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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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Roll for the Galaxy Ambition and Isle of Skye

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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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
Michelbeke
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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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German Railroads, Qwinto and 23

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Russian Railroads: German Railroads
tl;dr: more of the same but different - in a delicious way

This first impression is for the German Railroads module only
The base game was my favorite game from 2013 so even though I'm usually not a fan of expansions I had to get this. Many expansions make a game I love less pure, more convoluted and longer. But this expansion manages to just replace the player boards and add a minimal amount of new rules The overall game flow remains in tact. And that's what I love: if leaves all the stuff I love in there, doesn't confuse me with new rules or whatever, it just lets me take out the new material and play. All I have to do is think of how to incorporate the new material in my strategies.
So yes, I'm loving this expansion so far.

Initial rating: 8.5/10
BGG scale: 9/10

Qwinto
tl;dr: more of the same but different - in a good way

Everyone looking at this game will see the obvious connections to Qwixx. But don't let this fool you: this is a nifty twist on the concept that makes it more interesting as you have more and more difficult decisions to make as to when to fill in what as you can choose what values go where but they all have to go in ascending order. Nice!

Initial rating: 7.2
BGG scale: 7/10

23
tl;dr: more of the same but different

Do you like Take 5!? Do you like No Thanks!? Well, you probably should try this as well. You have numbered cards, you want to get rid of them and you want the most points. But getting negative points is just way to easy
There might be a big luck factor with the way the cards are dealt, but playing multiple rounds should fix that. I had one game where 80% of my cards where above 16, and the other 2 players had lots of low cards. I guess having more players will also rectify that.
All in all good fun.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Nov 2, 2015 11:27 am
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Steam Works, Mysterium and Tiny Epic Galaxies

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Steam Works
tl;dr: very cool worker placement system

Worker placement games - which among my favorite mechanisms by the way - come in many shapes and sizes. Most of them have either fixed locations, or locations which can be built (like cards or tiles) or a combination of the two. This game does something new: you build a location, but it doesn't do anything by itself. You can add modules to it which adds functionality. And you can have multiples on each location and combine them to make them better. How cool is that? Well, pretty damn cool if you ask me.
On top of that this is a very solid game in it's own right, not just a rehashed game with a nice twist.
I got the feeling this game has quite a good replay value and I look forward to playing it again soon.
I must also note that this is one of the best games TMG has put out in recent years. A lot of their output has been solid but most of it didn't stand out. This one brings them back to the level I expect from TMG.
One huge downside of this game is: I want it, but the price is ridiculous, especially in Europe. I'll see if I can find a copy at a reasonable price somewhere.

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Mysterium
tl;dr: co-op Dixit without the hints

Yep, that's what it is. It's up to you to decide if you like that. I like Dixit a lot, but it kind of depends on the players. But I don't like co-op that much. It works nice, but I felt kind of lost. Maybe the fact that I was falling asleep during both the explanation and the game itself had something to do with that, so I'll play this again if I can.

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

Tiny Epic Galaxies
tl;dr: fine little game

I haven't played any of the other Tiny Epic games yet, so I can't compare them and I have no idea how similar they are outside of the box size and the similar title.
In this game you roll dice to perform actions to improve your tech and acquire planets. And to score points of course. It all works pretty nicely. I think the balance between game length and depth is well done.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Oct 26, 2015 10:16 am
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M.U.L.E, Pi mal Pflaumen and OctoDice

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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M.U.L.E. The Board Game
tl;dr: solid

I've never played the video game this is based on. I hadn't even heard of it. I guess I'm not old enough. That's how old this video game is
Anywhoo... It's an economic game. Build some tiles that give you resources if you have harvesters and you power those. Sell and trade the resources for money. And the price of the resources changes over the course of the game.
What I found made this game work well is the interesting way in which he markets replenish and the market value is determined. Nice.
There are some elements with event cards and action cards that can hurt people, but they're optional, so if you want a pure clean euro that is an option as well.
I quite enjoyed this and look forward to playing it again.

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

Pi mal Pflaumen
tl;dr: to mean for me

How many numbered-suited-cards games does one need? The answer is: as many good ones as one can find! So if one comes out with great artwork and is has Cramer's name on the box, I take note.
So, pretty straight forward: everyone plays one card, highest card chooses first from the played cards and you try to collect certain fruits based on the goals printed on some of those cards. There's some special actions tied to some of the cards, to switch things up a bit. One of those actions is stealing cards. And to my feeling there was a bit too much of that going on in our 3-player game. Maybe it's better with more players, but this first play wasn't what I was hoping for.

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

OctoDice
tl;dr: nice dice game

This is one of those dice games where you get some dice which you get to re-roll and then you cross off some things on your personal score sheet. This game uses the theme elements from AquaSphere, and I think that while the game isn't very thematic, the theme works fine.
While this game doesn't do anything new, it works fine, and I enjoyed it.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:35 pm
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Dice City, Super Motherload and Sifaka

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Dice City
tl;dr: fun, fast, mediocre

OK, that might sound a bit harsh, at least the mediocre part. But I don think this game only has one thing going for it, which obviously is that cool dice mechanism. But other than that it is a pretty standard get-resources-build-cards-get-points game. And it works fine, and the game moves along at a pleasant pace and stuff, but it all felt a bit been-there-done-that for me. OK, that dice mechanism is cool, but it's not enough to elevate this game above other similar titles.
Also, this game is mostly multiplayer solitaire. There is some competition for building certain cards before other players do, and there is a mechanism to 'attack' other players, but no one ever saw any reason to actually do that.
Also a word on the graphics: I'm not a fan of the graphic design. The color scheme is a bit all over the place and the font on the rather small cards could have been a bit bigger.
So yeah, pleasant, inoffensive, but not all that special.

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

Super Motherload
tl;dr: sci-fi deck building mining game

Games with a space theme always grab my attention. Deck building games are a dime a dozen. Mining games are nothing new. Space themed mining games with artwork by Gavan Brown are also nothing new. But that doesn't matter as long as the game is fun.
What is cool about this game is how you have to manage your deck to take into account the different mining techniques. And how every player's cards are different.
All in all this game combines a bunch of familiar mechanisms with some nice artwork and components. The result is an enjoyable game with a good game length and the difference in the decks leads to a good replay value. Which is why I got myself a copy. Nothing too new, but good enough to play a couple of times.

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

Sifaka
tl;dr: one of those games

Nothing wrong with it persé, but it doesn't offer anything special. Think of the best way to play your card, execute your move and score some points if you get lucky.
The one real gripe I have with the game is that you just can't plan ahead. You can't really play to set up a future move because you'll be setting up other players, and you can't think about your move until it's your turn because the board changes constantly. This makes the game a bit longer than needed.
Also, you can get stuck competing with one player while an other player just has a whole part of the board to himself.

Initial rating: 6.2/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:20 pm
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Ooooh yeah! (off topic)

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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The movie I've been waiting for!

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Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:52 am
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Liguria, Switching Tracks and Carcassonne Over Hill and Dale

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Liguria
tl;dr: good but unremarkable

Move around, gather some resources, use those resources to get points. Where have we seen that before? The answer of course is: so many times we don't ever remember all of them.
Not every game has to bring something new to the table, and this game doesn't. That's fine though. But it doesn't do it in an exceptional way either. It's just one of those games that works well and won't offend anyone, but I fear it will also fail to find a good core audience as it is just a bit too middle of the road on the beaten path.
But if you get the chance to try it, why not? It's not a bad game at all!

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

Switching Tracks
tl;dr: good but unremarkable

Who needs more train games? No one probably. Who likes more train games? Me, duh!
This is a Ticket to Ride weight game, maybe a bit heavier, but not by much. Your train has movement and storage space. You move over tracks according to your range and pick up and drop off goods wherever you can. The dropped off goods can be used to fulfill contracts which give you points and special abilities. As the name suggests there are some switches that can be... wait for it... switched!
It's quite nice and works well. I didn't mind playing it, but I can imagine it becoming a bit repetitive after a couple of plays.

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

Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale
tl;dr: good but unremarkable

It's good because it is very, very similar to the original. It is unremarkable exactly because it is so similar. It take elements we know from the original or some of it's expansions and rearranges them a bit. For instance the cloisters and farmers are replaced with barns. They have the range of a cloister, but are placed on fields and give you points for the amount of animals depicted on the tiles. Different, but very familiar at the same time.
So this definitely is a very good game, be it a bit redundant.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:17 pm
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Zena, The Last Spike and The Game

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Zena 1814
tl;dr: ugly and nonfunctional... but fine

This game is ugly. Very ugly. And the whole graphic design makes playing it harder than it should be. In this day and age where there are so many games with such great artwork and graphic design, why would I want to play something that looks like this? When it's outstanding of course. But it's not. But I must admit that this is a good game.
This is an area majority game, but it has some neat mechanisms around that. There are cards in which you can invest to get one time or permanent benefits. The way these work is quite nice and make the game interesting enough to try it.
We quit the game after we played just over half of it because everyone was almost literally falling asleep, so I didn't play this entirely. Apart from the graphics problems, the play time is a bit of a concern. We played about an hour and only played half the game, and this game definitely should not take two hours. But the late hour might have played in to this.

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

The Last Spike
tl;dr: Acquire with trains (and no mergers)

Yes, just like in Acquire you a number of blocks which indicate where you have to play them. And just like in Acquire you start a new company (and get a share of it) in certain situations. No, there's no denying that this game takes it's core from Acquire. Which is fine, because that game is awesome, so it gives the game a head start. But because you have more short term goals (with the completion of routes) and no mergers, it isn't as deep as Acquire.
So all in all a nice take on the Acquire mechanism with some nice twists, but don't expect this to replace the original.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 6/10

The Game
tl;dr: Hanabi with more numbers, less colors and no memory element.

But the memory element is the heart of Hanabi you say? Sure, but that doesn't stop this game from throwing it over board and still offering a similar kind of challenge. What I like about this game is that it probably still is challenging after you figure out the lingo, something that can't be said about Hanabi. Once you figure that out, it's not very interesting at all. What I don't like about this game is that all of the challenge that is left is down to dumb luck, but also the name. This is a really dumb name for a game. And by the way, wasn't there a game called Das Spiel already?

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:39 am
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