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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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Hyperborea & 7 steps

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Michelbeke
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Hyperborea
tl;dr: good, but how good?

Bag building was one of the hot mechanisms at Essen last year. This is one of the games that have it. It's like deckbuilding: it's a mechanic that can be very effective and enjoyable if used well. Judging from this first play this game does a pretty good job at using this mechanism.
You draw cubes to perform actions. Some actions give you more cubes, others let you get cards to help you be more effective or they let you do stuff on the board. What did surprise me a bit was that you can completely ignore the board if you like. And the while other players did use the board, it still felt a bit underdeveloped. But that might be just a wrong impression from the first play.
All in all I must say that I quite enjoyed this game, but I'm not quite sure how good it actually is. It's not bad, that's for certain.

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

7 Steps
tl;dr: fine multiplayer abstract

Every couple of years a new family friendly multiplayer abstract comes along that is actually fun to play. Ingenious comes to mind of course. While this game might not actually be as good, it's certainly enjoyable and worth playing.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:20 pm
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Korrigans, Eat Me If You Can! and Los Mampfos

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Korrigans
tl;dr: OK but unremarkable

OK, so the theme is pasted on. You're walking around, increasing your maneuverability to enable you to get to the right spot at the end of the game. Fine enough, but very unremarkable. There's nothing wrong with it but I do feel it is terribly overproduced. It feels like they knew this is a mediocre game, but they upped the amount of fancy components in able to to be able to sell this. Let me remind you: there are enough great games with great components, there is no reason for me to spend money on mediocre games with great components.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10

Eat Me If You Can!
tl;dr: crapshoot, the game

Pigs select if they want to sleep or lay a trap. They get points if the wolf comes to them and they laid a trap or if the wolf doesn't come and they sleep. They lose points if they sleep and the wolf comes to eat them. The wolf scores points if he enters a home with a sleeping pig, he loses points if he enters a home with a trap. So it's crapshoot the game. Luckily it's short but it doesn't have a high replay value.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10

Los Mampfos
tl;dr: silly but enjoyable

Turn over a card, put a certain amount of food in one of 3 donkeys. Food comes in 7 colors and you get to choose freely. Once in a while one of the donkeys takes a dump. Select a color. All colors are distributed among the players who selected that color, the rest of the poo is eaten again. Most poo at the end of the game wins. Oh yeah, you also move the donkeys on a track. This doesn't influence the game, but it's there to confuse you.
This is a very light luckfest, but it does have it's funny moments and it doesn't outstay it's welcome.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:35 pm
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The Golden Ages and Rattlebones

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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The Golden Ages
tl;dr: solid euro, but not a real civ game

This was announced as being a relatively short civ game, but that's just the theme. It's mostly an engine building game with a map element. You do also have sort of a tech tree, but it doesn't feel like a real civ game. But that's not a knock on the game, it's actually really solid and enjoyable. And well developed. There are a few confusing icons, but that's a production issue, not a game design issue.
I actually played with the designer in Essen. We played Imperialism: Road to Domination, also announced as a short civ style game. Neither of us liked that game very much. Only after we finished playing did he tell me about his game. His reaction to Imperialism increased my hopes for this game, and it didn't disappoint.

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

Rattlebones
tl;dr: enjoyable dice building game

A dice building game! Not a dicepool building game, no, you actually build your dice! During the game you get to customize the die faces to have some kind of deck building effect: choose which actions you might get, and then roll to see which ones you actually get. A bit like deck building indeed.
It's a fairly light game and only takes about half an hour. Enjoyable enough, and the dice customization is a welcome gimmick.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:29 pm
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Murano and Temporum

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Murano
tl;dr: fine strategy game

A new game from the designers of Village by Lookout games? This can't go wrong, can it? Well, maybe it can, but it doesn't. This is a fine strategy game. And it has a nice action selection mechanism that is quite novel. But it's also a source of some frustration. If you're trying to do a certain action and it just keeps on getting more expensive while you try to save up and avoid helping other players perform said action, that can be frustrating. But maybe that will be fixed with repeated plays, when I better get the hang of the game flow and how to plan ahead.
But for now I say: fine game, but I can't say I love it from this first time

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

Temporum
tl;dr: solid design that left me cold

It seems Donald X. Vaccarino is defining his style as games with very simple rules and short playing times with great amounts of variation due to cards and a decent amount of depth compared to game length. But other than Dominion, none of them have been able to get my juices flowing with excitement. They're all solid designs, but somehow they don't stand out even though that mix of depth with short rules and playing time is something I quite enjoy. I can't exactly pinpoint why that is.

Initial rating: 6.4/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:59 pm
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Cubo and Sushi Go

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Cubo
tl;dr: fine dice game

It seems like dice games with some abstract cube theme are all the rage these days. We already had Cubist and Ciúb. So far those have been OK games, and this one is no different. What this game does different from the other two is that there is a speed and puzzle element, which I enjoy.
It's not earth shattering, but I found it enjoyable enough for an occasional play here and there.

Initial rating: 6.4/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Sushi Go!
tl;dr: enjoyable

What's with all the sushi games? Sushi Go, Sushi Dice, Sushi Draft...
Yes, this is 7 Wonders style drafting without the depth. Draft, score cards based on the type. Each type is scored in it's own distinctive way. Perfectly entertaining, but don't expect a lot of depth.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Wed Jan 7, 2015 9:29 pm
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Onward to Venus, Cubist and Dragonscroll

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Onward to Venus
tl;dr: good but not for me

Onward to Venus uses artwork from a Weta Workshop artist and combines that with what is essentially an area majority game. The majorities are counted in production capacity (mines and factories) which, on top of giving you majorities, also give you income and production capacity.
Martin Wallace is really good at using familiar elements and whipping them together into a new, fresh design that works great. This one doesn't feel as original as some of his other titles, but it still works very well. The game is clearly well developed and has a very appropriate length. There also is an appropriate amount of luck in the cards.
I liked the game enough to play it again, but it's not a design I love or one that I expect to love in the future. It's not exactly the kind of game that our group prefers. While the design is well developed, the combination of the luck with some direct player conflict is not what my group prefers.

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

Cubist
tl;dr: fine

Dice games are a dime a dozen these days. I generally enjoy them. Most of them simply combine a number of familiar elements to make a new game. This is one of those games. You have the building aspect like in Blueprints but everyone is competing to complete the same structure before someone else does. There are some other cards to spice things up and there are - for the most part - no rerolls. It all works fine, but it doesn't do anything new so if you already have a similar game in your collection, there's no real reason to own this one as well.
And the artwork is ugly, ugly, ugly. I guess, I don't like cubism.

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

Dragonscroll
tl;dr: a disappointment

Each year I play the new Fragor game. Each year I'm hoping their crazy ideas and great components make a good game. Sometimes they come close, sometimes they don't come close. I quite like Antler Island, I really didn't like Hameln.
This game combines a ball tower and tile laying with resource collection. The tile laying doesn't add much to the game, it doesn't really inject any fun challenge like it does in Carcassonne. The fighting with the ball tower sounds fun, but there is a huge problem: the tower is broken. Killing orcs is SO easy, killing knights and wizards is doable, but elves and dwarfs are very, very difficult. That is the result of the design of the tower. It results in the player holding the orc scoring card having a real easy time of scoring big points.
But most of all the game isn't challenging nor entertaining. It's just so incredibly bland.
A disappointment

Initial rating: 5/10
BGG scale: 3/10
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Fri Jan 2, 2015 6:00 am
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2014: a crazy year

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Man, 2014 was crazy!

On the game site
Nothing too spectacular happened gaming wise, but I did get to play a ton of games again this year!
- 225 different games and expansions
- 348 total plays
Dimes: Abluxxen, Red7
Fives: Le Havre, Mythotopia, Race for the Galaxy, Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts

On the not game side
- Bought an electric car in January
- I made a deal with a record label to release some of my music
- Went to New Zealand for 3 weeks and went diving on the Great Barrier Reef for a week in Australia in February. Both highly recommended!
We also visited my old pal Martin Wallace and his lovely wife Julia when we where in the area.
- Found out I was fired the first day back at work. Thanks boss! NOT!
- Replaced our heating oil installation with a pellet burner in March
- Went to the UK for 8 days with our electric car in June. This way we could see how well it holds up on longer trips. It certainly works great in the UK, their charging infrastructure is great.
We also went to see our friend Tony Boydell and his gamer friends again. Always good fun!
- Started school in September to become a certified gardener
- Went to Essen with our electric car in October and found charging in The Netherlands much easier than in Germany, but I'm sure that will improve.
Spiel itself was great fun again as we always get to see so many of our international friends which we meet just once a year.
- Had our solar heating installation installed early December. This should lower our use of pellets, but is not a sound economical investment. It will take 18 years to get our money back. But then again: with a normal heater, you never get any money back, it just keeps on costing money for infinity.
- Had our PV array installed a week later. This should be a good investment that should pay for itself in about 7 years, even without incentives. But most of all it means I can fuel my car for free now. How awesome is that?
- I made a second deal with an other label to release some more of my music
- I found out a track I made with a friend over a year ago, is going to be released next year
- I found a new, better paying job just before Christmas. I start early January

Man, we spent a lot of money this year, but most of it are investments to both lower our energy usage and cost. Our home is reasonably insulated but that could be improved in the future as well. Good thing we had savings, none of it was bought on credit (except the car). But now most savings are gone.
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Thu Jan 1, 2015 11:09 am
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Alchemists and Hospital Rush

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Alchemists
tl;dr: solid, intriguing design.
Some people hate having electronic elements in board games. I'm not sure if I like the idea, but it works in this game as it's simply there as a way to avoid having someone - who can not partake in the game - looking up results all the time.
This is a game in which you deduce formulas in order to use what you found to score points. On this first play however I was so caught up in deducing stuff that I missed most opportunities to score points. For one thing, I only realized late in the game that you should put a banner on the board each time you have only 2 possible results for a certain resource. That's a good way to score some points. It didn't help that my first 3 combinations resulted in zilch. Other players where building up information and I had close to nothing.
I liked the game and would be happy to play again, but this first play was rather frustrating. Still, a solid design!

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

Hospital Rush
tl;dr: OK but bland game
This is one of those games where I wonder why the publisher decided to pour money in to producing it. There's nothing wrong with the design, but it doesn't do anything new or interesting. It simply rehashes a bunch of stuff we already know. And while it works fine in that regard, in this day and age there simply are too many above average games to pay money to buy a completely average one. These days I expect more.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Wed Dec 31, 2014 11:30 am
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Grog Island and Bonje in de stal

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Grog Island
tl;dr: perfectly adequate
This game has a somewhat novel auction mechanism involving colored dice. The auction winner can do certain actions based on what color die is in which position after the auction. On the other hand there is also a nice incentive to pass early on auctions.
The majority of your points will come from scoring cards, mostly based on what buildings you build.
It's a nice little family friendly strategy game. It does have a novel mechanism, but it's not spectacular in any way. So, it's perfectly adequate for a number of plays, but I don't see this getting tonnes of play.

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

Bonje in de stal
tl;dr: meh
This is one of those speed games that doesn't bring anything new to the table and goes on for a bit too long. Meh.

Initial rating: 3/10
BGG scale: 3/10
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Sat Dec 27, 2014 1:16 pm
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The Ancient World and Craftsmen

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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The Ancient World
tl;dr: solid euro

Ryan Laukat popped up on my 'designers to watch' list when I first played City of Iron which I still think is a very good game. Other than the name of the designer I knew nothing about this game.
In essence this is a worker placement set collecting game. You're collecting sets of cards with colored banners. The more of a certain color you have at the end of the game, the more points you score.
Everything works great, and the game moves at the nice pace. It doesn't do anything new at all, but it does work as it should and therefore it certainly is worth playing.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Craftsmen
tl;dr: would be great if it took 90 minutes

When I read the rules for this one, it surely sounded like a not very original but solid game. And that's exactly what it is.
It's a worker placement resource generation game with some nice combinations of familiar mechanisms that, when combined, do something fresh and interesting. This results in some interesting decision points each round, which is good. What is not so good is that this game should take 90 minutes and it takes at least 60 more minutes with 3 fast players.
If only this game was developed further so it wouldn't stay out it's welcome, because it has some good stuff in there. Too bad.
At least it wasn't as boring as Urban Panic from the same designer.

Initial rating: 6.4/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:40 am
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