Euroquest 2011 With some mini reviews
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This is my 6th or so euroquest and as always its one of the best weekends of the year, Granted I don't really do the con circuit but I did try WBC a couple of years ago and it was not to my taste.

I made the list of games i wanted to get in, and unlike other years I did get several in, I learned 6 new games and got in about 20 games over 4 days. A bit less than i normally do but that seems due to a lack of playing any fillers.

I had a brought a print and play copy of eminent domain to gamesdays and that only went soso, but one of the organizers remembered about it and asked about my contact at TMG which really was just Seth's account here. But he contacted them and they sent them a bunch of copies their latest offerings. So there was a lot of TMG games present. Z-man's game was also present more on both of those later...

For each new game I have a small review and for me whether its a play again, buy, or one to skip.
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1. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:608]
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This was not on my list to try but one of my friends at the con was doing a demo, he's a friend of the designer and had an advanced copy. Now I'm a bit burned out on deck builders and just a few days before learned the new Star Trek deck builder and Eaten by zombies, another deck builder. So my first game at a con is a deck build, i groaned but for me the con is more about social time. Fortunately i was pleasantly surprised and ended up playing this 3 times during the con.

The game claims to be a deck builder and technically it is but its mostly a card drafting game. The deck building portion is more of a delay between drafting cards and when you can use them.

In the game you have troops that have either air/space attack or a ground attack or both. Planets have an amount of air and ground power that is needed to conquer them. The major difference from normal deck builders is that you don't play cards directly out of your hand you have to play them to your war zone first, The cards in the warzone stay until used, and even then you might be able to keep them there. So you do not need to depend on getting two synergistic cards into you hand at the same time, you can deploy one and wait several turns till the other card or cards appear.

Once you have your forces deployed you can conquer worlds but this is also another form of drafting as the planet cards come out and rotate through and you need to conquer the words before they are taken by another player. In this game timing is everything, Each turn you have to chose between drafting a card, deploying your forces and attacking a planet. Choosing the order of your actions and which forces to deploy are the keys to the game.

This is not a short game like dominion or race, the box says 60-120 minutes. My last game lasted 3 hours with teaching and some AP prone people. This is turn based so its mostly downtime between your actions especially once you know the cards.
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2. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:21]
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This is a great game, not a big surprise since its in the top 10 here on the geek. But I almost never get it to the table. Got two games in over the weekend. Lost the second one by 3 points trying the ship building strategy for the first time.
 
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3. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:476]
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Friday morning started with me giving a demo of Eminent domain. I had taught it a lot with the print and play version and that had mixed results. I have noticed the final version had some changes in the cards that tweaks things very nicely.

People have called this Dominion for the galaxy. This is very much a deck building game. It has a few twists, First there is not as much variety in the cards as dominion. You can even go the whole game and win without getting anything but the basic cards, There are more advanced cards you can get if you research tech but that is only one path to victory, You can also just go military or peacefully colonize worlds.

Your turn consists of optionally playing a card for the action on the card. Then you must select a role, this is very similar to a role in puerto rico, including that everyone gets to do the role though the player selecting the role (the leader) get an added bonus. The twist is that you select your role by taking the role card and adding it to your hand sometimes you really don't want the card but that is part of the balance.

With the cards you survey new planets, conquer or colonize them, Produce on them, trade or research new technologies (get more advanced cards). The techs come in 3 levels, the level 1 techs are mostly cards that duplicate one of the base cards with a little extra. For instance a base card is colonize a planet. The level 1 advance colonize also colonizes a planet but can be played with survey card to draw one addition planet to choose from when doing survey role.

If you know dominion or another deck builder the game is not hard to pickup but some aspects are a little non intuitive and it takes a several turns before it starts to click. If you have not played a deck builder before this can be very hard to learn. The combination of a trying to understand a deck builder for the first time plus the added twists in the game can be trying.

I really love TMG games, great people and service and they really helped out my favorite con. I think this game is a good addition to the deck building genre but its not a star.
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4. Board Game: Railways of the World: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2272]
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On Friday synced up with some of the people I only get to see at the cons due to the distance. Paul being a great guy and fun to play with good taste in games and always has a car full of games that probably would get past me otherwise. He's has a knack for finding those diamonds in the rough.In my pre euroquest geeklist I mentioned how Larry taught me Khronos when it had been Paul. Sorry about that Paul

This is a light card game, I have not played the full board game version. But this really felt like Age of steam light. A very enjoyable train/delivery game I got the pleasure of steam without the brain burn. Though i enjoy a good brain burner sometimes i want the pleasure without the work. I'll probably put this on my x-mas list.

Actually this is a mix of steam light plus ticket to ride. The card drawing is just about exactly the same. There is no board but you get city cards as well as track/locomotives. The city card will say how many tracks it takes to get to them. So if you get a blue 5 city you need to collect 5 blue track to play it. Once you play it it gets goods in one of 4 colors that get delivered to other cities via the same mechanism as steam.
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5. Board Game: Belfort [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:422]
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I volunteered to give this demo as well though someone else ended up giving it. I learned it a few days before the con and played a couple of times during the con. TMG was being being played pretty heavily through out the con between this eminent domain and jab.

Mini review:
This is a lighter worker placement / area control game with fairly typical resource management.

Though its a worker placement there are not that many ares to place workers especially at the beginning there are 5 guilds that change each game giving the game some variability, in addition to those you can recruit new workers, change turn order and get resources. You place workers till you pass once you pass you place all your remaining workers on the spaces to get more resources, each space can take an unlimited number of workers but the player that has the most workers gets an extra resource and every extra resources it important. Once the placement and colection is done players take there actions which mostly consists of using a guild, trading with the bank and building a building. Each building gives you a marker int he city and some special power, additional some building give you income.

Money is pretty tight, Also the more VPs you have the more taxes you have to pay and usually taxes are pretty close to your income.

One other thing that is a bit unusual in this game and i like it as a change there is not big end game scoring. There are 3 scoring rounds and the same amount of VPs are given out each time (more or less). So if you can geta big lead after 2 scoring you are in good shape.
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6. Board Game: Urban Sprawl [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1436]
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One of my gaming group buddies had this on order but it arrive the day he left for the con so it was on his door step instead of at the con. But fortunately there were some other copies floating around. He knows my taste in games and warned me there was a high chaos factor from what he had read. He played first and declared it good and acceptable. Got to play the next day and really enjoyed it, It did feel a little similar to dominate species (another GMT title) but not quite as punishing as DS can be.

Mini-review
There are 3 stages for Urban sprawl Town/city/metropolis. Each phase has its own set of cards so the buildings evolve over the course of the game. You get 6 Action points and with these you draft cards, There are two types of cards, one is building permits and the other are the building cards. the building permits are sort of like money in fact they can be traded in for money but more common is that you need to "spend so many building permits of the correct type to build the building, in addition to spending your coins. There are 4 types of buildings and the map has some placement rules as to where new buildings can go.

The city grid has numbers (1-6) for money along one side and numbers for VP (1-3) along the other. The value or strength of the building to the addition of these two numbers. So you have the expensive neighborhoods and the cheap areas. Two sides of the grid start with no numbers but events will add them during the game, this can radically alter the value of the buildings and the course of the game. At the end of each player turn new building permits come out and new building plans. Each may have a money or a VP symbol. For instance if a card comes out that says 4-money symbol on it the row in the city with that symbol pays money to the person in that row with the most buildings.

The other main mechanism in the game is the offices, There is mayor, treasurer, union boss, and police chief. There player that has the most valuable of each type building gets the corresponding office. So the player with the best industry building gets to be union boss. Most residential is police chief etc... Each office gives a bonus that can be substantial. So fighting over best building is a critical part of the game. Also whoever has the office at the end of the game gets bonus VPs.

Although there is a lot of random things that can knock you up and down it seems to be fun no matter what position you are in. In the metropolis phase the player in last place gets to be "the contractor" and can build his building on top of other buildings which can really be a game changer as long as he has enough money to build in the expensive part of town. But its adds a lot of tension to the leader and gives the guy in last some hope (or at least some fun) down the stretch.

After the game this was going on my to buy list but the next day I won it as a door prize from the con. Sweet!
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7. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:171]
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Zman games was there but no zev I guess he was counting the money from his buy out. His trusty side kick Paul was present though and giving demo's or Dungeon Pets. Top of my to try list.

I won't say i was disappointed but it didn't wow me. Thematically is a sequel to dungeon lords but has none of the same rules but it does scratch the same itch as dungeon lords. I had fun I think i can in second.

Mini review:
Its a few years after dungeon lords you dungeon has been over run so you turn to raising dungeon pets fora living.

This is a worker placement game but has a few interesting twists. you start with 6 imps, You secretly group them into 1-6 groups. Then everyone reveals. the person with the most imps on the first spot places first. So if you you split your imps 3-3 and I split them 3-2-1 the 3-3 gets an advantage in turn order but can claim less action spaces. the action you claim are pretty standard for an action placement game, geting new "pets", new cages, cage improvements, food, more imps etc. You also need to hold some imps back at times to play with your pets or to catch escaped pets.

There are two parts to scoring. One is the parade each year and the second is selling your pets. Different buyers are looking for different things. You get some advanced notice as to which buyers will be showing up but in out game almost every buyer wanted magical pets and the one player that started off with ferocious pets was at a bit of a disadvantage.

I don't think i will be buying this since I already own dungeon lords, but most people said they enjoyed it a little better than DL since it was more fun and little less punishing. If you don't already own DL but you liked it I would recommend this one. I might end up getting this anyway as my one daughter loved the theme.


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8. Board Game: Olympos [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1035]
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I was wandering around between games and saw this being set up but a couple people I knew so I jumped right in...

With rules explanation and some players that are more shall we say relaxed than i am the game took a little longer that i would have liked, i hate games with a lot of downtime. This is a lighter game but i think it has some depth, tough to tell from the one game. But i quite enjoyed it and will most likely buy it.

Mini review:
This is an action point / area control game. You bring settlers onto the map and grab resources. Though instead of action points you are spending time, The time track mechanism is the same as in thebes which is one I've always liked and seems under utilized. You go once around the board in terms of time and then the games ends.

With the resources you gathered you can buy technologies or build a wonder, This takes both resources and time. But some of the techs will save you both in the long run and every tech makes buying a wonder cheaper. Some Techs just give you favor of the gods, since periodically though the games Zeus cards will be triggered and they either reward the person with the most favor or punish the player with the least These are devastating but they do add up.

My only complain and this is odd coming from a eurogamer was that there was not nearly as much contention for space on the board as I thought there would be, but it possible this just because were were all newbies at the game.

On the plus side there are 20 different technologies and you can get maybe 6-7 at most so there will be a lot combinations to try.

Between it being good strategy/ easy to learn and one of my favorite themes I'll have this on my x-mas list.


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9. Board Game: Yggdrasil [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:741]
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Saturday night Paul was more free and taught some of their games. I got to learn Yggdrasil which is a co-op based on Norse Mythology. I always like games with a mythology theme but my daughter loves them. Our first game which started after midnight did not go well and we were overrun by ice giants that Loki summoned among other badness.

Sunday morning I borrowed the copy and taught to my 14 yr old and with 2 other people managed a victory.

I enjoyed the game, The artwork is gorgeous and the theme is awesome, the game play is pretty standard fora co-op so I was soso on this one.

Mini-review
You take on the role of one of the Norse gods (Thor, Odin etc..) and have to keep the bad guys from over running the world. On your turn you flip a card with activates one of the pantheon of evil resolve their effect then take 3 actions. there are 9 different actions to take (according to paul this has symbolism in Norse mythology). The action be to move the Valkyries over the rainbow bridge which lets you try to recruit vikings. You do this by pulling 3 tokens from a bag that have fire giants and vikings you keep the vikings the but the fire giants back. There are four bags that have different ratios of giants/vikings. two other actions lets you add vikings or remove fire giants to keep the bags at a good ratio. You can also recruit dark elves, trade with other gods build up your weapons (like thor's hammer) or attach a god or ice giant.

My chief complain on the game is that its too hard to defeat the ice giants. I think it would be more fun to have more ice giants that are weaker so that the players would get more of a sense of accomplishment. Also if you defeat a set of ice giants you finish a rune which has a large effect but Paul said in 15 games he has never seen it done.

There is a deck of 42 cards and you win but getting through all of them without the evil gods advances past a certain line. So while I liked the game and it was immersive I don't think I'll buy this one as it just lacked that sense of accomplishment.
 
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