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My initial impressions on games I recently played for the first time

Archive for Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!

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Harbour, Speed Cups and Beasty Bar

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Harbour
tl;dr: Le Havre without the good parts.

Le Havre is in my top 2 ever (I'm not sure on which spot). So when a game comes along that takes some of the same elements and reworks them into a small, fast game, I take notice. More specifically this game takes the building part of Le Havre. It adds something too: a lot of chaos and luck. And that is what turned into a disappointment.
To be honest: I wasn't expecting Le Havre in under an hour, I was just expecting a nice little card game. The clear reference to Le Havre is just a nice extra. But the amount of luck combined with the game length, made for a sub optimal combination.
Still, not bad.

Score: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10


Speed Cups
tl;dr: does what it says on the tin

Flip a card, be the first to arrange your cups in the right order/shape. Yes, that is the game entirely. Fast and silly fun, but it doesn't add anything to the genre of speed games.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Beasty Bar
tl;dr: fine chaosfest

Like chaotic but fun card games like Take 5? Then check out Beasty Bar. It's similar but with cuter animal artwork. Each animal has a certain special ability that screws up the order of the cards and hopefully leads to you scoring cards. But that's hard as the situation changes quite dramatically with each card played.
It is very chaotic, but also quite enjoyable. Only: Take 5 is a better game.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Fri Jul 31, 2015 3:07 pm
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23!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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With my 23rd play of Roll for the Galaxy has bumped my H-index to 23 as well

Increasing the score becomes increasingly harder though. The shortest way would be to play Caylus, Abluxxen, Lost Cities and Roll for the Galaxy once more. That won't be a problem for Roll and Abluxxen of course. On top of that I would need to play either Ingenious, Power Grid or R-Eco twice more. I think I'll go for R-Eco

Reaching 25 will be more worth though. Moving beyond 26 will be A LOT more work.
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:18 pm
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North Wind, Concept and Eight Minute Empires Legends

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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North Wind
tl;dr: fine, but too long (with 4 at least)

Klaus Teuber is a fine designer, but let's be honest: it's been a while since he put out a game that stood out. Most of his output consists of variants and retreads of Catan. So it's good to see that every now and then he does make a non Catan game. I always take notice.
For sure this game is completely overproduced. The custom wood bits could just as well have been cubes and the 3D cardboard ship could just as well have been a simple player mat. It's nice that the publisher made the effort to go this extra mile, but what it comes down to is the game play of course. And I liked it. Flip cards to do actions, upgrade your ship. It all works pretty well.
In one clear reference to Catan the game ends as soon as someone scores 10 points which is indicated by placing cubes on a number of scoring positions. But of course there's nothing wrong with reusing something that works.
The problem was that everyone enjoyed themselves for the first 2/3rds of the game and then it went of for a bit longer. I can see that being less of a problem with 3 players, but I wouldn't recommend this game with 4.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Concept
tl;dr: fun passtime

This game is enjoyable. We had a lot of fun and it can be a challenge. But in the end I must echo the opinion that this is more of an activity than a real game. It's more of a puzzle. A 2-way puzzle. The puzzle to put together the right clues on the one hand and the puzzle to figure out the clues on the other hand.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Eight-Minute Empire: Legends
tl;dr: fine game

I played the original Eight-Minute Empire once when it came out. I remember little about it except liking it and the location I played it.
When I was going to play this game it had to be explained to me as if I never played the original, and I didn't remember anything about it except that it was indeed an area majority game. And it's a fine one. It's not very original, but the way the cards work is pretty nice. I must say I enjoyed it again except that I was annoyed by the lack of choices for the last players on the last turn.
I do however feel like this game could use a slightly bigger board. It becomes messy quite fast with all those cubes coming in. I understand they want to use the compact size as a selling point, but practicalities should come first.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Sun Jun 21, 2015 12:52 pm
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Mangrovia & Diamonds

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Mangrovia
tl;dr: solid family strategy game

At it's heart this is a resource collection game with an important area majority element. Nothing new there, but this game tries to stand out by offering it's own new twist. It comes in the form of a nice, novel action selection mechanism that's a mishmash of a number of things we've seen before, put together in a new way. And it works great. I wouldn't be surprised if we see something similar again in other games.
All in all I would say this mechanism makes the game interesting enough to make it worth playing, but the area majority element of the game is pretty standard and there was some room there to be a bit more original, so I feel the author missed a chance there.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
Initial rating: 6/10

Diamonds
tl;dr: it's a trick taking game!

Yes, trick taking games are a dime a dozen and as you should know I'll compare each and every one of them with Sticheln. Because And guess what? I still haven't found any that comes close. But this one is pretty solid. The twist (every one has one, no?) in this one is that each suit has a kicker action which you get to use when you win a trick... and when you can't follow! And that's pretty huge. Keep the right cards so you can play them when you can't follow. Because in this game that is a good thing.
What did bother me is that it is pretty hard to take the lead away from someone once they they get going.
All in all a solid game, but it's no Sticheln

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:51 pm
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Roll Throught the Ages Iron Age and Dimension

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age
tl;dr: disappointing

Yes, this game was a disappointment. Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age is a game I quite enjoy, and now the designer of recent favorite Roll for the Galaxy had a go at making a variant of it. Sounds good right? But I feel exactly the same as BGG user ajax
Quote:
The added complexity did not increase the fun or engagement. It also lost much of the fun of the first game (the connected peg movement).

It just felt unstreamlined, a bit clunky. I don't feel like there's any reason to play this over the original one, that one plays better and is more fun. But I also have to be honost: this version is not bad, the otherones is just far superior.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Dimension
tl;dr: decent, but there are better options

3D physical building game with a timer? Sounds right up my alley. I love games like those, especially Ubongo 3D. So I expected to love this. But I didn't. The first game we were all quite tired, and it was quite challenging, but the second time that was not the case. It was a bit too simple. In the end it feels like a game that would work fine with families but for us, we'd rather play Ubongo 3D

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Sun May 31, 2015 11:32 am
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Parfum and Lap Dance

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Parfum
tl;dr: nothing special, but works fine

A new game from the designers of Fresco. And the same publisher. They also reuse a turn order mechanism that is quite similar. Go early in turn order with less actions, or go later with more actions. Simple and good. The rest of the game mainly consists of rolling dice to get resources (in the form of perfume bottle sections) which can be combined to create a perfume which can be used to score points. Nothing all that new, but it works very well. It's a tad lighter than Fresco I think, but it's been a while so I could be wrong on that.

All in all a decent family friendly strategy game that works fine but doesn't do anything new.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Lap Dance
tl;dr: as meh as they come

I got bored with this game about half a turn in. The rules didn't sound very interesting to start with, and the game turned out to be exactly what I expected after hearing the rules. Play some cards, screw some players blah blah blah. We've seen it all before, and quite often in more interesting games.
Oh, one thing about the theme: it didn't bother me at all of course, but with a theme like this, they could at least make the artwork nice to look at. They didn't. Which is weird as Artipia is known for their great artwork.

Not Artipia's best game. At all.

Initial rating: 4/10
BGG scale: 3/10
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Wed May 27, 2015 12:00 pm
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Versailles and Historia

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Versailles
tl;dr: perfectly fine family strategy game

This game combines the familiar elements of worker placement, resource gathering and turning of resources into VPs in a very familiar feeling family friendly strategy game. A bit like The Pillars of the Earth but maybe even a bit more streamlined (it's been too long since I played Pillars to say).
The big twist is that you don't really place the workers, but you move them from their last action to an adjacent one, so planning the order of your actions is what the game comes down to. And that's a fun puzzle. What adds to that is that most locations get better if you have multiple workers there.
But in the end this twist doesn't make the game stand out as much as I expected. In the end it's just a fine light strategy game that I don't mind playing.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Historia
tl;dr: insteresting puzzle

This was being hailed as a civ game with a decent playing time. It's not. It's a technology development game with a minor map of the world element. But I don't care, a good game is a good game. And this one certainly isn't bad.
You can evolve on the tech tree in both military and science direction. Most players will do a mix, but you can't max both. Maybe you can, but I have no idea of how you could pull that off. So you will have to focus on the one or the other.
Actions are played with action cards which improve depending on your position on the tech tracks. But most of all you need to manage the order in which you play them as that also influences the order in which you get them back. And that is the heart of the game: managing your action cards properly. And timing them so that the end of each age works for you. If you're not properly prepared for that, it can seriously screw with your plans and hurt your score.
I quite enjoy this game, but I don't love it. The action management bit is a fun and interesting puzzle, and I like the fact that you can ignore the map part.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Fri May 22, 2015 11:13 am
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Agora, Euphoria and Dead Mans Draw

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Agora
tl;dr: meh

A game of vying for power and wealth in ancient Greece... where have we seen that before? A worker placement game where the different actions are executed in a fixed order... where have we seen that before? A worker placement game where you can get more workers to get better... you catch my drift, don't you?
But like I stated many times before, that doesn't have to be a knock on a game. Take La Granja for instance. It's one of my favorite games of last year and it blatantly recycles a number of very recognisable elements with a very bland theme. And Agora comes from the same publisher... and it doesn't succeed in any of the fields where La Granja succeeds in a big way. It's bland and uninteresting. Grab some resource cards, turn them in to points and do some politics. That last bit is what rubbed me the wrong way the most. You can really set yourself up to nominate the dealer you want to nominate... and you have almost no grip on who gets to judge that. I understand you can increase the influence your workers have, but even then it is a crap shoot. And in my mind it brings down the game. And it wasn't high up to begin with.

Disappointing.

Initial rating: 5/10
BGG scale: 4/10

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia
tl;dr: quite nice

Here's another game that recycles a lot of well known elements: gathering resources, worker placement blahblahblah... and while it isn't exceptional, it works quite well. There are some nice twists with the way the markets come in to play and the bumping of player pieces. It doesn't really do anything new, but it's enjoyable enough and the weight to length ratio is pretty good.
A small point on the bits: I'm not a fan of the design on the board. It makes the nice artwork look ugly. And did they really need to spend extra money on making custom bits for the hearts and the heads? It's nice of course, but it's also complete overkill. In this case a lower price point would have been a far better option that souping up the bits.
If this is the kind of game we can continue to expect from Stonemaier games, I'll be very happy to play their future offerings.

Score: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Dead Man's Draw
tl;dr: fun but redundant

A pirate themed push your luck chaos fest. Some are fun, some are not, but this one works quite well. There's only one problem though, I don't see any reason to play this. If I'm looking for a pirate themed push your luck game, I'll always go for Piraten kapern. It has the added benefit of being a dice game

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue May 5, 2015 12:10 pm
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Kraftwagen and Neptun

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Kraftwagen
tl;dr: not as deep as I hoped

A new game from Matthias Cramer developed by the guy behind Spielworxx. How could this go wrong? Turns out the only way for this to go wrong is having the wrong expectations going in. It's not published by Spielworxx, so it's not a Spielworxx game.
This game reuses the same action/turn order mechanism found in Cramer's own Glen More. A good choice, because this is a great mechanism. Do you jump ahead to take the great actions or do you stay behind and pick up the leftovers, but lots of them? That combined with the theme of building and improving cars (you will find similarities to both Kanban: Automotive Revolution and Automobile) works well. It doesn't really do anything new and it doesn't need to, it just needs to do everything well. And it comes close, but for me it was slightly lighter than I hoped and it doesn't do any of what it does in a great way, it does in in a fine way.

So all in all a solid game that I hoped would be great.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Neptun
tl;dr: OK

Queen Games always has nice packaging and components, don't they? And they stopped making those thick boxes that didn't need to be that thick. But enough about the components, we're here to talk about how it plays, aren't we?
This game has a cool card row mechanism, a nice planning mechanism, some nice tracks where you score points for majorities, a sailing component, a set collecting component. And it all works together very well. It's not too complex, it moves along nicely, it doesn't take too long. Quite nice.
I was a bit annoyed by the lack in flexibility when planning your route. I know that's a major part of the game, but especially on a first game, this can be quite painful. I wish there was a way to like change the position of one card, maybe at a cost.

So, this is an OK game, but it didn't get me excited that much. It's fine to play a couple of times though I guess.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Disclaimer: out of time constraints we only played 2 of the 3 rounds.
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Mon May 4, 2015 12:21 pm
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Snowdonia The Necropolis Railway, Monopoly Deal Card Game, Snuffie Hup and MammuZ revisited

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Snowdonia: The Necropolis Railway & Neuhauser Bockerlbahn
tl;dr: more (but different) of the same goodness

So far I only played the Necropolis scenario of this expansion, so I won't comment on the other one.
Snowdonia = great. More Snowdonia = more great. This new scenario adds a few new twists and turns to the game and one big one: the fact that you loose a whopping 21 points if you don't reach step 4 or 5 of the track and build a monument there. You won't win if that happens, so this expansion adds new tension to the game as soon as building monuments becomes an option. Preparing for this moment is quite crucial.
I also enjoyed the fact that during the fog you can still clear rubble but fewer spaces to do so are available.
All in all another very solid scenario that is certainly worth playing.

Initial rating: 8/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Monopoly Deal Card Game
tl;dr: complete junk

We played this because one of the players heard it's actually pretty good. And a score of almost 7 on BGG sounded promising...

There are some awesome set collecting games. This is not one of them. The problem? The action cards of course. A good game with stupid unbalanced action cards is a bad game. This game might be acceptable at it's core (I wouldn't call it great), but the action cards completely screw the game up. I can live with stealing some of the money of other players. And even with stealing the occasional property card that is not part of a complete set. Fine. But stealing completed sets? Fuck that.
I must also say that I was amazed at how horribly written the very short and very simple rules where. Yes, they are very simple, but they tried their best to make it sound way more complicated and we had to reread most rules 3 times in 2 languages to figure it out. And this game is published by the biggest board game publisher in the world? Shame on you, Hasbro. You should know better. Putting out a shitty game is one thing, screwing up the rules is just adding insult to injury.

Score: 2/10
BGG scale: 2/10

Snuffie Hup
tl;dr: strictly for kids

Some kids games are so awesome even adults can enjoy them. Like Loopin' Louie. And some kids games are so not awesome you wonder how much fun the kids would be having with them. Like Snuffie Hup. Pull carrots, eventually Snuffie jumps up. Whoever catches Snuffie wins. The problem? The game might be over after the first carrot. But most of all, it doesn't matter how many carrots you have. There is no arc at all. Disappointing.

Initial rating: 4/10
BGG scale: 3/10

MammuZ revisited
tl;dr: it is as good as it sounded

It turns out we played this game wrong the first time. So we gave it an other chance. And I must say I was dead wrong last time. This is a fun game that might even be up there with Bugs. If you bluff the right way, some hilarious stuff can happen!

Revised score: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:35 am
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