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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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Treasure Hunter and Oh My Goods!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Treasure Hunter
tl;dr: enjoyable but very light

Richard Garfield takes on 7 Wonders. Or something like that. Of course, 7 Wonders used the drafting mechanism that first occured in Magic, by mr Garfield, so it's kind of full circle I guess.
So this is a drafting majority game where you score for having the most (or the least) in certain sets of cards. And there are some extra bits here and there. But this is a very simple, family friendly game. And it plays well, and it is very enjoyable. It's not the greatest game ever, but it has modest goals and succeeds at them, and for that, it's worth a look. It's up to you to know if it's too light for your tastes or not, but for me it's fine for an occasional play.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Oh My Goods!
tl;dr: Ora et Labora, the card game

Yep, take the resource generation element from Ora et Labora and turn that in to a card game, and that basically is what you get here. In the republished version, they even reused the artwork and resource types from that game, making it even more obvious.
I liked this game, but sometimes it was very frustrating as well. If the cards you need don't come out, there's little you can do to solve that problem.
But it's enjoyable.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:10 pm
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T.I.M.E Stories and El Gaucho

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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T.I.M.E Stories
tl;dr: interesting, but unsure how much I like it

Deduction and co-op are not my favorite elements in games, so putting them together doesn't sound very appealing. But of course, when a game gets as much attention as this one gets, I want to try it.
So this is a scenario based game, and you walk around from location to location, gathering items and clues to solve a mystery. Everyone has a character with some skills that can be quite different. That's more akin to your run-of-the-mill RPG title, also not my favorite. But it works pretty well and it's all quite streamlined.
We had to play the scenario 3 times to get through it. Each play took about 1 hour. 1 hour is fine. 3 hours is not so fine. And there are ways to save your game between runs, but you don't want to do that because then you will have to take a lot of notes, and that's no fun, is it? So, that's a bit annoying but 3 hours is still OK if you plan ahead.
So I found it fairly enjoyable but I had a couple of issues with it. The main one being that this is not really my style. But I recognize the quality of the design.
Which brings me to my main gripe with the game. This game is sold for the price of a big box game. It is scenario based. The scenarios cannot be replayed. The box comes with only one scenario. ONE! That is a ripoff. Now you have to fork out €20 or €25 each and every time you want to play this game again. That is just shameful! Games with scenarios that you cannot replay should include 10 scenarios or more. I don't fork out money for a game to play it once. So I won't be forking out money for this game and wouldn't recommend anyone do so.

Initial rating: 6.8/10 (for the game play, not the package)
BGG scale: 6/10

El Gaucho
tl;dr: fine family friendly strategy game

Dice are cool and worker placement is my favorite mechanism, so of course this was on my radar.
Having dice usually means a lighter game, and that is indeed the case. It is quite family friendly, but it still has a good dose of strategy and tactics.
It does also include a way to steal from other players. This is not an element my group is a big fan of, but it wasn't too bad and with the quick playing time it isn't really an issue.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:40 am
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Discoveries and 8-28

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

Lewis & Clark was a hit, so of course the publisher wants to cash in. And the author too I guess. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. And in this case it's not.
So the theme is more or less the same, and the artwork is more or less the same (I guess some of it is shared?) but this is not a deck building game, it's a dice game. And it's a pretty good one with nice choices. You need to use the different symbols on the dice to activate locations on your tableau to perform actions to advance towards victory.
I had a couple of streaks where I would roll anything but what I needed. Luckily there are ways around that, but at a cost. What is also nice is that there is some risk taking involved when you start using the other player's dice. This combination gives some nice tension.
Yeah, all in all a fine dice game.

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

8-28
tl;dr: 21 with 8 and 28 in stead of 21

I'm not sure what the English title of 21 is, but it's the game in which you ask the dealer for cards and try to hit 21 but not go over. This game is the same, but you want to hit 8 or 28. So if you go over 8, there is a backup plan. So why would you want to go for 8? Because the payoff is usually bigger. Payoff comes in the form of gems for the people coming closest to hitting the targets without going over.
All in all it works fine, but it goes on a bit too long and there certainly are better options in the genre.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:27 pm
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Between Two Cities and Unusual Suspects

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Between Two Cities
tl;dr: Teamup drafting Suburbia

This game combines tile laying and scoring similar to Suburbia (me likey) with the drafting of 7 Wonders with a teamup element as you're teaming up with both your neighbors to build the best cities. So you always participate in the building of 2 cities, one with each neighbor, and the nice twist is that the lowest scoring one determines your score. And it only takes 25 minutes, no matter the amount of players. Very nice, I enjoyed it!

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

Unusual Suspects
tl;dr: Dixit meats Guess Who?, really!

Yep, you have cards, and you answer yes or no questions that are always completely subjective. This should help your team mates to figure out the suspect by process of elimination, just like in Guess Who?
It's kind of funny what questions you have to answer. Like "Does this person own a turntable or not" which obviously is something that is not immediately obvious from looking at drawings of faces. So some discussion ensues. And that can be fun for a bit, but I would suggest Codenames or Dixit in stead.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Wed Dec 9, 2015 8:08 pm
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Mombasa, Codenames and Banjooli Cross

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Mombasa
tl;dr: very good indeed

Let's get this out of the way: I screwed up majorly. I had this whole strategy which would probably give me the victory. Too bad that I realized too late there was no way to actually execute this at all since there were only two rounds left. The result was that my strategy was just a huge unintentional kingmaker move.
That being said: this is indeed a very solid gamers game. I've played a few good games from this year's Spiel crop, but this one certainly ranks among the best, especially among the heavier ones. If you want one of those good heavier strategy euros, make sure to check this out.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Codenames
tl;dr: Team Dixit with words

I usually don't like word games, but this isn't really a word game, it's just Dixit with words in stead of images. Quite interesting and lots of changes to be creative with the hints. But also challenging.
I like it, but I don't get the extremely high rating this game gets. It is very good and lots of fun, but I don't think it's one of the best designs ever.

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

Banjooli Xeet
tl;dr: Meh

A racing game with dice where you have a goal of putting your secret set of colors over the finish first. We've seen all of it before, and we've all seen it done better. It doesn't take too long, but it's a chaosfest and there are other racing games that I'd much rather play.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 4/10
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Mon Dec 7, 2015 8:54 pm
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Grand Austria Hotel and DRCongo

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Grand Austria Hotel
tl;dr: good but too luck dependent

I wanted to like this game. Except that I was frustrating for two thirds of the time. There is so much good stuff going on, but that seemed to be thwarted by unlucky die rolls. So, if you really need a certain thing to move on to your next step, and that is not rolled (or in low amount and you just happend to be in last place) and there are no sixes, you're out of luck. You can do some other stuff in the hopes that will give you some points, but there isn't really anything you can do to sacrifice something to perform the action you need most. And that bothered me, and the other players.
The next problem was that there was some AP going on, mostly caused by the bad die rolls, which led to a playing time of about 150 minutes, which was too much for this game.
Other than that, we all thought there was a good game hidden in there, it just didn't come out. Maybe this was a fluke, maybe this game needed a bit more development.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 6/10

DRCongo
tl;dr: pretty good start

What a stupid name! Why is the DR in there? OK, I know it stands for Democratic Republic, but either write it out or just call your game Congo.
OK, on to the game. Keep in mind these thoughts are only about the core game.
So far most of the games from the Ragnar Brothers that I have played were interesting and different, so I was looking forward to trying this one. I was surprised to see I only needed about 5 pages of rules for the core game. Too bad they could use some (a lot) of editing, but I got through them. The core game is actually a fairly simple, streamlined medium weight euro. It also leaves out any of the combat elements I understand do occur in (some of?) the other versions. Use money to build resource factories, deliver those resources to markets for more money and use that extra money to generate more income or points. It all works great and it was pretty intense, even with only 3 players vying for position on the map. There is good tension building from the very beginning.
We quite enjoyed this, and I look forward to exploring this more.
But such a shame about the stupid title, poorly written rules and ugly art.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:42 pm
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Porta Nigra and Steam Time

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Porta Nigra
tl;dr: more of the same... which means it's solid!

K+K have been going at it and rarely disappoint. Sometimes they're simply good, sometimes they're amazing. This one falls in between those.
It's mostly a rehash of elements you know from other games. A market system, building, majorities, some cards to switch things up. It's a very solid design again, but other than working very well it doesn't really stand out exactly because everything in there has been done many a time before. And that's fine, because I enjoyed it.
Oh, one small remark on strategy: I tried doing everything except scoring in Porta Nigra, but the game didn't steal it's title and it seems like winning without scoring there will be very hard indeed. I had hoped more different strategies would be viable.
And a small remark on the bits: the towers are nice, but 5% (or so, I didn't count) where malformed and didn't stack properly, and that's a shame.

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

Steam Time
tl;dr: pretty good indeed

DOrn has been going at it and rarely disappoints. Sometimes he's simply good, sometimes he's amazing. This one falls in between those.
This game combines a worker placement system with a moving set of action spaces that always give you random things, like cards or resources. What is a cool twist in this one is that you get a bonus based on what action you do and how many resources you have in the associated spot on your own board. This leads to some interesting decisions, especially if you focus on actions where you have to expend resources to get bonuses or more resources. Good stuff.
We all tried pursuing different strategies and the scores at the end where not that far apart so it all seems pretty balanced.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:18 pm
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Roll for the Galaxy Ambition and Isle of Skye

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition
tl;dr: the shit I wanted

This is the kind of expansion I love: it integrates with the game perfectly. It doesn't add many rules. The only new rules are about what the new components do, it doesn't change anything to the base rules and doesn't really expand them either. All of it just becomes part of the base game instantly and you can just play as you would without the expansion. Great stuff. Oh, did I mention the new dice are very cool?

Initial rating: 9/10
BGG scale: 10/10

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
tl;dr: Carcassonne with a bidding mechanism and no meeples

It's a tile laying game, so of course you will see comparisons with the most popular title in the genre, but it is quite similar in many ways. You also have multiple elements and landscape types for which you can score and the tiles look quite similar. But you don't need meeples to score anything. And you don't just draw and place, but you auction tiles (for a set price). And most of all: you all build your own tableau. So it is not Carcassonne, but it does feel like it in many respects.
Anyway, different enough and very solid.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:28 am
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Steampunk Rally and Dark Matter

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Steampunk Rally
tl;dr: cool and fun

It's a racing game. But not really. It's a worker placement game where the workers are dice in different colors and you get to build your mat of worker spots with cards that are drafted. All cool stuff and it all works together well.
The racing part is there, but the main joy comes from building your contraption and activating the actions with your dice.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this game and look forward to playing it more. I think I might be getting a copy.

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

Dark Matter
tl;dr: interesting idea

I got this game after getting the elevator pitch. The way in which the action cards work is quite interesting. Using your own cards flips them from front to back, using an other player's card flips it upside down. This way the actions available constantly change and are a challenge to get them to do what you want them to do.
The rest of the game is a bit ordinary though: use the resources the cards give you to get planets, upgrade those planets to get points. That part, while it works fine, just isn't all that interesting, it's just very been-there-done-that.
After this first play it seems like this one cool idea fails to lift this game above the average.

Initial rating: 6.2/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Mon Nov 9, 2015 9:11 pm
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M.U.L.E. revisited and In Flanders Field

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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M.U.L.E. The Board Game
So after my first - shorter - game of this at Spiel, I finally got to play the full version. We played using the Tournament rules. I must say I did enjoy the game again, but there where some concerns. First off it seemed that Crystite is the way to go for victory. Except that it is a bit unpredictable. So the trick is to hold on to it until it's value shoots up again. In our game one of the events that came up halted Crystite production for one round, a round in which two players had geared up to produce it in huge quantities. So that was kind of painful for them. They did end up loosing in the end, but not by much, which makes me wonder if this is indeed such a bad thing, but if that is your only source of income, it still is a devastating card. But since this resource is portrayed as no stable source of income, it is also quite thematic.
Of course you have the option to play without the events, so I'm wondering if the game will still be balanced if we do that, as Crystite will be more reliable while still having a fluctuating price.
Also: the lucky and unlucky cards - also an option - are a quite obvious way to keep the scores close together. Being in the lead for the last 4 rounds of the game, I lost a lot of points to those cards (45 to 55, I don't remember exactly) which did feel a bit unfair. After all, I got those because I played well.
So I'll have to play this again to see if I need to adjust my score.
I'm wondering what your experiences are?

In Flanders Field
tl;dr: WW2 Can't Stop

That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But that's how Martin Wallace described it, and that's indeed what it is. Now this is not a rethemed Can't Stop, but it's press-your-luck mechanism gives a very similar feel. The biggest difference here is that there is less chance of one player just going on and on and on. Since you have to claim a card on each roll, the amount of possible cards to claim on your next roll will decrease making every roll harder than the previous one.
We quite enjoyed this and I think this game deserves more attention than it is getting.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Tue Nov 3, 2015 12:28 pm
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