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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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Parfum and Lap Dance

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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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!
Belgium
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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!
Belgium
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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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Wot? Wot? Wot?

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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I'm Geek of the Week! I still have no idea why acclaimed desinger Tony Boydell thought it was a good idea to nominate me, but thanks!

Go over there and ask me anything. I might even aswer!

PS: new post with reviews brain farts coming soon!
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Sun Apr 19, 2015 2:15 pm
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Captains of Industry, Eggs and Empires and Dieven!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Captains of Industry
tl;dr: fine but could have been better

Economic resource generation and free market game. It has some elements from one of my favorite economic games. The base mechanism is very solid. Manage your money, make sure you produce the right amount of the right resources at the right time, don't overspend on resources from other players... Good stuff but nothing really new.
The game takes 3 rounds but the length of the rounds is not fixed. While we all liked the game quite a bit most players did feel like the variable round length was slightly problematic. The second round was very short (which was fine) but the last round took very, very long. This resulted in most players being more or less done rounds before the game was over. Left with little to do and score, some of us basically had to sit it out, going through the motions. That certainly could have been improved upon.

Initial rating: 6.9/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Eggs and Empires
tl;dr: fine, but I prefer Love Letter

OK, it's not Love Letter really but for me both games fill the same niche. Love Letter just does it better. I also feel like this game has a bigger luck factor. I wasn't able to use the 9, the second most powerful card in the game once. I know how you're supposed to use it, but even then there is always a bit luck factor. The draw of point cards has to be right, the player order has to be right and you have to be lucky with what other players flip. I know that's the nature of the game, but if that's the game we're playing, I'd rather play Take 5!.
So not bad, but other games do it better.

Initial rating: 6.3/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Thieves!
tl;dr: not that good, but we had fun

I don't think this is a very good game. It's chaotic more than anything else. We had fun playing this (twice in a row mind you) but I think that was more the result of everyone being so tired that they made stupid moves and said stupid things than a result of the game. I don't expect future plays in a more awake state to be as fun.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Sun Apr 5, 2015 9:14 pm
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The Voyages of Marco Polo, Mammuz and Hamsterrolle

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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The Voyages of Marco Polo
tl;dr: solid - of course - but not very original

A game from the designers of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar developed by the masters of development at Hans im Glück, of course that showed up on my radar. And as expected, this game works very will indeed. But it is mainly a recycling of well known elements. Use dice to perform actions. Gather resources, travel the map, build settlements, fulfill orders, score points. It's all done slightly different but in a very familiar way.
But there is no denying that even without doing anything really new this is a very solid design than is certainly worth playing if you like strategic middleweight euros.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10

MammuZ
tl;dr: sounded way better than it was

This game combines elements from Liar's Dice and Bugs, two games I enjoy. So this sounded very promising. Except that it didn't work very well and it was very unexciting. I think it simply doesn't give you enough options.
Quite often you are forced to challenge the last player because you know making a claim would be ridiculous. But you also know that the previous player probably wasn't bluffing or not entirely. Which means you're screwed.
Not exciting at all.

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

Hamsterrolle
tl;dr: more of the same Zoch goodness

If you've played other Zoch titles like Bamboleo or Riff Raff you kind of know what to expect from this game. Players each in turn place one of their wooden pieces in an effort to get rid of all of them first. There are some placement rules and if something falls off and hits the table, you have to add it to your hand.
I quite enjoy games like these and I enjoyed this one too. But I think I do prefer those 2 other titles I mentioned.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Mar 30, 2015 8:28 pm
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Elysium and Arkwright + RftG update

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Elysium
tl;dr: the movie was better

real tl;dr: solid game but some AP issues

This game continues the line that Space Cowboys has been building: medium weight strategy games that could also be enjoyed by families with some gamer experience. This one is a bit less streamlined and maybe even a bit deeper than their previous offerings. This mainly comes from the big range of different cards and the combos that come with them. There also is a good amount of Donald X influence with different sets of cards in each game. All great. The game offers nice strategic choices and variation and doesn't go on for too long, but it could have been a bit shorter. The main reason for that is that with all the variability in cards there is quite some time needed for players to evaluate which cards to acquire, which resources to spend and keep in doing so and which cards to move on to the Elysium for end game scoring. This results in more AP than you would expect form a game like this, resulting in a playing time that is a bit longer than I had hoped. It's not problematic and I still enjoyed the game, but it keeps the game from being great and keeps it in the good category.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Arkwright
tl;dr: heavy, dry and good

There's a reason this is the last game from my Essen haul to hit the table. The basic version of the game is 24 pages of rules. The advanced version adds another 32 pages and then there is an additional overview of components and strategies that is just as thick. Of course we opted for the basic version with the predetermined setup, as it is already complex enough to satisfy most hardcore eurogamers.
This game continues the line of complex strategy games that we've come to expect from Spielworxx and it is just as well developed as their other titles. Even with the sizable rulebook most rules are intuitive and everything makes sense. There are a few details which could easily be forgotten, but I guess most of them won't ruin the game if you do.
This is definitely a game that begs to be explored more after the first play. It's also a game in which every action counts. I screwed up the very first action and than wasted an other one in the 2nd round and as a result I lost. It's that kind of game. I enjoyed it and look forward to playing it more. I don't expect to move on to the advanced game any time soon though.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Roll for the Galaxy update
I've played this a bit more since my last post, and I'm really starting to like this a lot. The way to pursue strategies is becoming clearer and it's just so much fun. And I'm as of yet unbeaten

New rating: 8/10
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Mon Mar 9, 2015 9:22 pm
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Roll for the Galaxy, Scoville and Schrille Stille

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Roll for the Galaxy
tl;dr: similar yet different

Race for the Galaxy has long been one of my favorites and it is my most played game by a huge margin. To Court the King is a dice game that I enjoy quite a bit from the same designer. So Thomas Lehmann doing a dice game based on RFTG sounded promising.

I've already played the game twice now, and I've enjoyed both games. You can definitely recognize those RFTG genes in there but it's not a straight conversion. It does bring some new and interesting mechanisms with it. To does feel quite similar yet quite different at the same time.

It seems like there's less of a 'yellow strategy' or 'rebel strategy'. I think the main reason for that is that the amount of tiles that pass through your hands is significantly lower than the amount of cards you get to see in RFTG. So there is less planning and hoping and more using what you get to the best of your abilities.
I think the strategy in this game comes more from managing your dice. Certain colors are better for doing certain actions, so getting the balance right there while still building up a steady income stream to reuse your dice is what the game is all about.

I look forward to exploring this game more because it is clear that there is more there than 2 plays will expose.

A comment on the components: while generally of good quality (don't reach the German standard though) the dice are very cheap looking. Screen printed, really? If this game sees as much play as I hope it will, that will not do, the icons will fade quickly. I expect RGG to send me a free replacement set if that ever happens. The icons should have been embossed.

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

Scoville
tl;dr: fine but unoriginal

Some games should not have been published. Bad games should not be published because they are bad. Other games should not be published because they don't bring anything new to the table. A game working fine and being mildly enjoyable should never trigger a publisher to invest resources into publishing it. Yet with the advent of crowdfunding that is happening a lot. And this game falls squarely into this category of games that work perfectly fine but don't do anything new. An original theme and nice components and artwork are all nice things to have, but that is not enough to entice me to dig up my wallet. No, I need more than that. An unoriginal game that is surprisingly fun to play, or an original game that manages to be enjoyable despite it's original ideas, that is what I'm looking for.

So yeah, if you get the chance to play this, you might as well go ahead and do it. It's an OK game. But I wouldn't advise you to go out and buy it sight unseen.

A additional small point on game play: I found the game to go on for a bit too long. Not necessarily time wise, but it did get slightly repetitive towards the end.

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

Schrille Stille
tl;dr: enjoyable for once

This game has some cool components: round things with holes in them in which you place round wooden disks that influence the hit parade. Those are wrapped in a holder the players 'disks' stacked on top of each other on a 'turntable'. Then the wrappers are removed so all disks of all players for a certain position on the hit parade are dumped together so no one can see who did what. The turntable is turned so all disks come out one hit parade position at a time. Of course you get points if your own tunes score well and you lose points if your tunes don't score well. It's all very chaotic as one would expect, but I kind of enjoyed it. I don't need to ever play this again though.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:11 am
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