New to you Jun 10 => Best new game you played this month and why
What's the best new game you played this month (Jun 10) and why? Share your experiences of the new games you've played this month.
It would be helpful, if you could add an entry to the list even if you pick the same game as someone else.. since I use the geeklist entries to compile the summaries. Thanks
New To You Metalist 2010
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Meta-list - old metalist (currently broken)
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread
Your Most Played Game (and more): June 2010
A lean month for me in terms of new games... just one new game, and no new expansions or games on Yucata
Days of Steam
This was a wedding present from a gaming friend at our church, and since we had not yet had chance to try it, I took it along to our monthly game meeting at the church to see if he could teach us the game. We had a 4 player game in which I just managed to win, thanks to a favourable die-roll on my last turn.
It was an interesting tile-laying, pickup and deliver game, but my main complaint about it was that it seemed to play so slowly. There was an initial burst of laying track, which allowed us all to build up steam for our engines... but then after that turns always seemed to alternate playing piece of track to get 2 steam, then moving a couple of spaces. We could perhaps have been a little more efficient by laying several pieces of track then moving more... but this was hampered by the cornering rule in that if you moved more than 2 spaces using a corner section of track you had to roll the die. The other problem we had was that the water tower tiles that allow you to stock up on steam for a turn all seemed to come out late in the game and weren't used at all. There was a nice little boost near the end, when the last city tile was placed and everyone got a small supply of coal to use for steam... but that didn't last long, and we were back to alternating track laying and movement.
I think the game was OK, but really does need some tweaking.. perhaps the setup should include a water tower, so that people can use that early on. Or perhaps each player should get 1 steam/coal per round or something.
Past Lives is a brilliant, neglected classic from legendary board game company Avalon Hill. In it, players are amnesiac, disembodied souls traveling backward through time, acquiring material treasures that ultimately advance their "Karmic Level" and bring them closer to Nirvana. Only then is the fog lifted from their consciousness and their true identity revealed. If you can self-enkarmarate skillfully, you may turn out to be Gandhi. If you wouldn't know Karma from a Circus Elephant, it might be because you are a Circus Elephant. As you can see, this game couples exquisite theme with thoughtful, bootstrap messages for kids.
But Past Lives is not all theme and no substance. Far from it. Players wrestle with rich and unfamiliar decisions, a prime example of which is the ability to manipulate the rewards of a die roll. If my intuition tells me that the dice are trending lower, I can choose to try to roll 2-6. If, however, my powers of observation detect high-trending dice, I can try to roll 8-12. Too many games give players no choice in matters like these, and it's a pleasure to see a spark of innovation tucked away in a 20-year old design (Vlaada Chvatil, eat your heart out!). Other bold design choices abound. For instance, Time Travel is a rough, unpredictable endeavor wherein even incorporeal souls can meet an untimely end. The game's answer for this is Life Insurance, and it's a damn good one. My grandfather sold Life Insurance, and his tutelage in its Atlas-like qualities served me well in this game.
One thing I didn't like about this game was its stance toward losers. You know who I'm talking about: there's always a gamer at the table who just sucks, not only at the game, but at life in general. These are the folks who can't be bothered to roll well, or who draw treasures worth only one twentieth the value of your own. A good game drags these people along in the mud, making a humorous spectacle of their pathetic fate. Past Lives, though, does this very strange thing where other players compete to bail out the losers in order to gain more Karma. Let me tell you, my grandfather had a word or two about bailouts, and they're not what make the world go 'round.
Despite a minor blemish or two, Past Lives is a game well worth checking out. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll carry the Titanic with you through the Dark Ages and discover you're a Eunich.
A new Grail Game draws nigh, and its name is Past Lives!
Forbidden Island is a calculated foray into the mass market. The game is patterned on designer Matt Leacock's previous game, Pandemic, which has established quite a reputation within the boardgaming hobby. Though I wish Leacock success with a newer, potentially larger audience, Forbidden Island has nothing to offer me as a Pandemic fan. All of its mechanisms are derived and diluted from the previous game, making it less interesting across the board and robbing it of any distinguishing features. The roles in Pandemic are much more distinct from one another, the movement and map more engaging, the hand and deck management meatier.
Forbidden Island is an extremely inexpensive, nice-looking game. However, I question its necessity as a "bridge" game. I can already get most people to play and enjoy Pandemic.
Though in this case I can appreciate the goal, the trend of taking excellent, well-loved games and "streamlining" them continues to yield awful results.
Age of Industry
...what was I just saying?
The trend of taking excellent, well-loved games and "streamlining" them continues to yield awful results.
Oh, right. I'd say no harm, no foul, but Age of Industry almost certainly forecloses the possibility of new maps and decks for Brass: Lancashire. Bummer. I can just feel an AoI fanboy ambush lurking around the corner for a crotchety Brass-er such as myself, but damn it all, AoI sucks.
Brass is a bold, creative, complex, lumbering, quirky, theme-driven design that probably came together much better than Wallace expected it to. It's an adventurous, thoroughly engaging game with personality and depth. Age of Industry surgically removes most of that personality. It's flat. There's nothing to immerse yourself in, just some tiles with investment/profit differentials and a standard loan mechanism. It reminds of of Railroad Tycoon more than anything else. It's like a foundation with no house on it, the gaming equivalent of a Potemkin Village.
This game wasn't made for Brass fans. This game was made for people intrigued by the idea of Brass, people who admire Brass from a distance. I am not one of those people.
Vive la Brass!
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
A big month this time with nine new-to-me games.
Best was Blue Moon. Two of my biggest gaming enthusiasms are Knizia and card-combo games so I was always going to love this. I picked up the base game plus Buka and Khind decks. Unfortunately my wife, who I do most of my 2-player gaming with, isn’t keen on the artwork and finds it a bit too confrontational so I’m not sure how much play it will get. But I can still get my fix against the excellent AI implementation. 8
Next is Age of Industry, which I was interested but apprehensive to play as Brass is one of my all-time favourites. Having read the rules, I didn’t like a lot of the changes that had been made from Brass and my first play seemed to confirm this. I missed the income track and the loan decisions, the differentiation of the industries, the canal era. But then a strange thing happened: at my next game night I wanted to play again, and then at the one after that too. I began to appreciate AoI’s plus points rather than just comparing it to Brass. While it isn’t much shorter or much less complex in its rules than Brass, it does feel lighter to play. The decisions are more tactical and I don’t feel burned out on finishing a game. I can definitely see it working better for new players than Brass does, particularly as the rules are much better written. And playing both sides of the board confirmed that one of AoI’s main advantages is its expandability. I like that it will be possible to tinker with how the industries work as well as the geography - it reminds me of the Power Grid expansions, some of which are quite radical. 8 (Brass is a 10)
Next up is Wars of the Roses, which is an exquisitely produced area majority game. I don’t think it’s perfect - the simultaneous planning phase inevitably introduces a lot of luck and chaos - but I had a great time playing it. I like the way new holdings are introduced by card drafting so that each game will be quite different, I like the semi-partnership aspect, and the bonus of the simultaneous planning is that there isn’t nearly as much down-time as there can be in games like this. I’m not sure about the strong catch-up mechanisms, they almost feel too much, although in our game I took a huge early lead and nearly held on to it. If you can cope with a large dose of bluffing then WotR is well worth a go. 7
Appropriately, this month saw my first play of the World Cup Game, having tried the World Cup Card Game a couple of months ago. We played through the 2006 tournament, with my Portugal triumphing. In comparison to the card game, the board game looks much nicer, with a wallchart style board and tokens to place for goals etc. But I didn’t feel it offered a huge amount more in the gameplay department and it suffers the same downsides as the card game too. In the board game you play all the group matches simultaneously, which gives some tactical opportunities, but isn’t quite as fun as the blind bidding of the card game. And as with the card game, the tension seems to sadly dry up a bit in the latter stages of the tournament, with the final usually just coming down to who drew the better run of cards. I have had a lot of fun with both though, football fans and non-fans alike seem to enjoy it and it doesn’t drag despite it’s surprisingly long play time. 7
Strozzi was that rare beast: a Knizia game that I wasn’t bowled over by. It’s something of a hybrid of Medici and Ra, taking parts of the scoring system of the former and combining them with a much simplified version of the bidding system of the latter. I don’t think it’s as good as either though. I disliked the way the different components of an auction lot are all just printed on one card, rather than being generated by the players as in both Medici and Ra. 6
Bierborse (the German beer-house themed version of Bazaar) is an old Sackson game I picked up on eBay. It has some interesting ideas - I like the variable boards showing what can be traded for what, and the rewards for economical play. But it feels a bit like a fragment that could have been part of a more interesting game, and gets a bit repetitive. 6
Pinguin Party is another Knizia: an acceptable filler. I have no idea why Fantasy Flight tried to remarket it as a dexterity game (the much-derided Penguin), but this card game version works fine. There’s more to it than it first appears - it has some of the same tactics as Ingenious, when you try to block off the other players’ access to one of the colours. 6
Volcano is an abstract played with Icehouse pyramids. It’s fine for what it is but I don’t really like this type of game much. 5
Finally, Shave a Sheep is one of the Lego range of board games. I bought it for my wife because she loves Lego and sheep, but they’ve put the bare minimum into making it an actual game. The Lego dice are cool and, as the rules say, you are encouraged to design your own game using the components. 4
(As usual, pics by myself.)
Keltis: Das Orakel 2 plays
It’s the most complex and most interesting version of Keltis out there, with the most different ways to win. What I’m not sure about yet is if it’s the best one or Keltis – Neue Wege, Neue Ziele(seemingly the one with the most tension) wins. Das Orakel needs the most thinking and is a great game, but maybe Neue Wege has the best depth:complexity ratio; further investigation is needed. (At worst it will have to get the 2nd place here.) What's sure is it's different from the others and it needs different tactics: while you can have a score as high as 100 here, you get only max. 27 of that from the printed numbers on the board, so it doesn't feel like a race as the previous ones did; it feels more like a hand management game where you don't really have bad hands but you have to find the best way to use your cards - and the options are many. 7.7
Hermagor 1 play
It seems I was dead wrong when I thought Emanuele Ornella is not a designer for me, based on the very first game by him I played – Byzanz (that’s a tepid, overbalanced, thus uninteresting game). Since then I learned Oltre Mare and Assyria and I really liked both. Hermagor shares surprisingly lot in common with Assyria’s rules and while Assyria might be the better game, I might prefer Hermagor over Assyria as here I have a clear view on what I am (or what I should be) doing so I enjoy this one more. A really good game, deserving more attention than it currently has. 7.5
Claustrophobia 1 play
I’m an Eurogamer but that doesn’t mean I won’t try non-Euros. Actually Claustrophobia might be the best “AT” I have ever played (of course I haven’t played that many yet). It’s still not my genre but I like that even though you roll the dice all the time, you have lots of options to take into consideration, you do have a lot to think about; it’s a bit like a “dice management” game which brings it a little bit closer to Euros. Also the production quality is top-notch. 7.2
Bohnanza 2 plays
Well, I’m not walking the usual path regarding the order I have learned Uwe Rosenberg’s 4 most well-known and well-respected games: I learned Le Havre first, then Loyang, then Agricola and now it was time for Bohnanza at last. It’s nothing deep but fun and enjoyable, also good for non-gamers. Unfortunately I have also learned Bohnanza later than Emanuele Ornella’s Oltre Mare which uses a bit of the same core mechanism (scoring of goods based on how much of them are placed next to each other, fixing card order thus forcing insanely active trading between players) and I think that’s a better design. Still, Bohnanza might be better for beginners, and also it was the first one of its type. 7
Eketorp 1 play
A pre-Caylus board game with a kind of worker placement-ish mechanism (actually it’s simultaneous planning of several actions, just like in this year’s gamer sweethearts Fresco and Dungeon Lords) that must have been very fresh when it came out in 2003; now it’s not that special. But the use and re-use of “fight” cards is really a nice mechanism. Dirk Henn is a fine game designer – I don’t love any of his games but I’ve yet to play any that I don’t like – and this game just confirms this opinion of mine. Actually it’s quite fun; if only it was a bit shorter… 6.7
Robot Master 5 plays
A very light and short card game that feels like one play of a traditional card game so you really should play it more than once (and it does tell you how to count the scores when playing multiple rounds). It’s not thematic, although the colors and different looks of the funny robots do help during the game. It’s a matrix-like game in a Kingdoms way, only more simple, with some very simple but effective ideas and less than 10 minutes (officially 15 minutes) playing time, so it’s the picture book example of a “filler”. 6.5
Reiner Knizia's Decathlon 3 plays
One round of 10 more or less different, simple, pure dice games: this downloadable PnP game is actually a fun diversion. Nothing really special and earth-shattering here, but it’s a more varied and more entertaining, light filler than a game of Yahtzee. 6.5
SuDoKu - The Card Game 1 play
Bought cheap as I wanted to try this one (I’d like to try SuDoKu – Duell der Meister but I just can’t find it anywhere) as we have a SuDoKu Boardgame that is simpy so bad that we never play it while my wife loves SuDoKu puzzles and I like them as well. This one is a lot more interesting than that other one, even if it feels more like creating a SuDoKu puzzle than solving one. Still it’s not a good game for those who don’t enjoy SuDoKu. 6.2
Cthulhu Dice 3 plays
If you have ever wondered why most of my ratings are between 6.5 and 8, here is the reason why: I want to show how much even a mediocre game is better than this piece of… Well, I don’t think any game deserves a 1 (unless it has a set of rules that makes it clearly unplayable) as I can’t say a game is not a game if there are people who enjoy playing it so the lowest rating I give to a game is 2. Cthulhu Dice gets +0.5 because very rarely you might have a decision (there is a symbol that, when - rarely - rolled, allows you choose from the available actions) and it has a cool die (only one, so I don’t even understand the name of the game). Otherwise it’s so short and so light that it could only work as a children’s game (for 3 to 5-year-olds) but it has a horror theme so it’s clearly not intended for children. In some places it’s suggested that it could be used to determine the start player of a bigger game but even then it’s not really balanced…
Actually I felt bad that I gave this game a 2.5 (I’m not generally against dice games – see Decathlon above which I downloaded after playing CD as I just wanted to have some better experience with dice) while the owner of the game clearly enjoyed it and also someone bought a copy after our play (three plays actually as I demanded two replays, hoping it can get better and hoping to have a feel of having played ONE very short game). Also its BGG rating is over 5.5 so there must be something to it, I thought. Then I found LCR has a rating of 2.48 and I was relieved. Frankly, this game is almost the same as LCR… with a cool die. 2.5
Dominion: Stash Promo Card 1 play
I do think the Dominion big expansions are great and Alchemy is good. I can imagine many action card selections where Stash is an interesting addition. In the game we played Stash was so overpowered (you could not steal it from the other player but there were options for trashing cards) that it became a very simple race for the Stash cards and of course the player who started with the 5:2 gold cards won. I’d like to try this one in company of stronger or more fitting cards. 6
While Tutela won one of the Hungarian Mensa awards, it is under reconstruction and I have played with an upgraded version that is quite different from the original. It had its issues but I can see this one becoming a good game, only not for me, as I just don’t really know how to play these games and the board (even the altered one) is a bit frustrating to look at.
I have also played a prototype of Capt'n Cool (a “final prototype before sending to the publisher that is probably willing to publish it”) which has changed really a lot since I played it last more than a year ago. It is lighter, a bit more fun, it still has quite a lot of strategy, I can see it becoming an entertaining game, a game that is better than the designer’s previous effort.
And finally I printed the very first prototype of a new game concept designed by myself; had some plays with it as it seemed it indeed works , learned from the mistakes and now it seems I have about 50 different versions that I should try. But I need 10 more hours a day so I can have time for everything...
“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
Almost 300 games commented on, and a bit of a return to form after the past two months. Thanks for reading!
Games with an 8 Rating
The Princes of Machu Picchu
Time for something very unique. Princes of Machu Picchu is one of the most interesting games I've played in a long time. It has various Euro mechanisms we've all seen before but twists them in interesting ways.
First it's been described as a worker placement game. Well, there are workers in the game and they do get placed to gather resources for their owners but people can do nothing to block people from getting the resources produced by their workers. You do have one Prince piece which moves around the map and activates regions. Some of the regions have incentives which go to the person that activates the region. Once the regions with incentives are activated, they can't be activated again. So I guess the Prince is more similar to the average worker in a worker placement game but when these regions with incentives are activated, every player has an opportunity to use that regions abilities if they have the pre-requisites (resources, workers, and/or priests/virgins). It's almost like Puerto Rico role selection, except this selection is done by area movement similar to Risk and other territory games.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. You have a resource market similar to Cuba but anytime the market is activated you can add or remove a resource from it before starting your exchanges which is as much selling and buying as you want. These resources can be used to get currency, other resources, place workers, get priest/virgin tiles. These tiles are the typical way for people to attain VP cards (a little similar to Stone Age VP cards except that no one can see what cards you get). You're not completely thrown to the card randomness wolves either... when you get to draw VP cards you're allowed to draw three, combine with your hand of cards hand and the discard two... am I exploring in Race for the Galaxy? The game feels like an an efficiency engine game because usually what you can accomplish will snowball as the game progresses but there are no auctions.
Rounds last a number of turns dictated by the players. Some will want to end rounds early and some will try to make it last as long as possible based on how they want the game to end. The game will end in one of two ways which have different scoring methods.
Well, I've said more than I meant to about the game. I've only played the game once which was about 2 weeks ago but it's been in my mind enough to be able to say all of this about it. It's a unique game that deserves to be tried to see if it fits your gaming tastes.
Games with a 7 Rating
Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War
I have played the Brink of War 40 times this month, so I must love it, right? Think again. I will note ahead of time that the vase majority of games I play are the 2PA games. This is what get's added Race:
-A completely new game mechanism called Prestige which can't be turned-off the way Take-Overs can. You might know it as the pinkish-purple star icon that's near the VP icon for some of the Rebel vs Imperium cards.
-A once per game ability that's partially tied to Prestige. Once per game you can pay one Prestige to do a phase of your choice with a super bonus. Alternatively, you may use your OPG card to do a search which does not cost a Prestige and allows you to search within 9 specialized categories and you flip cards until you get a card that matches the category. If you don't like your first result then you must take the second matching card.
-4 New start worlds.
-New Robot options
-Lots of new cards
The first 10 games or so awesome for exploring the various new cards.
Here's Prestige in a nutshell: It's a new resource that's worth 1 VP. Various cards in this expansions will allow your to acquire and spend Prestige in various ways for various abilities. At the end of a phase if someone has more than one and the most prestige, they become Prestige Leader (written as PL henceforth). PL gain 1 VP at the beginning of a round. If the PL gains Prestige and keeps PL in a round they will get 1 card in addition to their 1 VP.
Once we played another 5 plays we noticed something about our previous plays and for the next 10: Scores had a larger disparity than before we added BoW. Once someone acquires PL they almost never lose it. Also approximately 85 - 90% of the time someone had PL throughout the game, they ended up winning. That is not an exaggeration either. I wouldn't mind so much if it took a lot of skill to get Prestige/PL but it's usually a crapshoot as to who starts with the right cards or get's them within the first few turns. There isn't even a search option for prestige related cards with your OPG search.
Why does it seem that Prestige is too good? It's worth a VP (more with 6 cost Dev and a 6 cost world), If you have PL then you get 1 VP per turn and a few free cards at the beginning of various turns. Prestige basically let's the rich get richer. This doesn't even include the goals. Why have a most goal related to Prestige when having the most Prestige already gives you a benefit. Then there is the first to get 2 Prestige + 3 VP and the first to 5 VP. PL gives me VP/round which makes these attainable without consuming and it doesn't prevent you from consuming. While we're on the topic of Goals... what's up with the negative military goal? Another complete crap shoot. I have Contact Specialist/Empath World/X/Y/Z in my opening hand... YAY!! No goal should be able to be achieved in the first round of the game. The Brink of War along with Race was on the Brink of my trade pile.
At first I thought... I'll get rid of Race altogether and go back to playing Puerto Rico. Then I thought I would play Race without BoW. Nah, I should at least try it with Take-Overs, maybe that would make a difference but I don't like take overs. Then I was thinking of leaving in BoW cards that had no prestige powers and making the prestige part of the search/prestige OPG cost 1 VP instead of a Prestige. Aww, but then I would be removing a lot of interesting cards (ie Terraforming Engineers, Hologrid, Booby Trap, etc). So, my GF Daisy and I thought more about it and Daisy came up with a great fix.
I find Race w/ BoW enjoyable again by doing 2 tweaks: (1) Use Prestige in every way described in the rulebook, but don't use the prestige leader mechanism at all (1 vp/turn + possible cards). (2) Remove both Prestige goals and the Negative Military/Take-Over goal from the game.
I am now enjoying Race for the Galaxy once again and added another 15 plays. The scoring disparity is about what it was prior to BoW compared to w/ the PL mechanism. Played my way, I rate BoW a 9. Played by the rules I rate 5. So the average of these is 7 and it's what I'm rating BoW.
Games with a 6 Rating
Agricola: Farmers of the Moor
What does Farmers of the Moor add to Agricola:
-Variable setups for your initial farmland which contain new tiles
-New Major/Minor Improvements
-No new Occupations
-Fuel Resource (wood can be exchanged for fuel the way grain/veggies can be exchanged for food at any time)
-Moor Tiles (they help you get Fuel)
-Forest Tiles (they get you Wood when chopped)
-Action cards that are either free or 2 food depending on who get's to them first and they don't use up your people actions.
Rather than go into explaining what they all do, I'm going to explain what I thought of it: It added extra stuff that's usually taken care of by the free actions. So for me, it didn't really feel like it added much to the game. Scoring is the same with the exception of Horses which is just an extra animal with no VP cap and if you can't heat your home and cure your people are sick by the end, they will be worth less points. It adds a little time to the game due to these extra free actions that happen each round and I'm not so sure the pay off is worth it.
Games with a 5 Rating
You have 9 randomized spaces arranged in a 3x3 grid which are summarized here though I don't recall their names:
-Bring people from stock to the entry points based on number of people here
-Entry Point - No other function
-Move people orthogonally based on number of people here
-Gain money based on number of people here. Money pays for cards and nobles
-Each of your people at this location can be traded to your stock for resource that gains you nobles - Type A
-Each of your people at this location can be traded to your stock for resource that gains you nobles - Type B
-Each of your people allows you to look at that many cards. Trading in your people to stock here here let's you keep that many cards that you've looked at.
-Trading in your people to the stock here allow you to influence that many noble. Nobles cost money and resource type A and B. They give VP and sometimes a special ability.
-Most of the other spaces give you a benefit if you have the people majority. Majority at this spaces give you majority at other spaces if there is a tie.
All of the nobles are in this large grid. When you influence the noble you take them off of the board and get their benefit. People on the outside of the grid require you to place people there and then each of the four edges have people majority tabulated for points at the end game. Adjacent empty spaces in this grid make remaining nobles cheaper.
It works and the game does have this influx and purging, but it's nothing exciting and doesn't feel overly strategic.
Games with a 4 Rating
I didn't really like this game. Here are some likely counter-points people might say if I was to list what I didn't like the game:
-It's not that chaotic because you get to pick your objective from a hand of cards.
-It's not a dry set collection game, it's got cute animals and foxeeples
-It's not too long for what it is, because I'm right.
I just didn't like the game.
Caylus Magna Carta
I don't mind complex games so it's usually not a good idea for me to start with a complex game and then play a more simplified version of the same game. Sadly, I believe I owned Caylus Magna Carta before I played Caylus. That's all that I can really say about CMC. I'm sure it would be a good game to start people on before Caylus if they aren't into heavier games or just a decent game, if you're not looking for a game that isn't long and heavy.
Games with a 3 Rating
Draw cards every round and if you exceed your player mat... that's a paddlin'
If you don't activate every card from your player mat... that's a paddlin'
No action cubes for the current round... that's a paddlin'
UGH! The randomness of the cards, die rolls, the various punishments and the lack of interesting effects from the card abilities make me really dislike this game.
Jenga variant... bleh.
This game is beautiful, with satisfyingly over-produced components and several challenging mechanics. You can't win without placing well in the auction, but there are so many other things you want to spend your coins on.
The first time we played this, it took something like three hours from beginning of explanation until end of game. We got too beguiled by the various possibilities.
The second time, the same five players finished in about 80 minutes.
If we played again, I suspect we'd be at the 60 to 80 minute mark. And I do hope we play again.
Board Game: Vikings
[Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:311]
Only two new games for me this month: Vikings and San Juan. Vikings is easily my favorite of the two.
Vikings, 3 plays
Most of my latest game purchases have been medium-weight, multiplayer games (Carson City, Steam, Cyclades, Power Grid) and I've been looking for a great light-medium two-player game to play when it's just me and my girlfriend. As of late, we played either Ticket to Ride, Agricola or Stone Age. Great games, but I certainly like some variety, so I wanted to add another game to this collection. For this reason I bought Jaipur, which I think is a great game, but it wasn't exactly what we're looking for. My girlfriend doesn't like the fact it's played in a best-of-three manner and I think it's too short when played only once; we still resort to the three beforementioned games.
After doing some more research I got really interested in the game Vikings. A light-medium tile-laying game and acclaimed as a great two-player game. Wouldn't it be too similar to Carcassonne (a game we love 2p) or Alhambra (a game we love 3p)? After reading a lot of reviews I decided to take the plunge and I bought it.
We've played three times already and we both enjoy it. It's easy to get into while still offering a lot of choices. (After a few more plays we want to introduce the progress rules and I think this will spice things up even more; especially the new boatsman rule.) The way the tile market works is just great, with possibly some agonizing choices. Tile placement offers some intersting decisions as well, you want to leave your placement options open, while placing your meeples efficiently, in pursuit of many of the end game bonuses and the best pay-off on a shorter term basis. The time frame of 45 minutes is great. Also, I have a strong suspicion this game will scale well to 3 or 4p. I rate Vikings an 8.
So far, my girlfriend has beaten me twice and suddenly she like this idea of playing games in a best-of-three manner. I'll suggest playing Jaipur again someday...
San Juan, 2 plays
The second new game is San Juan, which I've gotten as a gift. I also own and have played Race for the Galaxy, the game with which it's often compared. I didn't think Race for the Galaxy was that difficult after getting used to the iconography and San Juan is supposably its easier, little brother. I don't think Race for the Galaxy is a bad game, but I'm not a big fan either. I do like it better than San Juan, though. Probably because I've played it first. San Juan doesn't add anything to the experience I've had with Race for the Galaxy. Instead, it simplifies a few things, even removes a few things. It's definitely the easier game and it probably doesn't have the depth Race for the Galaxy has to offer. The artwork is poor. The novelty of cards with multiple uses is worn. It adds downtime as players have to wait for their turn to see which roles they can select, as roles are selected from a common pool. Both games are card games and therefore luck dependent. Cards in Race for the Galaxy can offer more than one special ability, like an explore ability and a settle abilty, for instance. Cards in San Juan have only one abilty. Therefore, with San Juan you feel more dependent on the luck of the draw. All in all, I think Race for the Galaxy is the better game. Then again, San Juan isn't a bad game. I'd like to play from time to time. It definitely has more chances to hit the table more often: The learning curve is much more accessible and the theme is a lot less love-or-hate. I rate San Juan a 6.
This month I added Vikings, San Juan and Power Grid to my collection. I've played Power Grid before and think it's one of the best games I've played. Hopefully I get to play it much more often now I own a copy!
Eugene van der Pijll
The big news for me this month were the new-for-me expansions. I'll get to them later, as the "best new game" award has to go to a game, even though these weren't as interesting as the expansions.
Here they are, from best to worse:
The Princes of Florence is an oldie, but it turns out to be a classic game, an elegant and enjoyable mixture of tile laying, auctions, and more good mechanics. I'd like to see this reprinted.
I Go! is an interesting rummy-type card game. The start of the game was confusing as the (Dutch) rules translation wasn't very good, but the (very different) German rules produced an interesting game.
Schweinebande is a light short family game, and an enjoyable one. Turn over tiles, and decide if you want to step out now (so you are the first one to pick which tiles you get), or step out later when there's more information available so you can get better tiles.
Bunny Bunny Moose Moose was a bit disappointing, but I didn't really put this on the table at the right moment (and at the right level of intoxication...) I want try to introduce this to more casual players next time.
Carcassonne: Wheel of Fortune changes the original game less than many of the expansions. The additional ways of scoring are not particularly exciting, and the only interesting effect of the wheel is when you have to return a meeple to your supply. The big tile with the wheel is used as a starting tile, and the effect is to spread the game out a lot more from the beginning; this seems to cause a reduction of interaction. It is still a good game of course, because it is Carcassonne. (compared to Carcassonne) or (as an independent entity)
Vasco da Gama: Complexity for complexity's sake. Slow and opaque. I had no idea afterwards what I had done right and wrong, and didn't grasp the connection between my actions and my score. This game leaves me cold.
Mexican Train is a dominoes game with a few extra rules. Luck plays a large role, and there seems to be little room for strategy.
Monopoly Express is almost pure randomness. Not nearly as good as the other Express line games I've played (Risk, Game of Life).
And now: the new expansions, all of which are at least worth trying.
I was sceptical when I first heard about Dominion: Alchemy, but it turns out to be an excellent addition to the Dominion family. Most of the cards are interesting, some are spectacular. However, Potions are annoying when they turn up in your hand with not enough coins or too many coins for the available alchemy cards; that is the downside of being able to buy Familiars, Golems, and Possessions. The only problem I have with Alchemy is the price: I paid EUR 30 for an imported box, which is the same price I paid for the other boxes with twice the number of cards. Of course, that I bought it means I think it's worth it... The length of individual games is an issue, and I prefer to play this edition with experienced players. This is not too much of a black mark, as unlike some other games (I'll get back to that later), it's very easy to include or exclude Alchemy from a game.
Dixit: Quest brings more cards to the game. Excellent production values again. Not strictly necessary, as it was just my second game of Dixit, but will be appreciated in future games.
Dominion: Stash is worth the price. I'm talking both the in-game price of 5 coin (especially in smaller decks, where you can use its special ability more often), and the $5 I paid for it in the BGG store.
Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War takes Race for the Galaxy to an even higher complexity level. Unfortunately, for me it's too much. Adding the prestige mechanism makes it too much of a brain burner, one that I still like to play, but in moderation. Until now, I could happily play several games of Race in one night; with Brink of War, I'm exhausted after two games. Additionally, the game is now almost impossible to teach, and (unlike with Dominion) it's almost impossible to leave out an expansion in a game with newbies. The final verdict must be that for I was happier without this latest expansion.
This stood out among the dozen new-to-me games I played this month; it's a very enjoyable little filler, of the best variety - it doesn't feel like any other game I've played, there are a bunch of options, and it's easily played to conclusion in 30 minutes.
Among the others, Keltis was quite enjoyable, Lemming Mafia is very light but rather fun, Level X is OK but not impressive, Seidenstrasse is OK but lacking something, Via Romana is lacking more, Mosaix is pleasant but unnecessary, Die Goldene Stadt is forgettable, Jo-Jotte probably takes a more serious effort than I care to give it, Catacombs isn't my thing, but is quite good at what it does, Snapshot is less good, and the other new-to-me game is a prototype of my own.
I only played two new games this month. Not a particularly slow month, but a lot of plays on older games.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
This feels like typical in-house Fantasy Flight Games game, with a lot of moving parts, but things do not feel disjointed and the moving parts make it different enough from Shadows over Camelot to consider this instead if you thought Shadows was too mechanical.
I have to play this game a few times to see if I appreciate it or not. In the first game there were a little too much things for me to have a clue what strategy to use. Future games, where I am more comfortable with the mechanics things will go smoother and I can concentrate more on my opponents.
Don’t know if it was typical for my game, but it felt that the situation for the humans went steeply downhill after the sleeper agent phase.
Random reflection and further discussion:
Since I started to regularly enter my played games in May 2007 I have only played three games more than 25 times and 26 games 10 times or more. Many of those games are shorter ones. To be able to appreciate a game like Battlestar Galactica you have to play it a few times. First there are a lot of rules to digest and second, there are many cards and it is important to know how good or bad a card is. I had a similar experience with 1960: the making of the president, where I didn't know what cards to veto against and much of the strategy evolves around the cards.
Attack + Expansion
It is hard not to draw similarities with this and Risk and while this has more bells and whistles it still feels like a generic wargame. So what is my problem with it? Basically I just found the game to be pretty dull experience. It really hasn’t aged with pride and doesn’t feel to have a sense of direction.
I'm really trying to come up with a reason I really dislike Risk and not Axis & Allies. Not sure, but I think one reason can be in Axis and Allies you produce all your units in the factory and you have to transport them to the front. Another reason is that Axis and Allies are more connected to the theme. Still uncertain though, since the mechanics is not that different.
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
Seven new games for me this month, plus one fine expansion. As usual, I'll list 'em in roughly decreasing order of enthusiasm.
Age of Industry -- (2 plays)
(images by chaddyboy_2000 & helioa)
It's simpler than Brass: and most importantly, simpler to explain. I was able to get this to the table with my two sons, and I've never (or at least, not yet) been able to convince them to play Brass.
While there's no shame in losing out to Brass, I don't think I like Age of Industry better: I like some of the rough edges of the Brass system; the at-least-modestly subtle timing requirements; and, frankly, the income/loan track. Less importantly, I also really like the fact that the costs are printed on the tokens in Brass - though it's easy to imagine a Age of Industry expansion that tweaked the costs by (only) providing a new set of mats and board.
Still, Age of Industry is interesting in its own right. I like the two different boards (we played a different board in each of my two games: they play distinctly differently!), the region-constraint cards, the unpredictability of the game clock. I found my first plays very enjoyable, and am hoping for several more opportunities soon. I might even win sometime - perhaps if I choose less competent opponents.
Maria -- (2 plays)
(images by rsivel & brainst0rm)
In contrast to my thoughts about Age of Industry, this is a revisited system that has increased my level of interest. I enjoyed my shot at Maria a lot better than my couple previous tries at Friedrich. I found the flow of the random events more compelling; the balance between the three players more perceptible; and the siege and supply mechanics more comprehensible. (Ok; I admit to a degree of facetiousness on that last point: neither Maria nor Friedrich have particularly difficult rulesets.)
I whine - perhaps over much - about my difficulty in perceiving the play balance in Friedrich. (Not, one might note, that the game system is less than intriguing - only that I'm going to be playing pretty badly for more plays than I care to burn before I have a clue.) Maria provides more clues about relative positioning for the new player. Yet it appears that there's a good deal of subtlety possible in play: so rather than thrashing about and throwing the game randomly to one of my opponents, I may have the chance to learn the system while playing at some semblence of "reasonable." Definitely hoping for another play soon. I won't be buying it, though: this isn't one that I can pull out with family.
Frontline: D-Day -- (1 play)
(images by chooche & GeoMan)
I'd known nearly nothing about Frontline: D-Day prior to play. And I was pleasantly surprised as a result: the game play is sensible, interesting, immersive; reminiscent of Up Front, too - which is a Good Thing in my books. Thanks to Tom for the introduction.
Fjords -- (1 play)
(images by kifty & Gamegrunt)
Fjords is another I'd known nothing about before play. This time it's John I need to thank for the intro.
The game is really pretty nice: some randomness from the tile draw (though gradually mitigated, it seems, from repeated exposure) and a bit of not-quite-trivial token placement after the tiles are down. The biggest decision, it seems, is where to place the "Farms": the nodes from which ones tokens can expand (though tile placement to ensure that one lays a token first is also a big deal.) All told, it's a delightful friendly clean abstract.
Neuroshima Hex! Duel -- (1 play)
(images by Mar_cus & haarrrgh)
My youngest son is a huge fan of Neuroshima Hex. These new armies are pretty cool, while still appearing to maintain the amazing play-balance that has been part of this system from the beginning. Don't tell him - but it's pretty much inevitable that he'll see a copy for his birthday
Kineti-Go Magnetic Shuffleboard -- (4 plays)
(images by strombergm & Titaniumator)
Kineti-Go! What a wild thing. I was tempted to acquire it by an offhand comment of Joe Huber's (no worries, Joe; I'm responsible for the inferences I make - and, in any event, my children are quite amused by it.)
The physical object is large and rather pretty. (As an aside, it also smells good to me. Why do I care? No idea. But after things like Titan or Homesteaders a new game that smells less than terrible is amusing.) The magnetic fields are surprisingly strong, and there are lots of lovely bounces and redirects possible in trivial play. Probably a lot more that we've not yet considered, too.
Game play is a modest twist of Shuffleboard - but one of the constraints is that one must win by exact count. In practice, that means that as the game draws to a close there's some increase of tactical variation in that making an opponent score too many points to win is an excellent way to close the gap quickly. In my first several plays son #2 caught up from behind to win as I (foolishly) over-scored in the last few rounds.
Perhaps the important count isn't so much my 4 plays, then, but instead the fact that my youngsters have set it up to play with their friends. Win!
Horus Heresy (2010) -- (1 play)
(images by Mabool & Keef)
Horus Heresy isn't designed for me. I know that. I don't care about the setting or back-story. But the design (as opposed to the gameplay) is perplexing.
On the one hand, there are some tiny detailed miniatures for the units. The board has some relatively trivial 3-D "terrain" to highlight the spaces on the board. But the two don't fit well: many of the spaces aren't large enough to hold their stacking limit of units without piling them on top of one another. If one adds one of the cardboard stand-up leaders (Why not more minis? Another mystery.) to those spaces, it's even messier. One might conclude the minis were designed for a larger board than what was eventually used - if it weren't for the fact that they're really rather little and the board quite large. In the end, it just looks like the result of some production compromises (Hey, let's make sure the board is 3-D... But no bigger then XxY! We need minis to justify the price and the GW license.. But they need to be small enough to fit on the board... But our manufacturer can't give the required detail at that size, so we'll just go with the smallest that looks ok on its own regardless of whether it fits the board... And so on. GW/FFG fanbois/fangrrlz are encouraged to begin flaming now.)
All that whining aside, I really liked the combat card mechanism. I thought it was one of the most amusing systems I've yet seen out of FFG. And that's not the damning with faint praise you might be expecting: I enjoy Runewars, Starcraft, and Descent. Despite that, the resolution of our game was a bit anti-climactic. I was expecting some huge final battle - but we fizzled out to a four-spaceport win. (That, too, should perhaps be laid at the door of the combat card mechanism. It's strangely subtle, and the possible outcomes of an attack aren't anywhere near obvious until one has played a bunch of battles.)
Rush n' Crush -- (1 play)
(images by zombiegod & William Hunt)
Hmph. Not a fan. I rather like race games, and this isn't one of the good ones. The physical presentation is less than ideal. (The modular boards each were substantially warped, so lying flat wasn't an option in either orientation. What's more, the objects being raced are tiny and yet require gluing!) Worse, decisions seemed trivial: our "how many lane changes permitted" die-rolls had more effect on the results than any choice of speed or "gear". Despite the trivial fun of bumping in to my opponents and trying to damage them, this isn't one I'd buy.
Being a Lions fan is a gift...
...and a curse.
June was a rough month to try and work in new games. Most of our game sessions have been with new friends and we didn't want to start them out on something brand new. We wanted to stick with the old standbys. So only one new game hit the table this month. However, stay tuned for July, because with the holiday weekend coming up I'm expecting some new games to make it to the table early.
= We Didn't Playtest This At All - I'm struggling to come up with a coherent explanation of why I enjoyed this game. But, frankly, I doubt the designer would want it any other way. Incoherence is the theme of this game. You just have to laugh at a game where someone could, conceivably, win with the very first card played. I often hear users complain about Fluxx because it can drag on too long for the amount of fun it provides. That won't happen with this crazy little game. With a maximum playtime of 10 minutes I was able to enjoy the chaotic fun, though I'm not so sure my wife knew what to think. We'll definitely be trying it again soon!
June was not a great month for new games, but The Climbers really stood out. So much so, in fact, that it inspired me to beg my wife to let me buy a batch of games for our vacation with some friends (btw: the order also includes Dixit: Quest and Tikal, all of which I am very excited about).
Why do I like The Climbers? After only one play, I haven't really thought it through. But my visceral reaction was that it was extremely fun, very different from anything else in my collection, and sensorily engaging. The fact that everyone is out of their chairs, examining the current state makes for a different physical-social dynamic than any non-dexterity game I know.
I love the way the 'board' develops from a stumpy collection of blocks into a narrow tower crowded with aspirants wherein each move, the stakes get higher and higher (forgive the pun).
As for gameplay, exclusive of the 'feelings' I've described, it seems to be a pretty generic tactical duel in a really appealing package. But oh! how appealing!
Following up on last month's (quite successful) effort at playing games in the top 10 that I'm not convinced I'll like, I thought I'd give Le Havre a try. I gave it the old college try, I really did. I read the rules, thought about how the game might play out, reread JohnRayJr's freakin' MASTERPIECE, and just got generally psyched about it.
Alas, it fell a bit flat for me, and for very predictable reasons: too many cards, too much learning of information, not enough interaction. That said, I most certainly appreciated it for being the muscular engine-building exercise that it is.
Heck, I'll just regurgitate my game comments here:
What this game does, it does very well: it provides a very intricate and robust exercise in resource conversion. It does not feel tight by any means, but that is not necessarily a negative. The vast tableau of building options is quite overwhelming and, besides what appears to be a late-game run for the big VP converters, there isn't a ton of competition for buildings. The build-up of the resources on the offer spots becomes an embarrasment of riches, and the temptation to chase the big piles needs to be fought. This is not to say it is a loose game. It just allows for a incredible amount of creativity to build a VP engine. Unfortunately, efficiency engines just not being my thing, this will likely never be a favorite. Regardless of the level of interaction that might be achieved by serious players, I can't imagine this game moving too far beyond an exercise in playing more against the game than against other players. And for a game that can take a considerable amount of time, I don't see jumping at the opportunity to play this too much.
One issue that I found iritating on the first play was the very little opportunity to make money off buildings. As the scale of the game grows, the payments to use building seem paltry. Moreover, it felt like some of the buildings are really only there for the VPs. Of course, there are probably good uses for just about all of them that I just didn't get on my first play. Not surprising.
At the time that I played Babel, I didn't realize that two of the three new games I played this month would be Uwe Rosenberg's. Odd coincidence. And two of the three would also be about building super-tall towers. Weird, eh?
I don't have much to say about this one, though, other than that is seems like an entertaining enough card game with an outrageously see-sawing take-that slugfest mechanism going on. My wife would hate it on those grounds alone, I don't play enough two-player games with anyone else, and I've got plenty that I like better for the time that I do. Take that, Babel!
Feels like I'm starting to play a lot of quality games now after a slow start to the year. A clear winner this month, although Power Struggle definitely needs a few more plays before I'm firm on it.
Age of Industry - 9
First off, is it apt to compare this game with Brass? It seems that many liken this to an Age of Steam/Steam redesign, but I don't think that glove fits. Those games are similar enough that similar strategies can work for each (one is simply looser than the other), but you will fail in Age of Industry if you attempt to apply a Brass strategy and likewise you will fail in Brass playing like it is AoI.
Brass has a range of strategies you can employ and a set time frame within which to accomplish them, and I see why people would prefer it for those reasons. I think I slightly prefer it for that reason, but not because I think AoI is some substandard version of the game. It's a different game altogether. I think the whole "Brass Light" description is inaccurate and paints AoI as something other than what it is.
This game puts a greater focus than Brass on timing, placement and expenses (as opposed to managing/planning actions, development, and income). In Age of Industry, money dries up fast and you are almost always paying interest on loans. It's not a lot each turn, but it adds up throughout the game. I hear players say that they don't like that you can take a loan, flip tiles on the same turn and not pay interest. They speak as if they manage this on almost every turn, but in my experience this only happens a few times in a game. Money plays a big roll in point totals. While you don't need to flip for points, you do pick up more money if you flip and it is through flipping that you slowly build profit throughout the game.
Brass is about using money to flip tiles.
AoI is about flipping tiles to make money.
This excellent game could easily become a franchise. My score for the game is somewhat forward-looking in this regard. The two maps provided with the game play quite differently. I definitely see the potential for expansion maps to mix up building requirements, financing, the role of ships and "manufacturing" into a range of impressive game variations that alter strategies and tensions, and are specific to the times and areas they depict. Very good stuff.
Power Struggle - 8
In Power Struggle, players are power brokers in a major corporation trying to gain influence, buy up shares, control departments and divisions, place people on the board of directors, and generally act like the corrupt a-holes they are. You can gain influence by firing employees, bribing other division heads to use their special privileges, canning your division heads and re-hiring them as pricey consultants, using the accounting department to get a discount on company shares and so on. The rules to this one are intimidating at first blush, but the game flows smoothly once you get them down. Power Struggle gives you 5 separate point tracks and when it is your turn 7 possible actions, most with at least two variations. That's a lot of options and a lot of paths to victory. The first player to achieve 4 of 6 possible victory conditions wins.
The economic and majority mechanics mix together nicely in unique ways, but I think what makes this game feel different, really different, are the victory conditions. Usually in these sorts of games you have complete companies competing against each other which, despite different paths to achieve the end, the end is usually boils down to a single victory point track or money. This game brilliantly takes into account all the various ways in which one can advance their own interests within a company and gives credit for each of them individually. It sounds like your typical "balanced development" requirement in many games, but it doesn't feel like it. Each condition is achieved in very different ways and you have to ignore some to advance in the ones that align with your strategy. It almost feels like 5 mini games are intertwined and being played simultaneously with a strong connective theme and numerous touch points. VERY thematic for this style of game. I can't say I've played a game like it.
The one track I'm not sure of yet is the corruption track. Two games I've played have boiled down near the end into a bribe fest full of tit-for-tat on the corruption track. It would be disappointing if every game ended this way, but I'm hopeful it won't. This has the potential to score higher.
Last Train to Wensleydale - 8
Like Tinners' Trail, Wallace has picked a very specific region and has translated the unique characteristics of that region's industries and growth period into an innovative collection of game mechanics that work. I don't think any designer in history does this as successfully or as interestingly as Wallace, and it is this more than anything that makes him entirely unique in the world of game design. In Wensleydale, Wallace focuses on the very small, independent railway companies that cropped up to deliver iron and cheese around the very difficult, hilly terrain in Yorkshire. The two major railway lines (Midland Railways and North-Eastern Railways) did not want to invest heavily in developing the area and so depended on small railway entrepreneurs to build out the track and then buy it up from them. Players take on the roles of these hapless, profitless, and doomed enterprises.
All resources and passengers are randomly distributed on the board at the beginning of the game. No new resources enter play, so what you see at the set up is what you get. The areas on the board are of three types - fields, valleys and hills - and both large and small towns are scattered around the board. Iron is distributed in the hills, cheese in the fields, and potential passengers in the towns. Mixed with the passengers are obstructionist landowners that object to having trains built through their territories. The game revolves around collecting and spending influence in 4 spheres:
Government Influence - determines track build order and can be used to remove the unhappy landowners.
Train Influence - used to acquire temporary rolling stock on each turn (the player's companies are not wealthy enough to own their own trains) and determines the order for shipping goods.
Midland Railways and NE Railways Influence - these two tracks allow you to build from the company towns of these two railways and convince them to take over your unprofitable lines.
Like Tinner's Trail and Steel Driver, money in this game is represented by "investment cubes", which are large sums of money bilked from investors with promises of great profitability that of course will never come to pass. Players use the cubes first to bid on varying lots of influence in the 4 tracks listed above. Then players spend their remaining investment cubes to build track. The Train Influence is used to acquire rolling stock and ship goods. Trains are only used on the turn acquired, ownership is relinquished after this phase of the game. Players then determine their profit by adding up the value of what they've shipped and subtracting money for their lines on the board. There is then an opportunity to convince the larger train companies, using your influence with those companies, to take over your used-up track to keep expenses down on future turns. After 4 or 5 turns, the game ends and goods delivered throughout the game translate into points with various positive and negative modifiers.
This game is strategically a bit heavier than Tinners' Trail, but I like them both about equally and they highlight exactly why I always look forward to a new Wallace game. He is a designer like no other.
Oh-Wah-Ree - 7
Mancala is a good game. Making it playable with up to 4 is even better. Why own Mancala when you can own Oh-Wah-Ree? Besides, I like living the sophisticated 3M lifestyle!
Pocket Civ - 6
This is the Dungeonquest of civ games. It ain't afraid to kill ya. Again and again and again. If you get hit particularly badly somewhere in the middle, you can very well find yourself not able to do anything the rest of the game but just barely scrape by, trying not to lose your last scrap of a tribe. This will leave you with not many interesting decisions. If somehow you avoid this common fate, the game itself isn't bad. The rules are a bit confusingly written and there are so many advances that affect so many events that all the look ups get tedious real fast. The scoring is strange in that it relates to how many tribes and advances you have on a particular turn in each era. Your cities could be decimated, you may not be able to advance your civ for ERAS as a result, but as long as you have as many tribes as advances on the last turn of an era, you get full credit for the advances you do have. It just doesn't make much sense. If your civ has grown stagnate from wars and plagues, why would you score the same that you would in more growing and vibrant eras? If this game wasn't so ingeniously designed to be played with a deck of event cards, a pencil and a pad of paper, I'd knock the score further...
Squiggly Worms - 3
Kids's game with a mixture of dexterity, memory and speed. Worms with different colored rear ends are placed in a mechanical apple. A lever is turned and for about ten seconds the worms poke their heads out of the holes. Players pull them out and keep worms that match their colors and return the ones that don't. Other players watch and try to remember where theirs are from what others pull.
My son is mildly autistic and this was recommended to us by his OT for working on fine motor skills. He's 7, though, and bit old for this game. My 3-year-old took a greater interest and quickly started doing well. I think this will end up being her game more than his and I have plenty of other games where he can manipulate small bits. The game gets repetitive and dull very quickly.
This brand new game is the unexpected winner this month.
Well I'm not afraid of trying something else. Hype certainly interests me, but I like to find things on my own without everybody shouting how good the game, movie, record is.
I know I can expect a lot from certain artists, directors, and some recordlabels as well.
Now hexagames is a company that released the grail "Mc Multi" but they also released a number of economic games/
One of them is the very enjoyable Manager Another one I picked up from them is the winner of this month.
Now to end my introduction I want to say that there is a pretty big rumour about the designer of this game putting this game in practice in real life. What I find more interesting is that the designer had high hopes for this game. He even is talking about world championships.
What's the game about well you are working the futures market of 6 commodities with a starting capital of 10,000 . These are divided in three groups. Low, Average and high speculative
Point value of those is
Low = 500
Average = 1,000
High = 2,000
You have three things that you do in your turn.
First you make and close out contracts.
Making contracts you have to pay three time the point value of a commodity
This means you can't buy two of the high speculative ones at the start since one would cost you 6,000. They name this margin.
When you make a contract you have to decide whether a price will go up or down. You try to make profit in the short run as the next turn you can close out the contracts if you want to and start other ones.
Now this would be nonsense if you didn't have a clue about what the market is going to do. which brings us to step two in your turn You have ten price-alteration cards in the beginning of the game giving you some knowledge of what is gong to happen with the market. You can look at those cards as inside information or just some good research. You have to play one of them. Now the game again wouldn't be good if those weren't perfectly balanced but they are. There are even four different sets of price alteration cards but that would take me too far. You only play with about a third of these cards as well making each game different. (meaning it is not perfectly balanced in a game)
The game ends when the last players plays his final card.
the final action in your turn is you roll both dice.
There is one commodity die and one instruction die.
the instruction die has 4 instructions.
Day trade card (x2) ; Action card (x2) ; Limit up (1); Limit down (1)
-The limit up and down changes the price of the commodity you rolled with two pints.
This is fine with the theme. You don't know for sure what a market is going to do.
-The day-trade card just gives you a card that enables you to close out one single contract. This is not so strong but can come in handy near the beginning of the game
-Finally the action card. This is big and can make the game frustrating if you don't want any luck in games. However you have to look at the theme. And I have to say it fits the theme.
In the game I've played Alain had all the lucky breaks but still only managed third spot because of handmanagement and not looking at what other people thought the market was going to do.
Now normally the dice roll would break the game for me and the action cards well they would put the game next to monopoly and the game of life. But these actually work.
It was pretty obvious in our game to see who was getting the lucky breaks and who was very unlucky. But the guy who was very unlucky managed to put in some decent contracts near the end and managed to end with75,000 dollars.
Now the guy with all the lucky breaks ended up not cashing in his gold and hoping it would make one more point in the final round. He ended up with a whopping total of 279,500. however there was another guy who was hoping that I put my money in the right commodity at the end of the game . I was pretty sure about it since all my money and contracts (each player has a maximum of thirthy contracts) where on one commodity (coffee) He decided to jump on the wagon and ended with 280,000.
There was only one way I could loose now and that was if the market did something we as players couldn(t foresee. The dreaded diceroll. Well no bad diceroll meant I put all my eggs in the right basket and timed it right for a whopping 500,000+ dollars victory.
Now the tension was right because I was playing a highly speculative commodity I knew I was in risk if the market did do something unexpected for me. When all contracts were closed we saw it wouldn't have been a long shot to give the victory to Alain. and this left him scratching his head.
I don't know if I mentioned it before but the luck in the games made some nice tabletalk as well.
So this is without a doubt one of my lesser known gems (Disposition, Karambolage are up there too)
Runner up : Metropolys
I thought Mykerinos was dissapointing so this was a nice surprise. The hidden goals might be a bit unbalanced.
Third place : San Marco
Only third place for this classic. While the gameplay was engaging we all thought that banishment besides being a bit overpowered (not entirely sure that it is because you know how strong it is and can play accordingly) it definitely is too luck driven in a game of this type. In close games the entire game could be won or lost with the final die roll.
Fourth place :BattleLore
This game can only get better. Played the first teaching scenario. My opponent didn't like it as he hit me with his archers the first four rolls of the game. Definately have to play with the lore next time.
Fifth place : The Bridges of Shangri-La
The final bridge game. This gave a strong two against one feel. We played with the suggested three player set-up and after thinking about it I think this will be better with a played opening. The suggested opening gives the opportunity to "fight" one opponent in not just one village but adjacent villages. This fighting duel will make both stronger as their joined village will allways be stronger than a village which is not fight over for supremacy.
When playing the opening one can make sure the fighting is impossible in adjacent villages.
Played against AI the brilliant Hyle
Very solid and smart abstract that plays in two halves (chaos and order)
Stop the admins removing history from the Wargaming forum.
Empire of the Sun
Well I finally managed to get EotS played, its a Strategic Level CDG about the war in the pacific, by Mark Herman. I like Mark Herman's designs in someways, they are very clever. In particular I think the positional aspect of the game is interesting, it demonstrates the importance of many of the battlefields in the pacific. There are many things to like really.
The biggest let down however I think is the card play. Event are often very decisive and essential, stuff like the War in Europe in particular, but also other cards. Since the decks are reshuffled periodically there is a great deal of uncertainty over when and if you will get particular cards. It can be a real nuisance to be honest and I find it disrupts the feel of the game for me. Combine this with a combat mechanic that I don't really like and the game is frustrating, but interesting.
I was hard pressed to decide between this and EotS, as my favourite this month. Yinsh is a very interesting abstract game, where you try to flip tokens over to your own colour, kind of like Othello, although to be honest it feels very different to Othello. It is hard for me to say much about it really other than I generally enjoy games with interesting positional conundrums. I like how the game gets harder as you start to win, so manipulating this is an interesting mechanic. Overall I like the Gipf series and this is probably my favourite so far after Dvonn.
Corps Command: Dawn's Early Light
This is the second installment in the Corp Command series, its ok I guess I didn't mind playing it. The biggest problem I think with this system is feel. I just doesn't feel particularly operational, which is what its scale is. Stuff like supply, lines of defense and maneuver should be important, they just aren't to the degree I'd like. It is simple and straight forward and I like the WWIII theme, although the a historic nature of the map is slightly grating. Over all it is light and probably better thanks to the neat little Asset chits than its predecessor, but still nothing to write home about.
A magic clone with a few refinements to the system. Its alright, it has a cool theme, but CCGs just don't do it for me anymore. Also while magic works, I think it does so on the back of extensive development and support. While the few changes that spoils makes, may well be an improvement, I suspect the real test will be in the development of consistently good sets, we will see. I may play it purely because my flatmate does, although I won't be buying cards.
The best thing about this game is that you play victims of alien abduction and one of the possible characters is a cow. The game is a kind of simple take that game where you play cards from hand. The decision is really about how much you want to play and how much you want to save for your opponents. Not really all that fun and very random. I wouldn't recommend to others. Munchkin is a significant improvement on this game.
Best Game of the Month
I didn't get many new game plays in this month (or many plays in at all for that matter). I would have to choose as the top game ChiZo Rising. This game is based off the Chinese Zodiac as a loose theme, but it plays with similarities to direct conflict card games attempting to build up power(e.g. Blue Moon) as well as strategic placement in a tile laying game (e.g. Carcassonne). I picked up a set on Tanga that was well worth it ($16 shipped for 8 starter sets, which each come with 2 booster packs per starter set).
The gameplay is pretty fun, with the definite ability to develop strategies. This is not one of those -play what is best at the current moment- kind of games. You can bait your opponent(s) into placing in a current spot with some defensive strategies, or you can trick your opponent into thinking you are going for one square, but a cleverly placed movement tile will take your piece to another spot for an easily completed square. (Squares give you 4 points, with a total of 12pts needed to win the game. Battles give you 1-3pts if you win the battle). There are also some neat ways you can complete squares with certain opponents animals, as all animals have certain others that they are compatible with. So you may even be compatible to your opponents tiles.
Puerto Rico: Expansion I – New Buildings
I finally played with the Puerto Rico Expansions in the Alea Treasure Chest (both expansions 1 & 2). This breathed new life into a long tired game. We set up the new buildings in a random order (as one of the optional setups described) and ended up with a strange mix of new buildings. This lead all players to come up with new strategies. This allowed new and experienced players to play on a more even playing ground. The nobles also added a neat twist on the game, allowing certain buildings to function in one way if a noble is on it, and another way if a colonist is on it. This let you switch things up every mayor phase depending on your current situation in the game. I really appreciated this kind of mid game altering of your abilities, as it kept everyone on their toes as to who was being profited in what way at what time, by which actions.
Amun-Re I picked up only because my fiancee and I are big fans of Ra. I was wondering how this game would play to see if it would be another good game without being too entirely similar to Ra. Besides the Egyptian theme and that auctions exist, the games are not that similar. This game has an auction mechanic where each player can bid on one of the places on the board to build on, but the bidding track is very limited. You either bid 1, 2, 4, 8, etc (not sure if I am remembering correctly) so the required bid goes higher and higher depending on where it is, you can't just one-up someone. The bidding phase is pretty intense where you are worried where everyone else is going to place, and there is a lot of player interaction at that point, but after that, the building up phase is pretty bland. You either add pyramids, farmers, or buy cards. The way farmers work is pretty neat though, as all players offer a sacrifice to Amun-Re, and based on who offered the largest sacrifice gets more bonus pyramids/farmers/cards, but also the total amount sacrificed determines how much the farmers pay back at the end of the round. (from 1-4 money per farmer). Overall, the game is good, but not great, and it may take up some space in my collection for a while.
Incan Gold was near the top of my list of filler games to try out due to the number of players it supported. It is a great push your luck game, where each turn players have to decide to leave and keep the money they got, or stay in and hope for more money later. Each turn there is a new card that is flipped that either gives money to all players equally, or shows a danger that means the players may get nothing (if two of the same danger cards are flipped). The tension was great as players are looking to see who is going to leave and run off with the treasure, and who is going to stay and hope for more. Each turn was a lot of fun, but the combination of the turns into rounds lead to some pretty big swings. Occasionally there would be one player remaining when a big card is turned over, giving that player an incredible number of gems/money/victorypoints, which then makes it near-impossible for the other players to catch up. This makes subsequent rounds (and previous rounds) seem worthless. Maybe if there were more rounds to the game it would mitigate this more. Maybe I should look into adding a couple more rounds to our game?
None This Month!!
None This Month!!
I played and reviewed several great new games in June:
Defenders of the Realm
Cooperative fantasy adventure game, designed by Richard Launius (Arkham Horror) and artwork by legendary fantasy artist Larry Elmore? Count me in! This brings a Pandemic-like cooperative engine to the fantasy genre, and features plastic miniatures, generals and characters with unique abilities (players choose from Cleric, Dwarf, Eagle Rider, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, or Wizard), and individual quests. The game revolves around the protection of Monarch City, which is being assaulted by four accursed races: orcs, dragons, demons, and undead, and players must cooperate to defend the countryside, repair the tainted lands, and defeat these four races before one of them enters his city. There's been some criticism about the retro style artwork and graphic design, but in my view the cumulative effect of all components on the table and the thematic and tense game-play makes up for that. It's a good length (~ 2 hours), tough to beat, fun to play, and has a real fantasy adventure feel. 8.5/10
Want to know more? See my pictorial review and session report:
What you get and how to play: First Impressions of an exciting new cooperative fantasy game
The adventures of a man and two children, in their valiant quest to defend the king's city
Great introductory block war game that has stood the test of time, with a strong historical theme and flavour, elegance of gameplay, fog of war and bluffing, lots of fun, and playable in an hour. I've already had three hours of immense enjoyment in the three plays I've enjoyed with my ten year old son, and both of us are a long way from being sick of it just yet, and we're already planning new strategies for future contests. It may lack some of the replayability and complexity of the more recent block war games, but it has the advantage of offering a much more accessible game that is still of a high calibre, and retains a wonderful historical flavour. Not everyone is going to be as excited about it as we are, but it certainly has an appeal and accessibility that many eurogamers will find within reach and worthwhile. It's a natural step up from games like Stratego, and yet offers so much more in terms of gameplay and theme. Now that a revised edition has been published in 2009 that tweaks the rules and makes the components match the latest in block war games, there's never been a better time for a newbie to try exploring the strange waters of block war-gaming. This eurogamer gives Quebec 1759 a thumbs up! 8/10
Want to know more? See my pictorial review:
So you're wondering about your first ever block war game: a time-tested classic that even eurogamers can enjoy
Arena: Roma II
This sequel for Roma I (nominated for the Spiele des Jahres award in 2006) is an independent game, but can also be combined with the original (just like Dominion and Dominion Intrigue). It has the same game-play and feel as Roma, but with all new cards. The main rule change is the addition of an optional Bribery mechanic, which helps make the game more balanced Minor component changes include an "icon bar", and English text on the cards. I am a big fan of Roma and card games with CCG-type abilities generally, so it wasn't hard to get excited about Roma II. Just as good if not better and more balanced than as the original! With lovely artwork and a nice theme, this card game will have a natural appeal to fans of Dominion (despite not having any deck-building mechanic), because some of the things that fans of Dominion enjoy also appear in Roma: buying and playing cards, unique abilities and special effects, attacking and defending, card interaction and combinations, earning victory points, and a reasonable 30 minute play time. There's a good chance Dominion fans will find Roma immensely satisfying despite being very different. Very highly recommended! 9/10
Want to know more? See my pictorial reviews:
A proven two-player game for Dominion fans to discover, appreciate, and embrace!
Roma I and Roma II: A pictorial comparison between a fantastic two-player game and its sequel
Board Game: Macao
[Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:242]
* Dungeon Lords - 2 plays - This game has been on my wishlist for a long time but (stupidly) I suggested a couple of friends to buy it and then I didn't want to buy the same game they already had. Now I've finally had the chance to visit them and play this and I liked it very much. We all like multiplayer solitaire games but if there's no interaction at all it gets a bit too dry and mathematical for us. This game was the perfect blend for us with most of it being solitaire but with the worker placement aspect offering lots of interaction, or atleast fear of interaction. At the same time there seems to be lots of depth here to explore (pun not intended) and I'm sure we'll play this many times and that we'll enjoy all those plays.
* Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War - 6 plays - I love Race for the Galaxy and all its expansions. And with this expansion I kind of felt that the game finally became whole. The added cards and the search mechanism makes almost all strategies playable and even though the prestige points are kind of random I didn't feel the addition of them disturbed the main game. A lovely expansion for a lovely game that I'll enjoy for many many future plays.
* Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery - 1 play - A nice area control / worker placement game with lots of room for strategies and tactics. Nice, almost tacky components and all in all a nice experience and a solid game. Not much to add really. It's just plain nice. Nothing super fancy but a game I will enjoy to play in the future.
* Macao - 2 plays - The first new game I played this month was a quite enjoyable one. A nice game where you have to plan ahead for the next 6 turns while doing some risk management. At the same time you risk getting screwed by lots of stuff which ofcourse is expected in a Stefan Feld game.
I must also add that I hate dice but in this game I feel they're being used in a very good way. I've played it twice and I've never been screwed by the dice as long as I have payed close attention to my planning and my strategies. It seems to reward good play but at the same time it really punishes bad play with the dice tending to screw bad players over alot while they at the same time get punished by Feldesque punishments and I guess that can be a bit harsh. So I would really recommend anyone playing this to take the time to get atleast decently good at it before passing judgment.
It also feels unique enough compared to other popular Feld games like Notre Dame and In the Year of the Dragon which justifies buying it and adding it to your collection.
* At the Gates of Loyang - 1 play - Got to play a 2-player game of this and I mostly liked what I saw. I consider Agricola brilliant but at the same time I'm not a huge fan of Le Havre. Le Havre, which during the few plays I've had with it have suffered from being very hard to grasp (overview?) due to all the cards giving actions that get placed all over the table. It also have suffered from a minor runaway leader problem during our plays.
So, I was quite excited about this game. And I must say I liked it. A nice little resource management math exercise, err, I mean game. I think it was a bit too mathematical and tight though. If Le Havre places itself on one side of the spectrum due to the runaway leader problem we've had with it this would place itself on the other side where it's so tight that missing out on 1 point probably will make you lose. Agricola will remain my favorite with all these aspects being in perfect balance but this is a nice game that plays well with 2 players. So I'm sure I'll play this several times more.
* Ra - 2 plays - I expected a nice pretty fast auction game with the added trickiness you'll usually find in Reiner Knizia games and I think that's exactly what I got. A very nice game where you have to use the auctions to improve your position if you have bad suns (the money used in this game) and have to bid carefully if you have good suns. I very much liked our first play which was a 4-player game. The second play was a 2-player game and I must say I didn't enjoy that much at all. Seems the game got too static and not as tricky at all. I don't think I'll play any 2-player games of this in the future but I'm sure I'll play many 4-5-player games.
* Finca - 1 play - A disappointment. I expected this to be a challenging light game or atleast a good gateway game. What I found was in my opinion an OK gateway game. Problem is that there are many great gateways out there and I can't see myself recommending this to new gamers over those games. Perhaps this is better if everyone playing it pays very close attention to the rondel but then it seems it would take too much time to play... Well, perhaps it'll grow on me...
* Runewars - 1 play - Well, I expected ameritrash and I got ameritrash. Problem is that I like Twilight Imperium (Third Edition). Atleast when you play with the Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shattered Empire expansion that allows open objectives which in my opinion makes the game less random. So I expected something as good but a bit lighter from this game. To sum up my hopes were rather high...
I don't think that's what I got. Instead I felt I got hidden objectives in shape of the runes which pop up every now and then and thus I didn't feel I could make a proper strategy. On top of this I saw lots of "take that" cards both from the tactic cards and from the season cards. So this really wasn't my cup of tea. After 2 hours of getting owned by random events, random tactic cards, random duels and random combats I just wanted the game to end. It didn't... It just kept on going... And even though things were looking OK to goodish for my undead armies I didn't enjoy most of the time spent playing this.
* Dominion: Alchemy - 3 plays - OK, I'm not a huge fan of Dominion and even though the deckbuilding system was brilliant initially I grew tired of the game fairly quickly due to what I think is its lack of depth. Usually it is fun for a while with each new expansion added due to new cards leading to new strategies but this time I didn't feel the fun. It seems the addition of the potion resource was bulky and very hard to benefit from. And even my friends who are big fans of the game didn't seem to think much fun was added with this expansion.
No plain awful games this month even though I would call Runewars this awful if it doesn't improve with future plays.
♫ Eric Herman ♫
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
Finally got a chance to play this game, and I'm glad I waited for the chance to play it with my friend Andy's copy of the deluxe edition. And regardless of the deluxe edition, it's a great game, no doubt. My board game history in terms of hobby games was really stoked with a lot of Axis & Allies back in the 90's, and this has some of the same kind of tactical wargame feel and also integrates the LOTR theme very well. Between this, the LOTR co-op game, and Middle Earth Quest, there are now three top-notch Tolkein games out there, all very different from each other.
The only other new game I played this month is also a great one...
Yes, it is indeed "Pandemic Lite", and ultimately the decisions involved amount to about 2/3 of those in Pandemic. But I was pleasantly surprised with how different this feels than Pandemic, considering it shares so many of the same mechanics. I love the way the island slowly disappears from underneath you, and how you have to be careful to leave everyone a path back to the helicopter, which makes for a particularly cool endgame.
Late entry in before the buzzer...
Ah yeah, it's random and pretty mindless, but I got into the spirit of it and had fun with it.
Three new games this month.
Thurn and Taxis
Played a couple of new games this month, and Thurn and Taxis comes out well on top. Worked really well with 2, and I can imagine it will work just as well with 3 or 4.
I thought it would be worse, but almost seemed to be too much thinking involved for the game it is. It also upsets my Carcassonne loving mind that I don't have to match all sides, in fact it is part of the game NOT to.
Not terrible, not great. I think I might have been missing something. Only solo plays so far.
I got 4 new games this month for myself, and a few games to store away for my kid when he gets older.
Carson City takes #1 for the month because I actually got to play it with 4 people. I had a family wedding this month so family didn't have time to play so I'm hoping this gets more play time next month.
Railways of the World gets #2. I only played a 2-player game on the mexico map, but I'm highly anticipating a larger game. I won this in a games for GG lottery, but again see #1 for why it didn't get play time.
Carcassonne Big Box gets #3. I got a physical copy this month and it's gotten ~20 plays with various player counts and expansions. I put this in last month, but it was online only then and with no expansions.
Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot gets #4. Overall I think it is a fun diversion and equal to some of the other card games we play. My father loves it, so it makes me happy to play with him and have him enjoy the time.
Giro Galoppo gets last place, but only because I bought it for my child. I had fun playing 2-player vs. my wife, but this will probably only get a small handful of plays over the next few years until Leif is old enough to play.
And the winner is...
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Preliminary rating: 8
"Choose your own Adventure" game is simply fun. A rockslide! Do I run, pray, hide, or talk to it? The obvious move is not always the best thing to do, so don't be afraid to just have fun. Put your logic away, and just enjoy the ride.
Before the Wind
Preliminary rating: 7
Buy goods, store them in your warehouse, send them off on ships that match exactly for points.
Neat auction mechanic in that you can bid on an item that someone else has previously chosen. If they want to keep it, they end up having to pay you the price you were willing to purchase it for.
Not the greatest with 2 players, but I found it was still fun because of this extortion mechanic.
Board Game: Fresco
[Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:248]
[Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
The summer gaming season really kicked in gear in June. In spite of this, the "new to me" titles were still somewhat light for the month. Game nights tended to be dominated by longer old favorite games. Still, I was able to log more than one "new to me game" for the month - something that I haven't been able to say since January!
Fresco has been a game that I found interesting since I first heard of it. As clergy, I tend to be attracted to games with religious themes, even when it is pretty limited - as it is in this case. Sadly, the local game store had not gotten a copy in, so I was not able to see it in person to see if it was truly something I wanted. When it made the short list for the Spiel des Jahres, I decided to bite the bullet and placed an order for it.
It arrived the night before a games night, I read the rules the night before, bagged everything and was prepared to teach it. Alas, everyone wanted to play longer and older titles that night. With tears in my eyes and my step a bit heavier, I went home, wondering when I would get it to the table.
It was only two nights later that I was able to talk a friend into a two-player game. The game was very interesting and we had a lot of fun. I think that the game will be better with more players, but the way that the two-player game is implemented allows learning the game while keeping the game interesting.
So... after one play of the game, I'm pretty impressed. Great ideas, good presentation and an interesting theme. I look forward to playing it again, hopefully soon.
Monza is a light car racing game from the Haba line. I could see this going down well with children - we were able to get a quick game in while other people were setting up the longer/older titles mentioned above. Players roll dice (which have faces with a different color on each face) and use them the plot out a route over matching segments of the track that match. It's easy to learn and very fast.
Finally a "new to me" expansion:
Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age is a wonderful free (print and play) expansion for Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age, another Spiel des Jahres nominee for 2009. For the little bit of printing, there's a lot more depth to an already excellent game. Highly recommended!
Relatively good month for new games.
Washington's War is a CDG which I like, but a wargame which I usually don't play. My dad has been playing it a lot recently and I welcomed the chance to learn "one of his games" for a change. Glad I did. I may not totally grasp the strategy, but I won't mind getting my tail kicked online a few times to try to learn.
I rated it 8/10.
Power Grid: Factory Manager
I picked this up in a trade. My wife has a few days off between grad courses, so she was open to learning a new game. We sat and read through the rules and got through a game. She really liked it. I thought it was very good. I think I like PG more, but it will take a few plays of PGFM before I can say that with any certainty - also I would like to play with more people. I like that PGFM plays 2 and I think the 2P game is better than the 2P game of PG.
I rated it 8/10
I played this at a gameday with my group. I remember liking the game, but it's been a while (played on 6/6) and nothing really sticks out. My comment from that day: one 4P game - really enjoyed for the most part. The only semi-frustrating thing for me was the cards I got dealt were very wide spread (which is probably a sign of good shuffling)
I rated it 7.8/10
Days of Steam
My group loves train games. I enjoy train games and this is a fun mix of railroad tycoon and carcassone. I like the fact that you are building the game as it goes along, so no two games are ever the exact same.
I rated it 7.5/10
I gave this the same rating as Pacific Typhoon - same game basically. "war" with three levels of battle where you try to out-rank your opponents in air, land, or sea battles.
I rated it 7/10