-implementation, it would have made my top ten for the year.

Taluva is a simple game. Place a tile, then place a building. There are three building types, each with different placement requirements, and the first player to place all of two types of buildings wins the game. If players are playing well, then usually the tiles run out first. If that happens, then the player who played the most temples wins, followed by the most towers, then the most huts (or total buildings by that point). The game provides lots of crafty opportunities for unexpected moves and blocks.

The game doesn't change with the deluxe version, but there are some add-ons for the deluxe and KS deluxe.The game plays best with 3, so the 5th player expansion is a bit of a waste. The starting tile and double tiles expansions are small changes. The sail expansion adds another building type - boats that are placed on open gaps in the tiles. (I hear this 4th "building" unbalances the perfectly balanced three basic buildings and I'd believe it.) The best addition is the board, which sets boundaries on your tile placement, forcing players to build up rather than out. That can make the game quite a bit more challenging. You can resize the board for different levels of difficulty.

Overall, though, the additions are fairly disposable. The core game is as excellent and superbly designed as always and the huge tiles, beautifully crafted buildings and the multi-level island that grows before you as you play make this version an absolute delight. At 3 players, this scores a "9", but scales lower at other player counts. I probably won't play with anything other than 3. That, and the fact that the additions are a mixed bag, has me scoring this a point lower at 8.



New-To-Me Expansion


Colt Express: Horses & Stagecoach - 8
A nice addition that complements the base game without overly complicating it.

Colt Express is a family favorite programmed movement game. The stagecoach runs along side the train and provides a new place to move (by jumping or via horse) and new marshal-type figure and a new type of treasure - the hostage. Hostages give rewards, but also grant a disadvantage while you have them. New horse meeples allow players a different way to move between locations and a new action card - the horse - is added to use them. In a more minor change, the train is also seeded with whisky bottles that can be stolen and give different card play options when you use them. Other minor changes include new train cards and an alternate set up option. The additions give solid new options that enhance game play without throwing off the balance.
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10. Board Game: Heir to the Pharaoh [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:4772]
Tally C
United States
New York City
New York
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"We have to change our way of thinking if we really want to change the future." - Saki Watanabe, "Shin Sekai Yori"
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In December 2016, I played 6 new (to me) games.
== NEW GAMES ==

Heir to the Pharaoh - 1 play -  8 
First Published 2016

My best New-to-Me Game of December was Heir to the Pharaoh. It also ended up being my #3 New-to-Me Game of 2016 (list of those games here: Xelissa's Top 10 New (to Her) Games of 2016)! This was a Christmas gift from Tyler. He picked it up after looking at my Wishlist on BGG, where it had been sitting for a while after reading a bunch of excellent reviews. Those excellent reviews are right, because this game is great. It only has the potential to go up in rating.

Heir to the Pharaoh is both coolly calculating as well as viciously cutthroat. I will probably never look at a bidding game the same way again, especially any game that attempts to do 2P bidding. While players start the game with (almost) identical decks which they use to bid with, at the end of each round the cards they used to bid are put into their opponent's hand, not returned to their own. So if you spent a round highballing every bid, you'll just handed your opponent a bunch of strong cards they get to use against you next round. Karma sucks like that. So half of the game is that bidding metagame where you're trying to get into your opponent's head. What you're bidding on is 8 gods which allow you to do different actions. This is the other half of the game, and it's a series of abstract mini-games. You're trying to point arrows to or through structures to score points, place a disc on a track where you get points for the longest unbroken sequence you can make on this track, and build a pyramid (the person who builds the most tiers gets the points). There's also a god that lets you draw from a personal deck of powers which you can add during the bidding phase. This basically just screws with your opponents plans in one way or another (they can also backfire, though).

It all comes together into a brilliant, brutal, and extremely innovative package. I'm also extremely fond of the unique artstyle. I can't wait to play is much more in the coming year - I've already ordered the deluxe wooden components and mini-expansion directly from Eagle Gryphon!

Overseers - 1 play -  7.8 
First Published 2015

I first heard about Overseers over a year ago when it was only being published in Japan. I thought the art style was lovely and the drafting game accompanying it sounded like a solid and fun spin on a drafting game (and I’m always down for a good drafting game!). I was a little sad, though, because I thought there was very little chance of me getting my hands on a copy. Some months later, I saw Overseers was on KS up for an English version. These days, whenever I’m backing a first-time KS creator, I always weigh the pros and cons and see how invested the team seems to be. I decided to back it since the cost was pretty low and the creator certainly seemed active and invested. Happily, everything turned out well and a beautiful English edition of the game arrived on my doorstep a month or so back.

While some drafting games support 2P, Overseers does not, so we had to wait for a game night to play. We played a 5P game and everyone caught on quickly. The cards for drafting aren’t any more complicated than a very simple one, like Sushi Go, but Overseers adds in a couple of interesting twists. First, Character Cards are randomly distributed at the beginning of every round (they’re called “Generals”). They come into play during certain times in the round and can do all sorts of things, like make certain cards worth more points or allow you to disclose less information than your opponents. Second, after all cards have been drafted, a betting phase will begin. During this phase, players display their cards to everyone with (normally) three cards face up and two face down. Everyone puts a bet on who they think has gained the most points this round. Whoever gets the most bets can either choose to Confess or Deny. If they confess, they must discards two of their cards, but they get to choose. If they Deny, if it’s revealed that they do in fact have the highest score for the round, they must discard their two highest-scoring cards (they cannot choose). This makes things very interesting as everyone’s trying to predict what cards people aren’t showing. After three rounds, scores are totaled and the most points wins.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game – I certainly did. As I said before, I love drafting games, so I figured this one would be a good one for me, and it was. I’m looking forward to another opportunity where we can play it again. It’s pretty easy to teach (very easy if people are familiar with drafting) and quite quick to play, so I’m hoping to get a lot more opportunities to play in the future.

Codenames: Pictures - 2 plays -  7.8 
First Published 2016
 

We do a Secret Santa exchange with one of our big groups of friends every year and this was one of the presents Tyler received for his Santa. Codenames was definitely a hit with us, so Codenames: Pictures was definitely something that got put onto the Wishlist when it released. This month, Tyler and I played a couple co-op games of it (we do this from time to time with standard Codenames). We were surprised at how much more difficult Codenames: Pictures was for us compared to Codenames. That’s not a bad thing, but it was certainly unexpected! I’m not surprised that there’s less cards in a default set-up for Pictures because coming up with a common word between some of them is really hard!

I think I still like Codenames a bit better (probably unsurprising, given the linguist in me), but I’m very glad we have Pictures as well. I’m looking forward to trying a mash-up of them together!





Matcha - 3 plays -  7.8 
First Published 2015

This was part of the gift I got for MY Secret Santa from the same exchanged I mentioned in Codenames: Pictures! Matcha had been on my Wishlist for a while for its compact size, quick and interesting-sounding gameplay, and unique art style and theme. My Secret Santa is very into tea and does his own traditional tea ceremonies, so I was instantly able to guess who my Santa was after opening this .
Matcha is a 2P-only set collection and bluffing game. The game is composed of only 18 cards for play as well as five types of wooden components (all items needed to perform the tea ceremony). The 18 cards are either from 1 of 4 suits (corresponding to 4 of the 5 components) numbered 1-4 or one of the two extra “0” cards of no suit. 6 of the 18 cards will be placed face-up on the table. Of the remaining cards, each player receives 5 to play during the round and the two remaining cards are removed from the round (neither player knows what they are). During a round, players will be playing cards face down to the corresponding face-up cards on the table, trying to match either number or suit. If only one player plays a card to a face-up card, they automatically get one token of the corresponding face-up card’s suit. If two players play cards, if they both match, only one player will get a token (if they were playing to match suit, the higher number wins; if they were playing to match number, the higher-valued suit wins). If only one player matches, the player that matched gets the corresponding suit token and the player that did not match gets a wisk token (the 5th wooden component with no corresponding cards). If both players did not match, neither gets anything. The game immediately ends when one player either gets one of each of the 5 types of components or gets 4 of one type of component.

Though the rules are quite straight-forward, we both felt very involved when playing the game. Games can end quite suddenly, so it’s imperative to keep an eye on both your opponent’s collect components as well as the cards that are up for bid in the current round. The game rewards staying a step ahead of your opponent, especially since you’ll only be able to play to 5 out of 6 spots per round and unopposed cards win a corresponding component no matter what they were. We really enjoyed this one. Its small size and quick play-time will probably make it a go-to for a travel game for us.

Luna - 1 play -  7.6 
First Published 2010

I’d heard a lot about Luna over the past couple of years. Some people are convinced it’s Feld’s best game. Other think it’s one of his worst. This controversy interested me, as did the unique theme (though I do tend to find a lot of Feld’s games to feel fairly theme-irrelevant, a different theme is nonetheless appreciated). Tyler’s quite a Feld fan and I also enjoy playing his games, so I’m always on the lookout for a new (to us) Feld game we might enjoy. Until fairly recently, though, Luna was deeply out of print. Luckily for us, Tasty Minstrel Games brought it back into print, and when I saw it on a daily sale at an OLGS, I jumped onto it and tacked it onto an order that contained pre-orders. That order finally made its way to us right before Christmas and we had the chance to try out Luna for the first time a couple days after Christmas.

To me, Luna certainly felt different than all of Feld’s other games; however, I could still see some aspects that were similar to his other games. There are still many different actions to consider and a lot of different moving parts, so to speak, but the game feels a lot less point-salady to me to some of his other games. It feels more puzzley, and I like that! I really like figuring out where I want to move my pawns for the next round, or when it’s best for me to bring in a new pawn or permanently move one into the temple. I think that Luna has the potential to become one of my very favorite Felds!


Kanagawa - 3 plays -  7.5 
First Published 2016

Kanagawa was a Christmas gift from one of our very good friends who always sends us board games and Christmas and Birthday gifts. The game was released somewhat quietly and I only learned about it fairly recently through some subforums I frequent. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful artwork.

Mechanically, the game has some light drafting, light set collection, a little push-your-luck, and cards that have two different usages. After drafting cards, players can either put them in their studio (which generally give them some kind of permanent resource or one-time boost) or their print if they have the correct paints from their studio to paint it. There are a whole bunch of “diplomas” players can grab during the game which will give them points for collection various types of sets (like a certain number of brushes in their studio, or a certain number of unique buildings in their print). Each type of diploma comes in three different tiers, with higher tiers being more difficult to complete, but worth more points. The catch is that once your pass on grabbing a diploma you’re eligible for, you cannot go back for it later – you’ve committed to attempting a harder one. Since you can only have one of each type of diploma, it’s quite tempting to keep pushing onward, though you run the risk of not being able to snag the next diploma either become an opponent takes it, or the game ends before you meet the next requirement.

Though there is definitely interaction between the players, both in the drafting stage and in the diploma-collection phase, I found Kanagawa to be quite a zen-like experience. The artwork is so soothing to me and the game provides a very dreamy tone. There’s still some interesting decisions to make, though. All three games we played ended up with quite different prints and a wide variety of diplomas claimed, which was cool to see.

***

December ended up being a very solid month for new games. Last month I thought I wouldn’t have a very long list for December, but it turns out it was just as many as November (minus one next expansion)! The week around Christmas really bumped up our new game count. And we liked Luna and Heir to the Pharaoh so much, I put them on my hardcore 10x10 for 2017! We still have some more new games and expansions that we got for Christmas that we’re looking forward to playing in January!

And Happy New Year, everyone!

Note: Thanks to Grimwold for his New to You Tool which helped me generate my list.
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11. Board Game: Railroad Revolution [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:723]
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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Decent month for new to me games. I got a surprise hit for Christmas and only one really big dud.

Railroad Revolution - 9



This game almost immediately shot into my top 10, which isn't much of a surprise to me given the pedigree of the designers and the publisher. It has that great WYG? feel of multi-layered decisions, since everything depends on everything else in so many interesting, interconnected ways and there's a nice mix-and-match actions and bonuses system. And for the amount of game you get it's surprisingly quick and even fairly light rules-wise.

I'm also consistently surprised when I see complaints about the lack of interaction. The first to build bonuses are huge and are things you should really be planning your game around, and setting off a deal at the right or wrong time can really help or hurt other people. I've consistently found myself paying a lot of attention to what others can and can't do while I play this game.

Safely the best 2016 game I've played so far.

A Feast for Odin - 8



I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. Somehow reading about it I didn't really get the appeal. It didn't help that in general I find Uwe Rosenberg games good but not great, and this one looked particularly straightforward. In fact, if I hadn't gotten it as a Christmas gift there's a good chance I'd have just skipped it, but I'm pretty glad I didn't.

One thing that makes this game so interesting is that there are so many different pieces to get and so many ways to do any given thing, many of which come with something else. So as a result finding the best paths through the game is more interesting to me than it is in something like Agricola where there's basically one way to do any given thing and ever action gets you one thing. The tetris aspect is also a lot of fun, especially the bonus spots you have to surround and the increasing income.

Overall I'm really impressed and I could even see this game go up another half a point, especially if the cards in the later decks are more interesting, as one complaint of mine is that a lot of the cards in the A deck are pretty boring; I've rarely been excited by a card draw or spent any time thinking about the possibilities of the card effects.

Yspahan - 7.5



This was a pretty unique game in some ways but also a bit swingy and weird. I like dice drafting in general, and I think it works well for this game, especially since dice can always be taken for one of the generic effects on top of their particular actions. The way scoring works is pretty slick, and some of the building powers are really cool. And the cards can be really powerful, which may be a good or a bad thing.

But somehow in practice it just doesn't end up feeling that interesting. I think the dice in this game tend to dictate what you should be doing a bit too much, which is a problem both because it makes the decisions less interesting and it can invalidate some of the building powers you've built. I have for example seen someone invest pretty heavily into putting cubes out on the board (by building both of the rightmost, expensive buildings) only to have the dice all cluster on the ends and away from the actions which let you put cubes out. Overall, there are some interesting ideas in the game, but in play it just feels a bit flat and a bit too dependent on the dice.

Secret Hitler - 7



I think the obvious thing to compare this to is the Resistance, and compared to that game this one has some pros and some cons. I think Resistance is the superior game mechanically, since you're never forced to go one way or the other on a mission like the policy deck often forces you to, and also there's no completely hidden information like the president has in this game. I understand this is all in service to creating doubt, but I think it ends up losing more than it gains in terms of creating interesting gameplay opportunities. I think in terms of a purely social deduction experience Resistance is superior.

However, I do think this game lends itself more to playing roles, creating narratives, and making wild accusations, which can have it's charms. Overall I prefer the Resistance, but this game is pretty good, especially in the right situation.

Red7 - 7



I should add the caveat that I've only played this with the most basic rules. So, no drawing new cards if you played high to the center, and no using the powers of the odd cards added to your tableau. With only the basic rules this plays like my favorite kind of traditional card games, where it finds that perfect balance between being able to play socially but not being completely mindless. And it does so in something like 5 minutes per round. I do want to try it with the full rules and I could see the rating going up if there was a bit more to think about, but even with just the basic version this is a nice little card game.

Automobiles - 7



Like trains before it, this feels like not much more than Dominion with a board. I find straight-up deckbuilders to be a bit underwhelming for my personal taste, but the board movement in this one was just enough to elevate this to be a bit more interesting. It still has all of the deckbuilding problems of needing certain cubes to come out together or at the right time. I think it does a better job than most of always letting you do something with your cube draw, but it really hurts when all of your wear clearing possibilities come out when you can't use them and then you're stuck with a bunch of garbage for a whole bag cycle.

Red Flags - 6.5



This looked like it was going to be a bad Cards Against Humanity knockoff, and I already hate Cards Against Humanity, but actually I found this pretty entertaining. It's not just all 'who can choose the dumbest/grossest/most sophomoric card' like CAH, it actually has a component of knowing the people you're playing with.

Though like any game like this I think it was improved quite a bit by playing with the right people. And it's still a style of game that I'm not a huge fan of so the rating is fairly low. But for what it is I'd say it was about as good as it could be.

Alchemists - 4.5



Man did I really dislike this. First of all, the deduction part of the game was way too basic/easy. And the eurogame attached was pretty bland other than the deduction, while also being way too random. There are plenty of games that are more random than this, but I don't know if I've played one that simultaneously incentivised you to take as many risks as this one while also punishing small mistakes (or in this game's case, poor luck) in such a large way.

And then it has that classic problem of once you're behind you need to take bigger risks to try to catch up and then you're that much more likely to go bust and be even worse off. Or you can get lucky and be at a huge advantage. This game is long and punishing but also random and devoid of many tough decisions. In my book that's a losing combination.
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12. Board Game: Dream Home [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:822]
Jim Jamieson
United States
Purcellville
Virginia
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== NEW GAMES ==

Dream Home - 3 plays -  9 
First Published 2016


Hard to believe, but we played this 3 times in a little over an hour. What a great filler game that I bet my wife would be willing to play as well. It's light card drafting and set collection with only a few simple rules that make sense so it's really easy to pick up and play. You will use all of the cards in the game which I know will turn off some, but I don't think that will hinder my enjoyment as the houses do look different and you can laugh about your different setups each time. The tiebreaker is also fun, count the number of kids in your house. Great filler game, highly recommend!

Cosmic Encounter - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2008


Shocked at how much I enjoyed this game, but I think that comes from the wild and crazy powers that each person has that really influence your strategy. Yes the game is random in who you attack, but being able to call for allies and play cards to either battle or negotiate makes for a good social game. My only worry is that because it is a race to 5 colonies someone could continually try to postpone the game end with the right cards and that would lengthen the game and dampen the fun for me. Overall great game if it can be done within an hour and one I'd be willing to play with a large group.

Love Letter - 2 plays -  6 
First Published 2012


The ultimate filler game, everyone has 1 card and your turn you draw a card then play a card and hope to not be eliminated. It plays really fast, but I can't help but think of other micro games that are better than this. Khmer/Elements if you have 2 people, Red7 with more, and also some of the other small dice games like Qwixx or Bang Dice. For how short it is I don't mind playing it, but bluffing is not fun to me so it becomes more an activity to me.

Apples to Apples - 1 play -  6 
First Published 1999


Fun as an activity with a group, but not really a game to me. It brings laughs to the table by selecting fun combinations of nouns and adjectives but beyond that it's just hoping the person guesses your card correctly not much else to it. I'd play it in a group setting to wind down the night, but would not want to play it all night.

The Bloody Inn - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2015


Hard to decide on this game as I do typically like multi-use cards but for some reason the multi-use aspect in this game just felt confusing. Maybe it was the iconography as it took a bit to wrap our heads around. It felt really hard to get into the flow of the game because of that and while fast playing there was nothing exciting about what I was doing. The art is eye catching for sure, I just wish I felt more drawn in to playing the game as the theme is certainly unique.

Oceanos - 1 play -  5 
First Published 2016


A drafting game with a slight twist as it requires dealing out cards every turn instead of passing them around the table with all the discards coming back to the dealer for that turn. The game is still fast and played in 45 minutes with it being everyone's first game but there just seemed to be a lot of fiddly aspects to it. Lots of little rules for a light game and lots of moving pieces especially exchanging pieces on your submarine. For a drafting game this light Sushi Go or Dream Home is the way to go. I feel the hype got to me on this one a bit as the components and art are top notch like Iello always does, but there just doesn't seem to be a lot of fun here as the rules overtake the enjoyment.

Exploding Kittens: NSFW Deck - 1 play -  1 
First Published 2015


So the point of the game is to not draw a kitten card, but there's so little knowledge about the actual deck and what cards are coming that the whole idea seems rather pointless. Fluxx is more enjoyable than this.
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13. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:282]
Andy Howell
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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For the first time EVER I've managed to play a BGG Secret Santa Gift in December! We played one game of Flashpoint and I can already see that it's one of those games that's so solidly good that it's almost easy to take for granted. My 10yo got it right away and we worked from opposite sides of the house to get the survivors clear. Thank goodness we saved the cat because I don't think he'd have ever played again if the cat had died!

(and of course the first thing I though was that we need to paint those minis!)

We also got to the table a bunch of kids/family games delivered by both my BGG Secret Santa and the real Santa.

Rhino Hero

Brilliant game, simple, perhaps less tedious than Animal Upon Animal, hilarious, and cute. Going to get played a lot around here.

Suspend

Sent as a gift from a buddy who knows I'm into boardgames. It's a cool game/activity! A bit more of a hit with my 10yo than Rhino Hero maybe because of the cool metal rods. He's also enjoying making Calder-esqe mobiles with the parts.

Coraxis & Co.

Never seen or heard of this one before, but it's neat kids' game that I could see getting played a lot around here. Somebody had the cool idea to turn the old memory matching game into a themed board game. Played a few times and not sure we got the rules right; the rule book is pretty sparse.

Spinderella

Awesome idea, with beautiful execution. First play impression is that there should be one more ant and one less leaf on the action die. The bark represents the take-that part of the game, a little of which goes a long way with kids. Felt like I wanted the ants to go marching with a little more determination.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!
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14. Board Game: The Pursuit of Happiness [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:677]
Dustin Crenshaw
United States
Kentucky
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Good month as far as new to me games. I also got in a few favorites. However I haven't gamed in several weeks

The Pursuit of Happiness
Evolution: Climate
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past
Escape Room: The Game
Coconuts
Archon: Glory & Machination
Project: ELITE
Mask of Anubis
4 Gods
Road Rally USA
When I Dream
Black Orchestra
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

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15. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:20]
Daniel Valencia
United States
San Diego
California
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== NEW GAMES ==

Arkham Horror: The Card Game - 5 plays
First Published 2016

I wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I do. A friend and I finished our campaign for Night of the Zealot (we ended up resigning and dying, of course). He has ordered his own starter set and I look forward to the upcoming expansions. I am not even a big fan of Cthulu and the Mythos but I really enjoyed the gameplay and light deckbuilding.


Einauge sei wachsam! - 1 play
First Published 2009

Seems like a decent game in there but my first play so far was lacking a bit. Felt too simple. I'll try playing it again soon.
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16. Board Game: Great Western Trail [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:10]
Lo
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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Five "new to me" games in December. Of them, four I only played once so am not firm in my ratings for them. That leaves only Great Western Trail which I played five times in December and thought was very good with it's evolving "rondel" and multiple ways to pursue victory points. I don't, however, love it.


Lignum, had a played it a couple more times, may have been my favourite of the month. Like Great Western Trail, it has movement along a path where one can stop to take actions or collect items. But what I liked more about it is how all those actions would end up defining what you could do in the other phases of the game. Advance planning is critical in this game and that really appeals to me. However, I'm not sure how much replayability this game has. Although there are random elements, it might still get "samey" after awhile.


1844 could have also been my number one pick had it got another play. I could see it rising with more plays once I get more familiar with the synergies between companies and routes. It's a game that rewards building strong companies and long term track development and not stock manipulation. But it throws in some interesting smaller companies which might seem weak because they haven't the capital for really good trains so they don't earn as much, but their share density pays out twice as much so they only have to make half as much to compete. Like Lignum, I'm anxious to play it again.


A Feast for Odin was another single play game in December. I enjoyed the experience, but I wasn't awed by the game. The spacial puzzle, like that in Patchwork, doesn't really excite me. And thematically, it makes less sense in A Feast for Odin than it does in a game about making a quilt. I prefer the spacial puzzle of Ora et Labora more. However, I prefer the action selection of A Feast for Odin to that of Ora et Labora. And the die rolling didn't bother me at all. I quite liked the push-your-luck element of the re-rolls along with the result mitigation by having weapons and resources to modify the die roll. I'd definitely like to play it again, but I'm not sure I need to own it.


Played a friend's "Art Connoisseur" copy of Scythe earlier this week. What an overproduced game...! Overall, while I enjoyed our play, I'm not convinced it's a game I'd like to play all that often. It'd probably play better with more, but also get that much longer with each additional player. And more chaotic and combative - especially as you can pretty much teleport anywhere on the map thanks to the generous number of tunnels.


The one new expansion that I played this month was Russian Railroads: German Railroads. After four plays, I'm quite happy with it as an investment. Some of my wife's and my best Russian Railroads moments have been with this expansion.
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17. Board Game: Princes of the Renaissance [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:684]
Bryce Journey
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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Princes of the Renaissance finishes on my Top 10 New to Me Games of the Year list. Here's how all of my Top 10 lists stacked up: My 2016 Top 10 Lists and Chronicle of Extreme Challenges (366x1, 1200 plays, 10x20)



Princes of the Renaissance - I've backed many awesome Kickstarters this year, but of all of them, this is the one I was most excited to receive. This has been a grail game of mine ever since I started seriously collecting board games. But its scarcity and out-of-reach price has always kept it out of reach. So when the reprint Kickstarter was announced earlier this year, it was an easy backing choice. I'm happy to report the wait was worth it. This is an epic Euro experience. The non-stop auction action kept me engaged for a fast-feeling three hours and psychological manipulation of the city status track was intense and rewarding. Unfortunately, the player count requirement and the length make it a game that's not likely to be played very often. But it's a game that I'm going to look forward to playing immensely each time it does make it to the table. d10-8

Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails - The cats got us this for Christmas. So far I've just played the Great Lakes map, but it was very cool. My wife won our game by only 1 point. I didn't get any bonus points for the harbors, but I like their potential. I'm looking forward to trying out The World map soon. d10-8

Orléans: Invasion - I tried out the cooperative module with some friends this month and was very impressed. I was skeptical at first at how the game could be transformed into a cooperative ordeal, but it worked out surprisingly well. It was intense, challenging, and we didn't come to close to winning. We've already talked about what we would do differently next time. The fact that the expansion also contains solitaire modules raises the status of the base game to "must have". I'd still like to attain a deluxe edition somehow, though. d10-7

Potion Explosion - Another Christmas present form the cats. My wife and I have played it several times already. She loves video puzzle games like this and she's taken to it right away. I predict this will be played often in the next year. d10-7

Tribune: Primus Inter Pares - For some reason, I have more unplayed games in my collection by Fantasy Flight than any other publisher. But here's one I was able to check off the list this month. I scheduled a demo of this one just so I'd have the excuse to play it, which is something I have to do from time to time with older games. In any event, I had a very successful 4P game of this and enjoyed it quite thoroughly. This is a really cool game and I'm looking forward to teaching it to my wife soon. d10-7

Kingdom Builder: Marshlands - I got this for my wife for Christmas. The new terrain type is interesting, but I'm particularly excited about the new Kingdom cards. d10-7

La Granja: No Siesta - Learned this game in preparation for a January splash event with the Envoy program. I still can't help but think it's pretty silly to make a "dice game" version of a game that's already a dice game, but whatever. No Siesta has a feel all its own and is a quality product all its own. The different dice drafting actions fits together very nicely and make for continuous interesting decision making. d10-6

Battle of LITS - Learned this game on a whim at boardgamearena and enjoyed it quite a bit. I only lost by a point to a more experienced opponent in my only play so far, so it must be a pretty well balanced game. I'm looking forward to exploring this one more when the occasion arises. d10-6

Loopin' Chewie - I got this for my son, Luke, for Christmas and it's been a real hit so far. The two-year-old, Joseph, likes to try to play it too and calls it "Luke and Chewie". d10-5

Paris Connection - Another Christmas present from the cats, who found a good deal on Amazon for this. I only recently discovered cube rail games and am happy to add this to my collection. Setup takes about as long as the gameplay itself, though. d10-5

Dragonscroll - A new and sealed copy of this found it's way to me in a recent math trade for only $50 shipped. I was very excited about the game after reading the instructions, but in practice, getting anything accomplished was an exercise in frustration. Those dragon balls just wouldn't go where I wanted them. Still, it's such a pretty game with an attractive theme, that I'm confident it will make a positive addition to my Fragor line-up at the local conventions. d10-5

SOS: Sheep in Trouble - I got this for the two-year-old for Christmas and he loves playing "the sheep game" with us. He won for the first time the other day and was so excited. d10-5

Tower of Babel - Ho hum. Another Knizia game with numbers and colors. I might give it another try, but I see this one staying in the collection. d10-4

Star Trek: Ascendancy - Dominated the game as the Romulans, which was satisfying, but the gameplay itself was pretty disappointing. Turns felt repetitious, battles were simplistic, elements like the weapons and shields upgrades (which could have been interesting) never or rarely got used, and the end game objective was anti-climactic. The worst part was that it didn't feel Trek-like at all. At the end of the day, Fleet Captains remains a far superior game and I've taken Ascendancy off of my wishlist. It wasn't all bad, though - I really liked how the board is constructed and the exploration element was interesting - I wish there was more of that. If that element were put in a different shell with a different end-game objective, this might have been a really great game. As it is, I think this is a big miss and failed opportunity from Gale Force 9. d10-4

Disney Pictionary DVD Game - My father-in-law got us this for Christmas and we had a chance to try it out right away. The seven-year-old had a great time with it but got very angry when he didn't do well. It's tough for anyone to do well against my Disney Master Wife, though. d10-3

Scooby-doo! Mystery Mansion Game - My wife thrifted this game for my son for Christmas. It's pretty much just a bare-bones version of Clue, but it doesn't over-stay its welcome and the boy liked our only play of it so far. One could do worse with a mass-market licensed game. d10-3
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18. Board Game: Power Grid: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1578]
Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
Florida
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== NEW GAMES ==

Power Grid: The Card Game - 1 play -  7.6 
First Published 2016


Not bad. Still has the feel of the auction from the board game, but very simple. I think I much prefer the board game, but this may end up being a decent filler.

Nok-Hockey - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 0


Simple quick Dex game. Nothing really to report on. Other then I got it for free from work (but had to but the pucks and sticks)

Witch Hunt - 2 plays -  4.6 
First Published 2016


Well, if I have to play a game like this one, this wold be my choice for over 10ish players, but under 15ish players.

== NEW EXPANSIONS ==

Concordia: Salsa -  8 
First Published 2015


Jury really still out, might prefer the game without the expansion, but not saying I dislike the expansion.
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19. Board Game: Forbidden Stars [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:84]
Carthoris Pyramidos
United States
Centennial
Colorado
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Both the new-to-me games for December were big ones added to my collection. The first was the result of a scramble to acquire the FFG production from GW IP before its imminent out-of-print status. The second was a holiday gift from my brother.

Forbidden Stars - 2 plays -  9 
First Published 2015



This game did not disappoint! What a blast it is. So far I've only played a couple of two-player sessions, but I love the asymmetry of the races, and the order system is brilliant. This 3X game (no eXploration, really) is just what I'd been hoping to find in the strategic space opera genre. I've already pimped my copy out with faction-specific WH40K sleeves and coin capsules for the order tokens.


Runebound (Third Edition) - 2 plays -  8 
First Published 2015



This game also has a lot of room for gussying it up; I've used the Drakon (fourth edition) dragon fig to represent the villain Margath both times we've played. I can see a lot of replay value in just this first scenario, although I've already bought one of the "scenario pack" expansions. The first time we played, we got the rules wrong, and we treated a failure to overcome the villain just like "defeat" in any other encounter. Knowing that it meant player elimination raised the stakes in our next try--where we both lost!
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20. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:64]
Robert
Canada
Ottawa
ON
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Another great month for new games and positive first (second and third) impressions

Patchwork - 3 plays

A Christmas gift from my partner's sister. I hadn't played Patchwork before adding it to my Christmas list, but I knew enough about how it works to know that it was a safe bet. It was and is.



Trick of the Rails - 2 plays

Very strange card game that isn't really a trick taker. I liked the build up of tension and the overall cleverness. My partner was less enamored (she likes a little more control over what she's doing) but enjoyed Trick of the Rails enough to play it with me twice in a row.



Coal Baron - 2 plays

My partner and I found Coal Baron engaging and intuitive. I was a little leery of the action point system, and the one time we played it with my partner's sister it did bog down a bit with AP, but it was still great fun. I've lost every game in the last scoring round.



Samurai - 2 plays

Another Christmas gift. I had Samurai on my Christmas list since it's just a wee bit too pricey for me to justify treating myself. It's beautifully produced, much better than I had expected. And our two games were simple, fast and intense--everything we like in a game.



Ginkgopolis - 2 plays

After going through the rules, my first thought was that Ginkopolis was going to suck. But once we got our heads around what we were doing, we both were eager to play it again. It feels very tactical / less strategic than what we normally gravitate towards and maybe that will be its downfall for us, but for now Ginkopolis is pretty great.



Conquest of Paradise - 1 play

After one solo play of Conquest of Paradise, it feels a little odd adding it here. But the AI was very challenging and enjoyable. The production on this is incredible! Can't wait to play it with other people.



Wiener Ringstraße - 1 play

The first and only person to play this surprisingly enjoyable dice allocation game from the same museum that first published Port Royal and Royal Goods (and it's a free print and play!)



Fabled Fruit - 1 play

The third Christmas game I received was Fabled Fruit, and while I only played it once, I thought it was a gas and can't wait to play again. I suspect that this is like Foppen or Fuji Flush in that the game is much, much better with more people playing.



Botswana - 1 play

The overproduced, incredibly simple Botswana is a must have for us and our three kids.



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21. Board Game: Villages of Valeria [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:939]
Jeff Wolfe
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Maybe I should have picked Pandemic Iberia, but it seems like just another Pandemic, even though it's an exciting Pandemic with cool new mechanisms.

Fuji Flush is a random filler from a name designer that's fun for what it is but it seems out of place to call it "best".

The other three games were played in one night. A guy in my gaming circle basically said, I've gotten a bunch of Kickstarts recently, let's play some of them. They were okay. I got stuck with a bad start in Habitats, and it felt like I never had a chance. XenoShyft: Dreadmire was way too long for what it is--too much downtime that's not quite entirely downtime--and then we didn't stand a chance because it's a co-op balanced for experienced players. I won Villages of Valeria for some reason, so I guess that's the best new game of the month.

Fuji Flush - 5 plays
First Published 2016

Pandemic Iberia - 1 play
First Published 2016

Habitats - 1 play
First Published 2016

XenoShyft: Dreadmire - 1 play
First Published 2017

Villages of Valeria - 1 play
First Published 2016
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22. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:777]
Jerry Schippa
United States
Sun Prairie
Wisconsin
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1. Fleet
8/10 - 12 plays

Purchased based on the Drive Through Review and some positive words from my FLGS. Love it! It's a tight bidding game where the cards work as money to win bids and pay for launching boats, they are the boats themselves and are used to captain the boats. You bid on licenses which give you some engine building abilities, and allow you to launch bots of their type.

A good buy for $20-$25, 30-45 minute game in a small package.

2. Bios: Genesis
8/10 - 1 play

My first Eklund game...Why haven't I tried his games before?! A lot of dice rolling may put some people off to this game, but as you progress through the eons you gain more ability to control the outcome a bit. Then you're faced with the risky decision to create life and attempt to keep it alive. Constant O2 spikes, temperature changes, viruses will keep your organism down...But good mutation purchases can keep it going...And maybe turn it into a worm!

Currently hard to find, but maybe a reprint?

3. Keyflower
7.5/10 - 1 play

Fun bidding game that gives you the option to bid on available tiles, use the abilities of the tiles but lose your meeples, and finally allows you to use tiles in your, and other tableaus.

I liked this game a lot, I just don't know if I like it enough to buy it.

4. Vegas Showdown
7/10 - 1 play

Hey! Another auction game...I think I learned that I love bidding/auction games. This is no exception. While a little simpler than the above mentioned, and quite a bit longer than Fleet...This game was a good time despite the mediocre components.

You bid on things to put in your casino. Some give income, others attract guests, but they all follow a tech tree. Build your casino in specific ways to score bonus points...That's pretty much it.

It's fun, would be OK playing it again, but I don't feel any need to own it. I like the above mentioned auction games better. A good start to auction games though. I think k we played 5 in 75 minutes?

5. Wits & Wagers Family
6/10 - 3 plays

I'm laughing making this list. More bidding...But in a different way. I don't care for trivia games, but this one does it right. The scoring keeps the momentum forward so the game doesn't stall out like Trivial Pursuit, Scene It, etc. We played three games in under an hour and had a blast.

I bought it for my brother as a Christmas gift because he's a huge trivia fan, and I'm glad I did. He loved it. The o ly reason this is a 6 and not higher is due to my dislike for trivia, which I think speaks volumes for this game.

Clear winner for a good family game.

Great month, not a single game I disliked!
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23. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:143]
Will Plante
United States
Greenville
Rhode Island
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Wow, another great month of new games as I continue to play the games I ordered post Essen. With all of the business surounding the holidays it was the perfect opportunity to learn some quicker/sometimes lighter games. I still have a few more new games to get to the table in January, plus any gifts given or received.

A lot of my plays are with my kids (14, 11 and 6) and the folks from the GSG meet up.




My favorite game of the month

Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan - Initial rating -> 10 (wishlist)

1 play


Wow, this was an amazing game play experience. I've been wanting to play Sekigahara for years, but didn't know anyone with the game and wasn't sure I'd find opponents if I bought the game. I finally got the opportunity to play with someone from my game group and was it worth the wait. I haven't played many war games, and this is probably the heaviest, but it is by far the most fun I've had playing one.

The dice-less combat reduces the luck factor almost completely; you can still be hosed by your card draw but there are ways to mitigate even that. Card play is really rewarding and hand management is filled with agonizing decisions because cards are played to determine initiative, move units, activate units in combat and the dreaded loyalty cards (which can flip units to your opponents side for that combat). Game play is asymmetrical with what first appear as minor differences, but once as the game is played can be game changing differences that will effect your strategies.

The last thing I will mention is how beautiful this game looks on the table. The are blocks are big and chunky, painted black and gold and the stickers display each units mon and special unit symbol making the block design clean and elegant, also has the board is beautiful (although it would've been nice to have tracks to keep track of castle and resource control).

I am determined to play this game more before another year rolls by, in fact I am thinking of getting a copy since I have another friend interested in learning/playing. I want to carve out time to play these heavier/longer games in 2017. I can't recommend this game highly enough and can't wait to sit at the table and play again.



13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis - Initial rating -> 8/10 (owned)

4 plays


This is an excellent game, the more I play the more the nuances of game play open up. 13 Days really requires a bunch of plays to really get a feel for it and you know how the board and Defcon track can be manipulated. Yes there is randomness in the cards you draw, but even if you get hosed it is fun trying to just hang in there and see if you can pull out an improbable win or even a draw. The game is so quick that you can easily play a few sessions in a row, I've had the game end in 15 minutes with a first round Defcon loss and instead of being frustrated you want to go at it again.

13 Days is the second game, Barony being the other, I've played that manages to make area control work in a 2p game. Mind you both games play quite differently, 13 days being the more complex. If you are able to get 2p games to the table I think 13 Days will appeal to you, whether it be the card play, historical aspect or area control there is a lot to sink your teeth into. This rating will probably go up as I continue to play and more of nuances in strategy open up as I learn the different cards.



Dice Stars - Initial rating -> 8 (owned)

4 plays


If this list is any evidence I am always buying and trying new dice games. I heard about this post Essen and was intrigued since the scoring was quite different from some of my favorites (Qwixx, Qwinto and Rolling America are at the top of my list). I'm always fascinated by a designer's ability to create a game with just dice.

The set up of the scoring sheet is quite clever because only a portion of it needs to be filled to trigger the end game, but there is more space which could allow you to rack up some more points. There is a solid push your luck element which could end up canceling out a row of points.

I'm not going to go into a whole rules explanation, there are plenty of good videos already so if you like dice fillers check this one out. There are some clever twists in the game play, a solid push your luck element and marking your points on the score sheet is a fun puzzle to solve. This does make Dice Stars a bit less intuitive than games like Qwixx or even Noch Mal, which are both definitely easier for non gamers to grasp right away, but I appreciate the added depth (comparatively speaking, Dice Stars is still a light dice filler) and is the reason I am initially rating it higher than Noch Mal.



Fabled Fruit - Initial rating -> 8 (owned)

6 plays


If you remove the hype surrounding this game (mostly from the publisher) you'll find an excellent intro/family weight worker placement game. This is a very light game, but if you know that going in you'll have a very enjoyable 20 minute gaming experience. The art and production are top notch and since the game is so quick you'll be tempted to play a few games in a row.The changing deck of cards offer plenty of opportunities to discover some clever combos which constantly change as new cards enter the game (right now we are up to card #20 after 5 plays). While the fabled system might not be the next milestone in game design, I enjoy it much more than the legacy style games and look forward to what the next game will be in this series.

I'd highly recommend this for families looking for a very satisfying 20 minute game that is very easy to teach as most of the rules are on the cards. I'd recommend it for kids 8+ due to the amount of reading necessary.



Flamme Rouge - Initial rating -> 8 (owned)

4 plays


I took a flier on this after hearing about it post Essen. I've been looking for a race game to play with my wife and kids for a while. We tried Thunder Ally and it while fun, wasn't a hit with everyone due in part to TA not being very intuitive and also quite long. I had been eyeing Snow Tails for quite a while, but never pulled the trigger because while it wasn't a heavy game I was looking for something more streamlined. After reading about Flamme Rouge after Essen I decided to pick u a copy and is exactly what I was looking for.

This is a very light racing game, that is easy to learn with a very intuitive rule set. Since the game play is so straight forward you can really focus on the race and not worrying about a whole subset of rules for movement (aka my main problem with Thunder Ally). The card play mechanic is perfect, everyone has the same movement cards for their riders, but as they are played they are permanently removed form the game with 2 movement exhaustion cards being the only new cards you can get (and they are not good) so you are constantly deciding when to make that push and when to sit back and burn those low cards.

There is a surprising amount of depth when compared to the simplicity of the rules. Hopefully Flamme Rouge will see US distribution, I can see a lot of gamers who enjoy 45 to 60 minute light/gateway type games really digging this one. I highly recommend it for families; so far my kids love it but my wife needs a bit more convincing (but she has agreed to play some more and after a second play enjoyed it a bit more).



Honshu - Initial rating -> 8 (owned)

7 plays


From the first play I really enjoyed Honshu. At first blush the trick taking element appears to take a back seat to the tile laying aspect. However; upon further inspection the designer was very specific as to how the resources, etc. are laid out based on the number of the card (check out this thread for the designer's explanation). After the trick taking phase you move onto card placement which really improves on the basic tile laying mechanic because you can overlap and tuck cards under the existing cards in your tableau based on how you are trying to build your province. That's it, you end the game with a 13 card tableau of cards that you score; there are end game bonus scoring cards that you can use that will change the base game scoring rules which will change how you play to varying degrees.

I hadn't heard of this game before Essen, but once I did I got a copy since I am a sucker for card games. Honshu delivers and will see lots of play in my house and I am almost certain it'll be a hit with my wife (which has become a rare feat). Honshu is the perfect balance of depth to playtime similar to other card game favorites like Arboretum, Parade and Musee.



Oceanos - Initial rating -> 8

2 plays


My buddy Mat put this on my radar and towards the end of the month I got an opportunity to play Oceanos with him. Oceanos is one of the best light drafting games I've played and would make an excellent family game even if you have younger children. The artwork is fun and cartoony, it has the typical Iello aesthetic that definitely will appeal to kids.

Oceanos can be taught in a few minutes and plays like many drafting games with a few twists that I really enjoy. There is a spacial element to the game where cards are laid out in a simple tableau that spans the depths of the sea (there are 3 rounds and 3 levels of card, one for each round). This effects how the game is scored and offers opportunity to plan ahead as you play. The other twist is the submarine each player has which grants different powers/ways to score points. Each part of the sub (I think there are 6) can be upgraded increasing the effectiveness of certain actions.

The combination of a few simple twists in a drafting game plus the quick play time make Oceanos a game I'd like to play again and consider adding to our collection once my youngest daughter is a bit older.



Cottage Garden - Initial rating -> 6/8 (owned)

4 plays


I'm still not sure how I feel about Cottage Garden. Every time I've played I've enjoyed it, it's a much lighter version of Patchwork since there isn't an economy to manage (the buttons in Patchwork). With that missing the game is a very breezy experience as you only focus on filling in your garden as efficiently as possible. There is some forward planning since you know what tiles you'll be able to choose from on future turns. There is a somewhat interesting scoring mechanic, but nothing earth shattering.

So I'm not sure where that leaves me in regards to my desire to continue playing Cottage Garden. On the one hand I enjoy the laid back experience of playing, including the beautiful artwork. On the other hand I can't help comparing it to Patchwork, which I much prefer. I'm curious to see if the game changes the more we play and if our scores start improving (we seem to be stuck in the 70's right now). For now it'll stick around and see more play, in large part because my kids prefer it to Patchwork. I'll be curious to see how this game fares a year from now.



Hol's der Geier (Raj) - Initial rating -> 6

2 plays


A decent filler game, I thought it felt like a very light version of For Sale where each person had the same houses and each turn you bid on a point card (which could be a negative #). Personally, I'd rather take the extra 10 minutes to play For Sale.



Matcha - Initial rating -> 6

2 plays


I almost picked this up a while ago because of the beautiful artwork and the fact that it was a quick playing 2p game, but eventually decided to pass on it. I enjoyed both plays and there is an interesting combination of a card counting and bluffing which keeps the game engaging in the short term. The artwork is beautiful and the highlight of the game for me.

I do have two knocks against the game components and replay value. I respect the fact that they went with shaped pieces instead of colored cubes, but the pieces are tiny and the scale is completely off when they are compared to one another. Again this probably won't be an issue for most people, but it was a big part of the reason that I didn't buy the game. I also question the long term replay value of the game, there just isn't enough to going on to keep this game interesting after a few plays. I'd play again, but definitely won't be seeking out a copy.



Noch Mal - Initial rating -> 6 (owned)

5 plays


The second dice filler released at Essen that I picked up. Both Noch Mal and Dice Stars both play differently than the other dice fillers I own. Noch Mal has a strong spacial element which drives game play (as does Rolling America although the actual game play is quite different, I due prefer Rolling America).

Scoring has a race element to it since the first person to complete a column or color will score more points. Unlike a lot of these types of dice fillers there isn't a negative end game condition meaning the end game can drag a bit as you are desperately waiting forever a certain die combination to be rolled. I prefer games like Qwixx where you are punished for not using your dice since this not only forces you to use your dice, but also moves along the end game condition. Until I played a few games were the end dragged a bit I was much higher on the game, but when a filler game outstay a its welcome it starts to become tedious.

While neither Noch Mal or Dice Stars are hard to learn, Noch Mal is the more intuitive game for people to pick up. Similar to Qwixx there is almost no rules overhead, but unlike Qwixx there is the possibility of Noch Mal out staying it's welcome.



La Granja: No Siesta - Initial rating -> 4 (owned/for trade)

2 plays


I was very excited to play this since La Granja has become one of my favorites, but I ended up being extremely disappointed. No Siesta fell completely flat and the conclusion felt like it was already determined minus rolling some dice for 30 minutes. Decisions are at a minimum and I can't imagine playing this more than a few times since the strategies are so transparent and really not varied at all. I really enjoy playing dice games so this has been one of my biggest disappointments of the year.



Expansions

Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala - Initial rating -> 10 (owned)

6 plays since August 2016


(I realized I never wrote this up, I originally picked up the expansion in August of this year.)

This expansion adds the artisan tribe to the game which score points for set collection and (at the cost of giving some of the meeples up) the ability to pull treasure tokens from a bag. Some of the tokens are worth points, but the best ones offer ways to manipulate some aspect of the game in a very fun way; for example the flying carpet lets you drop the last meeple you are going to place anywhere on the board. There are also some djinns and tiles, which make room for the additional meeples to fit without having to remove any from the game. The artisans themselves have the most unpredictable power in the game since you never know what token you will get, once you draw one it is quite fun to figure out how you will best use it to your advantage.

All in all The Artisans of Naqala is one of the stand out expansions I've played, the perfect balance of adding some new mechanics to the game without any rules overhead. The additions made fit in seamlessly with the rest of the game; this is an expansion that could easily be taught with the base game to new players.



Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania - Initial rating -> 8 (owned)

1 play way back in February 2016


Another expansion I forgot to write up. I only played on the Pennsylvania map, but I really have very little desire to play the United Kingdom map since I'm not interested in a more complex TTR experience. I really enjoyed what the stocks add to TTR, it is an even more family friendly intro to stocks than Airlines Europe. The map is also excellent with great route layouts and many points to be had. I ended up winning the game by a handful of points by focusing on stocks while the runner up crushed tickets/routes, so based on my one play the game seems to be very well balanced. This is my second favorite expansion, with Nordic Countries taking the top spot since it is such a good 2p map.

I ended up getting a copy, but haven't had the opportunity to play yet and since I think it'll need at least four players to shine I'm not sure how often it'll get played. On top of that I am getting my family the Anniversary edition for Christmas so I don't see this getting played anytime soon and with space at a premium I may end up trading it.



Cacao: Chocolatl - Initial rating -> 8 (owned)

4 plays with the expansion


Overall I really enjoy what this expansion adds to Cacao, it definitely adds some depth to the decision making in the game via different modules. The decisions you now make are not quite as cut and dry because you now have multiple uses for the cacao fruits and water, plus you can potentially choose from more tiles to place on the board. There is one module I am not sold on which is the huts. You can buy a hut during your turn if you have the gold to spend and they either offer a special ability (nothing too exciting) or points (as in spend 16 gold for 20 points). While there isn't anything wrong with the huts, they just aren't that exciting and tend to break the flow of the game as you look through them. Overall it is a minor grip, but it is the only module I don't find essential.

If you are playing with folks that have some gaming experience I think you can mix this right in, but it does open up the decision space more so if you're looking for a more basic/straight forward game I wouldn't toss in the expansion. For fans of the game I think it really adds some more strategy to the game and therefore increases the long term replay value, I'd definitely recommend it.



Targi: Die Erweiterung - Initial rating -> 8

1 play


Targi: Die Erweiterung would have been an instabuy for me if there was an English edition available since Targi is one of my all time favorite games. I'm glad I got to play before jumping through hoops to paste up a copy of the German edition because as it stands now I won't be seeking out a copy. While I had fun playing with the new additions, all of the new rules and additional choices would probably be a bit overwhelming for my older daughter who is my most consistent opponent for this game.

While I enjoyed all the new mechanics in the game I'm not sure how much they added to the game. It definitely opened up new strategies to explore, but at the expense of making the game more complex and less intuitive. With the expansion the game play experience is considerably less intuitive and many of the different components of the expansion feel tacked on. Don't get me wrong, I had fun playing would happily do so again, but for my money I'll stick with the slightly less complex and much more streamlined experience of the base game.



As always thanks for reading and please feel free to ask any questions.

Cheers,
Will

*My ratings are based on even numbers only; this forces me to commit to a 6 (average/ probably will leave our collection at some point) or 8 (above average/ usually a keeper) which eliminates having a bunch of indecisive 7's in my collection, I'm also happy to give great games a 10.
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24. Board Game: Star Wars: Destiny [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:335] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Dr. Dam
Australia
KILLARA
VIC
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May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
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December has been a really nice end to the year for new plays and I attended MeepleCon for the first time which was good fun...

New to Me

d10-1 Star Wars: Destiny

Oh boy...it took SW and FFG to combine to suck me back into the murky world of CCGs, which I had vowed never to do again after falling hard for MtG back in the 90s.

This game is great yet evil. FFG have upped the collectability by not only having cards but dice that now too must be collected. That may not seem like a big problem given that a dice comes with its card but wait...you can field elite forms of those unique and awesome characters, but you'll need to find 2 of them in order to get both dice! Diabolical.

But the CCG problem aside...I am loving the heck out of this game. The game flow is soo simple and yet it works so brilliantly as it makes for little downtime. The dice rolling really adds something to this format and it isn't blind luck as the mechanisms within the game allow for a great degree of control over them.

The icing on the cake is of course the universe. Building decks has never been so much fun and the artwork and dice quality are great too. I have sucked in 2 sons already and a few friends as well. Destiny is likely to go down as my most played game of 2017 in a canter.

Expect a review in early 2017. It loses 1 star for being a CCG and I need to explore the game state more to see if it is worthy of a 5-star rating.



d10-2 Animals on Board


Ok I'll admit it, I bought this for the lady because it looked cute. That isn't sexist...she likes cute. What we got was a great little gateway game.

The players are trying to collect animals for their ark, but Noah has copyrighted the 2 of each animal idea, so the players are trying to collect a sole animal of each species or a herd (3 or more). Trick is, each species only has 5 animals each in the game, so things are tight.

The game uses something of a 'I divide and you possibly take' mechanism. Each player only has 2 options per turns, divide a group of animals on the table into two (dividing as you wish) or take a group of animals. The trick is that a player must pay 1 food token for each animal in a group and most times they won't have enough food to take the 'largish' groups until they are divided into smaller ones. How do you get more food? By taking a dividing action of course!

The game is over in quick time as the game ends when any one player has 10 or more animals on their ark and the scoring is calculated.

This is one of those games that looks simple enough on the surface but after 2-3 plays you begin to realise that there is more subtlety here than you expected. This is from the team that designed Finca and whilst lighter than that game, this is a winner.

It has something of a Coloretto/Zooloretto feel to it too. I recommend this one.



d10-3 Holmes: Sherlock and Mycroft


I picked this up off the shelf at Meeplecon because it had that Kosmos 2-player sort of look to it. It didn't disappoint and it would fit well within that stable if it wasn't by another publisher.

This one pits the 2 brothers against one another as Sherlock looks to convict a suspect whilst Mycroft is trying to get them off. The game uses a central board that features characters from the world of Holmes that each offer a different ability. These need to be accessed by the players in order to collect evidence cards of various types.

What the game really boils down to is trying to collect more evidence of each type than your opponent in order to score points in order to win the case.

Annie and I really enjoyed this and the re-playability is there as many characters have abilities that become stronger or weaker based on how early or late they appear in the game. So the players need to respond to the game state with each play to do well as well as keeping up with the play of their opponent.

This is a winner for me and one I will be adding to the collection when it crosses my path.



d10-4 Cottage Garden


For those that aren't aware, this is another take on the principles behind Patchwork but it is implemented in a different way.

I may be in the minority here but I didn't enjoy it as much as Patchwork and that has nothing to do with being attached to the button game as I've only played it once.

The similarities are that both use polyomino pieces but Cottage Garden uses a grid system for puzzle piece acquisition and then adds cats and pots as other ways to help score points.

I don't think the visuals are up to the standard of Patchwork and something just didn't click for me with this one but your mileage may vary.



d10-5 CatBox


CatBox is the 6th game in the Grail Games Mike Line Series. I'll admit that I was expecting a little bit of light fluff here that could be good for a play every now and again, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The game involves placing cards so that they overlap with other cards in the play area (similar feel to The Hanging Gardens although not quite as pronounced here). Each player is given a secret identity (one of the cute kitties or the Chiwouwa...I never can spell that damned name ) and they are trying to get as many of their kitties onto the playing surface as possible to score points. In addition, bonus points can be scored by getting your cats in a larger group (connected orthogonally). Of course you don't want to give away your secret identity too early.

The twist here is that each player must hold their card(s) [only ever 1 or 2) up so that they can see their card on the inside and the other players can see the other side. On a player's turn they can play their own card for the side they can see or they can play another player's card instead using the side they can see.

It's clever stuff. Throw in an advanced form of the game that gives each player access to several powers and the game really has some legs. Nice game David - thanks for bringing it to our attention.



d10-6 Mmm!


Knizia does a co-op for kids - now I've seen everything! This is really quite good actually. As a family of mice, you are trying to steal all of the food out of the Smith Family's pantry. This is made possible by rolling dice and using the images rolled to place tokens on the matching food types that are arranged in a grid. The trick is that if a player cannot completely cover a food stuff in their turn (thereby stealing it) the pesky cat catches wind of your antics and moves one step closer to the larder. If he gets in there it is game over mouse!

The game looks great and there is also a harder variant to really challenge anyone, gamers included. Another good release from the good doctor.



d10-7 Elephant's Trunk


This is another Knizia game, this time a re-theme of a Haba release, taken up by Gamewright Games.

The aim is very simple. Be the first player to get rid of your clothing items because doing so means you helped Emmet the Elephant the most in packing for his holiday. But watch out as there is a naughty mouse who is trying to get into those trunks (suitcases) to throw all the clothes out again.

The adorable factor here is that the game comes with 4 tin trunks that need to be snapped open and closed. Not only do they up the visual appeal of the game but they also help pre-schoolers with their fine motor skills.

Of course a dice is used to determine which trunk can have a clothing item added to it and when the mice will strike.

If I had a child under 5 again, this would be in the collection. Preschools would do well to look at it for colour recognition and fine motor development.



d10-8 Flying Kiwis


Sometimes just plain old stupid works in a game and this is that moment. Flying Kiwis is a game of flicking fun that used not much more than an angled cardboard stand and a hair tie. The aim is to flick your kiwis into the game box, which is segmented by a lattice to make a series of boxes. Flick your Kiwis into the box so you have 3 of your discs sitting atop one another and you take the win. But this is easier than it seems as other players may flick their discs into a box hole to break up your chain.

It's silly for sure but compellingly addictive in 10 minute bursts.

Nobody needs this in their collection...but at the right price I could just add this stupidity to mine.



d10-9 Zombie Dice


Amazing that I had never played this until now as I had always written it off as a little stupid. And it is but it is compellingly addictive and it helps that I like push your luck games. Damn you Steve Jackson!!!

In quick time...the aim is to collect brains as you are the zombies. Shotgun results are bad as bullets kill zombies you idiot (says Zombie George to Zombie Ralph)!

The game works because the dice are colour-coded and each colour offers a varying ratio of good stuff to bad stuff. The dice are drawn out randomly from the bag so you are never quite sure of what you might pull except to examine what you have already rolled and to quickly calculate the odds of turning sour if you pull again.

Of course like any good push your luck game...there is a chance of rolling good on tough dice and rolling poorly on favourable dice.

It's not something I need to own but I would play it again if it was offered up. A good Con game actually when the brain matter is fading.



d10-1d10-0 Battleship Express


This was one of the last remaining Express games that I had yet to try. Naturally it aims to offer a quick play experience to Battleship whilst mixing things up a little.

Each player has the same set of ships that they can arrange in any order they like from left to right. The trick here is that only the front two ships can be attacked by others and only the ship at the front of the fleet can fire at others. Throw in unique ship abilities for each vessel, varying strengths for each ship and the make-up of the dice and this is a pretty decent little game.

Happy to have played it...don't need to own it.



d10-1d10-1 The Chase


You never expect too much from a game show board game but this one is actually not bad. They do a pretty decent job of replicating the show with a few alterations and the players act as each other’s Chasers in given rounds.

There are several problems though. Because the rounds are mostly timed, it does require that the players are able to read quickly and clearly otherwise some players may have a harder time than others. But the real bum note here is that you will burn through the questions provided very quickly indeed given how many are used in a single game if you are playing with 4-6 people.

This is my first Crown & Andrews published game since the 80s and it is sad to see how poor the component quality and overall packaging is today compared to 30 years ago. It's all about profit margin now. soblue



d10-1d10-2 Knock Your Blocks Off


This may be a slightly unfair rating as I'm sure we didn't quite have the rules down right (someone taught it to me) but this just felt awful. The players need to roll their dice and then build a structure using something akin to domino rules to match up the sides. The type of structure you build will offer a unique power and then each player is trying to flick blocks to knock down the other player's structures.

It just felt pointless really and not engaging at all.



New to Me - Expansions

d10-1d10-3 Cacao: Chocolatl


This expansion is a must have for fans of the base game. It uses the module approach to expansion design so you can add in as much or as little as you like and in truth we didn't play all the content in my one play so far.

What makes expansions work so nicely for Cacao is that usually some tiles must be removed to add new ones in, which means the bloat factor doesn't raise its ugly head.

This is a must pick up for me.



d10-1d10-4 Cacao: Volcanoes


Cacao is a little like Zooloretto in that it lends itself so well to little mini expansions, which change the game up slightly rather than massively overhaul the experience.

Volcanoes is one such mini expansion which replaces the gold mine tiles with volcano tiles that allow meeple on one side to earn money and those on the alternate sides to pay money.

It changes up the experience without doing anything earth shattering.

But in a great piece of innovation...the punch board is designed to fit snugly into the base game box and helps to keep everything in place regardless of how you store the game, which is great as the pieces really do go everywhere between plays.
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25. Board Game: Evolution [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:367]
Dave Roy
Canada
Vancouver
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A weak month for new games. A few little ones that don’t really amount to much, and even my “standout” game was only good, not great (at least on first play).

Evolution


Which “god” who’s creating a bunch of animal species will have the most successful run of evolution? That may not be how the rules set it ou (I don’t know, as I didn’t read them), but that’s kind of how it felt. “I need a new species!” (discard a card) or “I’m going to make this species a carnivore!” (play card).

It took us a little bit of time to really grasp the intricacies of the game, and the end game was fairly AP-prone (though again, we were a table full of newbies with just one person who taught the game), but I did really enjoy it.

I definitely want to play it again.

Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers


This quick little card game set in the Eminent Domain universe was kind of interesting and it was a very quick game, but I found that it didn’t do a lot for me. There is player elimination for those who don’t like that, but as quick as the game is, it really shouldn’t matter much. Play your cards secretly, then all reveal and use the effects of the lower card first. Get victory points! Make another player discard a card! (If you run out of cards in your deck, you’re finished). Make everybody discard a card! Or repair your own deck and get a card back.

Lots of intricate choices in this little game, but it often boiled down to the obvious card play for me.

Parade


I really liked this card game! Set in the Alice in Wonderland world (though the different AiW characters for each colour are the only nod to the theme in this game), there is a parade of cards that you have to avoid taking. You play one of your cards at the end of the parade, and the number you played is the number of cards in the parade that are “safe” (meaning you don’t have to take them). After that number, if any cards are left, you take cards that are either the same colour as you played or equal to or less than the card number you played. Put them in front of you. You get those points at the end of the game.

Oh, you don’t want points. Forgot to mention that part.

The good thing is that if you have the most of a colour in front of you at the end of the game, you get to turn those cards over and they are worth only one point each instead of face value. So if you’re getting cards, try to make them the same colour.

Really enjoyed this as a nice, filler game. Easily my second favourite this month.

Cottage Garden


Garden Tetris! Garden Patchwork for more than 2 players!

A center nursery with a lot of differently shaped flower pieces. On your turn, you take one from your row and try to place it on one of your two gardens. Try not to cover any flower pots or covered flowers (still not sure what those blue things are), because once your garden is finished, you score points based on the number of each that are there. Six times around the nursery gets you to the end of the game, and then you have one more round to finish the gardens you have (you get more as you finish them during the game, so you never run out).

I really don’t like spatial games that much, where you have to try and figure out how things fit. This isn’t as bad as Factory Fun, since there’s no timed element involved, but it was still annoying. All of those differently shaped pieces! Ugh.

Probably should have paid more attention before I picked up Penny Press, but at least that game is only rectangles. It shouldn’t be as bad.

This one left me meh, though. Sorry, Uwe!!!
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