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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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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!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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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
Michelbeke
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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 RoboRally 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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Specter Ops, Sugar Gliders and Traxx

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Specter Ops
tl;dr: fine, but I'm not sure I'm in to this genre

I'd never played any of these games like Scotland Yard and stuff, so this was my first game in this genre. I must say it works pretty well and it had some tense moments. A small mistake or guess can really screw you over, so each decision is crucial. It felt like it was challenging for both sides.
But it did stay out it's welcome. We didn't play all that slow. There where some turns that could have been a bit faster, but overall we played at a reasonable pace, and 3 hours is just too long.
But after playing this I have to say that while I appreciate the game, I'm not convinced this is my style of game and I don't feel inclined to check out the other titles.

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

Sugar Gliders
tl;dr: like Hey, That's My Fish!, but not as brutal

Jump around from tile to tile. Pick up the tiles you start from. The difference is that in this game your distance is determined by the amount of fish on the starting tile. Another big difference is that you can also go where there are no tiles, but you don't get any points on your next turn as there is no tile to pick up.
It's a nice variation on the concept and I didn't mind playing it, but these kinds of games will never be my favorites.

Initial rating: 6.2
BGG scale: 6/10

Träxx
tl;dr: Qwixx meets Eurorails... or something

This game combines the crayon thing from well known crayon rail games with the dice rolling of Qwixx. But since enveryone has a different starting position, no one can copy anyone. Draw lines, score points and try not to leave empty spots. Fun enough, but I would say Qwixx is more fun if you're looking for this kind of game

Initial rating: 6.2/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue Aug 4, 2015 12:15 pm
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Harbour, Speed Cups and Beasty Bar

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Harbour
tl;dr: Le Havre without the good parts.

Le Havre is in my top 2 ever (I'm not sure on which spot). So when a game comes along that takes some of the same elements and reworks them into a small, fast game, I take notice. More specifically this game takes the building part of Le Havre. It adds something too: a lot of chaos and luck. And that is what turned into a disappointment.
To be honest: I wasn't expecting Le Havre in under an hour, I was just expecting a nice little card game. The clear reference to Le Havre is just a nice extra. But the amount of luck combined with the game length, made for a sub optimal combination.
Still, not bad.

Score: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10


Speed Cups
tl;dr: does what it says on the tin

Flip a card, be the first to arrange your cups in the right order/shape. Yes, that is the game entirely. Fast and silly fun, but it doesn't add anything to the genre of speed games.

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

Beasty Bar
tl;dr: fine chaosfest

Like chaotic but fun card games like Take 5? Then check out Beasty Bar. It's similar but with cuter animal artwork. Each animal has a certain special ability that screws up the order of the cards and hopefully leads to you scoring cards. But that's hard as the situation changes quite dramatically with each card played.
It is very chaotic, but also quite enjoyable. Only: Take 5 is a better game.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Fri Jul 31, 2015 3:07 pm
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23!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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With my 23rd play of Roll for the Galaxy has bumped my H-index to 23 as well

Increasing the score becomes increasingly harder though. The shortest way would be to play Caylus, Abluxxen, Lost Cities and Roll for the Galaxy once more. That won't be a problem for Roll and Abluxxen of course. On top of that I would need to play either Ingenious, Power Grid or R-Eco twice more. I think I'll go for R-Eco

Reaching 25 will be more worth though. Moving beyond 26 will be A LOT more work.
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Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:18 pm
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North Wind, Concept and Eight Minute Empires Legends

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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North Wind
tl;dr: fine, but too long (with 4 at least)

Klaus Teuber is a fine designer, but let's be honest: it's been a while since he put out a game that stood out. Most of his output consists of variants and retreads of Catan. So it's good to see that every now and then he does make a non Catan game. I always take notice.
For sure this game is completely overproduced. The custom wood bits could just as well have been cubes and the 3D cardboard ship could just as well have been a simple player mat. It's nice that the publisher made the effort to go this extra mile, but what it comes down to is the game play of course. And I liked it. Flip cards to do actions, upgrade your ship. It all works pretty well.
In one clear reference to Catan the game ends as soon as someone scores 10 points which is indicated by placing cubes on a number of scoring positions. But of course there's nothing wrong with reusing something that works.
The problem was that everyone enjoyed themselves for the first 2/3rds of the game and then it went of for a bit longer. I can see that being less of a problem with 3 players, but I wouldn't recommend this game with 4.

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

Concept
tl;dr: fun passtime

This game is enjoyable. We had a lot of fun and it can be a challenge. But in the end I must echo the opinion that this is more of an activity than a real game. It's more of a puzzle. A 2-way puzzle. The puzzle to put together the right clues on the one hand and the puzzle to figure out the clues on the other hand.

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

Eight-Minute Empire: Legends
tl;dr: fine game

I played the original Eight-Minute Empire once when it came out. I remember little about it except liking it and the location I played it.
When I was going to play this game it had to be explained to me as if I never played the original, and I didn't remember anything about it except that it was indeed an area majority game. And it's a fine one. It's not very original, but the way the cards work is pretty nice. I must say I enjoyed it again except that I was annoyed by the lack of choices for the last players on the last turn.
I do however feel like this game could use a slightly bigger board. It becomes messy quite fast with all those cubes coming in. I understand they want to use the compact size as a selling point, but practicalities should come first.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Sun Jun 21, 2015 12:52 pm
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Mangrovia & Diamonds

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Mangrovia
tl;dr: solid family strategy game

At it's heart this is a resource collection game with an important area majority element. Nothing new there, but this game tries to stand out by offering it's own new twist. It comes in the form of a nice, novel action selection mechanism that's a mishmash of a number of things we've seen before, put together in a new way. And it works great. I wouldn't be surprised if we see something similar again in other games.
All in all I would say this mechanism makes the game interesting enough to make it worth playing, but the area majority element of the game is pretty standard and there was some room there to be a bit more original, so I feel the author missed a chance there.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
Initial rating: 6/10

Diamonds
tl;dr: it's a trick taking game!

Yes, trick taking games are a dime a dozen and as you should know I'll compare each and every one of them with Sticheln. Because And guess what? I still haven't found any that comes close. But this one is pretty solid. The twist (every one has one, no?) in this one is that each suit has a kicker action which you get to use when you win a trick... and when you can't follow! And that's pretty huge. Keep the right cards so you can play them when you can't follow. Because in this game that is a good thing.
What did bother me is that it is pretty hard to take the lead away from someone once they they get going.
All in all a solid game, but it's no Sticheln

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:51 pm
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Roll Throught the Ages Iron Age and Dimension

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age
tl;dr: disappointing

Yes, this game was a disappointment. Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age is a game I quite enjoy, and now the designer of recent favorite Roll for the Galaxy had a go at making a variant of it. Sounds good right? But I feel exactly the same as BGG user ajax
Quote:
The added complexity did not increase the fun or engagement. It also lost much of the fun of the first game (the connected peg movement).

It just felt unstreamlined, a bit clunky. I don't feel like there's any reason to play this over the original one, that one plays better and is more fun. But I also have to be honost: this version is not bad, the otherones is just far superior.

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

Dimension
tl;dr: decent, but there are better options

3D physical building game with a timer? Sounds right up my alley. I love games like those, especially Ubongo 3D. So I expected to love this. But I didn't. The first game we were all quite tired, and it was quite challenging, but the second time that was not the case. It was a bit too simple. In the end it feels like a game that would work fine with families but for us, we'd rather play Ubongo 3D

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Sun May 31, 2015 11:32 am
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