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Surya's game blah blah

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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Zena, The Last Spike and The Game

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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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: Are you ready to play 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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Dilluvia Project and Brick Party

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Dilluvia Project
tl;dr: very solid

Since a couple of years any title put out by Spielworxx automatically ends up on my 'want to play' list, even though some of their games have been... less than stellar. But this game was right up my alley again. A good hefty euro with not too much luck and interesting decisions. OK, it's worker placement yet again, but you won't hear me complaining about that. It's also a building game with resources yet again. In fact, this game brings very little new elements to the table. And unlike La Granja, which brought together very recognizable mechanisms in an interesting way, this game feels much more generic. Go to some place and get some resources or tiles or money, and use those to build and score points. But again this game proves you don't need to do anything new as long as you do it well.

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

Brick Party
tl;dr: quite fun

I love real time puzzling games. Like Galaxy Trucker or Ubongo. Good fun. So when you add Lego pieces to the mix, it can only get better. Well, not really, but it doesn't hurt it's appeal. So yes, I did enjoy this game, but the amount of people willing to play games like this is limited. So I decided against acquiring it after seeing the €18 price tag. But if I did own it, I wouldn't get rid of it. It doesn't really bring anything new to the table other than the studs on the pieces and the cards that add different challenges to the game (like building blindfolded) are a nice touch.

Initial rating: 6.2
BGG scale: 6/10
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Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:12 pm
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Some stuff that happened at Spiel, Essen

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Here's a bunch of stuff that happened at or on the way to Spiel in Essen. It's random, not in sequence and probably incomplete

I met a lot of my international friends again. Went to some dinners with some of them and generally had an awesome time

I worked my ass off at the Treefrog booth, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it

The Chinese printer of Ships is a moron and delivered the gold coins as yellow. Since there are yellow playing colors, Treefrog ordered actual gold looking wooden coins in bulk. We spent hours counting and bagging them. Well, at least it gave us the chance to get up to speed on each others lives.

Somehow this year the feedback on what games where good and which weren't was very slow. Most people I talked to hadn't played much and if they had, it usually wasn't anything I was interested in, so that was of little help, leading me to do more blind buys than usual.

I met some new people. I said hi to Seth Jaffee and he told me some possibly great news about a game I really enjoy. I also said hi to Gavan Brown. He didn't make it to whisky night at the Jung, but no hard feelings, Spiel is exhausting so I can't blame anyone not feeling like staying up till 4 am

I was surprised by how many people I didn't see. Like the guys from The Spiel. I only saw Stephen and Dave after the show on Sunday, on their way out. We'll plan better next year

Many, many games were sold out before I had the chance to figure out if I actually wanted them. I'm sure most of them, especially the ones that are really worth getting, will be available in the future though.

Tony Boydell is an awesome friend. Not only did we go out for a lovely dinner with him (and Doug and Shelly of course) but he also gave me a couple of things I am very, very happy with. You rock, man!

Like each year I did acquire some games I didn't have to buy. Thanks to everyone involved in getting me those!

I liked hall 7. Unlike hall 4 last year, it wasn't a dead dumping place of the left overs, it was a full fledged hall all by itself with enough interesting games to check out. But it was a bit more quiet than the crazy busy halls 1 and 3, making it more pleasant to hang out.

Talked to some people about travelling and emigrating. People just are so nice, offering help, information and just offering to meet or even stay with them. Thanks guys, I hope to visit all of you in the following years.

Daughters of intelligent friendly gamers seem to also be intelligent friendly gamers. Nice to meet you!

Playing games with Matthias Hardel at 1 am can be a lot of fun. I don't think I've ever played with him before, but if I get the chance in the future, I won't pass it up!

A problem with the car on the way there caused two hours delay. Not fun. Good thing we arrived just in time to go to dinner with the Treefrog crew.

An accident with a truck on the way home caused an hour delay. Not fun. Good thing we left early enough to not screw up our plans.

I've started a geeklist with my haul, but I suspect it is still incomplete. I don't remember what I brought back
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Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:27 am
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And we're off!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Yep, we're about to leave for Essen, Germany for 5 days of building booths, demoing games, being tired, walking around, playing a few games but most of all meeting a lot of friends from literally all over the world!

I'm better prepared than last year, I did a bit more reading and listened to a few preview podcasts. I still have no idea which games to focus on though.

If you want to meet me I'll be in the Treefrog booth most of the time. I'll be the 30ish looking skinny guy with the trimmed hair.

For those interested: here's my research GL

See you there for those that are coming!
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Tue Oct 6, 2015 8:04 am
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Tortuga, Top 5 Rummy and Hamsterbacke

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Michelbeke
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Tortuga
tl;dr: it's a game

It's a game. Not a great one, not a bad one, not a memorable one. You can play it and it doesn't outstay it's welcome, but I don't think anyone at the table got excited for a single second.
Other than failing to excite me, I do feel like the luck of the dice was a bit too high. To make sure I won in the last round I needed to win on a certain track. But I didn't roll that symbol. So I kept an other die (keeping into account the point distribution on them) to increase my chances of getting the right symbol on the next roll. But if it doesn't come up, there are no ways of mitigating that. What you roll is what you get. Tough luck.

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

Top 5 Rummy
tl;dr: it's not Rummy, but it's enjoyable

There are goal cards in the middle of the table. Things like make three-of-a-kind or a full house or whatever. You buy cards from a wheel in the middle and the price there fluctuates almost every turn. The first player to reach 5 completed goals wins.
It doesn't do much new, but it works well and is quite enjoyable so I won't mind playing this again.

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

Hamsterbacke
tl;dr: good stuff

Do we really need another numbered-cards-game? No, but as long as they're fun, I don't mind it. We've seen plenty of good ones (Take 5!, No Thanks! and more recently Abluxxen) and plenty of redundant ones. I would place this in the category of better ones. There is a very nice amount of turn angst. Do you play your cards now or wait just one more turn with the hopes to score big? Works very well indeed, I look forward to playing this again.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:59 am
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Barony and Loony Quest

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Barony
tl;dr: good game, not for me

This is a good game. It has good options, it's well developed, has a very appropriate length. Yes, it's a good game. But the game has an element that I don't like at all: to win you sometimes need to take away things from other players. I don't enjoy that. Not if it's something where the other players need to spend precious time and resources (knights) to build them in the first place. I didn't hate the game for this, but I recognize I'm not the target audience. So if you don't mind this aspect, be sure to give it a try, it's one of those nice quick games that isn't too light either.

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

Loony Quest
tl;dr: mediocre game but great fun

I quite enjoyed playing this silly romp, but to say that it is a great game would go too far. But not every game has to be great of course. Simply being good enough and fun sometimes is enough.
So this game takes kind of a video game platformer theme and combines it with drawing and spacial insight. Those things all work well for me. I didn't win, but that's besides the point.
So don't expect anything great, but if you like drawing in a fast and slightly silly game, give this a shot!

Initial rating: 7/10
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Tue Sep 8, 2015 12:29 pm
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Kingsport Festival, Valley of the Kings & Battle Sheep

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Kingsport Festival
tl;dr: Kingsburg de-developed

Yes, this feels like they went back to one of the beta versions of Kingsburg, before they developed and streamlined that game. The result is a much messier, less focused game. Some people might prefer the Lovecraft theme, but that shouldn't blind them from the fact that this game just isn't as good.
Also, I don't get some of the production choices. The building map is now a central board that makes having a good overview much harder. The places for the dice are now individual tiles, not a board. The tiles are overly big and thus use more table space than necessary. I guess they plan on releasing alternative versions or whatever, but you could still put them on top of a board, couldn't you?
The action cards switch things up a bit, but I didn't feel like they where a valuable addition.
The original is just much cleaner.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 4/10

Valley of the Kings
tl;dr: Dominion in ancient Egypt

Yes, that's essentially it. There are some changes. In stead of a fixed set of cards, there is a moving card line in the form of a pyramid. And you score points for cards you can remove from your deck to put in your 'tomb'.
It all works fine, but it adds little to the genre.
And I don't like the artwork or card design.

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

Battle Sheep
tl;dr: Hey, That's My Fish! but different

Why do people keep on designing variants of games that do well, but without adding anything new to the genre? It's like deck building. You can just take Dominion, name the cards and the actions a bit differently and switch a couple things up and boom, new game. Or you can take that mechanism and use it to make something new. Boom, A Few Acres of Snow.
OK, so there's no way of taking Hey, That's My Fish! and turning it into A Few Acres of Snow, but taking a game, making it slightly different without making it feel much different doesn't add anything at all. So why would I spend my money on a game that does the same as an other game? That's right, I wouldn't. So I won't spend money on this game either. There's nothing wrong with it though, it works.

Initial rating: 6.2/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:27 pm
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Argent & Planes

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Argent: The Consortium
tl;dr: it's a kickstarter game

Yes, that's my name for this kind of game. It works, it doesn't look too bad, the components are of decent quality... but also it doesn't feel refined in any way. Not the artwork, not the gameplay. I can't say this is a bad game or that I hated playing it, but I certainly didn't love it. It has a bit too many rules and different types of cards. Those cards - for the most parts - do similar stuff, but the way in which you acquire them is different.
Also: it needs a lot of table space!
But mostly I would say: it should have been trimmed a bit on rules and components.

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

Planes
tl;dr: not enough depth

OK, I know not every game should be deep and involving and stuff. I don't mind a lighter game at all. But some of those lighter games don't have enough depth for what they are trying to be. And I feel like this is one of those games. We played with the advanced board, with the figure eight. I haven't played the oval one, but the player who did told me that side is even more boring. It's just not very exciting. Pick up some cubes and drop them off. The biggest problem is that there is no way you can set yourself up to do a good move on the next turn, other players will see through that and prevent it. So the best thing you can do is hope they give you a good move by mistake and stop them from getting one from you. Meh. I prefer games in which my success is more based on my skills and what I built for myself.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:47 pm
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20th Century Limited, Hollywood and Keyflower The Merchants

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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20th Century Limited
tl;dr: fine family friendly train game.

This game has been described as Ticket to Ride meets TransAmerica. And that is essentially it. But I felt like it is slightly heavier than both of those. The main reason for that is that there are 2 kinds of tickets. For one of those kinds you need to remove all of your own track pieces so you can't reuse them for other tickets unless you rebuild them. This rather small detail does have quite an impact on how to play. But all in all I would say this is a very solid mashup of the two aforementioned titles that is different enough to warrant a couple of plays at least.

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

Hollywood
tl;dr: it works*

*if you have the special cards that let you take a director in case you don't have one.

So my friend first played this without the above mentioned cards. It's a drafting game and if you don't get any directors by drafting - which is possible - you don't get to make any movies. Not only is this unrealistic (some movies clearly were not directed by anyone), it also screws that player with little chance to recover.
But with the cards there, the game works. It works just fine. Draft some cards, make the right gambles and get lucky with what you draft... or not.
The game doesn't do anything new or exciting, so while I was happy to play it, I don't think I would ever request to play it myself. I think it's a bit too chaotic for that, especially with the special action cards that are in the deck.

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

Keyflower: The Merchants
tl;dr: it's an expansion, but it didn't bother me

Yes, some - most - expansions bother me. They usually take away from the pureness of the base game. The add more rules, more component clutter and often more play time, usually without adding more real depth.
This expansion does add some components and a small bit of rules, but it does integrate with the base game seamlessly. It feels like it has been part of the game all along. And that is a very good things. The base game is brilliant as is, and this expansion doesn't take away from that.

Initial rating: 8.5/10
BGG score: 9/10
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Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:58 pm
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10 Years

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Wow, I just realized that it's around this time of year that I started playing board games in 2005. That means I've been playing games for 10 years. And while many people have been in the scene longer, I guess that makes me somewhat of an old timer now.

It all started with an innocent game of Robo Rally and it was all down hill from there... Well, I guess that depends on your perspective.

Anyhow, in those 10 years I have played 4256 games, according to my stats (I started logging very soon after I started gaming) and I have rated 1281 titles.
I currently own 389 games and 74 expansions, but there are a bunch of games I have sold over the years (at least 74 games and 11 expansions, but these stats are incomplete). No, I'm not a collector. I regularly sell games I like because I don't expect them to hit the table anymore.

Anywhoo, more first thoughts on games coming soon, I got to play a bunch of new stuff recently so if you don't have anything better to do in your life, feel free to keep an eye on this blog.
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Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:00 pm
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