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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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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
Michelbeke
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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
Michelbeke
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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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Panthalos and Sushi Draft

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Panthalos
tl;dr: decent unoffensive euro
Ever since Peloponnes everyone's been keeping an eye on Bernd Eisenstein's output. So far he has been hit-and-miss with me. I like PAX a lot, I hated Pergamemnon.
This game is a worker placement where the dice are workers and the values of the dice - which can be influenced of course - determine what actions they can be used for. There's resource generation and point generation based on those resources. There's also 2 ways to combat. The first is with the game where every player has to defeat the same enemy for points or not do so and risk losing points. The second is where you can attack an other player in which case it's sort of majorities with cards of a certain suit.
That's all fine and dandy, and it works fine, but it's all so unoriginal. It's just more of what we have seen so much of, and it's not like the combinations are fresh or work way better than anywhere else.
So, all in all a decent, unoffensive euro that failed to excite me.

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

Sushi Draft
tl;dr: not annoying
It's drafting like 7 Wonders. The cards you draft have a suit. Scoring the played cards is like scoring the dice in Las Vegas. Highest wins, equals cancel each other. The winner takes a token from the same suit. The token has a random amount of points. Highest total after 3 rounds wins.
As you can tell, it's neither original nor deep. But it works OK and it's not annoying. It's not great either.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:48 am
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ZhanGuo & Antike II

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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ZhanGuo
What's Your Game? has done it again. It seems they can do no wrong!... oh wait, they can*
Anyhow... This game is quite meaty indeed. It doesn't look that way from looking at the components or the board though. The board especially is not very busy at all, with just a few obvious wall sections and very muted icons.
The way in which you can use cards in 2 different ways isn't new but works great and does offer some nice painful choices. The mechanism of gaining bonuses when performing actions with cards also makes your timing a thing to factor in.
This is one of those games where you can do only a fraction of what you want to do, so there's plenty of interesting choices to be made on multiple levels. The possibilities are quite big. This might introduce some very bad AP in some groups, something you should be aware of if your group is prone to that.
I must say that I quite enjoyed the puzzle this game offers and I look forward to exploring it more. I don't think it's the best of the series so far, but it is certainly worthy of being part of this product line.

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

* There's nothing wrong with OddVille, but in stead of a good to great heavy euro, it's an OK family strategy game.

Antike II
Wow, Mac Gerdts is a genius. In Concordia he showed us that you can create deep strategy games with ridiculously simple rules, and with this game how demonstrates this ability again. Everything is just so streamlined and straightforward... except the strategies! Every action in and of itself is so simple, but the ways in which you can combine them open up such possibilities and strategies. Great stuff.
This game does include Imperial style combat, which I'm quite fine with. And you don't have to fight to win, but in certain situations it can certainly be beneficial.
In our game all of us where at 8 points before I squeezed out a victory. It was just incredibly close.
It seems we did play a rule wrong - remove armies after conquering a city - but I don't think that would have influenced my win as I didn't do much with the armies after I used them to conquer - which I only did twice in the game with different units. Just saying
Oh, just to clarify: Antike is his only title I hadn't played yet. I still haven't, but I don't think I need to now that I have this one.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Sun Dec 7, 2014 2:41 pm
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Kanban & Imperial Settlers

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Kanban: Automotive Revolution
So far Vital Lacerda's track record has been pretty stellar. Both Vinhos and CO₂ are very solid, heavy designs with lots of interwoven bits. Totally up my alley.
This game board reminded me of the Vinhos board. Lots of different sectors which all look completely different and all have their own way of working internally. But they are all part of a bigger picture.
The rules are understandable, but I'm glad I had Rahdo's video to give me a better feel of the game flow, I felt like the rulebook didn't make that as clear as it could. And the base mechanism of executing the WP spots from left to right not only works great but it's fairly simple. What makes this game hard is understanding how to combine the mechanisms of the different board sectors in order to get your engine running.... and churning out points. Everything pretty much makes thematic sense, which certainly helps in digesting all of it, but I've never been an intern in a car factory, so I had no experience with gaining victory points from doing all of those actions.
This is a very involved heavy euro. If you liked Vinhos, you'll probably like this one as well. But I think this one is slightly easier to digest.
Very solid.

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

Imperial Settlers
When 51st State was explained to me as Race for the Galaxy but better, I got pretty exited, as that is one of my top 2 ever games. But after playing it twice, my review is more like: somewhat like RFTG but not nearly as good. They're both card games in which you build a tableau, but other than that they don't have too much in common.
I remember feeling that something didn't sit right with the game, but I don't remember what that could have been.
Imperial Settlers is a rethemed version of 51st State. Or so the splainer told me. That could very well be as some of the elements sounded familiar indeed, but it's been a couple of years since I played 51st State. But whatever didn't sit right with that game, didn't bother me this time around.
The mechanisms work fine and the game goes along at a very pleasant pace. Everyone has a different faction with a different starting set, which should add to the replay value. One thing that annoyed me slightly is that all of us only used a small part of their deck. I used every chance I had to draw cards from my deck, yet I only went through about a third of the deck. If the card's you are planning for are in the other part of the deck, you're out of luck.
A very enjoyable game, but I'm not sure yet about how good it actually is.

Initial rating: 6.9/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Dec 4, 2014 8:09 am
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Deus, Subdivision and Concordia Germania

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Deus
So far Sébastien Dujardin's output has been pretty good, so I was looking forward to this game. I was pleasantly surprised when this strategic came was finished in about an hour with 4 first timers yet it didn't feel too short or rushed or overdeveloped. In fact it felt like a full fledged strategy game. Good stuff!
The theme is pretty much pasted on and I feel like the graphic design is too clean for the theme they chose, but that's all nitpicking.
One thing that kind of annoyed me was that the temples are limited to those available. That means that if the game end is triggered, but you still get to perform a turn, you won't be able to build a temple even if you have the right cards and resources. And that will hurt your score. I feel like more temples should be available after the end of the game has been triggered.

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

Subdivision
Again this Bezier title is very well developed! The rules are very straight forward and short and the game plays fast and still has strategy and tactical elements to give it enough depth. I guess these are the characteristics of the games we can expect from Bezier in the future. And that's not a bad thing.
Let's get this out of the way: this is mostly multiplayer solitaire. In essence it's the drafting from 7 Wonders with the tile laying from Suburbia. It's not as deep or as fulfilling as that last title, but it certainly is fun.
One annoying thing is: the grid on the board is slightly smaller than the tiles you have to fit on them so you're constantly adjusting the tiles to fit as best as possible. I guess that's what you get when you print in China...

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

Concordia: Britannia & Germania
After enjoying the other side of this map, I was eager to try the Germania side as well. It is a big map, whereas the other side is very compact. So we played with 4 players. It turns out that even with 4 players everyone is pretty much spread out. I think this map will play best with 5.
The tweaks to the game are very subtle: ships grant you 2 movement points for increased maneuverability. Also there are some locations that grant you a resource when you happen to stand next to them when playing the Tribune card. A nice twist, but the tweak to the ships if of more importance, especially since the ships themselves have very limited options since there aren't that many rivers, and they don't take you via efficient routes.
The changes to the rules don't make for a very different game, so you can take or leave those. With 4 the game wasn't tight enough to my liking, so I'd have to play with 5 to get a better feel for this map.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:38 pm
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